New York Stories is made up of three short films by three directors, Martin Scorcese, Francis Ford Coppola and Woody Allen, who have all had a long love affair with New York in their films. Martin Scorcese's film, `Life Lessons', follows an artist played by Nick Nolte as he paints his masterpiece, spurned on by his tempestuous relationship with his live-in apprentice/muse and object of obsession. Some may find this film somewhat pretentious, but I found it visually and emotionally absorbing and I really enjoyed Scorcese's use of the camera in showing the artist's work. Coppola's story, `Life Without Zoe', is by far the worst of the trio. It is self-indulgent and the only point of note is that it represents Sofia Coppola's first writing credit as co-writer with her father. Sofia recently directed the beautifully poised rites of passage film `The Virgin Suicides', which represented her own transition from the shadow of her father to recognition of being a talent in her own right. Woody Allen's film, Oedipus Wrecks, is by far the best of the trilogy. Permeated with his trademark neuroses and razor-sharp wit, Oedipus Wrecks is about a single Jewish New Yorker (played by Allen) whose mother is constantly trying to get him to settle down with a nice Jewish girl. His mother then disappears (or dies, I can't remember which) only to reappear as a giant disembodied head in the New York sky, where she proceeds to discuss her child's life (complete with baby photo's). This is one of my favourite Woody Allen films, and on the strength of this I am surprised he doesn't make more short films. It is brilliantly Freudian, sharply observed and hilarious, despite the fact that this evidently represents something of a nightmare, not only for Allen's neurotic character but possibly for the director himself. Brilliant. Buy this film on the strength of the third segment.