Dialogics

Consider only the language. Or more precisely, compare David Chase's dialogue to Aaron Sorkin's dialogue. In Sorkin's shiny nonsense, people speak in repartee, and always find the words they need, and nothing insignificant, nothing tedious, is ever uttered. They talk as nattily as they look. Even their afflictions are oddly high-spirited, as coolness conquers all. There is not an unmordant or unmoralized second in anybody's day. Sorkin's phony people go from portentousness to hipness and back. They are the figments of a disastrously glamorous imagination, the polished puppets of a shallow man's notion of profundity. In The Sopranos, by contrast, there is no eloquence, even when there is beauty. Silences abound. These people speak the way people actually speak: they lie, and lie again; they hide; they repair gladly to banalities, and to borrowed words; they struggle for adequacy in communication; they say nothing at all. Their verbal resources are cruelly lacking for their spiritual needs. They cannot say what they mean, or they do not know what they mean. Their obscenities are their tribute to the power of their feelings: the diction of their desperation. When they reach for sophistication, they mangle it. Their metaphors are awkward and homely, as in Tony's climactic soliloquy in his therapist's office about getting off, and staying off, the bus. Yet all this inarticulateness is peculiarly lyrical, and deeply moving. It is also a relief from the talkativeness that passes for thought in fancier places. Words should be fought for.

Requiem for the Bada Bing

I love Sorkin dialogue, but the man has a point. It's a little like the old Hammett v. Chandler debate. When I want fireworks and lovely prose, I go to Chandler. When I want a real emotional connection to the material, instead of Chandler's nice, cool, upper-middle-class detachment, I go for Hammett.

"Shallow man" is a bit strong, though. It's not as though he's writing Nick and Nora Charles.

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