Tag Archives: Sergio Leone

Pop!: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Edited

There’s an earthen quality to way Sergio Leone understands location that is almost otherworldly. The mood, the atmosphere, the sense of a place; they all seep up from the cracks, and he strangles you with it. Everything about the characters and the conflict is just laid out plainly and honestly on the screen in a sort of pure cinema we really didn’t see in genre works in the mid ’60s (horror excepted, and also, notably, the other great genre of the Italians in the ’60s). The sand doesn’t just exist; it hoarsely croaks, it robustly swallows, it does a stalwart, omnipresent, Herculean take-over of the entire event of the narrative and coats everything in a throaty sort of impact that cinema rarely attempts. We aren’t just watching sand. We’re rasping our voices. We’re searching for water. We’re drying out as we sit, welcoming each bead of sweat like an old friend to be ravenously devoured.
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Film Favorites: Once Upon a Time in the West

Edited

The opening stage sets the stage for Sergio Leone’s theatrical, consciously and deliberately constructed, even artificial masterpiece of a Western. It moves like molasses , constantly threatening to standstill yet always moving forward with propulsive energy. And it drags us with it, slowly but surely observing three nameless ghouls waiting, waiting, and waiting. For what? Well we’re waiting for that too, something that will arrive on a cue we don’t yet know will come and which will literally step foot onto Leone’s cinematic canvas. And Leone, ever the professional, seems to have planned his opening stroke for hours. It’s excruciating, a perfect reflection of the suspense of everyday life found in the Old West, the feeling that you were always waiting to kill someone or be killed, or both, but you never knew when or even why.
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