David Chase is a brilliant, odd man who creates compelling stories. He wrote "The Sopranos" and kept that show interesting. It mesmerized us with unexpected surprises instead of devolving into gangster cliches.
We saw "The Many Saints of Newark" yesterday, after binge-ing the entire Sopranos' series. Again, Chase surprises us. The film is nothing like the show, differing in both content and presentation. It achieves Chase's stated goal of making cinematic art instead of television.
While there's a little "fan service," the bulk of the story is about a character not shown in the TV series (Dickie Moltisanti, Christopher's father). His struggles in racially-torn Newark bear little connection to mob activities later on.
My verdict is that Chase achieved something special here. I don't believe the movie will be popular; many will be disappointed it doesn't recycle what they liked about the Sopranos show. But, truly, Chase never cared about pleasing us; his goal is higher than that. He's exploring and commenting on the human condition.