(Re)Viewing from Afar: Sergio Leone and America (Days)

Mark has been diligently lining up all sorts of freelance writing assignments for himself these days, and not only ones about local film festivals and art exhibitions in Reykjavík. Being the well-viewed fellow he is, he’s also keeping up with the critical dialog stateside, starting with his recent piece for Fanzine that discusses Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America. It’s a very good piece even if you haven’t seen the movie, which, full disclosure, I haven’t. (I was re-reading an Icelandic novel for a review in the back room while Mark re-watched the movie in the living room for his review–both activities took us about the same amount of time; it is a long movie–and he was nice enough to even watch the last hour and a half or so wearing headphones when all the second-hand sex-and-violence sound effects got to be a little too distracting for me. Because he is just a nice guy that way.)

Anyway, in an unexpected, but totally relevant moment of confluence, Mark brings up Reykjavík’s “America Days” in the course of his discussion (you remember America Days, right?), which I’ll just quote briefly here:

But still, iconography is a funny thing. A grocery store here in Reykjavik recently held its “America Days,” featuring red-white-and-blue bunting and cardboard cutouts of Elvis, John Wayne and Obama surrounding displays of Twizzlers—this sort of mockably transparent enthusiasm to participate in what you and I take for granted is everywhere in Leone. Who but a foreigner would begin a movie called Once Upon a Time in America with Kate Smith?

So if you are interested in such things as film, garbled national iconography, and “dubious depictions of the flesh,” I recommend popping over to Fanzine and checking his piece out.




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