×
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.

More Film

  • Ghost Fleet review

    'Ghost Fleet'

    The revelatory documentary “Ghost Fleet” condemns the modern-day slave labor fueling the Thai fishing industry while focusing on the work of Bangkok-based advocacy organization Labor Rights Promotion Network Foundation (LPN), a group dedicated to ending slavery at sea. Combining chilling testimony from formerly enslaved men, some wincingly arty recreations of their ordeals, and on-the-ground footage [...]

  • WGA West Logo

    WGA Plans March 25 Member Vote on Talent Agency Rules

    Leaders of the Writers Guild of America plan a March 25 vote for members to decide whether to implement tough new restrictions on how Hollywood talent agencies as operate as agents for writer clients. The vote comes as the guild is in the midst of pitched negotiations with the Association of Talent Agents to renew [...]

  • Netflix Buys Chinese Sci-fi Hit 'Wandering

    Netflix Buys Chinese Sci-fi Hit 'Wandering Earth'

    Global streaming giant, Netflix has bought rights to “The Wandering Earth,“ the smash hit film which is pitched as China’s first mainstream sci-fi movie. The film was the sleeper hit of Chinese New Year — it opened in fourth position on Feb. 5 — but climbed to the top spot and has not yet relinquished [...]

  • Michael B. JordanAFI Awards Luncheon, Los

    Film News Roundup: Michael B. Jordan's Hitman Drama 'Silver Bear' Gets Director

    In today’s film news roundup, Michael B. Jordan’s “The Silver Bear” finds a director, biopic “Running for My Life” is in the works, Fox is using new trailer compliance software and the 14-hour “La Flor” gets distribution. DIRECTOR ATTACHMENT Gerard McMurray, director of “The First Purge,” will write and direct Michael B. Jordan’s thriller “The [...]

  • Kevin Costner Diane Lane

    Kevin Costner, Diane Lane to Reunite in Suspense Thriller 'Let Him Go'

    Focus Features has tapped Kevin Costner and Diane Lane to star as a husband and wife in the suspense thriller “Let Him Go.” The two also collaborated on “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” as the parents of Superman. Thomas Bezucha (“The Family Stone”) is set to direct his own screenplay, [...]

  • Chris Hemsworth Hulk Hogan

    Chris Hemsworth to Play Hulk Hogan in Biopic for Netflix

    Netflix is in the early stages of developing a Hulk Hogan biopic with Chris Hemsworth attached to star as the wrestling legend and produce. Netflix has obtained the exclusive life rights and consulting services from Terry Gene Bollea AKA Hulk Hogan. Todd Phillips, whose credits include “War Dogs” and “The Hangover” trilogy, is attached to [...]

  • Rooftop Films Announces Filmmakers Fund Grant

    Rooftop Films Announces Filmmakers Fund Grant Winners

    Swedish documentary filmmaker Anastasia Kirillova and “Negative Space” co-directors Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter are among the filmmakers who will receive grants from Rooftop Films to help complete their upcoming projects. Kirilova will be awarded $20,000 to finish her film, “In the Shadows of Love,” while collaborators Kuwahata and Porter will receive $10,000 for “Dandelion [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content