‘New York, New York’ arrives on American Region free Blu-ray with a sadly disappointing looking 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed in the widescreen 1.66:1 aspect ratio. As mentioned in the movie review, the intention was to make it look as if it was shot using the old three strip Technicolor process and this was achieved by torturing the Eastmancolor film stock in camera and at the Lab. We do get vibrant reds and rosy skin tones, but we also get increased grain throughout the picture. When we go to a dissolve or wipe scene transition, the grain becomes absolutely hideous due to the old optical method of producing these effects – which doubled the amount of grain on screen. The word is ‘Yuk’! Old I B Technicolor prints did have more pronounced grain than the more recent Eastmancolor SP stocks, but nothing like as bad as represented in this transfer. It also looks as if a Pro-mist filter has been used on almost every shot due to the halo type softness. It just does not look nice at all. Blacks are deep in the night shots and contrast is fairly good. There is very little in the way of print damage here but we do see the occasional tiny bit of dirt on the screen. If I was cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs, I’d sue whoever did this transfer for misrepresentation of my work. I cannot believe that it looked like this in the cinema.
The audio on ‘New York, New York’ comes in the DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround flavour and, for a movie originally mixed in stereo it sounds pretty good. Mainly the wide front sound stage is used here, with the dialogue firmly routed via the centre speaker. During the musical numbers the main stereo pair swing into action and there is some limited oomph added by the subwoofer. I did notice a slight musical bleed to the rears, but they were mainly reserved for atmospheric effects like crowd noise as witnessed in the celebration party scene near the beginning of the movie. None of the musical numbers sound shrill and they also have good depth to them. All the same, this isn’t really a noteworthy mix but it’s workmanlike with no hiss, snap, crackle or pop to offend the ears. Get it for the musical numbers.
Audio Commentary - Film critic Carrie Rickey links pieces of Martin Scorsese interviews (possibly taken from the ‘making of’ doco) into a coherent whole that runs alongside the movie. Martin Scorsese talks like a typewriter here as he enthusiastically covers some of his previous work (Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Taxi Driver etc), his adopted styles and influences. He explains that the music of the Big Band era was the key to ‘New York, New York’ as well as his desire to capture the look of movie musicals from the 40’s and 50’s. We hear of his attempts to recreate the appearance of the obsolete three strip Technicolor process and he also provides a lot of studio background information that makes it interesting.
Introduction by Martin Scorsese (HD, 5 mins) - Mr Scorsese explains what he was trying to achieve with ‘New York. New York’ combining ‘artifice and truth’ in the same picture. The old Hollywood look and the new style of improvisational acting. Well, it looked pretty odd.
Alternate Takes/Deleted Scenes (SD, 19 mins) - Here we have a reel of edited rush prints (you can see the tape splices) complete with unsweetened sound. Martin Scorsese encouraged the actors to improvise during production in order to create a realistic interpretation of the scenes. This makes for interesting viewing as we see De Niro put his own spin on things, while the less experienced Minnelli is clearly happier with a solid script. There’s a fun scene where American GI’s horse around with a German stick grenade in the dance sequence.
The ‘New York, New York’ Stories: Part One (SD, 25 mins) - Part one of everything you ever wanted to know about the movie including how the producers first met, how Earl Rauch’s script was developed, how Scorsese became involved, the choice of stars....the whole ten yards.
The ‘New York, New York’ Stories: Part Two (SD, 27 mins) - The second part of this seriously chunky ‘making of’ documentary including interviews with director Scorsese and cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs who explains the difficulty of shooting unscripted moves from the actors. The Editor didn’t care for it much either.
Liza on ‘New York, New York’. (SD, 22 mins) -Liza with a ‘z’ starts off by telling us what it was like to grow up as a kid in Hollywood with Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli as parents. She describes her experiences of working with the ‘volcanic’ De Niro and her character research that helped her handle the improvisational acting style required by her ‘conductor’ Scorsese.
Commentary on Selected Scenes by Laszlo Kovacs, ASC - We only get 10 minutes worth of Laszlo Kovacs but he tells us what was involved in shooting the opening crowd scene using the biggest crane in Hollywood, covering the big band scenes, working with the Up Club set and its red neon lighting. Just the tip of the iceberg of a lighting masterclass from one of the best cinematographers in the world.
Trailers (SD, 6 mins total) - A couple of fuzzy looking trailers including a teaser and the original theatrical trailer.
‘New York, New York’ comes to American Region free Blu-ray with an unimpressive looking 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed in the widescreen 1.66:1 aspect ratio. A grainy image with particularly obtrusive grain around scene transitions and general softness make this attempt to recreate the look of three strip Technicolor hard to swallow.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround audio makes a good job of the musical numbers while dialogue is largely centre weighted with surrounds reserved mainly for ambient effects like crowd noise.
A good selection of featurettes, a good comm. track from director Martin Scorsese and some deleted scenes make up the extras.
As a movie, it’s uneven. The old Hollywood look and modern acting techniques don’t gel in this post World War II tale of a fading saxophone player and a star in her ascendancy. Robert DeNiro and Liza Minnelli improvise their way through the story while Liza belts out a brace of Big Band numbers including that brilliant title song.
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