The Sopranos – 100 Greatest Moments: 100-91

100. Free Alterations

Episode: Meadowlands (SE1, EP4)
Characters: Tony and Mikey Palmice

When Tony is really enjoying himself, it is often because of violence. But who’s complaining when he is giving Junior’s sick henchman Mikey a good whacking? Tony is a real bear and when he hits somebody, the viewer can almost feel its impact. The reason for teaching Mikey a lesson is his killing of Brendan Filone and arranging a mock execution for Christopher. T uses a staple gun to attach a parking ticket to Mikey’s suit. That’s gotta hurt. “What are you screaming about? Free alterations”, Tony laughs. “This ticket is overdue.”

99. Idiot Squat

Episode: Full Leather Jacket (SE2, EP8)
Characters: Christopher, Matt Bevilaqua and Sean Gismonte

It was clear from the get go that Matt Bevilaqua and Sean Gismonte were not the sharpest tools in the work shed, but this idiotic action comes shockingly unexpected even from them. They shoot down Christopher because they somehow figured this would help them move up the mob hierarchy. They don’t even manage to pull it off. Sean wears a seatbelt, so he gives Chris time to shoot back and kill him. Matt takes off, having just signed his own death warrant. The Sopranos never fails to surprise.

98. West Caldwell

Episode: Sentimental Education (SE5, EP6)
Characters: Tony Blundetto and Mr. Kim

For a while, Tony Blundetto seemed to be different from all these selfish, sociopathic animals that inhabit Soprano-land, but his old personality comes back with a vengeance in ‘Sentimental Education’. All it took was finding a bag of money and gamble for a few nights straight. Here, he snaps and kicks the shit out of his sponsor and business partner Mr. Kim. Typical story of an ex con; he tries to improve his ways, but doesn’t have what it takes. He is as crazy as the rest of the crew. His imitation of Mr. Kim is hilarious though. “Wes cal well. Wes cal well. WEST CALD-WELL.”

97. Melfi Judges

Episode: From Where to Eternity (SE2, EP9)
Characters: Tony and Dr. Melfi

Usually Dr. Melfi behaves perfectly around Tony, despite his often rude behaviour. But in this session, his rant about how poor people came from Italy only to be used as worker bees becomes too much even for her. “What do poor Italian immigrants have to do with you? And what happens every day when you get out of bed in the morning?” It may not be professional, but it had to happen sometime in the treatment of a mobster. The scene also gives us insight on how Tony feels about his sins, like murder. “We’re in a situation, where everybody involved knows the stakes. If you’re gonna accept the stakes you gotta do certain things. It’s business. We’re soldiers. We follow codes. Orders.” Indeed an effective way to justify all his actions.

96. Poor Me, Poor You

Episode: Amour Fou (SE3, EP12)
Characters: Tony and Gloria

It is quite subtle, but Gloria really is the substitute for Livia who died earlier in Season 3. “I sit back like a mute, while you screw every woman out there.” In this scene, Tony finally sees it too. “I have known you all my life. A bottomless black hole.” Subsequently Gloria tries to commit ‘suicide by mob boss’. Normally an effective technique, but Tony is too clever to let it go down like this. Great acting here by Annabella Sciorra and James Gandolfini.

95. Rude Awakening

Episode: The Happy Wanderer (SE2, EP6)
Characters: Tony and Davey Scatino

A moment that illustrates the tragedy of the gambling addiction. After the euphoria comes the hangover. Davey just had to sit in with the executive game. He had a few good rounds, but then he started losing. Big time. In the end, Davey gambled away 45 boxes of ziti (45.000 dollars). Tony, who was his friend before, now puts on his other face. “If I don’t get back every penny, I am gonna send a guy to your joint every Saturday, for five percent interest.” These are the people mobsters prey on and Davey slowly starts to realise, this bet is gonna cost him everything.

94. A Killer’s Conscious

Episode: Kennedy and Heidi (SE6, EP18)
Characters: Tony and Dr. Melfi

After Tony murdered his nephew Christopher, he feels relieved. But he can’t share his true feelings with anyone, because, well you know Christopher’s death is supposed to be due to the accident. So what does the unconscious do? In a dream, Tony comes clean to Dr. Melfi. The truth is pretty chilling when you think about it: “The biggest blunder in my career is now gone and I don’t have to be confronted by that fact no more. Let me tell you, I murdered friends before, even relatives. My cousin Tony. My best friend Puss… but this…” Then he wakes up all worried that he spoke in his sleep.

93. Dismemberment

Episode: Whoever Did This (SE4, EP9)
Characters: Tony, Christopher and Ralphie’s corpse

In ‘Whoever Did This’, we get to spend the night with two mobsters, who have to get rid of a corpse. These mobsters are Tony and Christopher and Ralphie is the corpse. Chris, who is high like a kite, has to ‘make him ready’. He discovers that Ralphie is wearing a wig. This freaks him out more than chopping off his hands with a meat cleaver does. These sociopaths…

92. Traumatic Encounter

Episode: Employee of the Month (SE3, EP4)
Characters: Jennifer Melfi and Jesus Rossi

Completely unexpected, Dr. Melfi becomes the victim of a brutal sexual assault. It’s a terrible scene to watch because it makes you feel so powerless. Up to this point, Dr. Melfi – who now briefly becomes Jennifer – had been an observer, someone who could offer some sensible comments on the pretty twisted universe all the other characters live in. Now, she becomes part of the action in the least desirable way possible. It’s a painful experience for her and the audience.

91. Setting the Trap

Episode: Long Term Parking (SE5, EP12)
Characters: Tony and Adriana

Tony makes a memorable call to Adriana. He tells her that Christopher tried to commit suicide and that he was ‘very upset about something’. But Tony is lying. He sends Silvio over to her place to take her on her last ride. The conversation ends with the iconic line; “I’ll see you up there.”

 

The Addiction

Director: Abel Ferrara
Written by: Nicholas St. John
Cast: Lili Taylor, Christopher Walken, Annabella Sciorra, Edie Falco

Year / Country: 1995, USA / Argentina
Running Time: 79 mins.

In Abel Ferrara’s take on the vampire genre, vampirism is a metaphor for drug addiction (and Aids). Together with regular collaborator Nicholas St. John, who wrote the screenplay, Ferrara explores the mean streets of New York once again. Amidst dope peddlers and junkies listening to Cypress Hill, the philosophy student Kathleen is bitten by the sardonic vampire Casanova (Annabella Sciorra).

Her turning into a hungry vampire is a path filled with suffering. While she is searching for relief from her addiction, she finds that her addiction is her only relief. In a memorable one-scene appearance, vampire Christopher Walken teaches here a few things about addictions (have you read ‘Naked Lunch’?). He practices abstinence and teaches Kathleen that like Tibetans, we can learn to survive on a little. But Kathleen must first go through a massive feeding frenzy at the end of the film before finally finding some relief through religion.

Besides being an unusual, but brilliantly effective genre film, this is also a work of art that deals with deeper questions. Most urgently it asks how we can resist evil. The movie features many references to historical acts of greater evil and – typical for Ferrara – deals with guilt, redemption and Catholicism. The black and white cinematography is beautiful and the cast, not in the least lead actress Lili Taylor, is impressive. But how much you will enjoy the final result will depend on your tolerance for philosophical and religious subject matter. Either way, this is one of Ferrara’s finest works to date.

Rating:

Biography: Abel Ferrara (1951, New York) is a New York artist and filmmaker. He started making amateur films on Super 8 in his teens before making his mark as independent film director with bloody underground films such as The Driller Killer. Ferrara has an independent way of working, uses low budgets, but is still able to attract Hollywood talent for his movies, such as Christopher Walken and Harvey Keitel. His raw, realistic style and controversial content has earned him a position as an important voice in American cult cinema.

Filmography (a selection): Nicky’s Film (1971, short) / 9 Lives of a Wet Pussy (1976) / Not Guilty: For Keith Richards (1977, short doc) / The Driller Killer (1979) / Ms. 45 (1981) / Fear City (1984) / Cat Chaser (1989) / King of New York (1990) / Bad Lieutenant (1992) / Body Snatchers (1993) / The Addiction (1995) / The Funeral (1996) / The Blackout (1997) / New Rose Hotel (1998) / ‘R Xmas (2001) / Mary (2005) / Go Go Tales (2007) / Chelsea on the Rocks (2008, doc) / Napoli, Napoli, Napoli (2009) / Welcome to New York (2014) / Pasolini (2014) / Alive in France (2017, doc) / Piazza Vittorio (2017, doc) / The Projectionist (2019, doc) / Tommaso (2019) / Siberia (2019)