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I cannot say this movie is a disappointment because I read some reviews
before watching and it did not do as well as I thought it would have.
The bar was not set that high, so the fact that my expectations were
met is not saying much.
The Good: The city of New York. If you live in the city like me, you'll recognize certain places and understand that the city is supposed to be more than just a setting, rather one of the main characters. There are genuinely tender moments, humorous conversations, and plot twists left and right which all keep things interesting.
The Bad: The first thing I thought after leaving the theater was that I wanted more, but not in the positive "leave them wanting more" fashion. Certainly the good skits/scenes outweigh the bad, but there are a lot of skits that fall within the "in-between" category, too many in fact, which is what ultimately brings the movie down. Also, New York City's diversity, though hinted at though the many distant pans of the city and mentioned in conversation throughout the movie, is never really realized or analyzed to the point of doing the city justice. For example, many of the skits involve well to do middle aged whites. I mean I know the city is home to many of the said demographic but come on, Paris Je'taime's plot and character diversity makes New York City look like Lancaster, PA, or someplace really white. It is just disappointing to see the city shortchanged on its heritage like that.
Still, even after having said this, I would recommend giving New York, I Love You a view. Who knows, maybe you'll disagree with my opinion and maybe you won't. You will never know until you see it for yourself. This review is not meant to deter anyone from watching this movie, as everyone's opinion on art differs. I'm just giving you a very vague heads up on what to expect.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
(I'll indicate in this review the point where spoilers begin.) My
dissatisfaction is split: 30% tone-deafness, 70% lackluster writing.
The 30%: I agree with the first commenter's synopsis about the lack of diversity in the characters and scope of the stories. I was surprised how, this film, at best, woefully shortchanges the real NYC by presenting a collection of people and relationships so narrow as to come across as if it's inhabited only by the cast of Gossip Girl (this is coming from someone who likes Gossip Girl). A few minority characters are written into the stories, but they are included by obligation, while we can see the gears under the film so clearly, striving to "be diverse" but falling ever-so-short.
The 70% is why everything falls short. All characters, white plus a few token minorities, are one-dimensional, cardboard cutouts of people concepts. Worse, their interactions with each other are scripted in such a way that for each vignette in the film the audience is treated to what I'd say is a "gag": we get a basic conceit, then some punchline intended to be a clever twist. But even if we suspended cynicism for a moment to say, "Okay, that was a surprise"...the stories are still not that interesting, because they, too, are shallow. When you fashion stories so that their existence hinges solely on the unexpectedness of the ending, you're writing jokes.
The movie primarily tries to tell romantic stories. That's fine. But romance is amazing, deep, sometimes complex. These "romantic" stories each feature a girl and a boy who at some point share the same location and get to look at each other. Words exchange, thoughts are projected through voice-over, but they too only manage to communicate to the audience merely that one person is attracted to another.
Meaning, there is no seduction (in the broad sense), no tension, and neither confrontation nor communion between the wills of two different people trying to reconcile their existence to accommodate the Other. The only story involving a superficial "seduction" is told just so the audience ends up being surprised that the guy (Ethan Hawke) gets outwitted by the girl he's hitting on, who unexpectedly turns out to be a hooker. Sure, his words when trying to pick her up are interesting to hear and we are amused as we'd be if we were next to them, but there is nothing of substance to this story outside of "A then B". So it unfolds, if something like a postcard could "unfold", with all the other tales as well: A then B--That's It, the only point being that these happen to occur "on set" in Manhattan. By the way, the only Brooklyn we see is the Coney Island sketch; the only Queens is the flickering of a train ride taken by a character traveling to the West Village.
It's easy to pick at movies that play into all the common stereotypes of race, gender, sexual orientation, and so on. _New York, I Love You_, however, deserves to be held to stricter scrutiny because of its title. We expect to see the real New York, and real New Yorkers, but instead we have paraded before us the selected slice of a demographic, its characters flown in from The O.C., plus a few others to make it SEEM as if we are paying attention to diversity. But when we look closer at who those characters are, the whole sham becomes an affront to the very notion of diversity and the ethnicities and cultures the movie shamefully fails to represent.
For example, the story with the Latino man with the little white girl in the park, who gets mistaken by two ladies as her manny (male nanny) when in fact he's the father. Notwithstanding the last scene of this part was unnecessary from a dramatic-construction point of view (it would have been far more interesting to end it when the mother and boyfriend/stepfather are strutting the girl away), it is frankly a bit disgusting that the scene where we learn for sure that the girl's father is Latino ALSO must inform us that he is a sexually desirable dancer. What, the dad can't be just some guy from South America? Now that he's obviously hot, is the audience better prepared to accept that he had a kid with a middle-to-upper-class white woman? Are we that naive as to require such? As if a Mexican construction worker would obviously be too unpalatable.
It's not my place to dictate where the movie should have gone. But in every conceivable set-up and plot twist, the direction taken screams status quo, appeals to safety. All these stories could have been made more interesting, even if we were forced to keep the single-dimensionality of the characters inhabiting them, at the very least by not choosing from standard and obvious stereotypes. Asian girl living in Chinatown being leered at by a scraggly old white guy? How 'bout an Asian cougar pursuing a white college kid instead. Again, I'm not saying the entire conceit has to be changed. It's just that every. damn. story premise. is so hackneyed--and thus they fail to convey anything about why one might love New York, outside the trite. The real way to have improved the film would be to have written a script worth reading.
I will concede the pleasantness of the soundtrack, the good pacing of the movie (even if what was being paced was, well, dredge), and the general feel of many of the scenes. The movie was just fine to sit through, and I wouldn't dissuade anyone from doing so. However, it is telling that the most significant homage paid to non-superficiality is when the old opera singer says (paraphrased) "That's what I love about New York: everyone's from a different place." Well, you wouldn't know it from watching this one.
A few years ago Paris je t'aime, or Paris, I Love You came out
featuring some amazing talents like the Coen brothers, Alfonso Cuaron,
Gus Van Sant, and Alexander Payne. It consisted of 20 very short films,
each with their own unique style and storyline, only they all shared
the same setting of Paris. Three years later, another group of
filmmakers and writers, including the late, great Anthony Minghella,
decided to make a film consisting of short vignettes called New York, I
The idea is nice. It's endearing how a group of people can come together and present several different stories about a place that they love.
(Pause for nice, smiling moment)
Okay, back to the film. Now that we can agree that this is a nice idea, I think it's time to get serious. Much like Paris je t'aime, there are parts of this film that are nice. Still, overall I can't help but disagree with the construction of this film. I thought the stories were clever, but if I liked the story I didn't like the acting, or if I liked the acting, the directing was off. It was a never-ending stream of likes and dislikes.
There are some interesting segments. Brett Ratner's segment about a teenager trying to go to prom is clever and entertaining, starring Anton Yelchin, Olivia Thirlby, and James Caan. I thought Caan gave the most honest performance in the whole film. He had the look and most of all the sound of a New Yorker. I was even impressed with Natalie Portman's segment which follows a man looking after a young girl in Central Park.
There was nothing that blew me away like some of the parts of Paris, je t'aime. There was nothing here that made me say, "Wow!" For a film like this nice just doesn't cut it. I can forgive a few bad shorts for one or two really good ones. At least I can take something away from the film. I all took away from this were the various settings that New York City has to offer.
Making a compilation film is risky. One bad egg can spoil the rest, or in this case a lot of mediocre eggs can make for a bland film. New York, I Love You has a lot of potential, but doesn't pull it off.
New York, I Love You is a collective work of eleven short films, with
each segment running around 10 minutes long. The shorts don't exactly
relate but they all have something in common, love. Every short is
about finding love, either if it's about a couple or just two strangers
chitchatting.The film stars an ensemble cast, among them Shia LaBeouf,
Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Orlando Bloom, Chris Cooper, Andy
Garcia, Christina Ricci, Irrfan Khan, Robin Wright Penn, Julie
Christie, Ethan Hawke, Bradley Cooper, Rachel Bilson, and Anton
Yelchin. With such a stellar cast and such an interesting premise, I
was expecting a tremendous film; the problem is New York I Love You
doesn't add up. It remains the sum of its parts. Some of the segments
are funny, original and interesting but others are so meaningless
(Orlando Bloom/Christina Ricci and Ethan Hawke/Maggie Q segments) that
it's appalling. The film is definitely uneven and has a very
experimental tone. Story-wise, it seems like something a few film
students could put together. Having said that, the film has some great
moments as well, one of the best being the segment about an old couple,
played by Eli Wallach and Cloris Leachman, walking along in Brooklyn on
their 67th wedding anniversary. And it's moments like this, that made
me as a viewer, wish the film was more consistent, because, there's a
lot of potential here. But, as unsatisfying as the overall story ends
up being, for me, the cinematography and soundtrack saved the all
thing. The editing was perfect, the way the film was shot was very
impressive and the ethereal soundtrack, couldn't be more fitting. In
the end, New York I Love You feels like an experimental film, and as in
most experiences there's highs and lows. It's how one looks at the film
as a whole that will determine if he enjoys it or not. It might be
worthwhile for some and a waste of time for others.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Having loved 'Paris, Je T'aime', I highly anticipated this film and I
admit I went in with high expectations, but was sorely disappointed for
a number of reasons.
Although, I was not expecting a re-make of 'Paris' in New York I was expecting the same structure. What I liked about 'Paris' was the breakup of the neighborhoods. You got a sense of each directors style and the story they wanted to tell. In 'NY', there is no clear separation of the stories, at different points in the film, characters from different stories run into each other which made me confused as to who I was watching and what exactly was going on. Also, the switch in directing was evident but confusing since there was no flow.
Another thing I loved about the 'Paris' film was the different takes on love. It wasn't all romantic. There was love between parents and their children, unrequited love, a lonely, middle-aged woman yearning for love etc., it explored so many layers of the complexity of love between humans. 'NY' seemed to only go for an edgy, over-the-top sexuality. There were some redeemable shorts (the older couple having spent a lifetime together, Julie Christie's short), but overall the'NY' film didn't evoke any emotion for me. I didn't connect with any of the characters like I did with 'Paris'. I remember watching 'Paris' and feeling a deep sadness, loneliness, yearning, hopefulness, wonder... it just had so much soul. For me, there was no soul in the 'NY' film.
Maybe if I had gone into it without having 'Paris' looming in the back of my brain as a comparison this film might have elicited a more favorable response, but as a self-titled re-take of 'Paris, Je T'aime' I was sorely disappointed.
The second installment in the I LOVE YOU series appears at first to be
a mere variety-pack of sad-funny vignettes but occasionally it veers
into territory explored by such other recent films as Paul Haggis's
CRASH or Michael Hanecke's CODE INCONNU, wherein disparate inhabitants
of a large city cross paths, not only affecting each other's lives in
unexpected ways, but feeding into a larger overall story.
Most of these New York City stories manage to wrap up with a twist. This O. Henry-style surprise element is the structural key that gives several segments their sense of closure, especially in Yvan Attal's two-part entry about encounters between smokers outside a restaurant. In one encounter, Ethan Hawke as a fast-talking young writer brazenly tries to pick up a woman (Maggie Q) with unexpected results; in the other, Chris Cooper and Robin Wright Penn share some tantalizing conversation with an equally unexpected resolution.
Almost as good are a strange prom date between an awkward boy (Anton Yelchin) and the wheelchair-bound daughter (Olivia Thirlby) of an eccentric, pushy pharmacist (James Caan) and a slick bit wherein Hayden Christensen as a smart alecky pickpocket goes up against Andy Garcia as a college professor who turns the tables on him in the manner of Miriam Hopkins and Herbert Marshall in the 1932 classic TROUBLE IN PARADISE.
Standing apart from all other segments is the lovely character study of a married couple (Eli Wallach and Cloris Leachman) bickering gently as they walk to the seashore to commemorate their 63rd wedding anniversary beautiful acting by two old masters.
In Allen Hughes's segment there is some excellent internal monologue writing by Alexandra Cassavetes and Stephen Winter about two insecure people on their way to their second date with each other, wonderfully enacted by Drea De Matteo and Bradley Cooper.
Other segments - including Mira Nair's with Natalie Portman as a Hassidic Jew momentarily smitten with a Jain diamond merchant (Irrfan Khan) on the eve of her wedding, and Shekhar Kapur's with Julie Christie as an aging singer who checks into an ethereal hotel staffed by a crippled Shia LeBouef and a haggard John Hurt have their moments, but peter off into nowhere. Too bad the reunion of Christie and Hurt almost exactly 40 years after their only other co-starring film, IN SEARCH OF GREGORY, couldn't at least have shown them together clearly, from the front, in the same frame, just once.
Other than one episode in Brighton Beach and one in Chinatown, the action takes place in well-heeled sections of Manhattan. The black and Puerto-Rican population is barely represented, though the age range of subjects covers about 7 through about 90. The boroughs of the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island are ignored completely. Few of the stories concern themselves with themes or situations unique to New York. Most of them could just as easily take place in London or Berlin or Buenos Aires or Tokyo. But the rapidly shifting focus, the large and interesting cast and occasional sharp writing, keep one reasonably entertained despite the occasional misfires.
An American take on Paris, je t'aime, in which several shorts tell the
tales of lovers within New York City.
My interest in this film was mild, it boasted a large cast and several directors, but I was more interested in Paris, je t'aime. New York, I Love You comes off as a poor attempt at trying to show talent and style. The film is good, but not as good as it should, or wants to be. I found it to be very uneven with each short and I truly liked only one of them.
Instead of going into each short, beat by beat, I'll highlight the ones I care enough to talk about, for better or worse. We start off with Bradley Cooper and Justin Bartha, each getting into a cab and having a small argument over which street to take. This is our introduction to this film, it's interesting and mildly funny, but offers us no insight into either character or their situation. We go on through other shorts, involving a bald Natalie Portman and lazy boy Orlando Bloom. I found that a lot of the shorts had characters that I just didn't have interest in. For a short, one of the main objectives is to grab the viewer's attention with either a character or situation, many of these shorts fail to do this.
The one short that I absolutely loved, is also the most basic one. Two people who are in love walk down the street together. Cloris Leachman and Eli Wallach are perfect and in their old age outshine everyone else in this piece. Their short is soft and heartfelt. The only true love story in this whole piece. While other pieces were interesting and entertaining (Maggie Q and Ethan Hawke) none had the presence of Leachman and Wallach.
As mentioned before, some shorts are uneven and try to pull small twists here and there. Most of them are obvious (Ratner's piece & Cooper/Wright Penn) but I give them credit for trying. Everyone does a decent job in their roles, as I mentioned, this is a pretty big cast. Shia LaBeouf stars in the oddest segment of them all, along with the beautiful Julie Christie. It'll have some people scratching their heads, as it seems to be the odd one out of the group.
One big problem is that the film doesn't showcase New York enough, it should almost be a third character, but instead it's simply the backdrop. The film suffers from the lack of ethnicity that should be present. This is New York after all, but instead we get the beautiful cast, it doesn't feel real.
The film is pretty much hit or miss and nothing jumps out at you as a wow moment. Each segment is directed well, but nothing memorable. I read each segment was given a short amount of time to film everything, that has its pros and cons. Why not take more time to craft everything?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw this regurgitated pile of vignettes tonight at a preview
screening and I was straight up blown away by how bad it was.
First off, the film practically flaunted its gaping blind spots. There are no black or gay New Yorkers in love? Or who, say, know the self-involved white people in love? I know it's not the love Crash of anvil-tastic inclusiveness but you can't pretend to have a cinematic New York with out these fairly prevalent members of society. Plus, you know the people who produced this ish thought Crash deserved that ham-handed Oscar, so where is everyone?
Possibly worse than the bizarre and willful socioeconomic ignorance were the down right offensive chapters (remember when you were in high school and people were openly disgusted with pretty young women in wheelchairs? Me either). This movie ran the gamut of ways to be the worst. Bad acting, bad writing, bad directing -- all spanning every possible genre ever to concern wealthy white people who smoke cigarettes outside fancy restaurants.
But thank god they finally got powerhouses Hayden Christensen and Rachel Bilson back together for that Jumper reunion. And, side note, Uma dodged a bullet; Ethan Hawke looks ravaged. This, of course, is one thing in terms of his looks, but added an incredibly creepy extra vibe of horribleness to his terrifyingly scripted scene opposite poor, lovely Maggie Q.
I had a terrible time choosing my least favorite scene for the end of film questionnaire, but it has to be the Anton Yelchin/ Olivia Thirlby bit for the sheer lack of taste, which saddens me because I really like those two actors. I don't consider myself easily offended, but all I could do was scoff and look around with disgust like someone's 50 year old aunt.
A close second place in this incredibly tight contest of terrible things is Shia LaBeouf's tone deaf portrayal of what it means for a former Disney Channel star to act against Julie Christie. I don't mean opposite, I mean against. Against is the only explanation. I realize now that the early sequence with Orlando Bloom is a relative highlight. HIGHLIGHT. Please keep that in mind when your brain begins to leak out your ear soon after the opening credits, which seem to be a nod to the first New York Real World. This film is embarrassing, strangely dated, inarticulate, ineffective, pretentious and, in the end, completely divorced from any real idea of New York at all.
(The extra star is for the Cloris Leachman/ Eli Wallach sequence, as it is actually quite sweet, but it is only one bright spot in what feels like hours of pointless, masturbatory torment.)
I saw 'New York: I Love You' today and loved it! I was really looking
forward to seeing this after watching 'Paris je t'aime' and overall I
think I liked this one much better... Perhaps I need to watch 'Paris je
t'aime' again I don't know... I read few of the reviews here about
NY:ILY and yes, the movie is not without its faults. When you're paying
tribute to a city like New York - it can get rather overwhelming and
nothing seems fair enough to do the city due justice... so without
elaborating on any of the film's shortcomings, I'll just write about
what I liked.
Unlike 'Paris je t'aime' in which each director's short film was properly segmented and titled, NY:ILY isn't and many reviewers over here have found the seamlessness of stories and overlapping of characters here annoying and even confusing. I thought otherwise. I loved how the stories just flowed one after the other and I especially liked the overlapping of characters - it might be gimmicky because it's done so often in films now. But I still liked it because I didn't find it forced. And the idea that we're all connected in the end has a wistful, even whimsical quality to it - which some might find corny but I find beautiful.
I liked all the films but the one that touched me the most was the one by Yvan Attal with Robin Wright Penn and Chris Cooper. It was so well-acted and scripted that the reveal in the end - again not unused in the past - brought me to tears and I was crying throughout the segment that followed. I always liked Wright Penn and now I'm also a fan of Chris Cooper. Those precious initial few seconds when he's standing alone outside the restaurant, just before he gets the call - speak volumes about Cooper's ability to convey a character by just being there without saying anything.
Most of the stories in this film involve characters who are either meeting each for the first time or have met each other just recently with the exception of 4-5 stories in which the characters have known each other for a long time. It seemed to me (and I might be wrong) that the stories were different but they were all trying to drive home the point, the need even, to just step back and view in a new light the people and the things we've known in our lives for a long time; to see the people and the things around you with the eyes of a stranger and appreciate them just as you did when you met them and saw them for the first time.
The other films that I liked were the ones by Shunji Iwai with Orlando Bloom and Christina Ricci, by Natalie Portman with Carlos Acosta and Taylor Geare, by Brett Ratner with Anton Yelchin and Olivia Thirlby, by Shekhar Kapur with Julie Christie, Shia LaBeouf and John Hurt and once again the one by Yvan Attal with Ethan Hawke and Emilie Ohana when they're in the café. I really need to see more work by Yvan Attal as I seem to like him a lot!
Overall, watch this movie with an open mind. Don't read the reviews before watching it! It might not live up to your expectations of what a movie on and about love in New York should be and I doubt any movie will really live up to that conception. Just watch this movie for some good music, beautiful landscape cinematography, some slice-of-life comfort and a story or two that might just tug at your heartstrings.
A dozen stories. Ten filmmakers. 103 minutes. If you do the math, you
will draw the same conclusion I did - that there isn't much time for a
viewer to make an emotional connection with every episode presented in
this all-star 2009 omnibus tribute to New York. An eclectic group of
global filmmakers, some well-known, others on the verge, had to meet
certain requirements to make the final cut - they were given only 24
hours to shoot, a week to edit, and the result had to reflect a strong
sense of a particular NYC neighborhood. The cumulative effect makes for
a moody portrait of the city through various couplings, but due to the
contrivance of its structure, the film falls short in bringing a deeper
emotional resonance to the themes the creators want to convey.
With a couple of key exceptions, the film appears to be more of a valentine to Lower Manhattan. Consequently, there is a fashionably edgy look to the short stories. Israeli-born French director Yvan Attal epitomizes this feeling in two episodes. The first deals with an aggressively talkative writer (an irritating Ethan Hawke) throwing a barrage of romantic and sexual overtures at a sleek Asian woman who appears to have heard it all (Maggie Q). The other is marginally better, focusing on a chance conversation outside a restaurant between a woman taking a cigarette break (an effortlessly sexy Robin Wright Penn) and a man intrigued by her emotional availability (Chris Cooper). Both have O. Henry-type twist endings that make them ultimately entertaining.
A couple of other entries feel more gimmicky by comparison. Brett Ratner's mostly comic entry features Anton Yelchin as a naïve high-school student and Olivia Thirlby as his unexpected prom date with James Caan as her pushy pharmacist father. Mira Nair directed a flat culture-clash encounter between two savvy souls - a Hassid woman about to marry (Natalie Portman) and a Jain diamond dealer (Irrfan Khan) - who become mutually intrigued by their price negotiation meeting. Other episodes feel even more cursory. Portman wrote and directed a brief episode focused on an ebullient toddler (Taylor Geare) and her father (Carlos Acosta) having fun together in Central Park, highlighted by a brief dance performance from Acosta at the end (he is a Cuban-born principal dancer for the Royal Ballet). Chinese director Jiang Wen led Hayden Christensen, Andy Garcia and Rachel Bilson on an empty roundelay of deception and humiliation among thieves at a bar.
Japanese director Shunji Iwai was at the helm of a slight episode featuring Orlando Bloom as a frantic musician working against deadline, while Turkish director Faith Akin shares a brief story of obsession with Uğur Yücel as a solitary artist who wants to paint the face of a local Chinese herbalist (Shu Qi). The entry from Allen Hughes (of the Hughes Brothers) consists mostly of a continuing voice-over of two regretful lovers (Bradley Cooper, Drea de Matteo) hesitant to follow up on their passionate one-night stand. The oddest, most dispiriting entry comes from Shekhar Kapur who directed a script from the late Anthony Minghella (to whom the film is dedicated). It stars Julie Christie as a guest returning to a posh Fifth Avenue hotel where she bonds with a palsied, Slovak-accented bellboy played by an overly sensitive Shia LaBeouf. The nature of their relationship is never really divulged, but it ends on a surreal note of little consequence.
Directed and written by Joshua Marston, the best episode is perhaps the least ambitious as it features Eli Wallach and Cloris Leachman as an aged, bickering couple on their way to the boardwalk in Coney Island for their 63rd anniversary. The reassuring way she places her head on his shoulder is easily the most touching moment in the film. All in all, this stylish hodgepodge will appeal mostly to those who are drawn to the short story format. Benoît Debie's sharp cinematography at least brings a consistent sheen to the film as it tethers the various story lines to a New York that feels mired in a cinematic fantasy. I just think Woody Allen's "Manhattan" executes on the same approach far more effectively. The extras on the 2010 DVD include a handful of additional scenes (though not the two deleted segments directed by Scarlett Johansson and Andrei Zvyagintsev), interviews with five of the directors and the original theatrical trailer.
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