If you haven't seen the grand finale of "The Sopranos" yet, please skip this and move to the second segment of this post.
For those who did watch it, the last scene will certainly stir debate. I'll throw it down first: I flat out loved it.
Chase spent much of the episode like most TV finales do, wrapping up loose ends. Tony consolidates power once again with some of his best manuevering, visits Sil in his hospital bed and Uncle Junior in the state mental hospital, and tries unsuccessfully to get Paulie to take on a key new mission.
OK, so far, so good. At the end of a traditional finale, of course, we'd then want to know what happens to Tony. But instead David Chase threw a curveball with a final scene that brilliantly leaves us guessing.
I watched the last five minutes or so again this morning, and it's just perfectly constructed. Every sound and camera move adds to the tension, undercut by Journey playing in the background and Meadow's comical inability to parallel park her car (a skill which I've never felt the need to master.) And then, of course, it fades to black.
Were we cheated? I say hell no. Chase's point, if I may be so bold to guess, has always been that, no matter how hard he schemes to hold on to power, Tony will never live in a world full of certainty. He'll always be in danger, and that's the way we (or at least I) like to see him.
I know there are many people out there who would have liked to see the scene end with more closure, but this mini-season, especially in the penultimate episode and this brilliant lack-of-finale, was just pitch-perfect to me.
HBO's third best show ever (behind only "The Larry Sanders Show" and "The Wire") has gone out on top. Agree? Disagree? Please let me know what you think.
Van Sant to drink the Kool-Aid
Gus Van Sant is a director who frequently just makes my blood boil. Capable of greatness ("Drugstore Cowboy" and "Elephant"), he just as often turns out treacle ("Finding Forrester") or, because he has no original thoughts of his own, just copies a great movie, shot-for-shot ("Psycho").
Now, however, he's got his hands on something that just might inspire him to greatness again. He's set to direct a big-screen version of Tom Wolfe's (not Ken Kesey's, as frequent visitor Bill was kind enough to politely point out) "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test," with "Big Love" scribe Lance Black writing the script.
It's been a long time since I read the book, but if I remember correctly it's about Kesey and his band of Merry Pranksters driving cross-country to the 1964 World's Fair in New York, spreading LSD and good cheer along the way.
Sounds tailor-made to Van Sant's strengths, and he's clearly loved Kesey for a long time, casting him in his truly odd take on "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues." Van Sant's current project, "Paranoid Park," based on Blake Nelson's novel about a skaterat who is involved in the accidental death of a security guard, got good notices this year at Cannes, and will get at least some kind of U.S. release this fall.
Time-waster of the day
Premiere magazine, which I believe now only exists in digital form, has performed a generous public service for those of us who would rather read about movies than do our actual jobs.
They've compiled a list of the 20 films they'd most see like to get out of development hell and on to the big screen. You can find out the status of not only classic failures like Terry Gilliam's "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" but also movies based on two of my favorite books, "The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" and "Confederacy of Dunces."
It's incredibly addictive reading, so don't start unless you've got 20 minutes or so to spare. Click here to enjoy, and have an entirely bearable Monday.