On ''The Sopranos,'' Christopher's movie reveals his bitterness toward Tony; meanwhile, Johnny Sack dies of cancer in prison

By Lisa Schwarzbaum
April 16, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
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”The Sopranos”: Christopher’s movie opens

The good news is the Eldridge Cleaver estate hasn’t forced fledgling movie moguls Christopher Moltisanti and Little Carmine Lupertazzi to change the name of their Mob-meets-slasher opus. Yet. All the other news coming out of New Jersey, New York, and Springfield, Mo.? Not so good.

John Sacrimoni wheezed away his dying, cancer-riddled days in a prison hospital, his closest confidant an oncologist turned murderer turned floor-mopping orderly as starstruck as the next gawker when it comes to real Mob stories told by a real Mob boss. (Sydney Pollack as Dr. Warren Feldman, who killed his wife, her aunt, and the mailman while he was at it because he had to ”fully commit”? Priceless.) And while he was gasping for air between cigarette drags, Johnny Sack’s whole New York organization continued its downward spiral toward the chaos that threatens to take down the New Jersey crew, too.

Acting boss Phil Leotardo — a man of many grudges, not least that his proud heritage was twisted at Ellis Island by immigration officials who gave his family the name of a ballet costume — doesn’t have the heart, literally, to fill the job permanently. But Phil’s not thrilled with any of other candidates, either, least of all Faustino ”Doc” Santoro — who, in turn, ordered the hit on Gerry Torciano while the other leading candidate was having dinner with Sil. (Such a dinner! Between that luxurious mow-down and the opulent, ostensibly happy, actually terrifying christening that closed the episode, writer Terence Winter and director Alan Taylor paid grand homage to The Sopranos‘ esteemed forebear, The Godfather.)

Meanwhile, Tony’s preferred candidate to pick up the New York reins, Carmine Jr., is enjoying the good life on Long Island too much (kids at boarding school, rounds of golf, drinks by the pool with the wife) to want to put in the work required to fill Johnny Sack’s shoes. I’ve come to adore Little Carmine’s mangled linguistic pomposities, the way the guy tries so hard to be fancy-schmancy. ”Much like a child,” he said at the cast-and-crew screening of Cleaver, ”a film has many parents.” So true! Telling Tony about his dream, he described the gift he handed his father as a ”mellifluous box.” Oooh, that guy thinks he’s très classy. Whereas only a guy with real cool like Sil could, in reviewing Cleaver, pull off a ring-a-ding-ding line like ”Chrissy’s the last person I would have confused with Marty.”

So this is what it’s come to: Tony and Phil have become the older generation, kvetching about their health, while the younger Carmine Jr. would rather not dirty his hands. Tony’s drinking club soda, Chrissy’s sticking to coffee (at least for now) with an AA buddy, and Carmine’s lunch order is ”Seared ahi, mixed greens, and an iced tea.” Nothing — including the drink order — is what it was. Except for the inherited disappointment (both the Soprano kids in their own romantic relationships), the hatred (Chris for Tony), the bitterness (Carmela, still, over the Adriana thing, which she refuses to comprehend), and the urge for revenge (Chris for Tony, again, but also Phil for Tony on account of Tony Blundetto’s whacking of Phil’s revered brother Billy).

Listen, what do you think of the whole Mob-makes-a-movie story line? I’ve always found it cute — but easy, too easy and self-conscious. ”F— Ben Kingsley,” Christopher said. ”That Danny Baldwin can take him to f—in’ acting school!” Ha-ha. [And thanks for the fix, readers!] The lingo, the insider biz talk, the party in the meatpacking district — it was fun but too winky for my taste. Long after drecky Cleaver is forgotten, it’s Christopher’s lifelong petulance and his rage at the man who wanted to be his mentor that’s going to move The Sopranos forward, into the darkness. ”No more of this,” said Phil Leotardo in an ominous reflective scene before the christening, ruing the compromises he thinks he’s made over the course of his life. He might well have been speaking for every single unhappy member of his tribe.

Question for the EW.com family: Who’s going to take over as New York boss?

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