Recently, I got married to the most wonderful woman in the world. Well, the most wonderful woman I ever met anyhow. Her name is Sarah. Then I got to thinking, wouldn’t it be awesome if I included her every once in a while in my reviews? She’s very opinionated but she speaks from the heart. When our webmaster sent me New York, I Love You, I knew it was the perfect vehicle to introduce her to a mass audience.
Most of you are quite aware how I start my reviews, but this is going to be something of a departure. Traditionally, I start with a long narrative about the movie. We describe the movie and then I offer some quips and informative points after that. The problem is if I sit here and explain all of the ten stories presented then I might as well compile a book on the subject. I really don’t want to torture my reading audience like that.
New York, I Love You is the sequel to Paris, je t’aime in the Cities of Love series. Paris had some decent success, so it was only natural to make a sequel. Both are the same type of films where they produce a bunch of shorts and bridge them together by the common theme of love. This time around however, a lot more of the Hollywood heavyweights decided to either star or direct a short in this movie.
When I say heavyweights, I mean actors like Orlando Bloom, Shia LeBeouf, John Hurt & Andy Garcia). Or actresses like Olivia Thirlby, Maggie Q, Cloris Leachman & Natalie Portman(sporting a shaved head & wig for the role as well). Some of the directors are even quite familiar to us such as Brett Ratner (Rush Hour) & Allen Hughes (Book of Eli, Menace II Society).
To give you an example of how a story goes, I’ll go ahead and mention arguably my favorite from the film. There is this boy (played by Anton Yelchin) who doesn’t have a prom date because his ex-girlfriend (played by Blake Lively) decided to go with somebody else. So he goes into this drugstore and speaks to the store owner/pharmacist, Mr. Riccoli (played by James Caan) about the situation.
Mr. Riccoli takes pity on the young boy and offers his daughter (played by Olivia Thirlby) to go to the prom with him. There is one catch: the daughter is actually handicapped and has to sit in a wheelchair. This leads to a string of interesting events at the prom. We’ll just say that the daughter has some secrets a few surprises for the young boy.
However, this shining example of a story is a rare gem in an otherwise cluttered mine field of boredom and confusion. The problem is (as Sarah will explain), most of the stories make little or no sense and they certainly don’t make you laugh or say awwww, isn’t that sweet. As mentioned, my wonderful wife also sat down with me and offered these intimate comments:
When Michael asked me to help him with writing the review for this movie, I agreed. Sometimes, times like this, I wish I wasn’t so agreeable. I must tell you that I didn’t find many of the short films memorable at all. Most of the stories left you with the feeling of “Wait, what? Is that it? I don’t get it”. This was supposed to be a romantic type of movie, all about love. But it was so hard to understand where these short films were going (Other than to see a cancer specialist, because apparently EVERYONE in New York chain smokes themselves into a very smoke filled oblivion). So, you either completely miss the romance in the story all together, or if you are stubborn like me, figure it out 3 hours later while lying in bed still trying to figure out what you just watched.
The only one I found charming, was one that featured Eli Wallach and Cloris Leachman. It’s a short about an old couple, walking down to the Boardwalk on their 67th Wedding anniversary. Their walk down is pretty uneventful, but it is their personalities that got me. They are the typical older married couple. They are bickering their whole way down. He thinks she’s annoying because she is telling him how to walk with his broken hip and cane, and she thinks he is annoying for flirting with the girl at the DMV so he could keep his license.
They get to the boardwalk, join hands, snuggle close, and try to enjoy the moment. It’s a very romantic moment in the short film. Until some “punk kids” do a rail grind on the bench behind them, and they go to calling them punks, and bicker about dinner. I laughed a bit because this very much reminded me of my in-laws. Always bickering, but there is something buried in them that keeps them together, and reasonably happy.
(*we now return to your regularly scheduled review*)
I had totally forgotten about the two senior citizens. Okay, that one was cute. Mainly because it was indeed my parents, just Eli Wallach was way shorter. Heck, I even think they got the voice down of my mother. This is only fitting since both of my parents spent a good amount of time in New York. I was born there as well, but somehow I think I ventured down a different road in the personality department from my parents.
The film is presented in 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen @ 1080p. I can certainly say that Manhattan looks gorgeous. It’s beautiful, vibrant and has lots of color. For certain they must have used DNR or something, because there should be smog in there somewhere. This would certainly qualify as the strongest point in an otherwise dull and unmemorable film.
Audio is presented in 5.1 DTS-HD English sound. The movie is 100% dialog driven, so that is really the only thing you can grade this movie on. The dialog is clear and there are no dialect (Yankee accent) problems to speak of. This is New York though, you would think there at least be gun shots somewhere. Subtitles are also available in the English SDH option.
- Automatic Trailers: Big Fan
- Bonus Segments: These Vagabond Shoes 11:43: Directed by Scarlett Johansen and starring Kevin Bacon. Sounds like it should be an automatic winner, but sadly it isn’t. Kevin Bacon wakes up, puts on some shoes, buys some smokes from the drugstore and eats a Nathan’s hot dog before cracking a smile. That’s it. I guess if you have a hot dog fetish, you ought to go nuts for this one.
- Bonus Segments: Apocrypha 13:31: Directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev (I believe he’s Russian). This one involves a boy who gets a camera from his father and witnesses a guy breaking up with a girl and they leave a mysterious book behind. Of course the book is in Russian, so what it is about is anybody’s guess.
- Director Interviews 18:26: Several interviews with the directors of the various segments. These include Brett Ratner, Yvan Attai, Josh Marston, Mira Nair, and Shunji Iwai. Shunji Iwai is particularly interesting because the whole interview is storyboarded. Certainly different.
- Theatrical Trailer 1:59: Don’t you love how they always make the trailer with the only two minutes that were actually funny? Okay, maybe it isn’t that bad, but you get the point.
New York, I Love You is a collection of short stories that are about love, at least I believe that there is love in there. One wouldn’t know it, because more often than not you are left with a confusing mess of a director’s effort. There are a couple of shorts such as the Brett Ratner directed short or the one with Cloris Leachman that are fine shining examples of what this film should have been like. Sarah closes this review up with more on the actual disc:
The audio and video were pretty average. There are some movies that really benefit from Bluray, this was not one of them. The extras were pretty blah at best. There were a couple of short films that didn’t make it to the film, and with good reason. Wrap your minds around this mind blowing story! Kevin Bacon, eating a hot dog, on a pier. Yeah, I’m completely serious, and that was the entire story. And the rest of the movie has the same feel.
The fact that Natalie Portman shaved her head (Yet again) for this… is ridiculous. I like to think that if I were an actress, I would reserve shaving my head for good roles in really good movies, not this almost complete train wreck that is New York, I Love You. Rent or run it through Netflix if you dare… I suggest having a book, craft project, or 12 inch knitting needles for your eyes near by for REAL entertainment.
Thank you sweetie, I hope you have enjoyed this review and feel free to leave any comments below in the space provided.