David Chase

davidchase

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.

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The Sopranos

Two nights before I completed my somewhat accidental binge watch of The Sopranos, I overheard a stranger at a party bitching about how overrated the show was – he seemed to think that the dream sequences were “unrealistic” and he also seemed unable to identify with Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) in even the slightest of ways (the great trick of The Sopranos is, of course, that it gets us to relate to a violent, mentally ill criminal). His favorite part of the entire show? One that never actually happened – he seemed to think that Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) was the one who told Carmela (Edie Falco) she had to leave Tony immediately during one of their short-lived therapy sessions. He seemed to take great interest in that moment, and even a bit of pride – that’s what I’ve been saying! Yeah! You gotta leave him, Carm! – which is why it’s sort of sad that he remembered it all wrong, and that it was another therapist (Dr. Krakower, as recommended by Dr. Melfi, a psychologist Carm saw just once) that gave Carmela the advice. Sure, he got the basics down – he knew it was a shrink that told Carm the news, but thinking that Dr. Melfi would say such a thing to Carmela was a big misunderstanding of both their characters. He didn’t get it. After eighty-six episodes of The Sopranos, watched over approximately six weeks, I think I get it, at least as someone who wasn’t […]

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Tony Soprano

Long before (at least in entertainment years) we were gifted with all sorts of television shows that focus squarely on the rise and fall of lovable, fallible, and infuriating anti-heroes, there was Tony Soprano. Following James Gandolfini’s untimely and heartbreaking death last month, television’s reigning king of the twisted anti-hero, Bryan Cranston, tweeted “I’m saddened by James Gandolfini’s passing. He was a great talent & I owe him. Quite simply, without Tony Soprano there is no Walter White.” And there would also be no Don Draper and thus two of my favorite current and all-time television shows would not exist. Which makes it all the more egregious that, as of a week ago, I had never watched The Sopranos. You can start throwing tomatoes or trash or mean comments now. Not watching The Sopranos was unquestionably a gap in my Gandolfini-watching experience, and particularly bizarre when you consider that my favorite Gandolfini performance was from Not Fade Away, the first movie directed by Sopranos creator David Chase. Clearly, there was something about these two together that worked for me, but the prospect of working through six seasons of television seemed daunting. Well, daunting until I started.

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Not Fade Away

Editor’s note: David Chase’s feature debut hits theaters this week, so please feel free to rock out with this New York Film Festival review, originally published on October 7, 2012. Into a quiet moment between lovers, toward the end of his new film David Chase injects Plato. Introspective college student Grace Dietz (Bella Heathcote) turns to her aspiring musician boyfriend and quotes: “When the mode of the music changes, the walls of the city shake.” The line could read as an epigraph, the inspiration and core theme of the work. Yet, paradoxically, Not Fade Away rocks the boat significantly less than the 1960′s themselves, or even other movies that look back on this tumultuous period in the life of the nation. Rather, it plays like a form of American “heritage cinema,” to borrow a term from the Brits, fantasizing about a time gone by while carefully avoiding any of its real tensions. At core, Not Fade Away is a simple coming-of-age story. Douglas (John Magaro) is a skinny white kid in suburban New Jersey who, more than anything else, wants to play music. He’s a drummer with an excellent singing voice, and soon he finds himself in a band. They play covers of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones at local parties and dances but dream bigger. As he gets older, the band goes through the typical trials and tribulations: fights over love, fights over integrity, the loss of members, and on and on. And, of course, he is simultaneously […]

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Not Fade Away Trailer

The Sopranos creator David Chase has been working on his Not Fade Away ever since the gangster show’s finale. That’s a bit ironic, considering The Sopranos’ ending wasn’t afraid to piss off a few million viewers, while his directorial feature debut, Not Fade Away, appears to be about as safe as coming-of-age tales come. Chase may not try to reinvent the wheel this time around, but based on this trailer, maybe he doesn’t need to. Check out the first trailer for Not Fade Away after the jump.

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Sopranos Creator David Chase

For those of you who thought the ambiguous ending to the “Sopranos” series finale was an indicator that creator David Chase was just milking for a Jersey mafia movie deal, you were wrong then and you’re wrong now.

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