Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Rosebud, indeed

The AFI had their updated list of the 100 greatest American movies on TV tonight. Once again Citizen Kane held the #1 spot. I understand the significance of the movie and the fact that every shot is set up for a specific effect. In fact I find that slightly annoying. It's almost like someone showing off a huge diamond ring. It's always impressive, but it's also gaudy and totally uneccesary. That's Citizen Kane.

For my money the two greatest American movies are The Godfather and Lawrence of Arabia. The Godfather is perhaps the best screenplay that's ever been put on film. Lawrence of Arabia presents an epic story in an epic fashion. Perhaps no other film better demonstrates the possiblilites of film making. I've changed my opinion as to which is actually the best, but either would be a great choice.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sleeps with the Fishes

The Sopranos ended last night after 8 years and 6 seasons. I was shocked by the lack of resolution to the Sopranos saga. David Chase had 8 years to think of how he was going to end this thing and the best he could come up with was a final diner scene and an abrupt cut to black? People will talk about "artistic vision" and that the ending was ambiguous so that the viewer could make up his own mind about what happened to the characters. I have to respond by saying that good stories do not leave you guessing at the end, they leave you thinking at the end. A thought provoking ending is different than a non-conclusive ending that leaves your audience confounded. Clearly most series or movies aren't going to end like "Six Feet Under", where they literally took each of the main characters to the end of their life (brilliant and totally satisfying, by the way), but there is usually some resolution to the story.

David Chase chose not to give the story any resolution. He's a rich man at this point and I guess he can do whatever he wants, but it's unfair to his audience, who has invested so much of it's time and made David Chase a multi-millionaire, to just leave them hanging. Art house endings should remain in the art house. This was not some obscure Swedish existential movie. This was one of the most popular series in American TV history. Can you imagine if MASH just ended while Hawkeye was in surgery? I think this ending just shows Chase's contempt for his audience. It was just him saying that I'm going to end this they way I want to and I don't give a rat's ass what you people think. Chase wasn't even in the country for the finale. Apparently he went to Europe to escape all the controversy.

Ambiguity is fine, but not at the end of a series. The audience deserves more. I personally think that David Chase took the easy way out.