A. Person (get it? :-p): "So Mike, what's New York Stories all about?"
Mike (psst that's me): "Well three of the all-time great directors of the past 30 odd years collaborated on this one with each creating their own short film set in New York City. These were spliced together to create this one film."
A. Person: "Who are the directors?"
Mike: "Well there's Martin Scorsese, you know they guy who directed Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Goodfellas. Then there's Francis Ford Coppola, director of The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now and The Godfather Part III and last, but by no means least, we have Woody Allen. You know, Annie Hall, Manhattan, Hannah and Her Sisters and so on."
A. Person: "Oh yeah, there's some big names there all right! So what are the stories about?"
Mike: "Martin Scorsese has done Life Lessons which is about a very intense artist and his infatuation with his beautiful, young but confused assistant.
Coppola does Life Without Zoe which, curiously enough, is about a young girl named Zoe who brings her estranged parents back together.
Finally there's Woody Allen's contribution called Oedipus Wrecks. This is about a lawyer whose life is dominated by his interfering mother."
A. Person: "So, what are they like?"
Mike: "I liked Life Lessons, Nick Nolte is really good in it. His infatuation for Rosanna Arquette's character has him behaving like an idiot. He's trying to be the sensible and all knowing older man, but constantly falls victim to his feelings of lust and jealousy. It's not something I could watch over and over but it's very well done."
Mike: "I absolutely hated Life Without Zoe. It's meant to be a heartwarming fantasy story but I didn't relate to it at all. Poor little rich girl trying to behave like an adult. Puh-lease! It's shite of the highest order. I had trouble even watching the whole thing. It motivated me to vacuum the floor and I really hate vacuuming!"
Mike: "There are a few constants in life and Woody Allen is one of them. Oedipus Wrecks is very much a signature Woody film. In this movie he plays Sheldon Mills, a New York lawyer whose mother dominates his life. She is one of those mothers that loves to tell everyone about his embarrassing childhood stories of bed wetting and so on. She has opinions on everything and has no problem letting people know what they are regardless of their effect. Sheldon loves his mother but wishes she would just go away and during a magic show she does... or does she?"
OK, lets do a quick check of what the Internet Movie Database has for the original aspect ratio of this film; OK 1.85:1. Right lets have a look at this transfer, Yikes 4:3! Full-frame, what the!?!?! Bzzzt, black mark for that!
OK, the aspect ratio is wrong, what about other aspects of the transfer?
The resolution of this transfer is good, with fine details like fly away hairs visible in several scenes. The black level is good with scenes set at night or in low light situations having a very natural look to them. Colours are well presented and natural looking including skin tones. Each short has its own characteristics with Oedipus Wrecks being the least colourful and Life Without Zoe the most stylised.
The print is fairly clean, although the usual dust flecks and fibres are visible from time to time. There is also a long, thin scratch briefly visible during Life Without Zoe.
Aliasing is frequently visible, although it stays on the right side of distracting. The image is dusted with a fine layer of film grain throughout but is nothing to be overly concerned about.
This is an RSDL disc with the layer change taking place at 65:14. My DVD player managed this in about a quarter of a second, so it's not a big distraction.
Quality-wise this is a solid enough DVD, although the full-frame transfer is a bit of a slap in the face.
Two of the three stories are good and worth seeing but none really jumps out and grabs you. Fans of the respective directors will probably grab a copy for their collections, however anyone else curious about this particular disc would be advised to rent it first.