Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|New York New York |
30th Anniversary Edition
Actors: Liza Minnelli, Robert De Niro, Lionel Stander, Barry Primus, Mary Kay Place
Director: Martin Scorsese
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Musicals & Performing Arts
No Description Available. Genre: Musicals Rating: PG Release Date: 4-DEC-2007 Media Type: DVD
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You Can't Make a Silk Purse From a Sow's Ear
Glenn Gallagher | Sacramento, CA | 08/05/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Oh my. Where do I begin? If I had been Martin Scorsese's assistant during pre-production of "New York, New York", I might have said something like "Marty, you know I love your movies. I suspect you walk on water in your spare time, and can film just about any film genre known to humanity, but you gotta pass on this screenplay, because you can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear."
There's a lot to like and a lot not to like in "New York, New York", but the unlikeable parts boil down to: bad screenplay.
The basic premise of the film is simple. Jimmy (Robert DeNiro), a saxophone player just out of the military in 1945 meets and falls in love with Francine (Liza Minnelli), a small-time singer with a touring big band. Francine becomes much more famous than Jimmy, things don't work out between Francine and Jimmy. So far, so good. More about what's good and what's bad about the movie.
What's good: The music is great. Big band and jazz from the 1940s, excellent musicianship. The singing by Liza Minnelli is also superb. A musical medley taking up the last half-hour of the film is also sensational. Set design is perfect for re-creating the mood of some of the lavish musicals from the 1940s and 1950s.
What's bad: The biggest problem with the film is that Jimmy's character is completely unlikeable. He spends the first part of the film at a VJ day (WW II end of war victory) celebration party where he's asking women for a date. Jimmy focuses on Francine and unrelentingly bothers her for a full fifteen minutes of screen time asking her out, trying out every line he can think of. Essentially, Jimmy comes across as a crazed stalker who will not take no for an answer. DeNiro's performance is really creepy, but I'm not sure if he intended it to be. He appears to be channeling the Travis Bickle character from Taxi Driver. The Bickle character is believable because we know he's a psychopath, but we also know he wants to "clean up the city" from all the bad elements. The Jimmy character comes across as just a manipulative, self-centered egomaniac who only thinks of himself.
Eventually, Jimmy and Francine marry, but that doesn't mean Jimmy becomes a better person. A few thoughts came to my mind when I watched their relationship develop: Jimmy is a chauvinist pig, arrogant, controlling, and despicable. Francine allows herself to be treated like a doormat by Jimmy. She's emotionally abused constantly, yet maintains a strange acceptance of her mistreatment, wearing a bemused, detached expression like she's the Buddha who has been reincarnated as a dancing girl. I wanted to warn Francine, "Stand up for yourself, you don't have to take this from him. Read "Women Who Love Too Much", can't you see that you have a toxic relationship with this man?" (Oh, where's Oprah or Dr. Phil when you need them?)
DeNiro's performance in New York, New York is similar to his previous film with Scorsese, Taxi Driver. What works for a mentally unstable loner in Taxi Driver simply does not translate to a married saxophone player in a respected band. I for one, did not accept that the Jimmy character should have been given a single second of respect. Minnelli's performance, as previously noted, is a little strange; extremely calm and quiet, and almost under-acted. It's like she was afraid to let the Francine character ever let her emotions show. I suspect she was told to play the part like a woman with battered wife syndrome - very shut down emotionally.
I believe that the main reason this film did not do well is because American audiences were not willing to embrace the two main characters of the film; the man is emotionally abusive, and the woman is meekly accepting of her abuse. The story isn't even really a tragedy, it's a pathetic reminder that some people should never meet and fall in love. I suspect also that American audiences craved a stronger female lead who wouldn't take any guff from anybody - hence the great success of two films with very strong female characters made shortly after New York, New York; namely, Karen Allen in Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Sigourney Weaver in Alien.
Although Scorsese went on to make the brilliant Raging Bull, again with DeNiro as an abusive man, at least in that film, his character's relationship with his wife Vicky is easier to accept because Vicky is one tough broad who can stand up for herself, who gives as good as she gets, dishing it right back out. The Minnelli character is just a sad, pathetic character. One of Scorsese's weakest efforts, recommend you skip this film."
Art, but the world goes `round
Michael Schulz | Oklahoma City, OK United States | 12/30/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I really wanted to love "New York, New York", but, I guess I am not an intellectual movie watcher. Gritty "real life-like" stories do not entertain me. BUT, the music, costumes and sets tip the balance to "like". I understand what Scorsese wanted to accomplish and he succeeded. DeNiro's character is so very unlikeable; it is difficult to root for his success. Minnelli's character is such a doormat, I just want to shake her and say "Snap out of it!" I guess the movie's point is there are no real "happy endings", they are reserved for the MGM musicals of the 1950s. This realism might be artistic but not entertaining. If I want "real", I would stay home and watch real people doing real things for free. Liza's musical numbers brought the movie up a star. The special features told me some things I never knew about the film, but the Scorsese commentary would be better served in a separate interview, NOT running through the film. He was so intent on convincing us he was an "artist", it got boring.
Granted, the characters should never be together and I do not want a "sappy ending", but after several hours, I really wanted to like someone in the movie."