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 joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the inspirational horse movie “Spirit Untamed,” the latest from The Conjuring Universe, “The Devil Made Me Do It,” the rock doc “Rockfield: The Studio on the Farm” and the biopic “Hero: Inspired by the Extraordinary Life & Times of Mr. Ulric Cross.”
Richard and CTV NewsChannel morning show host Jennifer Burke chat up the weekend’s big releases, the inspirational horse movie “Spirit Untamed,” the latest from The Conjuring Universe, “The Devil Made Me Do It” and the rock doc “Rockfield: The Studio on the Farm.”
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 inspirational horse movie “Spirit Untamed,” the latest from The Conjuring Universe, “The Devil Made Me Do It,” the rock doc “Rockfield: The Studio on the Farm” and the biopic “Hero: Inspired by the Extraordinary Life & Times of Mr. Ulric Cross.”
Richard joins NewsTalk 1010’s Jim Richards coast-to-coast-to-coast late night “Showgram” to play the game “Did Richard Crouse like these movies?” This week we talk about the family friendly Dreamworks animated film “Spirit Untamed,” the latest from The Conjuring Universe, “The Devil Made Me Do It” and the rock doc “Rockfield: The Studio on the Farm.”
Eight movies into “The Conjuring” franchise the ghostbusting Warrens, Ed and Lorraine, played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, face their most daunting adversary yet. They’ve battled evil in the form of haunted houses, supernatural spirits and a nasty doll named Annabelle, but in “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It,” now playing in theatres, the married demonologists investigate a murder and a suspect who claims the devil made him do it.
Set in 1981 Connecticut, “The Devil Made Me Do It” is based on the trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, the first case to attempt a defense claim of demonic possession.
The movie begins with a priest and the Warrens performing an exorcism on eight-year-old David Glatzel (Julian Hilliard) that would give Regan MacNeil a run for her money. As all hell breaks loose, the demon leaves the youngster’s body and, after Arne Johnson (Ruairi O’Connor), the boyfriend of David’s sister taunts it, takes control of the older man. “Leave him alone!” Arne says to the demon. “He’s just a little boy you coward! Leave him alone and take me!”
Soon Arne’s behaviour changes and when he stabs his landlord twenty-two times, the Warrens set out to prove he is not guilty by reason of demonic possession. “The court accepts the existence of God every time a witness swears to tell the truth,” Ed says. “I think it’s about time they accept the existence of the Devil.”
When Arne is charged in a Death penalty case, the Warrens spring into action to prove his innocence. “We won’t let him down,” Ed says. As the couple work to discover what is real and what is not, the case presents ever increasing personal danger.
“The Devil Made Me Do It” is more a procedural prompted by Arne’s actions than Arne’s story. He disappears for forty-five minutes or so as the Warrens decipher the mystery surrounding his crime. Director Michael Chaves keeps up the atmosphere of dread with a series of well-executed lighting effects, jump scares and eerie sound cues but, while he delivers some shocks, he knows that the real reason the “Conjuring” movies work is the relationship between Wilson and Farmiga. As the Warrens they are the earthbound anchor who add humanity to the supernatural goings on.
Sure, there is a devilish waterbed—anyone who grew up in the 70s and 80s already knew waterbeds were bad, but the movie makes a convincing case for them as evil as well—and lots of Satanic Panic, but “The Devil Made Me Do It” isn’t all pentagrams and inverted crosses. It flags in the midsection, but by the time the end credits roll the relationship between the demon hunters is front and centre, a testament to the power of love. It may be a cliché but it adds some light to the film’s dark elements and gives Wilson and Farmiga some nice character-building moments.
The Warrens are unlikely horror heroes, but “The Devil Made Me Do It” proves you don’t have to be creepy to deliver the thrills.