The year is not even two weeks old but it already has one electrifyingly brilliant film to its credit.
"Any Way You Want It"
For years, the go-to guys for this thing of ours ("The Sopranos") have been Alan Sepinwall at Tony's hometown newspaper, The Newark Star-Ledger ("The Voice of New Jersey"), and his former Star-Ledger colleague, Matt Zoller Seitz. (Be sure to see Seitz's terrific column on the final episode and the fine comments it inspired. And, while you're at it, check out the newly built archive of "Sopranos" Mondays at The Bada-Bing Next Door.) As the TV critic for the paper at the end of Tony's driveway, Sepinwall managed to score an interview with series creator David Chase, who has gone away to France for a little while until this series ending thing blows over.
Sounds a lot like the Coen Brothers in the piece I posted yesterday.
"I have no interest in explaining, defending, reinterpreting, or adding to what is there," he says of the final scene.
"No one was trying to be audacious, honest to God," he adds. "We did what we thought we had to do. No one was trying to blow people's minds, or thinking, 'Wow, this'll (tick) them off.' People get the impression that you're trying to (mess) with them and it's not true. You're trying to entertain them.... Anybody who wants to watch it, it's all there."
Sepinwall summarizes the ending succinctly and perfectly:
I read a comment somewhere today that pointed out the B-side of the closing song (Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'") is listed on the jukebox as: "Any Way You Want It." Yeah, and whatsa matta wit dat?
Since Chase is declining to offer his interpretation of the final scene, let me present two more of my own, which came to me with a good night's sleep and a lot of helpful reader e-mails:
Theory No. 1 (and the one I prefer): Chase is using the final scene to place the viewer into Tony's mindset. This is how he sees the world: every open door, every person walking past him could be coming to kill him, or arrest him, or otherwise harm him or his family. This is his life, even though the paranoia's rarely justified. We end without knowing what Tony's looking at because he never knows what's coming next.
Theory No. 2: In the scene on the boat in "Soprano Home Movies," repeated again last week, Bobby Bacala suggests that when you get killed, you don't see it coming. Certainly, our man in the Members Only jacket could have gone to the men's room to prepare for killing Tony (shades of the first "Godfather"), and the picture and sound cut out because Tony's life just did. (Or because we, as viewers, got whacked from our life with the show.)
P.S. Yes, I'm more interested in the last few hours — and particularly the last hour — of "The Sopranos" than in any movie I've seen since "Zodiac." I'd like to do a shot-by-shot of Episode 86....
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