Woody Allen & Francis Ford Coppola & Martin Scorsese – New York Stories (1989)

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The omnibus film New York Stories is the product of three powerhouse filmmakers, with the best saved for last. The film is divided into three stories, each exploring a different aspect of life in the Big Apple. Life Lessons, directed by Martin Scorcese, is a Dostoevsky-like tale of the rarefied Art World, with Nick Nolte as a self-indulgent abstractionist who loves Rosanna Arquette, but can’t bring himself to lie to her about her negligible artistic talents. Life Without Zoe, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, is more than a little reminiscent of Kay Thompson’s Eloise stories, with 12-year-old Zoe (Heather McComb) running amok at the Sherry-Netherland hotel while her parents are embarked upon a world-girdling vacation. The last and (as we said) the best is Woody Allen’s Oedipus Wrecks, wherein a schnooky Jewish lawyer (guess who?) inadvertently “creates” the Jewish Mother From Hell: thanks to a misguided magic trick, Allen’s mama (the incomparable Mae Questel) becomes a huge spectral vision on the New York skyline, telling everyone within earshot about her son’s inadequacies! The cinematographer lineup on New York Stories includes Nestor Almendros, Vittorio Storaro and Sven Nykvist, whose very different photographic styles blend with for more harmony than the three directors’ approaches.

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