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There's something naïve about making a movie called New York, I Love You, or maybe it's just redundant. Couldn't every Woody Allen movie, even the ones set in France, be called New York, I Love You? Couldn't most of the Martin Scorsese movies, even Taxi Driver?
This movie is a 10-director effort-an anthology of short films with a couple of actors making their directorial debuts. As it stands, New York, I Love You is about half-good and half-bad, and as we all remember from elementary school, 50 percent is not a passing grade.
The best sequence comes from director Fatih Akin-a story about a dying artist who falls in love with the Chinese girl who cooks up herbal remedies for him, and which could work even if the sound in the movie theater went out. Refreshingly, Akin has cast actors we've never heard of-one of the least charming things about New York, I Love You is the way it encourages you to go, "Oh, my gosh! A movie star!" every time an actor we've seen before comes on the screen.
The movie is rated R for what I think was some nudity, although it was dark, and plenty of bad language of the kind that goes on as constant background chatter in the Big Apple.
The real problem with the film is that the producers appear to have told the directors to make whatever movie they wanted, as long as it was set in New York. Thus, we get Mira Nair and Natalie Portman, who make ethnic-people-are-special movies, and then we get Brett Rattner, who makes a thuddingly unfunny teen sex comedy. These movies do not look right when placed next to each other.
Israeli filmmaker Yvan Attal gets it right with an O. Henryish love story, beautifully performed by Chris Cooper and Robin Wright Penn, and his and Akin's segments could probably hold up the movie if everybody else had been encouraged to go in a similar direction.
Still, producers Tristan Carne and Emmanuel Benbihy will not be stopped-the duo produced Paris, je t'aime and are due to hit Shanghai, Rio, and Jerusalem, too. What? No Detroit?