A psychologically troubled novelty supplier is nudged towards a romance with an English woman, all the while being extorted by a phone-sex line run by a crooked mattress salesman, and purchasing stunning amounts of pudding.
Paul Thomas Anderson
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Recent college graduate Benjamin Braddock is trapped into an affair with Mrs. Robinson, who happens to be the wife of his father's business partner and then finds himself falling in love with her daughter, Elaine.
I'll step out of the loop here about "New York Stories," three tales of New York from 1989, directed by three formidable directors: Martin Scorcese, Francis Ford Coppola and Woody Allen. I happen to think all three films had something to offer, and the fact that the Zoe sequence is about a child does not for me make it the weakest segment.
I found the Scorcese segment starring Nick Nolte and Roseanna Arquette the most thought-provoking, the Zoe segment the most charming, and the Allen segment the wackiest. The first episode is about a tortured artist (Nolte) who expresses his sexual frustrations and problems with his young protégée (Arquette) in his work. She no longer sleeps with him and wants to quit New York and go home; he wants to kiss her foot and professes undying love for her. To Puccini's Nessun Dorma, he stares at his artwork and goes through a variety of emotions as he paints another masterpiece. This particular muse in the form of Arquette used up, one sees him at his art show connecting with another would-be artist/muse whose identity will also be lost in his genius.
The second sequence, directed by Coppola, is a take-off on the Eloise stories by Kay Thompson. This little girl's name is Zoe. Her father, Claudio Montez (Giancarlo Giannini), is a famous flautist who travels, and her mother (Talia Shire) is a photo journalist who travels. Zoe lives with a butler and her dog Vegas at the Sherry Netherlands Hotel. She proves herself smarter than either parent in this charming film. My only question is why Giancarlo Giannini speaks Italian to his daughter when the name Claudio Montez is emphatically not Italian. Okay, it wasn't typical Coppola, but who said it had to be? The last one is pure Woody, Oedipus Wrecks, about a man with a nagging, critical mother who wants to marry a young woman (Mia Farrow) with children. He loves his mother, but he wishes she'd disappear. During a magic show, he gets his wish, when his mother goes into a magician's box and never comes out. Later she shows up in the sky telling him what to do, with the world as a witness. His girlfriend can't take it. He then goes to a psychic (Julie Kavner) who makes him a boiled chicken dinner. A complete delight.
Three different, interesting stories by three great directors.
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