NEW YORK STORIES

Anyone who grew up in, lived in, or visited New York City has a distinct story about this island. People often forget that Manhattan is an island, and we all know the magic that takes place on these idle pieces of land. New York Stories (1989), directed by Martin Scorsese, Francis Coppola, and Woody Allen tells three distinct stories of life in New York City. The anthology was made 25 years ago yet the stories remain the same.

 In Scorsese's Life Lessons, we meet an artist who is obsessed with his younger, naive, muse/assistant. Nick Nolte is at his best here: dark, brooding, charismatic, enraged, manipulative, and comedic all at once. Rosanna Arquette, whose work I’m still being introduced to, paints the picture of the girl searching for her voice, but still in need of the limelight. I’ve never been one to cherish youth, but I will say that I found a 31-year old Steve Buscemi, quite sexy. Yes, Steve Buscemi. Overall, the short is hypnotizing. Everything from the emotional soundtrack to the masterful camera technique left me wanting more but accepting its end.

 Francis Coppola's, Life without Zoe, seemed like it was taken out of my childhood. While I wish I grew up in the penthouse of a Manhattan Hotel and ran around the city in taxis, the loneliness and isolation that the main character (Zoe) felt, was very familiar. Loneliness can bring on a vivid imagination in children (and some adults).  This piece feels like a fairytale come true. Divorced parents (Giancarlo Giannini and Talia Shire) reunite, lavish parties filled with dance and music, and shopping in Europe with an estranged mother. I totally get it.

 Oedipus Wrecks, written/directed/and starring Woody Allen, was done in the manner that all of Woody Allen’s films are made. It was thoughtful, quirky, self-deprecating, and sincere. Having written/directed/ and starred in a short film about mother-in-laws (inserting plug HERE), I connected especially to this piece. The stereotypical “Jewish mother” (Mae Questel in this case) is a figure I’ve always loved. From watching this film I’m pretty sure Mr. Allen didn't always feel the same way that I have, but like all art, he shows us his true feelings at the end.

In 2014, so many films and television shows try to capture the awe-inspiring magic that happens in New York City. I only hope that these stories can have the character and clarity that New York Stories has.

-Fredgy

BEFORE MIDNIGHT

Conflict is that thing that makes life exciting! Be honest. Whether it’s a cheating spouse or a co-worker’s arrogance, these actions create the protagonist and antagonist that is necessary for a good story. And depending on other circumstances, those conflicts can become heightened and even borderline obsessive.

Before Midnight, directed by Richard Linklater, embraces everyday human interaction: the awkward pauses, the forced intimacy, and the realities of aging. Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, masterfully play a middle-aged couple on a family vacation. That’s the story. Yes, there were moments of revelation, anger, and insecurity. But it was all pretty innocent.

Real life is not consecutive days of huge conflicts and passionate resolutions.This film is a direct reflection of our everyday lives. So because we’re all so boring, it did not receive an Oscar nod.

 

BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR

On one Tuesday night in mid-November 2013, I found myself in a line outside of the IFC Cinemas eagerly waiting to see Blue Is The Warmest Color, or "La Vie d'Adele-Chapitres 1&2."  

A love story: that's all it was really. The journey between two souls, their growth, their challenges, and an ending. It was all pretty simple. Before the film premiered, there were rumors of turmoil between the director, Abdellatif Kechiche, and his stars, Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux. But by the time the film premiered, the director turned from a tyrant to a genius. (A transformation that, surprisingly, only male directors obtain.) The chemistry between the two heterosexual actresses was undeniable. The film had a slow but hypnotizing pace. Color was both the star and the background.

Sadly, due to deadlines and international dealings this film is not eligible for an Oscar. There was a thought that the actresses may receive lead and supporting nominations but, with the NC-17 rating and endless lesbian sex scenes, this was not the case. Sex scenes are already a touchy subject in American films, so lesbian sex is unchartered territory. A colleague asked, "Wasn't the sex scene long though?" I said, "I would hope that good sex is something that takes time."