Monday, September 26, 2011
#206: New York, I Love You
Emmanuel Benbihy is the producer who came up with the idea of "Cities of Love" series of movies. The idea being that each movie will be centered around a famous city and directors from across the world would be invited to make short segments with love as the core theme of each story. His first instalment Paris Je 'taime was a delectable start towards this end and it was only obvious that his next edition would be much anticipated. Especially, if it was to be based on one of the most charming cities of the world- New York.
Shot across the five burroughs of New York, NYILY has a most promising beginning that tells you that something special is about to unfold. It begins to bloom slowly but surely with a set of ten segments of roughly 10 minutes each. It also boasts of a star-studded list of filmmakers ranging from the likes of Fatih Akin to Brett Ratner to Shekhar Kapoor. And the cast isn't bad either. But just when it could've leaped from being an average movie to an exceptional one, it fades out. So by the end of it, the movie at best comes across as a middle-of-the-road decent watch. Like all anthology movies it has its good, bad, weird and ugly moments but unlike a couple of segments in Paris Je 'Taime, or that unforgettable last segment in Four Rooms, the good isn't really exceptional. There's, of course, also relief that the bad isn't deplorable either.
No anthology review is complete without two clear pointers about the best story and best performance. The former in my books would be the segment written by Jeff Nathanson and directed by Brett Ratner. If anything, this is the closest this movie comes to giving you a sharp kick. The stand out performance is in another story directed by Yvan Attal and it comes from Ethan Hawke who essays a devilishly charming writer trying to woo his way around an attractive lady. New York as a city doesn't stand out so much or even as a sub-text except its multi-ethinicity which is predictably woven by the directors in the characters portrayed.
To sum it up, New York I Love You, should be on your list if you've fallen in love with the little things that make the city so special. This one just does enough for us to reaffirm our faith in the concept of 'Cities of Love'. But at the same time, we also do hope that the next editions are a notch better.