The day WWII ends, Jimmy, a selfish and smooth-talking musician, meets Francine, a lounge singer. From that moment on, their relationship grows into love as they struggle with their careers and aim for the top.Written by
Steve Richer <email@example.com>
Much of the movie was shot on the same soundstages as the great musicals of the 1940s. As a result, Liza Minnelli was haunted by memories of her mother, Judy Garland, throughout the shoot. See more »
During the VJ dance sequence when Jimmy (DeNiro) is initially trying to pick up Francine (Minnelli), the cherry in her drink disappears (when she eats it in one shot) but then reappears in her drink only to disappear in subsequent shots. See more »
Where is she?
Why should I tell you where she is if she doesn't tell you where she is in the letter?
Then why do you take the time to come out to Brooklyn to give me this letter if you don't think she cares enough about me to let me know where she is, or to let you know to let me know where she is? Doesn't that makes sense to you?
It should, but it don't.
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Originally released at 153 minutes, then cut to 136 minutes and finally re-released in 1981 in a 164-minutes special edition with restored material, including the complete musical number "Happy Endings," which was seen in a much shorter version in the originally released version of the film. See more »
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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