A mid-century New Jersey mobster influences the life of his impressionable teenage nephew.
Directed by Alan Taylor
Starring Alessandro Nivola, Michael Gandolfini, and Vera Farmiga
Review by Jon Kissel
The trend of monumental TV shows following up their runs with a long-gestating movie continues with The Sopranos, the show least likely to indulge its fanbase. Friends and Parks and Rec, sure. Breaking Bad turned itself over to fan service with its series finale so why not a feature length epilogue to answer lingering questions about Jesse Pinkman’s fate. Deadwood had a famously abrupt ending and a creator withering away from Alzheimer’s, so a last hurrah provided a sentimental reunion for him more than for the show’s adherents. With the exception of Friends, which I can’t and never will speak to, all of these reunion specials and follow-up films have been acceptable, at best. None improve on or significantly add to the body of work from television. David Chase, the creator of The Sopranos, is perhaps the most misanthropic brain behind any of the Golden Age of TV shows, and should therefore be the most likely to turn this trend around. His immunity to giving the audience anything that they might want should distill any follow-up movies into the essence of whatever idea he wants to pursue. The problem with The Many Saints of Newark, a prequel to the events of The Sopranos, is that Chase gets too caught up with future events and loses the thread on the present. Such and such anecdote was mentioned in the series, and therefore it must show up in the prequel. The Many Saints of Newark has its fan-flattering moments, and I’m a Sopranos fan so I was flattered, but I don’t love Chase’s masterpiece TV show because it patted me on the head. I loved it for its prickliness and its adherence to its vision and theme. Chase has done so little since the Sopranos ended, and the rust is apparent.
Sian Heder’s CODA, an acronym for Child of Deaf Adults, throws as much melodramatic ammunition at the viewer as they can handle, and then flings a little bit more. This Sundance crowd-pleaser, bought by Apple for a festival-record amount of money, features half-a-dozen liberal feel-good’s and satisfies them with present-day demands of casting and representation. If the working class struggle doesn’t work on the viewer, then the non-threatening teenage boy romance or the first-to-go-college subplot will. At the center of all these subplots is the plight of a hearing young woman who too frequently finds herself subverting her own hopes and dreams to support her deaf parents and brother, all of whom are cast with deaf actors. CODA is an ADA-certified Billy Elliot for the New England set. Its earnestness can be blunt and broad, but it comes in such overpowering waves that its charms cannot be fully resisted.
Tom Hanks, America’s dad, lives into his reputation in News of the World. In Paul Greengrass’ western, Hanks rides from town to town in post-Civil War Texas, telling the townsfolk in a calm and entertaining manner what’s happening outside of their communities. He’s the personification of the future nightly newsman, showing up in households as a comforting presence who filters the noise of the world into a signal. News of the World knows exactly what it has going for it with Hanks, and gives the venerable actor another role that projects competence and decency.
Movies that achieve cult status are supposed to be flattering to their adherents. The masses might have overlooked this film, but I’ve got the secret message that it’s an underrated gem that was too smart or too idiosyncratic, just like me. Clue supposedly has its own cult, but smart, it is not. Directed by Jonathan Lynn, who’ll follow this up with Nuns on the Run, Clue is indeed as shallow as its premise. Board-game adaptations are always being threatened by creatively bankrupt studios, sometimes to fruition with Battleship, and Clue shows why that’s an empty and pathetic idea. Clue might find redemption as being a spoof of a specific genre that’s also a worthy member of said genre, but the genre of chamber mysteries is another that fails to entertain me, thus doubly relegating it to the trash bin.
He's a responsible candy executive with a troubled love life. She's adorable and clumsy and runs her own free-spirited candy store. These two don't belong together at all, but the power of love and their shared preference for fiction books can cross any bridge. In David Wain's latest comedy spoof, They Came Together, the tropes of romantic comedies are broken down and served up like so much peanut brittle, the proceeds from which will go to a charity, because I'm too cute to know how to run a business.
JUST SOME IDIOTS GIVING SURPRISINGLY AVERAGE MOVIE REVIEWS.
Click to set custom HTML