One thing is for sure – as good as HBO is for series (roughly 8 out of 10 are amazing) – they can’t produce a film. It’s been like that since… forever? Deadwood was essentially an extra extended episode of the series – no closure, no turnover, nothing.
But The Sopranos prequel, The Many Saints of Newark is worse. I try not to write about bad experiences but this has to be put out there in the world because I’m a big fan of the series and this left me with bad taste.
Although it’s doing its best to address the current status quo, it fails to finish any narrative one might see happening. No start, no finish.
Full disclosure – I’ve seen the original series after they finished making it, but I am constantly watching short snippets on Youtube (along with ones from The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, and every now and then GoT and Oz – do you find yourself doing that? And, even a better one, do you watch snippets of other shows from, let’s say, Netflix? Did they produce something memorable? Netflix I mean).
I am familiar with the characters and what they think. But this movie is from a parallel universe, the ’70 of the 2021’s – if you get my reference (it’s not the ’70 of the ’70).
Although the movie, as said, is trying to address the current narrative, it fails miserably, as it only brings us bits and pieces not tight at all together. It has no significant reference to the future.
When they hijacked the ice cream truck, it was Jackie Aprile and Ritchie or Artie? Or maybe it was his cousin, Tony B? I think they say it but I can’t remember because it’s un-memorable. And an incident like that would suppose to define future characters (for the audience at least).
Ps: I will use Soprano slang and names; hence you won’t get many puns unless you know the show.
I was really expecting more, but this movie falls apart in so many ways… it follows so many different narratives that are not connected to each other and make little to no reference of what’s about to happen (I think I just said that a couple of paragraphs earlier – the same experience as watching the movie – didn’t he just say/did that before?). And so many charismatic characters that were made to seem more of a caricature (Silvio and Paulie).
And since I’ve mentioned earlier Ritchie Aprile, in The Sopranos there’s a big thing about Ritchie giving Tony an (ugly) leather brown jacket that he took from a bully when they were kids. It’s an element that seals the frustration Ritchie has with Anthony as a boss and from that, he takes a series of actions that make the series more intense.
I actually expected to see that scene, when Ritchie took it. And at Johnny Sack’s (more on that later) daughter wedding, where all the guys attended, Anthony and Big Pussy Bonpensiero were talking about Ritchie and Tony mentioned Ritchie is not the same since he got out of jail. Pussy looks at him and says something like I think you’re in some denial there; Ritchie has always been a troubled kid.
I would have included that scene.
Not to mention the famous poker game robbery Tony and Giacomo “Jackie” Aprile pulled out back in the day. Missed opportunity.
I was expecting a Johnny Sack as a kid story – or at least Carmine Lupertazzi Sr. to interfere somehow, you know, him being the boss that he always was and these kids running around making trouble, schooling them. Not the case.
Tony was smart and with a sharp mind, leadership material, something his teacher says to his mother – that scene is on the trailer but that’s it, not much is added. Also he seemed too weak as a kid, something a New Jersey kid would be like in 2021, not in the 70.
When Johnny Sack was investigating the disappearance of Fat Dom he said He was last seen in New Jersey. To which Tony replied: So does the Hindenburg* – why don’t you investigate that.
Well, trust me – that Tony from the Many Saints of Newark it’s not a Tony that would reply something like that.
There’s a small reference to Eckley. I would love also some more on this character, as it was an ephifany for Tony to find out who he was when his uncle told him the story of the third lost brother.
And speaking of uncle Junior, it seems that he’s not into women that much. That was a big thing back then that so maybe an arch could have been built, to further makes us understand where his frustrations came from.
Instead, unexpectedly – and irrelevantly – he’s responsible for something more influential than one could have guessed, only because he couldn’t let go of a good laugh someone had when he fell down the stairs and broke his back – I don’t remember him suffering from that in the series so totally random.
He once mentioned to Ritchie Aprile about his niece, Janice, of not being a good kid by stealing some money from his wallet when she was young and he was having dinner at their house. That could have been a 10-second scene that would mean the world for the fans.
Now, the movie addresses more modern subjects, such as race and segregation. I was expecting more on that as well. And there’s no particular conclusion to it – as expected. Other movies have some sort of a moral, controversial or not.
Maybe that’s the controversy here, no moral, just some random facts. I have the feeling that the movie was shot but when edited, they hired someone (from Fiverr) who never saw the series and never heard of the Sopranos culture.
The series was more groundbreaking at the time – made in 1999, around the same time as Analyze This, it’s starts with Tony Soprano, a mob boss from New Jersey, who’s seeing a psychiatrist. Groundbreaking from someone like him to do so. And throughout the seasons, everyone learns to accept it that.
Also, there have been some major conclusions that Tony realized ahead of time. The most important in my opinion (and it stuck to me the first time I saw the series) was the conversation he had in the car with Silvio. Chris and Patsy were there silently.
If the show should have any conclusion, it should have been this (and again, that’s not the Tony from the movie):
Having a rooster of such great actors doesen’t guarantee everything. Ray Liotta was so unmemorable (and his characters are weird).
Talking about actors, I was happy when I saw Alessandro Nivola as the lead character. I first saw him in Face-Off but slowly disappeared. Well, I was disappointed. Because…
At the end of the day, the movie is called The Many Saints of Newark and it’s about Dickcie Montisanti, Chris’s father, the man, the legend. (Montisanti means Many Saints).
For whoever watched the show, Chris Montisanti was Tony’s protege – as Tony was the boss of a glorified crew, he always introduced Chris as his nephew (he’s actually Carmela’s cousin) because he is the son of his father – even when Chris was not a made guy, he still had a certain status because of that.
Throughtout all the season, Tony says how Dickie was a mentor and the guy who shaped who he was.
Now, we all know about Chris’s addiction and problems he has, and there’s one essential conversation that he has with Tony at a barbeque about his father, your hero, Dickie Montisanti – a fucking junkie.
And that’s essential. Heroin addiction was (still is) quite big and influenced a lot. We don’t see any of that in the movie. What’s up with that?
At the end of the day, it is a mob movie so everyone expects some form of violence. It has, but more like a checkbox that needed to be checked – and they really did miss some opportunities.
*Why didn’t they make a movie about it yet?