The Many Saints of Newark

The Many Saints of Newark ★★★½

Despite David Chase probably having more time and budget to do this than he ever did on “The Sopranos,” this never really feels like a really big movie—just another made-for-HBO special. The CG color grading is a particular shortcoming; the movie frequently looks cheaply tinted to remind us all this happened a long time ago in a Jersey far, far away. 

That said, I liked it. I actually liked it a lot, and this is coming from someone who, when I think back to the HBO show, thinks less highly of the original text than most. I’ll say it: “The Sopranos” was really overrated; like most television shows, it stretched way longer than it should have. Of the six seasons which I honestly can’t believe I watched every episode of, you could really boil it down to two seasons of truly special episodes. Granted, that’s more than the vast majority of shows out there, even of “prestige” television. But there’s also a heck of a lot of time wasters packed in there. 

So anyway, first, this has a great title. And second, this gives Alessandro Nivola a terrific stage. This guy has been so good for so long, but continually overlooked; I hope this movie lands him some roles where he’ll get noticed, because he does a terrific job reverse engineering a plausibly conflicted Dickie Moltisanti. And third, Michael Gandolfini does fine, and avoids embarrassing himself or his late father. Those are really the main things that are really working well in this movie, and they’re just enough for Chase and director Alan Taylor to thread them together with typically internecine Jersey gangland goings on to make this all land like a really good, supersized episode of a TV show. Not quite a movie, though.

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