Kenji Gallo on "Flipping"; Sorry State of Mob Film Genre

Kenji in Sweden....

Social media is a fantastic way to cultivate sources. I've made quite a few by simply contacting them with a private message. (I'm always privately -- and silently -- thrilled when some of them, especially journalists, say, "yeah, I've heard of you.")

Anyway, I met Kenji Gallo via Facebook (I'd read his book Breakshot, which I highly recommend.) We've spoken many times and I occasionally link to his blog posts

He knows his stuff; I know that for a fact. And he has firsthand experience. Kenji was a mobster, an associate of the ultra-violent Colombo crime family. He's half-Asian. That mixing of ethnicities, an Asian guy in the Italian Mafia, is the kind of setup that makes for a good film.

But filmmakers continue to ignore the fascinating true-to-life stories and characters in order to churn out crap. Mob films today have shoestring budgets, follow two or three templates, and always suck. The worst such films get a big-name actor like a James Caan who appears in the first scene only -- and the scene doesn't really fit with the rest of the film. Need I explain further this phenomenon? 

I recently watched the film Cold Deck, released last year (there's a totally bogus review on Amazon that actually says: "Paul Sorvino is outstanding, as always and actor Stéfano Gallo is the man to watch," which is total B.S. Sorvino has greatness within him but this peanut production fails to elicit it from him. He's not bad, but to me he actually seemed bored in the film, which falls into the yet-another "overly familiar" and "under-developed" film.

The Hollywood Reporter nailed it:

Seemingly produced from some bargain-basement version of a universal template for slow-burn underworld thrillers, Cold Deck isn’t just derivative, it manages to be even less compelling than a game of gin rummy with grandma. The filmmakers seem to be under the mistaken impression that they’ve created an innovative contribution to the crime-drama genre....

Another recent genre entry, Once Upon a Time in Brooklyn (2013), also isn't worth watching. As Variety noted:

Depicting the troubled life of a young ex-con who chooses a life of crime over his respectable family business,Once Upon a Time in Brooklyn (even the title is a rip-off, this time of Sergio Leone, although it’s admittedly better than the original one, Goat -- GOAT?!?!) barely qualifies as late-night cable television fodder.....
This shamelessly derivative gangster movie doesn't repay its endless loans from Scorsese, Coppola, et al.

The New York Post noted:

The main character is Bobby Baldano, played by William DeMeo as a bantamweight tough who could probably hold up an all-night deli, but simply isn’t believable breaking arms and hunting down rats....
The garbled plot has Baldano seeking out the people who turned him in, wondering if he’s cut out for this life of crime, evading the cops, scheming with Ice-T and pursuing a tedious romance with a wannabe singer. ... 
The low-budget locales have a certain plausible raffishness, and there’s a supporting cast of excellent actors, including Armand Assante and Cathy Moriarty (“Raging Bull”) as Baldano’s parents. The pleasure of seeing Moriarty again, however, is tempered by the memories she brings of Martin Scorsese, and of the fact that “GoodFellas” is just one of the movies that did this all much better before.
Assante, in a rare turn, plays a good guy in "Brooklyn."

The only interesting mob film in production is the John Travolta Gotti biopic, which a source close to John Junior personally told me is back on.

But back to Kenji (I sometimes go off-topic, mi scusi.)

As his Amazon page says, "When the police cracked down on his drug-trafficking empire, Gallo abandoned the cocaine trade for life in the American Mafia as a jet-setting playboy gangster, marrying porn star Tabitha Stevens, and making millions in prostitution, credit fraud, "pump-and-dump" stock fraud, gambling, extortion, and the porn business. As the protégé of Mafia legends like John "Sonny" Franzese, Jerry Zimmerman, and Vincent "Jimmy" Caci, Gallo quickly earned the reputation as one the smartest and most capable young mobsters in America."

Kenji's ex-wife.

After some 20 years in "the life" Kenji said he volunteered to wear a wire for the FBI in 1998 to help convict Colombo and Luchese mobsters. His FBI code-name was "Breakshot."

And his blog, Breakshot, is a must-read.

This week's post:

If you just ran across this blog today, I will share with you a short version of my story. I was on the street many years with the LA Family in Los Angeles and the Colombos in Brooklyn. I also wore a wire for the FBI for 8 years.

I no longer miss that life at all. It is still and always will be a part of me, but it's the past. I do wonder what will happen to some of those I once knew.

I heard this week about the passing of an old timer that I liked. He was the last of a breed. He was a second generation wiseguy whose father was made famous in “Guys and Dolls.”

He was in the music business for decades. He was very close to English gangsters and their firms. He met with the Kray Brothers and when one came to America he was there. I once sat in his place when he called Joey Pyle, an English gangster, and he put me on the phone. I played Joey a tape of a guy here. Well he made it to his August 31st 90th birthday and passed away on September 11th, 2015. I know he missed going to the Thursday Spaghetti night at Pelham Club. Goodbye, RIP.

I recently spoke to an FBI Agent who handled me when I was on the street. It had been awhile and I’m sure he was glad to hear that I had moved past that life.

The FBI kept every promise they made to me. They treated me very well. Looking back, it was a good decision. They gave me a life and all I can say is thank you.

When you lived that life, it is hard to let go of old habits. Once you cooperate you are no longer part of that life. You are faking it, a strange acting job. Many guys cannot get passed it. They live in the past.

Read rest.

Note: Next I'm posting a Colombo crime family story, then Montagna, unless any breaking news develops.