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Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image)

Updated: 2018-03-23T14:58:33.926-04:00


FINAL WEEK - What will I watch? Until 4/1, 2nd tier patrons pick a film I'll cover on my podcast


From now through March 31, if you become a $5/month patron I will cover a film of your choice on my podcast this summer. To be clear, you don't have to remain at that tier over the following months to access this reward (I'll even email you the file of the episode when it's ready, if necessary); the only reason for the delay is that I'm currently committed to covering many other "Films in Focus" in the coming months. However, around late June/early July I will reach your selections. There will be additional rewards kicking in for April/May and onwards which I will determine over the next few days, so stay tuned for those as well.

For the past three months the "Select a Subject" commitment has been part of my reward structure on Patreon but as more patrons joined the second tier, I struggled to keep up with the workload. Hence I am phasing out this reward on April 1; before then anyone who joins the second tier (or decided to bump up from the first tier) will access the reward before it disappears. I've announced this on my Patreon page and will include that announcement, and other relevant information, in my update on this site tomorrow, but I figured the invitation was worth sharing on its own.

Of course, if you'd prefer to listen without making a selection, you're always welcome to join the first tier and receive immediate access to my weekly podcast episodes (a dozen and counting). There's a lot of new content coming up on both Patreon and this main site; keep your eyes on this spot in particular, because now that I've finished the first season of Breaking Bad, my next viewing diary kicks off this Sunday. I will be covering the first season of Mad Men.

Breaking Bad - "A No-Rough-Stuff-Type Deal" (season 1, episode 7)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Breaking Bad. Each day (except Saturday) I am offering a short review of another episode until concluding the first season. Later seasons will be covered at another time. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.Story (aired on March 9, 2008/written by Peter Gould; directed by Tim Hunter): Although producing the two pounds he promised Tuco last episode (let alone the two additional pounds he promises this episode) is definitely a big challenge, the big turning point and climax in Walter's first season journey occurred last week. At least as far as meth is concerned, anyway; his battle with cancer was emphasized in the episode before that. This leaves us with a finale that consolidates the accomplishments of the season and offers a peek into season two., Heisenberg, finally dons the pork pie hat that completes his iconic look (if I remember correctly, though I recall seeing about as many images of him bareheaded), and - after orchestrating a quasi-comical robbery of much-needed supplies and cooking meth while Jesse absentmindedly permits an open house in his previously "for sale" home - the last scene solidifies his lucrative business deal with Tuco. Walter's cathartic release and easement of his anxiety finds release in, as Skyler herself puts it, an open "friskiness" with his wife. In case we miss the connection, the pre-credits teaser concludes with Skyler asking why their parking lot sex (following an uptight drug scare meeting at the school) feels so good and Walter responds, as much to himself as to her, "Because it's illegal." From the earliest episode, Breaking Bad has hinted at a psychosexual charge to the protagonist's titular turn to the dark side and "A No-Rough-Stuff-Type Deal" confirms that the milquetoast man's criminal path affirms his potency as much as pays the bills.My Response:This reminds us that Breaking Bad, despite its Prestige TV bona fides, is also a kind of escapist entertainment, a fantasy for viewers who wish they could could ascend from Walter's all-too-relatable frustration and disappointment to his thrill-seeking mastery. This element has always been embedded in the DNA of the "Golden Age" cable paradigm with its larger-than-life masculine crises, but while Tony Soprano's and Don Draper's shows are often credited with subverting and problematizing those antiheroes, Walter White's case appears not to be so clear. For all Breaking Bad's acclaim, I've encountered a lot of criticisms of the show - ranging from the hostile to the affectionate - which peg it as a riveting thriller that doesn't bear the thematic weight of its reputation. We'll see about that. For now, the first season has provided a marvelously engrossing story with plenty of compelling threads. I look forward to finding out how well it follows these; either way, I'm enjoying the experience so far. This season finale has a special significance in this viewing diary, because it's the first Breaking Bad episode I haven't seen before (as will be the case with all the upcoming entries). I suspected this last week, remembering Walter's confrontation with Tuco and sensing that this was where I'd left off way back in 2014. Sure enough, this is new ground for me, and I really look forward to fully discovering the series in the process of writing about. This is also the second episode to be helmed by a Twin Peaks alum (after Tricia Brock's episode); Tim Hunter directed several memorable hours of that earlier show, including the one that wound up the Laura Palmer mystery. Here he is able to close off a memorable season with a deft mixture of intrigue, comedy, and suspense (although I can't help but feel the open house situation wasn't milked for all it could have been, relieved as I was to see it end). Breaking Bad season one finds a logical end point that offers closure while still teasing what's to come without a whiff of a cliffhanger. Good as these episodes were, I suspect the show's strongest material lies ahead.Next (probably lat[...]

Breaking Bad - "Crazy Handful of Nothin'" (season 1, episode 6)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Breaking Bad. Each day (except Saturday) I am offering a short review of another episode until concluding the first season. Later seasons will be covered at another time. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.Story (aired on March 2, 2008/written by George Mastras; directed by Bronwen Hughes): Walter and Jesse begin making meth again, but Walter sets some clear boundaries. Jesse is to stay out of the kitchen, and Walter is to stay out of the boardroom so to speak (or, more realistically, "off the streets"). Each member of the team is to know his limitations and area of expertise. Jesse has little discipline or skill when it comes to chemistry, but he know the drug business - where and how to move the product. Walter, on the other hand, is a brilliant chemist but (as his macho DEA brother-in-law constantly likes to remind him) it's a given that he couldn't handle the subtle social intricacies and navigation of force and power of the criminal underworld. One man is book smart, the other street smart: so it goes. Except, of course, it doesn't go that way at all. Walter's chemo and radiation treatments are taking their toll (he shaves his head once his hair starts falling out), rendering him incapable of finishing a batch he starts cooking. It's up to Jesse to learn from the master as Walter admits he has cancer and tells the young man he'll be sitting outside the trailer catching his breath if he needs any tips. More notably, Jesse's cautious pushing yields a small return for the risk Walter is taking, and so the timid middle-aged schoolteacher decides to follow his own advice to Jesse: "Grow some balls!" Enter Tuco Salamanca (Raymond Cruz), a local distributor whom Jesse attempts to impress - winding up in the hospital for his efforts. Exit Walter White, nebbishy nobody who can cook killer meth but stays the hell away from the cutthroat side of the business. And enter, finally, "Heisenberg," the alias a gaunt, bald Walter adopts when he blows up Tuco's lair with some creative chemistry and forces his own terms on the finally impressed local kingpin.My Response:Roger Ebert wrote in his review of the 1978 Superman (or perhaps for his recap of that film when reviewing the sequel) that the audience came to the movie to see Clark Kent don the cape and tights, and so the first hour or so - of sci-fi disaster, small-town melodrama, and Romantic wanderlust - was fraught with anticipation and impatience. For anyone watching Breaking Bad after its 2008-2013 run, or perhaps even just after the first few seasons, there's a similar sensation to the first five episodes. We're probably somewhat aware of the bald, scowling Walter, of the "Heisenberg" t-shirts that were all the rage a few years ago, of the reputation Breaking Bad has as a high-tension, riveting crime drama. As such, we're both intrigued and perplexed by the vision of Walter as a quiet, desperate suburbanite, laughably out of his element in the premiere and still struggling to assert himself a few episodes later. The moment where he walks away from Tuco's building, sun glinting off his shaved head, is slightly uncanny from this perspective: we are witnessing the establishment of an iconography we're vaguely aware of through osmosis, yet haven't quite experienced directly - it's like something remembered from a dream. This is the Walter White that captured America's imagination around the turn of the decade. (Adding to the sensation of inevitability is the episode's flash-forward structure; as Walter tells Jesse he won't get involved in street business, we catch glimpses from the closing minutes, a tease that echoes the intercut-flashback style of episode 3 in a more unconventional, self-aggrandizing fashion. This is one hell of an superantihero origin story, with subtle as well as bold turns illuminating the rise of the Incredible Heisenberg. My favorite detail, easy to overlook, is Walter's inadvertent betrayal of Hugo A[...]

Breaking Bad - "Gray Matter" (season 1, episode 5)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Breaking Bad. Each day (except Saturday) I am offering a short review of another episode until concluding the first season. Later seasons will be covered at another time. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.Story (aired on February 24, 2008/written by Patty Lin; directed by Tricia Brock): Having fully gone their separate ways, both Walter and Jesse have a lot to figure out. Jesse goes for an interview, thinking he's being considered for a sales position at a bank only to discover the interviewer actually has an "advertising" job in mind: standing on the sidewalk dressed as a giant dollar bill waving a sign at passerby. Jesse discovers the man currently holding this position is an old friend, Badger (Matt Jones), a goofball on parole who encourages him to start cooking again. Their session in the trailer goes terribly, with Badger good for little other than eating chips, cracking jokes, and nearly breaking Jesse's equipment (when a furious Jesse rides off without him, Badger fires a crossbow at the rear bumper - he can't even hit the tires with his absurd weapon). Jesse has now completely changed. Next to Badger, a more extreme version of his old persona, the young man seems as serious and short-tempered as Walter: he wears an apron, carefully identifies each instrument, and throws the results away when they are displeasing (in this inability to get the desired product, at least, he remains very much Jesse). Walter, meanwhile, is pressured by both family and friends to seek treatment. His old college pal Elliot Schwartz (Adam Godley), who profited immensely from their collaborations as young chemists, offers to pay for chemo and radiation, while Skyler stages an intervention which doesn't go as planned (both Hank and Marie wind up encouraging their in-law to do what he wants - as Hank puts it, "die like a man" - and Skyler is infuriated). A weeping Walter quietly says that "survival" for a year or two isn't worth the suffering and abasement, but the next morning he changes his mind. He still doesn't want his friend's help, though, lying to Elliot's wife Gretchen (Jessica Hecht) about the insurance and finally turning up, contrite and committed, at Jesse's doorstep once again to offer his partnership.My Response:Last episode, I was losing sympathy with Walter, while beginning to feel for Jesse. Jesse's interesting arc continues to develop his desire for professionalism and frustration with his own limitations. However, I also found myself more in tune with Walt this time. As I cover these mid-season episodes, I'm watching them for the second time (albeit three and half years after my initial viewing) but there were things about this situation I didn't remember. Walter's stubborn pride I recalled, but I had forgotten its complexity. It isn't merely that he is too full of himself to accept charity from the (admittedly nauseating) chic, subtly show-offy - the worst kind of ostentatious! - Schwartzes. There's obviously a deep, troubled history there. Why, despite repeated claims that he's partly responsible for a hugely profitable company, is Walter a struggling schoolteacher while Elliot casually accepts birthday gifts like a guitar signed by Eric Clapton? Was he cheated out of his end of the business, so that now a guilty Elliot feels he owes Walter? More likely, was there some sort of falling-out because of Gretchen - did Walter have an affair with her, or did she leave him for Elliot? This is heavily implied in his phone conversation with her near the end (in fact it's when she gently asks if she's responsible that he concocts his excuse). We may yet find out Walter is a far too self-regarding martyr, but for now his discomfort with being funded by Elliot and Gretchen resonates...even if we're not quite sure why. Despite this big dilemma, and a very somber final fifteen minutes starting from the moment Water gets "the pillow" at the family discussion, much of the epi[...]

Breaking Bad - "Cancer Man" (season 1, episode 4)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Breaking Bad. Each day (except Saturday) I am offering a short review of another episode until concluding the first season. Later seasons will be covered at another time. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.Story (aired on February 17, 2008/written by Vince Gilligan; directed by Jim McKay): Walter finally told his wife about his illness three episodes into the series (and offscreen at that). As "Cancer Man" begins, however, he still hasn't told his son, let alone other family members like his brother-in-law or mother. Skyler takes care of that, breaking into tears as Walter recounts how they first met at a small family gathering, and forcing Walter to tell them all about his diagnosis. The rest of the episode will be dominated by two personal stories: Walter's reluctant agreement to a course of expensive chemo and radiation treatment and Jesse's return to his family home after a paranoid freakout. We meet Jesse's upper middle class parents and his buttoned-up little brother Jake (Ben Petry), a musical and scholarly prodigy who couldn't provide a sharper contrast to his burnout sibling. When the Pinkmans discover a joint in the house, they have no doubt who it belongs to and quickly send their grown son packing again. Of course, Jesse is taking it on the chin for the child of the household, whose precocious innocence belies a fondness for weed. When the little boy thanks Jesse for covering for him and asks for the marijuana back, Jesse crushes it and shrugs, with a smile both knowing and mildly mocking: "It was skunk weed anyway." Walter has his own dramatic moment at the end of the episode, when he runs into an obnoxious blue-toothed yuppie for the second time and explodes the loathsome man's convertible with a well-placed squeegee beneath his hood.My Response:Here we have an episode where the stories of Walter and Jesse branch apart. Though the former is more central to the show's narrative, in some ways the latter is more memorable, fleshing out a character who seemed to be just a cartoonish sketch in the premiere. And the nobility of Jesse's humanizing climax, in which he neither snitches on his brother nor encourages his habit, marks an interesting contrast with Walter's more overtly cathartic (but completely irrelevant) last scene. We chuckle and cheer as Walter takes out the loudmouth's prize possession but it's really a neat bit of deflection, not only for his inability to tell his family what he really seems to want (to die), but also for our growing suspicion that, even aside from his questionable criminal activities and recent, albeit hesitant, murder, Walter isn't really a good guy. The only scene in the episode featuring both characters compellingly undercuts the dynamic set up in the premiere. There, Walter was unquestionably our protagonist while Jesse was just a frustrating goof for him to play off. But now, as Walter sneers and shouts at Jesse, dressing him down as a loser he self-righteously wants no part of (until Jesse tosses his $4,000 share for the drug sale into the swimming pool), it's hard not to sympathize with the confused but genuine Jesse. Walter has a sense of how his life is supposed to be lived, even though it makes him miserable, and his hesitance - be it to do murder or to come clean with the family that loves him - seems to have more to do with propriety than genuine conscience. Even his hatred of the BMW driver has less to do with that man's assholish personality than his chutzpah in daring to flaunt it so publicly and get away with it. Perhaps the squeegee represents jealousy rather than justice. As with last week, but with more of an inclination that perhaps the series will humor my ambivalence, I'm curious to see how Walter develops over time as an impressive, at times even relatable, but fundamentally rotten human being. And I'm equally curious to learn how the messy but sincere Jesse will be r[...]

Breaking Bad - "...And the Bag's in the River" (season 1, episode 3)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Breaking Bad. Each day (except Saturday) I am offering a short review of another episode until concluding the first season. Later seasons will be covered at another time. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.Story (aired on February 10, 2008/written by Vince Gilligan; directed by Adam Bernstein): What was delayed for an entire episode can no longer be put off. Walter must kill Krazy 8...or free him. That he's even willing to consider the latter option speaks to how haphazard and hesitating his commitment to the criminal life remains; that he ultimately does murder Krazy 8 (yanking the bike lock against his throat as the desperate dealer swings a broken, jagged plate fragment behind him at his assassin) proves that Walter can find the ruthlessness his new occupation demands. Then again, he has an out, and it's not just abstract self-defense (which is real enough, demonstrated when the studious would-be killer writes a pro/con "kill Krazy 8" list, which numerous lofty principles in the "don't" category and one stark rationale in the "do" category: "He'll kill your entire family if you let him go." No, it's also literal self-defense, given the plate fragment. Walter retrieves the plate from the trashcan, broken when he passed out after a coughing fit in the basement and reassembles it to see that a piece is missing (obviously Krazy 8 armed himself with it while Walter was out cold). The killer and the victim have been building a rapport, even discovering that the young man probably rang Walter up as a boy in his father's furniture store sixteen years ago. But now Walter knows it's all been cold-blooded calculation, so he finishes the job (a few pathetic incantations of "I'm sorry!" the only remaining evidence of his weak-willed desire for mercy). The Walter/Krazy 8 relationship/moral dilemma dominates the story, although there are a few other subplot strands: Skyler's sister Marie (Betsy Brandt) misunderstands a clumsy conversation about pot and concludes that her nephew (not her brother-in-law) is the subject; consequently Hank tries a "scared straight" tactic on Walter, Jr. by nastily ridiculing a methhead in his presence; and Skyler discovers Walter quit his job and tells him to stay wherever he is calling from that fateful night (little does she know the consequences). Finally, at episode's end, the immediate consequences of his entry into the drug business resolved, Walter turns to another important matter. He's about to tell his wife he's dying.My Response:There's one other - very brief - strand which is perhaps my favorite bit. At the beginning, and near the end, of "...And the Bag's in the River," we see a much younger Walter discussing the chemical composition of human beings with a young woman. This is doubly ironic. First, the flashback is coupled with Walter picking up the pieces of Emilio's mostly dissolved remains - coupling an enthusiastic, entirely abstract discussion of human composition with a gruesome immersion in its actual components. Later, we return to the flashback after Walter has killed Krazy 8 and a new significance sinks in: all of the various elements add up near-perfectly but for a tiny .111958% - a missing piece that ultimately foreshadows and then echoes the missing fragment of the plate which almost ends, but instead saves, Walter's life. We're reminded that Walter's scientific brilliance compensates for his meek vulnerability...almost ready to sentimentally sign his own death warrant, his penchant for rationalistic analysis rescues him. There's also another interesting aspect at play here. Walter's student suggests this missing piece might be "the soul," but in Krazy 8's case, the hole in the plate seems to suggest the opposite: all of that humanizing backstory is exposed a lie by the material evidence of his sinister plotting. Is this fair? The implication is that W[...]

Patreon update #11: David Lynch's Cinema - Connecting Eraserhead & Inland Empire, bonus: Blue Velvet (+ Diane Evans in Twin Peaks, Everything Sucks!, Frontline on Iran & Saudi Arabia, The Wind in the Willows & more)


Afternoon update: I have added an important announcement about a change in the Films in Focus second/third tier rewards.With over an hour of content devoted purely to the work of David Lynch (out of a nearly two-hour episode - so much for last week's high-water mark!), I am taking a look at what his first and last films share...and how they differ. Eraserhead and Inland Empire are among the already subversive auteur's most radical works, yet they're radical in divergent and revealing ways. By parsing ten connections between the two films, both can be perceived in a sharper light (the "ten connections" section is preceded by slightly shorter-than-usual coverage of each film individually). And as a bonus, I'm also reviewing what many still consider the Lynch masterpiece, Blue Velvet.Episode 11: David Lynch's Cinema - Connecting Eraserhead & Inland Empire, bonus: Blue Velvet (+ Everything Sucks!, Frontline on Iran & Saudi Arabia, The Wind in the Willows & more)After March: concluding Film in Focus patron selections - please share thoughts belowAfter several diverse picks, we have the most cohesive Films in Focus selections since the Christopher Nolan double-header in January. Perhaps even more cohesive than that - not only are all three films from the same patron, January/February/March picks all in one go (they've been on board since January, but I only contacted them to find out their selections a few weeks ago). Besides, these films are already going to be linked to other parts of the episode since I discuss David Lynch's work regularly in every week during "Twin Peaks Reflections."And this week I've got in an in-depth "Reflection" suitable not just for the Lynch focus, but also the coverage of two Laura Dern films. That's right, I'll be digging into some of the reasons I find Diane Evans such a compelling character; I almost saved this discussion for a later episode, since the rest of this one was already so lengthy but it seemed the right time and place to share these thoughts. I think Diane is not only the most interesting character of The Return but perhaps in some ways its soul (or at least, its guilty conscience).Elsewhere in episode 11, I take a break from my Twitter-topics review last week (it will resume next week) to discuss some of what I've been watching: the end of the Winter Olympics, a tribute to Lesli Linka Glatter, the new Netflix 90s nostalgia show Everything Sucks!, and a Frontline special on war in the Middle East. My Opening the Archive segment is longer than usual, surveying one of the most fruitful periods on Lost in the Movies, and offering an extended highlight of one of my more ambitious online series, on Kenneth Grahame's classic Wind in the Willows.Oh, and here's Lynch and his "boys" to kick us off: allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">Line-up for Episode 11INTROWEEKLY UPDATE/recent posts: updated Twin Peaks picture galleryWEEKLY UPDATE/works in progress: Character series postponed, Voyage into the Movies podcast cancelled, looking for a Cinepoem, Mad Men viewing diaryFILM IN FOCUS: EraserheadFILM IN FOCUS: Inland Empire10 Connections between Eraserhead/Inland EmpireFILM IN FOCUS: Blue VelvetTWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS: Diane EvansOTHER TOPICS: Winter Olympics ending, possible Olympic film series, Everything Sucks!, Lesli Linka Glatter on PBS NewsHour, ex-CIA agent discussing Chinese President Xi Jinping on PBS News Hour, Frontline episode on Iran & Saudi Arabia in Syria & YemenOPENING THE ARCHIVE: "Golden Age" (September 2010 - January 2011), this week's highlight (The Wind in the Willows series)BECOME A PATRON[...]

Breaking Bad - "Cat's in the Bag..." (season 1, episode 2)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Breaking Bad. Each day (except Saturday) I am offering a short review of another episode until concluding the first season. Later seasons will be covered at another time. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.Story (aired on January 27, 2008/written by Vince Gilligan; directed by Adam Bernstein): As with the pilot, a large part of this episode's "cinematic" quality is narrative. This is not an ensemble TV series with a sprawling cast of characters, each with their own least not yet. "Cat's in the Bag..." has one fundamental purpose: demonstrating how Walter's entire life rotates around the consequences of the previous climax, in which he "killed" two drug dealers in self-defense, pretending to show them how to cook meth before poisoning them with phosphane. Krazy-8 (Maximino Arciniega) survived the gassing in the RV, and now Walter and Jesse have two tasks at hand. One of them has to dissolve the body of Emilio (John Koyama) in acid, a messy, ghoulish piece of work especially since it might involve chopping him up and placing different halves in different plastic containers. Shrinking from that possibility, Jesse decides to do the "easy" thing, dragging Emilio upstairs in his own house, and dousing him in the bathtub. Unfortunately, acid won't dissolve plastic - but it will certainly dissolve a porcelain bathub: near the end of the episode, the ceiling of Jesse's first floor collapses, with gruesome chunks of flesh and bone landing below. And yet, somehow, Jesse does have the easy job. After flipping a coin, Walter is assigned the far more stressful task: killing the very much alive, groaning Krazy-8, imprisoned in the basement with a bike lock around his neck. I suppose there's a bit of a subplot in the episode: after Jesse calls the house pretending to be a salesman, Skyler tracks him down and questions Walter about his identity; he cleverly finds the perfect alibi, claiming that Jesse sells him pot. Skyler is savvy enough to find Jesse but - fortunately for both him and Walter - not savvy enough to notice that he's dragging a dead body through his driveway when she shows up to accost him. Something I neglected to mention (along with many other details) in my previous write-up: Skyler is pregnant. She gets an ultrasound with Walter present, and the two parents-to-be find out that the child will be a girl. Skyler makes a joke about what it will be like when she's older, and Walter's face falls. Despite barely coming up in the episode - aside from his frequent coughing fits - Walter is, of course, dying. He will never get to see this daughter grow up, and that mortality hangs over the central hook of episode two: a man faced with his own death must find the nerve to kill someone else.My Response:As with most episodes of the first season, this is my second viewing. I remembered the bottom of the bathtub falling out but forgot Skyler's visit to Jesse (although as it unfolded, the memory returned). All in all, I think I remember the next episode a bit better. Regardless, re-watching "Cat's in the Bag..." made me most curious of where Breaking Bad will go in its unknown (to me) future. How long can Skyler remain in the dark? Her detective work is pretty solid here, and good as Walter's diversion is, I don't think she can remain ignorant forever. How would she react once she knows? Would she be willing to go for that particular ride? Also, what is going to be the story with her pregnancy? Will there be a daughter growing up in the White family over the next several seasons? That in itself is a point worth considering...what exactly is the timeline of the show going to be? Walter's prognosis was not good yet the series ran for five years. Is the chronology within these seasons actually much shorter, even to the point where the daughter isn't bor[...]

Breaking Bad - "Pilot" (season 1, episode 1)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Breaking Bad. Each day (except Saturday) I am offering a short review of another episode until concluding the first season. Later seasons will be covered at another time. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.Story (aired on January 20, 2008/written & directed by Vince Gilligan): Any number of small things could have gone differently and Walter White (Bryan Cranston) wouldn't be standing here, on the side of a desert highway in his tighty whiteys and ridiculously incongrous green shirt, weeping and holding a gun aloft, ready to fire on the armada of police cars he hears in the distance as they approach his meth lab RV with two dead bodies in the back. What if Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) hadn't run into his suspicious ex-partner when trying to unload his new product? What if Walter hadn't recognized Jesse, his former student, fleeing a raid, or what if Jesse hadn't been screwing the next-door neighbor when the DEA came knocking, or what if Walter hadn't chosen that particular morning to ride along with his cocky brother-in-law Hank Schrader (Dean Norris)...and what if he didn't happen to be out of the car when when Jesse made that fatal eye contact with Mr. White, the chemistry teacher who flunked him years ago but now wants in on his business? Despite this string of coincidences, these events, and this outcome, don't feel accidental. Instead they seem to emerge from the nexus of fate and decisive action. At every absurd, outlandish opportunity, Walter chooses to step in a particular direction. More importantly, everything unfolds against the stark backdrop of Walter's cancer diagnosis, exacerbating and inflaming what might otherwise be a run-of-the-mill midlife crisis or even a steadily repressed, grinding misery that might never find expression at all. Three weeks earlier, Walter was a nebbishy teacher, quietly nibbling on his wife Skylar's (Anna Gunn's) vegetarian bacon and taking his son Walter Jr.'s (RJ Mitte's) good-natured ribbing in stride. ("How does it feel to be old?" the boy asks Walter on his fiftieth birthday.) Now, as the gun misfires and the sirens reveal themselves to belong to firetrucks and ambulances, Walter discovers that the same fate that condemned him has also spared him. Walter is a drug dealer, a killer (albeit, so far anyway, in self-defense), a criminal who seems to feel liberated by "breaking bad." And so it begins.My Response:This is such a great series premiere, one of the - if not simply the - best I've seen. As with several other shows for which I finally initiated viewing diaries, I have already watched the first episode three times; in this case, however, the episode never grows old. This a marvel of tight construction and point of view (I think only two scenes don't feature Walter) and as such, it feels more like a film than a TV show. The photography is good, not necessarily flashy, but it's specifically the cutting that stands out as cinematic, constantly - in collaboration with the sound design - taking us inside Walter's head. When I first cued up this episode, early in 2014, this was not the Walter I was expecting (though this series does not contain plot spoilers, I am going to refer to general impressions gleaned from the media before I watched any of it, so skip several lines if you're actually flying that blind). At the time, only six months had passed since the show went out with a bang, capturing an audience much bigger than most cable shows in its last season and especially its finale. Walter was everywhere - on t-shirts and posters, a scowling, menacing figure who looked powerfully built and intimidating with his bald dome and air of authority. When the frantic, scrawny, underwear-clad driver of the RV leaped out onto the dusty road, with his full head of hair and an [...]

Viewing diary: first season of Breaking Bad begins tomorrow


Although binging has become the premiere way to view old shows - after all, why delay the gratification when you don't have to? - I've recently been taking a starkly different approach (in some cases, the slow process has unfolded over years, with extensive interruptions).

I try to spend an hour each week either watching or reviewing a TV episode in order to create viewing diaries for eight notable series. While I'll be waiting until I've finished an entire show before releasing many of these (building up a backlog, eventually, of hundreds of individual entries), I'm making a few exceptions as explained yesterday. In these cases, I'll be releasing just first-season viewing diaries...and Breaking Bad is the first up since it's the only season I've finished so far.

Keep in mind, in case you're expecting obsessive exploration, that these are viewing diaries, not extensive episode guides. That means a few things. They are short; I've settled on a format for viewing diaries which allows me to keep up a reasonable pace while still offering room to ruminate. Each entry is two long paragraphs: one to synopsize the story and re-orient the reader (especially those who haven't watched the show in a while), the other to relay my own first impression  - which is the main point here. Most of the shows I'm watching for the first time. There won't be spoilers because I myself don't know what's going to happen.

If there's value for you here, it will likely come from enjoying my perspective and wanting to find out how I personally react to various episodes, or, more generally, from the pleasure of re-experiencing a show through a first-time viewer's eyes. In Breaking Bad's case, I had made a couple previous forays into the series without getting very far, and of course I was familiar with a few of its touchstones through cultural osmosis. Part of the fun for me has been discovering how the series does or doesn't meet those expectations. Hopefully you find this interesting too. See you tomorrow.

New entries every day (until the 10th anniversary in July)


I had big plans for this winter and spring, but one by one various projects have been postponed. Nonetheless, I want to start posting more frequently - every day through mid-summer to be exact - for several reasons. For one, there are topics I've been wanting to cover for a while and this will provide some encouragement. And to be a bit anal about it, I'd also like to have exactly 1,380 posts the day before Lost in the Movies' tenth anniversary, so that my ten-archive-tweets-a-day can continue right up to that moment (as was the original plan before abandoning an even more ambitious schedule that would have begun in April). This means today is my last chance to start posting daily in order to hit that benchmark.Most importantly, I need to keep up with public content; since starting my Patreon in January, I have found myself with little opportunity to publish anything other than patron-only podcasts. This ends up making my account a rather self-enclosed enterprise, since more people will probably become patrons as a response to free material than through the enticement of rewards.That's the rationale - what will be the result?Well, for one thing, a lot of TV coverage. I'm unleashing the bulk of my backlog, which I've been building intermittently since 2016 and with more frequent commitment since late last year. Most of these pieces are viewing diary entries - I planned to wait until viewing an entire series to publish any of them, but instead I'm compromising: as soon as I've covered a given season of a show, I'll share my capsule reviews (at least through the first half of summer). As of now, I've got enough for the next month so if I keep up a decent pace, I should be able to maintain this routine while also publishing my weekly Patreon podcast and working behind the scenes on more long-term stuff.First up, starting tomorrow, will be Breaking Bad, whose first season I finished a month or so ago. (I'm about halfway through season one of Mad Men, so that may be next). I'm also hoping to cover Top of the Lake: China Girl soon, since I enjoyed writing up the first season. So far I've heard mixed reviews, but I'm optimistic; Jane Campion's work is always at least interesting. Unlike the other viewing diaries, which will take a simpler approach (divided into two long paragraphs, one a summary, the other a reaction), I may write longer reviews of Top of the Lake, to match the style I used for the first season.Hopefully, I can squeeze movie reviews in too, at least once a week if I'm lucky. One of my abandoned ideas for the spring was to publish a review every day, covering various blind spots in my existing archive. That was way too ambitious given my other commitments, but hopefully I can still incorporate a touch of that approach. I also have a couple video essays completed - and will probably have a few more in the coming months - which I may share or hold onto for later, depending if I need to fall back on them soon.And I have finally finished at least one of the three remaining "Five Weeks of Fire Walk With Me" posts - the essay exploring the film in relation to other art films, horror films, Lynch films, and Twin Peaks episodes. This was assembled slowly over many months, and I had a blast illustrating it just the other night. But I'll almost certainly hold off on "4 Ways to Watch Fire Walk With Me" until the every-day approach relaxes, so that I can publish it with more room to breathe. Likewise, as I've announced elsewhere, my Twin Peaks Character Series and Journey Through Twin Peaks videos have been postponed till at least the second half of 2018 rather than the first half as originally desired. (As I work on these throughout the year, third-tier patrons get sneak peeks.)For the next one hundred twenty-six days, if all[...]

Patreon update #10: Rogue One, Brawl in Cell Block 99 & Marie Antoinette (+ Mark Twain on the French Revolution, right-wing hypocrisy, Eisenstein vs. Griffith & more) and preview of the TWIN PEAKS Character Series Top 30 Runners-Up from The Return


There's not so much Twin Peaks in the podcast this week (there will be more, and especially more Lynch, on Patreon in a few days) but before highlighting this episode I'd point you to the third tier reward which is super-Peaksian, a two-page preview of the "Top 30 runners-up from Twin Peaks: The Return" entry which will help kick off my character series. This provides the full list of these runners-up - characters who appeared for less than ten minutes in season three, and thus won't be included as individual entries in the series, but still left an impression. The preview also includes statistics for each one (rough screentime, number of scenes, primary location, top episode, even sometimes their ranking within an episode), as well as a paragraph-long write-up for the first character. If you've been considering becoming a patron at the $10 level, this will be a perk you're sure to enjoy. (As always, of course, the podcast and other features are available to all patrons, from $1 on up.)Who are the Top 30 "Runners-Up" of Twin Peaks: The Return? (March "See the Future" Preview #1 - 3rd tier reward)Episode 10: Rogue One, Brawl in Cell Block 99 & Marie Antoinette (w/ Twin Peaks Reflections near the end + Mark Twain on the French Revolution, right-wing hypocrisy, Eisenstein vs. Griffith & more)The episode this week is a doozy. Another triple feature, plus other segments that are longer than usual themselves. All in all, this may be an episode best experienced in installments. Most future episodes will be much shorter but hopefully the length means that there's something her for everyone to enjoy; take your pick.And there is a lot of breadth here. It would be hard to gather three more different Films in Focus: a massively popular sci-fi blockbuster, an ultraviolent prison exploitation flick, and a Golden Age Hollywood period piece with lavish sets and costumes. Here goes, though (spoiler alert for this triple feature, though two of the films' conclusions are pretty much universally known): all three films end with the main characters sacrificed for a larger purpose - the Rebels are blown up after stealing the Death Star plans, Bradley is blown away after rescuing his pregnant wife from torture, and Marie is beheaded after losing her family, possessions, and perhaps her fragile sanity (in this case only, the cause for which the protagonist loses their life is not of their own choosing though she is as stoic as the others in death).The Marie Antoinette entry ends with a powerful, relevant literary quotation from A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, and after a discussion of Diane...: The Tapes of Agent Cooper (the audio-only spin-off written by Scott Frost and released in the fall of 1990), I resume that focus through an exclusively political "Other Topics" section. This covers a lot of the things I tweeted about in January (before I took a long Twitter break): Mark Wahlberg's recent pay controversy, celebrities as labor, examples of right-wing hypocrisy on Hollywood and other matters, the National Enquirer's shameless, bizarre Trump propaganda, and finally Eisenstein's heady inquiry into why the Soviet style of montage differed from Griffith's dualistic approach. This is followed by class-oriented feedback on High and Low, which I discuss in relation to Italian neorealism.Finally, I go over one of my favorite periods in my blogging history, where I was able to conclude and publish a series of big projects, some of which relate back to other topics in this episode: two back-to-back posts on the Star Wars saga, a study of Field of Dreams' socio-historical context (it's as much about the 60s as baseball), a visual survey of western art through the BBC series Civilisation (I t[...]

Lost in Twin Peaks #9 - Pay Dirt!: discussing my Patreon podcast w/ Twin Peaks Unwrapped


A few months since my last appearance on Twin Peaks Unwrapped, Ben and Bryon invited me on to discuss my own recent work. Ben became a patron of Lost in the Movies in February, and wanted to share the podcast he's been enjoying (thanks Ben!). So we discuss my work (including the upcoming character series) in addition to tugging at the edges of season three. Is everyone talking too much about Judy now? Is the nature of the Lynch/Frost collaboration challenging to unravel? Is Laura Palmer just a pawn in the bigger game? Answers, or maybe just more questions, ahead...

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Patreon update #9: High and Low & Elephant (+ podcast recommendations & more)


update: this page now includes a link to the podcast

This week's podcast features a couple intense movies with very different approaches to violence. The first film in focus is an Akira Kurosawa masterpiece, enveloping the viewer in the ever-shifting world of a businessman who must decide if he'll pay the ransom for a servant's son, the cops who try to find the kidnapper, and the sociopathic kidnapper himself. The second film in focus stages a series of shootings, with no context or dialogue provided as we follow characters in long takes until either they deliver death or death is delivered to them. I also recommend a whole host of recent podcast episodes and continue my survey of Twin Peaks books with a discussion of Agent Cooper's "autobiography."

Line-up for Episode 9

WEEKLY UPDATE/recent posts: tweeting 10 archive pieces a day until the 10th anniversary
FILM IN FOCUS: High and Low
TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS: My Life, My Tapes: The Autobiography of FBI Agent Dale Cooper
OTHER TOPICS: Podcast recommendations
OPENING THE ARCHIVE: "Four's Company" (February - May 2010), this week's highlight (The Hurt Locker)


#10YearsOfLostInTheMovies starts now


Last night, continuing today and for ninety-eight more days after that, I'm celebrating the upcoming tenth anniversary of Lost in the Movies as follows:

From there, you can follow this exercise by tracking #10YearsOfLostInTheMovies on Twitter and/or checking in each night to see the next ten posts I tweet. When this journey concludes the day before the anniversary, I'll share a round-up of all my work in chronological order to accompany my historical and alphabetical directories. Here's to a decade...

Patreon update #8: Carnival of Souls, Upstream Color & The Shanghai Gesture (+ Christopher Nolan & more) and preview of Come On Over, Veronique (Kieslowski Montage)


The podcast's second triple feature covers three disparate films - a low-budget cult classic from the sixties, a recent sci-fi art film, and a decadent piece of Hollywood exotica. All three tell stories of young women in over their heads, seemingly contending with much larger forces beyond their control although possibly the struggles they face are primarily in their own heads. Additionally, I take a look at the quirky Twin Peaks Access Guide, revisit Christopher Nolan (covering most of the films I didn't talk about in my recent double header), and explore in era in my own blogging history when I began to indulge in image-posts, including a survey of all the films I saw in the movie theater between the late eighties to the late nineties, Twins as a 4-year-old to Affliction as a 15-year-old.And I preview my second montage in a month this week, a clip from my fusion of Amy Winehouse and Krzysztof Kieslowski, which you can see by becoming a third-tier patron for $10/month. For the rest, a mere dollar can be your key. See you on the other side...Come On Over, Veronique - Kieslowski Montage (February "See the Future" Preview #2 - 3rd tier reward)Episode 8: Carnival of Souls, Upstream Color & The Shanghai Gesture (+ Christopher Nolan & more)Line-up for Episode 8INTRO*WEEKLY UPDATE/Patreon: 3rd Tier Biweekly Preview - Come On Over, Veronique (Kieslowski Montage)*WEEKLY UPDATE/recent posts: updated Twin Peaks picture gallery *WEEKLY UPDATE/works in progress: finished minor characters *FILM IN FOCUS: Carnival of Souls *FILM IN FOCUS: Upstream Color *FILM IN FOCUS: The Shanghai Gesture *TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS: The Access Guide *OTHER TOPICS: Christopher Nolan's other films (outtake from Interstellar/Prestige episode) *OPENING THE ARCHIVE "The Image Emerges" (January - February 2010), this week's highlight (They Once Were Coming Attractions: memories of my movie past, 1988 - 1998) BECOME A PATRON[...]

Patreon update #7: Blade Runner 2049 w/ Max Clark (+ music of Journey Through Twin Peaks & more)


update: this was originally published without the link to the podcast, which has now been added!Every now and then, I will have a friend on the show as a guest. Max Clark, one of my oldest friends and a fellow commentator on film, is also a patron who chose this week's topic as his Film in Focus. Because it's an extended discussion, this episode will feature only one movie although from now on, double/triple/quadruple features will be the norm.Blade Runner 2049 is one of the few films I saw in theaters in 2017 (coincidentally or not, while visiting Max in Boston). I enjoyed it and thought it would provide a rich subject for conversation, and it did. We focused on questions around the character Joi (does she have any humanity, and if not what's the point?), the ubiquity of Replicants in the world of this sequel, the political allegory of 2049, and of course its relationship to the original film among many other aspects.Additionally, I highlight the musical bookends and markers of my Journey Through Twin Peaks series, muse on why I prefer Winter to Summer Olympics, and dig a bit into my fascination with Aldous Huxley.Episode 7: Blade Runner 2049 w/ Max Clark (+ music of Journey Through Twin Peaks & more)Line-up for Episode 7INTRO*WEEKLY UPDATE/recent posts: updated links for 32 Days of Movies clips*WEEKLY UPDATE/Patreon: Films in Focus*WEEKLY UPDATE/works in progress: re-scheduling Twin Peaks Character Series, Buster Keaton for Voyage into the Movies, Baudelaire for Cinepoems, Mad Men viewing diary*FILM IN FOCUS: Blade Runner 2049 w/ guest Max Clark*TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS: Making Journey Through Twin Peaks, pt. 2 - the music of Journey Through Twin Peaks*OTHER TOPICS: The Winter Olympics & North Korea*LISTENER FEEDBACK: High-Rise, Aldous Huxley, A Field in England*OPENING THE ARCHIVE: "Open Season for Blogging" (November - December 2009), this week's highlight: For the Love of Movies interview BECOME A PATRON[...]

Patreon update #6: Inherent Vice, Monkey Business & High-Rise (+ history of video essays, Donkeyskin/Fire Walk With Me & more) and preview of the TWIN PEAKS Character Series "Rules"


Rounding up the last of the January Film in Focus topics, I didn't think this triple feature would have a thematic or aesthetic throughline. In fact, however, all three movies are characterized by a narrative descent into chaos, disintegrating social norms until we are just as bewildered as the figures onscreen. I liked one of these films quite a lot, had a mixed but generally positive reaction to another, and didn't care at all for the third, but I had a good time digging into each first-time viewing.Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice adapts Thomas Pynchon's Big Lebowski/Long Goodbye-esque tribute to the slacker-as-sleuth genre. Surprisingly, this is the first Anderson film I've reviewed on this site (the only other acknowledgement of his work was a #WatchlistScreenCaps image for The Master several years ago). Howard Hawks' Monkey Business is a madcap (or maybe not so madcap as you'd expect, initially) screwball comedy with some interesting subtexts about Hollywood, aging, and the generation that came to prominence in the thirties Golden Age. Ben Wheatley's High-Rise is another notable adaptation, this time of J.G. Ballard's iconic text of the seventies; the acidic satire opens with a calmly dystopian interior landscape and closes with a peculiar Margaret Thatcher quote and song from The Fall.Additionally, I dig into the history of the video essay form over the past ten years, and how the desire to experiment with that form led to Journey Through Twin Peaks; I find some more Mark Frost-written Hill Street Blues episodes, and I receive some great feedback exploring Fire Walk With Me's fairy tale links, especially to the disturbing fable Donkeyskin by Charles Perrault. This is the longest episode yet - hopefully you find it enjoyable.Finally, if you're thinking of becoming a 3rd-tier patron ($10 a month), I've just published a couple pages of the introduction to my revised Twin Peaks character series explaining (among other things) how I will cover the complicated characters of Cooper and Laura, and offering links to the timeline I'm using as a frame of reference for The Return.Rules for the TWIN PEAKS Character Series (February "See the Future" Preview #1 - 3rd tier reward)Episode 6: Inherent Vice, Monkey Business & High-Rise (+ history of video essays, Donkeyskin/Fire Walk With Me & more)Line-up for Episode 6INTRO*WEEKLY UPDATE/recent posts: creating Journey Through Twin Peaks*WEEKLY UPDATE/Patreon: 3rd tier Biweekly Preview - intro to character series, February films in focus - suggest several titles*WEEKLY UPDATE/works in progress: minor characters, Fire Walk With Me history*FILM IN FOCUS: Inherent Vice*FILM IN FOCUS: Monkey Business*FILM IN FOCUS: High-Rise*TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS: Making Journey Through Twin Peaks, pt. 1 - the history of video essays, form in the Journey videos*OTHER TOPICS: 2 more Mark Frost-written Hill Street Blues episodes, Dario Argento on the Joe Franklin Show*LISTENER FEEDBACK: Marie Antoinette, watching the Twin Peaks killer's reveal at 13, Fire Walk With Me as a fairy tale (comparison w/ Donkeyskin) and Christian martyrs' tales*OPENING THE ARCHIVE: "Examining the Options" (June - October 2009), this week's highlight: Lawrence of ArabiaBECOME A PATRON[...]

Creating Journey Through Twin Peaks (pt. 2 of 3)


In Part 1 of this look back at my video series, I focused on the build-up to its creation as well as the fast-paced, relatively brief process of putting together the first part. This entry examines the much longer period spent on the subsequent three parts, concluding with the presentation of the complete Journey Through Twin Peaks at this time three years ago on February 4. Part 3 will eventually chronicle the creation of new Journey chapters focused on The Return, which have yet to be produced but will hopefully be available this summer.On the morning of October 3, 2014 less than twenty-four hours after I'd put the finishing touches on the first part of Journey Through Twin Peaks, the entire context of Twin Peaks - and with it, my little video project - was forever altered. David Lynch's and Mark Frost's simultaneous Twitter teases would be revealed within days as what many suspected: Twin Peaks' return to television as a limited series on Showtime in 2016. This was a cosmic coincidence for my purposes; not only had I just launched what would become my most ambitious online work just as it became newly relevant, but this same week I'd announced that I'd be devoting the following six weeks exclusively to Twin Peaks, including perhaps the longest interviews ever conducted with John Thorne, publisher of the legendary fanzine Wrapped in Plastic. We'd spoken during the summer, and at one point we mused about the future of this world we were both falling back in to. (John, whose involvement with the work had obviously been far more extensive than my own, hadn't written or engaged with Peaks much at all in the previous decade; the magazine's last issue had been 2005 and its co-founder, Craig Miller, had passed away a few years later.) As exciting as The Missing Pieces was for Peaks fans that had been starved for new content since the early nineties, John noted that this was all a bit of tempest in a teacup - or, perhaps, a coffee cup.John's friend had attended the red-carpet premiere for The Missing Pieces in Los Angeles and observed (in John's paraphrase) "it was the same types of people who are at every Lynch event, it was a fairly small venue. From the outside, it has this glamour to it like it was a big event, and Twin Peaks was in the air. But in fact it was a small event magnified by social media and the internet." John himself added, "I’m glad it’s still there and I’m glad it’s getting press coverage but there’s a small core devoted." We both reflected that the old Lynch - the one who savvily played the "Czar of Bizarre" for mainstream media in the early nineties - would have capitalized on this momentum rather than calmly letting it pass. I remembered the odd buzz of the spring, when (twenty-fourth!) anniversary pieces were popping up left and right, Twin Peaks would randomly trend on Twitter, and the first announcement of the deleted scenes was made; I noted that if Lynch and Frost wanted to seize the moment with some sort of revival, this would have been the opportunity. But a couple months had passed since the blu-ray, Brad Dukes had already made the rounds to promote his oral history (the first of a tsunami of Peaks literature though at the time it seemed an unprecedented one-off), and if there was any chance of Twin Peaks re-emerging in the broader public consciousness, it was rapidly fading. And then, of course, the news.By the time that particular interview went up, I'd already conducted another with John to wrestle with this unexpected windfall. Those Wrapped[...]

Patreon update #5: Marie Antoinette & Heart of a Dog (+ The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, French response to #MeToo, Roman Polanski, SMILF, The Stepfather & more)


Another double feature this week, as we approach the end of January rewards (next week I'll be covering at least three Films in Focus). Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette is paired with Laurie Anderson's Heart of a Dog and I finally finished - and covered - The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer. I also finish the extended "Other Topics" I started several weeks ago with a lengthy passage that begins with the controversial response of many French actresses to #MeToo, winds its way through Roman Polanski and a SMILF episode focused on Woody Allen and winds up digging in to The Stepfather (all subjects linked to The Secret Diary, though the timing was largely coincidental).Thanks to all the patrons who made January a success. If you're not a patron, don't worry - though I've been focused on the podcast lately, another public post is coming very soon (tomorrow being the anniversary of my Journey Through Twin Peaks video series) and hopefully this month will see some very long-gestating projects finally debut.Tonight's podcast - and a thank youEpisode 5: Marie Antoinette & Heart of a Dog (+ The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, French response to #MeToo, Roman Polanski, SMILF, The Stepfather & more)Line-up for Episode 5INTRO*WEEKLY UPDATE/Patreon: revised last biweekly preview & upcoming guest appearance*WEEKLY UPDATE/works in progress: minor Twin Peaks characters, The Wire/Mad Men viewing diaries, Kieslowski/Winehouse montage, looking for Cinepoems, History of Journey Through Twin Peaks, The Last Laugh for Voyage into the Movies*FILM IN FOCUS: Marie Antoinette*FILM IN FOCUS: Heart of a Dog*TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS: audiobook of The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer*OTHER TOPICS: French response to #MeToo & From Revolution to Ethics (history of left attitudes on post-1968 sexual conduct), Roman Polanski, Repulsion, Woody Allen, SMILF season finale, Brad's Status (the neurotic midlife crisis film in transition), The Stepfather*LISTENER FEEDBACK: The Last Jedi & Christopher Nolan*OPENING THE ARCHIVE: "Covers, Characters, and Wonders" (April - June 2009), this week's highlight: Reading the Movies BECOME A PATRON[...]

Patreon update #4: Interstellar & The Prestige (+ millennials, Soviet communism, mumblecore & more) and preview for Fire Walk With Me as horror/art film & Fellini montage


This week brings the first double feature (expect many more, as well as triple and occasionally quadruple features as the number of 2nd-tier patrons - and therefore patron-selected films in focus - grows). Usually they won't be particularly linked but two different patrons recommended Christopher Nolan films this month so I thought it would be a good idea to pair them. I think this was only the second time I saw both of these films, and I was surprised what I had forgotten. Elsewhere, the podcast's theme seems to be generations and the passage of history - I talk about my short film Class of 2002, confusion about millennials, the legacy of the sixties in the eighties, Eastern Europe after the fall of Communism, and the curiosity of reviewing a 2002 film in 2009 - and then discussing that film in 2018. I also attempt and probably fail to pronounce "epistolary," "epoch," and "Bujalski."By the way, make sure you check out the links in the podcast post - this week in particular they're chock full of fascinating tangents.Update 1/21: upcoming podcast and sneak peekJanuary "See the Future" Preview (3rd tier reward): Fire Walk With Me as horror/art film & Fellini MontageUpdate 1/27: next episode coming soon (hopefully today)Podcast #4: Interstellar & The Prestige (+ millennials, Soviet communism, mumblecore & more)Line-up for Episode 4Intro*WEEKLY UPDATE/2nd tier Biweekly Preview: Fire Walk With me as horror & Fellini montage video*WEEKLY UPDATE/recent posts: Class of 2002 5th Anniversary*WEEKLY UPDATE/works in progress: Phenomena as part of FWWM/horror, FWWM & season 3, FWWM & original episodes, The Art Life, The Wire viewing diary, upcoming montage (Kieslowski/Winehouse), The Last Laugh for Voyage into the Movies, postponing character series, including Diane recordings in her character entry, background character entry*FILM IN FOCUS: Interstellar*FILM IN FOCUS: The Prestige*TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS: audiobooks of The Secret History of Twin Peaks & The Final Dossier, The Lodgers discuss Lynch/Frost collaboration*OTHER TOPICS: defining (and misdefining) millennials, "tankies" & violence (Marxism-Leninism/Stalinism/the recent Twitter controversy), Hill Street Blues episodes about 60s/70s radicals in the early 80s*LISTENER FEEDBACK: plausibility of The Prestige, Nolan as blockbuster auteur (would Lynch have followed his path if Dune was a hit?), flaws of The Last Jedi*OPENING THE ARCHIVE: "Sophomore Slump" (January - March 2009), this week's highlight: Funny Ha HaBECOME A PATRON[...]

Patreon update #3: Army of Shadows (+ Hill Street Blues/Mark Frost & more)


This week's "Film in Focus" was a patron recommendation from my friend Max with whom (coincidentally) I first saw this movie on its American release in 2006. Army of Shadows is a magnificent study of the French Resistance, and in this discussion I cover its tangled history (it was a failure in France at the time for a variety of political and aesthetic reasons), its striking ethos (less ideological than existential), its look, and its unusual story structure, among other topics. I also use my "Twin Peaks Reflections" this week to discuss Mark Frost's first episode for Hill Street Blues, which has some significant crossover with his later work on Twin Peaks.

Podcast #3: Army of Shadows (+ Hill Street Blues/Mark Frost & more)

Line-up for Episode 3

WEEKLY UPDATE/works in progress: Mad Men viewing diary, illustrating Twin Peaks characters, upcoming Voyage into the Movies podcast on No Ship Network, Fire Walk With Me as a horror film, Fellini montage video
FILM IN FOCUS: Army of Shadows
TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS: Mark Frost's first episode for Hill Street Blues
OTHER TOPICS: Film vs. TV critics on Twin Peaks: The Return, Hill Street Blues & old TV dead ends
LISTENER FEEDBACK: on Mulholland Drive/Twin Peaks\
OPENING THE ARCHIVE: "Typing Up Loose Ends" (November - December 2008), this week's highlight: The Way We Weren't - Art Under Bush


My film Class of 2002 - 5th Anniversary


Five years ago today, I premiered the the final version of my short film Class of 2002. I'd spent the past month and a half producing it, after writing and casting over the summer and fall (I wrote in detail about the full process a couple days after uploading the video). The project was an unusual one - taking a narrated documentary form and relying on existing snapshots for its visual texture but nonetheless a work of fiction. Over time, I received several surprised responses from people who had thought it was all true. This was both flattering and unsettling - on the one hand, I was pleased they were convinced by my characterization, on the other hand, I didn't want the story to be a "gotcha" gimmick playing a trick on viewers. Indeed several seemed mildly disoriented by this realization (initially I presented the film in blog posts unambiguously marking it as fiction, but eventually people discovered it on YouTube on their own, with little to no context).Class of 2002 reveals the lives of five characters, as well as a sixth character who knew them all and narrates their stories. It's fairly grim; I scripted some more humorous passages that fell by the wayside as its final form was consolidated - ultimately this needed to be a somber narrative. This bleakness plus its unusual form plus the lack of an eyecatching hook ensured that it would not really be among my most popular material...nonetheless, existing feedback has been fairly positive and I remain very proud of the work. To date, it's the only narrative work I've created in a decade of Lost in the Movies, that rare creation not reliant in any way (aside from general influence of course) on a pre-existing work...although of course almost everything onscreen was captured by other people, long before they came into play here! Additionally, the use of a single narrator's voice interacting with the visual material places it in the general vicinity of my video essay work, however different the context.For me, the film now stands not just as a look back over the previous decade, but as a bit of a time capsule itself. I was in my late twenties, working two retail jobs less than a year after moving to California, and I was in a different place at the time (literally as well as figuratively). My engagement with audiences through video essays, my (ongoing) political awakening after years of disillusioned quasi-apathy, perhaps especially my illuminating immersion into Twin Peaks...all were still on the horizon, along with more immediate work and life experience that would have a strong effect on me. Above all, I don't think I would be as compelled to end a film in so quietly despairing a fashion as I did here, though that melancholy ambivalence does suit this particular story (and as I noted even at the time, the character's outlook was not necessarily my own).There's some mature equanimity in this development, but also a sense of renewed energy. As Bob Dylan once chuckled, "Oh, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now." allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">[...]

Patreon update #2: Mulholland Drive & Twin Peaks (+ Reactionary Boomers, Stranger Things & more)


I recorded this week's podcast almost immediately after the other, hoping to get into a routine where I was always at least a week ahead of time. And it's a good thing I did, because it ended up being kind of a beast. The film in focus came courtesy of a new patron, with the request that I look at Mulholland Drive not just as a film in and of itself, but a Lynch work with strong links to Twin Peaks. The result was a half-hour segment (much longer than these will usually be) which I enjoyed preparing for. In the latter part of the episode, I touch on some series I've been watching, and ask why suddenly the cultural stereotype of baby boomers has been flipped on its head.Podcast #2: Mulholland Drive & Twin Peaks(+ Reactionary Boomers, Stranger Things & more)Update 1/13: episode 3 (Army of Shadows) coming soon & moreLine-up for Episode 2Intro*WEEKLY UPDATE/works in progress: 5 Weeks of Fire Walk With Me (Fire Walk With Me & season 3)*FILM IN FOCUS/TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS: connections between Mulholland Drive & Twin Peaks*(pt. 1: Intro/History of Mulholland Drive)*(pt. 2: Relationship to original Twin Peaks/Fire Walk With Me, Mulholland Drive's mythology if it continued as a show)*pt. 3: Relationship to Twin Peaks season 3...iconography/actors, structural similarities - sprawling start, loose ends, tightening at the end, story grows colder/darker at end, identity shift in protagonist, Martha Nochimson's interpretation of Lynchian shifts to darkness, Audrey in s3, Carrie Page & Diane Selwyn, differences...female vs. male perspective, stylistic distinction from the Mary Sweeney era, exception of the Becky sequence)*ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS: The Boomer-ang: has the characterization of boomers as uber-reactionaries gone too far? (plus Showtime's Guerrilla series, Stranger Things season 2 - the Duffers' nostalgia for an era they didn't experience, and Hill Street Blues on Bickering Peaks) (pt. 2: Relationship to original Twin Peaks/Fire Walk With Me)*OPENING THE ARCHIVE: "Building Commitments and Community" (August - November 2008), this week's highlight (Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me)BECOME A PATRON[...]

Patreon update #1: The Last Jedi & more


Every Saturday from now on, I will offer an update of my Patreon activities. The update will cover the weekly podcast episode, Patreon blog posts, and any other news and information. The content will be accessible to anyone who becomes a patron, while these descriptions will keep regular readers abreast of my activity over there, in case they are thinking about joining, or if they are just curious to know what's going on.This week, for the only time in the foreseeable future, I'm releasing the intro to the podcast as an illustrated clip on YouTube; it also doubles as an explainer for the format and the Patreon in general. You can hear/view it here: allow="encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" gesture="media" height="315" src="" width="560">This week I kicked off my new account with the first episode of my new podcast, and a few blog posts (one to go with the podcast, another a welcome, and another a preview). The Film in Focus this week is The Last Jedi; with the surprising number of second-tier patrons who joined up right out of the gate (meaning they can select future films for me to discuss) it looks like this may be the last one I pick myself, and possibly the last time I just focus on one film in an episode.Welcome to PatreonPodcast episode #1: The Last Jedi & moreComing soon for patrons: Mulholland Drive & Twin PeaksHere is the line-up for the podcast episode (the timestamps can be found in the blog post):Intro*Brief background for Lost in the Movies*Explaining weekly podcast format*Welcome to the Patreon*FILM IN FOCUS: The Last Jedi*TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS: Difference between old & new Twin Peaks, Mark Frost's contributions*WEEKLY UPDATE (will usually be after intro)/recent posts: Secret History & The Return, video announcement*WEEKLY UPDATE/works in progress: Patreon, illustrating the Twin Peaks character series, Breaking Bad season 1, Hill Street Blues season 2, Fire Walk With Me & European "art films", Fellini montage video**skipping additional thoughts/listener feedback this week**OPENING THE ARCHIVE "Look Ma, I'm Blogging!": becoming a movie fan in 1990 (VHS collection/movie monster books/Home Alone-Kindergarten Cop/Edward Scissorhands), first weeks of blogging (July - August 2008), this week's highlight: The Brave Little ToasterBECOME A PATRON[...]