Ah, anthologies... You gotta admit that they rarely work. On paper, gathering 3 or so hot directors to make short films around a theme ain't such a bad idea. The problem is that for some reason, many filmmakers fail miserably. Well, in this uneven anthology, we get an extremely good drama from Scorsese, a shitty kiddy flick from Coppola and an inferior Woody Allen comedy. So basically, you should rent "NY Stories", have a blast with the first story, fast-forward through the second and check out the last.
Life Lessons (3.5/4)
Definitively the best story, this Martin Scorsese short follows Lionel Dobie, an intense and talented painter. He's played by Nick Nolte, almost unrecognizable with shaggy hair and beard. Dobie's a very fascinating character. The film spends a lot of time watching him as he paints, waving his brush frantically to loud rock music. We feel that he's tormented, and when he picks up Paulette (Rosanna Arquette) at the airport, we understand why. A painter with little talent, she moved in with Dobie to learn from him but ended up in his bed. But now, she's through and she really wants to leave, but Dobie is so possessive that he won't let her, even when he learns that she slept with a performance artist played by the always enjoyable Steve Buscemi. The film is not about love, but more about how one can mistake need for love. Nolte's character is a lonely man, and he wants Paulette to be with him, but not really because of her. Any girl could do. The film is well written, and the direction is awesome. Scorsese's camera never rests, moving around constantly around Dobie. Like always, Scorsese also makes terrific use of music, which seems to help Dobie getting in the mood of his painting. Nolte and Arquette are also great, and so is the film. I don't know how this would play as a feature, but as a short, it's fascinating.
Life Without Zoe (1/4)
Coppola's contribution is an absolutely annoying film about a snotty rich girl involved, her touting musician father and model mother, a stolen diamond and a rich boy. It's all corny and boring, it's badly written and directed and the acting is awful, not to mention the suck-ass music. If you know what's good for you, fast-forward through this dud.
Oedipus Wrecks (2/4)
I love Woody Allen as much as the next guy, but this short film just does not work. It does have an interesting plot. Allen plays Sheldon, a self-conscious, nervous Jewish banker. He spends a great deal of time whining about his mother to his shrink, and it's not hard to understand. His mom is an obnoxious, annoying old lady who keeps embarrassing him, telling whoever will listen about his love life and his childhood. For example, she's against him marrying a divorcée with three children (Mia Farrow, who else), and she'll let everyone know. The plot thickens when mom disappears and returns in a different form, and the film soon sinks into unfunny comedy. There's all that weird stuff happening, but it's kinda tiresome after a while. We still feel Allen's talent somewhere in this mess, but this really ain't a really good film. It's watchable, but it ain't, like, a must.