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October 4, 2009

New York, I Love You (Screen Daily review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: , , — dleedlee @ 11:37 am

New York, I Love You
Dirs: Jiang Wen, Mira Nair, Shunji Iwai, Yvan Attal, Brett Ratner, Allen Hughes, Shekhar Kapur, Natalie Portman, Fatih Akin, Joshua Marston, Randy Balsmeyer. US. 2009. 104 mins.

The second film in the “Cities Of Love” series which began with Paris je t’aime, New York, I Love You isn’t as consistently beguiling as its predecessor, but the novelty of the omnibus concept allows filmmakers of very different stripes to explore their distinctive visions of modern courtship. Predictably, not all of these 11 short films fully connect, but after a few early duds, New York’s stronger sequences present themselves, making this an affair to remember if not quite cherish.

Opening domestically October 16, New York, I Love You should charm the same upscale audiences who enjoyed Paris Je T’Aime ($17.3m worldwide). In terms of star wattage, New York boasts a higher-profile cast than Paris – including Shia LaBeouf, Bradley Cooper, Orlando Bloom and Hayden Christensen – but this small-scale release with an unconventional narrative structure probably won’t transcend the art-house market.

New York, I Love You traces the seemingly unrelated stories of people living in the Big Apple, many of whom are struggling with issues of love and relationships. Characters include a retired opera singer (Julie Christie), an elderly married couple (Eli Wallach and Cloris Leachman), an aspiring film composer (Bloom) and a smooth-talking author (Ethan Hawke).

The “Cities Of Love” series plans to continue creating anthology films inspired by and located in major world cities – the next film will be based in Shanghai – and while New York, I Love You demonstrates the durability of the concept, 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.

One of New York, I Love You’s considerable pleasures comes from watching accomplished feature directors work in a more concise storytelling format. Of course, the downside can be that these eight-minute shorts end up being too slight or self-indulgent, but after Jiang Wen’s awkward pickpocket romance (starring a wooden Christensen) and Mira Nair’s drab cross-cultural drama (featuring Portman), New York, I Love You finds its footing with several shorts that examine love from unique angles.

Among the highlights, Allen Hughes (one half of the Hughes brothers) sensually captures the excitement and worry that linger after a passionate one-night stand, while Portman impresses behind the camera directing a poignant short about divorced parents and the children trapped in the middle.

But Shekhar Kapur, working from a script by the late Anthony Minghella, delivers the most memorable segment with a ghostly meditation on aging and regret highlighted by Christie’s melancholy performance. Interestingly, it’s one of two shorts to focus on issues of mortality. In the other, Joshua Marston affectionately observes Wallach and Leachman’s long-bickering elderly couple, which ends the movie on a note of delicate grace, accentuating New York, I Love You’s overall theme of love’s maddening, mysterious impermanence.

October 4, 2009

Filed under: News — Tags: , , — dleedlee @ 1:20 am

Press release:
Kelly Hu to star in Slew Pictures rom-com Almost Perfect

NEW YORK, NY, October 1, 2009 – Slew Pictures announced today that Kelly Hu (“The Scorpion King,” “X-Men 2”) will star in writer/director Bertha Bay-Sa Pan’s romantic comedy “Almost Perfect.” Pan will produce with Derrick Tseng (“Life During Wartime,” “Choke,” “The Ten,” “Snow Angels”) and Riva Marker (“The Winning Season,” “Grace is Gone,” “Trucker”). Production is set for October 2009 in New York City.

“Almost Perfect” is the story of Vanessa, a 30-something New York career woman. After too many years of being everybody’s go-to girl, she finally gets a chance at love when she meets a man who’s almost perfect for her. But, just as she starts to consider the possibility of romance, her family suddenly comes undone. As she juggles a high-maintenance “fashionista” sister on the brink, a surf-bum brother hiding out, an overly-intellectual mother who knows it all, a retired father on a quest for meaning — and the nearly perfect boyfriend who gets fed up with it all — Vanessa discovers that the person she really needs to save is herself.

Pan said, “I am so excited to work with Kelly, who not only kicks butt as an action hero, but is also an incredibly thoughtful and nuanced actor, with a killer sense of humor. I can’t wait to watch her experience this emotional journey on screen. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

Other featured cast members include Ivan Shaw, Roger Rees, Tina Chen, Edison Chen, and Christina Chang.

Founded by award-winning filmmaker Bertha Bay-Sa Pan, Slew Pictures is a New York based production company that develops and produces universal stories that entertain and inspire. Current projects include Annette Apitz’s “Fighting Fish,” starring Val Emmich and Halley Feiffer.

Screen Daily: Kelly Hu will star in writer-director Bertha Bay-Sa Pan’s romantic comedy Almost Perfect for New York-based Slew Pictures.

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