If you find Hollywood movies too commercial, what about the great New York directors? Each of them has his own style, but they have three things in common: their films are deeper and more serious than typical Hollywood productions, they often show the city of New York, and none of the four is a “white Anglo-Saxon” American!
Martin Scorsese was born into a family of Sicilian immigrants, in an area of New York dominated by the Mafia. As a child he witnessed a lot of crime and brutality, which he later portrayed in his films. They are usually set in New York, and the characters are, as a reviewer once wrote, “the kind of people you wouldn’t want to know.” He often casts Italian-American actors Robert De Niro (Taxi Driver, GoodFellas) and Leonardo DiCaprio (The Aviator, The Departed). Scorsese’s films were sometimes criticized for the violence they contain. The director himself says: “All right, but that’s the reality I see.” In 2007 he finally won an Oscar for The Departed.
Francis Ford Cappola also comes from an Italian-American background. The picture that brought him fame was The Godfather (1972), the story of a Mafia family; it also made Al Pacino a star. Two years later, with The Godfather II Coppola became one of only five directors ever to win Oscar for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay for the same movie. His most ambitious film is Apocalypse Now, a Vietnam War epic inspired by Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness.
Comedy director and actor Woody Allen, whose real name is Allen Stewart Konigsberg, comes from New York Jewish family. A typical Allen comedy is both set and shot in New York, contains lots of amusing dialogue and features a typical hero, played by the director himself: the intellectual “urban neurotic.” The black-and-white shots of New York in Manhattan have become part of cinema history.