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Variety Review

Not very positive and beware of spoilerish content. Not much on Orlando's segment, I have bolded it below.

The "Cities of Love" franchise begun with "Paris, je t'aime" discards originality for uniformity in its disappointing second installment, "New York, I Love You." Ten helmers were given a formula for shooting a Gotham-based love story: Lensing had to last no more than two days and editing just one week, connected by transitions shot by one more director. The results are, well, formulaic, hobbled by weak dialogue and absent any sense of texture. The city itself comes off characterless and blandly gentrified, making the Oct. 16 Vivendi Entertainment release unlikely to catch on with targeted romantic arthouse sophisticates.

Whether it can appeal to the multiplex set will depend entirely on marketers pulling in crowds who don't see much difference between Las Vegas' "New York New York" and the real thing. In particular, Gothamites will wonder what happened to their city, devoid of grit, and where blacks are mere extras and Hispanics apparently nonexistent. Producer Emmanuel Benbihy (who also produced "Paris, je t'aime" and is credited with the feature-film concept here) presumably favored quick turnarounds because they're cheaper and foster an off-the-cuff urgency, but the talented directors assembled here seem to have felt uninspired or apathetic.

Segments last around eight minutes each, and none are 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 (Scarlett Johansson's directorial debut, shot in black-and-white, was cut because it didn't conform to the overall look), there's no getting around the fact that this is indeed a collection of shorts, which in itself wouldn't be a bad thing if the components were more incisive.

Some segments do hold up nicely: Mira Nair's entry stars Natalie Portman as a Hasidic woman in the Diamond District whose strictly business relationship with a Jain gem merchant (Irrfan Khan) takes a surprising turn. While several of the films deal with cross-cultural meetings and clashes, Nair avoids the expected and invests her entry with real emotional tenderness.

Completely different, and working well because of it, is Brett Ratner's segment about a high schooler (Anton Yelchin) suckered by a pharmacist (James Caan) into taking his wheelchair-bound daughter (Olivia Thirlby) to the prom. Again, expectation is upended, and there's a piquant sense of humor to the piece, though the voiceover is unnecessary.

Unanticipated relationships similarly inform the episodes directed by Jiang Wen and Yvan Attal, but they lack the tight punchiness needed for such quick work. In Jiang's piece, thief Hayden Christensen pickpockets Andy Garcia, only to fall for Garcia's mistress (Rachel Bilson). Attal's entry consists of two encounters, one involving fast-talker Ethan Hawke trying to pick up a coolly amused Maggie Q (one of the few thesps to make an impression), the other featuring an intense come-on between Chris Cooper and Robin Wright Penn.

Orlando Bloom is a musician on a tight deadline in Shunji Iwai's segment, an OK entry made pleasant by the enticingly sweet voice of Christina Ricci as the largely unseen woman encouraging him on the phone. Darkest of the shorts is Allen Hughes' entry, starring Drea De Matteo as a woman trying to understand why she had a one-night stand with a younger guy (Bradley Cooper), and why she wants to see him again. De Matteo rises above the material, though the flashback sex scene feels gratuitous rather than urgent.

Portman directs a wispy short about a little girl (Taylor Geare) whose male nanny (Carlos Acosta) is uncomfortable being seen as merely a child-care provider. More substantial is Fatih Akin's piece, starring Turkish thesp Ugur Yucel as an artist obsessed with a woman (Shu Qi, so it's understandable) in Chinatown. Though the segment works, it feels cut out from something bigger, and as with all the other shorts, even Akin's corner of Gotham has no extratextual role.

Oddest of all is the short helmed by Shekhar Kapur, who took over for the late Anthony Minghella (who scripted the episode, and to whom the entire pic is dedicated). Julie Christie plays an opera singer who checks into an elegant hotel (shot as if it's somewhere in heaven) to kill herself. She's intrigued by a handicapped bellboy (Shia LaBeouf, his accent slipping into unknown regions) who magically becomes associated with John Hurt. Meant to convey feelings of wistfulness and yearning, the piece merely feels ill thought-out, despite Christie's best efforts.

The sole short not set in Manhattan belongs to Joshua Marston, who sets Eli Wallach and Cloris Leachman on Coney Island; their standard old-couple shtick is redeemed by the sheer pleasure of watching these two pros radiate more personality than the dialogue provides.

It's too much to expect the kind of New Yorkese wit spouted by Woody Allen characters in their prime, and Benbihy's decision to hire non-Gotham helmers could have been a bold move, but the compendium's greatest flaw is its overall homogeneous feel. Emilie Ohana, cast as a video artist casually shooting the life around her, is meant to be the connecting feature in the transitional scenes (helmed by Randy Balsmeyer), but she's simply an empty, smiling shell, sweetly observing but never entering into the life of the film.

Perhaps because of the time constraints, tech creds are solid but featureless; lighting is especially uninspired. Music is meant to reflect the Big Apple's multicultural mix, but none of it feels like New York.

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Here's another review of NYILY, this time from ScreenDaily. No real mention of Orlando. No news can be good news. We already know that Orlando plays an

aspiring film composer


<snip>this romantic comedy-drama lacks some of the freshness and inspiration that made Paris je t'aime such a lark.

Perhaps not wanting a repeat of Paris, the producers have been more ambitious with New York, doing away with the director title cards between each segment and thereby creating more of a coherent through-line between the different shorts. Sometimes characters from one short bump into those from another, enhancing the impression that these disconnected individuals are subliminally linked because of the city they inhabit and their shared romantic preoccupations. Still, though, New York, I Love You's doesn't have the cumulative comedic and dramatic power of Parisje t'aime's nimbler films.


This reviewer gave thumbs down to Jian Wen's Hayden Christensen and Mira Nab's Natalie Portmann segments and gave thumbs up to directors Allen Hughes, Skekhar Kapur, Natalie Portman (in her directorial effort, he hated her acting segment) and Joshua Marsten. For more details that contain spoilers, check out the entire review at ScreenDaily.

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The Hollywood Reporter is weighing in on NYILU. Spoilers ahead:

Bottom Line: This collage of vignettes breathes life into New York's edgy lovers."New York, I Love You" continues the "Cities of Love" series that began with "Paris je t'aime," far surpassing it. Although a few of the film's 10 vignettes fail to coalesce within their allotted eight minutes, and the inevitable final twist becomes predictable, most of these linked "shorts" succeed remarkably in nailing the serendipitous flavor of love, New York-style.

At the same time, the ensemble of stories is knitted together by clever transitions or reappearing characters, forming an innovative multipaneled portrait. The art house crowd should cotton to the omnibus form and a tone ranging from street-smart to wistful.

The helmers -- an eclectic group ranging from Mira Nair to Yvan Attal to Brett Ratner -- were bound by a few rules: They had only 24 hours to shoot, a week to edit and needed to give the sense of a particular neighborhood. Perhaps these strictures have contributed to the film's breathless style, which adds to the sense of a city in overdrive.

Although the filmmakers hail from all over, the Gotham conveyed here, curiously, is predominantly young, mainly south of 14th Street, cold and rainy and populated with nervous types in leather itching to step outside for a smoke.

Two of the strongest stories come from French director Attal. As a romantic pitchman, Ethan Hawke plies with dirty talk an attractive Asian woman (Maggie Q.) on the curb outside a SoHo restaurant. But a wicked reversal suggests she might be better at his game than he is.

A second New York moment again finds a man (Chris Cooper) and a woman (Robin Wright Penn) sucking in the nicotine, but this time the woman is hitting on the man. "You know what I always like about New York?" she muses, encapsulating the film's theme. "These little moments on the sidewalk, smoking and thinking about your life. . Sometimes you meet someone you feel like you can talk to." On their return to the restaurant, their shared secret is revealed.

In a punchy if vulgar tale by Ratner, James Caan as a pharmacist suckers a young naif into taking his disabled daughter to the prom. Things are never what they seem in these stories, including, in this case, the daughter's agenda.

Shekhar Kapur directs a haunting vignette suffused with sadness, with Julie Christie as a former diva installed in a New York hotel, where she's drawn to the lame Russian bellhop (Shia LaBeouf).

Along with the pungent sketches come a few duds: a Mira Nair-helmed encounter between Hassid Natalie Portman and a Jain diamond dealer (for this, Portman needn't have shaved her head); Orlando Bloom as a frantic musician on deadline somewhere grungy on the Upper West Side; and Andy Garcia matching wits with Hayden Christensen in a flaccid love triangle.

But any misses are redeemed by a touching and humorous final vignette by Joshua Marston, with Eli Wallach and Cloris Leachman as an aged couple making their own style of love in a town that belongs to the young.

"New York" opens a romantic window into the city via a sort of filmmakers' cooperative. The vignettes are tied together into a single feature through a "recurrent character," a videographer who interacts with the other characters. And transitional elements -- choreographed by 11th director Randy Balsmeyer -- move the viewer from one world to another, uniting all these intimate stories into a single shimmering fabric.

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I tried to pick out some highlights:

USA Today

One of the more charming tales stars Orlando Bloom and Christina Ricci in an engaging romance written, directed and edited by Shunji Iwai (Filmful Life).

Washington Times

Smart and funny is Shunji Iwai's film, in which a knotty director forces the composer played by Orlando Bloom to read "Crime and Punishment" and "The Brothers Karamazov" — yet he's simply scoring a cartoon.

DVD Talk

The surprise of the film is found in Japanese director Shunji Iwai's Upper West Side segment, and that is that the usually insufferable Orlando Bloom is actually quite good as a frustrated film composer engaged in a telephone flirtation with his director's assistant (a well-utilized Christina Ricci). It's a sweet and lovely section, with an inspired ending.
Feel free to ignore the gratuitous slam in the last one!

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One more - I can't quote more than 3 at a time! I'll leave it at that. :)

LA Times

The best stories are of the many artists embraced by the city. In Chinatown, Turkish-born German director Akin captures an older artist (Ugur Yücel) in pursuit of his latest muse, an elusive young woman (Shu Qi) he happens upon in a tea shop. On the Upper West Side, Orlando Bloom is a young composer who's struggling when aid comes in the form of a voice (Christina Ricci) on the other end of the phone, in director Shunji Iwai's piece. Both are stories of connections, missed and made -- inspiration found in unexpected places.

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Here's a more positive review. I especially like the final comments - it explains a lot about the other reviewers! :lol:

<snip>The acting is superb. Pitch perfect. Cloris Leachman, James Caan, Eli Wallach, Chris Cooper, Burt Young, Orlando Bloom and Christin Ricci also demonstrate their superior talents in this ambitious film.

So there is no mistake. New York, I Love You is an art film with esoteric qualities. It is not for everyone. It is for a sophisticated audience who enjoys the art of sometimes uneven story line and the ambiguity of the human condition. It is a film for an audience wanting to take something out of the theater when it's over.

I don't know about you, but I'm feeling more sophisticated already! :cocktail:

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Gene Shallit just reviewed NYILU on The Today Show, 2 hours 45 minutes into the 4 hour show on NBC (US). I couldn't hit the record button fast enough but there was no Orlando footage, or mention, so it was no great loss. In short, Gene gave it a thumbs up.

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