The Many Saints Of Newark review: Sopranos fans should still find plenty to enjoy

The Many Saints of Newark Certificate: 15, 2 hours

Judgement:

The green knight Certificate: 15, 2 hours and 10 minutes

Judgement:

the alpinist Certificate: 12A, 1 hour 32 minutes

Judgement:

It’s been more than a decade since the original The Sopranos series ended on terrestrial television. But with nearly 90 episodes of some of the best TV dramas ever available on catch-up, the New Jersey mob family story enjoyed another round of popularity during lockdown.

So it’s a good time for a movie spin-off.

With the tragic death in 2013 of the great James Gandolfini, who played the lead character of Tony Soprano, excluding a sequel, creator David Chase and director Alan Taylor have gone back in time to bring us a prequel set in the midst of the race at Newark. riots of 1967 and which centers on one of the Soprano family’s closest associates, the Moltisantis.

Hence the ‘many saints’ of the title.

Creator David Chase and director Alan Taylor have gone back in time to bring us a prequel set amid the 1967 Newark race riots that centers on the Moltisantis

Creator David Chase and director Alan Taylor have gone back in time to bring us a prequel set amid the 1967 Newark race riots that centers on the Moltisantis

Fans of the TV series will remember Christopher Moltisanti, Tony’s young and handsome sidekick who had dreams of becoming a Hollywood writer. Here he comes back from beyond the grave (apologies for the spoiler if you haven’t finished reading the TV series) to serve as an unseen narrator, introducing us to his father, Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola) and his aging but as the film begins, still mighty grandfather, Aldo, played by Ray Liotta.

Aside from a surname and a certain charismatic charm, the two men share another trait, a volatile, violent temper. What young Tony Soprano—then a clumsy high school student with sporting ambitions and a plan to stay out of criminal trouble—can’t help but witness or be influenced by it.

Especially when the New Jersey Italian mob – including his father, Uncle Junior and Dickie – is threatened by a new generation of ambitious and equally violent black mobsters.

It's a touching moment when Michael Gandolfini (above), James' 22-year-old son, takes over teenage Tony and Alessandro Nivola is amazing as the increasingly terrifying Dickie

It’s a touching moment when Michael Gandolfini (above), James’ 22-year-old son, takes over teenage Tony and Alessandro Nivola is amazing as the increasingly terrifying Dickie

It’s a touching moment when Michael Gandolfini, James’ 22-year-old son, takes over when teenage Tony and Nivola are awesome as the increasingly terrifying Dickie. But the real fun, at least for fans of the original TV show, is spotting the younger versions of characters we already know and love.

Paulie, Silvio, Big Pussy – they’re all there – but the standout performance comes from Vera Farmiga, whose nagging perfect turn as Tony’s constantly complaining mother, Livia, is a delight.

It’s a tricky watch at times – the racism and violence against women is shocking by modern standards – and it doesn’t have the coolness or style of the TV show, but Sopranos fans should still be able to find plenty to enjoy.

American filmmaker David Lowery doesn’t always get it right – I loved Pete’s Dragon, for example, but was bored to death by A Ghost Story. But he returns to form with The Green Knight, a handsome, well-acted but slightly embroidered retelling of the medieval tale of Sir Gawain, an ambitious young knight in King Arthur’s court who accepts the Christmas challenge issued by the strange, banquet-interrupting Green Knight.

Given the terms of the deal, I've often wondered why Sir Gawain - here impressively played by Dev Patel (above) - promptly cuts off the Green Knight's head, but he does and we're off

Given the terms of the deal, I’ve often wondered why Sir Gawain – here impressively played by Dev Patel (above) – promptly cuts off the Green Knight’s head, but he does and we’re off

Depicted as half-knight, half-tree, the Green Knight challenges any knight to deal a blow to him… as long as he returns to the Green Chapel within a year so the Green Knight can deliver his own blow .

Given the terms of the deal, I’ve often wondered why Sir Gawain – here played impressively by Dev Patel as both arrogant and insecure – promptly cuts off the Green Knight’s head, but he does and we’re off.

It’s a little confusing, but watch out for Sean Harris as King Arthur and Alicia Vikander as a seductive lady whose husband offers a bargain himself.

Thanks to Touching The Void and Free Solo, climbing documentaries have gained a more mainstream following and the latest dizzying offering is The Alpinist, the story of young Canadian solo climber, Marc-André Leclerc.

Never heard of him? Well, you won’t forget it once you see this.

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