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Messages - aldog

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Once Upon A Time In America / Re: De Niro's best acting role?
« on: July 02, 2007, 02:28:01 AM »
James Woods is on record saying that his work with Leone was the best he's ever done.

You're right of course Dave. He really does champion the movie and Leone in the dvd.

I think I had in mind the leading man and lady neither of whome seem to have ever realized the enormity of the movie. Certainly not from what I've ever read.

Once Upon A Time In America / Re: De Niro's best acting role?
« on: June 26, 2007, 03:52:52 PM »
Some precise analogies there noodles with which I agree - as you might have gathered.

The more I read all these threads on these sites relating to OUATIA, the more I feel the movie will continue to fight a losing battle against the initial butchered release of the film in the USA and its inevitable failure resulting from that butchery. It meant even the cast seemed to want to distance themselves from it for fear of guilt by association.

I read a De Niro biog some time back and you'd hardly have thought he'd ever appeared in the movie let alone the fact it ranked as arguably his finest role in arguably his finest ever film.


Once Upon A Time In America / Re: De Niro's best acting role?
« on: June 26, 2007, 03:53:44 AM »
Fair dinkum Juan. You convey your hypothesis well. However, the points you make don't convince me regarding how I prefer my lead acting to bloom.

There are times - in comedy roles especially - where I need the lead actor or even a rival to dominate the screen. However, it takes a lot for the purely overt to do the trick for me. In a movie like OUATIA, for me, the movie itself simply has to triumph. Scenes such as James Woods's outrage may still work in the context of his derangement as the character Maxie yet he could never convince in the understated manner which De Niro integrated into the Noodles character particularly the 60's scenes. 

Vive la difference eh pal.


Once Upon A Time In America / Re: De Niro's best acting role?
« on: June 25, 2007, 10:52:43 AM »
I guess much of it depends upon what you hope to get from a movie.

For me it's like with a band. I'm a great believer in the whole aspiring to something greater than just the sum of the parts. My favourite ever band is The Band who epitomised such collective effort. Even where a band is fronted by an ultimate showman/star turn like a Springsteen I want to see the others in the band connecting to form a similar sort of collective force a la Clarence/Stevie Van Zandt/Nils.

Personally, all's I can ever ask for from any lead actor is a performance that meshes imperceptibly with that of the other actors in the movie. Not one that blows the others off the screen but one that complements the others and allows the movie to take centre stage. In the final analysis it's the movie that's the thing. Not the actor's magnificence or otherwise. His or her performance simply has to convince me. That's all I'm ever looking for.

I've never been one to drool over a virtuoso acting performance. Like a showman Hendrix-like rock star it tends to leave me shrugging my shoulders - in a Eh - so what sort of thing??!!

Not that I don't appreciate the talent, perhaps even genius involved in such statements of artistic performance/acting. Just that I see it as lip gloss as distinct from lips. That's why Brando or Olivier - fantastic talents as they were - never did it for me. Unless their character actually calls specifically for the portrayal of a huge ego, for me they just put too much oomph into their roles.

Same with de Niro. Give me the understated De Niro performance in OUATIA to his Goodfellas or his Raging Bull or even Travis.

De Niro's switching from a late 20 ish hood to a 60 ish old man was as good as I could ever wish to see in a movie. He devoured the emotional core of the role and brought it to us. To marvel at. The role never demanded virtuosity in the sense of any towering overt tour de force. On the contrary, it required a disciplined team role of a lead actor balancing that role neither subservient to it or dominant over it - all the time with his eye firmly on the object of the exercise which was to be a part only of the creation of a truly magnificent film.

And by those criteria De Niro certainly more than convinced me that he's never done better.

I'll be frank with you DR.

Much as I'm a blinkered supporter of the film I have to say your points are absolutely spot on. Everything you cite does have to be regarded as a flaw in the Director's conveyance of the plot. I love the way you present it as a 'what does Leone do with the resolution of the characters after 35 years' type of scenerio. And to be honest, in the cut we all refer to, he doesn't do a job - especially the 'apparent' blind spot everyone connected with him seems to be blighted with as to Max's survival, nay, progression as a statesman-like figure and most of all his union with Deborah.

And yet, for this particular enthusiast of the film, somehow all these plot/story weaknesses/frailties do pale into insignificance when set against that visceral impact the movie's emotional core has on the likes of me. It almost makes those shortcomings irrelevant. No other film I can think of has ever made me such an apologist for it. 

Yeah have to agree with Dave Jenkins. Noodle_Slowstir's posts are like Rafa Benitez's management techniques. Thorough, logical, sensible and invariably on the money. Well in pal.


I think the matter was taken out of Max's hands. He had a choice. Go with the mob and reach for what he perceived as the stars or stick with his mates and stay rooted on what he saw as the mundanity of planet earth.

He chose the former and by so doing lost the power to keep his mates alive, thus selling his soul to the devil.

Noodles insulting him in the backroom just prior to the orchestrated shoot-out [you're crazy!] merely provided Max with an opportunity to temporarily thwart the mob's plan to bump off Noodles along with Patsy and Cockeye.

However, what he couldn't do was guarantee Noodles survival. And, as it happens, he wasn't really that fazed either way as he was certainly not going to let it hinder his ultimate goal by interceding with the mob. As Dave Jenkins said what the 'knocking out' of Noodles did was to give Noodles a fighting chance to stay alive. As we know, Noodles grabbed it and fled.

In the final analysis, Max had no saving graces. Like him, the other three were low-life murdering thugs. However, the one saving grace of the other three was a code of loyalty they shared with and to each other. None of them - most definitely of all not Noodles - would have partaken in a betrayal of mates of the sort Max perpetrated with the conniving of the mob.

Max, however, was rotten to the core. He was the complete bad ass. In the end, nothing mattered to Max but Max. His mates came way way down the pecking order so as to make bumping them off almost incidental to the main task at hand - reaching those stars.

Noodles had the last laugh, however. If laugh is the appropriate term after 30 haunted years of brooding, remorse and misery and going to bed early. His snub to Max closed the door on a 'philosophical' slate-wiping escape route that Max was sure Noodles would take. The snub saw Noodles finally breaking free of any hold Max ever had over him and saw Max utterly desolate that the last vestige of every power he ever fought and clawed for had evaporated and in the end he had nothing left.

Once Upon A Time In America / Re: My problem with Eve's death
« on: April 05, 2007, 02:29:44 AM »

Loved your post to bits. Agree with everything you said and I'm sure like myself there's a million other connections/observations you could make.

Your point about Max's effort to save Noodles from being gunned down with Patsy and Cockeye [by knocking him out when he repeats his 'you're crazy' slur] being overridden by the corrupt police/mob is the only explanation that I have come up with for what actually went on. Also I think your point about not taking everything literally - forinstance Deborah's non-ageing in her dressing room - is an absolute pre-requisite for deriving maximum fulfillment from the film.

One of the things that is utterly amazing about OUATIA is when you read many of the forum posts or even some of the 'learned' critiques is just how many misinterpretatations there are of the film's numerous twists and turns.

Forinstance - and most notable for me - is in Dana Andrews wonderful [lengthy]synposis of the film she manages to misread the identity of Max's son at the end of the film, mistaking him for the 'rape' child of Noodles and Deborah. It is a major misinterpretation set amidst her otherwise intuitive and enlightened clear grasp of just how momentous this movie really is and shows just how easy it is to miss one of the thousands of tiny clues left by this genius director.

One final personal observation. It has taken me at least a dozen watchings to arrive at the tenuous grasp I now have of the plot this masterpiece. Yet, I still feel very strongly that the key to its enchantment does not lie in extending your understanding of it but in experiencing within yourself the representations it is attempting to convey about some very basic human traits. In other words OUATIA is at heart a film about human emotion and emotions, their suppression and their revelation. As many respected critics have pointed out, it is not and never will be a gangster movie.

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