Once upon a time in America

once-upon-a-time-in-america-posterAmerican crime drama from 1984.
Starring: Robert De Niro, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern
Director: Sergio Leone
Writers: Harry Grey, Leonardo Benvenuti, Piero De Bernardi, Enrico Medioli, Franco Arcalli, Franco Ferrini, Sergio Leone, Stuart Kaminsky
Bechdel test: Fail

Exposition

Five boys grow up together as small time criminals in New York, and as adults during the prohibition they run a speakeasy. What will they do when prohibition ends? Many years later one of them reflects on their decisions.

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This movie tells it story in a combination of different flashbacks and parts mixed together.

One of the boys reflects on his past in the early 60’s, and tries to find out what happened 30 years earlier. What makes this part work much better than usual is that there is actual action in this part of the story as well. It is more than a setting for flashbacks.

Next we have the story of how these boys grew up together and became friends and criminals.

Finally we have the prohibition era speakeasy story where the boys have become young men and no longer live in poverty.

All these parts of the story mixed together and shifting between them several times could have been a bloody mess, but it actually works. Little confusion and a good way of presenting the parts of the story so that the climax or end of both the speakeasy story and the story from the 60’s comes near the end of the movie.

However, the very beginning was a bit too wandering in the story parts, and includes some opium fueled flashbacks and a phone ringing between times. That bit didn’t work for me, even if the imagery of the chiming phone can be quite easily defended. It was a little lacking in subtlety.

The same is true for the imagery of the main characters often looking at the world through holes, bars, photos and similar. Although, that is beautiful to watch.

Contemplations

The visuals in “Once upon a time in America” are stunning and a love letter to the story, the times when it takes place, and to New York. Sadly, this is one of the very few redeeming qualities of the movie. If the movie makers had made a series of still images of the pretty scenes and asked the viewers to make up their own story instead, I think that would have been a lot more interesting.

The background music in the movie was simply annoying, and had little to add. There were some themes that reoccurred at what was defining moments for the characters, I believe, but it was simply too annoying. It took away from the acting and action. Well, that was maybe not the worst that could happen.

The acting was far from stellar in many scenes. The actors are all well renowned, and I have seen them all give good performances in other movies, but they were all wooden and unconvincing at times. Both surprising and distracting.

I have so far not commented much on the dialogue of the movies I have seen, but in this instance I must. There words seemed unnatural and obvious in several conversations. Many lines were simply unnecessary.

The most damning quality of the movie though is the part women play in the lives of these boys and men. None of the women have a personality, although two of them have a few personality traits. All women exist only as sexual beings and objects of desire in the story. Worst of all though are the two rape scenes. One is horrible and pitiless with all the naked horror one would expect from rape. The other one, well there is no excuse. The woman likes it and the plot is picked out of the worst of porn movies. The woman ends up climaxing and dates the guy for a while. No excuse!

In addition to all the bad qualities of this movie, it just keeps going. It lasts for 3 hours and 49 minutes with an intermission when there is about an hour left. I really felt like there was no end to this boring and annoying tale of pointlessness.

Judgement

I hope I never have to watch this movie again, and I feel the people that have put it on a “best of list” owe me an apology.

Epilogue

I will never recommend “Once upon a time in America” to anyone. It is simply dreadful. In stead enjoy these still images from the movie and make up a nice story about them.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “Once upon a time in America” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

36 movies down. 329 to go.

If you want to get “Once upon a time in America” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s on a streaming service you subscribe to already?

Tomorrow’s movie is “Annie Hall“. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.

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Blade runner

blade-runner-posterAmerican sci-fi from 1982.
Starring: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young
Director: Ridley Scott
Writers: Philip K. Dick, David Webb Peoples, Hampton Fancher
Bechdel-test: Fail

I would recommend this movie to any adult. For potential viewers who aren’t fans of sci-fi I would probably try to explain that they can try to see more in the story then just the surface action.

Exposition

In the far off year of 2019 a “Blade Runner” (a replicant hunter) must retire four replicants who have come to Earth where they are forbidden.

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I have seen “Blade runner” before, but a long time ago. It has a very appealing future, visually. In other ways the future is quite dystopian.  And even if the movie is getting up there in years now, the future is still a visual treat. It is a mix of 40’s fashion in clothing and personal grooming, and a more dirty and gritty architecture and cityscape.

Of course it is a little funny that this is supposed to happen in about two years time, and we are nowhere near that development we see in the movie. It rains the whole time, which might be caused by some form of climate change, and while we in reality have put the planet in dire straights, constant rain in San Fransisco, has yet to happen. In the movie we also see or hear about off-world colonies, lab-grown pets, androids that can pass for humans and flying cars. None of which we have. Or maybe we do have androids that can pass for human? (And maybe I should not attempt jokes if this is how bad they are.)

In a few other ways the movie is a little dated. It wasn’t so bad that I had trouble watching it, but it felt old. Mainly the music and the pacing of the storytelling marked the time the movie was made.

Contemplations

The acting is solid by all the actors. A nice movie in that respect as well; good performances in all the roles. Some things are a little over the top, but replicants aren’t supposed to be just as we are, I suppose. Somehow it fits well.

The story is good. It is quite simple on the surface, but has enough layers to keep the viewer interested. The movie is supposedly quite different from the book it is based on; “Do androids dream of electric sheep?” by Philip K. Dick. The story in “Blade runner” had me intrigued enough to want to read the book. (If you should have a similar desire; here’s a link to “Do androids dream of electric sheep?” on amazon.)

Judgement

I would very much like to see this movie again. It is a good example of how a sci-fi setting can enlighten issues for humans today, be it problems in society or on a more personal level. Here we get a bit of both.

Epilogue

I would recommend this movie to any adult. For potential viewers who aren’t fans of sci-fi I would probably try to explain that they can try to see more in the story then just the surface action.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “Blade runner” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

11 movies down. 354 to go.

If you want to get “Blade runner” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s already on your shelf?

Tomorrow’s movie is “V for vendetta“. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.

Paris, Texas

paris-texas-posterAmerican drama from 1984
Starring: Harry Dean Stanton, Natassja Kinski, Dean Stockwell
Director: Wim Wenders
Writers: L. M. Kit Carson, Sam Shepard
Bechdel-test: Fail

Exposition

Travis Henderson walks out of the desert and with that reappears after four years absence. He reconnects with his brother, Walt Henderson and his son Hunter Henderson. Travis and Hunter eventually go looking for Hunters mother, Jane Henderson who has been away for about the same amount of time as Travis.

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“Paris, Texas” is utter ass drivel, or the kind of slow seeping diarrhea that signifies the end stages of several different diseases. I thought it had many redeeming qualities, and was simply a slightly boring story through most of it. Then came the ending, and it leaves me no option but to declare the whole movie idiotic.

I haven’t seen this movie before but I was looking forward to seeing the 80’s again. And as such this movie didn’t disappoint. There was smoking on a commercial flight, phone boxes, no safety belts in cars, rotary phones and much more.

As a highlight of the 80’s look back was the Star Wars fandom of Hunter (the son). The movie was released in 84, and was then maybe made in 83, the year “Star Wars episode VI: Return of the Jedi” was released, and Star Wars fandom was shiny and new. I am a fan of Star Wars myself, and appreciated the bed sheets and other little Star Wars toys.

The movie in general moved a little bit slowly, but not so that I was bored or had to tie my hands not to fiddle with my phone. There were several funny and enjoyable scenes, maybe especially the opening when Travis walks out of the desert.

A man in a dusty and worn suit walks through the desert and finishes his water. He comes to a broken down and filthy shack or house of some kind. There is no water in the tap on the side of the wall. He walks in and goes behind a counter. In the fridge there is nothing. Finally, he sees an ice machine and eats some ice. He then keels over, seemingly unconscious. The camera pans out a little and we see that there is a man in the old shop, sitting at a table. Obviously just having stared at Travis’s search for water. A funny little scene.

There are several such minor gems in the movie. However, it is far from enough to save it.

Contemplations

Throughout the movie all the acting, camera work and sound was superb. Nothing to complain about. Especially Harry Dean Stanton as Travis Henderson was a great performance. Again all this wonder is not enough. And it is all down to the story.

Travis gets picked up by his brother after he has recovered a little at a doctors office or small hospital, and the brother takes him back to LA where he lives. I found the journey the two brothers take together to be reminiscent of the journey in “Rainman”, and the two brothers build more of a relationship on the car ride.

Back in LA, we meet Hunter, Travis’s son, and Travis’s sister in law, Anne, who has been a mother for Hunter in the years he has been missing.

There be spoilers after this.

Travis quickly reconnects with his son, and Anne becomes worried that she will loose her little boy. These are two of the minor weaknesses of the story.

Hunter becomes reconnected with his father very easily and quickly. It seems fairy-tale fast.

Anne, and her husband, both feel as if they are Hunter’s parents, and especially Anne worries about the loss of her child. However this becomes a static part of the story. We see her worry, and then she and her husband isn’t a part of the story anymore. There is no resolution or journey for these two characters. Simply a statement of their feelings at one point. And it gave me a feeling that these two were characters and not people. It tore me out of the story.

Next, Hunter and Travis go on their own road trip to find Hunters mother, Jane. This journey is also sweet and allows the characters to become connected with one another. Then they find Jane, and the story completely falls apart. It no longer has much of a tie to reality.

Up until this point in the movie, I had some minor complaints, but nothing important, and most of the cinematic craft and acting made up for any minor flaws or annoyances.

Jane works in a sex booth establishment where men go into a booth and can watch and talk to a woman on the other side of a one way window. Travis goes into the booth of his wife and finally we get the story of why the two disappeared.

Travis became terribly jealous and beat and imprisoned Jane. He tells the story of how the two of them fell in love, how his jealousy was simply a part of how much he loved her and that is where all the beatings and other abuse came from.

Fair enough, it is about time the viewers get a little more of this story, and Travis needing to lighten his heart seems, well, at least not completely unnatural.

However, Jane’s reaction is in no way in any contact with reality. In stead of reacting with fear or anger when she realizes that it is her husband on the other side of the glass, she cries softly. It seems she is, of all the weird things, grateful to find out that the abuse came from love.

Her reaction seems to say: “Well, if you hit me and imprisoned me because you loved me I can now move on with my life and not have this degrading job anymore. I am so grateful that you came back and told me. None of what I go through after your abuse is a process, so I will now be free and happy again immediately. Thank you, dear abuser, for freeing me. I am grateful for your sacrifice. What a good and wonderful person you are.”

In other words: utter rubbish.

I am open to the possibility that I have completely misinterpreted this scene, but this is my honest reaction after seeing the movie.

The story has women as distant creatures that only facilitate the journey of men and Jane’s reaction is some sort of insane male fantasy to how women resolve their feelings after an abusive relationship.

Judgement

I can safely say that I will never watch this movie again. It was a complete waste of my time, not to mention contemptible towards women. A gender can not simply be reduced in such a manner, and declared extras in the other gender’s story.  Judgement: worthless.

Epilogue

I would not recommend this movie to anyone. Ever.

Maybe if I wanted to show how not to make a movie.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “Paris, Texas” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

Two movies down. 363 to go.

If you want to get “Paris, Texas” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s already on your shelf?

Tomorrow’s movie is “Leon: The Professional“. Maybe it will be a palate cleanser? Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.