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The "lost" Scorsese film
preppy-33 December 2003
This was a real change of pace for director Martin Scorsese--he decided to do a drama/love story with music set in the 1940s. But he wanted a DOWNBEAT film. It was released in 1977 (after about 20 minutes were cut out by the studio) and was torn apart by the critics. It was reissued in 1981 with all the cut footage restored (it now runs 165 minutes) and the critics raved about it! Go figure. After that, however, it seemed to disappear. Too bad--it's actually good.

It's about clarinet player Jimmy Doyle (Robert De Niro) falling in love with Francine Evans (Liza Minnelli). She's a singer and they preform together in the same band. But Jimmy has serious temper problems and when Francine gets pregnant things go out of control.

The film is certainly stunning to look at--the sets and cinematography are just great. Some of the sets are (quite obviously) fake but it actually works in this movie. It seems to be a homage to the big, splashy Technicolor musicals of the 1940s and 1950s--but has its characters act like real people and deal with adult situations. The direction by Scorsese is (of course) wonderful. What's especially surprising is his directing of the big "Happy Endings" musical number (which was originally completely cut)--who knew Scorsese could direct a musical?

The acting is good--almost too good. Minnelli is very good as Francine--she's just magical when she sings and there's a powerful sequence when she just explodes in the back of a car. De Niro plays Doyle as an insensitive jerk--and that's the main problem with this film. His character is loud, immature, obnoxious and always pushing Minnelli around. More than once I wanted her to turn around and punch him out. His character is so unlikable it's hard to really give a damn about him. But Minnelli is beautiful and likable and the sets are unbelievable. The music is great and when Minnelli sings "New York New York" you can't take your eyes from the screen. Also old time stage actor Larry Kert (who sadly died on AIDS in 1991) pops up at the "Happy Endings" sequence--what a voice!

A lot of people find this film sick and too dark--it is, but it IS a Martin Scorsese film. It should be reissued again and find a new audience. It's been over 20 years. Well worth seeing.
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Often Brilliant In Spite of Major Flaws
gftbiloxi24 March 2005
Released in 1977, Martin Scorsese's NEW YORK, NEW YORK instantly divided critical response--and, facing box office competition from no less than STAR WARS, proved a major financial failure. A significantly edited re-release followed not long afterward but proved even less well received and even less profitable. Although a double VHS release eventually brought the film to the home market, the film remained unpopular and made barely a ripple in public consciousness. In 2005, however, NEW YORK, NEW YORK received an unexpected release to DVD. At long last it may begin to reach a significant audience.

As a story, NEW YORK, NEW YORK draws from a number of oddly "Noir-ish" musicals made at Warner Bros. in the late 1940s. Most particularly, according to Scorsese's commentary, it drew from MY DREAM IS YOURS, a film that not only starred Doris Day but actually reflected her life in its tale of a talented big band "girl singer" trapped in an abusive marriage with a musician. Although the film force-fed the audience a happy ending, later films would not. In the mid-1950s, Doris Day's LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME and Judy Garland's A STAR IS BORN offered stories of a gifted female vocalists locked into disastrous romances that played out to a very distinctly unhappy ending, and NEW YORK, NEW YORK draws from them as well.

Scorsese not only repeats the basic stories and themes of these films, he also repeats the artificially heightened visual style typical of Hollywood films of the 1940s and 1950s--it is no accident that Liza Minnelli looks and sings remarkably like mother Judy Garland in this film--but he does so to an entirely unexpected end. The bravado performing style of such films is completely snatched away, and the characters are presented in an almost documentary-like realism. In theory, each aspect of the film would emphasize the other; in fact, however, this was precisely what critics and audiences disliked about the film when it debuted. They considered it extremely grating.

But perhaps the passage of time has opened our eyes on the point. I saw NEW YORK, NEW YORK in its 1977 release and, music aside, I disliked it a great deal. I expected to retain that opinion when I approached the DVD release, but I was greatly surprised. It holds up remarkably well, and most of the time the balance of artifice and reality works very well. But there are significant flaws. In a general sense, the film has a cold feel to it that occasionally becomes so downright chilly you begin to detach from it. But even more difficult is the character of Jimmy Doyle, the abusive husband of the piece.

The recent DVD release includes a noteworthy director's commentary, and Scorsese states that both he and actor Robert De Niro sought to push the character far beyond the extremes of MY DREAM IS YOURS, LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME, or A STAR IS BORN. They were perhaps more successful than they expected. The result is a character you actively do not want to watch or hear, and although we are eventually allowed to see beyond his annoying qualities that moment comes much too late in the film to make him acceptable in any significant way. It makes for more than one bout of uphill viewing.

Overall, I recommend the film--but it is very much a "Hollywood Insider" film that is probably best left to those who know a great deal about film history and who can recognize the numerous antecedents from which it draws.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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Does Marty love 'em or hate 'em?
movibuf19621 November 2004
There *are* things to love in NYNY. But over and over again I kept coming back to this thought: does director Martin Scorsese (a genius storyteller) really love musicals, or is he, in fact, satirizing them here? I can't find any other explanation for the creation of a leading character (DeNiro) so self-absorbed, rude, brutish, and jealous of his future wife's (Minnelli) growing fame, while at the same time trying so hard to establish his own fortune with a tenor sax. It's like there's a highly pitched voice of reason trying to remind the audience that in real life, people aren't so happy as they always seem to be in musicals. I know everyone doesn't love (some of you proudly hate) musicals, but usually one can find something redeeming in the characters who populate the stories. For 2 1/2 hours of film, we are presented with a love story which borders on spousal abuse, and somehow be expected to care about the husband. It doesn't work. And yet, Scorsese bends over backward to recreate the 1940's musical/big band atmosphere, from Hawaiian shirts and two-tone spectator shoes to sumptuous big band pieces, not to mention a charming pair of dancers (channeling Gene Kelly and Vera-Ellen?) spotted on a subway ledge or a sultry torch singer in a Harlem nightclub (a cameoed Diahnne Abbott, whose 11th-hour performance of 'Honeysuckle Rose' tips a well-fitted hat to Billie Holiday). One critic seemed to personally resent the channeling of mother Garland through daughter Minnelli (particularly in the supper club where the title song is stunningly performed with all guns blazing), but I think that was very much on purpose. Even though she got much bigger acclaim for "Cabaret," I think Minnelli reached the peak of her musical talents in this film. I loved her. I just didn't love them, and unfortunately, that kept me from loving the whole project. Watch it on DVD, and skip to your favorite parts.
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liza1126 February 2001
New York, New York is Scorcese's most underrated film. Ahead of its time, out of the mainstream of mundane tastes, and both a tribute and a criticism of the musicals of the 40s and 50s, New York, New York is constantly misunderstood - especially by a culture weened on Rambos and Die Hards. DeNiro is a misogynist; Minnelli, a codependent. The characters are not necessarily supposed to be likeable or easily understood. They are consciously not written to be cozy, comfey typical boy-meets-girl characters. Like any couple caught in the disease of romantic addiction and career obsession, Jimmy Doyle (DeNiro) and Francine Evans (Minnelli) depict flaws that approach hyper-visibility within the context of fake scenery, big brassy musical numbers, a slow pace, and sparse dialogue. It's not that there isn't any normative plot; there just doesn't NEED to be one. Through its minimalism, NY, NY breaks boundaries for musicals in the way that Ingmar Berman films broke ground for European movies. In the 70s, people were tired of musicals and Star Wars had been released. Out with the "old," in with the new. NY, NY only LOOKED like the old movies that modern culture was trying to get away from. Had people looked at it as parody (a trend that was to consume 80s cinema), NYNY would have been seen through a truer lens. DeNiro is tempermental, insensitive, and bombastic. Minnelli is shy and patient. DeNiro is jealous and insecure. Minnelli is focused and self-assured. Minnelli, in fact, not only evokes the period, she IS the period. Her doe-shaped eyes are not lost behind her extravagant custumes, and Minnelli's voice is the best of her career, displaying everything from subtlety (in songs like "You are my Lucky Star," and "There Goes the Ball Game") to power and emotion (in "But the World Goes 'Round," and "The Man I Love"). Minnelli's classic rendition of the title song is a show stopper, coming on the heals of a 15-minute production number entitled "Happy Endings" that takes the film into a three-dimensional surreality, for within "Happy Endings" (the movie within the movie) is a ANOTHER movie called "Aces High," where a sequined Liza combines the personas of Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russel into a single glamorous diva. The film's downbeat ending is actually a sign of strength for the Minnelli character, and DeNiro's Doyle is left alone to ponder the love he left behind.
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Cad/creep/jerk marries, then dominates, woman
helpless_dancer26 June 2001
Good musical with De Niro and Minelli giving excellent performances as a pair of aggravating people. Both of them constantly had me grinding my teeth over their silly inability to get along with either each other or, in De Niro's case, with most anybody else. This sax blowing moron couldn't get his mind off himself long enough to notice that there were other folks in the world along with his royal presence. What a s**t! Francine Evans, Minelli, hacked me off about as much as the donuthead she married because he was so transparently phony and she still fell for his every line. Are women stupid? Even though I despised Jimmy Doyle and was aghast at Francine's glossy eyed belief in every thing that came out of this con man's platinum tonsiled throat, I still enjoyed the film, especially the big band music....and Liza can really belt out a song...besides being pretty.
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This film is at its best in the longest 164-min. form.
james36200110 August 2002
What is fantastic and wonderful about this film is the music, the sets and when Liza Minnelli sings. Liza is superb in her performance and Robert DeNiro plays a character that is arrogant, brutal and slightly erratic in a way that only DeNiro can perform. His character is quite disturbing to watch as the film takes a serious turn. There are several twists and turns in this film. Try to see the 2 hours + 44 min. version that includes more of the "Happy Ending" musical number that features Larry Kent. Beware of prints that have been cut down to 153 min. and 137 min. This film is at its best in the 164 min. form. I enjoy the performance of the woman who sings "Honeysuckle Rose". Whether this movie has a happy ending is something to behold. It can be best interpreted by the viewer. Some woman (and men) may say "hurray" for Liza while Alpha-males may be on the DeNiro's character's side. Watch Liza for her excellent, dramatic performance. This is one film I wish they could have made a sequel to.
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Start Spreading the News, This Movie Is Crap
evanston_dad17 March 2008
Martin Scorsese's deconstruction of the golden Hollywood musical is a meandering disaster.

"New York, New York" is damn near unwatchable. It tells the VERY slight story of a jackass saxophone player (Robert De Niro) who falls in love with a nightclub singer (Liza Minelli) and proceeds to emotionally abuse her until her life is miserable. De Niro is consistently one note in his performance, creating a character without a single redeeming feature. In his early scenes, I think we're supposed to be charmed by him, and by extension understand why Minelli's character would fall for him in the first place -- unfortunately, he comes across more as a creepy sociopath than anything, Travis Bickle with some musical talent. Minelli's role is utterly thankless, but she's absolutely the only thing that kept me watching. The last 40 minutes of the film is practically a Liza Minelli concert. Her character has vaulted to film stardom and left her loser husband in the dust; Scorsese devotes what feels like half an hour to a movie within a movie featuring Minelli in one of those epic ballet scenes that always derailed Gene Kelly musicals. It does the same to this film, but the diversion was welcome, since it meant we could enjoy a nice break from De Niro.

The movie grinds on for 163(!) minutes. At the 120 minute mark I wanted to cry. At the 150 minute mark I was beaten into submission by indifference. By that point, the film had been going on for far too long, yet at the same time I couldn't believe it would be ending in 10 minutes because it didn't seem to be moving toward any kind of resolution.

Scorsese seemed to be unaware that this story had already been told -- maybe he'd never heard of "A Star Is Born." More likely, he was paying homage to that film, but he created something that on its own terms has no reason for existence.

Grade: D
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This film makes my top 20 of all time! I kid you not!
gasgiant19 June 2001
New York, New York is a marvel. The beautiful production design of this dark chamber musical helps us see a side of post-War America many of us are unfamiliar with. The destructive relationship of lead characters Francine Evans and Jimmy Doyle (Liza Minelli and Robert DeNiro) does not obscure their obvious love for each other and their music. The film is a burgundy-tinged valentine to the musicals of the 40's, and there is frequent wonderful humor and a delightful supporting turn by Lionel Stander. Do not listen to the nay-sayers; this is Martin Scorsese's finest film.
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Flawed but interesting
zetes28 June 2009
Scorsese's flop musical (it opened against Star Wars), starring Robert De Niro and Liza Minnelli. It's getting more respect nowadays (actually that began in 1981, when a longer version, the version I watched, was released), but it's mostly considered one of his least good movies. I'd definitely agree with that, but it is interesting. The film has two major faults: first, De Niro is simply despicable. I mean, he is in Raging Bull, too, but you always know you aren't supposed to like Jake La Motta. Jimmy Doyle, on the other hand, I think we're supposed to kind of like and sympathize with. But from his first appearance, where he pesters Liza Minnelli to a degree that would even make Gene Kelly in An American in Paris think he's a possible rapist, I just couldn't tolerate him. I kept thinking, "Girl, get away from this guy. He's dangerous. At the very least, he's going to beat you silly." We never quite understand Doyle like we do La Motta or even Travis Bickle. He just comes off as a baby, not as a pathetic schlub. The second flaw is in the film's basic gimmick: the art design is artificial in a way that recalls the classic Hollywood musicals of the '40s and '50s, but the acting and level of realism is much more in line with the gritty films of the time. That in itself is fine, but I kept thinking Scorsese was trying to say something with that. Yet it never comes through what that is. The only answer I can think of is that he was trying to criticize Hollywood in its Golden Age. That's fine by me, but he never brings that argument up in the text. Personally, I think he just wanted to do it and had no deeper reason. So what's good about the film? Well, I do like the art design, even if it never really makes any sense. Liza Minnelli is quite good. The music is pretty good, too. I especially liked the half hour or so that works up to the climax. And that scene in the hospital is exceptional, and the only time where De Niro rises to the talent he normally displays.
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Not perfect but fasacinating
Tommy-927 June 2001
I have not seen any of Martin Scorsese or Robert De Niro's other, grittier films, but I definitly enjoyed their work in this under-rated 1977 musical drama. Scorsese certainly came up with a brilliant idea - Contrasting the glitz and glamour of the 1940s and 1950s movie musicals and jazz nightclubs with a harsly realistic story about a can't-live-with, can't-live-without relationship between a charming but abusive jazz saxophonist and a vulnerable but strong singer - and in many ways it pays off. De Niro gave a great performance; he can go from likeable to dispicable in a breath. Really fascinating to watch, and I can certainly see why so many people consider him brillian. Liza Minnelli, as his wife, is also great. Of course, her singing is incredible - in standards like "The Man I Love," the delightful "You Brought A New Kind Of Love To Me," which in true Hollywood fashion she launches into out of nowhere and performs so well (Backed up by De Niro on sax) that they both land a job at a club, and "You Are My Lucky Star" and new songs written for the film by Kander and Ebb like "But the 'World GOes Round" and, of course, the title tune - and her acting is also subtle, shaded, and sympathetic. Not to mention how fetching (And eerily like her mother, Judy Garland) she looks in Theordora Van Runkle's period costumes. She is just as good as, and perhaps even better at times, than she was in her more famous performance in "Cabaret." SHe and De Niro really should have been Oscar-nominated for their powerful performances here, and Scorsese really should've gotten a nod as well. But the film flopped, so the Academy didn't notice. Which is really too bad, because this movie definitly deserves another look, especially in its restored version which includes a fantastic production number cut from the original print, "Happy Endings," performed by Minnelli and Larry Kert, Tony in the original Broadway production of "West Side Story," that does a great job of reiterating the movie's themes. True, the film is a little too long and slow at times, and there's more than a little unneccessary footage that didn't really need to be there, but all in all it's a very interesting, under-rated gem. It certainly has gotten me interested in Scorsese and De Niro's other films...
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Like a "Raging Bull" Musical
Everett Jones15 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
New York, New York is an ambitious failure. There are a lot of good things in it, but rarely do they ever seem to quite fit together into a consistent whole. You have to give Scorsese credit for trying to do something new, as he has done throughout his career despite the oft-repeated charge that he does the same thing over and over again. In this case, however, his gamble didn't pay off. Some of the tensions inherent in the "New Hollywood's" attitude towards Hollywood's past can be seen in New York, New York. With this movie, Scorsese sought to create a tribute to the big-band musicals of the 40s, while placing at its center a typically hard-to-like protagonist. Robert De Niro plays a talented but abrasive saxophonist who seemingly can't get along with anyone for any length of time, least of all his wife, played by Liza Minnelli. In the extended opening sequence, they meet cute at a V-J celebration, though, in a sign of things to come, the way in which De Niro tries to pick up Minnelli is distinctly creepy in its aggressiveness. She turns out to be a gifted singer, and they become partners, first singing together at a nightclub, then going on the road with a band, before his jealousy of her success finally drives them apart. After the low-budget success of Taxi Driver, Scorsese was riding high, and he was given the chance to mount his follow-up on a big scale. Just as the story and situation mimic those of old musicals, New York, New York's production design aims to recreate those movies' stylized, artificial sets and visuals. The sets are spare and designed in bold colors, while the car scenes utilize obvious rear-projection. At the same time as he is replicating the world of Hollywood musicals, Scorsese is also trying to subvert it's sentimentality by introducing his own brand of gritty emotional realism. Coppola tried to do something similar in One from the Heart; Scorsese's movie is much better, but it still doesn't work. At times, he seems to be doing a run-through for his next and much better movie, Raging Bull. In both films De Niro plays a volatile, jealous character who makes life difficult for everyone around him and never learns from his mistake. Of course, Jimmy Doyle is a little more bearable than Jake La Motta, but the fact remains that the character is just too unpleasant for the context of a musical. As despicable as he was, La Motta seemed to belong in the tough world of tenements, nightclubs, and boxing rings in which we saw him. If his character never really changed, then that was one of the main points of Raging Bull. In New York, New York, though, the characters are similarly unchanging, but they also remain strictly on the surface, as superficial as the studio-built world they inhabit. Scorsese seems to have mistaken unpleasantness for profundity.
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So good they named it twice?No,not really,
ianlouisiana13 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I wouldn't describe "New York,New York" as a musical,rather it's a film about music that uses some of the conventions of the musical. One of the leads,Mr Robert de Niro neither sings nor dances.The other, Miss Liza Minelli,does both. Mr de Niro plays a jazz musician,a good one but not a great one. Jazz musicians tend to be obsessive about their music.This can interfere with their acquisition of social skills.Mr de Niro's character possesses poor social skills. Miss Minelli's character is a little more polished and a lot more talented.I can understand her admiring Mr de Niro's saxophone playing but I cannot accept her marrying him.He is,basically,a pig. She is going to go far - he is going to go to Butte,Montana.That is patently obvious very early on.He might be a good sideman,but he's a lousy leader.If he were to be honest with her he'd say "Stick with me kid and I'll drag you down". He is no better a father than he is a husband and they split up. Mr Scorsese is not in the happy endings business. Mr de Niro carries on playing his saxophone in 3rd rate venues,Miss Minelli becomes a big star. There is not a lot of plot to get in the way of the music. Mr de Niro considers he has musical integrity - jazzspeak for earning peanuts,Miss Minelli has sparkly dresses and big hair. The "big number",later adopted by Mr Frank Sinatra as his own,is full of N.Y. slick self-regard,but undeniably well done. Mr Scorsese doesn't seem much interested in "nice" characters although there are a few dotted about in some of his films,rather like "token" presences.The token count in "New York,New York" is quite low. It is not a film I watched with much pleasure.
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Very annoying and tedious movie
exzur129 November 2006
Ms. Minnelli's vocal talent is the only saving grace of this movie. At this time and age, (2000's), very few people can relate to the dysfunctional relationship between the two leading characters. This explains why the plot was set at a time before psychiatric help is commonly available. before there were strong laws against stalkers and abusive spouses. The only sequel that would be befitting this movie would be if the child of the two characters would grow up to be like Jim Morrison or Kurt Colbain, self-destructive adolescents. The only thing that would make sense why this movie is made is if both the writer and the director are trying to release their own demons of a psyche.
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marty making good use of a large budget
usbobcat28 November 2001
In my opinion this is one of Scorsese's best films. One could only imagine what he(Martin) would have wanted for the final cut. Bob gives another A+ preformance, along with Liza. For the "Happy Endings" sequence, I would say that is some of Scorsese's best direction ever. A viewer might think this film is a little long... well, I say get some balls and enjoy the show, it's worth every minute. 9/10
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More a monster movie than a musical
mockturtle23 July 2005
Girls, are you looking for that special someone? That special guy that will mock you when you're happy and kick you when you're down? Belittle your triumphs and hover waiting for you to mess up? Envelope you in a cozy cloud of never-ending contempt? Now you can have him on DVD for 164 minutes! He'll take everything you accomplish as a personal affront to himself, he'll bully and cajole you into dating him, sleeping with him, even marrying him! Not only that, but for a limited time he will get you pregnant, cheat on you, drive you to drink heavily while pregnant, beat you up, then walk out on you when you have the kid! And best of all he doesn't have a centime of charisma or anything that will explain to anyone why you put up with it. Supplies are limited, must have a daddy complex, no purchase necessary you can rent it at your local video store.

The misogyny and misanthropy on full display in "Raging Bull" get a try-out here. Pardon me if I still think Scorcese is a great filmmaker while not loving one of his most successful movies: instead of real drama I found most of "Raging Bull" to be "SMACK! Were you looking at him!? Were you >Smack!<" then cut to six months later ">SMACK!<" Well it is a stretch of the imagination to think that nobody would have killed Jimmy Doyle in "New York, New York" just for being so unremittingly irritating. He's such a scumbag that when the band fails under his command he says it was the musicians' fault which is proved wrong when the uptight but consistent piano players turns the band into a success and Jimmy shows he has no class by disrupting their show. I think DeNiro became confused between avoiding pandering and creating a character that we would root to see fail. And look how much it takes for her to finally leave him, he has to leave her and his child for six years first beforeher great triumph is that she doesn't come back for even more.

Who wouldn't want the father of their child to say to them after an incredibly successful concert, "I'm proud of you, in a way. In a way I'm not, but in a way, I am"? This film just doesn't cut it, mainly because of that. The old sets are great, the recreation of the MGM musical ("Happy Endings" sequence) is great, the songs are all right, and if they could conquer what DeNiro did to the character they could turn it into an okay stage musical. One surprising thing is how poorly Liza Minelli lipsynchs. She'll be hitting a high note and not opening her mouth at all when we all know she looks like an open airport hangar whenever she tops out.

I'm sorry, this film was so irritating it just makes me want to snipe at it. If anyone ever says that DeNiro had irresistible charisma then this film proves them wrong. He blew it.

And by the way: Liza Minelli plays a girl who has to struggle but makes it big, then in the play within a play ("Happy Endings") she plays a girl that only makes it big in her dreams. In reality it is a lot more convenient to be born the daughter of Judy Garland.
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scorsese's passion is clearly evident in all his movies, same in this case...
harrsh857 August 2007
to enjoy and understand this movie, one has to view it differently and there are certain requirements and they are, u has to be a fan of scorsese films, u must have observed and analysed his films...

the requirements are because this is a musical film and it might not be one of the best musical films made but this is a martin scorsese's musical film and that is the whole point, marty doing a musical, it may sound ironical but that's the beauty, he did musical...

basically i don't like musicals, in fact i hate it but it is not in this case , i watched it, i liked it and i am going to watch it again bec i liked it. there is a misconception in audience that marty is good in gangster films alone but it is not like that bec he is the one who experimented himself in all kind of films, he did sports movie, periodic pieces, noir, biographical films, in fact comedy too, so is now; a musical...

believe me, i never imagined a musical like this, u can see only in marty's films using intellectual camera movements, using more reds and other contrasty colors and the characterisation of the lead characters, usually in musicals u cant see deep emotional complexed characters, so the description goes on...

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Hollywood fantasy clashes with Scorsese's vision of reality in this under-appreciated quasi-musical…
Andrew Boone24 May 2015
The first thing that needs to be said about Scorsese's highly underrated "New York, New York" is that it can't possibly be fully appreciated by anyone who hasn't seen films like "An American in Paris" and "Singin' in the Rain". Scorsese's film is very much a pastiche (or parody, depending on your perspective) of these earlier musicals by MGM. The entire formula for the film is based around them. Stylistically attractive visuals, light and witty dialogue, a romance at the center of the story, and a foray into narratively digressive musical territory toward the end of the film. It's all there.

This hypotextual reflection of Hollywood's golden age, however, is only half the picture. The other half is that this is very much a Scorsese film, despite many claims to the contrary. Scorsese's hallmarks are all over it. We have Robert De Niro in the lead role, playing an oppressive, dominant alpha male personality type, amplified by a bit of that good old-fashioned Italian-American upbringing that Scorsese knew so well. Harvey Keitel played this character in "Who's That Knocking at My Door" and "Mean Streets" (and even "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore", in a lesser role), and now, for "Taxi Driver", "New York, New York", "Raging Bull", and even "Casino", it's De Niro.

I've seen nineteen Scorsese films, and this is by far the most cinematographically impressive of them all. The lighting is flawless; the direction exemplary. Scorsese has always been a top talent in terms of his technical skills as a director, but visually, this film is stunning on an entirely different level. The film's aesthetic seeks to mimic the visual attractiveness of those classic Hollywood musicals (Scorsese even gives us a few false backgrounds, just for good measure), and in that way it was very successful. This film is eye candy on a par with Wong Kar-wai's "In the Mood for Love", Korine's "Spring Breakers", Refn's "Only God Forgives", or Fassbinder's "Lola".

As for the film's content, about which too little has been written, the entire thematic core of the film is reflected in the casting of its two principal parts: First, we have Robert De Niro, the classic Scorsese casting choice, playing very much the same character we've seen him play in other Scorsese films. On the other end, we have Liza Minnelli, the daughter of none other than Judy Garland, the ultra-famous musical actress of Hollywood's glory days. And Liza's father? Vincente Minelli, director of famous Hollywood musicals like "The Band Wagon", "Gigi", and "An American in Paris". Scorsese throws these two characters together in a violent tempest of passion and suffocating possessiveness. But we, the audience, are also witnessing two worlds being thrown together: De Niro represents Scorsese's world — his vision of a reality steeped in alpha male aggression and hyper-possessiveness over females — and Liza Minnelli, daughter of the golden age of Hollywood, represents that other, make-believe world of American culture — that unique brand of lighthearted escapism and pure cinematic fantasy that Hollywood produced so enticingly in the '30s, '40s, and '50s. Cinematically, we are watching traditional Hollywood fantasy pitted against a vaguely Cassavetes-esque realism.

What will happen when these two disparate realities attempt to coexist? Well, Scorsese doesn't offer an outright answer, except to say it will be difficult — extremely difficult. Hollywood fantasy has created in the American mentality a world of misplaced priorities and unrealistic expectations regarding life. When the film begins, Minnelli's character seems to have her life together in a way that few Scorsese characters do (naturally, since she's not from Scorsese's world — she is born of that distant land called Hollywood). And then De Niro enters her life, from the other end of the spectrum, and emotionally shatters her to pieces. And so it's very much a film about the conflict between reality and fantasy. Ultimately, reality obliterates fantasy.

The musical detour (the film-within-the-film at the end of the movie) has been the source of a lot of criticism, but once again, no one who's seen "An American in Paris" or "Singin' in the Rain" would be surprised by it. It was a structural necessity if the film was going to accurately echo the formula of those older films, as it clearly intended to do. That being said, I will admit that, at 160+ minutes in length, to abandon over two hours of plot and move into a musical digression so late in the film certainly tests the viewer's patience. There is a moment in this segment, however, that makes it all worthwhile. In this moment, we see movie theater viewers sitting in their seats watching a film, looking straight at us (the camera is placed behind what would be the screen of their theater), and behind them is the projector, casting its image directly at us. And so just as we are sitting in our theater watching them stare at the screen (at us), they are, perhaps, sitting in their theater watching us stare at our screen. And so Scorsese subtly implicates us into the film's themes of fantasy versus reality. Their reality has become our fantasy, and, possibly, our reality has become their fantasy.

The final shot of the film is a reference to Gene Kelly's most memorable moment from "Singin' in the Rain". De Niro is in the street. He stands still, propping himself up with an umbrella. The camera pans down to his feet, pausing on them for a moment. The credits roll. We are left to savor the bitter and disenchanting taste of a reality so contrary to the one that Hollywood has offered us. De Niro was standing on a road that could have very well been the same one on which Gene Kelly sung in the rain with his umbrella. But there is no singing here, the umbrella is closed, and those feet aren't dancing. Reality has decimated the Hollywood fantasy.

RATING: 8.00 out of 10 stars
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Should have been shorter!
Syl22 May 2010
This film is Martin Scorsese's tribute to the city that never sleeps, New York City. Scorsese is not only a native New Yorker but one of the city's finest residents. There are some problems with this film that are apparent like the ending. I don't get it. He brings together Robert DeNiro and Liza Minnelli but it's Liza's film especially in the musical numbers. The film is over 2 hours and 43 minutes long. It should have been edited. There was some problems with the script. Of course, Liza and Robert are brilliant in their roles of a USO singer, Francine Evans, and musician/con man Jimmy Doyle. Like I said, there was a lot that could have been cut from the film to condense it into a solid film. The performances were excellent. You really get to the stars' acting skills and the title song is classic. I don't know why it wasn't awarded the Oscar for original song because it's one of the most played songs about New York since it debuted.
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Love of a saxman and a singer
kardykush26 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
So,that's the famous New York New York?Come on,give me a break!I was so annoyed with Jimmy Doyle,I couldn't enjoy a minute of it.So that supposed to be a love story?Where is love,may I ask?All I see is a man who's so selfish that he wants everything at his hand and a woman who has no brains of her own at all. I mean OK,Robert De Niro is a great actor,he's one of my favourites of all time,Liza Minelli has an awesome voice,the Broadway sequence is really great,Martin Scorsesse is a great master,but what's the point of this picture?What does it tell?What it is about?I am giving it a 4 out of 10,only for the sake of De Niro's great acting which has no match in the world and Minelli's amazing voice which can make even her face presentable.Other than these...I've seen a lot better...A lot lot better! EDIT-Jimmy leaving his son like that,because of that reason?That's not human behavior!Darth Vader cares about Luke more!
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Talent galore, but bad vibrations in place of emotions...
moonspinner5530 October 2005
Whose misguided decision was it to make Robert De Niro's character a complete creep throughout this picture? Playing an impatient, hot-headed saxophone player in New York City on VJ Day, De Niro meets lovely Liza Minnelli at a party; she turns out to be a talented songbird, yet his jealousy and paranoia quickly puts their musical romance on the rocks. You have to laugh at some of De Niro's over-the-top stupidities (the movie would be a real downer if you didn't), yet director Martin Scorsese doesn't provide enough relief from De Niro's outbursts. "New York, New York" is certainly handsome enough, and the songs (chestnuts and new additions) are terrific, but the plot builds no momentum and Liza's love-interest comes off as somewhat masochistic. Who would stay with this guy so long? Heavy-handed, heavy-going movie has the feeling of an expensive experiment, and Scorsese at times appears to be winging it with his leads. Minnelli searches in vain for a tighter direction, and she doesn't look comfortable with dramatic improvisation (her song numbers were probably carefully planned out, and in these instances she shines). The finale is moving--almost in spite of itself--and the picture may actually have something to say about abusive relationships and letting go. There are moments of heartbreak and passion, but just as many scenes with nothing but flailing about. **1/2 from ****
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All Singin'! All Dancin'! All Depressin'!!
Merwyn Grote30 April 2004
In one of those stunning displays of illogic that can only exist in truly bad films, Martin Scorsese has slavishly recreated the look and feel of old-time movie musicals only so that he can tell a dark and abusive story designed to show just how artificial those old-time musicals were. The result is less a celebration than a eulogy. Indeed, even his template for this film is not anything by Astaire and Rogers or Gene Kelly or even MGM, but the torch song tear-jerking melodramas like A STAR IS BORN or LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME. Musical salutes to domestic violence, as it were. Leave it to Scorsese to resurrect a comatose genre, only so that he could recreate its most depressing subcategory.

To his credit, Scorsese certainly did nail the look of those old Hollywood films. Actually, he surpassed them. The art direction is a clever blend of the somewhat realistic and the obviously artificial and the cinematography catches the richness and the textures of the pseudo-Technicolor. Some scenes in the film are sights to behold. Nobody should doubt Scorsese's eye for visuals. It is his empathy for humanity that so often falls short.

Even so, NYNY as a musical isn't much to talk about; as a love story it is a disaster. The two stars, Liza Minnelli and Robert DeNiro, have no chemistry personally, plus they come from two different acting backgrounds that don't mesh at all. Liza is theatrical pizzazz, while Robert is grunt and groan method. This is made worse by a screenplay in which they are given little to do beyond argue. The incongruity of the two styles, the two characters and the two actors remains at the forefront since so many of their scenes are confrontational. In concept, I suppose, the oil-and-water idea of a show biz sassy Sally Boles sharing the stage with an inarticulate schmo like Jack LaMotta seems amusing; in action, its just embarrassing.

Minnelli, no doubt, was hired because she was the biggest musical movie star at the time (and being Judy Garland's daughter didn't hurt either). DeNiro is here because, well, because it is a Martin Scorsese movie. Whatever the case, the two actors do not register as a couple. Minnelli comes off best and, at least, gets the opportunity to belt out a couple of songs. It is not surprising that her best moments come when she is center stage alone. Her rendition of the title song is the film's show-stopping highlight; indeed, it is the only reason to endure the rest of the movie. Unfortunately, DeNiro, once again giving a one-note performance of a one-note character, is insufferable. He rants and raves and generally overacts, never once revealing a positive or even engaging aspect to the character, a paranoid, possessive and self-obsessed creep. Sort of a Jake LaMotta with a saxophone. Had the film allowed us to see a side of him that would make him appealing to Minnelli, if not the audience, or even showed him to be a clear-cut villain, exploiting Minnelli's talent to enhance his own career, then at least there would be a reason for the romance/marriage to exist. As is, the two are a couple as a plot device only.

Indeed, as the lumbering story builds to a finale in which the big question is whether the two will reunite, the only genuine response is "Who cares?" The maddening thing about NEW YORK NEW YORK is not just the utter emptiness of the drama, but the waste of effort that went behind it. Scorsese obviously went to great lengths to recreate the look, sound and tone of 1940/50's movies, then squanders it all on a story that had little hope whatsoever of being anything but dull and dreary. Once again, as a stylist, Scorsese is a master; as a person with a sense of empathy and a soul he doesn't even bother. Great movies are made with the heart as well as the eye. As the old saying goes, he can play the notes, but he can't play the music.
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Start Spreadin' the News...
mrandy12 May 2002
Scorsese's try at a musical starts off promisingly enough. Jimmy Doyle (De Niro) has returned from the war and he is looking to score. He tries his worst pick up lines on every girl in town. Then he meets Francine Evans (Minelli) who won't give him the time of day. Through some mildly interesting circumstances these two get together and hit it off. Then New York, New York drops the ball. Up to this point it has been light-hearted and somewhat clever. When the characters jump into song, it is certainly reasonable that they would -- a realistic musical?

The movie then gets overlong and over-boring. The magic was never captured and the characters become less likable, instead of more likable. I guess I was hoping for a "modern" Holiday Inn in that I was looking for a solid story within a musical world. But the musical numbers are few and far, far between. By the end, this feels like a movie that didn't know what it wanted to be -- serious drama, silly fun, or musical showcase. Instead we get parts of all three in a 2 hour and 45 minute film -- and it didn't have that much story to tell. If Scorsese had pinned down a genre for this movie I'm sure he'd of nailed it, but instead the talented De Nero and Minelli go to waste.

Grade: C
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Scorsese's New York, New York just doesn't work.
lairdg25 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The thing about Scorsese's New York, New York is that people seem either to love it or hate it - I'm with the latter - but even those who love it seem compelled to admit that there are parts of it they hate. These include, but are not limited to, the plot, the characters, the actors, the direction and the sets. What's wrong with this picture?

The film is excruciatingly overlong, even "trimmed" to the current 165 minutes - a complete production number, now restored, was cut after its initial run in the interest of time - and yet there is take after interminable take of DeNiro inwardly emoting to telephones, saxophones, blank walls,virtually anything that would stand still and be photographed. This elevates self-indulgence almost to an art, but it's painful to watch,and worse than that, it's boring.

So it's a "dark" 1970's take on the movie musical. There's no happy ending. I get it. Fine. But if you want to see a dark, unhappy musical, see Love Me or Leave Me, incidentally one of Doris Day's finest performances. It delivers what New York,New York doesn't.

Much has been made of Scorsese's brave attempt at a genre for which he wasn't known, but he did that twenty years later, and spectacularly, with The Age of Innocence. Oddly, that one has slipped off the radar as well, but it doesn't deserve it.

New York, New York does. Let's face it, Marty muffed it with this one. It was panned by the critics and ignored by the public when it was first released, and it deserves no better now. It is not a "lost" gem; it is a rightfully discarded failure.
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Seasame Stree is more engaging and Oscar the Grouch more likable
acts212025 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Train wrecks are disturbing, because there is something about them that makes us want to watch. That pretty much describes this movie.

I am not a big fan or DeNiro or Scorcese - and I like Liza only a little - but I'm a huge musical fan. One of the things I like about musicals is the inevitable development between the two lead characters. That doesn't exist on any level with these two characters. The 'marriage scene' is highly disturbing. When Jimmy "proposes," it sounds like a threat. When he manipulates her into marrying him, it is controlling and abusive.

The only logical reason I can see for Liza's character even being remotely interested in this guy is that at the beginning of the film she seems to be on something of a rebound; there is a song that hints as to the psyche of her character, and why she might be attracted to this evil self centered man. (I think the song is called, 'The Man I love")other than that, there is NO logical reason for her to respond to this horrendous mockery of a man who deserves love.

He does nothing to earn her respect, to validate her response to him, or to encourage tender or compassionate love. Liza's character seems always on the verge of breaking out of the 'little woman role' that is representative of women of that period. If she had done that, this would have possibly been redeemable. But as it is, the strength of the female lead is furtive and amorphous - and ultimately,the failure of the female lead to develop is one of the harshest disappointments of this film.
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Hard work hard work
ptb-85 March 2004
Isn't it irritating when your are so ready to love a movie and it turns out to be boring. In the 70s I ran a cinema and we were very excited to screen NYNY. The trailer was excellent, the look and style of all the imagery on display was there for the lapping up........and then the movie went on and on and on repeating scenes and showcasing probably the most irritating leading male character ever in a film.....until the next Scorcese film with an Italian who beat up women. In the film trunk of the 35mm print was a note: "You can leave out reel 7" and we did and we didn't..and it made NO difference to the film if we did...reel 7 was yet another visit to a nightclub and yet another fight. The one part we all wanted to see was the well publicized 17 minute Happy Endings number which to our collective horror was cut to 3 minutes. Years later it was all there, reel 7 and the whole number, but the labor requited to just sit there all through it....well I haven't been that bored since I saw the stupidly cruel remake of Cape Fear and the second half of CASINO. NYNY should be soooooooo good. I wish it was.
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