When I saw “Many Saints of Newark,” I wanted it to immerse me in the lives of New Jersey militants in the late 60’s and early 70’s, just as “The Sopranos” immersed us in the lives of our New Jersey militants in the late twenty-first century. The film manages to entertain as well as inform. Because of this, while not nearly as great as the series, it’s a pretty good movie on Saturday night. Of course, the other thing I wanted from “The Manny Saints” was to put me in a time machine so that I could witness Tony Soprano’s constructive teenage years in the movie ).
Young Tony shows a small handful of criminal tendencies. As a child, he organized a number racket at his parochial school (which has been staged, I think it might be a joke from an old Billy Crystal movie). Once upon a time in high school, he and his friends Mr. Soft ice cream truck hijacked for a jayride. Yet under that acting trend, what’s interesting about Tony’s characterization in “The Many Saints of Newark” is that he is a sweet, restless, optimistic and almost innocent kid. The fact that we see him in a boxing match is not a case of rape; Another kid is coming to it. And sensitively, at certain points, we get signs of how badly Tony wants to be. He grew up in a militant family, with one of the fathers of those prisoners (played by John Barnethal’s clever genuine comedy). In a sense, he has always breathed the air of violence. But he reacted by withdrawing from it in most cases.
He is on the high school football team and respects the coach. (When his mother, the horrible Livia, accuses him of smoking, he uses the fact that he is a football player as a proud proof that he will never do that.) Tony is not like his father. He was originally a bright-eyed, long-haired slacker in the early 70s who liked to lie next to his oversized stereo speakers and was influenced by the rock ‘n’ roll. Speaking of those speakers, they were stolen and given as gifts to Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola), Tony’s “uncle” (though not with blood), who became his much-loved father. Here, though, Tony jumps in expecting to take the speaker first; She goes with him but doesn’t think it’s right. Later in the movie, when you see where those speakers literally land, it means that being a good kid means something to Tony.
In my review of “The Many Saints of Newark”, I said that the main frustration of the film is that the audience does not experience Tony taking the first important step towards his underworld mentality. It is my feeling that we need to see some snap in him, or awaken in him; We needed to see the initial version of a glowing light bulb go over his head. The movie Thinks It’s showing you – at the last minute, what’s going on, I’m not kidding, in a pink promise. Pinky promises now the province of 5 year old girls that it doesn’t make it any more believable.
But there’s something else I couldn’t say in my review – because it would have been a spoiler – I want to say now that the movie has opened. So if you don’t want a turning point in publishing “Many Saints of Newark”, please stop reading.
Towards the end of the movie, one of the central characters is hit. I won’t say who, but he’s quite a major. And with a sort of full “Sopranos” embarrassment, he didn’t even do anything! He did not betray anyone; He was not caught in a gang war. He just laughed at the wrong person. (That said, in the end he has committed enough heinous sins to bring about the cosmic reunion of a gangster’s death sentence.) This man’s murder is supposed to hit young Tony Soprano, he has to knock for a loop. Yet with the suggestion that it draws Tony to life, there is something that makes the film completely wrong. When I read the psychology of the situation, this murder of Tony, which I thought deeply about, had the opposite effect: it scared him directly. It will make him look at the gangster life and say, “Not for me. There is no way to fuck.”
The film manages to entertain as well as inform. For almost 100 years, we’ve been watching movies that tell us to identify robbers, hoodlums, cold-blooded killers. When it all started, in the era of films like “The Public Enemy” (1931), “Scarface” (1932) and “White Hit” (1949), many voices declared that this entertainment was immoral. Back then, it had a devastating and even dangerous edge; This is why real-life gangsters like Al Capone often wound up modeling their style and behavior in Hollywood versions, which were their first models. And that’s why the word “antihero” was coined. We all know what a hero or heroine is: someone to imitate. An antihero is someone who becomes our center of gravity in the play – they are the protagonist – yet our attitude towards their actions is more divisive. We To mark… without necessity Approval. Or so the theory goes.
The reality is, of course, much less tidy. To introduce the movie gangsters, James Cagney’s electrifying Cody Jarrett to “Bonnie and Clyde” (1967 ad line: “They’re young. They fall in love. And they kill people.”) A shiver but comforting patriarchal patriarchal force, we cannot say with such clear moral truth that we No. I want to be them. In the same way, we do. It’s part of the rebellious power of cinema. And it took to television with “The Sopranos.”
Tony Soprano has done a lot, a lot that most of us would never consider doing – but the whole point, and the brilliance of James Gandolphini’s performance is, in many ways, Tony Was Us. What gangsters do and what we do (or won’t do), between license and morality, between crime and loyalty, becomes smoky when we see a great gangster drama. Tony is not just us because, for all his violence, he is confused, suburban husband and father. He shows us the great projected scene of the killer inside us because “The Sopranos” like Shakespeare’s best plays.
That is its greatness. And where I wanted to adhere to the vision of the “Many Saints of Newark” show is how young Tony Soprano could be two things at once: an ordinary Jersey kid, and anyone who craves a kind of power. Impossible to achieve through common channels. That movie, or some fictional version of it, is still flying as a shadow game in the megaplex of my mind. But David Chase and company didn’t show it to us. In this movie, at least, they didn’t have the courage to make that jump. Maybe now that makes it worth taking a leap.