the sopranos

i am eagerly awaiting the start of the new season. the extended teaser on hbo is killing me. in preparation i’ve begun watching the previous season in reverse order, and am looking for clues on what might happen this year. perhaps we should open a predictions pool on what we think will be the major events this year. though i can’t decide whether the show will go out with a bang (a major death) or whether it will surprise us with a whimper.

some possible/likely deaths:

anthony jr.

possible killers (not correlated):

phil leotardo
furio (who, i was disappointed to discover in made, is played by an american actor; cue gio on bad italian accents in american media and the stupid indians who fall for them.)

108 thoughts on “the sopranos

  1. Hmmm… I get all fired up with this kind of guessing game every season. I’m always wrong.

    I remember reading David Chase complaining about television, how it always forces its characters to “learn something” by the end of an episode, how its relentless moralizing deadens narrative. Extrapolating on his views, I have taken to reading “The Sopranos” as relentlessly resisting any real change. Tony learns nothing, NOTHING, and each season seems to end (barring a few small details, and an odd death here or there) right back where it began. Nobody gets away, nobody improves, no one is any better. So if I had to lay any kind of bet about the ending, I’d go in that direction: we leave Tony and family for the most part intact and in media res.

    Then again, Paulie’s fucking asking for it.

  2. i want johnny sack out of prison and doing more damage. i think there will be heavy paulie related trauma this season. i also predict that big pussy will be whacked.

  3. Anthony Jr. all thin and slick with the new hip hair style. The teasers appear to suggesting he’s going to be pulled asunder. Let’s face it, nothing has, as of yet, besmirched the sanctity of Tony’s family (internal conflict, sure, but not external). It only makes sense that Tony will lose something truly precious before everything goes dark (shades of Godfather III, which makes me question my prediction). I suggest Anthony Jr. will emerge as the new Christopher in the next 13 episodes . . . and he’ll be dead by February 2007.

  4. since they surprisingly killed off Adriana last year I don’t expect there to be another major death this season–though if there were, Paulie would be the prime candidate. We might fully see him go “over” to the other side. Johnny Sack in prison means a power vacuum in the New York mob. Tony will have to deal with whoever operates as the acting boss–I predict another loose cannon psychopath, to continue the thread from Richie Aprile to Ralphie. I thinking the growing involvement of AJ in “family business” is a good prediction–Tony will reproduce what his father did to him, in spite of himself and partly because his son doesn’t appear fit for anything else. Dr. Malfi will become increasingly even more ambivalent about her relationship with Tony, finally coming to realize that she likes being so close to power, violence, crime–this will result in a crisis that will bring her very close to having an actual affair with Tony (though it won’t happen). Carmela and Tony will continue to be on and off again, Carmela having yet another relationship with someone who will bring home to her the complicit role she plays in Tony’s violence. Uncle Jr. finally entirely goes over to alzheimer’s and begins babbling embarrassing secrets, some of which get noticed by the FBI. Christopher has a confrontation with Tony in which he nearly kills him; Tony forgives him because he has a secret death wish not unlike his old flame Gloria.

    I beg to differ a bit with Mike. It’s not that nobody learns anything in The Soprano’s; it’s just that nobody knows what to do with these constant losses and “lessons”–because no matter how you change you still have to deal with the same fuckin’ shit over and over, am I right? All life long the same questions and the same answers, to paraphrase Beckett. I love the old questions and answers! Why this farce day after day? We’re not beginning to….to mean something?!

    by the way, is this the last year or did they sign up for another one? If it’s the final year,Tony has to end up dead, in jail or in witness protection, right? Of course it seems to me that the most radical ending might be Tony’s clean escape from the mafia, unpunished but exhausted by his own role in all his losses–or is the series too deterministic for that?

    Oh, I also predict that Patrick Duffy will be found alive in the shower, Bob will wake up from his dream wherein he owns a Vermont Inn and the entire series will be found to have taken place in the mind of a disabled Italian-American child. More suprisingly, Rip Taylor will have a significant cameo in the final episodes.

  5. I like your reading, Michael … but … I’m not sure Tony, or Carmela, or anyone on the show is getting that existential drift (even if, you’re right, that’s probably Chase’s vision). Carmela and Christopher, in particular, seemed in last season’s close to have almost consciously returned to the same old thing; Tony has done that every season. In fact, isn’t that the very definition of Freudian psychoanalysis? Taking the old Austrian’s darkest visions, an endless repetition of our problems, never to be resolved–an anxious return to central questions which the asker really doesn’t want to answer? I think they’re closer to Siggy than Sam.

  6. since they surprisingly killed off Adriana last year

    surprisingly? the writing was on the wall for her ever since she announced her move to joey’s outfit. you can’t play for two teams–every mobster knows that.

    i do think there will be a major death–but i think it will be very early in the season, setting up huge drama that will then end ambivalently unresolved.

  7. The sixth is the last season, but it will be an extended season with 13 episodes starting in March, and another 8 (I think) early in 2007.

    I see the whole family moving to Italy and living happily ever after. Anthony will become a pretty good soccer player (because of the dullness of the Italian game, as Arnab is always pointing out). The rest of the family will buy and run a vineyard, selling a surprisingly mellow ‘Sopranos’ table wine. Christopher becomes a screenwriter and hires Paulie and the rest as coaches for mobster films.

    Or at least that is how it appears it is going to end before that Russian dude who disappeared in the woods back in season 3 (?) reappears and blows everyone away.

  8. as someone who is closer to Sam than Siggy, I always want to say fuck Freud and his psuedo-system (is that a Freudian response?). I’d say the same regarding The Sopranos; the pathos and drama of the show come from the waxing and waning of the self-awareness of the characters–they have glimmers of the possibility that things could be different, then fall back into old patterns out of despair, hopelessness, pain, lack of imagination or because they are actually highly attached to the others in their world, however reprehensible it is. I think Tony very much gets that “existential drift”–that’s what makes him seek out psychoanalysis and what also puts him in so much danger from those who lack it entirely (other mob bosses, Paulie, etc.) In the ducks and the horse Ralphie killed “Pie O’Mine” sees a different world and the promise of happiness…naturally (and, as a horse racing fan, I think justifiably) he cuts off Ralphie’s head in retaliation. Every glimmer of a different world rebounds to greater paralysis in the same world. That dilemma isn’t Freudian, since for Freud it’s all a highly determined unconscious reaction. These characters are all too highly conscious, even if they can’t reliably act on their best impulses or have the ability to change their current state. Carmela, in seeking out therapy, went to a Jewish doctor who told her outright that her husband was a psychopath and that she should take her kids and get out. She was compelled enough to seek this ultimate confrontation but then, of course, she couldn’t act on it, preferring to fall back on the (pardon me, Catholics) rather ambiguous and situational ethics of her usual spiritual guides.

    If Tony can be a soccer player, I’m going to Italy, too. I wheeze from getting out of bed, too. and I do think there’s going to be hell to pay for one of the previous murders–either Ralphie’s (the remains discovered?) or Tony B’s–Tony can’t continue to luck out on these acts not bringing serious consequences (I think last year still left him on the hook with Johnny Sack for not turning his cousin over to his guys).

  9. I’ve never watched the show at all, but this thread makes me want to go to the Sopranos Deli on West Chester Pike and have an Italian hoagie.

  10. Michael, your readings of the characters and their conflicts are so engaging, it seems foolhardy to get into a spat about Freud versus Beckett. Maybe instead of either/or, it’s both/and. Or maybe each are equally unwieldy: a Freudian take, as you noted, may bury the intriguing dynamics of each character’s agency in the cement overshoes of deep psychic structure. But Beckett, or at least your reading of the existential dilemma, seems like a tale of sin and moral choice — they have chances to escape, but they make bad choices. Whatever: I grant you your critique of Freud, yet remain unsatisfied by Beckett……

    … So instead I want to dig into choice. Watching that first season–the ducks, the therapy, the sense that Tony stood apart from Paulie and all those others, that he recognized the moral quandary and thus could choose otherwise seemed to be what I was watching. The narrative conflict (aside from the surface pleasures of this or that whacking, expletive-filled chatter, and the twists of plot) seemed, at its core, about choice, one we might all recognize: how do we get trapped into lives which seem not just empty but negating? How do we find a way out of habit and training and into ethical action?

    But by season two, or at least by season three, as things come to a close and everybody’s singing with Uncle Junior, I’m beginning to feel like someone’s fucking with me. I point back up to Chase’s feelings about television. I also point toward the problem of therapy: instead of imagining the Freudian blueprint, actually read the architecture of his engagements with Dr. Melfi. She, like me, wants to believe that a man can choose to reconstruct his moral make-up, can confront and reconstruct his demons or obsessions or his past. But… Tony can’t. I don’t think it’s that he won’t; I don’t think that’s true of Christopher, or Carmela, either. I think “The Sopranos” is among the most deeply, wonderfully, perversely nihilistic visions of human behavior because its viewpoint is: nobody changes, unless they get killed. Melfi’s anxieties might very well tie to her infatuation with the violence and authority, as you note — but I also think Tony exposes the sham (or, typing too quickly, the shame) of inevitable psychotherapeutic impotence.

    Maybe. I’m kind of interested in seeing this as anti-television, even anti-narrative: there is no moment of “closure,” no explict working through of conflict. And, come down to it, maybe there’s no real conflict: it is OUR viewerly interest in the possibility of change that motivates the great pleasurable suspense about who will get hit, and whether Tony or Carmela will escape. But they won’t. And I’ll go even further: we know they won’t, and that’s why we love the show. Like Tony, we THINK we want change and moral growth, but we don’t.

  11. you don’t think tony stays with melfi because he wants/like to talk and has no one to talk to? his problem in therapy is not that he can’t/won’t change but that he still can’t talk freely. all the characters who die are talkers: big pussy, ralph, adriana, tony b; the living don’t talk but are miserable. so, tony is trying to figure out how to talk (and thus not be miserable) yet stay alive. i’m making this up as i’m going along and trying my best to stay away from ending up at repression. but i think this is closer to michael’s beckettian reading anyway: no movement, just a lot of talk.

  12. Well, Freud was big on the talking, too. And I see your point, but might push: isn’t everyone on the show a talker? Christopher wrote screenplays, for chrissakes; Junior runs off at the mouth, Paulie can’t stop complaining to T’s enemies, Carmela seeks confessors-slash-lovers….

    But Carmela neatly gets back to my point: as Michael noted, when she talks to someone who talks back and tells her basically to put up or shut up (hmmmm… that’s a familiar phrase), she leaves. She wants to talk, not act; the talking is either the actual end goal or a way to avoid/displace actual end goals (or both).

    Maybe. I’m just riffing, too. I kind of enjoy pushing a read toward the anti-tv/anti-narrative stuff, as if the show is a complicated non-joke, but I’m not sure it’d hold up to lots of scrutiny. (The fun is in comparing notes on our obsessive puzzling.)

  13. not that i am deeply committed to this but we can just change the emphasis of what i said earlier: it isn’t only tony who wants to talk; everyone does. the question is what kind of talk keeps you alive, and what kind of talk makes you end up dead (either literally or emotionally)? while you’re figuring it out you keep talking. what you’re talking about is not so important because it isn’t getting you anywhere.

  14. Interesting to return to Anthony Jr. as he is one of the few characters that has yet been given an opportunity to “talk” (or not to talk).

  15. Mike–your readings are very compelling…I like the idea of the show being “anti-narrative” and always ending up where it began; but I do think that there is change involved, but it’s what happens TO the characters. The change is forced by circumstance–a truth–but then also one they use to their self-deluded benefit. Killing people becomes “inevitable” because they don’t understand the fictional nature of their “code.” maybe the show is less about the tragedy (or tragicomedy) of the characters’ crippled awareness than about the viewer’s own—always looking to make meaning (meaning-mongering) and find resolutions and “morals” even when they are withheld. Play and lose and have done with losing.

  16. watching “long term parking” this afternoon (the one in which adriana gets whacked) i was struck by how the opening of the episode could be interpreted, in light of this conversation, as an elaborate joke with the audience as straight man. tony shows up in melfi’s office with a dream. melfi insists he interpret it in a dull, literal kind of way. tony makes a joke, melfi reads that literally as well. melfi, the audience’s representative, is after all the biggest meaning-monger of us all. she insists tony has made progress; tony points out he’s been showing up for 4 years and is exactly where he started. it doesn’t really work finally since melfi points out that his panic attacks etc. have stopped. but still. we could point out that coming to melfi hasn’t changed tony except to make him a more efficient killer/boss. the talking helps, but not to transform him in any important way–which is melfi’s fantasy, and ours, of character development.

  17. part of my reason for taking the show as fairly anti-freudian is the lack of success Melfi has–it’s true that she hasn’t helped Tony stop being a killer and criminal, something you think might be at the top of the list for an activity that presumes “health.” Part of the undercurrent of the entire show is Melfi’s inability to face the fact that she LIKES having Tony as a patient, that she isn’t conflicted about it, but is attracted to him and to the violence he represents. How can you take seriously a psychoanalyst who fails to psychoanalyze herself on a basic level? In the exchanges between Melfi and Tony, Tony always seems to the smarter one–the one who resists the “dull, literal” interpretation that the meaning-mongering of established psychoanalysis provides

  18. The show starts this Sunday. anyone know a way this poor HBO-less viewer can get weekly copies of the episodes–do people on ebay sell them? is there a secret underground?

  19. That’s a good idea Michael. Arnab and Mike at least should tape the new series for you and me…

    Though I’ve mot watched it since season 3 I have played the Sopransso pinball machine for many hours, so I’m pretty caught up on what’s going on: there was a horse: It’s dead. So is Mr. Pink.

  20. i’m happy to tape the episodes. however, you’ll have to wait 6 weeks to get the first batch. and you’ll have to ignore this discussion till that time.

  21. I don’t have HBO, alas! So Jeff is kindly taping for me, and I’ll be avoiding this discussion and almost all others, as I’ll always be a couple weeks behind.

  22. I’d be happy to wait 6 weeks, Arnab (does that mean six hours to a tape?) and of course I will shun the discussion here until I get adequately caught up.

    what can I do in return. Call on the phone and bark like a dog? Run naked covered in peanut butter through Times Square (hey, I might just do that anyway).

    I am set up to burn DVD’s–perhaps some decent movies in return? let me know.

  23. yes, 6 episodes to a tape. so, starve and binge for you! email me your address again.

    mike, does jeff not let you into his home? you should be going over to watch live.

  24. jeff does . . . mike’s simply not allowed to come over and play (this would be a great place for a wry yet loving emoticon)

    That being said while the rest of you are watching Sunday night, I will be grooving to the delicious sounds of Belle and Sebastian and The New Pornographers. I’ll have to wait till Monday for my fix (and Mike will have to wait until Tuesday).

    I think AJ’s going down tomorrow night; hey Frisoli, what’s the betting line on that?

  25. [I’m going to assume anyone reading this far will expect spoilers.]

    Indeed. Perhaps it was my expectations, but I was a little disappointed. The outcome of Gene’s request to leave the business was utterly predictable. The only question was how badly it was going to end. And I really thought the ending with Tony collapsed by the phone was pointlessly manipulative because we know he isn’t going to die. So why waste precious minutes with the agonizing crawl to the phone, etc., etc?

  26. agreed about the pointless crawl at the end–it might have worked if they hadn’t shown us all the preview scenes of the rest of the season in which tony figures.

    they might knock him out for a bunch of episodes and let the two power vaccuums, new york and jersey, collide. i predict immense violence soon between philly leotardo and christopher. also wasn’t sure about the william burroughs spoken word thing at the beginning. especially since i now have to go and google the text and mine it desperately for clues.

  27. here’s the text of the william burroughs piece that played over the opening montage:

    The ancient Egyptians postulated seven souls. Top soul, and the first to leave at the moment of death, is Ren, the Secret Name. This corresponds to my Director, He directs the film of your life from conception to death. The Secret Name is the title of your film. When you die, that’s where Ren came in. Second soul, and second one off the sinking ship, is Sekem: Energy, Power, Light The Director gives the orders, Sekem presses the right buttons. Number three is Khu, the Guardian Angel. He, she, or it is third man out . . . depicted as flying away across a full moon, a bird with luminous wings and head of light. Sort of thing you might see on a screen in an Indian restaurant in Panama. The Khu is responsible for the subject and can be injured in his defense- but not permanently, since the first three souls are eternal. They go back to Heaven for another vessel.

    The four remaining souls must take their chances with the subject in the Land of the Dead. Number four is Ba, the heart, often treacherous. This is a hawk’s body with your face on it, shrunk down to the size of a fist. Many a hero has been brought down, like Samson, by a perfidious Ba. Number five is Ka, the Double, most closely associated with the subject. The Ka, which usually reaches adolescence at the time of bodily death, is the only reliable guide through the Land of the Dead to the western Lands. Number six is Khaibit, the Shadow, Memory, your whole past conditioning from this and other lives. Number seven is Sekhu, the Remains

    the person shown for number 7 was carmela, number 6 was adriana, number 5 was anthony jr. need to go back to ondemand and see who the other 4 were. mmmm looking desperately for clues that may be jerking us around…

  28. update on the seven souls: #1 was janice, #2 was gene, #3 was meadow (and finn), and #4 was ray curto. of the seven, two died last night.

    of course, it is carmela’s dream, not tony’s.

  29. am i the only one watching it as it goes? or is everyone else with hbo holding off on comments till the non-hbo enabled among us catch up?

    anyway: i quite enjoyed tonight’s episode. i like their decision to remove tony from the center of the main story, and to allow the smaller bodies usually in orbit around him to um, losing my astronomical metaphor here, to um spiral out of control a little (which the teaser for next week suggests will happen sooner rather than later). also liked the way in which this episode set a.j up for his coming big transformation. and i liked the “in tony’s head” sequence to boot: tony adrift in his own head, seeing a different kind of life. i predict this will go on for a couple of episodes at least. in fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if they leave him in that state for the majority of the season. johnny sack in prison, tony trapped in his own head–the sopranos beginning to meet twin peaks.

  30. Pete and I are watching this season for the first time–my sister’s a big fan. We thought last night’s episode was B-O-R-I-N-G. Dullsville. Don’t you think the police helicopter as “white light” is trite? Isn’t the metaphor of being lost such a stereotype? Not so much.

  31. I must say that I much preferred the second episode to the first, mostly for the reasons Arnab lists. Tony’s alternate life — one in which he schleps around at conventions, and so loves his family that he can’t have an affair with a fellow conventioneer — strikes me as a wonderful way of making him aware of the costs and benefits of the life he actually chose. Hell, I’d be a mobster too.

    The line when Tony refuses to give his real name to the ER doctor after being told he has might have Alzheimer’s was great.

    The ultimate attraction of ‘The Sopranos’ for me has always be the little details — snippets of conversation, the dialogue between secondary characters, Christopher acting out in front of FBI agents, seeing Johnny Sack’s Maserati being driven by Christopher — and this episode made it much easier to focus upon those details. And, it is nice to see Anthony Jr. finally have a part in the series.

    Next up: Dr Melfi weeping in front of the TV as cameras keep vigil on the hospital.

  32. I too grew weary of Tony’s dream sequence (his dreams are so prosaic and Aristotelian but that’s just me–though Big Pussy as a fish on ice was an inspired moment from a few seasons back). I did like the helocopters (shades of my favorite sequence in Good Fellas) and I thought Edie Falco gave one of her strongest performances of the series. The open wound, the throwaway of Christopher driving the Maserati, the 9/11 “we’re all patriots” schtick, the jockeying for position among the captains, etc. I also am wondering if the big guy is actually going to make it. Unless the narrative takes a big leap forward, Tony is going to be out of commission for some time following such a catastrophic shooting. I’m thinking we’re going to have to get used to a lot more out of control spiralling of the lesser men in Tony’s orbit.

  33. I finally got to watch this one (thank you, Jeff!). I loved it, for many of the reasons noted, but particularly for Falco–Jesus, talk about an open wound. Her scene at the hospital bed was exemplary; Petty playing loosely in the background, the small insignificant memories that float up (but, pointedly, about drowning and being saved), the recollection of lust as her husband lies dying… It may be he’s always been this talented, but Chase’s writing after six years with these characters is able almost effortlessly, casually, indirectly to call up a whole sea of associations around a stray line of dialogue.

    My favorite thing about the 9/11 chatter, besides Christopher’s delivery of “No shit,” was the two guys at the Bada Bing later in the episode. We know this show, we know the stories of Atta et al. at the clubs–a profound fucking with the audience.

    Nikki–not sure how I’d come into this show without all that history. But I imagine it’d be like starting _War and Peace_ on page 364. They almost don’t need “drama” anymore, there’s so much subtext.

  34. the last couple of episodes have been really good. vito’s own little version of an alternate life in new hampshire was nicely done tonight–though i don’t think this is going to end well. foreshadowing of tony’s own outcome back in the real world? carmela, who is becoming more and more dissatisfied with being a housewife, seems poised to enter into directly mob-fueled entrepreneurship–so much for the past moral center of the show. and melfi is now all but directly helping tony become a more effective boss.

  35. I think last night’s episode may be one of the strongest of the entire series (and it was directed by Timothy Van Patten who’s been working with Chase and co. for a number of seasons). The complex, often abrupt shifts of mood and tone is enough to make it memorable. But the writing . . . the way the episode’s self-reflexivity (making fun of cultural products that promote the “gay lifestyle” in a show that, ultimately, appears to promote a “gay lifestyle”; and the reference to Showtime’s “The L Word” was brilliant) enhances our understanding of the characters. Not to mention Meadow’s new job as a legal aid assistant and her self-righteous indignation, which is called out by her boyfriend in one of the ep’s stronger scenes. I can’t wait to watch this again as I think it will take at least two viewings for total appreciation.

  36. don’t quite know yet what to make of the whole expensive schwag thing–christopher and sir ben kingsley in the luxury lounge, the two hitmen comparing their shopping hauls on the plane. the whole show had a slightly surrealistic edge to it. but christopher punching lauren bacall in the face after complimenting her on her performance in the haves and have nots? that was priceless.

    this was episode 7, right? i need to make a tape for michael.

  37. Yeah, you liked it a bit more than I did but maybe that’s because last week’s episode was such a delight. If Christopher’s screenplay idea was interesting on any level, I might be willing to follow this thread a bit further. As for now, I’m hoping we are done with Hollywood. There have been many references this season to the fact that what Tony and his crew “do” (corruption, murder, payola, thievery) is in no way different than what governments, corporations, industries, etc., “do” every single day. Thus, the season’s conflation of Hollywood, the American military industrial complex, Al-Quaida, and organized crime makes sense (according to the show’s current Hobbesian philosophy).

  38. i thought the episode was a bit of a letdown after last week as well. perhaps because i really want to keep following the vito thread. it is possible that a later viewing as a stand-alone episode may improve this a lot. but i really do like the christopher and little carmine in hollywood stuff–it is artie i could i have done with less off.

  39. Yeah, Artie is about as stale as the psychologist (whose character name I cannot even remember . . . ok I cheated, it’s Dr. Melfi). Arnab, you are right that she is now complicitly enabling Tony to be a better mobster; but I feel those script choices have more to do with keeping Lorraine Bracco around than the direction (now seven years down the road) of the show’s dramatic narrative. Tony should have cut himself loose from Melfi at least two seasons ago. I don’t think it would have changed anything about his character if he had. One thing I have enjoyed this season is Michael Imperioli’s work. He’s starting to show some age in his face and I like the newfound/post-Adriana maturity he’s investing in the character (well maybe he’s simply more of a wiseguy than he was in 1999 but I’ve enjoyed his character more this season than in past seasons–maybe it was all the horse he was shooting up his toe . . . that shit will deaden one’s dramatic desires).

  40. I liked the Vito story but it seemed much more artificial than the Artie story. Here is a character (Vito) that has been set up for this one episode since last season when Meadow’s boyfriend sees him going down on the security guard. He has no real history on the show — he exists only for this one purpose — and the producers create an episode around him to explore how mobsters deal with homosexuality. It is well done, but it has the feel of a lesson plan (like ‘Crash’).

    Artie is exasperating, and hard to fit into a single obvious box (“here is the lesson from today’s episode”) but he has a history on the show, and we have seen his character fuck up, and equivocate, and whine before. It just seemed more authentic to the show than the Vito episode. Navigating human frailty strikes me as more interesting than telling us that modern Italian men with mob connections are ambivalent when it comes to dealing with homosexuality. No shit.

  41. True but at least Vito’s sexuality was a new and somewhat unexpected angle for the series to take. And this series has introduced interesting characters every season . . . I’m not sure our allegiances must be kept to those who have been around since 1999. As far as the ambivalence goes . . . Tony got his boat because of Vito so the “lets keep him around” sentiment is a bit complicated. And while I’m not a fan, the show has never seemed to know what to do with Artie so his character is constantly recycling the same old conflicts. Finally, its been a while since I’ve seen an episode of “The Sopranos” that navigated human frailty as thoughtfully as last week’s episode. Vito walking around Antigue-ville, New Hampshire shouldn’t have worked (van Patten juggled the tonal shifts magnificently) but it was heartbreaking.

  42. jeff, the vito episode actually worked so well for me because it seemed so aware of its own unlikelihood. as i said before, it seemed to me to be on the verge of being an alternate reality sequence a la tony’s more dramatic one at the start of the season. vito enters a bucolic paradise, where everyone is nice, no one needs money down, and gay men live in peace and harmony (he even develops artistic judgement)–meanwhile the “real” world keeps intruding into the viewer’s enjoyment of this idyll.

    chris, even though the gambino family apparently had an openly gay member who was tolerated because he was good at cutting bodies up, i don’t think that mobsters dealing with homosexuality is as much the point here as the show’s reiteration of the narrative of possible escape into another life. everybody’s reality seems to be shifting this season–the only one so far who seems to be completely happy being where he is is silvio, whose brief brush with a more powerful life gave him a near fatal asthma attack.

  43. I agree with you very much; still, there are moments in the Vito ep when the looks on his face (the way he seems to be signifying the heartbreaking surrealness of it all) reveal Vito’s immense investment in this detour’s unlikeliness. It is an alternate reality sequence, yet Vito is very much alive and awake. However buccolic or idyllic, one gets the impression that Vito knows this experience will be truly, unbearingly ephemeral. That’s why I argue the ep to be about human frailty. Every time we turn on the TV or fire up a DVD, we enter into a world far removed from our own and always just out of reach. Some of those worlds we are happy to keep in their place; others are so attractive we feel great loss at what we will never have. I’m rambling . . . but unlike Reynolds, my rambles have a low word count.

  44. Interesting reading, and I suppose you could argue that (in light of the first episode) a theme is emerging of mobsters trying to escape the life but being pulled back in (and presumably dying in the process). Maybe there are clues in the William Burroughs piece, though Vito was not among those pictured.

    Still, I think the reading is a little forced. Far more time is spent with the New Jersey family ranting about Vito’s sexuality, and Tony taking the more nuanced view, than with Vito wandering through that small NH town. You see him in the diner and then for a few seconds in the antique store, but that is about it, and the latter moment is presumably designed to indicate impending sex rather than human frailty. I don’t see the heartbreaking
    nature of Vito’s performance to the same extent that the two of you do.

    The problem is probably my expectations rather than the Vito episode. We have entered the middle part of the season, and the producers are giving us these self-contained episodes (Vito, Artie) while they mark time before moving the overall story forward. I’m impatient for Johnny or Phil to lose it, or to see the episode that contains the scene of Christopher losing it that plays in the series previews. Too many plot lines are hanging and we have seen next to nothing of Carmela, Silvio, Paulie, Uncle Junior, etc. in the last two weeks.

  45. Did anybody notice the continuity error in “The Sopranos” a couple of eps ago (the one where AJ tries to kill Junior). While on the boat/yacht with Tony, AJ’s hair is still long and stringy but throughout the rest of the ep (before and after this scene) he has a new short cut. It is so rare to see such an mistake that I thought the boat sequence to be a dream, but then I realized it was simply a mistake.

  46. To tie together the escape motif and Chris’ point about how much more time is spent with the “Jersey family ranting” than with Vito–I would argue (as I did before the season) that the show is about not changing. What we’ve seen through this season (or really all of them, ‘though more centrally now) is a repetition of narratives of escape–Tony’s alternate life (wherein he also seems to be trying to escape), Carmela’s short-lived separation and now real estate, Christopher once again in Hollywood, and so on down the line, to Artie (a long-standing favorite of mine), newbies like Vito, one-off expendable cast members like that guy in episode 1. All seem to want to get out.

    The moral might be: they pull you back in. (The show couldn’t have been more explicit about this, eh? Sil thankfully stopped doing Pacino a couple of seasons ago, but…) But the Jersey ranting about Vito is not about him being gay–it’s about him thinking he can get away. My favorite example is Paulie, who goes off on the gangster’s son (trying to sell the family business, because completely sheltered from that business)–right after we think Paulie is breaking down in some moment of compassion and recognition, he goes and beats the shit out of the guy who seems to represent some family love and extra-mob achievement that he might desire.

    But maybe ‘they’ aren’t to blame: even as the characters see an opportunity for change, recognize and affirm their desires to get away, they return to the same old patterns and behaviors. Tony back (probably) to dicking around; Christopher with the illusion of screenwriting (but now pointedly and scabrously hilariously pathetically remaining a thug who punches older women to grab a fucking gift basket). Even those who are more tangentially connected, or indirectly complicit — Melfi, Carmela, and increasingly A.J.–are getting seduced by the life, unable to imagine themselves as anything but in that life.
    Vito–obviously–seems to have run through that moment (punching his love object rather than accepting the kiss) but gotten past it. Now he’s lying in green fields, making out. Ain’t gonna last, though.

    La plus ca change. The more that changes, the more NOTHING happens in the show. Again, I think the show’s brilliance is its relentless denial of transformation or evolution in people. Here we are, all debating about what we like that’s new, when even Vito’s bucolic sabbatical seems merely a variation on the show’s single aria: You are a fucking bastard who cares only about yourself, and you will never, ever change or escape your self.

    What an astounding long-term narrative. God, I love it. (Only one episode behind right now…)

    Note: my thesis may be challenged, but not by any of these folks, I think–maybe Meadow… maybe. But I doubt it. I predict that she will have Finn whacked. I’m only half-joking.

  47. Malfi doesn’t fit very well into your thesis (though she has flirted with the edges), but then again your thesis–though well argued–seems to reflect the human condition at its most obvious. I mean isn’t that what this blog is all about . . . escape, escapism, the impossibility of getting outside the self (short some radical existential act or a flight to Miami)? Some people critique movies with gusto and passion, others help Katrina victims, others write the great American novel, others spend hours and hours loading their collection of pop songs from one appliance to another.

  48. so, vito’s back in town. i loved the bits with vito working a real construction job, and was reminded of chris’ comment about tony’s alternate life sequence earlier in the season (see #36 above). vito would rather choose possible dispatch at the hands of his former associates than a full day’s work. or is that too cynical a reading? is he the one character so far willing to stop living a lie? we’ll see.

    michael should be joining in on the first 6 episodes anytime now–i hear he’s managed to watch them.

  49. well, so much for vito (in the previous episode). tonight’s finale was good, but, as much as i’ve enjoyed the last few episodes, this season is beginning to feel like 12 episodes stretched out to 20.

  50. Okay, couple quick reactions–thanks to Jeff, I’m all caught up.

    12 episodes stretched out to 20: well, perhaps. I was startled that they reiterated an old formula for season enders–the penultimate episode sets us up for climax and explosion; the ultimate episode finds conflict defused, so that no one has to do anything different.
    “You have a beatiful home.” “Yes, we do.” Falco’s perfect line reading resonanted strongly for me–as has the season–despite the fact that I, too, am feeling frustrated that this doesn’t seem to be a show building toward finale but instead blithely following the vision it’s always laid out, as if things will never change. Then again, I find that frustration (see all my rants above) pleasurable.

    The impossibility of getting outside the self and the promise/allure of escapism: Two points on this challenge (52, above) from Jeff —

    1. My argument seems like human condition 101, to Jeff–but I’d argue that even that simple set of notes leads to endless, intriguing variation. E.g., Michael and I debated whether Beckett or Freud was the better model for reading the show’s escape-free repetitions, and while you can hear the same chord in those respective narrations, they lead to profoundly different tunes, provoke a starkly-distinguished set of interpretive possibilities. (We could add on any number of other narrative antecedents for the failure to escape: Sophocles’ Oedipus, Camus’ Sisyphus, Jones’ Wile E. Coyote, Bach’s Goldberg Variations [?], Romero’s zombie flicks.) Just because it’s archetypical doesn’t mean that interpreting the show in this way is too blandly typical.

    2. While it may be an old story, how often do we see television so brutally and forcefully rubbing our face in the failure to escape? You could argue that all good serial television is dependent on such failures: lord knows, we don’t really want Monica and Ross and their ilk to do anything different or to move on. And if the ratings held, and the stars were happy, they never fucking would. So television is profoundly commercially uninterested in change and escape… and yet it is marketed and read/interpreted as exactly that escape, exactly that representation of changing and evolving and very specially learning lessons and so on. And that illusion of characters changing offers up a seductive false escape for us viewers, too–we don’t need to do anything different, we’ll watch Monica and Ross (and their ilk) ….
    …So, again: I think “The Sopranos” is flat brilliant and revolutionary; it aggressively resists our desires for the medium, and I’d even say it pushes hard up against the ideologies of middle- and upper-class America which television so effectively tends to reinforce.

    That said, I still find myself waiting for the shovel to crash down on Christopher’s head.

  51. Yeah, poor old Chrissy. The only question is whether Phil or Tony gets to him first. I remember what happened to the last guy who slept with one of Tony’s women. On the other hand, that might be too obvious for Chase so maybe Christopher will still be standing in 8 episodes’ time.

    I did enjoy the season, and I’m mindful that when I watch a whole season in a week, which I usually do just before the start of the next season, I tend to find even more to love.

    Disappointments: Melfi seems to be kept around out of nostalgia rather than to help Tony work through issues; not enough of Paulie or Silvio.

    Pleasures: Carmela (as always); Anthony junior’s bewildered expression at pretty much everything; Tony’s reaction to nearly dying; the underlying tension between a “traditional” (I’m making these descriptors up) mob where emotion and bigotry erupt at the drop of a hat, and a more “modern” capitalist mob, where almost anything is tolerated as long as it makes money for the family. Tony seems to represent the modern mob, always reminding Phil or Johnny Sack, or his own crew that the purpose is to make money. He is even willing to work with Vito in AC.

  52. Has the season ended for now? I am waiting until I have all of the episodes (12? then they’re doing 8 more at a later date?) and then I’m doing a soprano’s weekend orgy!

  53. I like reynolds reading, and I think it’s terrific to point out that the rant against Vito was not so much about him being gay, but about him thinking he can get away with it, can escape. And where does he escape to? A quaint, B&B-type town miles from the big city. This point should take us back to our discussion of A History of Violence–particularly those thoughtful comments about the rural gangster film. Ahem.

  54. Excellent summary. I don’t think I really understood who was who in the Johnny Sack vs. Little Carmine succession before this.

    I watched season six over the past week, two episodes a night. The Sopranos is always good, but the immersion effect of watching a season in such a short time brings out just how good a narrative structure is: countless characters and story lines, but they all intersect, and they all circle around a relatively small number of repeated themes. Carmela and Christopher were particularly good last season.

    And I struck again and again by the tension between pre/non-capitalist values (as exemplified by Phil and Paulie) and capitalist ones (where Tony reigns supreme). The basic goal of making money is repeatedly threatened by notions of manhood and blood feuds. For Tony, Vito is, above all, a good earner, and that trumps him being gay. The series focuses upon Tony’s frailties, but he is simply a better, smarter mobster than any of the others.

  55. yes, a great summary, and made me think i might have missed a couple of episodes in seasons 3 and 4. chris, i like your schema at first glance, but then it seems like it might be a little too pat. for paulie, at least, money trumps everything–he’s completely biddable. i’m tempted to draw my own pat schema through freud: lining up the characters up on a line between id and super ego, who can control their appetites (if only for a while) and who cannot.

  56. You’re right but the complication is to know what Paulie would do if were not subject to Tony’s ultimate control. His emotions seem to trump his pocketbook, but usually Tony forces him back in line. The episode with the rowing (sculling?) son of the garbage collector was interesting because his decision to beat the kid up and demand $4k a month (from a ski instructor?) was driven by hatred of the close mother-son relationship at the same time he felt betrayed by his mother.

    Try a line up using id and super ego. I’d like to see where you place the characters (esp. Christopher and Carmela).

  57. Damn you Arnab! I had three cable trucks in my driveway this morning after I yelled at them to get my HBO working. Then I watch the first episode this evening, expecting every moment to see Tony killed, and he is still standing. I wonder how I would have experienced the mounting tension between Bobby and Tony if I hadn’t been expecting a death.

  58. On a night on which Chelsea go through to the Champions’ League semi-finals with a wonderful second half performance against Valencia, I forgive you Arnab.

  59. I’m watching the first series of The Sopranos again. It has been at least a three or four years since I last watched this series. I had forgotten how good it is. Almost every moment is worth savoring. And in one of them, Christopher shoots a bakery clerk in the foot for serving people ahead of him. The last customer is a civilian named Gino. He is played by Joseph Gannascoli, who reappeared as Vito last season. It was before his diet. Are there other actors who reappear as different characters across the 6 or 7 series?

  60. What’s up with this season? The last 3 episodes have been just plain awful. Tony develops a gambling addiction that lasts a single episode, and then has a totally out-of-character, and quite unbelievable conversation with Carmela about betting the proceeds of the house sale on the Jets?

    And then this week… SPOILER, why on earth did Tony kill Christopher? I just don’t understand where that was coming from. We are led to believe that he saw Christopher as a liability and was glad to be rid of him, but nothing in the previous several episodes makes it believable that he would kill him, and, in any case, he makes the decision very quickly.

  61. Ah, we posted at the same time. I’m not sure there is enough evidence that it was a mercy killing, though that would have been more in character. But then why his repeated expressions of frustration at Christopher to Melfi and others?

  62. I believed it completely. First, Chris is doing that death rattle wheeze and coughing up blood; he looked like he was dying to me (even if the suggestion that he would have lived is bandied about after the fact). And Chris is a fuck up and Tony has been concerned about him turning state’s evidence ever since they killed Ade. So, it was was both a mercy killing and a cold-blooded murder, generating an oppositional tension which made the entire episode very powerful. I think the last two episodes have been very good (Ingmar Bergman good–dark, depressive, bleak, malevolent, amoral, violent in word and deed). I do, however, agree the gambling stuff feels as if it has emerged from left field. Still, Tony explained it away as a result of his surviving the gun shot last year and then, last night, when he won big while fucked up on peyote; he seemed to think his bad luck at the table (now, the fact that he play’s a loser’s game, roulette, is worth pondering) was now over with Chris out of the way. I don’t think the gambling stuff is going to go away anytime real soon.

  63. Jeff–your point is well-taken, it was both. I found the last two episodes to be very good, too, though I do share to some degree Chris’ frustration that certain threads are not picked up more fully–I’m waiting for these things to converge in the last couple of episodes (will there be repercussions to Bobby’s first murder, to Chris’ shooting of the writing, what’s the relevance of Tony passing on terrorism tips to the FBI–most importantly, what’s happening with Leotardo’s power grab?).

  64. I think we get three more episodes (and we can only hope the last ep is, to paraphrase Luca Brasi, a masculine one). Personally, I want more shit on the floor.

  65. One additional question. Over at SLATE one of the pundits who have been offering commentary on the series for the last few weeks noted that Tony screamed out “I get it” while watching the sunrise as his peyote high subsided in the final moments. I’m almost certain he said “I did it” (which makes more sense given the episode’s dramatic action). Anyone remember?

  66. Well, I always enjoy ‘The Sopranos’ more when I watch an entire season in a week or so, and the continuity becomes clearer, so maybe I will like this more when it comes out on DVD. But recent episodes seem choppy, without the rich dialogue we are used to. Above all, people are acting out of character in order to move the story along: Tony to Carm over the gambling; Paulie to Christopher (in fact the whole family to Christopher in the scene when he gets drunk before killing JT); why is Silvio not offering advice to Tony when he sees him going wrong? And, as Michael points out, Phil Leotardo is just being kept warm with a couple of minutes an episode, until what we assume will be a crucial showdown at the end.

  67. I think the Leotardo stuff is a ruse, but we’ll see.

    I agree about the lack of rich dialogue (though the opening ep set at the lake house was very well written), but what I have been drawn to in the last few episodes are the grand moments of stillness–the way the camera probingly lingers on a moment a few beats longer than it probably should (thus the Bergman reference or even Tarkovsky). While the dialogue may be found wanting, the psychological intensity packed into nearly every frame (at least in the last two eps) has been very dense and, if I may say so, satisfying.

    Perhaps what Tony “gets” is the dangerous allure of drugs. I don’t recall him snorting coke or smoking pot or much of anything like that. Maybe it was a kind of apology to Chris, may he rest in peace.

  68. I heard “I get it”–and I think Tony’s shaping up to do a bunch of horrible, selfish things in the last two episodes. (Realize that I haven’t seen the one just shown.) While the gambling seems an abnormal tic, it’s psychologically in keeping with his “development” (if that’s the word) over the season. Moving from smelling the roses to gorging his appetites, taking it all as his birthright. I think the peyote with(not to mention boffing) a former playmate of Chris’ and then raking in dough at the roulette table were “signs” that he deserves what he’s getting, that happiness will come as he throws aside every last shred of guilt and concern for others.

    So my reading runs a bit counter to some of the ones above….

    I must say, one of my favorite parts of the last couple episodes was seeing poor beleaguered Tim Daly once again sucked in–and this time blown away–by Chris. I like how various minor figures (Johnny S, Hesh, Daly’s schmoe) are getting intriguing little wraps. (And the dominant theme of the show as always: get close to any of the Sopranos–especially Tony, Carmela, or either of the kids–and you will pay.)

  69. For what it is worth, I loved the last episode. The way Tony deals with threats/challenges to both his children was touching and entirely within character. Confronting Melfi with the possibility that she has actually been aiding Tony’s ability to rationalize and disguise his actions was remarkable. The scene when Phil refuses the compromise on asbestos by talking about his prison experience was chilling. Tony furtively removing Coco’s tooth from his trouser fold during family counseling… And the final shot from behind of Tony shambling into the locked-down area of the psychiatric institution, and ruffling AJ’s hair, was as powerful as anything in the series. Michael Corleone in Godfather 3. Really a great episode.

    I’m afraid that my dream of them all moving to Italy and living happily ever after is not to be. But if it is all going to end in tragedy, I at least want to see Phil dead at the end of it. I hate that fucker.

  70. it was an amazing episode–i was on edge for about 30 minutes straight. god, i’m going to miss the show.

    and i think i’m wrong as well about the show ending in stasis. looks like apocalypse is on the way. i have a feeling phil will be last man standing. hands down, scariest man on television. as one of the mob experts referenced below once said of johnny sac, he’s the only one still behaving like a mobster.

    re the slate weekly conversation about the show: this season’s conversation sucks. the two best conversations were from the seasons when they had a bunch of psychiatrists and then a pair of mob experts discuss the show. this lot often don’t even seem to know what’s going on. one of them thought that the episode which ended with phil announcing he was not going to take shit anymore meant that he was retiring his mob aspirations for good.

  71. somehow the terrorism angle is going to play into this–otherwise there’s no point in focusing and then bringing up Tony’s tip about his two former associates–will it be possible that the mob mayhem will be upstaged by a more globalized violence?

  72. the terrorism stuff seemed to me suggest the possibility of tony turning informer in a bigger way. especially given the tip of the hat to the departed last week. will the fbi rub leotardo out to preseve tony as a possible informer?

    who the hell knows? there are so many open threads and only two episodes left.

  73. Watching the first series again very recently, I was struck by how prominent the twin towers were in the opening sequence over the credits. Then, of course, they disappeared after 2001. It would be an interesting move if terrorism came to overwhelm the storyline at the end of the final series.

  74. Melfi’s decision to cut off Tony’s therapy brings up an interesting point of ethics–was she right in doing so, or was she being, in Tony’s words, “immoral”? by the way, apparently the study quoted is real.

  75. i’ve had at least two therapists cut off therapy with me. one of them was at the USC student behavioral health center (or whatever the hell it was called). just thought i’d share this with the loving community of WLTW.

    what does the study quoted say?

  76. my new ending theory is that tony will survive the war but be killed by janice who believes that it was tony and not new york that had bobby whacked; this due to her conversation with tony about bobby’s feelings about junior, and tony ending it by threatening to cut bobby out.

    things would have ended much better for the new jersey crew if phil leotardo hadn’t had such bad luck in earlier mob movies–joe pesci kicks the crap out of him in raging bull and he gets far worse in goodfellas. this is karmic payback–too bad for tony that it’s on his show.

    i think the way melfi cuts tony loose suggests that she has fallen further ethically than she’s helped him rise. in the one bright spot in this year’s crappy slate conversation about the show, one of the show’s writers recently observed that when tony first goes to melfi in season 1 and they hash out the boundaries of the relationship, she adds “technically” after the statement that she is required to inform the police about any imminent murders she comes to know about, and that this “technically” says a lot about melfi and her own prurient attraction to tony’s business. following this, her cutting tony off therefore is not because she doesn’t want to help a sociopath (the ethical reading) but because she finally faces up to the fact that helping him has never been her primary motivation. dammit! smug peter bogdanovich was right all along!

  77. SPOILER.

    So? I felt cheated at first. Whack him, don’t whack him. But make up your mind. Not just fade to black. But it has grown on me. It could be that Tony is about to get whacked. Or that the FBI are preparing for an arrest. Or that it is all perfectly innocent and Tony is imagining the worst. Anything would have been anti-climactic except a bloodbath. The last episode was full of the mundane family stuff that has occupied Tony for the last 8 years — Janice gold-digging, AJ self-pitying, Meadow self-righteous — even as he was a hunted man. That bit, at least, Chase got right. I already miss it.

  78. I, too felt disappointed. But the ending—or lack of it–does have the quality of maintaining the show’s moral ambiguity (and its pointed manipulation of and critique of “our” fascination)–Tony doesn’t get his “comeuppance” (though of course you can imagine that last scene as leading up to a hit–perhaps that’s a bit of cheating on Chase’s part?) There is a disturbing sense that the Soprano family will maintain their destructive self-absorption: AJ is drawn further into the mob circle by working on a film financed by his father (and there’s the suggestion he will soon be a mob-financed club owner); Carmella, mercenary as always, checks out furnishings for her beach house; and Meadow, the last hope for decency perhaps, goes on about how she wants to become a lawyer because she saw all the times the FBI harassed her father. Going underground temporarily apparently did not bring these people to the awareness of what their lives are founded on. Tony once said that the only end for someone like him was jail or death—both options continue to be on the table, with prison especially a looming possibility with the likely indictment on the gun charge and testimony by former associates. So perhaps I am still disappointed at such teasing irresolution…but I grant the wisdom of keeping Tony at loose ends and resisting moral certainty.

    Now my two favorite shows The Sopranos and The Shield have ended (though the latter will return)…what am I to do? I am thinking of giving Rescue Me and The Riches a chance–anybody watch them?

  79. I thought it was a fantastic final episode–from the “Twilight Zone” background dialogue (on the importance of the writer in the creative process, if I remember correctly) to the anxiety inducing final moments to the FBI agent’s betrayal of Phil’s whereabouts (not to mention his own little cellphone fight with the misses) to Phil’s grand gesture to save his grandchildren to Tony suggestion that his sister create a new nuclear family. I did think Meadow’s “denial” was a bit much; didn’t she once have to wake AJ up to the fact that dad was a mobster? Still, as series finales go, this one was damn good and very satisfying. Will have to see it again in the next couple of days.

    And I liked “John from Cincinnati” Michael so what about that? “Rescue Me” I like when its all dark or darkly, darkly comic, but when it’s a bunch of bozos straight out of central casting sitting around waiting for a fire, I find it substandard . . . maybe I’ll watch a few more episodes this summer.

  80. i liked the episode a lot, especially the decision to end once again with all the tedious minutiae of soprano family life. but what up with meadow’s parallel parking nightmare? sunhee says it was meant to make us think that she was about to miss the rest of the family being wiped out; me, i was on edge even without that, so felt jerked around.

    what was phil’s grand gesture to save his grandchildren?

  81. Phil used his head as a wedge to stop the SUV in its tracks, and thus to save his grandchilden. I’m not sure you could call it a conscious act of bravery though.

  82. oh, i imagined it rolled over him and continued into traffic off-camera. but maybe that’s because i just watched battle royale.

    i have no idea what mafia sit-downs are really like but i loved how ritualistic they were in the show. take last night’s, for example: everyone knows little carmine is a putz, phil’s crew even went after his in the past; his presence there has nothing to do with his abilities or anyone’s respect for him, but it is still necessary for him to legitimize the betrayal/negotiation underway by saying only, “it didn’t have to work out this way”.

  83. Jeff..I’ll give “John” a try, though I didn’t watch it last night and was planning to cancel my HBO (save $15 a month). Meadow’s problem with parking made me fear for a moment an ending out of Godfather 3 where she’d be killed in front of her father—but thankfully that didn’t happen. How about Paulie–he survives everything, like a roach. and pardon my inattentiveness but who is Carlo, the guy who’s planning to rat on Tony? Is he the guy Tony put in charge of construction?

  84. carlo is the really homophobic one, the one who thinks vito should be killed for being gay, and praises phil for doing it. his son is one of the rutgers fuckups that a.j hangs out with.

  85. Hey – Battle Royale. Now there’s a movie. Had you seen it before Arnab? Did you like it? I thought boht it and the book were hysterical. That is, it was written hystericaly, acted hysterically – except Takashi – and so on. still, a lot of fun, and made me fall madly in love with Chiaki Kuriyama.

    Can I also suggest to the group at large that when posting about new movies we don’t need to use a two year old “general” thread? There’s nothing wrong with starting new threads. We won’t run out of them. If it’s about a particular film or director that was previously discussed a while back, fine. But if it’s about “Crap movies” or “new previews” I think it’s fine – after 18 months or so – to fire up a new thread. just my opinion.

  86. I’m just watching ‘Raging Bull’ for the first time in probably twenty years. Five minutes in, I hear the unmistakable voice of Phil Leotardo. Sure enough, Frank Vincent plays the local mob guy from whom Jake steals Vickie. I looked Vincent up on IMDb. Surprisingly little: some mob movies and voice work on a couple of Grant Theft Autos. He deserves to be known better. We once had a thread of under-valued character actors, but I can’t find it now. Anyway, Vincent deserves to be on that list.

  87. Hey Mike, if I read the Netflix ‘Friends’ section correctly (and I probably don’t), you recommend the Sopranos, season 6, part 2. Does this mean that you have seen the DVD? If so, my question: does the DVD have alternate endings of the final episode? I remember reading that Chase filmed three different endings so that the cast would not know which he would use. I wonder if they are all available on the DVD?

  88. Nope–I didn’t see any alternate endings. Which was fine with me: I loved this one. No one learns anything; everybody around the family but the catlike moron Paulie W is destroyed; Tony, as at every point along the way, surrounded by his grubbing family and in danger but–put in a quarter–indulging his appetites.

    I like the scene–as with the whole season, and the whole series–teasing us with details that seem portentous and meaningful, but (cut to black) don’t come together in a resolution. The resistance to closure is not just keeping our engagement alive–it’s a slap at what television viewers crave: indulging in the worst sensationalizing details while wanting to see punishment, redemption, and/or personal growth. Chase says Fuck You. Nice.

    I also think the critique of Melfi, so effectively explicated by you guys in the above comments already, is also tied to a critique of us viewers: again, what are we getting out of the show? We want him to get better, to change–to come out of it all a new man? Bullshit. As Arnab says about Melfi, the point is not Tony’s ethical failures but ours/hers…

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