iracrass · 12 hours ago
seinfeld has remained so popular bc ultimately all anyone wants is 3 friends with no life and who are committed to the bit
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rivernull · 2 days ago
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i fuckin love seals man they're just like
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tuxibirdie · 2 days ago
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hold big bird like a burger
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scribblesams · a day ago
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It’s 2 in the morning and I can’t believe I spent my time on this instead of the other stuff I’ve been trying to work on. 
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angriepeanut · a day ago
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This came to me in a vision
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this is the sort of thing that tumblr should be in charge of
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req’d by @mythologian
text: By the beauty of the fur and the power of the purr, good things will occur
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aka-indulgence · 2 days ago
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That's exactly why they're hot
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grinningaphotic · 2 days ago
The Endurance of Goncharov (1973) – A Film Reflection
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Goncharov international theatrical poster scanned and provided by the-light-of-stars Note: This essay is duplicated on Medium if that is an easier venue for a long read It would be easy enough to dismiss Goncharov (1973) as a nearly forgotten film, or to reduce it down mentally for easy categorization, but I think there’s something more to it than the mere mechanics of its well known plot. In a lot of ways the characters and their small problems are the least interesting part of it all to me. I say that knowing full well the epic scope of the film, but I want to take a chance and have a different kind of discussion here for once. What I mean is that the characters and their plots are engaging and clearly necessary for the story, but that Naples itself has such a huge presence in the film that it behooves one to think of it as a starring character too, and in doing so to thus see that the conflicts of the individuals in the film are but minor vignettes on a grander stage. There was a popular thought in feminist circles of the day that the personal is political, and I’d say that’s certainly true of the characters here. They serve to mirror the larger points about the modernization of Italy and the violence it faced in the 1970s with the anni di piombo, “Years of Lead,” where political extremists tried to coercively vie for the country’s future. Frankly, with the last election in Italy, Goncharov might actually finally be topical again for a change.
I first saw Goncharov on a muggy summer’s afternoon sitting in a darkened basement family room with my father. I was probably a little too young to really appreciate it, but it is one of those films that has always stuck with me. Over the years it has ticked onward inexorably in my mind, moving slowly enough that in theory one could almost watch the tooth of each gear-idea interlock, but yet it does move, always crawling onward in my contemplation at its own glacial pace as I take a lifetime to digest its images. I think I know how I feel about it at this point, like I mean I’m not likely to ever radically reassess how I see the film for instance, but still I think in a way I’m uneasy enough with it yet that I can’t quite let it fall into stillness.
I know this is not generally the way things are done, but if you will indulge me a bit, I think I’d like to save the real discussion of Goncharov itself for later and take a moment to set the scene instead; all things in time, after all. All things in time.
Honestly, I should start by saying that watching films together with my father was one of the only ways that he and I have ever connected, and so for some reason or another it happened one summer vacation that we ended up watching a loose collection of what my dad probably considered to be his favorite mafia movies. Or maybe they weren’t his favorites, maybe they were just the ones that he though were generally considered to be the very best. Maybe he had only seen a few and wanted to see all them for himself in context and then decide how they held up against each other. Or maybe he’d already seen them all and was trying to share them with me so I could understand what the best of cinema was and grow into an appreciation of it. I have no idea. In theory I could ask him, but I doubt he’d ascribe any intention to his choices at all at this point.
I think it started simply enough with us watching The Godfather (1972), and then we saw On The Waterfront (1954) soon after probably on a whim, then The Departed (2006) which was quickly followed up by Infernal Affairs (2002) because he said it was the better version, then Goncharov (1973) was next with some level of intentionally to it, and finally Miller’s Crossing (1990) as a dreamlike capstone and distillation of the genre. It’s an interesting list in part because of what it doesn’t contain. To this day I’ve still never seen either Chinatown (1974) or Goodfellas (1990). I did however happen to see The Dogfather (2010) just this weekend, which is a movie about a well dressed bulldog named Sonny who breaks the code of omertà and then must take down his former crime family in a wacky children’s comedy, so that probably says enough about exactly how well I learned my lessons about art.
So, Goncharov, eh? What is there to say about a film like this that hasn’t already been said? In spite of its daunting running time, it is at its heart a simple enough premise: A man known alternately as Lo Straniero, “The Stranger,” and also as Goncharov (Robert de Niro) in his dual lives as a Russian mobster and as a civilian, leaves the USSR under a cloud to try and start a new life with his wife Katya (Cybill Shepherd) in the beautiful heart of Italy, the city of Naples. Once there he finds himself unable to change as the world changes around him, unable to distance himself from his former partner Andrey Daddano (Harvey Keitel), unable to live a clean life without crime and discotheques, and at a loss on how to navigate the world without resorting to violence. Meanwhile Katya can do nothing except for change, but no matter how she twists and turns she can’t let go of the past, of Goncharov, of the wrongs she has suffered, of her station in life, or any of the other constraints she has adopted. The two of them find great criminal success in Naples, but it is a success that breeds losses, small indignities that accumulate, until ultimately the internal frictions they face are unleashed and destroy them, as well as everyone that they have involved in their lives. There are of course complications with the local criminal elements, and tangled webs of love and betray, not to mention a wonderful bit part with a stab happy button man called Ice Pick Joe (John Cazale), but that’s all just details. At its heart it is really just an extremely classic sort of rise and fall story. People call it Shakespearean, probably by which they really mean Romeo and Juliet with its sense of romantic tragedy, but really it is more of a Scarface (1983) or a Boogie Nights (1997). Rise and fall. If I were going to go out on a limb I’d say it is akin to the Gungrave (2003) anime series in its arc, but despite how remarkably similar both of them are as mafia stories about subtextual queer love triangles, I don’t think Goncharov quite lives up to the lofty Icarian heights that Gungrave briefly touches. I’m not making a joke here, people have absolutely been sleeping on Gungrave.
Personally, I think about Goncharov mostly as a movie about time and place, about temporality and space, and it is that bit of it which hits me at random times, that sort of slow steady recurrence of ideas about it which I described in the opening here. Memories of Goncharov when I’m doing the dishes or weeding my garden. I think about the oppressiveness of time in the film, of shots of pocket watch innards and of omnipresent clocktowers, of the scenes of tense structured dances and the strictures of tempo that bind Katya, whether she is at the piano or away from it. I think of repetitions, like exchanges of apples and iterations of poker games, and all the variations in their recurrence that drive things forward. Most of all I think about how things always wind down. The watch stops. The dance ends. The clock breaks. Pompeii dies and then centuries later even its ruins are effaced. The crime family crumbles. Social progress sputters and needs to be renewed. Goncharov dies. Of course Goncharov dies! It is inevitable really, like clockwork.
Perhaps now is the time to confess that the only Martin Scorsese films that I’ve ever seen have been The Departed and Goncharov, both of which I’ve already mentioned, and then Bringing Out the Dead (1999) and Shutter Island (2010) as well. So what I mean to say is that I’ve never seen his supposed great well-known films, the films that ostensibly make you respect the man. I’ve seen Shutter Island, which feels almost comically sophomoric in its supposed profundity. I’ve seen Bringing Out the Dead which is a meandering journey that truly falls flat. I’ve seen The Departed, which strives for evocative greatness but fails to actually surpass the film it is based on, and I’ve seen Goncharov, which I’m struggling to try and encapsulate here, but despite my abiding fondness for it I’d perhaps call a conflicted piece of art. I have no Taxi Driver (1976), no Raging Bull (1980), to compare it all against. I know my dad had a high opinion of both of those films, but somehow we just never got around to watching either of them. If I have any true affinity for Scorsese beyond Goncharov and my general respect for my dad’s film takes, it’s because a bunch of cartoon pigeons once sang a song about wanting to sit on the head of a statue of him, and as a kid I thought that the song was catchy enough. In a way I suppose I trust that impression more than a traditional sort of reputation. As such I don’t have any real doubts about his overall chops or his commitment to the craft, even if most of my direct experience with his work says otherwise.
I know how meandering I am being here, but I want to put this in context. I was introduced to Goncharov in the context of it being great, or supposedly great. It was a movie where, even without looking up the review, I could have full confidence that Ebert at least gave it a thumbs up, though perhaps Siskel might have had a difference of opinion. That was a predictable through line to my dad’s movie choices on some level, that Ebert alone was enough to bless a work as being good. He didn’t always end up agreeing with Ebert after seeing a film, but he always trusted him. But at the same time, I was a teenager and I didn’t have any real interest in any of this stuff aside from just generally liking action movies. Actually, I just tried to look it up and it turns out this was like two years before those two reviewers partnered up, so I don’t have a hard factual thumbs up or thumbs down to offer here to try and back up what I just said, but Ebert does have a review from that period where he seems excited to see Scorsese take his career to a new level, while Siskel in turn in his own review calls it “overly ambitious” and nitpicks the hell out of it, so make of all that what you will.
As for my own opinion, at the time I don’t know that I thought much of it at all to be honest. I liked it better than The Godfather, which I’ve never bothered to revisit. My memory of it is also clearer than On The Waterfront, which I enjoyed more back then but now years later I feel like I barely saw at all. Goncharov however stuck with me. There aren’t a lot of films that haunt the imagination in quite the way it does. Which is to say, films that I don’t exactly love, but that are so persistent anyway. Films I often think of re-watching but that I don’t actually re-watch more often than I do, if that makes sense. Fellini’s Satyricon (1969) is the same way, with its phantasmagorical depiction of ancient Rome. Or maybe I could say that Don’t Look Now (1973) perfectly captures and distorts Venice until it fills the imagination. It feels definitive, almost too definitive, and yet entirely a product of the decade it was made. Goncharov does that same thing, it allows for that same encompassing distortion of place and era, but for Naples instead.
The fact that de Niro’s character is an outsider as well is what really lets us into the city of Naples. It’s right there in his name, Goncharov, and everywhere he goes in the movie that’s what he is, he’s the Russian. He’s a perpetual outsider. The film is subtle about it, but there is a sense that he might just as well still be his hitman alter-ego, Lo Straniero, for how much of a stranger he is in Italy. And so we are able to see its grandeur from an outsider’s point of view, the narrow cobbled streets, the dominion of the old world architecture, the broad vista of the Gulf, and yet in the film we also see he is welcomed eventually and that he does find his place, settling in within the rhythm of life there, he does become part of a community again, however briefly, even as he runs out of time by failing to truly adapt to his new life. Again, that idea of recurrence. The Russian Mob isn’t the Cosa Nostra, but they’re a perfect rhyme, and if only he could find a way to process change as anything other than a loss perhaps he could have saved himself. That’s the frustration of a fatal flaw of course, and that sort of statement of “if only” is at the heart of every tragedy.
I’m trying to think of what my father said about Goncharov at the time. He always had some pithy take after we’d watched a film. I could always try to ask him I suppose, but even my desire to do this essay the right way isn’t worth the troublesome conversation that would require. Instead, perhaps a modicum of creative input is acceptable here instead, as I do my best to channel the spirit of what he probably said after the credits were done rolling:
Yeah, pretty good film. I saw it in theaters when it came out and I was surprised at the time that it wasn’t up for any Academy awards that year. I don’t know that it lives up to being “the greatest mafia movie ever made” exactly, but it’s definitely up there. I particularly liked the anchovy discussion scene. I’d forgotten about that bit. Funny stuff. The way they talk over one another, and the way that the extras in the scene moving in the background talk over them too and muddy the sound a bit, well it was still a pretty new way of doing dialogue back then but you can see that it is Scorsese practically taking a page out of Altman’s playbook following the success of MASH. You could never get away with a scene that long these days, but here I think it works.
And just like that, that’d be all he’d have to say about an almost three hour long movie. At least that’s the cut I think we watched. This was back when people still got DVDs from Netflix, before streaming had totally eaten the market, so I know we saw a copy that was letterboxed, but I think this was still before Criterion came out with their definitive edition, which is the main copy I’ve seen. Honestly, Goncharov is one of those movies where it is a pain to keep track of different editions, like Blade Runner (1982) or Metropolis (1927). That’s not to say there isn’t a right answer to be found *cough* original Blade Runner: Director’s Cut  *cough* but in Goncharov’s case I haven’t really spent the time wading through discussions and different versions to come to any real conclusion of my own but I was happy enough with both cuts to not stress over it too much.
I used to envy my father for his brevity. I can’t help but be discursive. We’re just very different people. I grasp at other works of fiction to try and place things in context, to see the footpath that a creator’s story has taken through the world and the ripples it has made, while he looks at things just for what they are, interested only in their most direct relational relevance. That’s not to denigrate his intelligence or the depth of his perception, because he’s one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever known. Truly, I don’t know that either is actually a better way to relate to art objectively, but I can’t help but feel that winding depth and sincerity are harder to live under than snappy wit and self assured directness. Not that I can change who I am though, so it doesn’t bear overthinking.
Speaking of overthinking things, I would be remiss here if I didn’t talk about Goncharov’s impact on anime. As with many similar things, it’s hard to say exactly how the film was received in Japan, but you can definitely see the second string effects if you know to look for them. The first time I remember noticing an allusion to Goncharov was in The Big O (1999), which is an amnesiatic giant robot noir drama with a similar preoccupation on dual identities. What I’m talking about specifically occurs in the episode “Winter Night Phantom,” which comes near the end of the first season. In that episode a character named Dan Dastun, who is a military police officer, remembers a movie he saw in his youth which ends with a woman being shot on the docks at night while fireworks bloom overhead, and she whispers to a man with her dying breath, “Vous êtes si gentil.”
Over the course of the episode Dastun discovers that it was a film called Winter Night Phantom, the title itself also a nod to the idea that the film Goncharov ends with winter coming finally to Naples, and then Dastun goes on to relive that exact scene in his real life, only he is the one who shoots the woman, who whispers in French her dying words, “You are so sweet.” You can see where I’m going with this?
The context is different and so at least are the early parts of the dialogue, but that final line is delivered in Russian by Katya during the scene where she fakes her death. Relevant to this example, she does this by provoking Andrey into shooting her in anger once her betrayal of Goncharov has been fully revealed to everyone. He does it, not knowing that she’d already switched the chambered bullet in his gun for a blank. Its is ironic considering that earlier in the movie she shoots a gun at Goncharov and misses, and Goncharov in turn accuses her of not loving him enough to hit. The line is, “If we really were in love you wouldn’t have missed.” But here, at the end of things, Andrey’s bullet literally has no chance of hitting since she’s sabotaged him, and yet he thinks his love has struck true and killed her.
Compositionally the anime version is shot for shot identical with the film, though in the anime it is presented as black and white, so the woman’s coat ends up looking almost gray, versus Katya’s coat in the real film where she’s wearing all white for the first time in a long while after she has spent practically the whole film from the opening shot building up to her previous stunning pure scarlet outfits, ones without even the pretense of having a white trim on them anymore. And then, of course, The Big O is a rather restrained sort of a show so there is no subsequent blossom of red blood across the white chest of her outfit, a faked effect on her part, though in the film that visual really only serves to leave the audience in suspense for an extra scene on if her plan to fake her death has gone wrong somehow or if it has worked as intended, and so it wouldn’t really fit in with the borrowed aesthetic of the film’s visual usage here. I suppose it also bears saying that in the real film this scene is hardly the literal end of the movie and there are a slight handful of impactful scenes left after it, but it’s effectively the end of Katya’s story and it makes sense in context to use it as an ending here.
On some level I find the inclusion of this whole sequence in The Big O to be monumentally frustrating, but that’s probably just because I’ve never felt like I had a full grasp on that show anyway. I mean, does it change how we understand the episode if we know that in the original source material that it is referencing, that the death there is a faked? The two deaths echoing each other within the episode itself are both depicted as being real without any discordant note of uncertainty to cloud the issue, except that I know that it is there on a meta level, so who can say. Then again the whole show of The Big O practically revels in driving a wedge into the entire question of fake versus real, which is what makes it so hard to just handwave the issue here away as I’m inclined to want to do.
All of that took more explaining than I’d hoped for. It’s funny to think about where the ends of this all meet. My dad had a sort of fussy prestige library in the middle of the living room. It was almost exclusively Library of America volumes, which, if you are unfamiliar with those, they are marginally overpriced hardback copies of American classic writers, printed on tissue thin archival quality paper. Aside from those he had in that collection a handful of disparate hardcover volumes from famous international authors. He had a translated copy of Oblomov’s original novel Goncharov sitting there. I have no doubt that he’d read it, but we never talked about the book or how it compared to the movie. I’d been told I was welcome to borrow any of his books, but I never dared read through any of those pristine fussy copies. Too afraid a page would rip or I’d mess up the dust cover. And the collection wouldn’t look right with any book out of place. Meanwhile in the basement I had a bootleg DVD set of Cowboy Bebop (1997) that I’d got off the internet that was sitting prominently in my cobbled together anime collection, and that was a culmination point for Goncharov at the far other side of things, but I don’t think I ever found a chance to share that insight with my dad.
What I’m talking about is the Cowboy Bebop episode “Ganymede Elegy” which is clearly riffing on Goncharov in the kind of allusive collaged together way that it assembled its world. It doesn’t have anything direct to say about Goncharov, because that’s not its style, but it’s playing around with the themes and relationships. At the start of the episode we see a bounty hunter, Jet, holding a broken watch. The style of the watch is futuristic and it has 15 hours on the face, but the way he holds it, the way the hands are positioned, the broken crack across the face, all of it evokes the stopped watch that Katya discards in the water after faking her death. Katya’s watch is a symbol of her relationship with Goncharov, and here Jet’s watch means the same thing for his relationship with his ex-girlfriend Alisa. We see the planet Ganymede and its a mashup of Naples and Marseille, an old world seaside retro-future. Once there he goes to his ex’s bar, La Fin or “The End.” I wont recap the whole thing but little similarities aside, at the dramatic end of the episode his ex Alisa finally explains why she left, and the scene is a delicate inversion of Katya’s villainous speech to Goncharov.
“You decided everything. In the end you were always right. When I was there with you I never had to do anything for myself. All I had to do was to hang onto your arm like a child without a care in the world. I wanted to live my own life. Make my own decisions, even if they were terrible mistakes.” In the film those words were daggers of betrayal to cut at Goncharov, and now here instead they act as an apology and a release for Jet from a relationship that had been hanging unanswered for years, something unfinished stopped in time. In the end Jet throws his watch into the ocean as well.
It’s a nice thought. A nice way to recontextualize something so tragic into something cathartic. Both Jet and Goncharov suffer from frozen relationships, frozen ideas of love, to the point that it metaphorically kills the ability for time to pass. A frozen love is like a broken watch, and Alisa shoots at Jet but never hits him. Their love may have long since been extinguished, but even yet it guides her hand.
Alright, just give me one more here and then I’ll move on, I promise. I should have spaced these out better, but I’d be totally remiss if I didn’t mention the most well known Goncharov connection in anime, and one that I can be confident that other people have covered in way better detail than I’m going to do here, what I’m talking about is of course Goncharov’s connection to part five of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, the Golden Wind (2018) arc. Fair warning, Jojo spoilers abound here so skip to after the next paragraph if you care. Look, I may be callous but I’m not going to spoil Jojo in a major way. Now then, I don’t know if the author of Jojo, Araki Hirohiko, has talked about this much in interviews or not, but it’s pretty much impossible to read that arc of the story as anything other than Araki throwing his hat in the ring and vying for a new vision of what a Naples based mafia story can be these days, after Goncharov and its legacy has fairly well hedged in that particular corner of the genre since its release, to the point that basically no one will touch it in an original way.
Araki is a well known fan of American cinema, and considering his wide spanning allusions to Indiana Jones in the second arc of the series, it is not so much of a surprise to see a similar treatment here with Goncharov as he switches focus to a surreal mafioso genre. As far as I know we see some sort of version of pretty much all the major locations from Goncharov during the course of the arc, or at least Araki’s imaginings of them, replication of key scene shots and all, and then the villain of the whole arc turns out to be the boss of the mafia group that the characters are members of. This villain, Diavolo, is a character with two conflicting personas whose entire special power resolves around being in defiance to the immutability of time. Diavolo is pretty plainly just Goncharov himself re-imagined, no longer as a tragic figure but instead recast as an ascendant villain, with the change being that now the very element of time itself is finally on his side.
Sometimes I’m not sure what to make of these kinds of diffuse interconnections beyond them just being interesting to find. I’m reminded of the film The Big Blue (1988), which is another movie I watched with my dad, and how it is highlighted in both the show Eden of the East (2009) as well as in the show Detective Conan (1996). As a film, it has a sort of Goncharov quality to it, which is probably why I mention it. It is a visually stunning film, just tons of gorgeous underwater footage, and the plot is all about two self absorbed men who are into free diving and dolphins and the extremely unlucky woman caught between them, with a famous director and notable cast, and, just, the whole thing has sunk into obscurity without much award or lasting acclaim. From what I remember of the thin story itself within the movie, that state of things is not entirely unwarranted for it, but at the same time, it’s another film that has stuck with me. There’s a scene about drinking champagne underwater that I can picture without difficulty even after all these years. And it must have meant something to others too, for it to crop up the way it has. Even as it is, flawed and forgotten, that’s still something! It’s a real something. I can’t remember the last new movie of this decade that has forced me to carry it along with me in that way, as something to consider and pry at in my heart.
This was supposed to be much more of a straightforward review than this is turning out to be, and yet here I am and I’ve barely talked at all about the plot or characters. Oh, how dearly I wish I could throw out a zinger at this point, like claiming that Goncharov made me gay! Sadly it did not. I think that distinction goes to Sailor Moon (1992), which gets double credit for both awakening of my sapphic interests and for prompting the self reflection preceding my transition to female. All of which is as it should be and is right with the world. Sailor Moon is some powerful mind altering stuff for a teenager to take in.
More seriously here, I love the scene in the market between Katya and Sofia. If there were only one thing I could take away from this movie, it’d be that moment. If there were two things I could take, it’d be that and then all the clock symbolism. For real though, I love every scene that those two characters share together, but that one in particular is scintillating. It’s intimate and verbally sensuous, just so intensely charged that when Sofia finally bites into the apple it feels almost pornographic. On the whole, I feel like Katya is the kind of character that I logically should be a really huge fan of, like seriously her wardrobe is some classic villain-core tier shit, but despite supposedly checking all the theoretical boxes for me she always just leaves me feeling cold as a character. Sofia would be the other character that it’d make sense for me to latch onto, but she never really gets a chance to come into her own, and she’s way too much a plaything of the whole corruption and redemption theme for me to get a true sense of her as a person outside the strictures of story.
For Katya, I suppose it’s her abandonment of Sofia that rankles me the most, that the two of them could have that kind of chemistry for the whole movie, and in the end Katya is so much a prisoner to her own plans that she convinces herself that faking her own death is what freedom truly means, when at pretty much any time she could have just dropped everything to run away with Sofia and left Goncharov to destroy his own damn self, instead of doing all the hard work for him. That man was more than capable of getting his tragedy done all on his own, at least once he had Andrey enabling him, never mind the additional help from nominal villain of the piece Mario Ambrosini (Al Pacino) who I guess I’m just not going to talk about at all really, but then again all of that is yet another irony to Katya’s character I suppose.
I know that technically there’s nothing in the ending that prevents Katya and Sofia from meeting up afterwards somewhere else in the Mediterranean and living happily ever after. Sofia is free and clear and Katya is “dead,” so, I mean, that sort of conclusion is the famous fan cannon for the film, isn’t it? Again, I just can’t buy into it. I get the argument for it, that it’s how the ending would have been if the studio had been more comfortable with the lesbian angle being text rather than subtext, but that just seems like bullshit to me. If that was the ending he wanted, Scorsese would have gone for it. He didn’t shy away from making the goddless communist gangsters seem like the sympathetic side to the whole gang war thing, a choice which won him exactly zero acclaim when the film made it to the States, so clearly the studio was having more trouble reigning him in than one would really expect from a film like this. The fact is that Scorsese got the movie he wanted and it has been chopped up enough times since then that if that imagining was supposed to be the “true” ending we’d literally have just seen it by now.
Katya faking her own death is the unhappiest ending I can imagine for her. There’s no recovering for her from that. The problem for her is that she has won. She has achieved a complete victory over all the things that have chained her all her life. And now on the day after that, and for the months and years after that, as all those things still linger with her as phantoms, haunting her memory, she simply has no recourse. She can’t fight the things that chain her anymore because she has already won against them. She has beaten them definitively and so there is literally nothing more for her to do, but she can’t let go anyway, and so she just has to drag everything of who she is with her as this new person too, finding new ways to be dishonest about who she is under her new identity and inventing new bindings to become trapped in. That’s her whole thing, that she can’t let go, and faking her death isn’t going to see her waking up the next morning as a new person having finally overcome it all. Her supposed new identity is a fiction she is selling herself to keep going. The tragedy is that she gets what she says she wants, instead of what she really wants, and then has to live with it. Take it from me, the only actual new identity anyone gets in this world is one that is forged on the stony path of self honesty, which, uh, honestly kind of sucks to do, and that’s why no one does that shit if they don’t have to. If Katya had abandoned her plan at any point before it was complete, that would have been the change that needed to happen for her. She didn’t. End of story. So those people imagining her sipping mai tais with Sofia in Cyprus, I really envy your faith in humanity and the belief that people can just randomly choose to change one day even after committing to every bad choice for their whole life, but sometimes you really do just run out of time. Sometimes it’s simply too late.
My dad and I don’t watch movies together anymore. I can remember so many movies that we saw together, but somehow I have no idea when exactly it was that we stopped doing that. The two of us haven’t been close in a long time but even now I’d say I watch maybe two or three movies each week still. I love movies! In the last year or so he apparently decided that he was done with movies entirely. He’d seen everything he really wanted to see and that was that. So now he watches K-dramas with the same intensity that he used to watch movies. But, I’m not really into them at all and so now I guess cinema isn’t even something that we can talk about in the same way that we used to.
I’ve always loved action movies. I’m less into tragedies. I think my dad might have had us watch Deep Blue because of how much I liked Jean Reno in Léon: The Professional (1994). I know that my enthusiasm for de Niro’s performance as Goncharov is what prompted my dad to show me Ronin (1998), because he said de Niro brought a lot of the same energy to that role as an aging gun for hire, and it’s true, I can imagine the character of Goncharov ending up as someone vaguely like that if he’d lived for another twenty five years and kept plying his trade as a hitman. Ronin ended up being my favorite traditional action movie for a number of years, it’s a lot punchier than Goncharov for one thing, at least until something else came along and unseated it. Probably Fight Club (1999) which I came to a little late. Now there’s a movie that’ll make you queer.
I’m realizing that I haven’t said much about Goncharov as a character yet, and now I’m not sure what to say. It’s a great performance by de Niro, maybe one of my favorites of his of all time, and he’s an actor I really like. I remember that I identified a lot with the character at the time. I understood feeling trapped, painfully conscious that time is running down but almost helpless to see any way past your shitty little life and the chain of events that you are seemingly trapped in. I don’t think I appreciated at the time how much Goncharov himself was responsible for everything that occurs. What can I say, I was a very unhappy teenager. I know looking back that I was a nightmare to deal with for my parents. I was so terrified of coming out, and I mean rightfully so given the environment that I was in and how poorly things went for me when I finally did. So I had that in common with Goncharov too I guess, being a painfully deeply closeted wreck, depending on how you ship it.
At some point when I was a teenager my dad stopped trying to connect with me. He decided that he couldn’t understand me and so he just stopped trying. He was done with that entirely. Nothing really changed at the time, I didn’t even understand that it had happened exactly, and we still watched movies together, but over time there were all these little losses that accumulated. At some point, years after that, I transitioned and I know that when it happened he felt like he lost a son, but to this day I don’t know that he ever really gained a daughter in me. He uses my new name, sure, but he always calls me kid, or kiddo, never any language about me that has any gender to it.
I don’t know why. I don’t know why he stopped trying. I don’t know why he picked the movies that he did. I don’t know that we can connect at all anymore. I don’t know what he thinks of Goncharov these days. I guess, ultimately, I don’t know what any of it meant to him. I can guess at the most obvious answers and reasons, but all my guesses beyond the initial ones get more and more cynical and I have to stop. When it comes to the topic of our relationship, that’s not something I’ll indulge in at all because I just end up blaming myself and thinking about what I could have done differently, instead of sticking to the obvious answer that there was nothing much I could have done. He was the adult. I wasn’t. I was a shitty depressed teenager, sure, and I sucked to be around, absolutely true, but when I reached out for help he already wasn’t there. His functional obligations to provide for me as a parent were always well met, exceeded even, but help was never there again for me. So, given that complete abdication, I have to conclude that I did nothing more unforgivable than growing into an adult as best I could on my own under kinda crappy circumstances. He was the one who presumably had the perspective and the resources where he could have made that all turn out somewhat better for everyone involved, if he’d tried to help, if he’d tried to connect, and that can’t all just be on me.
He’s still my father. I come over a few times a year and he cooks me dinner. We talk about how his job is going and what he’s interested in these days. I get a Christmas gift from him every year. I call him on his birthday and on Father’s Day and he talks to me for 90 seconds before handing me off so I can talk to my mother some more. He has always been a terse man. Very, very rarely we all watch movies together still, but he abdicates voicing a movie opinion now so my mom get to pick what we watch and her picks are essentially all Marvel movies or feel-good animated classics. I’m not much interested in staying after dinner for movies any more. He says that he loves me and I don’t have any reason to doubt that he’s being sincere at least. I say I love him and I mean it in the same way that he does. But he hasn’t been a Dad to me since long before I moved out of his house.
I know that I’m being a little unfair to him in my depiction here, that I’ve chosen my words carefully and nothing is quite as simple and pat as all that. But I can afford to be a little unfair. It’s my tragedy after all.
I just don’t know. All things in time. When I say that phrase I don’t mean that in the hopeful sense. I mean that in the sense of inevitability. Of endings. I haven’t thought of any of this stuff in a long time, not of our mafia movie summer, not of Goncharov, not of any of it. It doesn’t change anything anyway. I suppose that technically there is still time yet for us to reconcile, but that goes back to the question of Katya, doesn’t it? After a certain point of commitment, why would anything change again any further? Why would he change? Why would I? And why would I ever forgive him?
Maybe you’re the type that believes in outlandish undeserved happy endings, and that’s fine, some stories are like that. Good for you. You get a conclusion with bitches, beaches and mai tais. But I just don’t see it. I don’t believe it. Goncharov just isn’t that movie. I’m a pretty happy person these days, so don’t misunderstand me, but loss happens. The watch stops. The dance ends. The connection frays. Things wind down, time is oppressive, and you are all left with “if only.” There’s a lot to unpack in the film, but if you have the chance again, or if somehow you have read all this here without ever having seen it, I’d seriously recommend revisiting Goncharov. It’s worth it. Maybe you’ll understand what I mean?
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kafiguas · 17 hours ago
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I am ready
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crazycatsiren · a day ago
People will be like "nah I don't believe in witches and magic and all that woowoo stuff" and then keep a polite distance after finding out I'm a witch.
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maryonnaise · 2 days ago
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nihilitystar · 12 hours ago
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the emt
as the mmm lemon meme
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mupichanzas · 2 days ago
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Please do not
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