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February 06, 2023, 10:27:04 PM

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Messages - dave jenkins

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Off-Topic Discussion / Re: Film-Noir Discussion/DVD Review Thread
« on: January 14, 2023, 09:26:04 PM »

Where's Chandler's language?

Off-Topic Discussion / Re: The Claudia Cardinale Appreciation Thread
« on: January 12, 2023, 12:32:40 PM »
Retrospective @ MoMA, Feb. 3-21

In collaboration with Cinecitt?, Rome, MoMA celebrates the Tunisian-born Italian actress and women?s rights activist Claudia Cardinale with a retrospective that spans her nearly 70-year career, featuring approximately 20 films, including 12 restorations. Though internationally worshiped for her voluptuous beauty?and invariably compared in movie star magazines with Brigitte Bardot (her private life was consumed by a voracious public, including a notorious profile by Alberto Moravia)?Cardinale has brought an emotional vulnerability and intelligence to her many varied roles (she is fluent in Italian, French, English, Spanish, Sicilian dialect, and Tunisian Arabic) and she has collaborated with filmmakers as diverse as Federico Fellini and Luchino Visconti, Abel Gance and Alexander Mackendrick, Sergio Leone, Werner Herzog, and Richard Brooks. In addition to such classics as Visconti?s Rocco and His Brothers and The Leopard, Leone?s Once Upon a Time in the West, and Fellini?s 8 1⁄2, this retrospective includes her work with Mario Bolognini (Il Bel Antonio, La Viaccia, Senilita?, and Libera Amore Mio) Valerio Zurlini (The Girl with the Suitcase), Pasquale Squitieri (Atto di Dolore), and Marco Bellochio (Enrico IV), as well as a selection of international films including Richard Brooks?s The Professionals, Diane Kurys?s A Man in Love, and Manoel de Oliveira?s Gebo and the Shadow.


It is true until OuTW, but Giu la testa is the weakest of his westerns, and OuTA has several flaws.
Here's why you're wrong.

Leone started out cribbing from genre formulas. COR and FOD owe almost everything to films that came before them. FAFDM marks an advance: while still indebted to older films, we see things in it that are recognizable Leone-isms, touches unique to SL's films. Even so, there are no characters in FAFDM, only types. It's not until the next adance, GBU, that we finally see an actual character in a Leone film: Tuco (Blondie and AE remain genre types). For OUATITW, Leone pulled a fast one; he traded in types for archetypes, proving to everyone that he could make an epic film without characters (Jill and Cheyenne struggle to be characters but don't quite make it). That's why the film is (correctly) considered by some to be the first postmodern film.

But OUATITW was the kind of film that couldn't be repeated. Wisely, Leone went back to developing films that were character based. With DYS he scored a hattrick: Mallory, Juan Miranda, and even Dr. Villega are all living, breathing characters. By OUATIA, Leone was handing us characters by the shipping container (as far as males are concerned, anyway; SL always had trouble depicting women).

Leone's interest in developing characters from types also allowed him to expand out of genre formulas. Both FAFDM and OUATITW are revenge stories (not simple revenge stories as both are fairly complicated). Revenge is a very popular theme that's been packing them in since Aeschylus. The Elizabethan's had a popular run of them at the end of the 1500s, and the genre was revived under James I in the 1600s. Modern films continue to mine what seems an inexhaustible vein--I just watched a film yesterday from 2022 called Vengeance.

Revenge pictures work because they are easy to understand, allow for clear motivation on the protagonist's part, and usually develop and conclude in ways satisfactory to an audience (especially if that audience is composed of Drink and other 13-year-olds). But they have limited intellectual appeal.

That's because revenge stories simplify things; the world as we know it is too complicated for revenge stories in real life. And one of the things that complicates revenge in real life is the notion of ethics.

DYS examines the ethics of revenge and treats this theme in depth. Mallory took revenge on Nolan for the latter's betrayal, but came to regret it. Years later, Mallory eschews revenge when given the opportunity to exact it on Villega (for an almost identical betrayal). He allows Villega to judge himself, and in the process (perhaps) also allows Villega to find a way to redeem himself. OUATIA has a revenge component too: Years after a terrible betrayal, Noodles declines to respond to Senator Baily's temptation. Both Mallory and Noodles achieve moral victories over themselves. Leone wasn't showing us characters who were capable of that earlier in his career.

You know who else showed this kind of development in their work? Shakespeare (yeah, I'm equating SL with Shakespeare; get over it). As I mentioned above, revenge was a hot theme for dramas when Shakespeare was writing, and in fact he wrote a revenge tragedy called Titus Andronicus early on. It was the most popular of his plays in his lifetime. He could have written many more, but decided not to. Why? We'll never know for sure, but there might be a clue in Hamlet, a play with a revenge theme that ends up repudiating the ethics of revenge.

Needless to say, Hamlet is a better play than Titus Andronicus. And DYS and OUATIA are better films than FAFDM and OUATITW. The difference (though not entirely) is in the depth of seriousness in which they treat their themes. And seriousness is only possible when characters are well imagined.

Another one of Leone's preoccupations was with heterosexual male friendships in general. Men bond with men in all his films, but the friendships in his early movies never rise above standard buddy-movie fare. It is only later that we see more profound relationships: Mallory and Nolan; Mallory and Miranda; Mallory and Villega; Max and Noodles. When characters are depicted with depth, their relationships will also be profound.

Mallory, Juan Miranda, Noodles--they are superior representations of people--the people in real life--to the types we see in earlier Leone. Character is a fundamental requirement for the greatest kind of cinema. And DYS and OUATIA are the greatest kind of cinema.

Off-Topic Discussion / Re: Rate The Last Movie You Saw
« on: January 12, 2023, 05:11:51 AM »
There is a particular track (called Liminal) that is clearly a tribute to Vertigo's love theme.
O.K., but I guess I'm in a forgiving mood.

For a Few Dollars More / Re: FAFDM Popularity in Spain
« on: January 11, 2023, 07:11:16 PM »
Thanks. This is just the kind of thing the Sergio Leone Encyclopedia has been hungry for.

No, like you, I believe SL's career was marked by steady progress: each film is better than the one made before.

There can be a difference between "favorite" and "best" (QT will tell you that).

Off-Topic Discussion / Re: Rate The Last Movie You Saw
« on: January 11, 2023, 12:23:03 PM »
Vengeance (2022) - 7/10. Starring B.J. Novak. Written by B.J. Novak. Directed by B.J. Novak. A "darkly comic thriller" with a West Texas setting and with Ashton Kutcher in the John Huston role. Worth checking out.

(I'm one of those who think that each Leone film is a huge step up from his previous one, with the exception of DYS which is as we know a special case and shouldn't be rated on the same scale)
But DYS is his best film. Or would be if he'd never made OUATIA.

Off-Topic Discussion / Re: Rate The Last Movie You Saw
« on: January 11, 2023, 05:01:33 AM »
Una voglia da morire (1965) - 4/10. A prostitute is killed, an investigation ensues. It turns out she was a young Italian countess hooking for thrills. Her husband tries to hush things up. It all gets gets a bit too preachy at the end. With Raf Vallone and Annie Girardot. The water polo bit may have been the inspiration for the mimes in Blow-up.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly / Re: Stevens..... soccer player
« on: January 10, 2023, 07:12:50 PM »
Thanks! This is just the kind of info the Sergio Leone Encyclopedia requires.

Off-Topic Discussion / Re: Rate The Last Movie You Saw
« on: January 09, 2023, 11:22:22 AM »
L'appartement (1996) - 5/10. Remember when some people thought this was a big deal? Now all I can see is a badly lit, badly edited film. Could we lose half of the flashbacks, please? OK, this is when Monica Bellucci's was in her prime, so it's not a total loss.

For example, there is an Eastwood quote about sharing screen time with Van Cleef in FDM, and then with Van Cleef and
Wallach in GBU, seeming to see his presence being diminished.  I think Eastwood was teasing, but quote taken wrong;
Thank you for saying that. I get very tired of people using that quote to prove something.

Nonetheless, what uncknown is talking about is a little different. Film directors are bullshitters; they make their living by lying with a budget. They get so used to stretching the truth in their work that they can't turn it off in real life. And the best directors make the best liars. Leone is one example, but others are Welles and Hitchcock. Scholars who rely on interviews to get at the truth are idiots (Frayling gets by with putting everybody's quotes together, even when they contradict each other).

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