“It’s Sonny In Pennsylvania”
Mob On The Run is the webseries brainchild of Michael Belveduto and W Jeff Crawford, the minds behind the camp-tastic feature “Mail Order Junkie.” We depart from our usual diet of artsy short films for this delightful post-Brooklyn, Mafioso-romp. As such, we attack this not as a stalwart, Methuselistic, over-fermented film, but as an ambitious, on-going project. We come into the series late with this review of the ninth episode.
Sonny Falco (Joseph D’Onofrio), the bastard in black, has just been released from prison. He meets up with Frankie Santori (Mike Adler), who takes him from Brooklyn to Carbondale PA to talk hard business with Mickey Costavento (Michael Belveduto). Mickey is reluctant to let him in on his dealings, so Sonny spites him by finding an alternate in.
“It’s Sonny in Pennsylvania” establishes ass kicking with the opening slate, warning the viewer of the proceeding carnage. In the first five minutes, we’re assaulted by a Jello Biafra-esque punk rock title sequence, a fisticuff scuffle, a brandished gun, and a dead body. When mildly insulted by a Russian informant, Sonny guns him down, establishing his dangerous, unstable personality.
Sonny provides an agressive counterpoint to the reserved Mickey. Ostensibly in charge, Mickey weighs all of his options before taking action. His gestures become defensive when challenged. Sonny’s firecracker personality overpowers Mickey when they meet. The camera shifts to steep down-shots, adding visual pressure against Mickey. Though threatened, he handles the situation and squirms out unscathed, maintaining his high ground.
Acting and dialogue drive the episode. The camera choices augment the over-the-top performances. The minimal cutting draws attention to the performances, without catapulting it into Soap Opera territory. The writing is believable, or at least, congruent with our expectations. Each scene adds snippets to the characters’ personality, through character action or interaction with Carbondale. The location antagonizes the aspirations of the Brooklyn ex-Patriots, who just can’t assimilate. The writing dances between drama and comedy, with the wise-cracking narrator donating some much needed catharsis. The actors’ sincere deliveries also add comedic flare to otherwise over-serious situations.
Mob On The Run trashes the lengthy planning, poetic music, and precise camera work common among shorts of the DSLR-era in favor of raw character. The rough production parallels the roughness of the personalities and life in Carbondale. This episode was mostly shot over one weekend. Still, it pulls off some inventive sequences, such as the continuous bar-roving shot near the episode’s close, and covers an impressive amount of territory. Mob On The Run is an ambitious local project that largely succeeds as a quirky mobster series. We look forward to more episodes and highly praise the scope and execution of the project.