New York Stories
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Time Out saysThree directors, three featurettes. Co-written with his teenage daughter, Coppola's centerpiece, 'Life Without Zoe', is quite simply a mess. The story (poor little rich girl plots to reunite her separated parents and return a bangle to an exotic princess) is nonsense, nothing more than a maudlin, self-indulgent excuse to have horrid brats and members of the Coppola clan prance about in funny clothes to the strains of Francis' favourite music. Scorsese's opener, 'Life Lessons', which does make sense, centres on a muscular performance from Nolte as an immature, egocentric artist obsessed with assistant Arquette. The plot, inspired by Dostoevsky, seems meant as some sort of personal reflection on the links between artistic productivity and sexual/emotional frustration. The visuals, performances and superb music provide many pleasures, but the slight, anecdotal inevitability of the tale is a drawback, since the material promises something richer and deeper. Only Woody Allen seems to have understood what is possible in a featurette. Although 'Oedipus Wrecks' is only an extended variation on nagging Jewish momma gags, it's not only his funniest film in years, it also works beautifully: as it should in a short, every moment counts.