27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2001
I never did get all the negativity surrounding this movie, and having just seen it again recently, I have to say I still don't.
I've never disagreed so strongly with seemingly widespread opinion like this before (not with it being negative and me being positive anyway), but I do disagree. With just about every criticism levelled at this wonderful film, which ended up being one of my favorites of 2000. I thought all of it - the acting, the directing, the cinematography, the story - everything about this film, was excellent. The unfairness of the frequent personal attacks aside (like against Richard Gere, or Allison Burnett, or any of the other talent involved in this film), I think the majority of complaints about this film are just mass negative-bandwagon jumping (and maybe some sort of Hollywood political idiocy). I'm a guy, and I normally don't like "chick flicks" at all, but I loved this one, and it was the first one I remember that got to me emotionally since "Terms of Endearment" back in 1983. It works in spades. If you haven't seen it yet, go into it with an open mind and don't let what seems to be mass opinion sway you before the initial credits roll. Judging from my own personal experience and acquaintances, there are plenty of folks that adore this film, they're just not as vocal.
If I have any complaint about the film at all, it's with the editing mangling that MGM enforced on the film just prior to its semi-troubled release. It's quite readily apparent, even to the untrained eye. I sincerely wish I could one day see this movie as it was intended, via some Director's Cut release or such, even if I know that's not likely at this point. In any case, the cutting room antics have detracted somewhat from this great film, but certainly not enough to make it a bad one.
To Ms. Chen, Ms. Burnett, Mr. Gere, Ms. Ryder, and the rest of this film's fine talent: thank you. Some of us really did get it. To the rest: see it if you haven't, and judge it on its own merits. It's extremely and unfairly underrated.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2005
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I was prepared to hate this movie based on what I had read here. I only watched it because a friend recommended it for the scenery as we don't actually have a 'Fall' where I live. However, it is beautiful from start to finish in every way. I hate sappy, sad movies. I used to hate Richard Gere. So, you see, for me this film had a lot to overcome and it sure won me over. The scenery is beautiful. The relationship is too. The gray-haired Richard Gere is nothing like the young Richard Gere of The French Lieutenant's Woman, First Knight, or even Pretty Woman. The gray-haired Richard Gere is more subtle and in my opinion much better looking. Yes, the romance is unlikely. Richard Gere is 48 and Winona Ryder is 22. But, this actually does happen especially in Hollywood. Gere & Ryder make the relationship believable despite it's contrived beginning. You really do want this relationship to go on forever. Don't judge this film based on what anyone has said. Rent it, borrow it, or buy it and form your own opinion.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2001
The DVD could have more special features; a commentary by the Director (Joan Chen); interviews with the principal actors; commentary by the composer. Out takes. We get none of these. But the film is well crafted, very well written and entertaining. So this purchase is a good one.
On its beautiful surface, Autumn in New York is a typical romance. From the colors-all golden-red (leaves), plum-colored (dresses, sweaters), warm orange (lamps), subtle charcoal grays, elegant blacks, rich ivories, and crystalline whites-to the pale beauty of the ingenue (Charlotte), often the brightest image on the screen and therefore the place to which our eye is naturally drawn. Will with his thick silver mane, mature good looks and urbane way, complements her perfectly. But this is a subtle, sly film and not everything is what it seems. The director (Chen) tells us as much in a brief transition scene when a briskly walking Charlotte slows to ask an elderly woman on the street if she needs help shortly after we have seen Charlotte herself collapse in the previous scene. Charlotte is a woman-child contradiction, sometimes having more in common with the children (her bedtime-story butterfly scene) of Will's contemporaries than with Will himself ("I'm a creep. You're a kid.").
The story and dialogue are spiced with irony and delicious inversions. Charlotte for all her seemingly naïve "wow"ness seems to control the outcome of most events planned by Will. In their first extended conversation (on the phone) he points out that she says "wow" an awful lot. ("You're all grown up now. When is that going to stop.") But when she emerges from the limo in a gown he bought for their date, it is his turn to say "wow." (You will too when you see Ryder in the dress). Later in the evening, Charlotte takes Will's "unprecedented and therefore utterly unpredictable," come-on line, identifies it as such, then declares it true not because of anything Will intended, but in spite of him. He thinks he's doing the seducing but in fact it is she who seduces him (the stairway scene). The morning after (breakfast scene), he tells her they have no future, "only what we have now." But it is Charlotte who trumps him by taking his standard noncommitment line, quoting it back to him after having given it a deeper meaning (she'll soon be dead), once again making it her own. Between the two, it is she who wields power through language and through the intensity with which she occupies time: "What shall we do, Will...with this moment that we're in?"
Despite her poetizing, soft voice and impeccable manners, there is a voracious quality to Charlotte's love. It is selfish (she knows, as does Will, that she will be the one to leave), hurried ("I'm way out front in the love race.") and implacable ("...give it...share it!"). Charlotte has to live and love a lifetime in a single season. Will is actually the young kid in the way he lives his life; a string of young women with no commitments, an out-of-wedlock daughter he has ignored, his casual betrayal of Charlotte with an ex-girlfriend at a party. His use of language in not taking responsibility for his behavior: ("I guess I had sex with Lynn McHale...")
So what we have is this duality, a romantic, poetic surface contrasted with a pragmatic underside where we get a good look at the gears of love's machinery. This begins in the second scene of the film in the kitchen of 458. Will is busy locating a Chilean bass that is masquerading as an Arctic Char, finds the bouilla baisse missing. Lots of cursing, complaining, and asking for raises. All of this activity is the basis for the ambience out front. Charlotte, grandmother and friends are celebrating her 22nd birthday. After a charming introduction and a little witty reparte, Will sends over 3 bottles of Crystal. His maitre de knows it's an investment. This doubleness returns again when we overhear Will's driver and doorman chatting. The driver showed up early because it is raining. Charlotte and Will may be spending a romantic night out, but these guys are working. They are part of the machinery that helps make the romance possible. Charlotte delivers Will's hat and we see him chewing out one of his vendors for the quality of Parmegian cheese he had recently delivered. Will is still the tough taskmaster when he accuses Charlotte of being late. He recovers quickly enough with a compliment "what's the point of being young and beautiful if you can't keep men waiting," but we get the idea.
Of course the most powerful contrast of all is Will and Charlotte's last moment together. He recites poetry, they exchange expressions of love and commitment, but this romantic parting is harshly interrupted by the medicine-speak of Dr Grandy and a nurse as they burst into the room and brusquely roll Charlotte away for surgery. The romantic moment is not quite done but life has its own timetable. The last time we see Charlotte she is alone staring up at the harsh surgery light, to me, one of the more powerful moments in the film.
I could go on, the themes: the linking of sex and responsibility, truth and lies, birth and death, childhood versus adulthood, transitions (metamorphosis), time, surface and what lies beneath. The symbolism: white for death, purple for mourning, the butterflies, the swan image in Charlotte's art and the single swan in the last scene (they mate for life), reflections (windows, water, mirrors, glass beads). The sound track (especially the Elegy for Charlotte and Jennifer Paige's Beautiful during the credits) works perfectly. This film needs time and patience. Immerse yourself in it and Autumn in New York will yield its treasures a little at a time and move you deeply.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2002
Okay "AUTUMN IN NEW YORK" is for some strange reason one of those movies that many hate. It's like a few say they hate it, and like the flu it spreads. Then becomes some kind of conspiracy. I really think the negativity behind the films release had alot to do with viewers and critic's not giving it a chance. The negativity in the films release was that it was not released for "pro" critic's before it was released to the public. Meaning Mr. Ebert & Roeper ect. saw it when it was put out for public viewing and not before like they are used to. People continued to hear bad things about the movie, so it became a bad movie based on people's opinions. Most people 'of which' may not have even seen the movie for themselves. It's ashame because it's not a horrible movie like they say. Also the chemistry between RICHARD GERE & WINONA RYDER was o. k., they are nearly 25 years apart in age. How much romantic chemistry would you expect them to have in their case? The film features some nice cinematography of New York in the fall season. The "Twin Towers" have a cameo appearance pre 9-11. It also has a likable soundtrack and supporting cast too. The over all look of the film is stylish. Nice work from director Joan Chen. However the rumored Winona Ryder nude scene could have been left in. I guess she STOLE enough of the movie fully clothed. Other than that 3 stars and a half for Autumn in New York. Answer to the title question is.. NO!!
29 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2000
This movie is really quite awful. I watched it on my DVD player coming back to the United States from Europe. I don't know if it was airsickness, or the foulness of this movie that made me so nauseous.
Here's why it's so bad: it insults you, the viewer. It does this first because of issues of implausibility. The "sick" Ryder character has signed some "papers" which expressly forbid doctors from performing any life-saving surgery on her. The writer thought that because we're all familiar with "D.N.R." orders from watching E.R. on Thursday nights that we would think this was somehow plausible. And I won't spoil any surprises for you if I tell you that she is moved to sign new papers so that she doesn't have to part from her newfound love and successful restauranteur, played by Gere. Presumably, life wasn't alluring enough before he came along to bother trying to remedy her fatal ailment.
Second, how are we supposed to find Gere's character appealing? I'm as smitten with his silvery locks as the next gal, but his character is a deadbeat dad who shags another woman on a roof while he's at a party on a date with Ryder's terminally ill character. This is a sympathetic character how? I understand the semiotics of Hollywood well enough to know that the makers of this film want us to run the gamut of emotions: we are to identify with Ryder's character and to feel terrible hurt, indignation, anger, jealousy, and grief. And when Gere comes groveling back, one is to feel more outrage, vindication, anxiety, hope, and finally love for those aforementioned locks.
But I just thought: "Gross, what a loser and a lech." Hollywood is trying to tell us that deceit, betrayal, and irresponsibility are somehow charming. They are not. Nor are they forgivable when a gal has less than a year to live. What happened to her friends after the opening scene? Ryder's character is apparently one of those chics who abandons her friends as soon as she finds romance. Her character disappoints in so many ways. She is a fragile, victimized, wisp of a wimpy waif. Albeit a very pretty one.
The Cinderella element which runs throughout the film is the source of many problems, not the least of which is that is depicts men as the sole benefactors of women's happiness. But I point out the Cinderella motif because I wish to include my mom's criticism of the film: how is it that the dress for the "ball" fit her so perfectly? And most nagging of all: where did she get her shoes? Bippety-boppety-boo!
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2002
I avoided this movie for about a year thinking... typical, until I watched it. The plot is somewhat similar to many movies that have been seen before. Guy meets girl and one of them doesn't have long to live. And what could possibly be said that hasn't been said before? Right?
Wrong. As I now know, it's not always that something has to be new, but new to the person watching it. Mainly on an emotional level. Take the movie "Titanic" for instance. There were many versions that came out on TV of it before the one with Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet came out. In fact I saw one strikingly similar that was four hours with Tim Curry in it that was viewed maybe a couple of months to a year before the feature film debuted.
The point is you will find a lot of movies that are alike and similar, but if they mean something different to each person then that's all that matters. I thought Autumn in New York was absolutely charming and couldn't be better. It touched my heart. Winona Ryder's character not having long to live and falling in love with Richard Gere's character who was twice her age and of course... subconsciouly we all expect an older person to die first. The underlying irony was gorgeous.
I think the critical viewers were missing the point... like I had been before I saw it. A typical movie doesn't mean it isn't unique. This one was unique in it's own fashion in how a young vibrant woman opened the heart of a womanizing man certain to not commit and leave every woman before they left him. It taught you about fear and what to do with love.
We could learn a lot from the movie considering love is the most important emotion that exists. Charlotte knew what to do with her love and was dying, and Richard Gere's character although living had no idea how to handle his life and how to even contribute to a life that required commitment to love. She taught him how to stop being afraid. His character was afraid to love and then lose. And the irony of his choice was also amazing--he could blow her off as he did every woman and still love her, but choose to lose her by ending it first or let himself love her and still lose her by not leaving first. But still either way he would lose her. But the most amazing thing is what he would gain while losing her... if he let himself.
I think sometimes we go in expecting all of the wrong things in a movie and criticizing it for not having it when we really need to take a closer look and we might actually see that it has exactly what we need. And maybe we're lacking in emotion... and could use some learning from it.
The movie had simiar plots to many movies--yes--but it didn't stop it from being really good and unique and having its own individual message.
Plus, I think some people still are stuck on "Pretty Woman" ... it's over guys... Richard Gere's past "Pretty Woman"... he's moved on! Let him grow.
It just would be nice if we could all appreciate the right movies for once. Me included... I'm working on doing that! I learned something very important from this movie, but I could never describe what I learned. If you watch it maybe you'll learn something too. But it may not be the same thing... but that's what makes it all worth while!
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2001
There is a lot to hate about this film, most of it unjustified. This film has been a lightning rod for venomous criticism, but despite its unpopularity, it is a good film. The reasons it put people off follow. First, it is a tearjerker and those are decidedly out of style. Today's audiences don't seem to have much tolerance for dying characters unless they are being blown up in an action flick, hacked up in a horror flick, dying of some politically correct disease, or a member of an endangered species. Second, both Winona Ryder and Richard Gere gave unaccustomed performances, quite different from any they had given before. Since most audiences liked the way they were before, this change was an unpleasant shock. Finally, the age difference was off-putting, making Gere seem much older and Ryder seem much younger than we are used to.
For all the blistering criticism leveled against this film, it is a well-crafted story about the changes that love can foster in people's lives. Joan Chen's direction provides a sensitive look at the relationship between these star-crossed lovers, with some enchanting looks at New York City as the romantic backdrop. Although her pacing is a bit slow, the portrayal of the relationship, and particularly the effect it was having on Will (Gere) is probing and delicately done.
This film is about transcendence, both for the characters and for the actors that portrayed them. Each of the characters grew and changed during the film, while both of the actors expanded beyond their previous limitations. I was delighted to see Winona Ryder break out of her dour, grave type and give a breezy and effervescent performance. If you put all her previous appearances together you would not have seen as many smiles as you see in the first ten minutes of this film. It seems that Ryder has always played overly serious and mature characters. She went through her teens and twenties without ever having a chance to act like a kid. As it turns out, this part reveals that she has much greater range than anyone originally thought she did. I hope this is a preview of things to come as she makes an attractive romantic figure.
Richard Gere also continues a transformation of his image with this film. He started down this path in "Runaway Bride" with Julia Roberts, playing a more insecure male lead than his normal macho portrayal. In this film, he actually becomes introspective and tortured, which is very unfamiliar territory for him. Despite the fact that his fans are probably retching, this role represents a very courageous attempt on his part to move out of type and expand as an actor. He does a wonderful job, giving a mature and complex performance that I didn't think he had in him.
This is not a great film, but it is a good one. I rated it a 7/10. I believe it is particularly important as a redefining moment in the careers of two excellent actors, which has broadened their reach and deepened their skills. Not every film is about whether the audience likes it, although I did. It is good drama, which goes beyond the schmaltzy romance to reveal the deep inner workings of the human heart during tragedy and adversity. In that regard, it is a success.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2001
Two attractive people living familiar lives in unremarkable parts of New York City endure, what can also be familiar there, a rain-soaked autumn. Out of such plain stuff is spun an opera for the eyes, a parable in the language of color, a cinematic poem sparing in words, rapturous and beautiful.
It is oriental art delightfully beyond us. In six voices -- painting, ballet, drama, music, poetry, and silence -- it tells one story and illuminates another, yet it is as indifferent to our discovering its humble philosophy as nature is.
Even these hints may be telling too much:
View "Breakfast at Tiffany's" first. "Autumn in New York" is contained by something universal at the heart of that film and the short novel it was based on.
Look at the screen as you would a painting, there are messages there. Notice colors in relation to the progress of the season and in relation to characters -- the colors they wear, but also the colors that share the screen with them.
Allow that walking can be dance, if expressive enough, likewise just a gesture of the arm. Allow the oriental view that the hands are the center of dance. This is a ballet hidden in a drama. Try to pick up the threads of its movement and gesture, and follow. Understand what is expressed in dance alone.
Turn the volume up plenty to mask ambient noise. At the crisis of vital scenes there is a deep silence, one that gifts us with cat's ears: in that vivid wakefulness there are noises beyond music.
One fortunate enough to come under the spell of this beautiful work leaves a little wiser to color's meanings, a little more a fan of the ballet that is hidden in life's drama, a little more awake to silence, and a little more ambitious for what movies ought to be.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2002
possibly the worst of all the bad movies i have ever seen...sure i can get past the ridiculous and sick plot... but the dialogue- it is unexcusable! each actor would spout out pointless sentences, which could only be explained by the writer as "time fillers". not to mention the awful cinematography. the director kept using this one type of shot over and over again...watching the actors through glass. the glare on the glass of the city passing by (for example) was distracting, and although i see his attempt to be artistic with it, it was completely over used by the 6th time he tried it in the movie. this movie was torture to sit through. do not buy!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
I can't believe that this film has been criticised so badly! It just tells a very different love story which does exist a lot more than we think! I once had a relationship just like Charlotte has with Will! The young woman flattered, the "older" (not old!) guy just having fun at first ("No future!" and flings with ex-girlfriends)- hey that does sound familiar to me! The relationship is caught very realistic and down to earth. The chemistry between Gere and Ryder is there, just different for it is a different relationship. The friends act as expected, finding it wrong at first but get along with it after a while. And in addition to that story: New York at its best with autumn colours, wonderful music and two actors very nice to look at (Gere still an eye-catcher!)! What else do we want?