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Gandolfini

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Wow. Tragic.

… I’m certain that Scott and Erik and the other Scott will have their own contributions, but for my part Gandolfini is the key figure of the acting component of the Second Golden Age of Television. Tony Soprano is a remarkable creation, if one that would have been impossible a decade before and unnecessary a decade after.

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  • InnerPartisan

    Fuck. He was one of the good ones :(

    • WeWantPie

      And he was awesome in “In The Loop.” Holy fuck. Can’t believe he’s gone.

  • Anonymous

    He never won an Emmy? That’s worse than Carell.

    • Anonymous

      Worse snub, to be clear. What a loss. RIP.

    • wjts

      He won three Emmys.

      • ChrisTS

        Thanks.

  • Andrew Burday

    Wow, after spending the early evening sorting through all the usual depressing-but-predictable America-in-2013 bullshit… I’m really sad to hear this guy is dead. As he once described himself, “a 250 pound Woody Allen”.

  • Never watched much Sopranos, but he was fantastic in The Man Who Wasn’t There.

    • He was sweet as a not-very-tough tough guy in Get Shorty.

      • Karate Bearfighter

        My favorite Gandolfini scene was the Dancing Bear/Jimmy Smash monologue from the first season of the Sopranos. The writing was obviously great, but he really sold you on Tony’s mix of compassion and dickishness.

  • JB2

    Wow – that’s rough. He was really great as recently as Zero Dark 30 and Killing Them Softly.

    Consider: TV is the dominant narrative art form of our time; the Sopranos was a major force in bringing this about (I would say THE major force), and Gandolfini was the most important part of the Sopranos continued artistic achievement (I think Chase started to lose the thread as the seasons progressed).

  • Also, In The Loop. Truly hysterically funny movie about the politics of the Iraq War. With JG as sort-of Colin Powell.

    • Barry Freed

      Yes, I was just going to say, he was fucking brilliant in that. What a loss.

      • Barry Freed

        I’d like to add that his performance was pitch perfect in that. Best portrayal of an American general since George C. Scott in Dr. Strangelove.

        • “If you don’t have anyone alive at the end of the war, people think you lost.”

    • Snuff curry

      Yes. In the Loop. Yes. Fuck.

      • WeWantPie

        Absitively,Posolutely. This is so fucked-up. We have lost a fantastic, amazing artist.

    • Warren Terra

      Thirding this.

      Also, you sort of got the sense that there was no real money behind In The Loop, and the people involved were doing it because they loved the project.

    • Lev

      I took him as more of a Tony Zinni figure. Was Powell ever actually anti-war in Iraq?

      • Warren Terra

        I took N_B’s characterization to be that Powell was held up during the early Iraq debate as being the closest thing to a voice of reason within the upper ranks of the administration, the person who might have the slightest chance of putting the brakes on the crazy adventurism … until he sold out for personal career advancement. Gandolfini’s character was far more openly against the war than Powell was ever alleged to be, but on the other hand the more believably relatively important antiwar people in the administration either had no voice (Wilkerson) or no influence (Shinseki).

        • I agree that Warren Terra’s careful and subtle analysis is what I meant.

    • Kurzleg

      Forthed. He plays just the right amount of menace and haplessness in the scene in which Malcolm addresses him as “General Flintstone.”

      Not that the film was great, but JG was a bright spot in Chase’s “Not Fade Away.”

    • djw

      I thought the movie as a whole wasn’t quite as good as it ahould have been (see also Veep) but JG was perfect, probably the best part of the movie.

      • I also thought In the Loop was basically OK, not great.

        • ajay

          I also thought In the Loop was basically OK, not great.

          It loses a bit if you haven’t seen “The Thick Of It”, the (unreasonably brilliant) TV series which the characters are taken from.

  • rea

    Younger than me . . . shit.

    • Brenda

      My reaction as well.

    • firefall

      my thought also

    • ChrisTS

      Almost 11 years younger than me. Jeebus.

      • Domino

        Almost 28 years older than me. Something to consider when just the other day I was having a discussion with other “youth” my age in which we were determining whether or not 27 is old.

        • ChrisTS

          Not sure what to make of this other than: “No, you are nowhere near old.” (As said to 25 year old daughter.)

  • howard

    at the time, i thought tony soprano was the greatest sustained character performance in tv history (by which i mean, those who keep up with shoes i don’t keep up with probably don’t think that today).

    • howard

      oh, for crissake, those who keep up with “shows” i don’t keep up with, although admittedly, i also don’t keep up with shoes either.

      • ajay

        I assumed that was some sort of Sex and the City reference – as in, if you’re knowledgeable about Manolos, this isn’t the kind of show you’ll like.

    • Immanuel Kant

      That doesn’t seem obviously wrong to me, even now. The Sopranos as a whole looks somewhat less impressive today than it did at the time, but I think Gandolfini’s performance holds up.

      • Medrawt

        Him and Falco both – I think Tony and Carmela, by virtue of both skill and longevity, have to be considered one of the greatest portrayals of a marriage in the history of narrative fiction. (I mean seriously, there’s 60-something episodes of it, and for me their relationship was always perfectly done.)

      • Does it really not “Hold up” or has our surprise lessened? When we see it do we rush through it to get to the “good parts” that we remember? It was an incredible show and the characters (with the exception of the nephew/cousin who wanted to be a scriptwriter) were almost all fantastic.

      • BobS

        I disagree. HBO just recently reran the entire series, and once it finished they started again at episode 1 (as far as I know, the first time it’s been shown on HBO since it’s initial run). Other than knowing what happens next (although I found myself forgetting many details 10 years later), I was every bit as enthralled this time around. In fact, it literally “looks” and sounds a helluva lot better in 2013- I didn’t have my large flat screen and surround sound back in 1999.
        Hopefully The Wire and Deadwood aren’t far behind.

  • LeftWingFox

    Damn….

  • TT

    It’s maybe twenty seconds long, but the moment where Tony carefully tiptoes into his mother’s kitchen and discovers to his immense shock and relief that Janice has killed Richie is one of the finest pieces of acting I’ve ever seen. RIP.

    • Scott Lemieux

      He was great in that whole episode. “What chance did she have, with you as her mother?”

  • He was terrifying in 8MM. Granted everyone was in that movie but he was pure evil in that movie.

  • Stag Party Palin

    There are many ways to describe and opine about his death, but it was not “tragic”, possibly the most misused word in common usage. The next person who abuses this word, or says “[adverb] unique” is going to get a phone call from me on my throwaway phone where I tell you or your answering machine about ‘our plot’ to bring down the gummint. Then you’ll be sorry.

    • ChrisTS

      I am happily unaware of anyone’s using ‘unique’ as an adverb. That;s the only happy thing I can find, here.

      • Stag Party Palin

        I meant using an adverb to modify ‘unique’. Usually the adverb is “very”.

        • ChrisTS

          Oh, Gotcha.

        • firefall

          thats a slightly unique point of view … tragically

    • Warren Terra

      Well, it wasn’t tragic for us. We never met the guy, however much we may have admired and appreciated his work. It was tragic for some, I’d imagine.

    • SeanH

      Boy, good thing you were here, or someone might have expressed an emotion inappropriately.

  • Mark

    I’m sorry the man died so young, but one of the great mysteries of popular culture is the breathless praise heaped onto The Sopranos. It’s just another overrated scam presenting crime, anger, and violence as heroic. People invent elaborate justifications for their love of this kind of fiction. But the fact is that The Sopranos is a story about a bunch of vicious assholes, and people like stories about vicious assholes because they want to be vicious assholes.

    • ChrisTS

      Oddly enough, I have never wanted to be a criminal (of any magnitude), nor to murder, nor to commit serial adultery.

      And, yet, I thought “The Sopranos” was an extraordinary piece of television-making – for however man seasons.

      In fact, one of the features of it that I appreciated was that it did not fall under the [vast] category of “beautiful people doing bad things.”

    • djw

      It’s just another overrated scam presenting crime, anger, and violence as heroic.

      I invite you to watch again, and pat attention this time.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      well, it was a show about vicious assholes. but they were never ‘heroic’, exactly. tony was a guy looking for something more than the life he had, and for a few years it seemed as if he might find it – and that, as well as some really interesting supporting characters, is what kept people watching

      i kind of realized he *wasn’t* going to find that something a year or two before the show ended, and that he, like a lot of the rest of us, was just going to keep keeping on… and that’s when the show turned into just another mob show as far as i was concerned. but mileage always varies

      • Remember the episode where one of the capos goes “home” to italy and discovers that a) his italian is so oldfashioned and dialect that he can’t make himself understood and b) he’s boring and old and the prostitute can’t hide her contempt?

    • Scott Lemieux

      presenting crime, anger, and violence as heroic.

      Chase gets criticized for rubbing his audience’s nose in it, but for many people (sadly, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen this kind of farcial misreading) he was nonetheless too subtle.

    • Snuff curry

      Cf (also, too) The Wire.

      • MattT

        Now that’s how you troll.

    • Ed

      The first couple of seasons were excellent, the Nancy Marchand character in particular, a marvelous knockoff of the Livia of I, Claudius. I thought they started getting off on the brutality, particularly toward women, and the show became more ordinary. The Sopranos provided the template for every serialized drama with a male anti-hero at the center that followed. Maybe it was overpraised, but a lot of these new serials are overpraised. At its peak it was awfully good.

      Gandolfini was an example of the kind of actor who can’t carry a feature film but is the right size personality to loom large on television (no reference to his weight intended). He had the good fortune to land a career-defining part and he did nobly by it. RIP.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        for me the show turned into a test: what will it take for me to stop identifying with someone, who, if i ran across them in real life, i would most likely be completely afraid of?

        i still wonder if that was david chase’s intent – to see how far people would go with tony. i didn’t make it to the end, but that wasn’t gandolfini’s fault – he was *great* in that role

        • witless chum

          I think there was definitely an element of fucking with the audience in it for Chase, hence the ending and disappearing Russian, for example.

      • Scott Lemieux

        they started getting off on the brutality, particularly toward women

        What?

    • Oh, wow. No. The Sopranos was aboud damaged people stumbling around in a social netherworld trying to achieve fame and fortune and success in various ways and failing. It begins with Tony expressing the angst of the age with “things are trending downward” and follows his and Carmela’s struggle to raise a “normal,” “happy,” “successful” family when their breeding, background, and emotional life begins in the sewer and the charnel house. The scenes where Carmela discovers that she can’t have the relationship with Meadow that she dreams of, where she tries to buy some respectability by paying for it to a University, the scene where Tony screams at his mother “some people don’t call it a retirement home! They call it living! They grow!” (paraphrasing) are all scenes of wrenching sadness that force us to simultaneously reject and empathize with these horrible people.

      One of the things Chase struggled with, I understand, was the classic American desire to identify with a Tony like character precisely because he’s a vicious killer and we associate that with success. Melfi has to wrestle with the potential to use Tony to get her revenge on her rapist, and in the end chooses not to go outside the law for her justice (in a scene that draws the viewer to remember scene in the Godfather when the mortician comes to beg the Godfather for justice for his raped daughter). In the end Chase is forced to demonstrate to the viewer, through Melfi’s reading and the dinner party, that a sociopath can never be redeemed. That all the discussions of interority and justice and humanity and philosophy that took place in the therapeutic encounter have just become another place where the criminal can engage in his criminality, where the sociopath enacts his sociopathy. A theater for his warped ego.

      So, no.

  • ChrisTS

    No one has mentioned “The Mexican,” which was a weird-but-appealing mess of a movie. He was fantastic as the gay hit-man who gets involved in helping Roberts and Pitt work out their relationship (rather than killing her).

  • Old Man Afraid of Horses

    He also did a voice in Where the Wild Things Are (which I loved).

    • ChrisTS

      OMG, yes. And did it fabulously.

  • I fucking hate it when I hear news at LGM first. It makes me rethink my internets-browsing routine.

  • Icarus Wright

    Without ever having seen a single second of ‘Sopranos,’ I fell in love with hating Gandolfini from his sadistic hitman character via ‘True Romance.’

    By all accounts the man himself was the working definition of ‘nice guy.’

    I loved to hate his characters. Death at 51 is completely tragic and far too soon. (That I’m 45 is worth noting)

  • jkay

    Who knew TV’s Great Suicide Era was a Golden Age? Are you sure?

    Seriously, I’m sorry for the loss, though I was too tired of mobsters by then to watch, maybe because I had to watch Godfather III growing up.

    Powell’s role was that he was both rightly skeptical and too big to fire publically, so the closest thing to Gandolfini’s role, sadly. EVERY other war opponent was either fired by the neocons or too scared to talk. Or already gone from power. And plenty were alarmed by the anti-occupation plan.

    • This is slightly OT but I’ve been thinking a lot about all the Admirals and Generals who were forced to resign for adultery under Bush. IIRC there was a rash of these weird defenestrations, specifically for adultery (although there was also one guy who committed suicide for having faked his service record). As more and more NSA stuff has come out I’m beginning to wonder if Bush wasn’t spying on his generals and using that to push out the ones who were causing him trouble with the war.

      • Kurzleg

        That wouldn’t surprise me in the least, though I’m not sure it would even be necessary to get the NSA involved. I suspect that in most cases the adultery isn’t exactly a secret.

    • witless chum

      Who knew TV’s Great Suicide Era was a Golden Age? Are you sure?

      I’m sure. The 00s produced an embarrassment of riches as far as great TV.

  • Paula

    OK, non-Soprano work, still heart-breaking and scary:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEFypVPbqJc

  • Paula
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