New York, I Love You (2009)

New York, I Love You is a collection of short films, bundled together because they are all set in New York. The segments were directed by Fatih Akin, Yvan Attal, Allen Hughes, Shunji Iwai, Wen Jiang, Shekhar Kapur, Joshua Marston, Mira Nair, Natalie Portman and Brett Ratner, the transitions between the segments by Randall Balsmeyer. And in the various segments there were Justin Bartha, Rachel Bilson, Orlando Bloom, James Caan, Hayden Christensen, Julie Christie, Bradley Cooper, Shia LaBeouf, Andy Garcia, Ethan Hawke, John Hurt, Cloris Leachman, Blake Lively, Drea de Matteo, Natalie Portman, Maggie Q, Christina Ricci, Eli Wallach, Robin Wright and Anton Yelchin.
I’ll spare you and me the writers, but they are interesting, too. [Also, do not ask how long this paragraph has taken me to write and link. It is better not known for it shows my obsessive-compulsive qualities.]

Plot:
A young woman (Emilie Ohana) drives around New York with her video camera, capturing various stories and moments around her.

The single segments deserve their own reviews (mostly) [which I’ll do after the jump] but overall, I have to admit that I was mostly bored during this movie. The stories weren’t connected enough – I expected a more unifying theme – nor were they representative of New York (unless New York barely has any black, hispanic or Asian people and no none-cis gendered, none-hetero persons either). I think most of the segments would have worked beautifully as short films, but bundling them together to one feature film didn’t work out.

Segment Jiang Wen, starring Andy Garcia, Hayden Christensen and Rachel Bilson

I have to say I am not sure what exactly happened here. I mean, I am aware of the plot points but… huh?

Segment Mira Nair, starring Natalie Portman and Irrfan Khan

One of my favourite segments in the whole film. Wonderfully done, really nice story and Natalie Portman and Irrfan Khan manage to sketch their relationship with a few short gestures. That’s how it should be done.

Segment Shunji Iwai, starring Christina Ricci and Orlando Bloom

Didn’t like it. I don’t know, maybe it was the fact that I couldn’t understand why I should root for Orlando Bloom’s character, maybe it was the fact that it was another variation on “Love saves you” but I just didn’t care for the plot. Christina Ricci and even Orlando Bloom did a good job, though.

[Segment Mira Nair]

Segment Yvan Attal, starring Ethan Hawke, Maggie Q, Chris Cooper and Robin Wright

[SPOILER]

I couldn’t stand this segment. First the whole Ethan Hawke/Maggie Q thing, where he basically sexually assaults her verbally, but it’s alright! Because Maggie Q is a prostitute (and everyone knows that prostitutes cannot be assaulted) and also, she has a comeback. Gnah.
And then the same spiel with Robin Wright as the aggressor [though I have to admit that she was far less creepy and less assaulting] but it’s alright! Because Chris Cooper is her husband. *headdesk*

[/SPOILER]

Segment Brett Ratner, starring Anton Yelchin, James Caan, Blake Lively and Olivia Thirlby

[SPOILER]

This segment had every potential to be a sweet, sweet story, especially because of Anton Yelchin [even though James Caan basically rents out his daughter, which was kind of creepy] . But then they go and ruin it all with the “twist”: So the girl isn’t handicapped after all, she’s a method actress! Haha! Because there are no disabled people in New York and it would be so horrible if somebody actually fell in love with them.
Being offensive is not being edgy, it’s just being offensive.

[/SPOILER]

Segment Allen Hughes, starring Bradley Cooper and Drea de Matteo

Who would have thought that one of the nicest segments would be the one with Bradley Cooper? Really liked this one.

[Segment Brett Ratner]

Segment Shekhar Kapur, starring Julie Christie, John Hurt and Shia LaBeouf

I loved this segment. It was beautifully shot and Julie Christie and Shia LaBeouf have awesome chemistry together (also, Shia was actually good-looking here, which was kinda disconcerting). I can’t say that I’m sure what exactly happened, but who cares?
Unfortunately, the segment also stood out like a sore thumb. It just didn’t fit with the rest of the films. And [SPOILER] add it to the ableist Brett Ratner segment and it makes me want to headdesk since the second “disabled” person in this film turns out to be a figment of somebody’s imagination… [/SPOILER]

Segment Natalie Portman, starring Taylor Geare and Carlos Acosta

Absolute favourite segment. Obviously Natalie Portman is not just a great actress, but also a very good director. And in Taylor Geare she has not only found an amazing child actress, Natalie Portman has also written her character so that she’s actually a child and not a miniature adult. Also, any film that shows good-looking men dancing beautifully (in this case Carlos Acosta) will win me over immediately.

Segment Fatih Akin, starring Uğur Yücel and Shu Qi

Didn’t like this segment. A stalker (but it’s okay, because he’s an artist) as the main character is not a good idea and then I felt like I was supposed to pine in the end [SPOILER] because he had died before he could actually paint her [/SPOILER] but seriously, no. Quite to the contrary, I cheered because until then I had been fearing for Shu Qi’s safety.

[Segment Natalie Portman]

Segment Joshua Marston, starring Eli Wallach and Cloris Leachman

That one was nice, even if a little clichéd. But both Eli Wallach and Cloris Leachman pull it off so charmingly that the stereotypes don’t matter that much.

Finally a word on the transitions. I liked the idea a lot, with the woman and her video camera and the characters from different segments showing up in other segments but the execution was a little tired.

[Segment Shunji Iwai]

Summarising: it’s passable, but it doesn’t always work and mostly tries to be too artsy for its own good.

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4 thoughts on “New York, I Love You (2009)

  1. Hmm…being far less ideologically sensitive than you, I thought most of the segments were quiet all right, especially the Brett Ratner segment with the method actress. I mean, I see your point, but I just don’t read all the implications that you read into it. Overall, it’s not a great set of shorts, but I thought it was decent enough.

    • You see, that’s the problem with these things: Once they were pointed out to you, you just keep stumbling over them again and again and again.

      Offensive cultural narratives are fuckers.

      Anyways, if I disregard that, I liked the Ratner segment as well. [Because I adore Anton Yelchin.] And yes, it was a decent collection but overall it felt just like it was trying too hard.

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