' Cinema Romantico: New York, I Love You

Friday, October 23, 2009

New York, I Love You

This is America's answer to 2006's "Paris Je T'Aime", which was a feature length movie comprised of short films all set in and around Paris and telling a story in one way or another about the complications of love. Now the location has shifted to New York City for 11 short films, all under the guideline that they had to be shot within 48 hours, and while a good number of them were not directed by actual Americans the entire enterprise still feels distinctly Americanized compared to its Parisian counterpart.

If "Paris Je T'Aime" was all about love and romance then "New York, I Love You" is all about sex, save for a couple examples - like a slobbish Orlando Bloom courting an unseen woman and the final installment between an old, married couple. Also, the shorts in "New York, I Love You" almost all possess some sort of REVEAL!!! for the end. Third, and most annoying, rather than being stand-alone shorts the film as a whole chooses to have characters appear and then re-appear in later segments or occassionally re-appear for just the briefest of moments, which isn't even mentioning the girl wandering around with the video camera so that the whole deal can be tied up in the bow at the end. Don't you get it?! We're all CONNECTED!!!

Sure, there is some quality stuff to be found here, that's a given when you unite this sort of talent, although when I say "talent" I'm, of course, excluding Brett Ratner who turns up to direct a tale of a most interesting prom night that, stunningly, isn't so bad. Nicely done, Brett. I'm proud of you. Oh, it's probably the most broad of all the stories, but still....let's give him some credit for not completely stinking up the joint. Even if Olivia Thirlby is just a handicapped version of her "Wackness" self.

Plus, you get the joy of seeing Shia LeBeouf move up several weight classes from acting opposite Megan Fox in "Transformers" this past summer to acting opposite Julie Christie (though, I must admit, I didn't care much for their particular short). I mean, wow, going from Megan Fox to Julie Christie? That's like moving from Regina, Saskatchewan to Rome.

One of the enjoyable shorts features Ethan Hawke chatting up Maggie Q. at a mile-a-minute over a cigarette. But it's only enjoyable if you consider that since he's never given a name Ethan Hawke might just be Jesse Wallace of the "Before Sunrise"/"Before Sunset" films. Seriously. He even says he's a writer! Imagine him here at 40, he hasn't seen Celine in years, he's divorced from the wife he mentions in the second one, probably never sees his kid, he's depressed, and now he trolls street corners across Manhattan pulling this scam on various woman. A scam that ends when the story opts for a REVEAL!!!

In fact, you could almost pull this same stunt with the short featuring Robin Wright Penn and Chris Cooper chatting on a street corner over a cigarette (hmmmmmm). Again, she never gives her name and she seems sad, defeated and is sort of coming onto this guy even though she references her husband back inside the restaurant - the husband who she says when she goes back in won't even look at her. And the whole time I'm thinking, "Wow, what if Sean Penn is the husband inside the restaurant? Man, would that be bold! Think of all the points he'd score!" But instead it opts for a different, less interesting, REVEAL!!!

Thankfully Allen Hughes turns up to present us with a wonderous passage involving two people, Drea de Matteo and Bradley Cooper, choosing to re-unite after a one night stand. This one's got the goods. It's done almost all in voiceover and I liked it because, as those of us who live in cities where walking and taking the train everywhere is the norm know, the internal monlogues to themselves ring so true. I always find myself hiking places around Chicago talking to myself inside my head about who-knows-what. I also valued the shot where you see de Matteo on the train and the Empire State Building glides behind her in the window and she doesn't care but because, really, if you've lived in New York for awhile you wouldn't care. Of course then the story opts to....oh, right. There isn't a reveal. And it's maybe the best of the bunch. Huh. Fancy that.

It is rivaled only by the final story - before the "lesson" of the end - of the old, married couple (Eli Wallach and Cloris Leachman) on their anniversary walking through the city, slowly, and bickering and bickering and bickering some more and then bickering just a little bit more and then they reach the ocean and it settles down and...wonderful. Just wonderful. Really nice. And then it opts for....whoops. I got confused again. No reveal.

So I know what you're thinking? If I had been commissioned to make a short for this film what would it have been? (Hold it, that's not what you were thinking? Well, too bad.) Let's see....how about a story of 14 guys trekking back to Brooklyn after a night in the city celebrating a bachelor party who happen upon a nice young lady on the bus who willingly chats up these drunken buffoons who then find out this nice young lady lives on the exact same street of the house of the about-to-be-married guy and then invite her over for drinks and, against all logic, against every single thing she has ever been taught since she was a little girl, shows up and hangs out and turns out to be really cool and just happens to have attended college in the exact same city where you and the about-to-be-married guy grew up and then she compliments you on your Steve Prefontaine tee shirt and then you never see her again.

One girl goes to a house party in Brooklyn at two in the morning with 14 guys she doesn't know and everything ends happily? That's a REVEAL!!!, am I right? It's also my own way of saying New York, I Love You.

1 comment:

Jacob said...

No way, a girl would never wander in off the streets in Brooklyn and hang out with a bunch of drunken bachelors. Unless of course one of the bachelors happens to be a Boscal, then for sure. Otherwise, no way. I mean come on.