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Messages - Polynikes

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Once Upon A Time In America / Re: The Garbage Truck
« on: July 30, 2023, 09:57:47 AM »
Thanks for the replies.  For me, it really does not work whatever the explanation (ambiguity, dream or not dream etc.), and the poor quality of the writing of the plot tarnishes the otherwise splendid qualities of the film.  I think the brutal truth is that Leone could create and film scenes in a way few others directors can, but perhaps got too carried away with the cinematography, and did not devote enough time and attention to the script.  As with many films with plot problems, several writers rather than just one contributes to this.

In terms of the much discussed "was it all a dream", that does not work either way for me. If it is not a dream, it is muddled plotting. If it is a dream, that to me is a bit of a convenient excuse, and it also makes me feel like I have been conned into watching 4-5 hours only to be told it is a shaggy dog story.

Anyway, enough of my musings and  thanks for the replies.

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Once Upon A Time In America / The Garbage Truck
« on: July 27, 2023, 04:59:33 PM »
Some years ago, I commented on OUATIA in the tread "Why does this movie fare so poorly with audiences"?  In summary, I thought the nucleus of an all-time great film was there, but sadly I found it infuriating when it finished. It was visually impressive, beautifully filmed (albeit a little overdone in places), very well acted (particularly by the young actors playing the characters as youngsters) and a lovely haunting score by Ennio Morricone.....but I could not get past the jarring absurdities of the plot.  I then mentioned some of these, most of which have been discussed at length on this board in a number of threads.

However, there is one absurd piece of plotting I have not seen discussed elsewhere (forgive me if it has), which is Max/Mr Bailey committing suicide by hurling himself into a conveniently placed garbage truck.  Of all the ways for Bailey to disappear, this is almost Monty Python levels of silliness, totally out of keeping with the quality, tone and style of the film.  Or do others see this differently, and have I misunderstood what happened,  or missed some significance or profundity in this?

Don't get me wrong - there is much to admire about OUATIA. I just wish Sergio and co had gven more attention to the plot development.

Again, apologies if this has already been discussed elsewhere.

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I hope this does not ruffle too many feathers, but I would like to explain why I think OUTIA is not a much loved film.  I think there was the nucleus of an all-time great film there, but sadly I found it infuriating when it finished.

My reaction to watching Once Upon A Time in America was: visually impressive, beautifully filmed (albeit a little overdone in places), very well acted (particularly by the young actors playing the characters as youngsters – they deserved to go on to greater things) and a lovely haunting score by Ennio Morricone.....but I could not get past the jarring absurdities of the plot.  I can cope with a degree of ambiguity, uncertainty and even a reasonable suspension of belief, but the revelation at the end just does taxes credulity too far.
If we are seeing the drug-induced imaginations of Noodles as a young man, then saying to the audience "by the way, I have just spent four hours conning you with a shaggy dog story" is a disappointing cop-out.
If the film is to be taken at face value, the plot just does not work satisfactorily:

1. Surely Carol and many others would have recognised "Mr Bailey" at some time in the intervening 35 years.
2. Why did Deborah hook up with him, knowing who he was?
3. What did Max hope to gain from the elaborate faking of his own death via the device of the Federal Bank job? Would he really have set up Patsy and Cockeye? And what was in it for the Syndicate?
4. How did Max manage to escape the shoot-out?
5. Max/Mr Bailey thows himself into a conveniently placed garbage truck as an act of suicide?! Oh, really.....

And so on...
I think Leone may have been aware of the faults with his project and deliberately created such an ending to create a sense of ambiguity, which satisfies many watchers.  Throughout this film, when confronted with an incident which needs to be set in context (either chronologically or in terms of hinting at a character's feeling or motivation), he seems to take refuge in a langorous, stylishly filmed shot set to emotive music rather than trying to do the hard work of adding convincingly to the potrayal of a character or developing the background of events which have shaped the character's thinking.
Such a shame, because as I first said, it is a film which should be gripping, but ends up being infuriating. It is as if Sergio became so obsessed with his film-making (which is of the highest standard), that he cared little about ensuring a coherent or even semi-coherent plot. 9/10 for cinematography (one point deducted from the perfect ten because occasionally scenes are lengthened for "dramatic effect" to the point of absurdity), 3/10 for story-telling: it just does not work, even allowing a generous degree of licence.
I am sorry to sound carping, but I just feel frustrated that so talented a cinematographer took such a casual attitude to the basic element of plot setting.
I hope this at least goes some way towards answering the original question of this thread without annoying too many people!

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