New York, New York Film Details
Overview: An egotistical saxophonist and a young lounge singer meet on VJ Day and embark upon a strained and rocky romance, even as their careers begin a long, uphill climb.
Tagline: The war was over and the world was falling in love again.
Review: The first thing that needs to be said about Scorsese’s highly underrated “New York, New York” is that it can’t possibly be fully appreciated by anyone who hasn’t seen films like “An American in Paris” and “Singin’ in the Rain”. Scorsese’s film is very much a pastiche (or parody, depending on your perspective) of these earlier musicals by MGM. The entire formula for the film is based around them. Stylistically attractive visuals, light and witty dialogue, a romance at the center of the story, and a foray into narratively digressive musical territory toward the end of the film. It’s all there. This hypotextual reflection of Hollywood’s golden age, however, is only half the picture. The other half is that this is very much a Scorsese film, despite many claims to the contrary. Scorsese’s hallmarks are all over it. We have Robert De Niro in the lead role, playing an oppressive, dominant alpha male personality type, amplified by a bit of that good old-fashioned Italian-American upbringing that Scorsese knew so well. Harvey Keitel played this character in “Who’s That Knocking at My Door” and “Mean Streets” (and even “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”, in a lesser role), and now, for “Taxi Driver”, “New York, New York”, “Raging Bull”, and even “Casino”, it’s De Niro. I’ve seen nineteen Scorsese films, and this is by far the most cinematographically impressive of them all. The lighting is flawless; the direction exemplary. Scorsese has always been a top talent in terms of his technical skills as a director, but visually, this film is stunning on an entirely different level. The film’s aesthetic seeks to mimic the visual attractiveness of those classic Hollywood musicals (Scorsese even gives us a few false backgrounds, just for good measure), and in that way it was very successful. This film is eye candy on a par with Wong Kar-wai’s “In the Mood for Love”, Korine’s “Spring Breakers”, Refn’s “Only God Forgives”, or Fassbinder’s “Lola”. As for the film’s content, about which too little has been written, the entire thematic core of the film is reflected in the casting of its two principal parts: First, we have Robert De Niro, the classic Scorsese casting choice, playing very much the same character we’ve seen him play in other Scorsese films. On the other end, we have Liza Minnelli, the daughter of none other than Judy Garland, the ultra-famous musical actress of Hollywood’s glory days. And Liza’s father? Vincente Minelli, director of famous Hollywood musicals like “The Band Wagon”, “Gigi”, and “An American in Paris”. Scorsese throws these two characters together in a violent tempest of passion and suffocating possessiveness. But we, the audience, are also witnessing two worlds being thrown together: De Niro represents Scorsese’s world — his vision of a reality steeped in alpha male aggression and hyper-possessiveness over females — and Liza Minnelli, daughter of the golden age of Hollywood, represents that other, make-believe world of American culture — that unique brand of lighthearted escapism and pure cinematic fantasy that Hollywood produced so enticingly in the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s. Cinematically, we are watching traditional Hollywood fantasy pitted against a vaguely Cassavetes-esque realism. What will happen when these two disparate realities attempt to coexist? Well, Scorsese doesn’t offer an outright answer, except to say it will be difficult — extremely difficult. Hollywood fantasy has created in the American mentality a world of misplaced priorities and unrealistic expectations regarding life. When the film begins, Minnelli’s character seems to have her life together in a way that few Scorsese characters do (naturally, since she’s not from Scorsese’s world — she is born of that distant land called Hollywood). And then De Niro enters her life, from the other end of the spectrum, and emotionally shatters her to pieces. And so it’s very much a film about the conflict between reality and fantasy. Ultimately, reality obliterates fantasy. The musical detour (the film-within-the-film at the end of the movie) has been the source of a lot of criticism, but once again, no one who’s seen “An American in Paris” or “Singin’ in the Rain” would be surprised by it. It was a structural necessity if the film was going to accurately echo the formula of those older films, as it clearly intended to do. That being said, I will admit that, at 160+ minutes in length, to abandon over two hours of plot and move into a musical digression so late in the film certainly tests the viewer’s patience. There is a moment in this segment, however, that makes it all worthwhile. In this moment, we see movie theater viewers sitting in their seats watching a film, looking straight at us (the camera is placed behind what would be the screen of their theater), and behind them is the projector, casting its image directly at us. And so just as we are sitting in our theater watching them stare at the screen (at us), they are, perhaps, sitting in their theater watching us stare at our screen. And so Scorsese subtly implicates us into the film’s themes of fantasy versus reality. Their reality has become our fantasy, and, possibly, our reality has become their fantasy. The final shot of the film is a reference to Gene Kelly’s most memorable moment from “Singin’ in the Rain”. De Niro is in the street. He stands still, propping himself up with an umbrella. The camera pans down to his feet, pausing on them for a moment. The credits roll. We are left to savor the bitter and disenchanting taste of a reality so contrary to the one that Hollywood has offered us. De Niro was standing on a road that could have very well been the same one on which Gene Kelly sung in the rain with his umbrella. But there is no singing here, the umbrella is closed, and those feet aren’t dancing. Reality has decimated the Hollywood fantasy. RATING: 8.00 out of 10 stars
Country: United States
Duration: 155 min
Genre: Drama, Music, Musical
Also known as: Niujorkas, Niujorkas,Њујорк, Њујорк,New York, New York,Nea Yorki, Nea Yorki,紐約，紐約,New York New York,Нью-Йорк, Нью-Йорк,Ню Йорк, Ню Йорк,ニューヨーク・ニューヨーク