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Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image)





Updated: 2017-12-16T08:18:40.958-05:00

 



Announcement: new Journey Through Twin Peaks coming mid-2018 (video)

2017-12-11T13:16:04.369-05:00


I've been getting a lot of questions on YouTube about my plans for upcoming Journey Through Twin Peaks videos. Obviously many viewers either don't know about this site or understandably don't want to dig around looking for updates, so I decided to create a video addressing these questions. In it I describe my planned approach for the new videos, although of course those plans could change! The video also announces some other upcoming projects, and points people who've enjoyed Journey to my other work, here and elsewhere. I'm still in the early stages of the character series (and haven't even begun work on various video essays), but now with Thanksgiving travel/celebrations over, I am planning to settle back into a routine. This will hopefully position me to launch the new character entries around January 28, giving way to the new Twin Peaks videos once the character entries  conclude in June. I'll have to make significant progress in December to make that possible, so wish me luck...

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Meanwhile, I still want to write and publish the three remaining Fire Walk With Me essays before the end of the year so stay tuned for those and other standalone pieces as 2017 draws to a close. The next year will be a busy one on Lost in the Movies, as the site celebrates its 10th anniversary with a packed schedule.

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Last Words? - discussing The Final Dossier w/ Twin Peaks Unwrapped (+ another status update)

2017-11-17T12:18:42.669-05:00

For the first time in two and half months - and perhaps the last time ever - I can provide fresh coverage of brand new Twin Peaks material. I bought The Final Dossier in the evening of October 31, braving Halloween traffic to pick up a copy ordered from a local bookstore. Late that night, ten minutes before midnight to be exact, I opened it up and began to read. When I finished it a mere two and half hours - this was a stunningly quick read - I was wiser to this universe, and a year older (well, sort of; November 1 was my thirty-fourth birthday).I found the book refreshing and shared some initial thoughts on Twitter, beginning with this tentative prediction: "I don't think we've seen the last of Twin Peaks." A week or two later, I recorded the following discussion with Twin Peaks Unwrapped, paired with an equally long conversation they held with John Thorne. data-name="pb-iframe-player" frameborder="0" height="315" scrolling="no" src="https://www.podbean.com/media/player/geqix-7c3e9c?from=site&vjs=1&skin=1&fonts=Helvetica&auto=0&download=0" width="100%">As for other plans...In December, maybe (but probably) not November, look for the three remaining entries in my now-misleadingly titled "5 Weeks of Fire Walk With Me" series: a historical overview of production/reception, a tracing of season three's references to the film, and an assembly of different ways to view the film (including a horror context - I have several genre classics from Netflix right now, waiting to be viewed and compared). If I get to anything else in the remainder of the year, it will probably just be the posting of a video announcement for my YouTube channel, in which I let curious viewers know my plans for 2018 (mostly already detailed here).Meanwhile, behind the scenes, I've been laying the groundwork for my renewed character series since the week before the finale aired. Most of that groundwork is completed and soon all that will remain is to write the damn things (I even plan to illustrate and organize all the posts before I tackle the text, and am currently gathering dozens of pinpointed images from every episode for that purpose). I hope I can start tackling more video essays before the year's out too, and then finally initiate the Journey project mid-winter.Right now, my tentative schedule is for the character series to start publishing five days a week in the last week of January, with new (non-Twin Peaks) videos releasing every Sunday throughout the spring. The Journey videos would pick up immediately after the character series concludes around May or June, dropping Part 5 all at once, and distributing Part 6 chapter-by-chapter, three times a week, until it has concluded. This will coincide roughly with the tenth anniversary of my site (which I plan to mark, beginning in March and ending just before the anniversary in July, with tweets and Tumblr posts moving chronologically through my archive by re-sharing ten posts a day from 2008 to 2018).And then, though it may end up being too ambitious, I'd like to write a new movie review every night for a hundred days after the anniversary, as I did more or less when the blog began ten years ago (even during times when I was working extensively, I'd manage to squeeze it in so I'm hoping the same can be true again). In other words, if all goes according to plan, 2018 will be most prodigious year ever, surpassing that first year when I didn't blog for the first six months, but wrote so much afterwards that it hasn't been topped since. But that's all a long way away, and I have a lot of work to do in December and January if I'm going to be ready for that, so don't hold me to it!Here's hoping I can mark the decade in style, though. Thanks for reading/listening/watching.[...]



Fear The Double: discussing Lost Highway w/ Fireside Friends podcast (+ "5 Weeks of Fire Walk With Me" status update)

2017-11-13T19:52:11.662-05:00


This weekend I was invited as a guest onto Fireside Friends, hosted episode by Ryan Persaud and Allen Ibrahim. Under discussion was Lost Highway, a film I'd been meaning to rewatch ever since The Return ended. In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and similar cases emerging from Hollywood almost daily, the film felt particularly relevant. We talk about this aspect of the work, as well as Mary Sweeney's editing of the film, its ties to season three of Twin Peaks, its roots in Fire Walk With Me, the convolutions of its narrative, and its relationship to the O.J. Simpson trial and the avant-garde classic Meshes of the Afternoon (referencing my video essay on the subject). And, on a lighter note, Lynch's propensity for absurdly decadent party scenes, with requisite reference to Crazy Clown Time.

Listen to Fireside Friends

In other news, I was not able to keep up with even my back-up schedule for "5 Weeks For Fire Walk With Me." I do plan to continue publishing those pieces, however, although I'm not sure if I'll try to squeeze them all in before the original deadline (releasing two or three in a single week) or spread them out into December, rendering the title of the series as "5 discreet weeks over a long period" rather than "5 weeks in a row." Oh well - stay tuned for those, and also another recently-recorded podcast in the next few days...



Fire Walk With Me belongs in the Criterion Collection

2017-11-03T09:22:07.782-04:00

This is an entry in 5 Weeks of Fire Walk With Me. Next week I will discuss the history of the movie's production, reception, and legacy.What is this movie? Is it a movie at all? Of course it is, and attempts to claim otherwise dissolve into babbling mystification. Yet they persist - primarily because the TV show which Fire Walk With Me descends from remains more legendary than the film but also because the film itself is so abrasive and overwhelming that it makes sense to retreat into the most convenient explanation: this is a TV spin-off and, good or bad, it can only be appreciated in relation to the series. Furthermore, many viewers, probably a substantial majority, reach Fire Walk With Me after watching two seasons of a surreal soap opera, so it's difficult for most to disentangle their knowledge of the show from their experience of the film even if the relationship is subversive rather than complementary. In a few weeks, I'll write about Fire Walk With Me both as a component of a larger story and as a standalone film (or perhaps several: a lucid psychodrama, a formally hypnotic art film, a hybrid slasher/American giallo/psychological horror flick, an entry in David Lynch's own unique bigger-than-life - and certainly bigger than TV - filmography). For now, I don't merely want to isolate Fire Walk With Me from Twin Peaks but to explain why it can stand side by side with the other titles in the Criterion Collection, which it officially joined two and half weeks ago. Fire Walk With Me needs defending not just for its place within a saga, or even as a bold rejection of that saga defined precisely by said rejection (still therefore dependent on what it negates), but as a movie movie, a piece of cinema history valuable on its own filmic terms.Fire Walk With Me has always faced challenges with every opportunity, and the Criterion release is no exception. From non-fans, the reaction I've encountered has frequently been perplexed and dismissive. I checked out a few podcasts in anticipation of the release and was disappointed to be reminded that despite the film's impressive advances over the past few years, there's still a lingering misunderstanding about what it is and what it achieves. It is simultaneously treated as a curiosity because of its roots in a TV series (why is just one part of the story being released - is Criterion planning to include other chapters of Twin Peaks eventually?), and written off because its relationship to the show is so fraught (too little Cooper, loses the humor, you know the drill). Their eyes scan the title and stop at Twin Peaks, for better or worse - often the latter even, or especially, if they did like the series. Plus the film's reputation precedes it, and while it's come a long way from being booed at Cannes (sorry, Robert Engels, but the press screening was booed!) and ripped to shreds by Vincent Canby, no film that was once slapped with the "one of the worst films of all time" label can completely shed this within a couple decades. This particularly turkey is lucky to have flown even halfway out of the corn. Meanwhile admirers of the film have questioned Criterion's choice here too, especially when other Lynch gems like Lost Highway remain hard to find in their best possible package. After all, it's not as if Fire Walk With Me is unavailable in a pristine copy (though no one should overlook the financial incentive - not to mention the cultural connotations - of offering a standalone release rather than forcing people to buy it as part of a larger package).A Lynch-supervised HD transfer of the feature film was already included in a deluxe Twin Peaks blu-ray package three years ago, along with The Missing Pieces collection of deleted scenes, an interview with the actors who played Laura, Leland, and Sarah Palmer, and a collection of trailers. The only new bonus features on this release are interviews with Sheryl Lee and Ange[...]



Lost in Twin Peaks #8: discussing Fire Walk With Me & the end of season 3 w/ Twin Peaks Unwrapped

2017-10-25T09:52:26.621-04:00

Although I initially planned to kick off my "5 Weeks of Fire Walk With Me" series with a review/response to the new Criterion Collection edition (look for that as next week's entry), it makes sense to begin with what I recorded first. A couple weeks ago, in anticipation of this upcoming release, I joined hosts Ben and Bryon of the Twin Peaks Unwrapped podcast for our first post-season three discussion. This is also the first official "Lost in Twin Peaks" segment since before the third season began (my appearances since then have been to discuss films or the ongoing series); hopefully there will be more to come this fall and winter.

We cover Fire Walk With Me from several angles, focusing on how the new season does or doesn't change our view of the material (particularly the ending of the film), why it would be a bad idea for David Lynch to release a recut of the movie including The Missing Pieces (as producer Sabrina Sutherland has said he would consider), and if the film functions as a standalone. My segment appears in the latter half of the episode; the rest is devoted to a fascinating discussion of the UK Twin Peaks Festival, sprinkled with snippets of Sutherland's Q&A. (And make sure you check out this episode's amazing cover art, which doesn't show up in the embed.) See you next week for more Fire Walk With Me.

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"5 Weeks of Fire Walk With Me" begins next week

2017-10-25T09:54:44.507-04:00

UPDATE: “5 Weeks of Fire Walk With Me” will begin next week (the week of October 22) rather than this weekend as originally announced, and the podcast posts before the Criterion review.This week the Criterion Collection released DVD and blu-ray editions of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. Considering its inclusion in a deluxe Twin Peaks boxset three years ago, this may seem anticlimactic; aside from a couple new interviews, it's nothing we haven't seen before. However, I think Criterion spine number #898 is significant and worth celebrating, for reasons I'll explain more in-depth in a few days, after I've had a chance to rewatch the film.This review/statement of "Why Fire Walk With Me Belongs in the Criterion Collection" will discuss the new interviews and older special features, but will particularly pay attention to Fire Walk With Me's legacy as cinema, and not just a part of Twin Peaks. It will also kick off "5 Weeks of Fire Walk With Me" during which I am planning to celebrate this great, still underrated film with a new post each week. (This ended up appearing as the second entry instead.)The next week I will cross-post a podcast appearance - the return of my short Lost in Twin Peaks segment on Twin Peaks Unwrapped where I discussed Fire Walk With Me, the third season, and the relationship between the two, with hosts Ben and Bryon.The following week I am planning to publish an extensive essay on "The Legacy of Fire Walk With Me" offering similar treatment to my overview of the three seasons a few weeks ago. This will cover the film's genesis, much of what is known about its production, the immediate critical reaction and the slow reappraisal of the work, as well as reflections on why it stirred the reaction it did and what its significance is today. The essay will cull many other reactions as well, particularly from the media round-up I conducted several years ago.Most of these pieces will emphasize Fire Walk With Me on its own terms rather than focus on its place in Twin Peaks, but the following week I will publish an exception. "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and the third season" will explore links between the film and the new series from two directions - first, by tracing all of season three's references to Fire Walk With Me, and second, by looking back at the film through the lens of the new material.In the final week, I will offer a culmination of the previous points in a piece called "Four Perspectives on Fire Walk With Me"; this will investigate the impact, limitations, and appeal of Fire Walk With Me as a chapter in Twin Peaks, as a horror film, as a piece of Lynch's feature filmography, and as a standalone art film exploring trauma through psychodrama. I will also probably include a round-up of all my work on Fire Walk With Me (perhaps as a bonus post).I hope that fans of Fire Walk With Me enjoy this series, but more importantly I hope that those who feel confused by the film, who didn't click with it, or who simply haven't given much thought to its importance outside of Twin Peaks (or at all) will gain new perspectives on the work.[...]



Early thoughts on Twin Peaks season 3: a conversation w/ Lindsay Stamhuis on 25 Years Later

2017-10-15T16:12:18.533-04:00


A month ago, when the finale was only a week old, I took a few hours to chat with Lindsay Stamhuis (of the Bickering Peaks podcast) about the new season of Twin Peaks. Both parts of the discussion have now been published on 25 Years Later in print form (thanks to Lindsay for transcribing them!) and you can read them for yourselves. These were initial reflections so in some cases I'm asking more questions than teasing out answers - not that I'm not necessarily much closer to final conclusions about most of this stuff now! What do you think?



With the release of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me on Criterion Collection this week, I'm planning something special. I had hoped to maybe do a full week of posts - a "5 Days of Fire Walk With Me" line-up covering various aspects and perspectives on the film, but it's Sunday afternoon and I haven't done anything to prepare for that so it seems unlikely. However, there will is a podcast appearance already recorded, and I'll probably write at least one new piece, so stay tuned.



3 years of Journey Through Twin Peaks (& how it began)

2017-10-13T09:28:55.425-04:00

Newfound Lake, NH(site of some early inspiration)On October 1, 2014, I uploaded the first Journey Through Twin Peaks video. Since then, this series has become by far my most popular work, and certainly one of the projects I'm proudest of. Journey took about four and a half months to complete, and began as the coming-together of several different ideas. By the fall of 2014, I had already been publishing a lot about Twin Peaks for six months, ever since I casually decided to read a book of Twin Peaks essays (Full of Secrets, edited by the late David Lavery) that had been sitting on my desk for four months, and in my online cart for half a decade before that. What follows is a short history of the process that led to this video series, if you find such things interesting! (Well, it was supposed to be short but it ended up kind of long - in fact I will follow up at another time with parts 2 and 3, as I enjoyed revisiting this process, however navel-gazey...)Thank you to everyone who has watched, shared, commented on, or otherwise engaged with Journey Through Twin Peaks. I hope it continues to help people in their own journeys with this work.And here is where the playlist for Journey Through Twin Peaks begins: allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/2KUUXpk4U3w" width="560">Part 1: BeforeI first saw Twin Peaks in 2008, right at the exact time I began this blog (you can read my first offhand mention of the show, which I still hadn't finished viewing, in the preamble to a Bresson review). After writing my first episode guide on an immediate rewatch and covering a few Lynch films around the same time, the series faded to the background of my work on this site. It would pop up here and there on lists or in brief mentions in pieces focused on classic films or new releases but Twin Peaks didn't become a focus again until that book inspired a rewatch (on Netflix, on...*gulps* my phone!).From the beginning of this immersion, outside factors seemed to sync up with my own personal journey. In February and March, as I read those essays, found The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer online, and came across various fan sites, I discovered it was the twenty-fifth anniversary of the timeline in the show (my journey began two days after the anniversary of Cooper's arrival in town). In March, as I rewatched the series and received an invitation from critic Tony Dayoub to discuss Fire Walk With Me for a film site, I learned that a blu-ray of the series and film was scheduled for release later that summer, with rumors of something more. In April, as I began work on the Fire Walk With Me correspondence and dove deeply into several days of research (resulting in this round-up a few months later), the pilot turned twenty-four, which shouldn't have been that big of a deal and yet there were a flurry of high-profile pieces on the series. Clearly, something was in the air and multiple people, for no reason they could really attest to, were being drawn into this world once again.In May, as the correspondence was published and I labored on a massive retrospective review of all of Lynch's work as well as an extensive non-narrated video essay centered around Fire Walk With Me, the inclusion of the deleted scenes (The Missing Pieces) on the blu-ray was announced - probably the biggest event to hit the Twin Peaks community since the release of the film. There would also be an interview between Lynch and the actors who played the Palmer family in character, essentially the first new Twin Peaks material since the Log Lady introductions on Bravo in 1993. I marveled at the completely coincidental head start I'd gotten on this resurgent phenomenon and wondered only half-jokingly what cosmic forces were at work in my life. As Cooper himself says, "When two separate even[...]



TV Countdown - Twin Peaks

2017-09-29T19:02:20.753-04:00

Yesterday's essay on all three seasons of Twin Peaks - one of the longest pieces I've ever written - represented several opportunities for me. First of all, it's always a pleasure to take part in Sam Juliano's "genre" countdowns on Wonders in the Dark - the site whose journey has been most intertwined with my own for nearly a decade now. This is, I believe, the tenth such countdown since the exercise began in 2010, with some authored all by one writer but most featuring dozens of different contributors. I've participated in five of these: the Musical Countdown (a visual tribute to The Gay Divorcee featuring Arlene Croce's descriptions, a video essay and written essay for 42nd Street, and a written essay on An American in Paris), the Comedy Countdown (a video essay featuring multiple critical perspectives on Modern Times), the Western Countdown (a written essay on several versions of Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid - make sure to read the extensive comment by Paul Seydor, who edited one of those versions), the Romance Countdown (a video essay on different genres featured in Lady and the Tramp, and a written essay on the TV and film versions of Marty), and now the TV countdown - the first to expand its scope beyond just a film genre into an entire medium (the entries included everything from game shows to prestige miniseries - where else could you find the avant-garde, Brechtian seven-hour opus Our Hitler: A Film from Germany literally back-to-back with The Flintstones?!!)That said, the opportunity also provided a chance to reach a milestone with another long-running companion of this site: Twin Peaks. Back in 2014, when The Missing Pieces (deleted scenes from the movie Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me) looked like they would place the final punctuation (probably a question mark, naturally) on the Twin Peaks cycle, I hoped to write a lengthy, comprehensive essay covering the entire series from pilot to feature film. This project eventually evolved into my Journey Through Twin Peaks series, but putting the show into words remained unrealized until now. I didn't plan to write this much, but the final result clocks in at over 11,000 words (approximately 22 pages) and is about as comprehensive as I could manage - though undoubtedly many (including me) will look back and say "But what about..." The big "missing piece" is the feature film, my favorite part of Twin Peaks but beyond the purview of a "TV countdown" (though inevitably the subject emerges anyway in several paragraphs). However, the Criterion Collection release of that film is imminent and I'll probably write something new and in-depth on Fire Walk With Me for that event; taken together, this essay and that will probably represent my most concentrated yet comprehensive written analysis of Twin Peaks.And that brings me to the final key opportunity - Twin Peaks' high placement on this poll (it comes it at #2, just below The Twilight Zone) meant that it was delayed until just a few weeks after the third season finale. Hence, aside from scattered thoughts on Twitter and other forums - and very immediate reactions contained within a review focused on Parts 17 and 18 - this gives me my first real opportunity to grapple with the new material as a whole. I hope you enjoy the results - and please feel free to join the conversation on Wonders, which always fosters a lively discussion.I've placed the introduction here and then you can follow the link to read the rest on Wonders (I'll archive it here eventually too, but not for a while).“Twin Peaks is not a TV show.” You’ve probably heard this refrain before, perhaps moderated to “Twin Peaks is not normal television,” or, more generously to the medium, “Twin Peaks changed TV forever.” However phrased, the essence remains the same: Twin[...]



Dr. Amp's America: discussing Twin Peaks: The Return w/ Discourse Collective

2017-09-22T20:43:56.496-04:00


This spring, I joined several of the hosts of the left-wing political/cultural podcast Discourse Collective to discuss Twin Peaks as it existed at that time. With eighteen more hours of material to address, I returned to the show last week and we dug into the show's portrait of an economically devastated America, the impact of the atomic bomb, the depiction of otherworldly entities beyond our understanding, and whether or not the Twin Peaks universe simply illustrates Alex Jones' perception of everyday reality. With Will Menaker (of Chapo Trap House fame) taking part as well, it was a great conversation. What else would you expect from a podcast that uses "The Pink Room" track as its personal theme, whether covering the DSA convention, the Paris commune, or the evolution of 4chan? (That said, this time they put a little twist on that opening.)

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The World of Twin Peaks - discussing the third season w/ the Beyond the Filter podcast

2017-09-18T20:38:58.510-04:00


The show is over, but as I mentioned last week the conversation is just beginning. One of the highlights of this season for me was the generosity of podcasters invited me onto their platforms to discuss Twin Peaks: The Ret-- er, season three. (After being told in the early months of this year that this was not the third season but one big eighteen-hour film called Twin Peaks: The Return, we are now informed that this was a Showtime marketing label, and Lynch prefers to call this the third season of good old regular Twin Peaks.) On these episodes we would all reflect on the partial work we'd seen and speculate on where it might be going. Now, of course, we have a complete work on hand.

Tonight Liz Ryerson, host of Beyond the Filter, guides a conversation not just through the broad expanse of the new season (focusing on the big picture so as not just fall into the rabbit hole of the finale - though of course, we get into that too), but also the original series, Fire Walk With Me, and Lynch in general. We discuss these works in relation to TV conventions, trauma, social context, and the art world in an in-depth discussion that's one of the best I've had on Twin Peaks (the episode itself is extensive, but we also spoke at length before and after the recording). If you're looking for somewhere to digest what you've just seen, in a context much wider than these eighteen episodes (wide as that context already is), this is a great place to begin.




What's next: TWIN PEAKS & more

2017-09-18T20:44:26.591-04:00

It has been a week and a half since the finale, but my activity around the show has not really slowed down - if anything it's only escalated! (Twitter in particular has been nonstop.) I mentioned on a podcast a few weeks ago that while Parts 17 and 18 would bring to a close the experience of reacting to new, fresh Twin Peaks, in a sense the end of The Return would be more of a beginning. Now that we can see how this series functions as a whole, and the ways it does and doesn't fit in with the already existing Twin Peaks, we can begin the real work of diving into and exploring this world. (Meanwhile, of course, you can explore all of my previous work on Twin Peaks while waiting for some of my long-term responses to The Return to emerge.)First of all, though, thanks to everyone who has read, shared, commented on, or otherwise engaged with my writing on The Return. It's been wonderful to see that the essays - meant to be real-time reactions rather than careful retrospective analysis - have resonated with other viewers, including those who created a lively, impromptu community in the comments sections each week (if you haven't read the responses yet, please do - the discussion for the last episodes in particular is close to, or perhaps already has, exceeded the longest thread on any of my blog posts). For years, comments on this blog have been minimal, with conversations and observations emerging on other platforms if anywhere. I'm glad to see that this home base has life in it yet!Speaking of which, I have many plans for the next year of Lost in the Movies, so many plans that in fact I'm not sure they all can be contained in a single year - some might spill out into the latter half of 2018 or even further. And, of course, a lot of this involves Twin Peaks.So yes, I am definitely planning to continue my Journey Through Twin Peaks video series to include The Return, and already have several ideas (including an opening that I conceived last year, sensing it would end up being relevant - and boy, was it ever). I will be giving myself plenty of time for this, probably six to nine months, not only so the process isn't rushed but because I want plenty of time for considered reflections to percolate. The original Journey videos resulted from half a year of intense focus on Twin Peaks, tossing around and exploring many different ideas. I want the same to be true this time.Besides, I have other unfinished business I'd like to attend to first. I abandoned the Twin Peaks character series this spring, hoping I would return and finish it while The Return was airing but that never happened. Instead, I now plan to bring it back in - appropriately enough - a reboot form, incorporating characters from The Return and re-ordering the list to reflect that screentime. I'm already off to a good start - in the past six days, I've been able to do the equivalent of what took six months last year, laying the preparatory foundation for further research and study. Now that my original top twenty is obsolete, I'll probably share that ranking a few days from now just for fun. It's already become clear to me that The Return has shaken up that order significantly.I will be more selective this time, starting with characters who have at least ten minutes of screentime (though even with this cut-off point, the overall list will be a few entries longer than the previous one). Because I don't want to go into the past to change what's already set in stone (ahem), as they become relevant I will probably publish collections of links to entries unaffected by The Return and re-post entire entries that have been affected. In the latter case I'll attach an asterisk or some other signifier next to paragraphs that are br[...]



Twin Peaks: The Return Parts 17 & 18 - "The past dictates the future."/"What is your name?"

2017-09-14T02:44:06.110-04:00

Poor Cooper. He stands uniquely in David Lynch's work - a hero so sterling and steadfast that when the narrative mill eventually demands more complexity and darkness, it must manufacture an evil copy of him to do the trick. Twenty-five years ago, the second season of Twin Peaks struggled up to that endpoint, providing a serviceable backstory to set him up for his final Lodge confrontation with a shadow-self who feels as incongruous to him as to us. When "the good Cooper" returned in Part 16, it was with the full force of the first season's bravado - commanding but generous, cheerful yet sensitive, enthusiastic and wise at the same time. This is the Cooper who shows up at the sheriff's station in Part 17 to oversee the destruction of his doppelganger and the Bob bubble - emphasis on "oversee" since it's Lucy (in a marvelous twist!) and Freddie the Glove who do most of the heavy lifting. And this is the Cooper who, in the spirit of The Wizard of Oz and one of the better moments from the old "Leland's wake" episode (where the original series went horribly wrong, erasing the Palmers and kicking Coop out of the FBI), says goodbye to his lovably cartoonish friends and associates before heading into that humming door beneath the Great Northern. This takes Cooper right into the darker, deeper, more abrasive realm of Twin Peaks where he has always been much more lost. The first half-hour of the two-hour finale is an absolute joy and delight, a satisfyingly zany conclusion to a story that doesn't take itself too seriously. And then, with the length of a feature to go, the true brilliance begins - and we are reminded why Cooper is, and will remain, "poor Cooper."Again, there isn't anyone else quite like Cooper in any other Lynch film. Jeffrey Beaumont in Blue Velvet comes close, but he's far less assured than Cooper in his righteousness ("I don't know whether you're a detective or a pervert," Laura Dern's Sandy told that MacLachlan character, in a line that feels like a thirty-years-ahead prologue for their roles in Part 18). Likewise, other do-gooders like Dr. Treves in The Elephant Man or Alvin Straight in The Straight Story are deeply troubled and haunted by their own ambiguities, while Fred Madison/Pete Dayton in Lost Highway and Betty Elms/Diane Selwyn in Mulholland Drive turn out to be the villains of their own stories. Certainly Sailor in Wild at Heart and maybe Henry in Eraserhead arrive in a blissful place, but their approach is naively intuitive in a way that Cooper is just a bit too wise to pull off. This is not to say Lynch's work eschews knowing heroism altogether. But Nikki Grace/Susan Blue in Inland Empire, John Merrick in The Elephant Man, and Laura Palmer in Fire Walk With Me achieve transcendence not just through empathy but through the direct experience of their own trauma. As Lynch reveals yet again, Cooper is not, in fact, a contradiction of these tendencies: he underscores them by contrast. (This is not to say he doesn't have his own traumas, as Tumblr writers in particular have astutely unraveled - but to me, at least, it seems that he is able to avoid reckoning with them in a way Nikki/Susan, Merrick, and Laura could not.) This is why Cooper is unique and why, ultimately, he may be one of the Lynchverse's most deeply tragic individuals. In my commentary on the season two finale, I observed, "Cooper means well. But he never quite understands what he's up against, nor how best to deal with it. His treatment of Bob as a purely possessive demon, and Leland as an innocent victim are at best, half-truths. He listens to and respects Laura without truly understanding her. Perhaps, tragically, he was the wrong hero for this tale all alo[...]



There's Always Music in the Air: anticipating tonight's Twin Peaks: The Return w/ Obnoxious & Anonymous

2017-09-05T00:26:25.164-04:00


With less than five hours to go, everyone who's been following The Return is eagerly awaiting the two-part finale tonight. The Obnoxious & Anonymous channel is hosting a live discussion this afternoon and I plan to stop by for a little while (the whole thing will be four hours, with guests presumably coming and going during that time).

update: To my surprise, executive producer Sabrina Sutherland made an appearance, and we were all able to ask her questions! She couldn't answer many in too much detail but it was great to speak with her nonetheless.

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It's been quite a journey but with Twin Peaks, there's never anything quite as powerful or overwhelming as the endings - of the mystery, of the second season, of the film and with it (for a time) the whole cycle. Hopefully tonight follows in that tradition.

See you on the other side.



Time and Time Again: discussing Part 16 and anticipating the finale w/ Twin Peaks Unwrapped

2017-09-01T22:54:06.155-04:00


With just a few days to go before Twin Peaks is, once again, a (relatively) closed book I joined Ben and Bryon to discuss Sunday's episode and what we're anticipating, hoping for, and completely unable to predict about the two-hour finale. Topics include Diane, Audrey, Cooper's ultimate fate, and whether or not to expect a Lynchian twist. My guest apperance occurs in the second hour; during the first, the hosts go over Part 16 in great detail (earlier this week they had another episode to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Fire Walk With Me, including interviews with John Thorne and screenwriter Robert Engels; nobody works harder than these guys at getting their Twin Peaks material out there).

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Twin Peaks: The Return Part 16 - "No knock, no doorbell."

2017-09-03T22:17:39.658-04:00

So...that just happened. As I reach for comparisons, the first to come to mind is episode 16 of the original Twin Peaks: the one in which Cooper magically solves the show's central mystery, captures Leland Palmer, and (temporarily) expunges Bob from the material world. "No knock, no doorbell." has the same breakneck sense of pacing, a jaunty, breathless, butterflies-in-stomach eagerness to hit its marks and give us what we've anticipated for...well, sixteen episodes come to think of it (ok, that's cheating - the original episode 16 doesn't include the pilot in its count). Narratively the match isn't exact because Cooper's awakening precipitates but does not deliver a climax, and tonally the heroic return of our protagonist is a far more joyous occasion than the death of a killer. Stylistically though, and on a more fundamental level of spirit, this feels remarkably similar. As followers of my work may know, I am not the biggest fan of episode 16 - but I liked Part 16 quite a bit. True, David Lynch's open embrace of cheeky absurdity is a welcome addition to the original mix, since he didn't direct that earlier episode (Leland's capture has been compared to a Law & Order episode given its more straightforward approach); but some of the things I enjoy about this semi-resolution are the same as what I do like about that older one. What differs is the context.The other comparison that just occurred to me, which feels more apt, is to the Neon Genesis Evangelion finale. Not to the sections featuring avant-garde animation or lengthy, psychoanalytical internal monologues but to a specific moment just before the end when the lead character, Shinji, himself awakens. (Skip two paragraphs if you care about a jarring, if brief, surprise twist in that episode.) The boy pops out of bed, greeted by his stereotypically ordinary parents (doing the dishes and reading the newspaper), and races out the door with his best pal Asuka. Schoolyard drama ensues and the whole thing has an air of wacky, antic energy, bubbling over with a sense of fun even as its setting is aggressively everyday. In this, I'm told, the spirit of the sequence corresponds with many other anime shows...without at all corresponding to the rest of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Shinji's parents aren't truly kitchen-dwelling normies; his dad is a sociopathic warlord and his mother is dead (well, kind of, it's a long story). His gal pal/girlfriend is in real life catatonic following her own violent trauma, and the city he cheerfuly jogs through has - outside of this dream state - actually been devastated by a massive battle (in which he, no ordinary schoolboy, took part). Shinji, in the midst of a psychedelic reckoning both physical and metaphysical, actually exists in a post-apocalyptic society, his life a mixture of numb depression and intense trauma (far from being everyday in its milieu, the series features giant mechas battling otherworldly monsters over the fate of the world).Shinji's classroom interlude is a fantasy and/or alternate reality demonstrating how his mind can create other realities. The sequence also offers what many frustrated viewers yearn for, the ability to relax alongside beloved characters without any anxiety (which the show otherwise cultivates). This is, in a word, fanservice - but delivered with a cheerful wink and sleight of hand. We enjoy the moment because it's enjoyable, and we appreciate it because it exists within a more profound if troubling frame.Does Twin Peaks?I could be wrong in my affirmative assumption, at least as far as The Return is concerned. It's possible that Lynch and Frost have just decided to keep it lighter th[...]



Twin Peaks: The Return Part 15 - "There's some fear in letting go."

2017-08-27T22:54:26.508-04:00

There are three possibilities. First possibility: Cooper is dead (although, as the giant Jeffries kettle reminds us, Mr. C is still Cooper in some fundamental sense as well). Wouldn't that be a pisser? David Lynch and Mark Frost string us along for fifteen episodes, allowing Dougie to elude numerous assassins, and then dispatch him by having the guy stick a fork into a wall outlet. The event is even triggered by him hearing the name of David Lynch's character (is Sunset Boulevard the first movie we ever see played in Twin Peaks?), as if to remind us exactly who is doing this to our beloved hero. The ultimate troll? Beyond pure sadism, this development could serve some dramatic purpose - forcing Mr. C to be the conduit (no pun intended) of Cooper's redemption or sending the good Cooper back to the Lodge/elsewhere (as the Log Lady says, death is not an ending, just a transformation) so he can find another way out or achieve something even more important, which we can't foresee. Yet I suspect the series isn't going to go there. For whatever reason, even though I was audibly shouting at my TV "Don't do it!", I'm not particularly worried about the character right now.Second possibility: This is it! Finally, Cooper has been zapped back into consciousness. I have little doubt this will be one of the most common interpretations, and no doubt it will be the most desired. This is certainly the most physical jolt Cooper has received since arriving in Dougie's place. There was a sense that he didn't quite come out right the last time, that perhaps something was left behind: could this shocking turn (ok, I'll stop with the puns) simply be the FBI agent collecting what remains so he can be whole again? We have only one hour left before the two-part finale, and while that may be a compelling reason to expect the titular return, it's also a reason not to. After all, if the story has waited this long, why not just go all the way and delay "bringing Cooper back" (whatever that means) until the very final stretch? But if this is the turning point, I'm predicting right now that we won't find out until Part 17/18...meaning that this cliffhanger would keep on hanging through the next hour, in which we wouldn't see Cooper once. Or, perhaps, we would check on a comatose Cooper in the hospital as the FBI gathers by his bedside (and Chantal and Hutch would be thwarted in an attempt to take him out there).Third possibility: Cooper survives, damaged, and the shock serves some dramatic purpose (having to do with Chantal and Hutch or the local FBI looking for him or both; maybe this lands him in the hospital right when he was about to be killed)...but he's still the spacey, barely-functioning "Dougie" we've come to know and (maybe) love. If Gordon and Albert arrive in Vegas, this is who they encounter, and the Chantal/Hutch assassination is averted as all the others have been, with some goofy twist of fate or Lodge-guided intervention. This feels the most likely to me. As diabolically clever a twist as a physical death would be (with the caveat that this doesn't preclude seeing the good Cooper find some other way to deal with Mr. C), it feels premature mostly because it would leave the Chantal/Hutch storyline unresolved and I don't think Lynch and particularly Frost would dangle their arc that way. And I just don't believe that even a near-death experience has the power to change Cooper's situation, or that the scene would be placed with three hours still to go (though the more I think about it, the coma scenario works...it would still allow an attempted assassination and would also avoid the sight of his former[...]



Into the Woods (discussing Twin Peaks: The Return Pt. 14 w/ Twin Peaks Peeks podcast)

2017-10-18T20:49:48.473-04:00


All of the Twin Peaks podcasts I listen to have something unique to offer, and in Twin Peaks Peeks' case it's the hosts' fearless enthusiasm for in-depth conversations on various topics, using Twin Peaks as a springboard to discuss TV narrative structures, sociopolitical questions of representation, or their own personal experiences (such as their journey to the series' locations while The Return was being shot). When Ashley Brandt and Mat Olson invited me to make a guest appearance on their latest show, the episode was no exception - our conversation spilled over two hours (edited down to a still-generous chunk). I talk about how I got into Twin Peaks and what my approach to it is, and then we cover on Hinduism, superhero tropes, Eisensteinian montage, and (what were to me anyway) unfamiliar concepts like tulpas and misophonia. Speculation and reflection abound; this was a really fun discussion and I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed participating. Also, Brendan James was a recent guest so between that and Discourse Collective's interview with Will Menaker, I can now assert that Lost in the Movies officially shares of an extended podcast universe with Chapo Trap House! (Take that as you will...on a more serious note, I strongly encourage you to check out Chapo's recent coverage of Charlottesville.)

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Twin Peaks: The Return Part 14 - "We are like the dreamer."

2017-08-27T22:54:28.981-04:00

What's the biggest news this week? That the gang finally made it to Jack Rabbit's Palace? That the FBI has now linked up with both Twin Peaks and Las Vegas? That Chad was busted by his compatriots? Nah, of course not. We saw all of those things coming, even if we couldn't figure out when (especially after Part 13 tipped its hand about screwy chronology). Far more shocking and memorable were any of the following: Monica Bellucci finally appears as...Monica Bellucci! (In David Lynch's, er, Gordon Cole's dream!!) Sarah Palmer literally killed an obnoxious bar patron by removing her face and then biting off his neck!!! Andy is the one to make contact with the other side (specifically the Giant ??????? The Fireman)!!!! James' gloved British buddy was sent to Twin Peaks personally by the...Fireman!!!!! DIANE AND JANEY-E ARE SISTERS!!!!!! And yet in some ways the scene that affected me most was the final one, maybe simply because it was the cherry on top of everything else, the moment that tipped my overall impression toward something I've been wanting to feel but hadn't quite yet: the intoxicating desire to enter into mysteries that I suspect will never be solved.As two more random townspeople converse at that Road House booth, their conversation touches on several of the figures Audrey mentioned in her conversations with Charlie, specifically Tina and Billy. Tina's daughter (and what an ominous cue we get before she reveals her mother's identity) is actually quite detailed in her account of Billy's bloody house call, yet the incident tantalizes because it remains just out of reach. Is it because we're hearing it secondhand, or because the actions it describes seem so strange and implausible, or because we still don't have any context despite such specificity. I'm not sure I can pin down the reasons why, but following all the bewildering, delightful, ominous, shocking scenes of Part 14, this conversation connected with the uncanny vibration released by Gordon's dream. Often The Return has provided a not-particularly reassuring sense that it will answer all our questions (including some we didn't really ask), a sense reinforced by the narrative's many dips into purely expository dialogue, its more plot-motivated excursions into Lodge lore, and the way it employs and explains mysterious motifs from Fire Walk With Me. But tonight we were told in subtle and explicit ways that this experience will go far deeper than rational analysis can capture.Of course there is still a fair amount of straightforward plot momentum and revelatory conversations, especially early on. I've noticed that quite a few episodes make this same movement from clarity to obscurity, opening with characters (usually law enforcement, especially the FBI) telling one another important plot-relevant information and closing with characters (usually strangers, especially at the Road House) sharing anecdotes that intrigue and perplex far more than they explain. In between we gradually shift toward abstract scenes from initially plotty ones. This time Truman tells Gordon about Laura's diary pages, Albert delves further into Blue Rose lore with Tammy (the first case involved a woman murdering her doppelganger), the eccentric (who knew?) Vegas feds are incorporated into the search for the Dougie/Janey-E, we discover Diane's and Janey-E's connection (it makes total sense in retrospect, but took me totally by surprise), and Gordon reminds us all what happened in the Phillip Jeffries sequence - albeit via a hilariously wacky dream conceit (I was grinning ear to ear from t[...]



Twin Peaks: The Return Part 13 - "What story is that, Charlie?"

2017-08-27T15:28:01.814-04:00

Somewhere between watching last week's and this week's episode I finally got a grip (I think) on the shape of this series. (Hey, it only took twelve hours.) Nothing big - well, nothing big big, like no earth-shattering twist on the level of a quasi-comatose Cooper popping out in Dougie Jones' place in Las Vegas - is going to happen again until the finale. True, part 8 is already something of an outlier, but look what it actually achieved: not so much a crazy narrative development as a dazzling stylistic detour (whose explicit plot relevance, if any, probably won't be revealed until later). And I don't think we're headed for another part 8 any time soon, though I'm admittedly less certain about that. In a way, this is an odd statement to make right now: aren't I just repeating what I've been saying since the beginning? I have, more or less, voiced such views about Dougie/Cooper (and, with the series more than two-thirds over, I think I've won that bet). But I thought other parts of the narrative would pull the rug out form under us, or rather pull back the curtain and reveal a hidden reality or shocking secret that reoriented our understanding of what we were watching.This created a nervous dynamic each week: particularly eventful episodes would excite me, inspiring me to think, "Oh boy, we're really onto something big now!" while more low-key episodes would frustratingly evoke the feeling of being stuck in a rut. But after mulling over last week's perplexing, frequently perverse installment I finally sighed in a mixture of relief and resignation. I've always said that David Lynch's notion of an ongoing narrative is different from Mark Frost's (and many other television writers'): less a cycle of beginnings, middles, and ends - existing within an overarching narrative perhaps, but still full of self-contained units - and more an extension of a single middle as long as possible. I should have listened to myself, despite Frost's deceptive proclivity to sprinkle breadcrumbs along the three-and-a-half month-long path. Set-ups and payoffs do exist, characters and storylines have moved (if not exactly advanced), and there are a few mini-arcs within the larger narrative. For the most part, though, The Return wants to linger and doodle between A and B, not leap from A to B to C and onwards.So the best way to enjoy each week is simply to sit back and let it happen without too many questions or expectations. This isn't a slow-moving train, it's a train that has stopped and calmly rests in place, partly to refuel for the final destination (the terminal point within sight on the horizon, yet frustratingly no closer as each hour passes), but also to allow us to wander and explore this particular way station. In that sense, those who grumble that Lynch stretched a nine-hour story into an eighteen-hour one aren't necessarily wrong, but that's the point. Don't rush the journey, we'll resume eventually; for now, just enjoy the scenery. You'll miss it when it's gone.I suppose I'm exaggerating a bit. On paper, there's quite a lot learned, resolved, and expanded this week. The first half-hour is devoted almost entirely to the two Coopers (after Kyle MacLachlan grabbed just a few seconds of screentime in "Let's rock."). Dougie parties with the Mitchums and their pink trio (his demeanor is both enthusiastic and limp), but Mr. C is the real star here. If fans hone in on one point tonight (well, aside from the climactic troll, one of the show's funniest yet most heartfelt in-jokes), I suspect they'll focus on the doppelganger's Mon[...]



Twin Peaks: The Return Part 12 - "Let's rock."

2017-08-27T08:38:26.302-04:00

Tonight's episode opens with possibly the most straightforwardly lore-y scene of the series so far. Not only does Albert speak the letters "UFO," he makes plain one of the lingering mysteries of Fire Walk With Me. The blue rose has long been a symbol of pure mystification ("I can't tell you about that," Chet Desmond once informed Sam Stanley...speaking of Chet, my condolences to John Thorne and his dream theory). The blue rose was a symbol of nothing that could be articulated except perhaps just that (the inability to articulate). Sure, for years fans speculated about a connection to the supernatural nature of certain FBI investigations, but within the text of the film itself (i.e. the most purely Lynchian slice of Twin Peaks), the blue rose remained enigmatic. The cover of The Entire Mystery blu-ray used it as a motif as if to say, "Here it all is, but see what you can make of it."Frost, on the other hand, started pinning this phrase down as early as The Secret History of Twin Peaks last fall, using the book to suggest that "blue rose cases" do indeed denote a supernatural aura. Early episodes of The Return also hinted at a more specific meaning without zeroing in too close, but "Let's rock." tells us flat out: the Blue Rose squad continues the work of the Air Force's Project Blue Book, exploring some of their unresolved cases, and takes its name from the dying words of a woman in one of these cases. Granted, there's still an air of mystery here - the ultimate origin of the phrase remains ambiguous (why did that lady utters those two words?). Nonetheless, the expository nature of the scene and its determination to ground the story in both an in-world and historical backstory indicate this episode will be more interested in answering questions, drawing threads together, and turning corners than leaving us in darkness. This turns out to not quite be true.At times, part 12 purposefully stalls us, spinning its wheels. The exposition becomes repetitious: Truman tells Ben everything we already know about Richard (and then Ben in turn tells Beverly this same information), Albert offers more evidence to Gordon that Diane is a traitor, Jerry continues to scramble around the woods (though at least he's reached a meadow), and even the coordinates that Diane enters into a map on her phone unsurprisingly point to the town of Twin Peaks. The Chromatics play again under the closing credits, and the Jacoby scene repeats a shtick (sometimes verbatim, perhaps even with the same footage) that was initially inventive but has become slightly tedious. Indeed, as that scene unfolded, I thought "There's gotta be a really specific reason this scene is placed here, beyond just being filler." I was right - the mind-numbing familiarity serves as the perfect counterpoint to what comes next: the revelation, finally, of a character viewers have been waiting months to see, in a manner as perplexing for us as for the character herself ("YOU'RE NOT GONNA TELL ME WHAT SHE SAID??!").Thanks in large part to this scene as well as several other elements, the episode that begins in demystification winds up as perhaps the most mystifying episode of The Return so far.Writing about part 12, exploring the ways it avoids, frustrates, and drags its metaphorical feet, I'm surprised I liked it as much as I did. The strong aspects carry the potentially weak. First of all, that opening expository scene is quite charming. While people who hated the mid-season two mythology and/or Frost's book will roll their [...]



Viva Twin Peaks! (discussing Twin Peaks: The Return Pt. 11 w/ The Lodgers podcast)

2017-07-30T15:53:24.868-04:00


Among the many new Twin Peaks podcasts to emerge this year, one highlight has been The Lodgers, hosted by Kate Rennebohm and Simon Howell. While many podcasters approach the series from a background in TV (and a few from other esoteric angles, like Counter Esperanto's Weird Fiction), The Lodgers has a decidedly cinephiliac bent. I was delighted to join them last week to discuss not only the most recent episode of The Return ("There's fire where you are going.") but also the place of The Return within Lynch's larger filmography, the possible impact of Lynch's collaboration with editor Mary Sweeney, the balance (and at times imbalance) between Lynch and Frost, and links between Lynch and other long-form and/or narratively inventive film artists like Jacques Rivette, Mariano Llinas, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Plus, everyone really digs Candie's increasingly whimsical contributions to the show's atmosphere.

Listen here:

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Twin Peaks: The Return Part 11 - "There's fire where you are going."

2017-08-27T08:13:17.233-04:00

Wow, I'm still tingling after this one. The first half-hour of Part 11 can stand with the first half-hour of Part 3 and the last half-hour of Part 8 as among the most sustained sequences of The Return. Unlike those stretches, however, "There's a fire where you are going." jumps between many different characters and storylines. We are barely recovering from one traumatizing incident before we're thrust immediately into the next: from children discovering a bloodied Miriam crawling out of the brush (astute viewers noted that there must be a reason she was still breathing last week) to Becky screeching into her phone and rushing from the house, knocking her mother from the hood of the car before racing into an apartment building and firing several shots into the door where she believes her husband is having a tryst. Scored to a stabbing soundtrack, the camera careens through corridors and down stairs in a jagged, sped-up variation on Kubrick's signature Shining shot (which Lynch has already made his own through numerous variations in Twin Peaks, Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive, and Inland Empire - though never this fast and choppy), before settling on Stephen and his lover. I didn't identify her right away but am now pretty sure she's Donna's sister (the credits list Alicia Witt as Gersten Hayward and can't think who else she could be). As they pant and hold each other, the shot is too quick to be called a breather; it's more like a quick gulp before diving into even deeper waters.In South Dakota, Twin Peaks takes perhaps its most direct cue from a recent prestige TV hit, evoking the sky swirls of True Detective (witnessed this time by Cole rather than Cohle). Twin Peaks' vision lingers longer and takes us further than the the cosmic cyclone glimpsed in the bowels of Carcosa but before Gordon is swept into a bleary tear in space/time, Albert pries him loose. Within minutes of this jittery threshold experience, they've discovered the headless corpse of Ruth Davenport and Hastings' own head explodes, thanks to a woodsman who casually flickers in and out of view. Neither Davenport's body nor Hastings' head are sickeningly real so much as hypnotically Baconesque - they look like Lynch sculptures, and probably were. After this queasy crime scene we receive a relative respite in the diner, less violent but still emotionally on-edge (Bobby-Shelly shippers, momentarily elated to discover Becky is indeed their mutual daughter, are instantly let down when Red arrives to make out with Shelly; clearly the teen lovers of seasons one and two are no longer together).Before our jangled nerves have had any chance to calm, Lynch offers up the most memorable traffic jam since Godard's Weekend, or perhaps Lynch's own Fire Walk With Me - comic, agitating, and terrifying in equal measure (it's spurred by a pint-size hunter firing his father's gun). Dana Ashbrook does some of his best acting so far by simply reacting to this contained chaos with ever-evolving, finely attuned expressions that mirror our own. This mini-episode of hellish anxiety climaxes as a middle-aged driver screams in short bursts while her child passenger rises from her seat like a zombie, ooze dribbling down the sides of her mouth shuddering in the dim light as the traffic horns sound a symphony of appalling, yet somehow absolutely hilarious, horror.Whew. This thirty minutes is paired with a much calmer latter half (featuring a few scenes in Twin Peaks [...]



Twin Peaks: The Return Part 10 - "Laura is the one."

2017-08-27T08:03:59.672-04:00

This week Twin Peaks both fulfilled my expectations and surprised me, in a fashion I've come to understand as the way this bird flies. The overall shape of the narrative remains legible, consistently defying attempt to render it more complex. By now theories that the different storylines of The Return take place in different timelines, different levels of reality, or even different universes seem quite out of step with the methodical connect-the-dots nature of the episodes. When alternate dimensions or time travel do pop up, they are presented in a clear, distinct fashion, not hidden in sly, deceptive ways. The biggest "twist," at least since the central premise was established in part 3, hasn't had any effect on the plot so far (part 8's atomic/fifties aside, which will presumably become relevant further down the line). While the purpose of the story remains oblique, it is possible to frequently see where certain points might be going - Mark Frost knows how to hit his beats, and how to tease and satisfy just enough while keeping us mostly in the dark. Nonetheless, The Return is as likely as any other David Lynch work to indulge moments of whimsical humor or visionary transcendence and part 10 does not fail to follow this trend. As the title was all I knew before watching this episode, both my predictions and surprises this week have to do with Laura Palmer.It's become a fun, if meaningless, game to predict who says each week's titular line. After part 8, in which I would have never guessed "a dirty woodsmen splitting the heads of a fifties New Mexico town," part 10 seemed a bit more obvious. After all, Log Lady has told us "Laura is the one" before, in the very first "Log Lady introduction" to the series which Lynch wrote and directed for the Bravo re-runs in 1993. I've always loved that line, with which the Log Lady concludes her direct-address intro just before the pilot's credits roll. This emphasizes that despite the series' broad scope (broadened considerably with these new entries), the mysterious, tragic, heroic Laura remains at its core. Having chosen the line as the title for Part 4 of my Journey Through Twin Peaks video series, it was especially gratifying for me to see this line become officially "canon" in the show proper. And of course it's always good to see Catherine Coulson again. If this is her final farewell, it's an appropriate one, sharing several insights with Hawk, some almost humorously on-the-nose (the Truman brothers are "true men"), others more obscure, some - referencing a mortality all too apparent on her own face - more poignant.However, I also suspected that Laura's inclusion in "Laura is the one." would not be limited to another character's dialogue. I was correct, but here's where the surprise comes in: I thought Sheryl Lee would be appearing as a character existing in the physical world, probably with Dougie. I still think that may happen, though I'm less certain now (perhaps Cooper will find her in another dimension, rather than his own reality). But what actually occurs is, in a way, more exciting, startling, and moving. If I expected the Log Lady to pronounce her name, I certainly didn't realize that Laura's own creator - in the form of his onscreen character Gordon Cole - would be the one to see her face. The scene already gets off to a slightly uncanny, meta start as we watch Gordon doodle. The FBI chief, like the man who invented and plays [...]



Twin Peaks: The Return Part 9 - "This is the chair."

2017-08-27T07:48:44.838-04:00

For all its unpredictability, a definite pattern is emerging week after week on Twin Peaks: The Return, a pattern that other commentators had already begun to note. Aside from the two-part premiere, each plot-heavy, relatively straightforward episode has been followed by a more challenging, avant-garde episode, establishing a rhythm that corresponds to the differing interests and approaches of Mark Frost and David Lynch, as well as the demands of a televised narrative and Twin Peaks' yearning desire to break the mold and indulge in experimentation. Given the series' ostensible design as one big film, cut up arbitrarily at each hour mark, perhaps this alternation is a coincidence? Well, I would've been likelier to believe that before the one-two punch of "Gotta light." and "This is the chair." Their juxtaposition is too jarring, the delineation between them far too neat, to believe in an accident. Whether we characterize the modes of this series as Frost and Lynch, narrative and experimentation, breaking it down and breaking through, Cooper is not the only part of Twin Peaks that's split in two.Of course, the give-and-take between these elements isn't simply present between episodes - it's present within each episode, as this week demonstrates. Certainly in terms of which creator did what, I'm not sure I've seen an easier-to-parse hour of The Return. The revelation that Bill Hastings (finally, he's back!) and Ruth Davenport traveled to an alternate dimension to deliver coordinates to Major Briggs is described rather than shown and pitched in the context of an amateur conspiracy blog. That has Frost's fingerprints all over it. As do many of the episode's revelations and twists - mostly involving Briggs. Meanwhile, not only am I convinced that it was Lynch's idea to film a point of view shot of Jerry Horne's leg while his foot (er, not-his-foot?) declares to him in a squeaky, subtitled voice, "I am not your foot," I wouldn't at all be surprised if this wasn't in the teleplay. Did Lynch improvise it on a whimsical impulse while shooting on location with David Patrick Kelly in the woods (his previous scene felt like a spontaneous goof as well)? Not only does it suit his sensibility, it plays like a subversive non sequitur in an exposition-heavy hour.And yet...even as I type the above paragraph, and look at the picture below this post, I realize this hilariously offbeat moment may not be such a detour after all. Jerry, baked and bewildered in the Washington woods, is staring at his shoe and as John Bernardy has already speculated, shoes (specifically, Cooper's) may be a crucial key in the narrative. We get another reminder of this earlier, when Dougie/Cooper gazes at a corner of the police station (the slow zoom in to his face, especially following a second cup of coffee, teases ever-hopeful viewers with the possibility that perhaps the lost soul has seen something which will finally shake him out of his slumber...only to reveal an American flag with "America the Beautiful" playing softly in the background). A woman in red pumps crosses Cooper's field of vision and as his viewpoint follows her Wizard of Oz-shaded high heels, he settles upon an electrical outlet in the wall. It's a nice, subtle visual callback which reinforces the idea that Cooper's shoes - lost when he traveled through the giant outlet - are necessary to restore his identity.This works - and has been p[...]