Saturday, January 29, 2011

Frequent viewing required and rewarded

I can't watch the four-hour SERGIO LEONE gangster epic "ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA" just once. The film has layers of meaning and story that reward continued viewing.
I had to watch the film in halves yesterday -- the first two hours before work and the concluding half after I returned home late in the evening.

Robert De Niro and James Woods star as friends and fellow gangsters in a film that explores numerous themes, including betrayal and memory.

Leone's work is masterful. I have always admired the Italian's shot composition -- and some of his shots in this film are expertly and interestingly framed. He also famously juggles the narrative, too. The film jumps from 1923 (the gang's youthful origins) to 1933 (their eventual demise as Prohibition concludes) and 1968 (an aged De Niro returns to New York to solve a mystery).

The narrative ploy proved too controversial for the movie studio. It infamously and ruthlessly edited the film before release, shedding the film of much of Leone's startling originality. My DVD thankfully presents "Once Upon a Time in America" as Leone intended.

I work again today, and when I return tonight, I'll probably review some scenes of "Once Upon a Time in America." It's a film that rewards frequent review.


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