Enrico Medioli

Enrico Medioli

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Once Upon A Time In America Review


OK
I'm as big a fan of misogyny as the next guy, but how did this hateful and often tasteless Godfather ripoff become a classic? What, just because it's four hours long? Robert De Niro and James Woods are never hard to watch, but even here their take on Jewish gangsters in New York from 1900 to 1960 or so wears awfully thin as they brutalize one woman after another and get into the kind of mobster scrapes you've seen in upteen other movies. And after the top names, the talent roster is pretty thin. Treat Williams? Elizabeth McGovern?

Continue reading: Once Upon A Time In America Review

The Leopard Review


Extraordinary
1963's The Leopard, directed by the Italian Count Luchino Visconti and based on the best-selling novel by countryman Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, tells the story of an Old World aristocrat - the Sicilian Fabrizio Corbera, Prince of Salina - as he faces the changes forced upon his embattled social class by the Italian Risorgimento of 1860, a revolutionary social movement (and armed conflict) that brought about the end of that country's feudal monarchies and united its states into what now is the country of Italy. The vision of both the novel and the film is epic, and the politics of the thing are intricate enough that even a native Italian likely found it a challenge in 1963, and would likely find it even more so today. The politics are also central to the film, and this undoubtedly contributed to its uneasy stateside reception in '63 and its virtual unavailability on video until now.

My hope is that Criterion's marvelous new three-DVD edition will change that. Unlike many special editions, there's no superfluous material here: The set includes the original, 187-minute Italian version of The Leopard, the U.S. theatrical release (because Burt Lancaster starred, 20th Century Fox had American rights to the film; not knowing what to do with it, they trimmed 16 minutes, dubbed it into English, and distorted - in the interests of "accessibility" - Giuseppe Rotunno's gorgeous widescreen cinematography), enlightening commentary by film historian Peter Cowie, and video essays that provide important historical context for the action alongside new interviews with surviving cast and crew members.

Continue reading: The Leopard Review

Once Upon A Time In America Review


OK
I'm as big a fan of misogyny as the next guy, but how did this hateful and often tasteless Godfather ripoff become a classic? What, just because it's four hours long? Robert De Niro and James Woods are never hard to watch, but even here their take on Jewish gangsters in New York from 1900 to 1960 or so wears awfully thin as they brutalize one woman after another and get into the kind of mobster scrapes you've seen in upteen other movies. And after the top names, the talent roster is pretty thin. Treat Williams? Elizabeth McGovern?

Continue reading: Once Upon A Time In America Review

The Damned Review


OK
Think of it as The Magnificent Nazi Ambersons. Luchino Visconti (Death in Venice) weaves a fictionalized account of 1933-34 Germany as the Nazis rise to power. He follows one family in particular, a wealthy upper-crust bunch of industrialists who throw their lot in with the Nazis, despite some clear abuses in the horizon. These are the titular damned -- having sold their souls pretty much literally in the pursuit of even more wealth.

Along the way Visconti tosses a litany of decadence at us. As if Nazism wasn't enough, we get incest in the family, a little pedophilia, and some cross-dressing and homosexual hijinks. It all culminates in a bloodbath -- the historical "Night of the Long Knives," a one-night, bloody purge of dissidents in Hitler's old private army, the SA (predecessor to the SS), brought on by fears of a coup against his budding rule. Hitler's rule would be solidified after this history-making event.

Continue reading: The Damned Review

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