Richard joins NewsTalk 1010 host Jim Richards on the coast-to-coast-to-coast late night “Showgram” to play the game “Did Richard Crouse like these movies?” This week we talk about to talk about the much anticipated “Sopranos” prequel “The Many Saints of Newark,” the latest adventures of the Gomez, Morticia and Company in the animated “The Addams Family 2” and the Jake Gyllenhaal thriller “The Guilty.”
“The Many Saints of Newark,” the sprawling big-screen prequel to the iconic television series “The Sopranos,” feels more like a pilot for a new show than the origin story of one of television’s most famous families.
Broken into three parts, “The Many Saints of Newark,” uses narration, courtesy of Tony Soprano’s late associate Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli), to break down the movie’s interconnected story shards.
Firstly, there is Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola), Soprano Family soldier, father of Christopher, cousin to Carmela Soprano, uncle to Tony. He’s hooked up, wily and impulsive but also treacherous. When his father, the slick sociopath ‘Hollywood Dick’ (Ray Liotta), returns from Italy with a new bride (Michela De Rossi), it triggers chaos in the Moltisanti family.
In Dickie’s orbit is Harold McBrayer (Leslie Odom Jr.), an African-American numbers runner for the Mob, galvanized by the 1967 Newark race riots to go out on his own and, finally, Tony Soprano, played by William Ludwig as a youngster, Michael Gandolfini, the late James Gandolfini’s son, as a teenager. As Dickie’s thirst for power spins out of control, he becomes a surrogate father to Tony, hoping to pass along something good to the impressionable younger man as a way to atone for his sins.
“The Many Saints of Newark” is vivid in its portrayal of the period. Covering roughly four years, from 1967 to 1971, it uses the turmoil of that time in American life as a backdrop for the explosive nature of Dickie’s world. That atmosphere of uncertainty makes up for a story that, despite some glorious moments, often feels rushed as it careens toward an ending that doesn’t mine the rich psychological landscape of these characters, which is what we expect from David Chase and “The Sopranos.”
The actors are game.
Nivola brings equal parts charisma, danger and depth to a flawed character who is the ringmaster to the action. Unlike many of the other characters, like the conniving Junior Soprano (Corey Stoll), henchman Paulie Walnuts (Blly Magnussen) or consigliere Silvio Dante (John Magaro), who come with eighty-six episodes of baggage, Dickie is new and can be viewed through fresh eyes.
Michael Gandolfini takes on the Herculean task of revisiting a character his father made one of the most famous in television history and brings it home by showcasing the character’s volatility and, more importantly, his vulnerability. He’s a troubled kid, on the edge of turning one way or the other, and even though we know how the story goes, Gandolfini’s performance suggests there is more to know about Tony Soprano.
If there is a complaint, it’s that both Tony and McBrayer, two of the main cogs that keep this engine running, get lost in “The Many Saints of Newark’s” elaborate plotting. Ditto for the female characters. Despite tremendous work from Vera Farmiga as Tony’s poisonous mother Livia and De Rossi as Dickie’s step-mom, the women often feel peripheral to the tale, in service only to the men’s stories.
“The Many Saints of Newark” brings with it high expectations but falls short of coming close to the greatness of its source material. “The Sopranos” broke new ground, changing the way gangster stories (and all sorts of other stories) were told on television. “The Many Saints of Newark” settles for less as an exercise in nostalgia.
Richard speaks to “CTV News at Six” anchor Andria Case about the best movies to watch this weekend including the inspired-by-true-events drama “One Night In Miami” (Amazon Prime Video), the Netflix action flick “Outside the Wire” (Netflix) and the young adult drama “Words On Bathroom Walls” (EST, VOD, DVD, Blu-ray).
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the inspired-by-true-events drama “One Night In Miami” (Amazon Prime Video), the Netflix action flick “Outside the Wire” (Netflix) and the young adult drama “Words On Bathroom Walls” (EST, VOD, DVD, Blu-ray).
We’ll never know exactly what was said between Cassius Clay, Nation of Islam leader Malcolm X, soul singer Sam Cooke, and football superstar Jim Brown behind closed doors in a Miami hotel room on February 25, 1964, but a new film by Oscar winner Regina King in her directorial debut, offers up a fascinating what-if scenario.
Going into the boxing ring on that night against heavy weight champion Sonny Liston, Cassius Clay (Halifax-born Eli Goree), who had not yet officially changed his name to Muhammad Ali, was a 7-to-1 underdog. When the fight was over Clay was the youngest boxer to ever grab a title from a reigning heavyweight champion.
Helping him celebrate the landmark win are his three closest friends, mentor Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), hit maker Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) and athlete Brown (Aldis Hodge). Convened at their Miami hotel on the warm February night, the foursome, all at turning points in their lives, share their thoughts, get heated, debate about how to end segregation, all with an eye toward the future.
That two of them would be murdered within the next year adds poignancy to an already charged conversation.
Cooke and Brown mull over career choices. A discussion of Cooke’s slick but conventional pop songs led to the writing and recording of “A Change Is Gonna Come,” one of the greatest anthems of the Civil Rights Movement. Brown, already a superstar on the football field, comes under fire for appearing in a movie Western called “Rio Conchos,” as a minor character, killed off early in the action.
Clay is celebratory, but plotting his next moves, both professionally and personally as he decides when to announce his conversion to Islam and his name change to Muhammad Ali.
The firestarter is X, the public figure under surveillance by the FBI, who encourages his friends to take a more militant stand, to use their celebrity and standing in a more meaningful way. He is the discontent, an activist who predicts hard times ahead.
“One Night in Miami” began life as a stage play by “Star Trek: Discovery” staff writer Kemp Powers, who also penned the movie’s script. As such, there’s a theatrical feel to King’s staging of the scenes, most of which take place in the hotel room. She has opened up the play, adding new locations and a series of vignettes at the beginning of the film, but this isn’t about action, it’s about the verbal fireworks of Powers’ script and authoritative performances.
It’s a snapshot of the cultural importance of this quartet; a history lesson made even more potent in the era of Black Lives Matter. “Power,” says Clay, “is a world where it’s safe to be ourselves.”
Richard speaks to “CTV News at Six” anchor Andria Case about television and movies to watch this weekend, including the screen adaptation of “Hamilton,” the semi-biographical “Shirley,” starring Elisabeth Moss and “American Woman,” a new take on the kidnapping of Patricia Hearst.
Richard and CP24 anchor Leena Latafat have a look at the new movies coming to VOD and streaming services including the much anticipated small screen version of the big Broadway hit “Hamilton,” the semi-fictional psychological drama of “Shirley” and “American Woman,” loosely based on the kidnapping of Patricia Hearst.
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with host Todd Van Der Heyden to have a look at the new movies coming to VOD and streaming services including the small screen version of the big Broadway hit “Hamilton,” the semi-fictional psychological drama of “Shirley” and “American Woman,” loosely based on the kidnapping of Patricia Hearst.
Richard and “CP24 Breakfast” host Pooja Handa have a look at some special streaming opportunities and television shows to help fill the hours during the pandemic, including the crime documentary series “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” a tip of the hat to Tom Cruise on his birthday, the surreal and sweet “Forever” on Amazon Prime and a rave review for “Hamilton.”