Tim - It's time to add TV
With the passing of James Gandolfini and all the resulting talk about how much he and David Chase changed TV in 1999, and how today much of the best writing and best acting is coming for TV shows, it's time. Either this forum should be re-named "Film and TV History & Appreciation" or there should be a separate forum just for discussion of today's BRILLIANT spectrum of TV shows be they cable, subscription, net and even broadcast. Breaking Bad, Homeland, House of Cards, Alpha House (Amazon Originals), Mad Men, of course The Wire and on and on. TV today is in a completely different place than it was pre-Sopranos.
Rest in Peace, Mr. Gandolfini and thank you.
Film AND TV would be okay by me. But the title of this forum hasn't stopped us discussing TV yet.
I really liked Gandolfini's portrayal of a warden in "The Last Castle", with Robert Redford.
His character is a nebbishy, sadistic failure, unsuited to battle command and side-tracked into the warden job where he's made himself the biggest fish in the smallest pond. He's awed by his famous prisoner, but at the same time, feels inadequate and wants to assert his own dominance over Redford and by association, the entire Army that devalued Gandolfini, in a symbolic way.
They get into a battle of wits and wills, and Gandolfini's slow burn as he is made into Colonel Klink by Redford's Hogan is perfect.
Worth a rental.
Yeah, we've had a bunch of TV threads lately: shows on pay cable, basic cable, Arrested Development, Hemlock Grove, and others, just in the past month or so. There was also a recent thread on TV title sequences, and because I'm a vainglorious self-pimp, I'll point to my mega-post on Friday night, ABC, 1971-72, and curtsy like the little girl I am.
However, like the grown-up pimp that I am, I'll also point you all to Nick Griffin's amazing look at David Simon's The Wire. His article is an absolutely stunning epic, one of the best things we've ever published.
(Refugees from the pan and scan thread, take note: Simon chose to produce The Wire in 4:3 because "it feels more like real life." Discuss!)
That said, Nick, after several unsuccessful attempts to have a forum where we talk about CONSUMING media, and not just CREATING it, this is as close as we've gotten. :-) I don't even like the name "film" as much as I do "movies" for what the forum actually IS, so thanks for the reminder. I'll chew on that.
Gandolfini's performance was one of the greatest in all of television, or frankly, anything. He managed to combine Everyman (hates his job, doesn't understand his kids, will never live up to his father's ghost. etc.) and his nature as a monster in a way that was so sympathetic that his worst behavior was all the more shocking. In the end, it was no wonder to me that he's the one who pulled the plug on the show, saying that he couldn't live inside Tony Soprano's head anymore.
Gandolfini was too much of a pro to let his pain show in inappropriate ways -- nobody who didn't KNOW that he'd said that would never have guessed it -- but I found the last season to be an amazing pay-off of the show's very simple opening premise: he knows his job is killing him, but he can't stop. Tony's dysphoria eventually reveals itself as madness, and by the end, slides into hallucination-inducing despair. By then, he's come to understand the roots of his pain not just in obvious external factors, but literally, in his DNA. It's inside him. He can NEVER escape THAT, and while some people find a way to live with it, he can't. No character has ever worn that agony for that long, not in TV, and certainly not in a movie or play that lasts less than 3 episodes of the 86 it ran.
I'm glad he was able to put enough distance between Tony Soprano and James Gandolfini. I hope it was enough distance for him to find some peace. I certainly wish he'd had more time to enjoy it: 51 is way, way too young.
[Tim Wilson] "(Refugees from the pan and scan thread, take note: Simon chose to produce The Wire in 4:3 because "it feels more like real life." Discuss!)"
I see that comment as reflecting his feeling that the 4:3 aspect ratio feels like watching analog TV, which is what we all grew up with, and analog TV news did have an immediacy and "reality" to it, due to many factors including frame rate, etc. Wide screens were for movies, where you're supposed to suspend disbelief and accept a fantasy. 4:3 ratio TV screens were for "live" things like sports and the news.
In that contextual framework, I don't see a conflict between his aspect ratio choices and our loathing of pan and scan.