Now for a 4 hour film to keep me engaged all the way through, it must be pretty fucking good. It did that, therefore it is that. Did anyone else hate the end though? I hated the end, for several reasons:
1) It was stupid. The moment where James Woods is standing by the window and turns around as De Niro walks into the room - you could almost hear the "Dun dun dunnnnnnn!"
2) It was ambiguous. Apparently James Woods committed suicide at the end by climbing into the garbage truck? I thought that had probably happened, but it wasn't clear at all. For a start, it wasn't obviously James Woods walking towards the truck (I didn't think it was). In fact it wasn't obviously James Woods until way too late in the previous scene. Covered in make-up, De Niro calling him 'Mr Bailey' and, oh yeah, supposedly DEAD, I spent far too long thinking "Is that James Woods? No, it's not James Woods. Is it? It is! No, it can't be..." Admittedly I'm not great at recognising faces at the best of times, but considering I'd managed to recognise an 11-year-old Jennifer Connelly, I was clearly at the top of my game tonight, and this was clearly Leone's fault. And when James Woods talked about 'the syndicate' - what syndicate? What was he talking about? What was the mechanism behind the set-up? What was the precise motivation behind it? How did he end up with Deborah? HOW DID ANY OF THIS HAPPEN?
3) Considering how much time was spent on the 20s and 30s parts of the story, the whole 'Mr Bailey' part felt completely tacked on. Like an afterthought. What's wrong with just telling a good, straightforward story? Why does there need to be some dumb twist at the end?
4) As twists go, it was the worst kind, i.e. the kind that casts the rest of the film in a lesser light. The strained but ultimately deep friendship between Max and Noodles? Turns out it wasn't deep at all. That poignant moment at the beginning of the film where Noodles is remembering seeing the bodies of his dead friends as the phone rings? Not so poignant, it turns out, because Max wasn't actually dead.
Also, the (two) bits (in the last hour of the film) where Noodles calls Max crazy and he flips out - totally unconvincing. Just wanted to get all of that off my chest.