The mafia genre ain’t what it used to be, and that’s a tragedy. One of the oldest genres, the mob hit the big screen in a big way from Hollywood’s earliest moments, with the likes of Edward G. Robinson and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Scorsese became the unofficial, though widely acknowledged master of the genre in the 1990s, and The Sopranos took the family to the same screen and made television history. But since then, the genre has fallen from favor. Mafia films used to be a breeding ground for young, aggressive actors flexing their stuff: DeNiro, Pacino, Liotta, Pesci, and more. Today, the genre churns out the occasional flick, but the stars have, strangely, stayed the same. The “old” mafia movie, with has-beens and never-was returning the streets saw Pacino and Walken take on Stand Up Guys, and now it has Goodfellas’ own Paul Cicero, Paul Sorvino, returning to Queens after a twenty-year bit.
Joe Scoleri (Sorvino) used to rule the streets. After twenty years of hard time, he gets out with a bad ticker and is firmly instructed by Ben Rose (another genre staple; Chazz Palminteri) that he can have no contact with past associates and his past life. With his days numbered, Joe encounters his neighbor, Bobby DiBianco (Cop Land’s Michael Rapaport), he slowly draws the younger father into his world. The F.B.I. tries to warn Bobby about what he’s getting himself into as the tensions escalate. All in all, it’s a solid little entry by Lionsgate; certainly better than the tired sloppiness of Stand Up Guys. With Sorvino and Rapaport, not to mention Palminteri, the film feels like a time warp. Everyone has a few more wrinkles and the clothes have changed, but the nostalgia is intentionally laid on as Scoleri grapples with a different decade where his kind have changed from what they were when he was in his prime.
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Making of and trailers.
"Once Upon A Time In Queens" is on sale November 11, 2014 and is rated R. Crime, Drama. Directed by Dave Rodgriguez. Written by Dave Rodriguez. Starring Chazz Palminteri, Michael Rapaport, Paul Sorvino.