Life lessons

In a story loosely based on Fyodor Dostoevsky‘s short novel The GamblerNick Nolte plays Lionel Dobie, an acclaimed abstract artist who finds himself unable to paint during the days before the scheduled beginning of a major gallery exhibition of his new work. Rosanna Arquette is Paulette, his apprentice/assistant and former lover. Lionel is still infatuated with her, but Paulette wants only his tutelage, which makes things difficult since they live in the same studio-loft. Life Lessons, directed by Martin Scorsese, is the first of three short films part of the New York Stories anthology film from 1989. The second one is Life Without Zoë, directed by Francis Ford Coppola and written by Coppola with his daughter, Sofia Coppola. The last is Oedipus Wrecks, directed, written by and starring Woody Allen. The film was screened out of competition at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival. Allen and Scorsese’s segments of the film have generally been praised. However, Hal Hinson, writing in The Washington Post felt that Coppola’s segment was “by far the director’s worst work yet.”  Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film two and a half stars, saying “New York Stories consists of three films, one good, one bad, one disappointing.” He further explained, “Of the three films, the only really successful one is ‘Life Lessons,’ the Scorsese story of a middle-age painter and his young, discontented girlfriend. 


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