So Chase, a master of long-form TV narrative form, clearly has no clue how to pace a feature film. This film is jarringly awkward - abruptly cutting through time & between scenes with little logic or flow. Yet it still manages to be engaging through its strong characterizations, performances, & well-written individual scenes. If it's heavy on boomer nostalgia, it at least resists banal coming-of-age tropes.
Nostalgic coming-of-age story set in 60s New Jersey, after the British Invasion has inspired all the kids there to start bands. Characters are all too aware that they're growing up in tandem with the cultural changes of the era, speaking unlikely prescient dialogue. I wasn't impressed on the whole, but the frustrated rehearsal scenes are musically well-observed - I think that's owing to Steven Van Zandt's hand in it.
With only a handful of scenes, James Gandolfini reminds us for one of the last times of the vast depths he was able to evoke with only a look or a gesture. The scene in the restaurant--the "jacket and a tie" restaurant, dammit--is sure to stand as one of the finest sequences in his entire body of work, and thus surely as one of the finest acting sequences in the modern American cinema. Thanks for everything, Jim.