01 Oct 2009Webmiss
New York City has always been the most filmable and filmed city on the planet, and for millions who aren’t familiar with the city, the New York they know is the one movies show them. The new film New York, I Love You, a pastiche of a dozen New York stories starring some recognizable faces, isn’t going to change that, and it doesn’t want to. It is an unabashedly romanticized look the city through the eyes of 11 international directors who were given the following guidelines: Each story had to be visually identified with one or more New York neighborhoods; each story had to involve some kind of love encounter; there would be no fades to black at the end or beginning of any segment. They were then given two days to shoot, and seven more to edit. The result is at times abstract, at times funny, but always a reminder of New York’s enduring beauty of New York as a place. After the jump, a roundup of the best and the worst from New York, I Love You.
The Best: Twist Endings. Of all the vignettes, there are a few that end with a gotcha moment, and before you have time to process the revelation, the next vignette has already begun. The reveals arenâ€™t Sixth-Sense-earth-shattering, and are more sweet than shocking, but when the happen, your lips will undoubtedly expand in opposite directions, in what is otherwise known as a smile.
The Worst: Fake accents. First it was Hayden Christensen doing his best (which is actually his worst) Brando-as-street-hustler impression. Christensen has done this kind of thing before, but if youâ€™re playing a street-wise pickpocket, itâ€™s probably best not to try sounding like one. Natch for Natalie Portman, who plays a Hasidic Jew about to get married. Again, not all orthodox Jews need to sound vaguely Israeli. Finally, as a Russian bellhop, Shia Labeouf didnâ€™t completely botch the accent, but to play one of the only few ethnic roles in a movie about a city known for its diversity, did you need to get the guy from Transformers?
The Best: The glamorization of smoking: When Bradley Cooper is nervously awaiting a previous one-night-stand (Drea de Matteo) in a bar in the Village, he steps outside to calm his nerves in the brisk night air. Several characters meet and share moments over cigarettes outside of bars around the city. And apparently in this New York, smoking in bars is still allowed. In the opening vignette, Hayden Christensen and Andy Garcia light up in a Tribeca bar in broad daylight. Needless to say, I wanted a cigarette immediately after. Score one for Big Tobacco.
The Worst: Where are all the black people? Sure, thereâ€™s that one Haitian cab driver, but come on, this is New York City. Forget the main characters, I canâ€™t even remember a black actor in a supporting role. Even Allen Hughes, who along with his brother, made the urban classics Dead Presidents and Menace II Society, had his lovers played by Bradley Cooper and Drea de Matteo. For shame!
The Best: Ethan Hawke. Playing what has to be a glorified version of himself, Hawke is a stranger who meets Maggie Q outside a SoHo restaurant by lighting her cigarette (see, smoking rules!). What follows is his stream-of-consciousness attempt to charm her pants off, literally. What starts off as some sly detective work to see if sheâ€™s feeling him (sheâ€™s not) and if sheâ€™s single (sheâ€™s not) descends into Hawke expanding on his mastery of the clitoris, as if he were explaining Kierkegaard. But in one of those twists mentioned earlier, Maggie Q gets the last laugh.
The Worst: Whereâ€™s Brooklyn? Cloris Leachmann and Eli Wallach and take an elderly stroll through Coney Island, but what about the rest of Brooklyn? Sure it shows some bridge-crossing, but what happens when you get to the other side? Contrary to what this movie tells you, young people do live in New York, and they live in Brooklyn.
Honorable Mentions: Blake Lively for having the humility to pop up in a five-second cameo, same with Christina Ricci; Brett Ratner for directing the most entertaining vignette; Chris Cooper and Robin Wright Penn, who are simply exquisite together.