Sunday, 9 May 2010
FILM REVIEW: NEW YORK, I LOVE YOU
Out May 13
After Paris, New York is the city I'd most like to visit before I depart this mortal coil. Never having been there, I'm not sure if the scenes depicted in New York, I Love You are intrinsically NY moments but the 11 short films - shot by 11 different directors and featuring a host of known, recognisable and relatively unknown actors - certainly convey the people and possibilities alive in the Big Apple.
While there are one or two linking devices – a woman who roams the city with her video camera; a character in one short may appear briefly in another – this is no Love, Actually of intersecting lives or Krzysztof Kieslowski-like meditation on human interconnectedness in a haphazard world (Kieslowski being the late Polish director who made, amongst others, the Three Colours trilogy (1993-94)).
As with a collection of short stories, some narratives are more involving and affecting than others; some work and some don't. Shekhar Kapur's film – which sees Julie Christie as a retired opera singer experiencing a moment in hotel which may or may not be real – has an elegiac, European feel at odds with the other shorts. But as it was written, and intended to be directed by the late Anthony Minghella (The English Patient, 1996), one can hardly begrudge its inclusion.
My personal faves: Brett Ratner's (director of X-Men: The Last Stand, 2006) comedy involving prom night, a wheelchair and Central Park; Ethan Hawke as a motormouth writer trying to pick-up a beautiful woman (Maggie Q); and Chris Cooper and Robin Wright Penn as a pair who may or may not be making a (re)connection.
Another favourite sees Natalie Portman, directed by Mira Nair (2001's Monsoon Wedding among others), as a Hasidic Jew on the eve of her wedding, making a connection with a diamond dealer of the Jain faith (played by Slumdog Millonaire's Irrfan Khan). Portman also makes her directing debut with a piece about a father-daughter relationship post-divorce. Trivia: it features the wonderful young actress who played Portman's youngest child in the recent Brothers.
New York, I Love You is no travelogue or tourist wet dream: there are no gratuitous Times Square, Statue of Liberty or Wall Street settings, although Central Park does make one or two cameos. And surprisingly, and most refreshingly, there are no references to September 11.
I'm not sure that it hangs together as a motion picture but as a film experiment (following on from 2006's Paris, Je T'aime, where the French capital was given similar treatment), it's not without its merits and intrigue. And until I manage to make my own way there, it's not a bad way to get to know New York.