by Adrienne Hoff
Cut and Reel, besides bringing you their recommendations (REEL!) and non-recommendations (CUT!) for what to see in the theaters will also bring you their picks for older flicks that are worth staying home to watch, like this week’s Reel Classic, A Bronx Tale.
Directed by: Robert De Niro
Written by: Chazz Palminteri
“He’s wrong. It don’t take much strength to pull a trigger. But try and get up every morning,day after day, and work for a living. Let’s see him try that. Then we’ll see who the real tough is. The working man’s the tough guy. Your father’s the tough guy. ”
Based on Chazz Palminteri’s real-life experiences of growing up in the Bronx, A Bronx Tale is an incredibly humbling coming-of-age story in which the lines are blurred between good versus evil and right versus wrong. Robert De Niro co-stars in his directorial debut as Lorenzo Anello, a proud blue-collar man who is rich with integrity and teaches these virtues to his son by being a living example. His young son, Calogero, admires his father, but can’t shake his fascination with neighborhood gangster Sonny LoSpecchio. Much against his father’s will, Calogero, or ‘C,’ is taken under Sonny’s wing after C is the witness of murder and doesn’t rat on Sonny. Sonny, played by writer Chazz Palminteri, teaches C more than how to survive on the streets. He gives C an education on women, acceptance, and most notably, the powerful difference between respect and fear.
The characters are developed as only a well-attuned writer and observer of society could capture. The viewer instantly develops a feeling of respect and adoration toward Anello, while resenting, and almost fearing, Sonny. The viewer can related to Anello as a noble, stand-up father. He is the kind of father anyone admires. It’s heartbreaking as a teenage C consistently brushes off his father for his no-good friends and gangster boss. The viewer admires Anello more when his compassion and unconditional love for his son shows through. During the duration of the film, feelings toward Sonny soften, as one discovers that he isn’t a cold, heartless villain. In a climate of racism, as the film takes place in the early 1960’s, Sonny instills a feeling of tolerance in C which would not have otherwise came from his family or peers. As C idolizes his gangster boss, Sonny is curt in telling him the difference between fear and respect. This lesson is only solidified near the end of the film, after C views the individuals and their mannerisms in a crowd assembled to pay homage to Sonny.
Lilo Brancato has a stellar, debut performance as Calogero. Even though most of us don’t know what it’s like to have a mobster boss, the character is brought to life in such a realistic way to which anyone could relate. C’s universal struggles of growing up are illuminated: should one do as the family does or as ones friends do? Should one cut school for a good times or stay for the test? Should one ask out this amazing girl, despite inevitable criticism from friends and family? As we watch C grow as a person before our eyes, we take a little bit of his lessons with us ourselves.
I am a total sucker for a good coming-of-age tale. I’m surprised it’s taken me 16 years to finally see this one, but it was well worth the wait. I would suggest anyone and everyone to see this movie.