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Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
A thoroughly deep movie that has everything.
I just cannot understand how anyone could find this movie boring- it is a very intense portrayal of two men, DeNiro and Woods, who once were like brothers but ended up being enemies.
During the early part of the century, times were hard and rough things happened. Comparing that day to now is impossible, for standards were different and life was much harder and death was closer to many than it is today. Therefore, many of the risks taken by people were understandable, for making an honest living, especially during the Great Depression, was very difficult. In addition, in a male-dominated world, there were women's issues that were not talked about- young girls being prostituted, molestation, abuse, etc. Despite their brutality and shock value, it was a realistic portrayal and was not over the top.
I myself gave this movie 10/10 because despite its length, the sheer scope of the story and the characters drew me in and kept me interested throughout, unlike another Leone film, "Duck, You Sucker". Violence, lust, greed, longing, love, hate, abuse, youth, age, it was all there, and more. It is too bad that in a society in which we seek to find an ending in about an hour and a half, movies such as these are not more appreciated.
Giù la testa (1971)
How is this movie a masterpiece? Drawn out beyond reason...
After reading some of the comments on this movie, both good and bad, I would have to say that the good comments have to be based upon certain scenes rather than the whole movie itself. Taken in its entirety, this movie far too drawn out and agonizing to be considered a masterpiece by any stretch. The beginning of the movie was merely a tease, as anything that happened beyond it reflected a constant interaction with people of the Mexican Revolution with the two main characters. This interaction never seems to go anywhere beyond leading to more explosions, people getting shot, or being rounded up. When the movie finally gets to the end with the major confrontation, my interest was so low that I was ready to be done with it and watch something else. Another Leone film that is comparable in length, Once Upon a Time in America, has a great story which is aided by its compelling characters. This movie has none of those qualities, and that is very unfortunate.
John Adams (2008)
A wonderful depiction of historical events.
First I would like to address the criticism of the first two episodes, specifically about the so-called plodding, odd nature of the first episode. Like any book, there must be an establishment of characters and a base by which to work from- nobody can be expected to understand a story unless those involved are understood. The Boston Massacre was a sudden jolt of reality to Adams, and his relationship with friends and family are vital pieces which must be explained. The camera work is used to emphasize the dramatic forces at work, the tension of having to choose between what is right and what is popular. The Boston Tea Party was not shown because obviously it is more important to explain WHY the colonists were so upset rather than every event that occurred, and in one scene we would never know who John Hancock really is unless the conflict with the official is shown, and his interests in seeing America independent down the road.
The acting by Paul Giamatti is truly outstanding- the subtleties of the man himself are shown with careful precision rather than overdone acting, which is all the more important when faced with other giants of American history like Franklin, Washington, or Jefferson. Whoever was involved in choosing this cast has really earned themselves many, many awards, because from what I have seen the rest of the series can only get better when more action is added.
To add about Pennsylvania's role in the Congress- what most people are not aware of is that Pennsylvania was a large roadblock when it came to defending the colonies from native rebellions and wars- they constantly ignored cries for help from fellow colonies and even from their own people in the western part of Pennsylvania. Franklin had failed to bring together a common defense in Albany, mainly due to his own fellow constituents. This was the primary reason why the tension between the New England colonies and Pennsylvania ran high, and why John Adams went after the Pennsylvania representatives out of sheer frustration, and why Benjamin Franklin understood both points of view and reacted the way he did. Adams felt that once again Pennsylvania was hiding at the rear as they did during the earlier part of the century.
I am thrilled that historical drama, well done, has made a return to television in the form of episodes. I would highly recommend this production, even only seeing Episodes 1 and 2.
They Call Me Mister Tibbs! (1970)
Typical 1970's crime thriller with atypical great acting
Despite the flaws noted above with regards to continuity and occasional lapses in writing, the movie is saved by the great acting provided by Sidney Poitier, Anthony Zerbe, Martin Landau, and Ed Asner (despite his short appearance). Poitier delivers the same riveting performance he did as in the successful In the Heat of the Night, adding a family life that is pretty typical for a father who is often away from his children. Anthony Zerbe is a shade better, however, in his role as sleazy landlord Rice Weedon. Zerbe was tailor-made for this role, as his ability to play bad guys is utilized perfectly. Martin Landau as the reverend does what is expected and more, adding a human quality that is even throughout. Ed Asner as the nervy manager takes everything that he had (not very much) and ran with it, making his character believable. I would recommend this movie highly to anyone who enjoys movies of this era and genre- particularly if you are fond of gritty, down in the mud reality.
Did anyone else notice- 1970's television icons?
Did anyone happen to notice the coming together of four actors who became television icons- Denver Pyle and James Best of the Dukes of Hazzard, and Dabbs Greer and Kevin Hagen of Little House on the Prairie? I could tell right away, and the funny thing is that all four of their roles are distinctly different than on television, and Denver Pyle is missing his beard and has an Irish accent to boot.
This movie was a very pleasant surprise, and it pretty much cements my opinion that just about every single Jimmy Stewart movie is a classic. What also makes it a good movie is that it doesn't rely on overtly comic scenes or overemphasis on North versus South. Thoroughly enjoyable!