×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Directors Choice: Erik Matti on ‘Once Upon A Time In America’

At the Macao festival’s popular Director’s Choice strand, contemporary filmmakers are asked to choose one genre film that has had an impact on them. Three Asian filmmakers were asked to choose non-Asian films, while non-Asian filmmakers were asked to select Asian films. The Philippines’ Erik Matti chose Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon A Time In America.” He explains his reasons.

“I was choosing between ‘Once Upon A Time In America’ and ‘The Last Emperor’ as the films to show. These are epic films and the kind of films that is hard to come by nowadays unless there’s a superhero character in it or with spaceships. And to think, both films were made where the filmmaking was all in-camera.”

“I eventually decided on “Once Upon A Time In America” because of the contemporary narrative structure that it employed, whereas ‘The Last Emperor’ was very much classical and formalistic in its linear dramatic structure.”

“Both films were made by masters. Masters where you can turn the audio off and just by looking at each frame you exactly know what goes on in the mind of the filmmaker on how he wants the story to unfold. Nothing is done on a whim and no self-indulgent use of scenes. You know why a shot is a close-up and why it is on a wide shot. You know why the camera moved and why it was still and when to cut out the sound and when to bombard it with noise. The control on cinema is really something to aspire for.”

“A lot of the films now pick one tone and the filmmaker tries to control the film from end to end by keeping the same tone. I find that very boring. For films like those, you see five minutes of it and you already know the feeling you will get out of it when you finish it after 90 minutes. “Once Upon A Time In America over-all may be sentimental, but tonally it goes through a myriad of emotions from beginning to end. It’s bittersweet, nostalgic, romantic, thrilling, poetic, intriguing, and heart-wrenching all at the same time.”

“I also loved how the non-linear structure of the film echoed the mystery that Noodles [the protagonist played by Robert De Niro] is also trying to figure out in the whole film. It’s like the jumbled timelines became a discourse of the journey of Noodles discovering the truth about his childhood friends.”

“Once Upon A Time In America” plays Dec. 10.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Amanda

    ‘Amanda’ Takes Home Best Int’l Film at 15th Sanfic

    SANTIAGO, Chile    French director Mikhael Hers’ “Amanda” scooped up the Best Int’l Film award Saturday (Aug. 24) at the 15th Santiago Int’l Film Fest (Sanfic), which reported a 20% audience uptick in the past two years and continues to grow its reputation as the most vibrant and prominent film festival in Latin America’s Southern [...]

  • disney d23

    Cruella, Kit Harington and Black Panther's Return: Everything We Learned at D23 Day Two

    Not to be outdone by the avalanche of series orders and casting announcements bolstering the new streaming series Disney Plus, Walt Disney Studios showed off its film wares in a marathon presentation at D23 on Saturday. The Anaheim, Calif. expo brought star power, if perhaps fewer surprises than Friday’s presentation, as fans in princess and [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift'The

    Taylor Swift Downplays Association With Harvey Weinstein

    Taylor Swift’s association with disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was among the topics the singer addressed in a revealing new interview with The Guardian. Weinstein held producer credits for the movies “One Chance” and “The Giver,” both of which featured Swift — in the former, a song, and in the latter, a supporting role. She [...]

  • Breaking Bad Movie

    'Breaking Bad' Movie: Watch the First Teaser for 'El Camino'

    In case you hadn’t heard, Emmy-winning drama “Breaking Bad” is cooking up a movie sequel. On Saturday, after details of Netflix’s project quietly leaked online, the streaming giant issued the first teaser for “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” which will be released on October 11. Starring Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, the “Breaking Bad” [...]

  • Samara Weaving and Adam Brody Big

    'Ready or Not': That Time Samara Weaving Hit Andie MacDowell in the Face

    Samara Weaving didn’t mean to hurt Andie MacDowell, but she did just that while they were rehearsing for their new horror dark comedy “Ready or Not.” “I hit Andie MacDowell in the face by accident,” Weaving says on this week’s episode of “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast. “It was horrible. It was [...]

  • Aracne

    Chile’s Sanfic, Mexico’s Morbido Fest Pact to Promote Latino Horror (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mexican horror festival Morbido and Chile’s Santiago Intl. Film Festival (Sanfic) have agreed on a long-term collaboration intended to strengthen the genre film industry in Chile and across Latin America. This partnership will see Morbido representatives attend the Sanfic industry section each year to aid in the promotion of horror projects and advise those projects [...]

  • Tom Holland'Spider-Man: Homecoming' film premiere, Arrivals,

    Tom Holland Addresses Spider-Man’s Studio Divorce at D23: ‘I Love You 3000’

    British actor Tom Holland showed face on the main stage at D23 on Saturday, in the thick of an ugly studio battle over the rights to his iconic Marvel character Spider-Man. Headlines have been rolling in for days about the contentious battle for the cinematic future of the hero, after Sony Pictures became unwilling to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content