A Bronx Tale does take me back to New York City in the sixties. I grew up in Brooklyn then which certainly has always had its own identity. I'm glad that Chazz Palmentiri has given the Bronx an identity of its own. There are still parts of the Bronx which have the Italian neighborhood you see depicted here. But the Bronx is a Latino majority borough now, ironic when you consider part of the story of A Bronx Tale is the racial tension between the blacks and Italians.
The movie divides in two parts, the first is around 1960 with the background of the 1960 World Series, one of the best ever played where the Yankees of Mickey Mantle lost to the Pirates in seven games. Robert DeNiro is your average Joe, a bus driver by profession trying with his wife, Katherine Narducci, to raise their son who is eight years old. Young Francis Capra who is fascinated by the gangsters hanging out at the bar down the street, witnesses the local boss commit a murder. True to the neighborhood code he doesn't snitch to the police and the local boss takes him under his wing.
Chazz Palmentiri is the boss and he's an interesting character. A man who's risen to the top of his profession, he's got a sense of himself and what it took to get there. Life is about choices, he made his and he's going with the flow, but he knows it isn't for everyone. He advises young Capra to stay in school, but the more he advises the more fascinating Palmentiri becomes to DeNiro's dismay.
The second half of the story is in 1968, the Bronx as part of America ravaged by racial tensions, assassinations and the war in Vietnam. The little boy is now teenager Lillo Brancato who gets interested in a black girl, a big no-no in the crowd he comes from, but Palmentiri is the one person who encourages the relationship. Let's just say that everything, every element of the story comes full circle on one night in the Bronx in 1968.
The comparison to Goodfellas for me is obvious. The two kids who grow up to be Joe Pesci and Ray Liotta are taken under the wing of neighborhood boss Paul Sorvino who sees them as promising gangster material and they grow into the roles. Palmentiri keeps telling the young kid here do what I say not what I do, but in the end it takes some tragic events to set him on a right path.
DeNiro who you would normally expect in the gangster role is just fine as the father, a good man, not a perfect one by any means, but just a guy trying to do right by his family. It's Palmentiri however who really steals the film as the local gangster boss who's as street smart as they come, but even with all that can't anticipate all contingencies.
Lillo Brancato who went on to several other film roles and a long running one in The Sopranos certainly in real life didn't make the same choices as his character Calogero Anello did. Life really imitated art in his life story.
Nice to see the Bronx get its due.
A Bronx Tale
Crime / Drama
A Bronx Tale
Crime / Drama
Gangster Sonny is the big man in the Bronx neighborhood of an Italian small boy named Calogero. A shooting witnessed by the boy (nicknamed C) is the starting point of a lasting bond between the gangster and the boy. Father (bus driver Lorenzo), however, disapproves. C grows up under the wing of both men, torn between his own natural honesty and his fascination with Sonny. C's neighborhood cronies get involved in theft, use of guns, and racial fights. When C falls for an African American girl, things don't get any easier. C's leap to manhood is marked by tragedy, but also by his recognition of the many faces of love.
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June 23, 2012 at 3:27 am