Things I Learned From Movie X:
New York, I Love You
By Edwin Davies
June 15, 2011
Following the release of Paris, Je T'aime, the hit-and-miss-but-mostly-hit anthology film in which a swarm (I believe that is the correct collective noun) of international film-makers got their chance to direct their own personal and idiosyncratic stories about life in the City of Love, the announcement of a spiritual sequel set in New York should have filled moviegoers' hearts with song. After all, New York is one of the most vibrant and exciting cities on Earth, and has produced some of the finest directors in the history of cinema - Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen (up to a point), Spike Lee (up to a point), the late Sidney Lumet, the list goes on. Considering the talents that were attracted to Paris Je T'aime, including but not limited to The Coen Brothers, Gus Van Sant and Sylvain Chomet, what luminaries would take up the challenge of adding their distinct spin to the great tradition of films about New York? Brett Ratner? Oh.
Yes, rather than being the celebration that the Big Apple deserved, New York, I Love You wound up being a sad, pathetic little disappointment that even those skinny, jean-wearing little hipsters in Williamsburg would be loathe to enjoy, even ironically. A turgid collection of a miserable short films supposedly about love, the project took wasted a lot of talent both on and off-screen to tell stories which not only weren't all that interesting, but perversely also didn't feel like they were set in New York. Apart from identifiable landmarks, every short feels weirdly anonymous, as if the people involved didn't actually have any interest in New York in the first place. Maybe they should have taken a leaf from LCD Soundsystem's book and renamed the film New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down. Regardless, there are lessons to be gleaned from New York, I Love You, but since you shouldn't subject yourself to the film, I will provide a helpful cheat-sheet.
I have entered a strange and terrifying new world, one in which left is right, up is down, and good is bad.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the directors whose work is on display in New York, I Love You is Brett Ratner, a man for whom the artistic value of his work has never been a chief concern, except in the case of the hard-hitting, gritty realism of his debut, the Chris Tucker-Charlie Sheen vehicle Money Talks, obviously. His short stars Anton Yelchin as a young man who gets dumped by his girlfriend (played by Blake Lively) on the eve of his high school prom. Despondent, he pours his heart out to his local pharmacist (James Caan), as any sane person would, and his pharmacist then pairs him up on a date with his daughter (Olivia Thirlby), because that's what pharmacists are known for. Or is that pimps? Anyway, it's some job that begins with a P. The big night comes and, uh-oh, it turns out the daughter is in a wheelchair! Regardless, they wind up having a great time together, and the story ends with the young Chekov having sex with the wheelchair girl against a tree, only to then discover that she isn't disabled at all (TWIST!), and is just a method actor preparing for a role.