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Quendrith Johnson


Quendrith Johnson is filmfestivals.com Los Angeles Correspondent covering everything happening in film in Hollywood... Well, the most interesting things, anyway.
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The Trouble with CAPONE: It’s Not Tom Hardy, It’s the Title Cards For One

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

So, the opening of CAPONE, written, directed and edited by Josh Trank, begins with “October 17, 1931.” A second and third set of title cards create confusion, since the last year of Al Capone’s life is 1947. In fact, when THE WIZARD OF OZ comes up in his private screening room? You might think it’s 1939, because that is the film’s release date. The title cards give it “a decade later” but audiences need to know the date clearly.LindaTomCAPONE2020

This issue could be solved by adding a 1947 title card after the main title - but these are just mechanical notes, as well as the font isn't exactly Saul Bass level. Takeaway? Hire a fantastic designer, because CAPONE will now live with this generic-looking lettering, an opportunity missed.

But the bigger issue is the plot structure that serves as armature for Tom Hardy’s Oscar-worthy performance. Make no mistake, Lawrence Bender, BRON Studios, AI and producer pals should be thrilled that Hardy takes his LAWLESS bad-guy cred and amps it up to an aria here. Hardy is beyond elegant in his immersion, but it deserves a better title sequence and bigger budget so that the essentially one-location picture could have shown his chops on a silver platter visually. Yet this pared-down plot decides not to show us King Capone, in his finery at his finest as a wetworker, Kingpin, and world-changing demagogic Original Gangster.

This is Scarface before Pacino, Muni, the Crime Boss to launch all Crime Bosses on paper and on screen. Not showing the King of crime at his most criminal is criminal, in other words. Rather the audience is presented with an incontinent demon-peppered end career Capone. In diapers. With a Tommy gun, actually a gold-plated Thompson submachine banger, with a Bugs Bunny reference to Bugsy Siegel by accident of a sawed-off carrot.

Las Vegas dreamer and psychotic Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel was pals with Capone. The film makes no mention that the January death of Al Capone was followed - also in 1947 - by the June slaughtering of Siegel. In other words, with the Crime Boss out of the picture, was Siegel’s number up since there would be no repercussions from his “childhood friend”? Incidentally no mystery is offered as to whether the carted-off statues were filled with loot as could be inferred from the secrecy and in-your-face humor of the real Al Capone. But, that’s just conjecture.

Instead there are Barton Fink moments and The Shining moments, although Hardy is so far head and shoulders above anything Jack Nicholson ever did as to make the latter’s performances seem horribly dated. Tom Hardy solos and literally brings down the house, as if it is La Scala.

Rent it, buy it, watch it, because Tom Hardy has a Marlon Brandon Godfather moment in CAPONE. About going fishing, spoken in Italian that defines a Pavarotti-esque high note echoed throughout the film. Which means Hardy adds to his considerable body of best-work here.

“Not a wizard when you see him,” Capone opines on the Oz movie, and in effect, he dazzles with lowbrow brilliance in the dialogue end-to-end in Trank’s version. What you get here is a huge score for Endeavor Content, the agency that just hit a homer and blew out some lights in a virtual marquee.

Linda Cardellini, who played the wife in GREEN BOOK, also goes operatic here with some amazing moments.

Casting is picture perfect in this. Matt Dillon leaves a mark too. As does a re-purposed Kyle MacLachlan.

Watch The Man at Work - A Hardy Performance To Stand the Test of Time

"Only Al Capone kills like that," was the tagline for the real gangster - now this can be applied to Tom Hardy... Only Hardy kills on screen like this.

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About Quendrith Johnson

Johnson Quendrith

LA Correspondent for filmfestivals.com


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