What REALLY goes on in a job interview? Find out in the new revision of "Sweaty Palms: The Neglected Art of Being Interviewed" (Warner Books) by Tony Medley, updated for the world of the Internet . Over 500,000 copies in print and the only book on the job interview written by an experienced interviewer, one who has conducted thousands of interviews. This is the truth, not the ivory tower speculations of those who write but have no actual experience. "One of the top five books every job seeker should read," says Hotjobs.com.

Find Me Guilty (3/10)

by Tony Medley

The Mafia, or the Cosa Nostra, or the mob, whatever you want to call them, was the worst cancer on the American psyche during the 20th Century. Obtaining power in the early part of the century, through the genius of people like Lucky Luciano and Myer Lansky, the mob perverted society in a particularly pernicious way. Aided by the feckless FBI of J. Edgar Hoover, who turned a blind eye, only occasionally did law enforcement come to the aid of society. It was the Treasury Department that put away Al Capone for tax evasion, not the FBI or any police force.

But, starting with the Appalachia fiasco in 1957, the mob was eventually whittled away through the efforts of people like Rudy Giuliani. It’s still around, but it’s not quite as powerful as it was.

Hollywood rarely represented the mob for the sociopaths they were, often picturing them as harmless comic figures. That’s the tack director Sidney Lumet takes in “Find Me Guilty.” Giuliani brought a huge indictment against The Lucchese Family which came to trial in 1987 and took 21 months to try 20 defendants. Each defendant had his own attorney, except, that is, for Giacomo “Jackie Dee” Dinorscio (Vin Diesel), a member of The Lucchese family, who represented himself.

Dinorscio identifies himself as a “gagster,” not a “gangster.” If so, we don’t see much of it in this movie. Dinorscio says a lot of pretty stupid and silly things, but none of them are very funny. Diesel is monumentally miscast if he is supposed to be funny and make us laugh, because he doesn’t. Where is Steve Martin when we really need him for a role he could actually perform?

According to screenwriters Lumet, T.J. Mancini & Robert McCrea, they took much of their dialogue from the trial transcripts. Given the fact that they had to convert 21 months of trial into a 126-minute movie, obviously 99.99% of the trial had to be left out. But what they chose to put in was singularly banal and uninformative.

They picture the mob as a bunch of harmless buffoons, except for the Boss of the family, Nick Calabrese (Alex Rocco), who appears humorless and fierce. The others could have had rubber noses and big shoes, which is all that separates them from being real clowns. The truth about these monsters is far removed from this movie, and it is difficult to understand why. There is not one word of testimony shown about any of the 20 defendants committing any crime, like, for instance, murder, racketeering, drug-dealing, and extortion, just to name a few. To picture such vicious sociopathic killers in such a benign, nonjudgemental way is a crime in itself.

Diesel is joined in his inadequacy by Peter Dinklage, who plays attorney Ben Klandis. Dinklage's performance as what appears to be the lead attorney is singularly unconvincing.

On the other side, joining Rocco in giving a good performance, is Ron Silver, playing trial Judge Finestein. He is given a thankless task by the inept script, but he comes across as an understanding jurist who gives Dinorscio a lot of leeway.

This movie portrays the bad guys, the mob, as the good guys. Consistent with that, federal prosecutor Sean Kierney (Linus Roache) is a real heavy. Director Lumet is 80 years old, but that’s no excuse for this reprehensible point of view that urges the audience to root for the mob.

Where the movie totally falls apart is when Tony Compagna (Raoul Eparza), who shoots Jackie at the beginning of the film, takes the stand. This is set up throughout the film as the ultimate, the climax. This guy is the government’s prime witness. Jackie is going to cross examine him. What will happen?

What happens should be shown in film schools as the classic anti-climax. Kierney’s direct examination of him, and it looks like it’s the entire testimony, concerns his relationship with Jackie, and consists of no more than five questions. Jackie’s entire cross examination is about how Tony was Jackie’s friend, he was his cousin. How, queries counselor Jackie, could Tony shoot him? Making matters much worse, Lumet & Co. imply that that’s why the trial ended the way it did. This is not silly enough to qualify as ludicrous.

The worst thing that can be said about a comedy is that it’s not funny. This is not funny. The next worst thing that could be said about a movie is that it’s irresponsible. This is irresponsible. What’s next for Lumet and his crew; a musical comedy about John Gotti?

March 1, 2006



Google Groups Subscribe to tonysreviews
Browse Archives at groups.google.com