In Glasgow, Toni Cocozza, age 28, aspires to be a lounge singer; his repertoire is strictly Sinatra, backed by Bill, an aging piano player and his only friend. Toni dreams big and enters a local television talent show. About that time, a local Mob boss decides Toni is great entertainment and invites him to be his guest at a casino. Toni chats up Irene, a cigarette girl, he gets an odd job or two from Chisolm, the mobster's number two, the audition goes bust, and Toni's future is uncertain. One thing leads to another with the Mob. Is Toni at a crossroads, or is there in reality no turning or going back?Written by
That's the tag-line for Peter Capaldi's (writer/director), Strictly Sinatra. In this 97 minute romantic/drama we we meet Tony Cocozza (Ian Hart). He's a 28 year-old crooner in a bottom-feeding bar in Glasgow. He aspires to be the next singer sensation, dreams that Tony Bennett sneaks to watch his performance, and Old Blue Eyes crowns him the next in Strictly Sinatra in line to be King of the Rat Pack. Dreams. Always so far from the truth.
Bill (Alun Armstrong) is not only Tony's piano player the club, but his best –and possibly only– friend. It's when a mob boss and his wife are particularly taken with Tony's talent after seeing a show, that Tony's life is thrust into chaos. Bill's advice is to never accept a drink from the mob. Once you do, they have you. And what does Tony do? He accepts a drink. Next thing he knows he's helping mob crews collect shipments and storing them and delivering them.
In the midst of this new found attention, the mob assists Tony with his career some. (Not unlike Frankie's rumored push to stardom, some might say). He meets a cigarette girl named Irene (Kelly MacDonald). The two hit it off in a friend-zone kind of way. The attraction is there. The awkwardness of potential romance, too. The problem is, Tony is getting caught up in the misplaced glory and definition that comes with being someone who is . . . as he puts it, Connected.
Things go from bad to worse as the mob pulls strings on Tony's behalf, and Bill is clearly aware of what is taking place. Needless to say, he's not very happy about any of it. It is when Irene begins to see the light, and wants nothing to do with it that Tony realizes he might be making a huge mistake. But as it always seems to be with mobs, once you're in, getting out is impossible.
Faced with decisions that will carry extreme consequences, Tony must make choices that will no doubt end badly for some, worse for others. What will he do? What can he do? And is there really still time to do anything at all — or is it too late?
I thought Strictly Sinatra was entertaining. If it weren't for the accents, you'd think you were watching an Italian Mafia movie. The dialog is crisp and tight. The scenes are important and move the plot constantly forward. The acting is exceptional on all counts by each and every actor. I give Strictly Sinatra 4 of 5 Tombstones.
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