The Many Saints of Newark (2021)
October 2, 2021 3:31 PM - Subscribe

A look at the formative years of New Jersey gangster Tony Soprano.
posted by roolya_boolya (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
So many feels. The late Mr.Nerd and I loved this show. Random thoughts--

As narrated by Christahfuh, whoa. Didn't know that was the approach. Makes sense.

A younger Junior was a treat. He never really changed.

Dickie... Saw so much of both Tony and Chris in him. Like the temper. Grooming the young kid for the Family. The kid having a dream that doesn't involve their father figures.

Johnny and Livia-- more lulz. His trip to the dog racetrack probably involved a trip to see that redhead he gave Tony's dog to.

Tony's part was smaller than I expected, but considering the narrator...Baby Chris crying around Tony. ROFLMAO

That bird thing again.

Couldn't place Paulie without the wings. Sylvio's hair, lol. Artie with hair, LOL. Ugh, the eye shadow on Carm!

I gotta watch it again!
posted by luckynerd at 11:05 PM on October 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'm still trying to digest everything, so I just have a few scattered thoughts, but first of all I thought Michael Gandolfini did a fine job. That one shot of Tony looking out the door of Holsten's, waiting for his uncle... wow. And then the camera slowly tracks back so we end up about the same distance away from the door as Tony was in the finale.

The narration is kind of a callback to the Sopranos pilot, which was narrated by Tony. And both, I think, are callbacks to the narration in Goodfellas.

Was Giuseppina's salon the same salon where all the wives get their hair done as depicted in the series?

Dickie wore a black, grey and white shirt that I couldn't help noticing was similar if not identical to the shirt Tony wore in the finale.

For people who haven't watched the series, a major plot point is spoiled in the first few minutes of the movie.

It was pretty clear that there were two different movies going on, and as much as I like Leslie Odom, Jr., I think Harold's character could have been left out without losing anything. His character was interesting but the movie should have been an hour longer or there should have been separate movies.
posted by emelenjr at 6:13 AM on October 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

Some good moments, but some of the key themes didn’t seem that developed. Especially the special bond between Dickie and Tony, which mostly consisted of various people saying, “Dickie, talk to the kid, he only listens to you. You have a special bond.”
posted by snofoam at 8:30 AM on October 3, 2021 [3 favorites]

I too felt like many of the most interesting ideas were underdeveloped in favor of fan service. The actors playing young Paulie Walnuts & young Big Pussy appropriately looked the parts, but I thought the guy playing Sylvio was WAY overdoing it on the facial expressions and body language. What looked natural when done by Steven Van Zandt looked cartoonish from the younger actor. Also, according to the Sopranos Wiki, Big Pussy was born in 1954,* which means that he would have been 13 in 1967, when the first half of the movie takes place, but that guy looked way older than 13 and seemed like an already established young soldier in the family. On the same note, the actor who played the younger Tony looked older than 8-9 (Tony was born in 1959; the kid who plays him in the flashback in S1 was closer to the appropriate age), more like he was in middle school than elementary, and if we believe the voice-over, the second half of the movie begins around 1971-72 (Johnny Boy was in prison for 4 years), so Michael Gandolfini would have been playing a 12-13 year old Tony (at least at the start), but it seemed more like he was already in high school. Minor quibbles, perhaps, but distracting.

As snofoam said, the relationship between Dickie & Tony was more told than shown, and they needed to show more of Tony as delinquent and budding criminal apart from 2 or 3 shady things he does. I also think Junior's beef with Dickie could have been developed more. Not that I don't think Junior would have someone wacked for laughing at him (as Hesh said, the man is driven in toto by his insecurities), but I think it would have been a more compelling story if there'd been more build-up. They also had an opportunity to make it into something of a family triangle: at one point earlier in the film, Junior tells Anthony that he could go pro as a baseball player, but later he gives his famous judgement, "He never had the makings of a varsity athlete." I feel like they missed an opportunity to show Junior's changing attitude towards Tony had something to do with jealousy over Dickie being his favorite Uncle.

The Harold storyline and the racial aspects also came up short. I was expecting more interaction and conflict between the different groups, but it seemed totally perfunctory -- and Harold's affair with Giuseppina came out of nowhere (yes, I know that they were exchanging meaningful looks, but that's a bit thin, I think). And young Tony was basically not involved in any of that part of the story. I thought that there would be some insight into the core of Tony's racism, but besides Johnny Boy getting irritated about black people moving into his neighborhood and moving his family to the suburbs, there's nothing there.

Some other random observations/nitpicks:
Dickie's uncle, the twin Ray Liotta, was sort of an odd character. He likes jazz and clearly can tell that Dickie killed his dad and his goomar and... that's it? I guess they were going for some sort of confessional thing, Dickie having to confront his misdeeds, but eh.
Also, what was up with that weird fantasy about teaching baseball to blind kids? Just bizarre.
If they are going to make a point to show young Tony with young Artie, young Tony Blundetto, and young Carmela, actually show some interaction and character development, not just name-checking them. It also makes me think of all the other characters they could have fanserviced but didn't, at least as far as I noticed: Richie Aprile, Feech, Charmaine, hell, even David Scatino!
They shouldn't have included the scene of Johnny Boy shooting the gun through Livia's beehive. It works so much better as a piece of mythic (if true) Sopranos Family Lore, and putting it on-screen strips it of its magic and makes it mundane.
Finally, I didn't really like Jon Bernthal as Johnny Boy. I generally like that actor, but something about his performance just seemed off. Most of the other performances were very good, though.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:50 AM on October 4, 2021 [4 favorites]

It reminded me of that time Tony told Paulie to cut it out with the remember when stuff.

One thing I really liked was the opening & how the disembodied narration was shown to be like Christopher telling his own story in the context of everyone else at the graveyard telling their stories. I usually hate narration because it's like where is this person supposed to be? It takes me out of the fiction & also they use it as a crutch to avoid having to write the dialogue fully. So I liked how they scooted around that. The movie struck me as an episode of the show where we find out what happened to Christopher after he died & I liked it in that sense but I don't think it stood on its own as a movie.

My biggest disappointment is that Leslie Odom Jr. is an incredibly talented actor who no one knows what to do with. He's a real leading man type & I wish they'd let him just run away with something like he did in Hamilton.
posted by bleep at 6:28 PM on October 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

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