By the time The Sopranos ended its six season run on HBO, it was not only one of the most popular shows on TV, it was also viewed as a cultural touchstone that changed our perception of what TV shows could be and that helped usher in the golden age of high quality television drama we’re living in today. Given the show’s mainstream success and critical accolades, you would think that its creator David Chase’s post-series jump to directing features for the big screen would have been a big deal, and possibly would have involved material just as innovative and genre-blending as what came to be known as his signature work on The Sopranos.
But what came next didn’t prove to be mainstream or genre-bending at all. In fact, there are probably a lot of people out there who still don’t even know that Chase has made a movie.
For those who didn’t catch it when it came around, Chase’s first feature was a fairly simple and surprisingly small drama called Not Fade Away that came and went in 2012 without much fanfare. The film, about the trials and tribulations a group of young people face while trying to form a rock band in the late 60s, was generally well-liked by everyone who saw it, but it didn’t get seen by very many people. Ultimately, it was the sort of movie that didn’t cost that much to make, didn’t get that much promotion, and didn’t feature any big names other than its providing a supporting role for Sopranos star James Gandolfini, so it kind of tested that whole “tree falls in a forest” theory of reality.
And so the tone for Chase’s film career was set—instead of riding the momentum of his gargantuan TV success to becoming a maker of mainstream studio pictures, he would sit contently on his mountain of Sopranos money and spend his time telling smaller, more personal stories, and not really worrying about appealing to a mainstream audience or appeasing critics who expect him to change the way stories are told every time out. It’s a valid, sane approach to making movies, and it appears to be the same one he’s taking with his second feature, which is going to be called Little Black Dress.
According to a report from Deadline, Chase has just sold Little Black Dress as a spec script to Paramount, who purchased it in order to also set it up as the next film he will direct. Early reports say that the project is a character-driven drama that tells the story of a female veteran of war who comes home from Afghanistan disabled, gets wrapped up in a potentially lethal investigation of some sort, and ends up avoiding a moment of mental breakdown thanks to the help of a superstitious NYPD detective.
A brief and vague synopsis like that isn’t much for Chase fans to go on, but it at least seems to confirm that the man will continue to tell stories that focus on people and that don’t worry all that much about the business side of the world of filmmaking, and any time you can see a guy getting away with doing that, you have to just smile at what a rare and wonderful thing it is. Even in the high stakes world of movies, sometimes art can still exist just for the sake of art.