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October 23, 2009
Review - " New York, I Love You "  -  (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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You," 10 vignettes with various stars and acclaimed directors giving their takes on life in the Big Apple.

Clearly, some directors were more inspired than others by the charms of NYC. Tops is French actor-director Yvan Attal's
clever Soho sojourn in which Ethan Hawke plays a wannabe suitor making the fast moves on a gorgeous woman (Maggie Q)
as they stand outside a restaurant. Even in its short running time, both actors ignite the screen and create full-bodied,
beguiling characters as the short story progresses with help from Chris Cooper and Robin Wright Penn. Another standout
comes unexpectedly from action director Brett Ratner in his Central Park sequence about a blind date between a recently
dumped teen (Anton Yelchin) and the beautiful
but wheelchair-bound daughter (Olivia Thirlby)
of a local pharmacist (James Caan). All actors
are on their game, and Ratner imbues the
sequence with a sense of youthful romance
and surprise.

On a very different, but no less effective, level
is Shekhar Kapur's ("Elizabeth") haunting and
mysterious tale of a hotel encounter between
a former opera singer (Julie Christie) and a
young bellhop (Shia LaBeouf). LaBeouf does
nicely, and Christie as usual lifts the material
(written by the late Anthony Minghella) into the

Natalie Portman proves a double threat as she
gets busy on both sides of the camera, first in
a wry performance as a Hasidic Jew and
bride-to-be who engages in an intense
encounter with an Indian diamond seller (Irrfan Khan) in a Mira Nair contribution. Then she turns writer-director for a slight
story about a little white girl (Taylor Geare) playing in Central Park with her black male "manny" (Carlos Acosta).

Among the rest of the enormous cast making lesser impressions are Hayden Christensen and Andy Garcia in the opening
piece set in Chinatown; Orlando Bloom and Christina Ricci in an odd misfire about a young musician with communication
problems; and Bradley Cooper and Drea de Matteo as one-night standers looking for something more.

But whereas "Paris Je T'Aime" had a healthy number of hits, "New York, I Love You" is the unfortunate opposite. As with the
superior "Paris je t'aime" this film also ends with my favorite piece. The final segment, by Joshua Marston, is notable as a
wonderful showcase for two veteran stars - Eli Wallach and Cloris Leachman - as play a longtime married couple who bicker
while walking through Brighton Beach. It may seem shticky but these two veterans are adorable together - and it's the only
segment that convincingly reflects the possibility of true and enduring love. It is touching and real. It stands as the high point
of this mish-mash of mini love stories.

It's too bad more of the segments can't hit this level of
interest. At least half the vignettes demand that you focus on
your appreciation of performers as diverse as Chris Cooper,
Robin Wright Penn and Maggie Q, and what they bring to
conventional material. For a movie about a dizzyingly
multiethnic place, "New York, I Love You" is a little on the
vanilla side where black Americans are mere extras and
Hispanics apparently nonexistent. But still, some of it is pretty

Ten mini-movies in less than two hours -there's something
for everyone here. And if this New York love letter is
successful, expect another sequel. "Boston, I Love You,"
Anton Yelchin pushes wheelchair bound Olivia Thirlby in New York, I Love You
Julie Christie & Shia LeBouf from New York, I Love You
Eli Wallach and Cloris Leachman - play a longtime married couple in New York, I Love You
New York, I Love You
Directed by: Jiang Wen, Mira Nair, Shunji
Iwai, Yvan Attal, Brett Ratner, Allen Hughes,
Shekhar Kapur, Natalie Portman, Fatih Akin,
Joshua Marston.
Starring: Hayden Christensen, Andy Garcia,
Rachel Bilson, Natalie Portman, Irrfan Khan,
Orlando Bloom, Christina Ricci, Maggie Q,
Ethan Hawke, Chris Cooper, Robin Wright
Penn, Anton Yelchin, James Caan, Olivia
Thirlby, Bradley Cooper, Drea de Matteo,
Julie Christie, John Hurt, Shia LaBeouf,
Taylor Geare, Carlos Acosta, Jacinda
Barrett, Eli Wallach, Cloris Leachman.

Since the international success of "Paris, je
t'aime," an omnibus-style look at different
people and their stories in the City of Lights,
it was only a matter of time before the same
approach would likely be applied to other
cities. So along comes "New York, I Love
Ten directors and no fewer than 16 screenwriters contributed
to the omnibus affair. I like the idea of the film more than the
film itself, the batting average with the Paris project was a
good deal higher. Nonetheless, "New York, I Love You"
provides some compensatory satisfactions, thanks mostly to
the actors as they make the most of a series of pencil
sketches. Segments last around eight minutes each, and
none is titled, in keeping with Benbihy's stated goal of
avoiding the sense of a collection of shorts. Despite the push
for giving it all a feature feel, there's no getting around that
this is a collection of shorts, which in itself wouldn't be a bad
thing if the components were more incisive. Transitions
between the pieces are intended to tie them together as a
cohesive whole - a character from one interacts with a
character from another - but they don't add much, either.

Inherently with such a structure, you're going to have hits and
misses. Not all the segments are going to work for every