Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Dark Tower

A couple of days ago I finished reading the last book of Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. This is a 3500 page, seven book tale, one that he began in 1970 and finished in September of last year. I read the first book around 2000, and over the past few years have gradually read the rest. It was a great series of books. one that was consistently entertaining and had some really interesting ideas throughout. The series was always at least partially about the nature of storytelling, making it fitting that the ending of the series should be a meta-comment on the nature of the text itself, an ending that I found really fulfilling. Spoilers are obviously below.

In the thirty years and seven books, Roland's world has changed dramatically, but the one thing that has always remained constant is his desire to get to the tower. That is the thing that drives him, the thing that keeps him going after losing his old friends, losing Jake, losing Eddie, losing Jake again and even losing Susannah, he has one thing driving him forward and that is his need to make it to the dark tower. Throughout the book, we have the vague idea tha the tower is the nexus of all realities, and therefore plays a crucial role in preventing the world from collapsing. However, we never learn exactly what its purpose is, and what it is that makes Roland so drawn to it. After they fix the beam midway through book VII, they've essentially accomplished their task, the world is saved, and there's no reason to go on anymore, except Roland's need to see the tower for himself, to accomplish his goal, the one thing that has driven him above all others.

One thing I found interesting was the way the ending was structured. The main book ends with Roland walking into the dark tower, and I was like, did I miss something, where's my resolution with what the tower is? And then there's the piece about Susannah which was good, and then there's a little note from Stephen King about the fact that it's the journey that matters, what happens on the way to the tower, not the tower itself, and that ultimately every ending is something of a let down. But, thankfully after that, we go back to Roland his ascent up the tower.

So, when he finally does reach the tower, he finds that is sort of a summation of his life, each level corresponds to events that occurred to him, and in ascending it, he views the entirety of his life. Then at the top of the tower he is sucked through time and returns to the beginning of his journey, right before the first sentence of The Gunslinger. I love this ending because it follows up on what King was talking about with the journey being the point of things. Nothing he finds at the top of the tower could satisfy the reader, and I think this is the best way to the end the book.

A lot of people have been knocking the idea of the loop, but I think to do that is to ignore one crucial thing, the presence of the horn when he begins his next journey. What this implies is that with each journey he's doing things better, and it's implied that his one failure this time is the fact that he didn't pick up the horn at the end of the battle in Wizard and the Glass, so now he has it, and I get the feeling that this next journey will be his last time, and then he will find peace at the top of the tower.

I love the quasi-dreamlike memories Roland has of things when he is spit out the end of the loop. All throughout the book you get the feeling he's been on this quest forever, and his past is so distant from who he is now. That's something that's reaffirmed by this ending. He has been on this quest forever, and he's become ageless, moving through an infernal hell.

If I had to guess, I would say that when Roland finally does reach the top of the tower, and do things right, it will be something like what happens to Susannah at the end of her journey. I get the feeling that Susannah got everything right this time, and even if she was consigned to a loop before, she won't be now. She got her happy ending, reuinted with everyone in the clearing at the end of the path. When Roland completes his mission, he will probably find the same happiness, but until then, it is his burden to forever be seeking the tower.

The ending also brilliantly plays off the fact that the universe didn't really end, you can pick up the first book and start all over again. Throughout all the books, the series has flirted with meta-fiction and this ending references that without being excessively gimmicky or self reflexive. If the horn wasn't there, it might seem like too much of a downer, but this way you still have hope. I like the symmetry of placing the 'Childe Roland' poem at the end of the book, with the implication that this poem depicts Roland's final journey to the tower, because it was also the impetus for the creation of the entire world. So, it both opens and closes the series.

I'm really satisfied with the ending and I think it stands as one of the great stories ever told, full of so many memorable characters and events. The books frequently refer to the fact that they aren't so much being written, it's more King tapping into another universe and bringing the story back from there. That's what it's like to write, and thus, both the writer and the reader are like Eddie or Susannah, taken from our world to Roland's world for an adventure outside of the everyday.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Time Destroys All (Irreversible)

A few days ago I watched Gaspar Noe's first film, I Stand Alone, and in the context of talking about that I was talking about Irreversible, which made me want to see the film again, so yesterday I watched the film for the third time. Now, here, I talked about the basics of the film and why I liked it, but on this third viewing I got something a bit different out of it than I did before.

Having seen I Stand Alone, I liked the closure on that story, and the fact that the Butcher, who thought he had it all figured out, ended up in jail, and has his dream of a life with his daughter ruined. I Stand Alone ended on a pretty upnote, and while the audience is disturbed, the Butcher is clearly happy for the first time in the film. So, we begin the film seeing that a happy ending doesn't last, he's now left distraught.

Having seen the film a few times, I can take a more distant perspective and keep the whole film in mind while watching the early scenes. The first time seeing the film, the first scene is disorienting, you don't know what's going on, but here I was able to follow things, and it's really sad. If that was the end of the film, it would be the most brutal film of all time, becuase you'd be left completely distraught, with nothing good left. Luckily, it's only the beginning, but having seen the film, it's deeply affecting to watch Pierre sitting there in the police car, having thrown away his entire life because of Marcus' desire for vengeance. Marcus will walk, but Pierre is going to be the one to pay for his animalistic desire in the first half of the film. Not to say that Marcus got off easy, his arm is broken and Alex is in a coma, his world has been destroyed as well, and he's going to have deal with the guilt of knowing that his stupid behavior at the party was what made her leave, and led to her being raped.

The Rectum sequence was really disturbing the first time I saw it, and it still is, but I'm familiar with it so it's not as shocking. Noe does a great job of creating a hell for his characters to go around in, and of course the violence at the end is still shocking. Noe's constantly moving camera leaves you really uneasy, and completely immerses you in these characters' mindset. You see Marcus getting dragged down further and further into the filth of this world, this is what his vengeance has brought him.

The next chunk of scenes further degrade the characters, and show you the complete folly of the desire for vengeance that these characters have. They keep going through these awful situations, trying to get to the Rectum. There's some dazzling camera work in the sequence where they steal the cab, the camera moves in and out of the cab with no cuts, I know they did a CG thing with the glass, but I don't understand how it was done other than that. It's a simple shot, with such a convincing effect you don't think about it, but once you go deeper, it's unbelieable what he does there. I feel like this part of the film is basically designed to show you how ridiculous the desire for revenge is. It's only making Marcus worse, and is doing nothing to help Alex. Pierre is constantly saying they should go visit Alex, but Marcus ignores him and things get worse as a result. At the end of the film, no one benefits, and the revenge ends up failing because they don't even get the right guy.

This film is a great statement against revenge because of the way it removes the vengeance from the act that motivates it. On first viewing, you're disgusted by Pierre when he kills the guy, but when you see the rape scene, it makes you understand what they were doing. I know when I was watching Alex struggling, I really understood what was driving Pierre at that moment. But, you also understand that the revenge is doing nothing good, their lives are destroyed because of it, and they don't even get the right guy. Clearly, it's a statement against vigilante justice. One of the thugs says, "Vengeance is a human right," and that may be, but it's not a right that gets us anything. It doesn't make Alex better, and it doesn't make the crime go away. Trying to get revenge only make things worse, and that's what the film shows us.

I think Noe uses the backwards narrative in a brilliant way throughout the film, but one of the most effective instances is when we see Alex's injured face, an absoultely disgusting image, evidence of such cruelty, and then jump back in time where we see Monica Bellucci, one of the most beautiful women in the world. Who could do what was done to her? That's the question, and the one that is answered when we see La Tenia in the tunnel. The beauty of this sequence, as she walks out of the party and into the streets, is that we know what's coming, and in each moment, she makes a little decision that brings her to that place. The taxi that doesn't arrive, the hooker who tells her to take the underpass, her momentary hesitation when she passes La Tenia beating the hooker, if things had been different only by seconds, she would never have been raped, and their lives would have never been destroyed. But the world seemed to conspire to bring her to this point, which ties in with a point discussed later about the fact that the future is already written, we're just living it, which I think gets to one of the core points of the film.

The midpoint of the film serves as a transition between the two stories of the film, one is essentially Marcus and Pierre's, while the second half is all about Alex. The first time I watched the film I was still reeling from the stuff that happened in the first half, and I couldn't really appreciate the second half of the film. I saw it as basically a long cool down period, that plays with your emotions a little bit, but only in relation to the beginning of the film. On this viewing, I saw that the two halves of the film are equally important, the second half isn't meant as just a comment on the first, it's a great story in its own right, and one is absolutely crucial to the film's development. I think it's very easy to get caught up in discussing the more controversial bits of the film and lose track of the more subtle pieces in the second half of the film.

Probably my favorite scene in the film is party scene, which is technically phenomenal. It's another really long take, moving all around the party, switching from character to character on occasion and making you feel like you are a guest at the party hanging out with the characters. If I had to guess, I'd say this is probably the longest scene of the film, and the improvised dialogue tells us so much about the characters. Having just seen the extended rape scene, we obviously view the party to some extent through the knowledge we have of what's about to happen, making stuff like Alex dancing with her friends both beautiful and sad. On the first viewing, all I could think of was that she'd never dance like that again, but on this time I was able to appreciate the fact that this was probably the last moment in her life that she was happy, and at least that's something. I saw her as a person, not solely defined by the crime that is committed to her. I love her trying to drag Pierre out onto the dance floor, and him saying he just wants to watch.

The other crucial bit is this scene is when Alex is talking to her pregnant friend. You don't know it the first time, but she herself is pregnant, and clearly can connect to what she's saying. Knowing what we know is going to happen to her, one of the toughest scenes is when Alex and Marcus argue. She says, "You can be so gentle," which is such a contrast to his goofy funboy persona at the party. He's someone who clearly always has to be the center of attention at a party, and that's why he has to snort coke and drink. His behavior makes her decide to leave the party, and it's that decision that ultimately destroys all their lives. You know that Marcus will relive those moments for the rest of his life, and be torn over with regret about the fact that he was the one who made Alex decide to leave. And then in the conversation with Pierre, she tells him to watch out for Marcus rather than go with her, and that's a decision that ultimately leads to Pierre being sent to prison. Because we know what's to come, each of these decisions takes on so much more significance, it's those two simple decisions that lead to everything that happens.

In the scene before they go to the party, Alex, Pierre and Marcus are in an elevator and she talks about the idea that all of time is already written, essentially presenting a 4-D view of time, similar to that which Grant Morrison talks about in The Invisibles. I think this one line is the crucial key to understanding the thematic point of the film. The title at the end of the film says "Time Destroys All," which would mean that without time our moments of happiness would live on forever. Time is the villain of this film, because it's what brings Alex to the moment where she is raped. But, what Noe does with the film's struucture is take the viewer outside of time and see everything reconstructed instead of destroyed. He gives us a 4-D perspective over events, a perspective which is especially apparent when you've seen the film already.

When you watch a film you engage in a linear progression through time, that is what makes film a unique medium, it is the only medium that can capture the passage of time. So, when you watch a film the first time, it's like living life, everything's already written, but you don't know what's going to happen, so it's like it's new to you. When you are in a 3-D time continuum the great variable is the future. When you rewatch a film, you already know what is going to happen, but you are encouraged to re-engage in the 3-Dimensional view of time, and journey through the story again. This film, even on the first viewing, blatantly challenges traditional notions of the passage of time in a film. By structuring the film from end to beginning, Noe forces you to first view events without context, and thus evaluate them without any sort of moral bias, and then later in the film, makes you look at events with knowledge that the characters don't hold, so you see sadness in scenes where the characters are perfectly content. It inverts your normal emotional reactions because you have a different view of time than in the traditional film. But, on the first viewing, your knowledge of the characters' future so colors your perception of their present that you are unable to engage with them in their emotional context at that moment.

However, once you've seen the film a couple of times, the trauma at the beginning of the film exerts less influence and you see the film in a less linear way. Each viewing of the film gradually takes you further away from viewing the film as a linear time continuum, and more as a series of moments, each existing, each valid. So, the less you view things as a passage of time, the less things are destroyed. Time may destroy all eventually, we all end up dead, but if all time is already written, that means that each moments exists in space-time always. So, despite the awful events that happen to the characters, the sweet moments from the end (chronological beginning) of the film will always be there.

The most notable sweet moment is the scene in which Alex and Marcus wake up and get ready for the party. When we see Marcus earlier in the film, he's a bit of a bastard, and inadvertantly leads to the destruction of Alex and Pierre's lives, but here, we can understand why she likes him. They're great together, and the whole warmth of this scene is such a contrast to the danger and violence of earlier in the film. The fact that they're both so comfortable naked around each other implies a safety that both of them feel, something that Alex will probably never feel again because of what La Tenia did to her. I love the song that's playing during this scene, and the little hints that Noe gives to make us remember that even though things are good now they won't be forever: Alex's resistance to Marcus' come ons, and his suggestion that they try anal sex. It doesn't affect them, but it pains the viewer. My favorite image in this scene is of Marcus kissing Alex through the shower curtain. In that context it's an expression of their love but the viewer is forced to think of her as a dead body in plastic, since it's quite possible she will die. The scene is another dazzling long take, and the two characters' rapport is so natural, this great moment they share is a memory they both will treasure once the pain of what happened begins to fade away.

The ending of the film just drives home more what they've lost. Alex is pregnant, and she has so much hope for her future, hope that is cruelly taken away. On the first viewing, this moment was incredibly sad, because we know what will happen, but here I could share her happiness. Even though she'll never have the baby, this moment of happiness will always be there, and her dreams of the life she might have will never come true, but that doesn't mean that dreaming is without purpose. The second half of the film presents some isolated moments of happiness, and maybe that's all we can hope for. Bad things will happen, we all end up dead, but hopefully we'll live to the fullest the time we have. That's the message I see from this film, that all of us are going to run into awful events at some time or another, so live to the fullest while you can, now is all we have. Will Alex have regrets, of course, but from what we can see, she had happiness in her life, and she had love, and even the rapist can't destroy the past.

This is a film that's so deep, and works on so many levels, I could talk about it forever, but a couple of things I want to note. I love the final few images, the spiralling around the sprinkler, the 2001 poster, the park, just beautiful. I think the acting in this film is some of the most natural and affecting in all of cinema. It must have been tough for Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassel, who are married in real life, to do some of the scenes, but they each excel, and the improvised dialogue feels very real. Technically, I can only think of a couple of films that approach this in terms of scope and execution. It's not an easy film, but so many films think of the viewer as an idiot, it's refreshing to see something that will challenge the way you think about film, and the way you think about life. I've seen it three times, and while it's less shocking each time, it's also even better each time.


I was reading some articles on Safe that have made me reconsider my view of the ending a bit. Originally, I saw it as a really dark ending, that she was retreating further and further from the world, and now that she's in this bubble, there's nowhere left to go. However, what I failed to realize was the fact that throughout the film, she blames all her problems on society, the chemicals, and never actually looks at herself. Look at the psychiatrist scene, where she barely speaks. So, here, isolated from the world, she no longer has any excuses. There is no one there but herself, and when she looks in the mirror, maybe she'll finally see what she's become. Rather than being a retreat, what being in the igloo might force her to do is confront her problems, and then re-emerge, reborn and ready to face the world again, having taken care of her own problems. But, that's not definitive. It's definitely ambiguous, but there is an alternative explanation. That doesn't change the fact that I don't think Wrenwood works, she does have to confront the problem, and being at Wrenwood is running away from it. Maybe being in the bubble will let her finally confront herself.

Completely different topic. I was in the computer lab, reading my New York Times when I come across an article about the new head of the FCC, and how, backed by the Parents Television Council, plans to increase the power of the FCC, possibly to include ruling over cable channels. Now, this Parents Television Council is a pretty ridiculous organization, they're the people behind nearly every "indecency" related scandal you run in to was motivated by them, not masses of common people who were actually offended by something. This is an awful organization, attacking two of the most important things in the world, free government and free art.

I myself am a creative type, and a huge fan of TV and films, and I deeply value the crative autonomy of filmmakers, including those working for television. One of the shows that has been most attacked by the PTC is one of my favorite shows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy was a show that portrayed the dark side of the world, and had many violent and disturbing scenes, but it is also a show that has deep moral convictions and a commitment to doing the right thing, something that is clearly missed by this group. Even though they've clearly watched many episodes, as you can see by the list of objectionable content the show contains, on their site. But they don't seem to get that when the show has a violent sex scene, like Buffy and Spike in "Smashed," it's not there for shock value, it has reprocussions that are addressed explicitly in the next episode and also throughout the rest of the series. The violence on the show is frequently disturbing, as in 'Dead Things,' when Warren attempts to rape, then murders Katrina, but they acknowledge that it's disturbing. That's the line, many shows present violence as consequenceless, here there are always consequences to violent actions, be they physical or emotional. Thus, even though it treads on the dark side, the show in fact has a deep sense of right and wrong.

But, to take it more general, the PTC has no right to take away creative freedom in order to protect 'the children.' If you want to see the extent of their bizarre campaign, check out this clip," in which we can see that they have combed over hours of TV programming to find the most offensive bits. It's odd to think of some guy sitting alone in a room watching tapes of Nip/Tuck and just marvelling at the immorality of it all. I wonder if sometimes that filter cracks a bit, and even though they started watching out of hate, they eventually get caught up in the story, and the exploits of Mcnamara/Troy.

So, stop trying to control other peoples' lives. If you don't want your kids to watch something, keep an eye on them, but there's no reason that challenging programming shouldn't be available for people of all ages. Maybe worry about whether a show is creatively fulfilling rather than how much violence or language is on it. 2001 and Irreversible are both great movies, one is rated G and one is NC-17, and both have an equal right to exist.

Monday, March 28, 2005

"Safe," Far From The Filth

Yesterday I watched the film, Safe, by Todd Haynes, the director of the brilliant Far From Heaven. Safe on the surface seems incredibly different from that film, but scratch the surface a bit and you can find a lot of similarities. The other work it reminded me a lot of is Grant Morrison's The Filth, which touches on a lot of the same issues as this film does.

Safe is basically a horror movie where the villain is modern society, the very air that we breathe. It begins with a really mundane life, as Carole goes around, running errands, going to exercise and supervising the installation of a new couch in her house. It's completely unremarkable stuff, and at that point, you're not really sure what's up with the movie.

Eventually, Carol has a coughing fit in a parking lot, and from then on, she gets gradually sicker. One of the things I really liked is the way Haynes revisits many of the mundane scenes from earlier in the film, but once you have an awareness of Carol's chemical illness, they take on additional meaning. At the beginning of the film, she's the best one in her exercise class, but later, she's struggling to keep up. The most obvious one is the dry cleaners, which becomes the site of her ultimate breakdown.

Even more than the constant pollution, the toughest thing for me about watching the beginning of the film is the fact that no one seems to really know Carol. As long as she stays in the role of wife/mother, and the talk remains on a surface level, she's fine, but once she gets in trouble, all her friends shy away from her, putting out that which is not normal. Their cheery enthusiasm from earlier turns to suspicion of that which is different. Even her husband seems uunable to relate to her once her symptoms start showing up.

The second half of the film is the more difficult to figure out. The 'safe' house that Carol goes to is a reallly odd world, and I'm not sure what the filmmaker's position on it is. I think what they're doing there is just indulging the psychosomatic symptoms that created the disease, and not helping bring people to a cure. I have the feeling that might be Todd Haynes' view as well, if you look at the scene where everyone is talking about what they think cured the disease, it all comes down to stress, rather than actual trauma.

The film is all about the world of 1987, and everything talked about in the film still applies to the present. Basically, these people have all given themselves a disease because of things in their life that they're dissatisfied with. Carol gets the disease from the excesses of materialism in her life. It's the new couch that does it. But, is it the society that is at fault, or is it her? As the film goes on, she moves increasingly further and further away from society, until the end where she seals herself in a small bubble that the world cannot come in to. So, she has found temporary repose there, but as Claire says earlier, Henry was fine until someone walked into his bubble, and Carol can't become better by retreating from the world. I found those final moments of the film horrifying, and I was left slightly disturbed at the end of the film because of the bleakness of that space. The cold grays and stark minimalism of it seemed so dead to me, she has gone from extremes of materialism at the beginning of the film to basically nothing at the end.

Safe, like Far From Heaven, stars one of the greatest actresses working today, Julianne Moore. This is her earliest work that I've seen and I don't think she's quite as good as in Boogie Nights, Magnolia or The Hours, or even Far From Heaven, but competing against herself is some of the toughest compettition. I mean, she's been in so many phenomenal films, and unfortunately the film most people know her from is The Forgotten. Anyway, she is still strikingly good here, she says more with her looks than with her words, and that's a sign of good character building.

This film has a lot in common with Far From Heaven, in that both films are about the effects of outside society on a housewife who seems to be living the American dream, but once she deviates from the norm, she finds out that she's really alone. Linda in this film is just like Eleanor in Far From Heaven, in that even though she seems to be a good friend, we realize that it's just a surface friendship, and once an outside element comes in, her whole circle abandons her. In the case of this film, Carol is exiled because of a problem within her, while in Far From Heaven, it's because of things she does. Ultimately, the point of both films is that society rejects that which is outside the norm, and people who attempt to challenge the norm cannot co-exist. The crushing mundanity of the everyday will destroy those who are different.

The Far From Heaven comparison is pretty easy, but the work this film reminded me the most of is Grant Morrison's The Filth. Both Safe and The Filth are about people struggling to navigate a corrosive modern world. The main characters in each work are exposed to the worst that modern society has to offer, but the route they take after this exposure is where the primary difference emerges.

The Filth was pitched as 'a healing inoculation of grime.' Grant Morrison's basic idea was that people are getting weak because they're afraid to engage with the dark forces in the world, only by confronting the darkness, the bad things in the world, can you stand against them and be stronger. Thus, rather than trying to get rid of an illness, you would work with the virus and turn it into a positive. Basically, the bad stuff is a part of life, and only by facing it can you become stronger.

In Safe, the Wrenwood rehibilitation center, and Peter Dunning, take the opposite tact. They completely insulate the center from any pollutants, and attempt to shut the outside world out. Dunning talks about changing his interior world to make the exterior world a better place, but in fact what he is doing is shutting out the outside world, as expressed when he says 'I stopped reading the papers,' because he didn't want to face the negativity. I think the thing he forgets is that running away from a problem isn't going to make it go away.

This idea is best expressed in what happens to Carol. She goes to Wrenwood to get better, and presumably be able to go back to society at some point. However, what happens is she becomes even more sensitive to the chemicals. One of the most striking scenes for me is when a car passes her and she nearly passes out. How does she hope to one day return to society if one car nearly destroys her. Over the course of the film, she gets worse, such that she thinks even fumes from the highway make it to her cabin and keep her sick. She tells her husband that she's going to be back home soon, but what she's doing is just retreating further and further from that which made her sick in the first place, culminating in her closing herself in the bubble at the end of the film.

The people in Wrenwood seem to know that the disease is brought on by stress, and therefore probably at least partially psychosomatic. Carol was looking for an explanation for her problems and found it from that organization, and the more she hears about it, the more she develops the symptoms of it. I think what it comes down to is she wants to find a reason for her unhappiness, considering she probably has the life she'd always wanted, and this disease provides as good an explanation for it as any. It takes the blame off of her and puts in on society, in such a vague way that she can always use it as a crutch for her problems, and that's what almost everyone in the center seems to do, use this disease as an explanation for other problems in their lives.

So, I think the treatment of moving away from the problem only makes things worse. In The Filth, the modern world may be shit, but at the end, Ned Slade realizes that he can use it to fertilize his garden. Bad things do happen, and you can either use them to grow or get defeated and retreat into a bubble, as Carol does. I don't see any cure in sight for Carol, she can't get any more isolated than the igloo-bubble, and eventually she wont' leave that bubble. Only by confronting modern society can she overcome her illness. She needs a healing inoculation of grime.

Does Todd Haynes think this? I'm not sure, I think it's pretty clear he doesn't agree with what's going on with Wrenwood, but I think he also has a more negative view of the world than I do. The film has this whole dirty 80s feel, with nasty clothes, fumes everywhere, and you do get the feeling that we're living in an apocalyptic place.

But, regardless of how Todd Haynes feels, it's a great film, and one that is so ambiguous and challenging, I'd love to see it again and analyze it deeper. One thing I didn't mention is the score, which sounded a bit like Blade Runner's, a huge compliment coming from me. It contributes to this nasty modern world feel, with its oddly artificial synthesizers. Ultimately, if I'm still thinking about a film a day after watching it, and I feel the need to write this much about it, and I've barely scratched the surface of what I could say, it's a total success.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Final Moments

So, I read today that The Sopranos season five is coming out on DVD in June, and that the sixth season will begin filming in April, even though it won't air until 2006. It's good to hear some stuff happening with the series since it's been a year since season five aired, and there didn't seem to be much news on the show since. It's up there as one of the best shows of all time and I'm really looking forward to seeing everything wrapped up.

There's always a strange feeling when you reach the end of a long TV series or comic series. When I start a series I know is limited, I'm always curious about how it's going to end, and as I'm moving along, part of me is always thinking about what the series finale is going to be. But, when I actually get to that last episode or issue, the ending seems like the worst thing possible. In comics it's most apparent because you can see exactly how many pages you have left, and the closer you get to the end of the book, the more you realize you're never going to see these people again, their world is ending, and even though you can travel back to their earlier adventures, there's never going to be the thrill of discovering a new plot twist or character development. On Preacher it was really apparent, I remember flipping through those last pages, and feeling really sad that there was no more left in their world. With The Invisibles, I loved the last issue so much, I was emotionally overwhelmed, and everything seemed to blur together into a really fitting ending.

With TV series, there's no physical measure of when the show will end. You're just sitting there, and as time passes, there's an increasing feeling of sadness, because things are coming to a close. On Buffy, when they had the core four repeat their dialogue from the end of 'The Harvest,' it hit home that they very likely would never be together like that again. Even though I think Buffy overstayed its welcome a bit, at the end I would have given anything for just a little bit more. Same with Angel. Even though it has a much stronger close, at the moment the final credt appeared there was a moment of sadness before I realized how great the ending was. And all throughout you get these moments that you just know are endings, notably Lorne's 'Goodnight folks,' the first time I saw the episode, I knew he was not coming back.

With Twin Peaks, I was just sittng there stunned for five minutes, thinking about how I'd never find out if Audrey survived the bank explosion, or whether Ben Horne was dead, not to mention the whole Cooper/Bob thing. It's very strange that throughout the whole series, you're racing to find out what happens in the end, and then when you get there, you'd give anything to have new episodes to watch again.

But that's a feeling that's not just applicable to the end of a TV series, it's what happens at the end of any big project. Like, all through high school, you're racing to the end, and then in those last few days, you're thinking, I'll never go to this class again, or I'll never eat in the caferteria again. I'd imagine at the end of college it will be even more apparent, because there's a lot of people I'm just never going to see again, people I know, but aren't that close friends with, and if they live far away, we'll just go our seperate ways and gradually be forgotten.

When you're at that ending, you can only think of the fact that there's not going to be anymore, but with a little time, you adjust to the fact that even though whatever experience you've gone through is over, it's really the cumulative that matters. Like, when I think of The Invisibles, I don't wish there were a few more pages, I look more at the cumulative effect of the whole series, and remember moments from throughout it that were great. And even Buffy, which I don't think concluded quite satisfactorily, I don't think of the incomplete ending or lack of character resolution, I remember more the great moments from throughout the series.

I think finishing something takes you out of a linear time perspective on it. When you're in it, you can only look at where you are now and what's next. What came before doesn't seem as important, but once you finish something, you see it's not what you ended up that matters, it's how you got there. So, bringing it back to the top, when I get to the end of The Sopranos, it's going to be tough, and I'll be thinking, ah, I'll never see Tony again, or Christopher or Carmela, and when that final credit screen does appear, I'll probably be a bit mad, but already I can appreciate the fact that there have been 75 brilliant episodes of the series already, and even though I won't have anything new to watch, there'll still be rewatching to do, and new shows to come.