Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New York, I Love You

New York, I Love You is an anthology film about love in the city of New York that collects 11 shorts film by ten different filmmaker. The second part of the City of Love anthology films that was preceded by the 2006 anthology film Paris, Je T’aime. The film includes stories directed by Brett Ratner, Joshua Marston, Mira Nair, Fatih Akin, Natalie Portman, Yvan Attal, Allen Hughes, Jiang Wen, Shekhar Kapur, Shunji Iwai, and inserts by Randy Balsmeyer. The film includes an all-star cast that includes Natalie Portman, Irffan Khan, Christina Ricci, Orlando Bloom, Hayden Christensen, Rachel Bilson, Chris Cooper, Ethan Hawke, Maggie Q, Bradley Cooper, Shia LaBeouf, Drea de Matteo, Olivia Thirlby, James Caan, Anton Yelchin, Blake Lively, Julie Christie, and John Hurt. New York, I Love You is a pretty good film that has some moments that is cluttered with some unnecessary transitions.

A young thief (Hayden Christensen) tries to woo a young lady (Rachel Bilson) at a bar where he meets her much older boyfriend (Andy Garcia) while dealing with other issues. Meanwhile, an Indian jeweler (Irrfan Khan) talks with a Jewish woman (Natalie Portman) who is set to be married the next day as they discuss their cultural differences. A young music composer (Orlando Bloom) is trying to finish some music for a film as a young woman (Christina Ricci) keeps calling him to discuss the things the director wants. A writer (Ethan Hawke) engages into a conversation with a married woman (Maggie Q) as they share a smoke together. In the fifth segment, a young man (Anton Yelchin) has been dumped by his ex-girlfriend (Blake Lively) as his local pharmacist (James Caan) helps him by having his handicapped daughter (Olivia Thirlby) as his date.

A man (Bradley Cooper) and a woman (Drea de Matteo) are in different areas of the city thinking about their dissolving relationship. A woman (Julie Christie) returns to a hotel that she likes as she befriends an immigrant bellhop (Shia LaBeouf) as a hotel manager (John Hurt) listens. A young girl (Taylor Geare) walks around Central Park with her nanny (Carlos Acosta) as they wait for the return of her mother (Jacinda Barrett). A painter (Ugur Yucel) is transfixed by a beautiful woman (Shi Qu) as he wants to paint her. A businessman (Chris Cooper) meets a woman (Robin Wright) outside a restaurant as they talk while she is trying to get her husband to notice. Meanwhile, an old couple (Eli Wallach and Cloris Leachman) bicker as they walk to Coney Island while a young woman (Emilie Ohana) is trying to create a video project of all the things she’s seeing.

In this eleven shorts and transition sequences, it’s all about New York City and love through this anthology film made by several filmmakers. Yet, the approach for the entire film doesn’t come across as exciting due to the transition sequences made by Randy Balsmeyer, with writing by Hall Powell, Israel Horovitz, and James Strouse, end up being very distracting and confusing. Largely because characters from the shorts pop up in the transitions with some wondering if they’re still watching some shorts or just a mesh of a bunch of stories. Whatever the approach is, it doesn’t work nor is there a lot of mention throughout the film until the final credits on who directed and wrote each segment.

The film starts off in a bad way with Jiang Wen‘s short that was created with writers Hu Hong and Meng Yao, with Israel Horovitz providing the English adaptation, about a young thief. Along with the transition sequences, that short along with the short that Allen Hughes, with writers Xan Cassavetes and Stephen Winter, had about the dissolving couple speaking in voice-overs and Shekhar Kapur’s short, that was written by the late Anthony Minghella, about an old woman and a crippled bellhop borders into either pretentiousness or just bad storytelling.

Those shorts and the transitions are among the problems with the film while all of them have a similar palette to the cinematography that doesn’t make it very outstanding nor gives a lot of the films a chance to stand out on its own. Kapur’s short does try to put something different to the photography but it only adds to stupidity of that short. Despite the uninspired colored palette schemes and distracting transitions, the rest of the shorts by the other filmmakers do bring in some surprises.

Among them is the short Brett Ratner and writer Jeff Nathanson create about a young man needing a date for the senior prom that proves to be funny but also heartwarming. Mira Nair’s short, with a script by Suketu Mehta, has a very engaging story about cultural differences and longing that proves to be one of the highlights. The two shorts that Yvan Attal made, with writer Olivier Lecot, about the writer and married woman and the businessman talking with another married woman proved to be exciting for the looseness each story has. Fatih Akin’s short about the painter and his Asian muse is very good though it feels a bit shorter than the rest despite the artwork that is presented while the Shunji Iwai short, that is adapted into English by Israel Horovitz, is another surprise over its conversations and surprises.

Then there’s two other shorts that truly become the major highlights as Joshua Marston’s about the aging couple walking to Coney Island for their anniversary is very funny and heartwarming. The other is Natalie Portman’s whose short about a child and her male nanny ends up being the best of them due to its loose style that is in tune with cinema verite but also has a wandering style that is reminiscent of the work of Terrence Malick. While the final result has a lot of great shorts with some touching stories, it only gets bogged down by its lack of visual style for each short as well as a few awful shorts and unnecessary transitional sequences.

On the performance front, there’s not a lot that stands out as anything that involves Hayden Christensen and Rachel Bilson is bad news. The best performances go to James Caan, Natalie Portman, Olivia Thirlby, Anton Yelchin, Eli Wallach, Cloris Leachman, Irrfan Khan, Chris Cooper, and Robin Wright as they each bring something joyful to the characters they play.

New York, I Love You is a worthwhile anthology film that has some moments but is very weak in comparison to its predecessor Paris Je T’aime. While the shorts from Mira Nair, Brett Ratner, Yvan Attal, and Joshua Marston are among some of their best work while Natalie Portman’s short is an indication of her rising talents as a filmmaker. There’s stuff in the film that aren’t very good along with transitional sequences that just reeks of pretentiousness. In the end, New York, I Love You is best watch from the good shorts the film has to offer but not as an entire film.

Paris Je T'aime - (Tbilisi, I Love You) Rio, Eu Te Amo

© thevoid99 2011


Lesya said...

I forgot how many stories this film included. I remember I found it rather mediocre, but I don't mind revisiting it someday. I also totally forgot how many famous actors were involved. Was it just forgettable or is it my memory...

Anyways, great write up!

thevoid99 said...

Thanks and it's pretty much forgettable though I only remember a lot of it for the bad reasons.

There's a few shorts I really enjoyed including the one directed by Natalie Portman because she at least tries to do something different with it visually while giving us a great story. I hope Rio, Eu Tu Amo won't be this bad.