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noodles_leone
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« Reply #12060 on: June 03, 2013, 03:02:35 PM »

Interesting in that basically all of Leone's collaborators hated him, but most of his actors absolutely loved him. (I do wish that he would have been alive at the time Frayling wrote STDWD, if only so that he could respond to all the claims by his collaborators of what a jerk he was).

Yes interesting Smiley We could even be more precise: his famous collaborators (Morricone, Delli Colli...) loved him. The ones who hated him are usually more obscure: not a single guy who doesn't have an account on this board knows about Vincenzoni.

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« Reply #12061 on: June 03, 2013, 03:30:27 PM »

Yes interesting Smiley We could even be more precise: his famous collaborators (Morricone, Delli Colli...) loved him. The ones who hated him are usually more obscure: not a single guy who doesn't have an account on this board knows about Vincenzoni.

Also Donati was very bitter about him. And he also had a falling-out with Fulvio Morsella, who was his brother-in-law

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« Reply #12062 on: June 03, 2013, 04:41:40 PM »

Personally, I think Vincenzoni is wrong, I think that some of Leone's movies have very well-done deeper themes beyond the surface stuff, which is also great.
These guys always slight the material because they know the filmmakers too well (the same happened with Hitchcock). Because the filmmakers are not intellectuals, but rather entertainers, the assumption is that ALL they can do is entertain. But not so. Leone and Hitchcock, for example, because they worked in genres, dealt with archetypes. Archetypes are freighted with deep, deep layers of meaning; in them repose a vast culture. A simple quest tale, for example, encompasses all previous quest tales. So when Harmonica rides, so does Shane, but also Orlando and Parsifal. Would somebody like Leone be aware of this while making a particular film? Not necessarily. But he wouldn't have to.  The archetypes themselves carry their own associations. Patterns therefore occur with or without the intentions of the makers. The focus has to be on the films themselves, not the people who made them. Did Shakespeare fully comprehend what he was doing when he faithfully followed the formula for tragedy laid down by Seneca, or mimicked the conventions of Menander's comedies? We don't know, and it doesn't matter.

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« Reply #12063 on: June 03, 2013, 05:05:58 PM »

Using a psycho to explore these themes isn't much use, though, is it? Travis is both demented and dangerous, and whatever "truths" he comes up with aren't going to be of much help to (presumably) sane people like us. Yeah, we can still ponder these issues on our own--but we don't need Travis's example as a jumping off point. I mean, we already have Camus's The Stranger, what more do we need?

This is a very limiting paradigm, surely Jenkins? We can find "truth" in any number of sources: I can see myself in Hamlet, theoretically, without being a Danish nobleman: he speaks to universal themes. Thus with Taxi Driver: being alienated from society isn't something limited to murderous psychopaths.

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« Reply #12064 on: June 03, 2013, 09:45:49 PM »

These guys always slight the material because they know the filmmakers too well (the same happened with Hitchcock). Because the filmmakers are not intellectuals, but rather entertainers, the assumption is that ALL they can do is entertain. But not so. Leone and Hitchcock, for example, because they worked in genres, dealt with archetypes. Archetypes are freighted with deep, deep layers of meaning; in them repose a vast culture. A simple quest tale, for example, encompasses all previous quest tales. So when Harmonica rides, so does Shane, but also Orlando and Parsifal. Would somebody like Leone be aware of this while making a particular film? Not necessarily. But he wouldn't have to.  The archetypes themselves carry their own associations. Patterns therefore occur with or without the intentions of the makers. The focus has to be on the films themselves, not the people who made them. Did Shakespeare fully comprehend what he was doing when he faithfully followed the formula for tragedy laid down by Seneca, or mimicked the conventions of Menander's comedies? We don't know, and it doesn't matter.

Actually, I want to research these comments a little more specifically, cuz I try to be very careful when quoting someone to do so accurately, especially if I am quoting something negative. So I looked up that stuff in STDWD again now; it actually involves both Luciano Vincenzoni and Sergio Donati - both were Leone screenwriters who had fallings out with Leone.

The passages in question are on pages 212-214 of STDWD -- where Frayling is discussing the books and films that had influence on GBU:

All words in yellow are direct quotes from STDWD:

On page 212 of STDWD, Frayling discusses the comparisons between GBU and Charlie Chaplin's Monsieur Verdoux, and says Leone later claimed to have borrowed themes of GBU from Monsieur Verdoux, which he called "one of the finest films I know."



But Luciano Vincenzoni waspishly denies the inspiration, saying, "I wrote The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in eleven days, and I didn't have time to refer to anything. I mean I have too much respect for Charlie Chaplin to involve him with Sergio Leone Westerns."

Frayling goes on: Leone liked to tell interviewers (especially if they were French) that the central theme of Monsieur Verdoux reminded him also of Louis-Ferdinand Celine's semi-autobiographical novel Journey to the End of the Night. This, he said, was a favourite book.

 Frayling goes on to discuss JTTEOTN, and then, on page 213, says: But Leone's screenwriters deny that he brought his admiration for Celine to the writing of GBU. Sergio Donati goes further. He denies that Leone ever in fact read the book: "For a man who had read very few books, Sergio was very clever... JTTEOTN was the bedside reading of Luciano Vincenzoni. He knew it by heart and he used to read extracts from that book to Sergio who had never read a word of it. Absolutely. Vincenzoni kept quoting and quoting and quoting it to him. From 1968 onwards Sergio was treated by cineastes in France as if he had an honorary doctorate of letters, and when he was asked, 'What is your bedside reading?' he always said, 'Celine, JTTEOTN.' 'Oh,' said the interviewers." Vincenzoni agrees with this: he recalls seeing Leone clutching a copy of the book on a French television programme in 1968, and gasping in disbelief.

Fulvio Morsella was in the best position to know about this. He would read whole books to Sergio, when they had been published in English, translating them into Italian as he went along. Sergio Leone often told interviewers that his great ambition was to film Celine, but that he did not want to compromise the integrity of the novel: it was too important to him. Was this true? "No, that was just a snobbish attitude. Because it wasn't for him that kind of film he couldn't have made. It wasn't his type of vision. So he just talked about it all the time and never did it. I didn't, in fact, introduce him to Celine. It was published in Italian. In my view it was the title that fascinated him. He liked that." Plus the fact that it was Jack Kerouac's favourite book. There is a strong flavour of Celine's book in GBU - as there had been, six years previously, in La Grande Guerra. In both instances, Luciano Vincenzoni probably put it there.


According to Leone, his battle sequence was also partly inspired by the similar scene in Buster Keaton's The General (1926) where a Civil War locomotive steams on to a burning trestle bridge, which then collapses spectacularly into the river below. Keaton, too, had endured a false start when preparing this scene, and at a cost of $42,000 the shot was to become, according to film historian Kevin Brownlow, "the most expensive single shot of the silent era." It had stuck in Leone's mind, since he first saw it in the Mussolini era, as both magical and spectacular. His screenwriters are happy to confirm "the Keatonian echo": nobody has ever attempted to deny Leone's encyclopedic knowledge of cinema.


(Note: These quotes by Donati, Vincenzoni, and Morsella are attributed to separate interviews conducted with each of them, either by Frayling or by Cenk Kiral, in 1998. btw, does Cenk Kiral own this website?)

-----------

and look on pp. 306-307, discussing the political themes of DYS:

Leone was fond of evoking the notion of gods that had failed: "At the end of the war, like many Italians, I had illusions and dreams. I believed in revolution in the mind if not in the streets I dreamed about a more just and humane society, where welath was more evenly distributed. I loved history, and tracing its borad lines of development. After all, my father struggled against Fascism, he'd created the Directors' Union, and I came from a socialist family." Leone readily admitted his material detachment from the struggle, saying, "You can't be a communist if you own a villa." But he was keen to demonstrate a degree of engagement: "Let is just say that I am a disillusioned socialist. To the point of becoming an anarchist. But because I have a conscience, I'm a moderate anarchsit who doesn't go around throwing bombs... I mean, I've experienced just about all the untruths there are in life.  So what remains in the end? The family. Which is my final archetype handed down to us from prehistory... What else is there? Friendship. And that is all. I'm a pessimist by nature. With John Ford, people look out of the window with hope. Me, I show people who are scared even to open the door. And if they do, they tend to get a bullet right between the eyes. But that's how it is. Politics are never absent from my films. And in the films, the anarchists are the truthful characters. I know them well, because my ideas are close to theirs." Leone's continual elisions of politics and cinema, anarchism and Ford, are telling. He seemed much more at home talking about the latter than the former. As Luciano Vincenzoni was to put it, incredulously: "Sergio Leone... and politics?!"

(the reason I quote this last paragraph about DYS is cuz I wonder if that final sentence is a put-down by Vincenzoni (that Leone isn't intellectual enough to know make films about politics), or if it's merely a statement of opinion that Leone didn't make films about politics, but not intended as a put-down of Leone's intellectualism).

-------------------------------------------------------------------


So, these are the comments I could find RE: Leone's collaborators (possibly) scoffing at the idea of Leone as an intellectual. If you can find any others, feel free to share them  Wink

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« Reply #12065 on: June 04, 2013, 01:48:23 AM »

D&D you should check out the bonus on the My Name Is Nobody DVD. Vincenzoni is very harsh about Leone in this one. HE starts out nicely, and then you can feel his anger is getting harder and harder to control and he finally gives example of "ridiculous" dialogues from the dollar trilogy. I've only watched this once years ago, but I also remeber that toward the end he finally says something nice about Leone, but even this sounds "but he was not THAT bad, this little kid": he says how Billy Wilder watched OUATIA and told him that even if you could criticize the story and the structure,  Leon ewas a great director. Then he emphasizes on "Billy Wilder! Billy Wilder said that!", as if Leone needed any kind of approval in 1984.

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« Reply #12066 on: June 04, 2013, 05:55:10 AM »

and it says that on the laserdisc commentary, Scrsese acknowledged that some critics interpreted it as fantasy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxi_Driver#Interpretations_of_the_ending
Well, I got out the 2011 BD last night and took it for a spin (beautiful, beautiful transfer btw) with the Scorsese commentary on and didn't hear Marty mention the "dream theory" once. So I call B.S. on this.

I like this idea less and less anyway. We already have a fantasy ending at the end of The King of Comedy, how many do we need?

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« Reply #12067 on: June 04, 2013, 06:22:01 AM »

Thus with Taxi Driver: being alienated from society isn't something limited to murderous psychopaths.
Uh huh. Deep, very deep. A point well worth making.

Travis, we know from the screenplay, is a racist. Some of that racism survives into the finished film, with the way he eyeballs the several blacks he encounters. In the original concept, the people he kills at the end were all black, but Scorcese lost his nerve and wouldn't film it that way. If he'd gone ahead I guess the idea we'd have taken away from the film is that "being a racist isn't something limited to murderous pyschopaths."

But this is nonsense. We're not supposed to identify with Travis ultimately--we might find him sympathetic in some scenes as we go along, but by the end of the picture we have to reject him utterly. Just as we do Meursault in The Stranger. But there's no sense of urban decay in Camus's novel. In Taxi Driver, however, there seems to be a real sociological statement in play: Travis is who he is, at least in part, because of the society around him. This society has nurtured him and rewarded him and so it will get more of the same in the future. But next time everyone won't be quite so happy. The film's final message: this sick society will reap as it has sown.

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« Reply #12068 on: June 04, 2013, 06:34:07 AM »

Dazed and Confused (1993) - 8.5/10
In Tarantino's words: "one of the greatest hang-out movies ever".

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« Reply #12069 on: June 04, 2013, 12:47:44 PM »

Les Dragueurs / The Chasers (1959) - 7/10. Jean-Pierre Mocky's debut about a night in the life of two Parisian skirt chasers. It's better than you'd think (and features some very hot female talent). The decadent party at the end seems to anticipate La Dolce Vita, but in this case things are kept interesting. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjbtBoR5iaw

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« Reply #12070 on: June 04, 2013, 02:23:37 PM »

We're not supposed to identify with Travis ultimately--we might find him sympathetic in some scenes as we go along, but by the end of the picture we have to reject him utterly. Just as we do Meursault in The Stranger.

I had a professor in law school -- the course was actually called Law & Literature -- who thought we should sympathize with the character in The Stranger cuz people just couldn't understand that his actions, which are all part of emotional complexity.

I was good friends with the professor, but no, didn't agree with him on everything. (And I didn't read any of the books in the course -- I went back to high school days and busted out the Cliffs Notes!)

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« Reply #12071 on: June 04, 2013, 02:46:06 PM »

D&D you should check out the bonus on the My Name Is Nobody DVD. Vincenzoni is very harsh about Leone in this one. HE starts out nicely, and then you can feel his anger is getting harder and harder to control and he finally gives example of "ridiculous" dialogues from the dollar trilogy. I've only watched this once years ago, but I also remeber that toward the end he finally says something nice about Leone, but even this sounds "but he was not THAT bad, this little kid": he says how Billy Wilder watched OUATIA and told him that even if you could criticize the story and the structure,  Leon ewas a great director. Then he emphasizes on "Billy Wilder! Billy Wilder said that!", as if Leone needed any kind of approval in 1984.

you must be talking about the Region 2 dvd? I don't recall any bonus features on the Region 1
http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/dvdcompare/nobody.htm

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« Reply #12072 on: June 04, 2013, 04:20:48 PM »

The Great Gatsby (2013) - 3/10
Terrible. Just terrible. A couple points just because I was able to sit through it and to reward Baz Luhrmann for using a little restraint from his horrendous style for maybe one or two scenes.

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« Reply #12073 on: June 04, 2013, 06:11:27 PM »

Okay Mr. Power, which scenes?

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« Reply #12074 on: June 04, 2013, 06:11:32 PM »

I really haven't read what you guys are saying about Taxi Driver, but it looks like you're discussing the ending and whether or not it's Travis' "fantasy"? I don't buy the fantasy theory at all - it's just made up by the film's lovers to justify a weak ending. Of course, there's no way in hell that someone like Betsy would willingly reconnect with someone like Travis after everything that happened. Even if he's reached a "hero" status in the media, I don't see it in her personality to see him again.

But where is the indication that it's just a dream/fantasy? We don't see a single hint of Travis dreaming or fantasizing throughout the entire movie. In the King of Comedy, the 'fantasy' ending theory works because of Pupkin's frequent fantasies throughout the film. With Taxi Driver, there's nothing to work off of other than to justify a nonsensical ending. And that strange noise in the end that occurs when Travis adjusts the mirror? Either Scorese of Schrader (I forget who) says that 'represents a time bomb ready to start ticking again'. I also forget where I heard this. But trust me. Where/how/why would that explanation fit in the 'fantasy' there?

I don't like the final scene but I'm still on the "Taxi Driver is a masterpiece boat".

All that being said I didn't actually read what anyone was saying. I don't know if someone already made these points or if that's even exactly what you're talking about. Just my two cents on the ending.

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