New York Stories

Director: Woody Allen, Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese
Year Released: 1989
Rating: 2.0

Trio of 45-minute films from three top filmmakers shows two of them at their worst (Coppola and Scorsese) and one (Allen's) at his most mystical and charming. Scorsese's story - written by Richard Price - is about a painter (Nick Nolte) smitten with a young woman (Rosanna Arquette) who despises him, culminating in a rather blasé point about art being a cruel mistress and women being fickle (the camera gets a little too fevered - those close-ups of Nolte driven to expressing his turmoil through smearing paint are just too obvious). Coppola's - co-written by daughter Sofia - is random and aggravating and and reeks of privilege: it wouldn't be until Sofia got older that she was better able to channel her feelings of insecurity and isolation into two outstanding features (Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette) instead of this smug world-weariness. Allen more or less saves the day with his tale involving a memorably difficult mother who disappears after taking part in a magic show and magically appears in the sky over Manhattan, where she humiliates her son in front of the entire city - it's a wonderful (Freudian) metaphor for the feeling many of us share that our mothers, having seen us in our awkward years, are the only individuals than can 'expose' our deepest insecurities, having been there, of course, from the beginning, and seen us at our worst. [Life Lessons: *, D; Life Without Zoe: ½*, D-; Oedipus Wrecks: ***½, B+]