This might be a matter of taste, but "A Bronx Tale" remains Number 2 on list of Favorite Movies of All Time. It just happens to be one of the most deeply moving, powerful films I've ever encountered. Yes, some may consider this a simple story, but that's the beauty of it. It's a down-to-earth, coming-of-age story that perfectly mirrors the life of a boy like C growing up in the Bronx at such a hectic time. Of course, this is based on Chazz Palminteri's real life experiences, and I envy Chazz, being an aspiring screenwriter/director. I wish I had life experiences like that to put on film. And I have to commend my man Bobby D for bringing these images to life in such a vibrant, engrossing way.
DeNiro captures every element of the 1960's Bronx, with a great opening sequence featuring doo-wop singers sweetly singing the movie's theme. He captures so many elements of the period, and it was nice to see only one goof was captured. It was interesting to find out that most of the movie was actually shot in Brooklyn--my hometown. Then again, the two places are alike in their own simple ways.
Bobby D has a short, but memorable role (which is against type) as a working-class bus driver. He's desperately trying to get by and support his son, Cologero (I think that's how to spell it...LOL), and disapproves of his son's new "job" with gangster Sonny (Chazz, who gives a landmark performance). The interactions between DeNiro and his son are extraordinary in the way they mirror the way a real father and son would argue in those situations. As I said, it's the whole down-to-earth quality of this movie that I think made it tick. It's nothing pretentious. This is a simple movie about humanity. The gangster plot is merely a backdrop.
The only other movie I've seen him in was "Crimson Tide" in a very small role, but Lillo Brancato (who plays DeNiro's son in the later years) is a revalation! He gives one of the best performances I've ever seen and I'm surprised I haven't seen him in any more recent movies. And I have to say DeNiro did a dynamic job of casting. As far as I know, Brancato and Bobby aren't related, but please tell me if I'm wrong, because they look EXACTLY alike! If you've seen any of DeNiro's very early films, Brancato is a mirror image of him. Is it coincidence or what? I've rarely seen a film where the son/daughter even directly resembles the parents, but Brancato has the DeNiro nose and everything. If you observe closely, there's a scene where Brancato is wearing a black jacket and a black hat, and if you were to see this in a split-screen with DeNiro in "Mean Streets" it would be uncanny.
There are so many people I have to commend for this film. That also includes the supporting cast. Taral Hicks as C's love interest was also impressive. And of course, you can't have a movie directed by DeNiro and starring DeNiro without his main amigo making an appearance. Hopefully, you haven't read the cast list on the IMDB. Because I was surprised and overjoyed when "the man" appeared in the final scene.
There are many lessons on life to be drawn out of this film, some of which given by Chazz's character Sonny, who plays the most likeable gangster I've seen in cinema. Yet at the same time, you can't consider him "too nice." Which was a good move. Sonny was a nice guy in the core, yet he still has a heart of a gangster. In a great monologue, he explains how he'd rather be feared than loved. And of course there's the great monlogue that everyone remembers: the car door scene. That was really an unforgettable speech. Plus, there's funny moments, too. The gambling scene in the basement, for example. "Get in the f**king bathroom!!!" LOL...that was hilarious.
To add to the emotional intensity, we have an interracial relationship between Brancato and Hicks at a time when Bronx was heavily segregated and whites wanted absolutely nothing to do with blacks. The scene where the boys beat those innocent black boys down was an extremely powerful scene. And through DeNiro's direction, we feel the characters' every emotion. I like how he used the doo-wop music to contribute to the soundtrack.
By the end, I was almost at tears. I'm virtually tearing up just writing this review and looking at this masterful drama in retrospect. This is something ONLY Bobby D and Chazz could've done! No one could've done it better! For me to be this deeply moved by a motion picture is unprecedented. I wish I could be thanking the two guys in person.
If anyone hasn't seen this movie, please don't hesitate to pick it up! This is one of those great, underrated masterpieces that you feel sad after finding out about its poor success. A film like this really deserves more recognition.
And Bobby D....I think you owe a bunch of "thank yous" to your buddy Scorcese. He's taught you well.
My score: A perfect 10! (out of 10)
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