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New York Stories (1989)

They say there are a million stories in the naked city. This triple header only tries to tell three – a trio of short movies by three great directors for the price of one.

First up is Martin Scorsese’s Life Lessons and it’s Nick Nolte disguised as neurotic painter Lionel Dobie, struggling through the pretentious art scene in Soho.

A big man with big passions – for his art, his independence, and his obsession for his nutty apprentice and roommate, Paulette (Rosanna Arquette).

He humiliates, compromises and sacrifices himself, and finally learns the New York “lesson” – if one girl exits through one door, another girl will always enter through the next.

Part Two, Life Without Zoe by Francis Ford Coppola, is a minor trifle about a precocious little rich girl (Heather McComb) growing up in the posh Sherry-Netherland Hotel. Patching up her parents’ broken marriage, returning a diamond tiara to an Arab princess, dining at the Russian Tea Room, charging plane tickets to Paris for the Chanel show, and delivering Hershey’s kisses to the homeless, she’s like Eloise.

Only Coppola displays no real knowledge or understanding of how actual New York kids behave, and the whole thing is so glossy and superficial it seems photographed through orange juice.

Last, there’s Oedipus Wrecks by Woody Allen, exploring his favourite New York theme – the neurotic guilt of a 50-year-old corporate attorney with an Oedipus complex, still dominated and terrorised by his Jewish mother.

Mama Sadie (played by the great Mae Questel) could drive you off the Brooklyn Bridge.

When she disappears in a magic show, Woody’s sex life gets better, but then she starts floating over the Empire State Building, embarrassing him from the sky, and the fairy tale gets silly.

But this is New York – and New Yorkers will take anything in their stride. Including Woody Allen movies.

Lionel Dobie
Nick Nolte
Phillip Fowler
Patrick O’Neal
Paulette
Rosanna Arquette
Reuben Toro
Jesse Borrego
Kurt Bloom
Gregorij Von Leitis
Gregory Stark
Steve Buscemi
Peter Gabriel
Himself
Hank
Mark Boone Jr

Zoe
Heather McComb
Charlotte
Talia Shire
Baby Zoe
Gia Coppola
Claudio
Giancarlo Giannini
Clifford the doorman
Paul Herman
Jimmy
James Keane
Hector
Don Novello
Mr Lilly
Bill Moor
Hasid
Tom Mardirosian
Lundy
Jenny Nichols
Devo
Gina Scianni
Margit
Diane Lin Cosman
Abu
Selim Tlili
Gel
Robin Wood-chappelle
Hillary
Celia Nestell
Andrea
Alexandra Becker
Mel
Adrien Brody
Princess Soroya
Carole Bouquet

Sheldon
Woody Allen
Psychiatrist
Marvin Chatinover
Sadie (Mother)
Mae Questel
Lisa
Mia Farrow
Sheldon’s secretary
Molly Regan
Mr Bates
Ira B. Wheeler
Aunt Ceil
Jessie Keosian
Shandu the magician
George Schindler
Rita
Bridgit Ryan
Detective Flynn
Paul Herman
Edward I. Koch
Himself
Treva
Julie Kavner

Director
Martin Scorsese
Francis Ford Coppola
Woody Allen