Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Sight & Sound Challenge: Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

Film: Once Upon a Time in America (216/250) 
First Time/Rewatch: First Time

Ugh. You know how to get me to immediately dislike a movie? Show a rape scene (TWO in this case) and then treat it either comically or tragically for the rapist.
This films tells the story of David "Noodles" Aaronson (Robert DeNiro) and his ugly gangster life, starting when he was just a boy. I liked the childhood scenes enough, showing how even children can get drawn into a life of crime. Once Noodles grows up, apparently all he does is rape women and feel sorry for himself. I could talk about the great cinematography, the decent acting, that great score (minus the pan flute, which drove me nuts), but what really stuck with me was it's despicable treatment of women. I have to laugh when I think about how I complained about the treatment of Claudia Cardinale's character in Once Upon a Time in the West, a film I overall really loved. I'd take a lewd comment or two over a brutal rape scene that then follows the rapist while mournful music plays, like I'm supposed to feel sorry for him. The real kicker is that it followed this beautifully romantic scene that really tugs at the heartstrings. And the picture above? That's another woman he raped, and this still captures her bemused expression as they all take their dicks out so she can try and guess WHICH ONE OF THEM RAPED HER. SERIOUSLY. What on earth is this movie?! Many hail it as the greatest gangster film of all time, greater even than the Godfather films (which, no, I'm sorry, it's just not), but I guess I'm missing something. I'll just go watch Once Upon a Time in the West again.

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