Playing Sat June 18 at 8:30; Tue June 21 at 6:30; Sat June 25 at 8:30 at Anthology Film Archives [Program & Tix]
The 20th Century Limited that connected Broadway and Hollywood symbolically, New York and Los Angeles literally, stopped service in 1967: the same watershed year when, cultural lore has it, Bonnie and Clyde killed Doctor Doolittle, sacked Camelot, and the Big Movie Musical was forever invalidated.
Yet even as the wide-open 70s came on, with the long death rattle of the “Freed Unit” style expelling horrors like Mame, new approaches to the musical were underway. These are the subjects of Anthology’s program.
We are spotlighting many of Anthology’s screenings, but first in line for an overdue ovation is Martin Scorsese’s maligned New York, New York. Alt Screen’s Dan Callahan:
A downbeat homate to bright-lights showbiz dramas, an epic orchestration that indulges in stubbornly obsessive riffs, Martin Scorsese’s New York, New York (1977) seems to value awkwardness and indecision above all else. Coming off the success of Taxi Driver (1976), Scorsese secured a big budget and MGM sound stages for what was meant to be his tribute to and deconstruction of classic Hollywood musicals, but the tribute got lost somewhere in the deconstruction. The stars of the film, Liza Minnelli and Robert De Niro, were encouraged to embroider their lines with improvisation, and whenever language begins to break down between them, De Niro pushes hard into inarticulate aggressiveness as Minnelli retreats into querulous befuddlement. Bathed in anxious red and purple neon, the movie plays out like some errant crossbreeding of Charles Vidor’s Love Me or Leave Me (1955) and John Cassavetes’s Minnie and Moskowitz (1971).