Monday, June 11, 2007

Monday Morning Review

Ed. Note: I started this entry on Monday and it will probably post as such. I had so much to say this week, but time got the better of me.

I had planned on making this a review of Ocean's 13, but I have to start with the Sopranos finale. I have watched it and rewatched it. Twice. I have concluded that it was brilliant. It was, in many ways, the perfect ending for that particular show.

Sopranos Finale

For those of us that watched the Sopranos, well, we were invested. You have to be invested to wait years between seasons, to say nothing of watching a show about the mob - something completely foreign to me. I remember when we first started watching it, the Greeks and B would consider it a dull episode if no one got whacked. The show did have that kind of audience as well, but I think those of us who liked the ending appreciated it for more than the carnal acts of violence and revenge.

My favorite season had very little violence and dealt primarily with the marriage of Tony and Carmela. For me, that relationship was pretty much the draw of the whole program. Her willful blindness, the negative space between them - it was both familiar and fascinating. The ordinariness of their lives - the problems with the kids, the need for therapy, the self-doubt, the marital conflict -- these were the things I could relate to. Tony Soprano as a character was an utter sociopath, but he was humanized by great writing. Even weirder? This actor - Gandolfini - he is overweight, balding, had a tragic Jersey accent and was more neurotic than anyone on Desperate Housewives and yet. And yet, the audience not only liked him, but they were attracted to him. Men secretly fantasized about being him and women wanted to fuck him (and the men wanted to be him for that reason).

In any event - yes, it was just a television show, but it was more if you let it be. I was more invested in Six Feet Under, but I find myself, days later, thinking about the totality of the program more than I did with SFU. The two shows couldn't be more different, but because I watched them both from start to finish, there is a natural need for comparison. SFU was the quintessential series finale -- it wrapped everything up and in a most surprising and emotional way. The Sopranos left it to the imagination of its audience, which, as I mentioned earlier, was pretty varied. I know a lot of people were pissed off that there wasn't more bloodshed. For me, at least, the ending was loyal to the show as a whole - it let the audience choose its own adventure, so to speak, and didn't need to wrap it all up in a bloody bow.

Ocean's Thirteen

In a word? A complete mess. Don't get me wrong - I laughed my ass off, chuckled quite a bit and had a great time. But I don't understand why the movie got some critical acclaim. It was truly a mess of dizzying plots, ridiculous suspensions of belief, and throwaway acting performances by pretty much everyone. It has the same snappy dialogue of the two previous, but the disconnect with a tight plot line made it ring a little hollow. I, for one, appreciated some quality Clooney time onscreen, but in the end, it felt phoned in.

Oddly, I liked Ocean's Twelve better than this. This is not the summer for sequels.

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