What’s on TV Thursday: ‘Once Upon a Time in America’ and ‘Stateless’


ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA (1984) Rent on Google Play, iTunes, Vudu and YouTube. In the 1960s, the Italian filmmaker Sergio Leone and the Italian composer Ennio Morricone created a distinctive, sweeping vision of the Old West in movies like “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” and “Once Upon a Time in the West,” where brass horns blew over desert sand. A couple decades later, they captured outlaws in more claustrophobic surroundings with “Once Upon a Time in America,” a mob movie set in New York’s Lower East Side. The plot tracks the growth of two gangsters (played as adults by Robert De Niro and James Woods) and a budding Broadway dancer (Elizabeth McGovern). It stretches over several decades — parts of the story take place in 1922, 1933 and 1968 — an epic expanse that was infamously cut to under two and a half hours when the film was shown in North American theaters. (“This version seems to have been edited with a roulette wheel,” Vincent Canby wrote in The New York Times in 1984.) Thankfully, a longer, 229-minute version that was shown in European cinemas and is widely considered superior is available from the streaming services listed above.

STATELESS Stream on Netflix. The lives of four characters converge around an immigrant detention center in Australia in “Stateless,” a mini-series that counts Cate Blanchett among its creators and executive producers. Blanchett lends star power as Pat, a dance instructor who leads a cultlike group with her husband, Gordon (Dominic West) — but hers is a supporting role. The story splits its focus among four others: Ameer (Fayssal Bazzi), an Afghan seeking asylum; Clare (Asher Keddie), a leader of the detention center; Cam (Jai Courtney), a guard there; and Sofie (Yvonne Strahovski), a woman who gets involved with Pat and Gordon’s group and winds up stuck in the detention system. “The show’s most interesting moments come in the first few episodes as Sofie is drawn in and then cast out by Pat and Gordon,” Mike Hale wrote in his review for The Times. “The other converging story lines of ‘Stateless,’” he added, “are credible and sometimes moving, but rarely surprising.”

CLOSE ENOUGH Stream on HBO Max. Cartoon Network’s “Regular Show” was anything but normal: created by the producer and animator J.G. Quintel, the show revolved around a blue jay and a raccoon who went on weird adventures. Quintel’s new animated show, “Close Enough,” centers on a group of 30-something roommates in Los Angeles. They’re human, but don’t expect normalcy.

CAKE 10 p.m. on FXX. The flavor of “Cake” changes constantly; it’s a comedy anthology series with live-action and animated episodes from an array of creators. The third season will debut on Thursday night with a pair of episodes. One revolves around an animated tale from the humorists David Rees and John Hodgman (who is also a columnist for The New York Times Magazine); the other tells a live-action story about a troll in therapy.

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