You might consider yourself a Martin Scorsese fan, but you might not know about “Life Lessons,” his contribution to the 1989 anthology film “New York Stories.” Francis Ford Coppola and Woody Allen round out the trio of directors who submitted shorts to the project.
“Life Lessons” stars Nick Nolte as a successful abstract painter, with Rosanna Arquette as his girlfriend and live-in assistant. We meet Nolte as he is going through a creative lull. On the eve of a major show, he has no inspiration to produce any new work. When it’s reveled that Arquette’s character, who recently returned from a trip, lied to him about her whereabouts, it’s through this turmoil that Nolte can begin to create great work again.
Whats notable in the film is Scorsese’s innovative use of steadycam, with the camera frantically sweeping or zooming in through scenes incredibly fast. The Directors Series considers the film was a “palate cleanser” for Scorsese, coming between his controversial labor of love “The Last Temptation of Christ” and his landmark “Goodfellas.”
While the entire short isn’t online, this incredible montage of the film gives a flavor of Scorsese’s work on the movie, and it’s definitely worth a watch.