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Messages - Noodles_SlowStir

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Off-Topic Discussion / Re: In Memoriam
« on: January 31, 2020, 06:09:30 PM »
Another cast member of Once Upon A Time In America passed away.  Actor Robert Harper who played Sharkey.  Noticed his name on a list.  Really wasn't much out there.  I think it was just made public yesterday.  He had other movies in his filmography (The Insider, The War Of The Roses, Deconstructing Harry)  but seemed to work more extensively in television throughout the years.

The other recent passing that caught my eye was screen writer Harriet Frank Jr.  She collaborated with her husband Irving Ravetch on over eight films for Martin Ritt including Hud, Hombre, Conrack and Norma Rae.  Other westerns to their credit The Spikes Gang and The Cowboys.  Also wrote the screenplay for The Reivers starring Steve McQueen.

Once Upon A Time In America / Re: TCM Premiere OUATIA
« on: January 16, 2020, 04:39:32 PM »
Have no idea how to make and upload a video segment from DVR.  Been having a lot of problems with my provider with HD cable and DVR.  I was able to make a transcript of the commentary. 


Welcome to TCM.  I’m Eddie Muller.  Our month long spotlight on the Roaring 20s continues this evening with the TCM premiere of an epic from Italian director Sergio Leone.  It’s a Prohibition era saga that follows its main characters not only through the Roaring 20s but before and after as well.  And a narrative of shifting time frames that’s as much about memory and regret as it is about crime.  From 1984, it’s Once Upon A Time In America.  Sergio Leone is of course best known for his distinctively stylish westerns, including the classic Once Upon A Time In The West from 1968, and of course the Dollars Trilogy starring Clint Eastwood.  But even as he was carving out a legend for himself with those westerns, Leone became fixated on the idea of bringing this 20th century gangster story to the screen concerning the rise and fall of a group of Jewish gangsters on the streets of New York City.  They start out as petty criminals but hit the big time when Prohibition becomes the law of the land opening up the booze business to those willing to skirt the law.  Leone’s dream project was started and thwarted time and time again for close to a decade.  With various stars along the way penciled in for the leading roles, in the end Leone got red hot Robert De Niro Oscar winner for his role in 1980’s Raging Bull, and James Woods, a veteran character actor just stepping up to leading man status.  The expansive cast includes many familiar faces including Elizabeth McGovern, Joe Pesci, Tuesday Weld, Treat Williams and Danny Aiello.  Also keep an eye out for future Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly, who made her big screen debut in this film.  She was just 12 years old.  And of course being a Sergio Leone movie we get a fantastic score by a prolific Italian composer, Ennio Morricone, a frequent and favorite collaborator of the director.  Okay, I’m going to stop talking because this truly is an epic clocking in at a robust 227 minutes just under four hours.  From 1984, here is the TCM premiere of Once Upon A Time In America.


Once Upon A Time In America was the most ambitious movie of Sergio Leone’s storied career.  He originally envisioned it as two separate three hour films.  Eventually he was persuaded to pare the story down to a single film which he brought in at a running time of 3 hours and 49 minutes.  That’s the version we just saw, what’s commonly referred to as the European cut.  But when it came time to release the picture in the States, the distributors, unbeknownst to Leone, cut out an hour and a half.  And the scenes were stacked in chronological order eliminating all the flashbacks and essentially murdering Leone’s conception of the story.  Not that these changes helped, the film tanked at the box office.  Especially once Leone’s legion of American fans found out there was another version of the film out there 90 minutes longer that was true to his vision.  One prominent American critic called the abbreviated cut of Once Upon A Time In America the worst movie of the year. He then turned around and called the European version the best film of the year.   Up next our look at the Roaring 20s continues with Barry Sullivan and Robert Blake as bootleggers from the Motor City….

I was hoping in his commentary there would be some personal observations or more discussion about the structure of the narrative.  I would of really been interested in his take or interpretation.   He concentrated on Sergio’s career, and the production and reception of the film.  So much to talk about in so little time.  It was very evident in his commentary he had great admiration for Sergio Leone and Once Upon A Time In America.

Amazing to think that this cut has been available on DVD since 2002 and that it premiered on TCM yesterday.  The film has had a post production life unlike most other films.

Once Upon A Time In America / TCM Premiere OUATIA
« on: January 15, 2020, 12:47:28 PM »
TCM for January has been spotlighting the Roaring 20's and Prohibition.   Every Wednesday the programming has been hosted by Eddie Muller.  The overall schedule is varied focusing on different topics of the decade.  There's already been two segments on gangsters.  They've featured two of the big three gangster films from the 1930s (The Public Enemy and Scarface).  Also aired some of the films from the late fifties/early sixties period that emerged with the popularity of The Untouchables on television.

Tonight (1/15 10:15 PM Eastern) a TCM premiere of Once Upon A Time In America.  Looks to be the 229 minute version not the extended version.   Comments by Eddie Muller before and after should be interesting. 

Hopefully it will be available on Watch TCM as well.  Had hoped to post earlier, but it's difficult when you're time challenged and going to bed early every night.  Still watch and love Leone cinema.

As an aside,  Alan Parker's Bugsy Malone will premiere during January as part of the Roaring 20s programming.  Also, seems I've been watching quite a few Sydney Pollack films of late (directed and acting).  On January 24th, TCM will be airing The Yakuza with Robert Mitchum.  It's not on television frequently.  I've not seen it in a long time, been wanting to revisit it.


There are at least 5 times in OUATIA where I can recall the scene involving mirrors (if I'm missing any, please add 'em!)

A) in one of the most memorable scenes in the film,young Noodles looks in a mirror as he is escaping New York; then we are immediately introduced to old Noodles 35 years later, looking into the same mirror

B) As the gang (in its first scene as children) walk in the crowded streets of the Lower East Side, they pause to look into a mirror on the street.

C) When Noodles returns to Fat Moe's after having been gone for a while  --(dating and raping Deborah, "seeing her off" at the train station, spending time "by the Chinks" mourning her," -- he looks into a mirror as he walks into the back room.

D) Noodles's meeting with "old" Deborah takes place entirely in front of a completely mirrored wall

E) Bailey's study has a couple of small mirrors on the wall

What's the significance of all this?

B occurs just after Deborah says, "Just look at yourself, David Aaronson!" So the theme has something to do with people "seeing themselves"; I remember someone once said that at the end, when Secretary Bailey looks out the window at his young son, he is "looking at himself," as a youngster.

I think I agree with you on the importance of Deborah and her association with mirrors. It's a significant association.  When young Deborah says look at yourself to Noodles, it affects him for the rest of his life.  He seems to be "measuring" himself each time he looks at himself.  In addition,  I think older Noodles sees his own mortality.  Quite natural.  Particularly when he returns to the train station and looks in the glass.  I think this is what he sees.  I think Jill in OUATITW is going through this same type of process when she's looking in the mirror left alone at Sweetwater.  She's considering where she is in life, what could of been, what to do, what are the possibilities for her now......

Under B when the group looks in the mirror, there's one observation I would like to add.  I don't think it's an original thought but it's not on this thread.  Not sure if it could be on another thread.  When Domenic looks in the mirror, he sees death.  He sees his own death.  Mirrors in some literature and other films (such as Cocteau's Orphee) are associated with death.

SL fixes his camera on the reflection of the wagon so as to foreshadow the scene in which Domenic dies in the arms of Noodles by the wagon wheel.

Once Upon A Time In America / Re: NEW DIRECTORS CUT
« on: June 10, 2012, 08:20:46 PM »

I don't think Leone was trying to trick us into thinking the music in the mausoleum was non-diegetic; I think Leoen tried to make it clear that it was diegetic all along, with the bit with the music starting and stopping on what was some sort of sensor as De Niro opened and closing the door (and as he looks around I think he sees some sort of vent where it is "piped in.") And Leone couldn't know at the time of filming that he'd be forced to cut the scene with Louise Fletcher (explaining the origin of the tape) due to timing concerns. Therefore, I don't think Leone ever intended to make it ambiguous as to whether the music was no diegetic. Maybe for just a moment, yes, as it started as soon as Noodles opens the door; but as soon we realize it starts and stops as Noodles opens and closes the door, it's clear that it is diegetic, so I certainly don't think Leone intended it to be ambiguous enough that we wouldn't figure it out by the end of the scene, cuz he figured we'd see the scene with Louise Fletcher.

I agree.  There was a really great thread on the mausoleum and that amazing door.  We talked about how Noodles kept handling that door.  Sometime after that I rewatched the film and this scene clicked for me.  You're right that there is visual evidence within the scene that makes it very clear that the music is diegetic.  When Noodles looks above at various angles, he actually sees the speakers that are built in the columns in at least three different locations.

That being said, I really don't care for the Fletcher scene. I'm not a big Louise Fletcher fan and really don't find her acting in that sequence too impressive.  I like it the way it is.  It's very clear that Noodles has been summoned back and that he's thinking through everything right from his first contact with Moe.  The Fletcher scene takes away from the subtlety of Noodles' process of understanding and piecing everything together.  I think with the editing issues of the last three films, one of the things that resulted is that SL has quite a bit of things happening off camera.  I think it's a brilliant consequence. It makes his cinema more interesting and involves the viewer more and allows for different interpretation.

Sergio Leone News / Leone Retrospective At Harvard Film Archive
« on: November 03, 2011, 08:54:42 PM »
During the month of November there will be a Sergio Leone retrospective at Harvard Film Archive.  Not sure if there are any members in the Northeast that might have opportunity to go..... Always gratifying to see another organization honoring SL's body of work. 

There was a lengthy article in the Boston Phoenix about the retrospective which provides a little discussion on each film.  Nothing revelatory but enjoyable to read.  (Definitely got a laugh over the foot reference in the discussion about Colossus Of Rhodes and how he brought it to Tarantino.)

Also found web site for HFA with their treatment of the retrospective, Once Upon A Time....Sergio Leone.

A Fistful of Dollars / Re: Don Miguel Rojo
« on: July 16, 2011, 11:29:16 AM »

HG, thanks for all your work in posting and translating the OUATIA chapter.  I enjoyed reading it.  I find it amazing that this work hasn't been published in other languages so it could reach more people. I would of thought that to be important to Simsolo as well. 

Once Upon A Time In America / Re: Favorite quotes
« on: August 19, 2009, 01:03:43 PM »
There's so many.  You've posted quite a few.  Some of the lines that I like or think about that Noodles delivers are:

When Noodles answers Moe on what it all means discussing the letter he received.
"It means .....Get ready".  Moe asks for what.  "That's the one thing it didn't say".

Noodles to Deborah
"To keep from going crazy, you have to cut yourself
off from the outside world.
Just not think about it.  Yet there were years that went by.... seemed like time at all, because you’re not doing anything"

Noodles had quite a few good lines in the final confrontation with Max

"You, Mr. Bailey? 
 I haven’t had a gun in my hand for many, many years.
 My eyes aren’t too good, even with glasses.
 My hands shake.  And I wouldn’t want to miss, Mr. Bailey."

"Some of the jobs we took, and some we didn’t.
 Yours is one we would never touch.
 It’s just the way I see things." 

As well as the lifetime of waste line already cited.                 

Off-Topic Discussion / Re: Bertolucci's 1900 (Novecento)
« on: August 19, 2009, 12:30:20 PM »
Well, suffice to say Bertolucci employed North-American actors for the three main landlord/Fascist roles (Robert De Niro, Burt Lancaster, Donald Sutherland) and wanted a Russian, or possibly Russians although he only talks about Olmo, for the main Peasant/Communist role(s). Instead he used Europeans for the three main Peasant/Communist roles: Gerard Depardieu and Dominique Sanda (French); Werner Bruhns (German).

I think you're right.  I remember a little bit the discussion in the video interview on the disc.  I'll have to watch it again.  I also remember reading this idea in print more than once in interviews.  Just to add another thought.  I think Bertolucci gets away from this casting idea in a big way with the casting of Sterling Hayden as Leo Dalco (whether he felt he was the best actor for the part or whatever his decision).  I think his role is an important one since he's often contrasted to the padrone in the first half of the film.  He's basically the patriarch of the Dalco clan and really of all the peasants on the estate.  I think it turned out to be a great decision.  I always thought that Hayden was terrific in the film.  He definitely holds his own in the scenes with Lancaster. 

I realize you were kind of comparing three roles from both categories.  In addition to Leo Dalco, the Anita character played by Stefania Sandrelli is important despite her screen time.  She does fit in with the original casting approach. 

Sergio Leone News / Francesca Leone: Close Ups and Gazes On Canvas
« on: July 21, 2009, 10:28:25 AM »
I recently found a few articles on Francesca Leone.  She currently has a significant exhibit of her art work (June-July) at the Moscow Museum Of Modern Art called “Beyond Their Gaze”. The exhibit consists of about thirty of her paintings.  Francesca studied painting at the Fine Arts Academy Of Rome.        
The first time I had seen the information was on sometime last week.  I found there were a lot of similar articles with the same written content in numerous places on the web.  It may be old news to some of our friends in Europe.  I think various Italian newspapers may of carried the story about the exhibit frequently and also given coverage to her work in the past.  I thought I would post in case someone on the board hadn’t connected with any of it and had any interest. 

Here is article and link:

MOSCOW.- For the first time in Russia, Moscow Museum of Modern Art opens a personal exhibition of Francesca Leone, the artist whose paintings have a special place in contemporary Italian art. “Beyond Their Gaze” project presents about 30 large-scale paintings notable for the carefulness of the technique, the concentrated consciousness of chromatic transitions, and the extreme refinement of experiences combined with the force of a visual spell.

Francesca Leone was born in Rome into a creative and versatile family: her father Sergio Leone was the outstanding film director who collaborated with Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood, and Ennio Morricone. Francesca’s mother was a famous ballerina, her grandmother was an actress. Since her birth, Francesca was endowed with a deep, spontaneous emotionality that was reflected in her pictorial works.

At the start of her creative career, Francesca Leone studied and reinterpreted the artistic experience of Futurism: Gino Severini, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carra, and Giacomo Balla. Her fascination with Futurism was reflected in the works of the artist – her oeuvre includes energetic compositions where movements of the figures are shown in a dynamic stream of time, where flashing forms, zigzags and oblique lines prevail, where motion is depicted by imposing of consecutive phases in one image (the so-called principle of simultaneity). This artistic principle of “closed dynamics” is reflected in her huge portraits, as if they were piling on the spectator, not holding within the canvas borders.

Despite the obvious narrative and coloristic dramatic nature of her works, Francesca Leone tells the story that is made of thoughts, not of events. The artist has chosen the theme of the picturesque matter formed and transformed in front of the eyes of the spectator. As if the image couldn’t or shouldn’t be provided with a static quality that would have fixed it once and forever. The deep sense of Francesca’s works is concealed in the metamorphoses of the matter symbolizing the conditions of human existence in a labyrinth of a city and an intimacy of a home.

The characters of Francesca Leone’s pictorial works are distinguished by the highest concentration of tension that generates ideas and actions. The theme of the city and loneliness is present in her portraits, heroes, thoughts and actions. Francesca Leone introduces a sensual, emotional measurement in hyperrealism and creates magnificent pictures that can be defined as classical works of the big style – but it is the modern classics, the classics of our time.

Other articles about the exhibit and her work.
From Moscow Museum Of Modern Art website.  The Moscow International Film Festival was held in June at the time the exhibit started.  This article seems to indicate that the restoration print of Once Upon A Time In The West was shown.  I couldn’t find anything more to confirm that.  I didn’t even see the film listed on the website for the festival.


From Art Knowledge News

The exhibit opened on June 25, 2009 at the Moscow Museum Of Modern Art.  There was a ceremony in which Francesca was made an honorary member of the Russian Academy of Arts.  Ennio Morricone attended the opening and ceremony.  Found a site with some tagged pictures.

Some pictures of her work found in the articles and by image searches.  In addition to studies of historical figures such as MLK, Malcolm X, Dali Lama and Gandhi, there are paintings of Ennio and Sergio.

I've seen another batch of articles and stories on the research being conducted at NYU.  U.S. News And World Report had a write up in the last week and a half or so.  This article spotlights the NYU research and the thoughts of researcher Uri Hasson.  Some of the other new issues it raises the MRI process in the isolation tube during the study could be cumbersome and an unnatural environment for film viewing.  From there it takes the opportunity to discuss another marketing company, Neurofocus, which has a different approach (electrodes and EEG instead of MRI) but the same type of objectives.

To control or not control

Not all visual sequences have such a high level of control over our brains. When viewers watched 10 minutes of people coming and going in Washington Square Park on NYU's campus, people's brain scans and eye movements fell all over the map.

"You can think of it as real life, or the most boring movie ever," Hasson joked.

However, Hasson pointed out that some independent or art film directors might not want to cause a similar response in moviegoer's brains.

"They like to leave things open-ended and ambiguous for different kinds of feelings, so if director sees a strong correlation, maybe he or she thinks they failed," Hasson told LiveScience. "But then if you think about other movies, they don't leave anything open. They want to control as much of the brain as possible."

Such research does not answer the question of whether greater control over the brain means that a movie is better. But many directors clearly pride themselves on the way that their movies uniquely shape a viewer's emotional and cognitive experience in the movie theater.

This part of the article caught my eye.  I think it was one of the things that appealed to me in the earlier articles about the selection of Leone and Hitchcock.  I thought it was interesting that two European directors were chosen.  Both directors went through journeys of finding their styles and unique voice in film possibly somewhere between European filmmaking and Hollywood.  With SL, he knew that he wanted no part of continuing in the Neorealist tradition.  His cinema rates high in the control index of their research results.  His style of framing, slow camera and pace, sound, use of music, extreme close ups in contrast to long shots of landscape and characters within them...all contribute to his "controlling" style of filmmaking.  Yet one can't put him totally in that camp.  He's a hybrid.  He also includes in his films the ambiguity talked about in reference to independent, art films and realist filmmaking like Neorealist films.  He was concerned about not making the same predictable stories.  Besides unexpected plot twists and subverting material at times, his stories can be open and  interpreted on multi levels which would seem to allign him with his European filmmaking roots.   

Off-Topic Discussion / Re: Papillon (1973)
« on: September 01, 2008, 12:36:50 PM »
Looks like this remake is really going to happen.  I found an article in the The Guardian UK that talks more about the Canary Islands as a shooting location, but has a little bit of info on the production of the remake.  Seems Branko Lustig (Schindler's List, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, American Gangster) will produce.  I wonder if by association.... that means Ridley Scott as director.  They mention as tentative leads Robert Downey Jr and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

So many unadapted stories and novels out there.  Wish they'd try to create new classics....

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