Tuesday, November 16, 2010

1977 - NEW YORK NEW YORK, no fun, no fun or Travis Bickel learns to play the saxophone

Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro drag Liza Minnelli along for  A Woman Under The Influence meets A Chorus Line or Guys and Dolls or something.  The idea of the film seemed to be to make a mainstream musical drama and mix it with contemporary improvisational techniques. 

Working mostly on sound stages, Scorsese goes for that old Hollywood look, he even edits the film to look like a 40's movie, with old fashioned montages and camera angles.  Trying to update the musical genre, Scorsese has De Niro and Minnelli perform long improvisational scenes which in theory should give insight into their relationship. But method actor De Niro and the more old school Liza Minnelli don't really mesh together with all their "good acting" scenes which only make this long film seem longer.

This is just not a good Scorsese film even with Robert De Niro in it.    He's supposed to be a hotshot musician wheeler dealer, but he mostly comes off as a psycho.  De Niro seems all wrong for the part with his mister intense acting style.   One thing to Scorsese's credit, he manages to keep Liza Minnelli under control which was probably no small challenge, she keeps her special brand of hysterical acting in check for a change.  However, it seems pretty tasteless to have her dress and look like her mother Judy Garland towards the end.  

This film is an ordeal to sit through.  You're better off watching The Helen Morgan Story with Paul Newman and Ann Blyth instead.

163 very long minutes.

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