By Anne M. Raso
|Andie MacDowell and Chazz Palminteri as the troubled Fines in Mighty Fine; photo courtesy Adopt Films.|
I’ve always thought that Chazz Palminteri should be a bigger star than he is. His self-penned A Bronx Tale–which he started off as a one-man play in NYC and LA–wound up being one of the great unsung mob movies even though Palminteri co-starred with Robert DeNiro in it. It was a non-union indie film, so that prob did not help but it sticks in my mind as not only one of the greatest mob movies of all time, but one of the greatest New York movies of all time…heck, it is #5 in my ALL TIME GREAT MOVIES LIST (let’s be totally honest here) and I went to see Palminteri do it as a one man play on Broadway long after the film came out. So I did the whole A Bronx Tale thing in reverse order!
Anyway, on to CP’s new film Mighty Fine just released on May 25th; it’s a coming-of-age comedy-drama taken from the real life experiences of writer/director Debbie Goodstein-Rosenfeld. Set in 1974, this movie is a delight because not only do we get to see an array of “Brooklyn chic” fashions from the era (think of it as a slightly more edgy Brady Bunch look) but Palminteri plays the Joe, a New York garment factory owner who moves the whole operation down to the New Orleans area to increase his profit margin. Sadly, the garment workers laws changed around that time, and cheaper labor was found outside the country in places like China, so his whole operation goes on the skids. What’s left to do but take out a loan from a local “connected” guy and then, ultimately (SPOILER WARNING) burn down the factory. Along the way, Joe has some severe spending issues–nothing is too good for his upwardly mobile family–but at the same time, he’s got a hair trigger temper and often goes off the deep end, going as far as firing a rifle in the direction of local boys swimming naked in the family pool. We won’t give away how Joe winds up at the end of the film, but let’s just say that the family has enough of his uneven temper.
During the press day Palminteri told us that he thinks his character was suffering from chronic depression as well as generally being what psychologists now term a “rage-a-holic.” He said, “It was the days before therapy was acceptable in society at least for men. I think therapy’s a great thing. I’ve been in it myself for over 20 years and love it.” Director Goodstein-Rosenfeld confessed, I didn’t think of anyone else for the role except Chazz and I got in touch with him through his agent because he has an ominous quality but at the same time he is completely lovable. I needed someone who could embody that dichotomy.” Goodstein says she needed to tell this very personal tale of her childhood because, “I wanted to highlight a man who had anger issues–and this goes on in a lot of people’s home. When I screened this for friends and their friends, so many people came up to me and said, ‘My home was like that.'”
Palminteri revealed at the end of the press day for Mighty Fine that he he fell in love with a role because “I love to do things that are the truth and i love to play characters with flaws.” He’s got a new project in the fire with none other than former collaborator Robert De Niro but he can’t reveal any of the details just yet. I’m going to be the first in line to see that but in the mean time, I’ve got to say that Mighty Fine is Palminteri’s greatest movie of the past ten years.
|Mighty Fine writer-director Debbie Goodstein-Rosenfeld with Chazz Palminteri at the recent New York press day for Mighty Fine; photo by Anne M. Raso.|