J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

2 Days in New York: This is Why People Hate The City

At least it is not a three day weekend.  However, a handful of aging smug hipsters can make forty-eight hours feel like a month of Mondays.  Viewers should be forewarned, the fake banter flies fast and furious in writer-director-star Julie Delpy’s 2 Days in New York (trailer here), which opens tomorrow in New York.

Delpy’s Marion has dumped Jack from 2 Days in Paris and moved to New York, where she took up with Mingus, a professional Obama apologist on a hip hop radio station.  It must have been because of his cool name, rather than his self-absorbed personality.  Regardless, they seem to be happy raising their kids together, until her daft father Jeannot, nymphomaniac sister Rose, and Rose’s stoner ex-boyfriend Manu pay a visit.  Each has their own aggressively irritating foibles guaranteed to stretch Marion’s relationship with Mingus to its snapping point.  Adding further stress, Marion’s gallery show is fast approaching, where she is scheduled to sell her soul as an exercise in performance art at the opening.

Have you ever been stuck in a queue behind an annoying couple that takes advantage of their captive audience to loudly “perform” their cleverest repartee?  2 Days in New York is like ninety-one minutes of that sort of material.  There are precisely two very funny bits, because they each contain more than a kernel of truth.  In one scene, Marion’s family scandalizes Mingus’s friends when they proclaim they like Obama because he is a socialist.  Later, in a truly inspired sequence, Marion meets with Vincent Gallo (playing himself), who bought her soul and is ready to take possession.  It is the sort of thing one can see Gallo doing, which is why it is so hilarious.  It is not enough to justify a ticket though, especially here in the City.

2 Days proves simply acting neurotic does not automatically make you funny—just irksome.  As Mingus, Chris Rock displays no edge whatsoever.  It is an embarrassing screen turn, largely defined by his star-struck hero-worship for the current Oval Office occupier.  Likewise, Delpy’s hot mess shtick gets old quick.  2 Days might have actually worked on a subversive level, if the French invaders were interesting enough to root for, but they are not.  Frankly, even Jeannot, played by Delpy’s real life father Albert, is little more than a grouchy grandpa run amok.

2 Days could be considered an Olympic showdown, in which Upper Westsiders compete against the French for the gold medal in neuroses.  Of course, Vincent Gallo wins anyway, by virtue of his vastly superior coolness.  Despite the occasional clever moment, 2 Days in New York is not recommended when it open tomorrow (8/10) in New York at the Lincoln Plaza and Angelika Film Center.

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