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Reviews & Ratings for
New York Stories More at IMDbPro »

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Index 51 reviews in total 

35 out of 43 people found the following review useful:

Coppola segment drags down otherwise good movie

6/10
Author: Daniel Karlsson from Sweden
31 March 2003

Three 40 minutes short films by three of the greatest American directors; Scorsese, Coppola and Allen. I personally like Scorsese's introducing segment the most, Life Lesson. Even if I personally is not a fan of Nick Nolte, the movie has depth and it's just as good as you would expect from a director like Scorsese. Unlike many other directors, Scorsese manages to capture sexual attraction, in this case felt by the main character (Nolte). Freshly photographed and good ending that makes you recall upon your own life. Not a masterpiece but indeed great.

Coppola's segment "Zoe" is a total disaster. It is beautifully filmed, but the acting and the story is far below good. Better fit for the children's hour on TV. I don't know if the story was supposed to be ironical, a satire of spoiled extremely rich kids on Manhattan, which could be the fact since there were some scenes where the young girl interacts with a homeless man. That could have been a good theme, if it was Coppola's intention, but no matter the case - it just don't work. It is silly and it doesn't feel satirical at all. Another idea is that it was supposed to be funny, a short comedy, however, neither does it work on that layer. It somewhat makes me lose my respect for the director.

Woody Allen's part however is a pleasant refresher after Coppola's borer. Very funny, typical Allen, good acting from Allen's side and good music.

Overall rating is a mere 6, dragged down by Coppola. Without his segment I would rate this movie an 8.

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21 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

New York, New York

Author: Galina from Virginia, USA
24 April 2006

The anthology that include three short films that take place in New York City was made by three great American directors, Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, and Francis Ford Coppola.

"Life Lessons" directed by Martin Scorsese, literally took my breath away - it made me want to rewatch all Scorsese's films (with the one exception, GONY, though). What a magnificent work - visually it is as powerful as the painting Nolte's Lionel was painting. Combining in one short film Procul Harum's "A whiter shade of pale" and Puccini's "Nessun Dorma" from "Turandot" was a stroke of genius. This film is an ode to the power of talent; it is about greatness and curse of the gift, not about love to the woman. The best scene of the film and I'd say one of the best ever made about the Artist's work is Nolte triumphantly painting his masterpiece - his love, desire, lust, cries, whispers, tears, and humiliations magically transform with every stroke of his brush into the immortal, triumphant, brilliant work of art. By the time the painting is finished, he would need a new source of inspiration and self-torture, and the cycle will repeat over again. Devilishly clever portrait of an Artist as Not a Young Man. 9.5/10

I loved Woody Allen's "Oedipus Wrecks" and I think it is very funny and touching. Looks like Allen has met mothers or grandmothers like Mrs. Millstein in real life and his little gem is his love-hate letter to them. In the end, mom always knows what is best for her little boy. Mae Questel and Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson) were wonderful. Woody's face after his mom "disappears" and the scene when he practically makes love to the chicken drumstick are pure delight; also the commentary that New York is used to everything and readily accepts the crazy situation - it is so true. One of the best Allen's films I've seen lately - I am very glad that I finally saw it.

Larry David ("Seinfeld", "Curb Your Enthusiasm") plays the Theater Manager. It made me think if Estelle Costanza created by David and Mrs. Millstein (Woody's omnipresent mother) have a lot in common in making the lives of their sons miserable and smothering them with their merciless love? 9/10

Coppola's "Life Without Zoë" was much weaker than Scorsese's and Allan's stories and paled in comparison - this episode "from the lives of the reach and beautiful" was pretty and cute but you can skip it. 5/10

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24 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Allen's was hilarious, Scorsese's was interesting, Coppola's was unnecessary

7/10
Author: Lee Eisenberg (lee.eisenberg.pdx@gmail.com) from Portland, Oregon, USA
14 May 2005

"New York Stories" tells three tales of the Big Apple. Martin Scorsese's "Life Lessons" shows artist Lionel Dobie (Nick Nolte) trying to assess his relationships with people, Francis Ford Coppola's "Life without Zoe" shows a very mature girl, and Woody Allen's "Oedipus Wrecks" is about Sheldon Mills (played by Allen himself), a man who quite literally cannot get away from his mother.

I have to say that Scorsese did a very good job looking at troubled relationships, and Allen shows how hard it is to have certain kinds of people as parents (of course he often shows that). But Coppola's segment was so dull that I choose not to even write about it. But don't worry; the movie is overall really good, and we should assume that it really sucks to be Allen's character, given what happens in that segment.

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15 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Could've been better, but still

8/10
Author: MisterWhiplash from United States
25 March 2002

In New York Stories, three segments are shown back to back, and they are all engaging in their own ways however it's only 2/3 successful as a total motion picture. Martin Scorsese's Life Lessons is a good example of what caliber of work Scorsese had when he made those three student films in the 1960's. It is a film that has a lot of depth, but it is quite worth it for fans of the actors and those who could get interested in Richard Price's story.

Coppola, director of THE GODFATHER and APOCALYPSE NOW makes Life Without Zoe here, a film that is 180 degrees out of whack from those two movies in that it tells the story of a little rich girl whose best friend is a doorman and revolves around a rich boy's birthday party. In a way, it almost could appeal to kids, but it's the wrong place to put in between a story of artists by Scorsese and a comedy of mother and son troubles by Allen.

Which brings me to the last short film, Oedipus Wrecks, where Woody plays a character whose mother suddenly out of the blue disappears. This is a good showing of what Woody can do in comedy without having to have a picture length presentation (not that he makes many bad films by the way).

So, New York Stories is worth checking out for Life Lessons and Oedipus Wrecks, and there could be an audience somewhere for Life Without Zoe, although the biggest flaw of the movie comes that neither one can connect at all outside of the fact that they all take place in New York and are made by New York directors- in short- fascinating and imperfect in some ways. B+

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19 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

The Good, The Bad & The Funny!

7/10
Author: Squrpleboy from Ontario, Canada
8 October 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

You can't really watch NEW YORK STORIES and comment on the

film as a whole, because, much like the three directors involved,

the three stories that make up the whole are so different and have

specific value in their own right. What you can do is applaud the

idea, the approach, and the coming together of three big New York

filmmakers to entertain and delight the viewer each in their unique

way.

Segment one is "Life Lessons", starring Nick Nolte and Rosanna

Arquette, and directed by Martin Scorsese. It's a superbly acted

and tightly directed little film about a cantankerous and love-lorn

old abstract painter and his young female "assistant", the object of

his rejected affections. Nolte and Arquette play off each with great

chemistry (often explosive at that) and the pacing, cinematography

and storyline flow easily creating a real sense of the chaotic inner- psychosis behind artist beauty. {It was also really interesting to

see the large canvas that is the centre-piece of the film take shape

from nothing to a real work of admirable art by the story's end.} 8/ 10 on this one.

The second segment, "Life Without Zoe", by Francis Ford Coppola

is, to put it frankly, horrible! Unbelievably boring, and so poorly

acted that I can only imagine Coppola himself had fallen asleep

somewhere in pre-production and was awakened when the film

was released sometime the next year. Coppola has a knack for

casting young girls with no experience and/or talent in his films

(ie., his daughter in GODFATHER III) and Heather McComb as Zoe

is no exception. I actually stopped it 10 minutes in and fast- forwarded to the last segment. 1/10, truly pitiful in every regard.

The gem of the compilation (and saving grace) comes in the final

segment, Woody Allen's hilarious "Oedipus Wrecks". This was

laugh-out-loud funny. Allen plays a middle-aged lawyer who's life

is made unbearable by his doting/nagging Jewish mother, played

brilliantly by Mae Questel. Not only is this the best piece of the

three shorts that make up NEW YORK STORIES, but one of the

very best of Woody Allen's films, period. The tight interactive

delivery between characters that has become so trademark in

Allen's films is served up so deliciously again by the likes of Julie

Kavner, Mia Farrow, Larry David, and the aforementioned mother &

son team. Every facial expression sported by Woody is a gut- buster as well (special mention goes to Jessie Keosian, as his

deaf Aunt Ceil, for the same reason). Witty, biting, and with one of

THE oddest plot twists I've ever seen, "Oedipus Wrecks" is the

icing on the cake, and a great ending to this film conjunction. 9/10,

has to be seen for the "chicken drumstick love-scene" if nothing

else!

Unfortunately, the film over-all is not an even delivery despite the

noble attempt. Scorsese and Allen shine with their spot-on stories

of intrinsic inhabitants of the Big Apple; Coppola just provides the

worm. I can only recommend portions of the film and as such can

only give it a 7/10 in good conscience. Enjoy what you can!

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12 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Two out of three ain't bad

6/10
Author: Christopher Attrill
13 September 2003

**1/2 of****

Three completely different short stories told by three of Hollywood's most influential and profilic directors in the most exciting and mythical city on earth. Seems like a shoe in doesn't it? Well almost. Looking forward as I did to the Woody Allen piece "Oedipus Wrecks" the wait was worth it, but still somewhat unsatisfying. This featurette would've been a welcome change of pace for Woody at the time given that he hadn't made a flat-out silly comedy for a while and he manages to make good use of every moment. He has a great cast,(Kavner, Questral are particular standouts) and a genuinely strange premise to work with and the results are a riot, dare I say one of Woody's best. So what's so unsatisfying? As good as "Oedipus Wrecks" is , it still suffers because it has to follow Coppolla's god awful and charmless "Life Without Zoe." Seriously I had absolutely no clue what the hell was going on in this obnoxious, cutesy-poo clinker. Can anyone help me understand why Coppola thought anyone would like this? Sitting through "Zoe" is so emotionally draining that by the time you get to "Oedipus" you're too annoyed and confused to fully enjoy it. As a result Scorsese's "Life Lessons" comes off the best of the three. Nolte and Arquette are flawless and the intensity and friction between them make for an engaging if not distressingly tense 35 minutes.

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11 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

3 Tastes in 1

8/10
Author: Superblast from Atlanta
17 May 2001

Life Lessons - I've probably seen it 10 times. You can refer to it as a 'short', but I get so wrapped up in it that I almost consider it to be a full-length movie. It's very close to perfect.

Life Without Zoe - Past comments have stated that this is the weakest of the three. I don't like to think of any of the stories as weak. I think the order of the stories is what is important. First is the tense art world drama, then the fairytale-like Zoe. Zoe doesn't have the punch of Life Lessons, but it's a relaxing follow-up. Enchanted flutes, princesses, sheiks, diamonds, parties, sunsets. I hate to use the word 'cute', but that's what it is - very cute, and that's not a bad thing in this case.

Oedipus Wrecks - Leaves the movie ending on a very outrageous and very funny note. This short is better than several of his movies (and I'm a HUGE Woody Allen fan).

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

So what's the problem?

7/10
Author: blanche-2 from United States
25 November 2008

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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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Good For An Anthology FIlm

8/10
Author: jzappa from Cincinnati, OH, United States
20 February 2007

New York Stories is another anthology film that I was suckered into because of the credentials. Other anthology films that I've seen, like Four Rooms, have not been very good despite the amazing credentials. I haven't been a fan of most movies with more than one director, hence more than one vision thus many colliding like an orchestra playing unharmonious notes. New York Stories is satisfactory however, eve if its mood swings leave one feeling many different ways about it. You'll feel stimulated, yet strangely unfulfilled.

Martin Scorsese's segment, Life Lessons, is very melodramatic in that hardened, grungy way of his. Nolte gives a wonderful performance, very intense, and Arquette is very realistic and effective. Scorsese employs his usual machine gun multi-genre soundtrack and plunging, stylistically passionate and energetic cinematography. His segment says something very profound and important about the human characteristic of selfishness and how much more abundant it is in ourselves than we care to accept.

Then comes Francis Ford Coppola's segment, Life Without Zoe. Arg. The acting, despite the leniency one may generously give child actors, is awful. Heather McComb did in fact fill out very very nicely when she grew up, but that does not excuse her very scripted performance here. She's the least of the cast's problems, though. Everyone sounds like the salesmen on the used car commercials. The story is something quite silly. Perhaps it would be fine if it were its own film, but Coppola had to know that he was being teamed with Scorsese, his fellow creator of quintessential Mafia cinema, and Woody Allen, the prolific source of mature and sophisticated comedies about sex and relationships. Did he submit this segment for shock value? I guess so. Well, it worked. I don't understand why Coppola works with kids. His daughter Sophia, who at age 18 here co-wrote the script and designed the costumes, did in fact go on to become a fine director herself, but did he not notice his pattern after awhile? He makes The Conversation, the Godfather films, and Apocalypse Now, and we think he's found his niche. Then he starts making movies like this, following up with films like Jack with Robin Williams.

Woody Allen's segment saves the film. I suppose this is one way anthology movies are interesting. In a single feature-length narrative film, when it takes a plunge in the middle, it can't really be saved in the end, especially if it was as bad as Coppola's segment. In an anthology, if the middle of the movie is terrible, you still have the end to look forward to. This is the case in New York Stories, because Woody Allen's segment, Oedipus Wrecks, the final third of the movie, is hilarious. It's one of the funniest satires he's ever done of the Jewish Brooklynite's culture. It's goofy in a subtle way, and fascinatingly surreal the way a lot of Allen's best and most creative work is. Actually, Oedipus Wrecks is perhaps the only one of the three parts that actually clearly represents a hue of New York's culture. Scorsese's part didn't represent New York as much as it represented the emotional tempests of an artist and happened to take place in the meatpacking district. Coppola's mid-section represented the lives of wealthy children whose lives are so free that they live practically like very spoiled and gossipy adults, but to such an outlandish degree of family-oriented fantasy that it's not at all credible. Woody Allen firmly focuses upon his division of New York culture. And by the by, it's a very pleasant surprise to see a younger Larry David, pre-Seinfeld and pre-Curb Your Enthusiasm, in a bit role in Oedipus Wrecks.

Whatever was going through Coppola's mind, it's because of him that New York Stories can be described as a film in the shape of a circular saw. It's on one level, then takes a ninety- degree plunge to a different level, then again with the third segment it takes a ninety-degree ascension to the precise level it was at before.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Two out of three are great!

Author: deadparrot_jhl (deadparrot_jhl@yahoo.com) from Greenville, SC
27 March 2000

This film is quite fascinating-in parts. My best advice to anyone renting it is to sit back and thoroughly enjoy the first segment by Martin Scorsese ("Life Lessons")-although you may be sick of "A Whiter Shade of Pale" by the end of it, or you may have a new reason to love it. Then, I suggest you fast forward through the painful middle story by Francis Ford Coppola. I really tried to like it, seeing as how this was the same man who brought us "The Godfather." Alas, even I couldn't sit through it. Then, watch Woody Allen's very funny "Oedipus Wrecks." This short film, like Albert Brooks' "Mother" will have you going, "My God, it's Mom!" A satisfying rent. Try to get the people at Blockbuster to knock fifty cents off the price for not watching the middle part.

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