WHAT I LIKED: 'New York, New York,' is a bit of a departure from Martin Scorsese's usual kind of filmmaking (particularly this early on in his career), as it partly serves as a love-letter to Classic Hollywood musicals which all of course seem a world away from Scorsese's usual gritty reality and observational cynicism.
Don't be fooled though, as this film is actually a rather strange juxtaposition of elements - on the one hand it's packed with those joyous musical numbers and a charming portrayal of a 50s-era New York, but on the other it shows a very troubled central relationship that reeks of all the usual New-Hollywood darkness. De Niro's character is deeply flawed and is clearly victim of the troubles he's endured at the hands of society, and how out of reach his rose-tinted dreams are drives him to violence and self-destruction.
The result is a film of two contrasting tones where the joyous music and stylistic choices meet a far harsher reality, but it does largely work as both elements are executed well. On the one hand Scorsese does an excellent job of directing the musical numbers, whilst De Niro and Minnelli both deliver perfect central performances where they share genuine engaging and fractious chemistry.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: The problem is though that those juxtaposing tones never really align, because ultimately the joyous musical numbers feel like a distraction from the harsh tragedy, and the tragedy is undermined by the nostalgia. So, whilst it could be viewed as a strange, almost satirical undermining commentary on golden era musicals and modern society, it does come off as a fairly disjointed and muddled one overall.
VERDICT: An odd mix of great nostalgic musical numbers and brilliantly cynical and tragic central characters, Scorsese's 'New York, New York,' is an interesting film, but one that doesn't quite gel as a cohesive whole.