Friday, June 7, 2013

Once Upon A Time In America

My back is killing me and I thought I'd ruptured my appendix this morning and held the left side of my belly but someone said that my appendix was on the other side of my gut.
"Then I'm even worse off than I thought," said a wincing Oggy. "How the fuck did my appendix get over here?"
I'll be a comedian until the day I die...which I thought was going to be today as a lightning storm thundered through our work site while we were working on minor details of a 480V panel...stripped bolts, shimming switch poles, negotiating with the gods....losing the keys to the trailer and finding them in the mud which clumps like wet newspaper in the home of a hoarder. PEOPLE MUST HAVE THEIR GASOLINE!

But that can't prevent me from writing something about Sergio Leone's last film, "Once Upon A Time In America"
I don't want to say the last word on this picture because the Walmart copy I bought was some kind of insane studio cut that left out more than I could tolerate. When it was released after half of the footage was eliminated the film pretty much bombed. Leone almost died he was so depressed. He never directed again. This movie has Robert De Niro and James Woods and it still bombed. Most people haven't even seen it. But when the uncut director's version was screened some critics said it was the best thing ever. I'll tell you honestly that almost nothing can top "Once Upon A Time in the West" because it's romantic and triumphant and simple and Claudia Cardinale is the best. So it would take some kind of movie for me to think it's better. "America" is kind of an epic mess with potential. I'm not quite sure what happened at the final prohibition gun battle that leaves three people dead. Someone double crossed someone...but I never saw the shoot out. It wasn't included for some reason. Maybe it's in the director's cut. I've read that Scorcese is trying to restore the entire epic film which makes sense because I've never understood why the god-awful "Twilight" has three full movies and Lord Of The Rings has like 9 hours released in the theater...but "Heaven's Gate" is cut in half and Leone has his long movies rendered almost incomprehensible. My favorite movie of all time "Cinema Paradiso" has critical parts of the ending removed in some editions. Sure, let's give teenage porn vampires as much time as they need but quality films have to be reduced to a trailer?

So, I can't recommend this version of Leone's movie. It's interesting and visually satisfying but the emotions aren't in the mix here as they should be. It jumps all over the place. The trademark Leone staging of scenes is over-matched by the sets. Only De Niro is a complicated character and not too likeable. He gets what he deserves. The story works but it's not really something I can identify with. It did make me want to smoke opium. Either Italian Film Directors have a pretty bad image of America or we're all a bunch of assholes.

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.