A Double Feature Review!
Come From Away
Glynis and I got to see Come From Away live a few years back, and the newest live recording is just as powerful as I remember — fluid staging, incredible acting, inspiring, and heart-tugging. One of the most beautiful musicals you will ever watch. You Are Here. Come From Away is an astounding Canadian musical that finds hope amid tragedy. With a folksy and bluegrass sway, this is a musical that will sweep you off your feet. You may even shed a tear. The music and lyrics were composed by Irene Sankoff and David Hein, while it made its Broadway debut back in 2017. The production went on to be nominated for seven Tonys, winning Best Direction (Christopher Ashley). The stage's setup is minimal, using a variety of lighting and raw human emotion to draw you in. The production's cast is made up of only 12 actors — all of whom perform multiple roles throughout this musical. Come From Away is based on a true story set in the week following the September 11 attacks. As part of Operation Yellow Ribbon, 38 planes were ordered to land unexpectedly in the small town of Gander in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
All of the characters in this musical are based on real Gander residents, along with some 7,000 stranded travelers they housed and fed. Because of Broadway's 2020 shutdown, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a live stage recording was directed and made by Ashley. The film was released on Apple TV+ on September 10th, a day before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. This live recording allowed Broadway to be brought to the doorsteps and living rooms of everyone at home. The original Broadway cast (Petrina Bromley, Jenn Colella, De'Lon Grant, Joel Hatch, Tony LePage, Caesar Samayoa, Q. Smith, Astrid Van Wieren, Emily Walton, Jim Walton, Sharon Wheatley, and Paul Whitty) also reprised their respected roles, gifting us with a splendid and emotionally resonate musical recording. Come From Away is a powerful musical that transcends through the healing power of human connection. If you were not able to see this musical on the stage, then I highly recommend watching its beauty from the comfort of your home.
Come From Away is rated TV-14 (This program may be unsuitable for children under 14 years of age)
Stream it now on Apple TV+
Directed by Christopher Ashley
Starring Petrina Bromley, Jenn Colella, De'Lon Grant, Joel Hatch, Tony LePage, Caesar Samayoa, Q. Smith, Astrid Van Wieren, Emily Walton, Jim Walton, Sharon Wheatley, and Paul Whitty.
The Many Saints of Newark
The Many Saints of Newark is a welcomed return of beloved Soprano characters fans grew up watching, yet the film does run into cinematic confinement in its storytelling. The Many Saints of Newark is writer-director-creator David Chase's prequel movie to his critically-acclaimed HBO crime drama series, The Sopranos (1999-2007). As a fan of Chase's TV show, I enjoyed going back in time and watching the younger versions of the Soprano characters. Unfortunately, The Many Saints of Newark finds pitfalls in its inability to fully develop its story through the medium of film. While The Sopranos' success came with its ability to nicely develop these dramatic stories and characters over a period of time (episodes) through the medium of television. Nevertheless, I was still drawn in by the great acting chops of this incredible cast (Alessandro Nivola, Leslie Odom Jr., Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Michael Gandolfini, Billy Magnussen, Michela De Rossi, John Magaro, Ray Liotta, and Vera Farmiga). Newcomers beware: if you have never watched an episode of HBO's The Sopranos, then you will be confused.
The Many Saints of Newark is a movie that establishes that you already know the history of the fictional DiMeo crime family, later turned Soprano crime family. Our story follows Richard "Dickie" Moltisanti (a strong Nivola) and his rise and fall to power during the late 1960s and mid-1970s. We also see younger versions of the original series characters like Junior Soprano (Corey Stoll), Livia Soprano (Vera Farmiga), Paulie Walnuts (Billy Magnussen), Silvio Dante (John Magaro), "Pussy" Bonpensiero (Samson Moeakiola), and Carmela De Angelis (Lauren DiMario). Uncle Dickie was always a ghost character during the original run of The Sopranos. By the time the show had started, his fictional character was already dead, but we never knew who killed him. Saints of Newark answers those burning questions of how Dickie was really killed. Though this revelation could divide hardcore Soprano fans.
Dickie was also the father of Christopher (Michael Imperioli), the nephew and protégé of Tony Soprano (played by the great-late James Gandolfini in the original series and by Michael Gandolfini for this prequel movie). Saints of Newark's story is also sandwiched during the 1967's Newark race riots. One aspect that I admired was Michael Gandolfini's performance as a young Tony Soprano, the role his late father (James Gandolfini) played over a decade ago. Michael was a natural and a spitting image of his father. If anyone could pick up the mantle of Tony Soprano, it was Michael. The Many Saints of Newark never lives up to the great heights of the original series — nevertheless — it's still a worthy origin story and history lesson on the fictional Soprano crime family. One that is also dark, witty, and ultra-violent. Lastly, that ending shot with Michael's character (Tony) sent chills down my spine. Cue "Woke Up This Morning" by Alabama 3.
The Many Saints of Newark is rated R (Restricted) Sexual Content | Pervasive Language | Some Nudity | Strong Violence.
Stream it now on HBO Max until October 31st. Or see it in theaters.
Directed by Alan Taylor
Starring Alessandro Nivola, Leslie Odom Jr., Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Michael Gandolfini, Billy Magnussen, Michela De Rossi, John Magaro, Ray Liotta, and Vera Farmiga.
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