Posted by: dougery | November 9, 2012

My Year of Westerns, Part Eleven: Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

More like Once Upon Five Times in the West.

I don’t know what it is about me, or this film, but I have tried unsuccessfully to watch this thing through to conclusion a handful of times now and I just have not been able to. I began watching it during hurricane superstorm weatherbeast Sandy. What with the truly horrible effects in New York and New Jersey (among other places) and the election, this feels like several years ago. But there I sat, sure that the power would go out at any moment and I’d have to begin rationing my wife’s laptop battery. Needless to say my concentration was limited. I made it about 45 minutes into it. 45 minutes into Once is the pacing / character development equivalent to being 5 minutes into a contemporary Hollywood thriller. 45 minutes in and you still haven’t been introduced to all the main characters yet.

Since then I’ve cobbled together 10 minutes here and 15 minutes there. There is a lot of coldblooded killings. There are a lot of men who are in dire need of a shave. There is a lot of ominous harmonica, if that is actually a thing that can exist. There is the gorgeous Claudia Cardinale. Once is a long western and I still have the better part of an hour left. I totally suck at watching movies this year.

And the film is wonderful, it really is. It’s wonderful and sad and beautiful and other direct, expressive adjectives. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone with a movie-watching pulse.

“But Doug, how can you so highly recommend something that you freely admit to not being able to finish?” Someone in the crowd asks.

Well, Someone, I think I understand the brutalized grammar of your question. And my answer is, “Hey, look over there!”

::runs off down the hall::

In all actuality I will finish this movie soon. Just not soon enough to keep postponing this review, if you can call it that, or keep myself from the stack of Deadwood netflix piling up on my coffee-table. (Yeah, that’s right, I’m going TV western up in this piece, and very soon. Of course the old saw about HBO ‘not being TV’ probably still applies).

When I set out to watch westerns this year I compiled a list of dozens. As it stands it is November and I haven’t even made it through one single dirty dozen.  Granted, this has been a tough year, and I do end up watching far more movies late in the calendar as ski trips up to VT increase, but still. Next year I will have to realistically scale back my ambitions. My Year of Twilight. My Year of Naked Gun. My Year of Star Wars And Maybe Even The Prequels. Eh. Stupid attention span.

Grade: Still waiting to see what cards come down on the flop.

Up Next: (what, you forgot already? Fucking) Deadwood

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