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June 15, 1984 - Image 8

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Michigan Daily, 1984-06-15

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41

ARTS

Page 8

Friday, June 15, 1984

The Michigan Daily

r

Noodles (Robert DeNiro, insert) and Max (James Woods) are two men who spend their lives striving to become, and
striving to remain, part of the mob in Sergio Leone's disappointing new film, 'Once Upon A Time In America.'

ANN 1AB
JIDIIDUALHEATRES
S tlbry701-70
DAILY 100 P.M. SHOW $2.00
1 WEEK RETURN ENGAGEMENT!
"A SPECTACULAR FUSION OF
IMAGE AND SOUND" -Newsday
"RICH IN IDEAS AND OVER-
POWERING BEAUTY" -Gene isket
FRI. 1:00, 7:05, 9:05
SAT., SUN. 1:05, 3:05, 5:05, 7:05, 9:05
"A PURE DELIGHT"
. -The Detroit News
"THE FUNNIEST FRENCH FILM SINCE
'LA CAGE AUX FOLLES' AND A LOT
BROADER IN ITS APPEAL"
-Newhouse Newspapers
PIERRE GERARD
RKHARD DEPARDIEU
A film by FRANCIS VEBER
(PG)
FRI. 100, 7:20, 9:20
SAT., SUN. 120, 3:20, 5:20, 7:20, 9:20

'Godfather III'
tells tired tale

Murphy
plays hot
guitar
By Charles Thomson
L AST WEEK at the Blind Pig was
Robert Cray, a Chicago-blues per-
former, who claimed that he had once
done something for John Belushi,
though no one-perhaps even including
Cray-seemed to know exactly what.
This week's contestant in the "I-
Knew-Belushi-When" contest is Matt
"Guitar" Murphy, a blues guitarist
whose relationship to the Great Dead
Samurai was considerably less at-
tenuated (he was in The Blues Brothers
band) although touted just as highly.
But as with Cray, Murphy's talent
and skill are such that the advertising
really isn't necessary. Murphy's band's
performance Monday night at Rick's
was impressive and more than suf-
ficient to stand on its own merits.
Straying somewhat from traditional
blues, Murphy and his newly formed
band wandered into several Ben-
sonesque jazz tunes. The two styles
worked surprisingly well together and
Murphy's band never wavered from a
clean, tight performance. Except for a
muddy sound mix, the five-man band
sounded as though it were one person.
Murphy's manner is pleasantly
unassuming. Perhaps, because of the
years spent playing in other people's
bands, Murphy hasn't quite learned the
outrageous stage mannerisms that
cause heads to turn.
Instead, Murphy starts out blending
his sound into that of the band's and
then inexorably causes your at-
tention to shift until you real-
ize that he's playing a miraculous
solo.
Just as the band was concluding
"Born under a Bad Sign," Murphy
stepped in and grabbed the spotlight
with a blistering reworking of the tune's
themes. For five minutes he cooked
that melody over until, by some genius,
it was transformed into a segue into the
next song, "Gimme Some Lovin."
Around the horn, Bob Laramie on
bass played with skill and persuasion;
Rick Marshall on drums was timely
and efficient; Josh Schneider on sax
played with tremendous abandon; and
Shelton Lester made the synthesizer
sizzle; and vocalist Dave Hughes sang
with weak but insistant clarity.
As the band came back on stage for
their encore, Murphy answered a fan's
continual request with, "No, we're not
going to play 'Sweet Home Chicago,'"
and then stormed into a white-hot ren-
dition of that song that brought even the
pool players out onto the dance floor.

0

By Byron L. Bull
N O ONE COULD reasonably expect
Sergio Leone's Once Upon A Time
In America to survive the truncating
given by its distributor. With over an
hour and twenty minutes gutted from it,
and its whole narrative structure
rearranged in a more simplistic order,
it could only be a ghost of its original
conception. Still, if there'd been any
spark of brillance to begin with, one
would expect isolated, tantalizing
fragments to shine through from the
rubble. Unfortunately, there's nothing
here to offer even that frugal
gratification.
Leone's expensive ($28 million),
panoramic epic is no more than a shod-
dy, convention-burdened gangster
melodrama. The bulk of Leone's early
work, the spaghetti westerns like The
Good, The Bad and The Ugly or A Fist-
ful of Dollars, were myth-aspiring
homages to Hollywood classics, with an
appealing off beat slant. But here with a
big budget and an American cast, he's
fabricated a pretentious, uninspired
rehash of genre cliches - a Spaghetti
Godfather.
This self-proclaimed fable of the
American dream perverted is over-
flowing with tired archetypes and
stereotypes. Characters with names
like Sharkey and Cockeye, trudge
around dark alleys in their heavy over-
coats, muttering monosyllables in
drowned grumbles. There are
numerous executions, big jobs, and bits

of bordello debauchery, all done with a
stilted familiarity. This is not a reinter-
pretation as much as a derivative
remake.
At the center of Leone's tale are two
characters, Noodles (Robert DeNiro)
and Max (James Woods), boyhood
friends whom we watch grow from
small time thievery in New York's
Jewish ghettos in the early 1900s, into
bootlegging and smuggling in the thir-
ties. As the stakes grow higher, and the
risk more significant, the aspirations of
the two diverge, and the bond between
them disintigrates into betrayal.
Both DeNiro and Woods do nothing
more than put their characters through
the old paces. As Max, Woods is cold,
brutally calculating, and devoid of any
humanity. DeNiro's Noodles is slightly
more interesting, with a submerged,
unsatisfied yearning for warmth and
love, but even he is never explored to
any satisfactory extent. Admittedly,
much may have been lost in the heavy
reediting, but even in the remaining in-
dividual scenes, the two actors
repeatedly fall back on the same super-
fical gesturing that one would see in
any mafioso potboiler.
Leone's style reeks of heavy handed-
ness. The childhood scenes are warmly
lit, and played for nostalgic excess. The
adulthood years all take place in moody
darkly lit surroundings, with a distan-
ced, impassive tone. Everything is
photographed low, with a wide angle to
emphasize the period architecture. And
See SPAGHETTI, Page 10

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