setsuled: (Skull Tree)

David Lynch's ability to blur the line between comedy and horror was on admirable and fascinating display last night on the new Twin Peaks. Moving to a meditation on abuse and disjointed affection, last night's episode, "Laura is the One", continued the show's exploration of the basic problem arising between innocent love and jaded selfishness.

Spoilers after the screenshot

More and more, I think Jerry Horne's (David Patrick Kelly) statements on his ongoing odyssey in the woods are reflections or distillations of the whole episode's themes. This time we see him frustrated that his phone is getting no signal and it prompts him to scream, "You can't fool me, I've been here before!" If we distil this moment to its basic meaning, we can see that it is repeated in different ways throughout the episode--Jerry, who's lost, doesn't have what he desperately needs, a phone signal, which would allow him to communicate his need for help. His response, prompted by his distress, is to make a display of strength along with a denial of the apparent reality, claiming false or irrelevant knowledge ("I've been here before"). There's the assumption that, because there was a signal there before, there ought to be one now, based on Jerry's feelings more than anything else.

Richard Horne (Eamon Farren) is lost in another kind of woods, guilty of killing a child, his display of strength is physical violence. He goes to his grandmother, Sylvia Horne (Jan D'Arcy), and when he doesn't receive the aid he did in the past, he shows strength and asserts a right to what she has. Then we see this pattern reflected again when Sylvia calls Ben (Richard Beymer) and she expects more money from him while he considers it unreasonable. This is similar to the situation with Frank Truman and his wife who seemed irrationally aggressive but our reactions to her are tempered when we find out what happened to their kid. So now we see Sylvia, who throughout the first two seasons barely had a presence except as a nag to Ben, has her own reasons for being emotionally distressed and aggressive. And who can blame her.

Poor Johnny Horne (Eric Rondell). That bear with the distinctly Lynchian replacement head is like an instrument of torture but is clearly meant to be some kind of therapeutic device.

Carl (Harry Dean Stanton) has his gentle love song interrupted by a mug thrown out of a trailer window by an abusive Steven (Caleb Landry Jones) who's screaming at a cowering Becky (Amanda Seyfried) about his needs. I guess he is as bad as Leo. He concludes by asserting "I know what you did." Again, a violent assertion of a perceived right based on possibly false or irrelevant knowledge.

My favourite thread in the episode was Candie's (Amy Shiels). Wow, was that strange and intriguing. It starts with a bit that seems like a repeat of Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) chasing a fly in the sheriff's station from the original series. Candie hunts the fly with a red handkerchief but, in what should be little more than a moment of broad slapstick, she smacks her gangster employer, Rodney Mitchum (Robert Knepper), in the face with a remote control.

It's funny except Candie is bizarrely devastated. Still crying about it later, she wonders, "How can you ever love me after what I did?", much to the confusion of both Rodney and his brother Bradley (Jim Belushi). Her reaction is out of proportion for several reasons, for one because no-one really believes she meant to cause him harm, and another because their relationship doesn't seem to have been on this emotional level. She's one of three girls who seem basically to be living ornaments or errand girls. The Mitchum brothers clearly don't seem ready for her to actually put emotional investment like this in her role, it's as though she's been bewitched by the superficial details. When she muddles a simple task later it's because she seems, like Dougie (Kyle MacLachlan), to have become a sleep walker. The episode's title, and the Log Lady's (Catherine Coulson) message near the end, refer to Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). But aside from a vision of a scene from Fire Walk with Me witnessed by Gordon Cole (David Lynch), we don't see any reference to Laura. Since Leland tasked Cooper with finding Laura, I've wondered if this meant Laura has become an inhabiting spirit like Bob or Mike. Could she have taken possession of Candie? Or maybe we're meant to be looking for her in the characters and thereby scrutinising them differently for that reason.

And where does Dougie fit into this? He has a visit with the doctor, in fact Doctor Phlox, of all people, from Star Trek: Enterprise, John Billingsley. The casting is odd for how not odd it is. We learned in the previous episode that people are used to Dougie having lingering effects from a car accident, so that explains why people haven't been more alarmed by his recent behaviour. It doesn't prevent him from bonding with Janey-E (Naomi Watts) on a physical level. So at least one couple is happy in this episode, though, again, it's a relationship based on a misunderstanding. I loved how Watts is lit in the sex scene:

Of course, I should point out I was right about Albert (Miguel Ferrer) and Constance (Jane Adams), who seem to be on the right track.

setsuled: (Doctor Chess)

Look at those colours and angles. Diane (Laura Dern) is a dragon on that couch.

Last night brought the most linear, logical episode of the new Twin Peaks season so far, but it was still wonderfully weird and refreshing.

Spoilers after the screenshot

Is it just me or did Constance (Jane Adams) and Albert (Miguel Ferrer) just fall for each other over Major Briggs' headless corpse? They seem like they'd be a good couple.

Don S. Davis, who played Major Briggs in the original series--and was forever typecast as a military man afterwards--died some years ago but he's still a big presence on the new series. The sequence of scenes where Bobby (Dana Ashbrook), Frank Truman (Robert Forster), and Hawk (Michael Horse) uncover the capsule that's been kept hidden by Betty Briggs (Charlotte Stewart) all this time was wonderful. Mostly a call back to the surprisingly tender moment from the première of season two between Bobby and the Major at the RR, the scenes in the new episode were both effectively sweet and engrossing as puzzle pieces falling into place.

Sound is playing a very prominent role so far on the new season. This episode features two examples of a strange hum, both in Briggs' capsule and the recurring mystery hum in the Great Northern.

I love these little scenes between Ben Horne (Richard Beymer) and Beverly (Ashley Judd). Beymer's mannerisms as Ben have always been strange and funny and the two actors play out these moments well as little pockets of tension. They're fascinating as a potential affair largely because the sound, Beymer's performance, and the knowledge of Beverly's home life make you wonder what else is going on beneath the surface. Ben Horne was always one of my favourite characters--he was funny, sweet, and scary, and sort of like a dangerous, unpredictable predator. At least until he thought he was Robert E. Lee in season two. I'm glad no-one's dwelling on that.

I wondered if we were going to see Johnny Horne (Eric Rondell) in this season. Apparently that's Ben's wife, Sylvia (Jan D'Arcy) with him though we don't get a good look. It suggests Ben's family life is still as dysfunctional and cold as ever, something where maybe he and Beverly might have a lot in common.

Poor Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly) continues his bad trip in the woods. He finds himself in an estranged relationship with his foot, which could be seen as a version of what Ben is going through, though it might also be, like his feeling that his car had been stolen a few episodes earlier, a reflection of Cooper's (Kyle MacLachlan) story, a man whose life is certainly not his own.

Mr. C arrives at the farm and things feel a bit Tarantino-ish for the presence of Tim Roth and Jennifer Jason Leigh. I hope we'll see more of them both. I love the unexplained pair of people motionless on the ground in the background--such a Lynchian detail.

One of Lynch's talents it's easy to forget about if you watch his movies over and over (like I do) is how good he is at crafting surprises that are strange but also just close enough to credible keep you in the reality. I really, really love the three big cops investigating Dougie's case. I love the one credited as "Smiley" Fusco (Eric Edelstein) whose laugh Lynch deploys with surgical precision. The cops are like classic, cynical noir detectives just tipped into the surreal. Even the sergeant who comes in to take the fingerprints--he's in such a good mood and he's got those weird, big gestures, but it's weird like real people are weird.

I wasn't familiar with Sky Ferrera before this but I loved her scene in the roadhouse where she talks about working fast food places and scratches the huge rash in her armpit. I was reminded of the idea Lynch and Isabella Rossellini had for Rossellini's character in Wild at Heart, that she should somehow be both ugly and beautiful at the same time and that the two qualities should be related to each other in a strange way. Ferrera's conversation with her friend (Karolina Wydra) was also like a deranged version of the conversation between Donna and Maddy in the season two première.

Last night's episode ended with a welcome second performance from Au Revoir Simone. This season of Twin Peaks may end up having one of the greatest soundtracks in the history of television.

setsuled: (Skull Tree)

Where to begin with last night's Twin Peaks? I watch a lot of movies and it's only a few times I can remember walking away from something so brilliant I felt like I didn't want to see or hear anything else for a good while afterwards. I achieved that beautiful afterglow last night. I wondered if I'd ever get anything done ever again. But to-day I'm ready to talk about it, another sign of a great work of art, and to be sure lots of people have been talking about it, opinions generally divided between assertions that it's totally baffling and assertions that its meanings are very, very clear. Judging from most of the broad strokes of interpretations, I'd have to go with the latter assertion, which is a good thing. Art is about communication not obfuscation, it should be clear. Often times when people say a great work is confusing, generally the impression I get is those people are too uncomfortable with the message they've received to admit they understand it, which is definitely the impression I have here. This is one of those times where the few negative opinions are an additional sign that a work of art has succeeded well beyond measure. And, oh, wow, has it.

Spoilers after the screenshot

I'm going to see if I can add some interpretation without repeating too much what other people have said. Plenty have pointed out that the episode ties the birth of Bob, and the malevolent supernatural forces of Twin Peaks, with the first atomic bomb detonation, thereby making the loss of innocence portrayed on Twin Peaks a reflection of the greater loss of innocence of the U.S. as a whole. Now, of course, one can point out that the U.S. and humanity in general have done plenty of bad things before the atom bomb. Lynch isn't arguing humanity was perfect before the atom bomb, he's using it as a symbol to tell a uniquely American story about love versus corruption.

A lot of people have pointed out that the Woodsman at the end who violently commandeers a radio station was played by an Abraham Lincoln impersonator named Robert Broski and then tied this to the image of Lincoln on the penny picked up by the little girl (Tikaeni Faircrest).

I didn't think of Abraham Lincoln when I saw the Woodsman but this makes sense with a lot of other things I saw going on in the episode. It's better to take Lincoln as a symbol than for any of the other nuances we'd consider when pondering him as a human being. Think about what Lincoln means to these profoundly innocent American kids--he's a symbol of what's great about the American spirit. He's seen as being the figure most directly responsible for fighting against another of the country's greatest sins, slavery, so to a kid in the fifties he's a symbol that the true spirit of the country is one that celebrates freedom and happiness for everyone and the strength to fight against anything that would curtail those rights. So the Woodsman taking the form of Abraham Lincoln would be an especially potent form of corruption.

The movie--I mean episode of Twin Peaks--is very much about symbol or rather media, both for good and bad. The spell cast by the Woodsman over the air waves, "This is the water and this is the well, drink full and ascend," seems to be commentary on the hazards of addiction to junk, meaningless media. Real art doesn't need to tell you it's the water and the well but this promise lulls listeners to sleep and renders them susceptible to Bob's control. One could say a corruption of a Republican president as a symbol that reflects a deep spiritual problem is a particularly potent story right now though I doubt Lynch was consciously making an argument about Trump. Though, who knows, maybe he was. Certainly misuse of the media has been a critical issue in this mess. "This is the water and this is the well," probably counts as fake news.

It's even more effective because a moment before, when the radio was playing "My Prayer" performed by The Platters, the medium was providing its listeners with a real well of spiritual sustenance. Like the image of Lincoln, the Woodsman has hijacked a genuine piece of art. The message about the horse I'm less certain of, though I my mind immediately associates it with the white horse Sarah Palmer had visions of and which appeared in the Black Lodge earlier this season.

When the Giant (Carl Struycken) reviews the events of the atom bomb detonation and what it caused, he's not simply viewing security footage, he's viewing the same footage we saw, in other words Lynch's film. This is emphasised by the fact that the Giant is viewing the footage in a movie theatre, Lynch is showing us how art can show us a truth which we can then act upon. The Giant then hovers and then reclines as though sleeping and from his head, like a dream or like the strange stuff that emerged from the dead child a few episodes ago, comes a gold substance producing a golden orb with the image of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) inside.

But it's not just any image of Laura Palmer or a new image of Sheryl Lee. It's that same prom queen photo we've seen again and again. Like the image of Lincoln on the coin, this is less about Laura than about what she symbolised for the community of Twin Peaks. I've been listening lately to the recently released audiobook of Laura Palmer's diary performed by Sheryl Lee--and she deserves big praise for it. She does not compromise on mining emotional trauma for her performance. Much of the book has to do with Laura's anxiety about her persona, and the responsibility it confers on her, and the contrast with Bob who isn't just abusing her physically but is conducting a lifelong campaign to make her feel ashamed of her sexuality.

This is something very much at play on the show as well. Just as at the beginning of season three the young couple are engaging in innocent, casual sex and are murdered for it, we see two kids in last night's episode who are even more innocent, their shared first kiss as adorable as anything I've ever seen (I wouldn't be surprised if the little boy ended up being a young Gordon Cole). We're seeing corruption and fall from the Garden of Eden and instead of Eve eating a fruit she swallows a newborn Bob who looks like a frog with cockroach wings.

I doubt Lynch was thinking about Paradise Lost, though maybe he had been--Milton had a huge influence on American 19th century literature and was, in praising him, called by Margaret Fuller a great example of a Puritan-- the moral conflict shown on Twin Peaks seems clearly a descendent of American Puritanism. When seeing Bob's early form when he invades the little girl in her sleep, it's hard not to think of Milton's description of Satan when he's manipulating the dream of a slumbering Eve:

him there they found
Squat like a Toad, close at the eare of EVE;
Assaying by his Devilish art to reach
The Organs of her Fancie, and with them forge
Illusions as he list, Phantasms and Dreams,
Or if, inspiring venom, he might taint
Th' animal Spirits that from pure blood arise
Like gentle breaths from Rivers pure, thence raise
At least distemperd, discontented thoughts,
Vain hopes, vain aimes, inordinate desires
Blown up with high conceits ingendring pride.

I loved the pacing and imagery of last night's episode. All this interpretation does nothing to convey the wonder in the pure experience of watching the episode.

The perspective on the atom bomb explosion starts out making it look strange even before the camera pulls into a 2001 homage. Like Kubrick, Lynch was here using a barrage of strange and violent sensory stimuli to impress upon us how perfectly strange the experience is for the human mind, rendering clearly how a barrier between two worlds is being violently torn down. Many people are speculating that the strange being shown vomiting is the same being who murdered the couple back at the beginning of the season, which would make a lot of sense. Looking at the screenshot now, I just realised that her hand is backwards--the thumb is on the wrong side:

Much like everyone speaks backwards in the other world. I'd love it if we found out eventually it was Alice's looking-glass world all along.

Also, I enjoyed the performance by Nine Inch Nails. As with "My Prayer", the lyrics to the song nicely complimented and expanded on what we were seeing.

setsuled: (Mouse Sailor)

Last night's new Twin Peaks may have spent more time actually in Twin Peaks than any previous episode of the new season and it was an exceptionally fast paced episode. With many satisfying developments and answers it also presented some new questions, and it did both these things in the understated manner that makes the inherent mystery of Twin Peaks so nice.

Spoilers after the screenshot

So it's Andy (Harry Goaz) who comes across the truck driven by Richard Horne in the previous episode, a truck that apparently belongs to a new character too nervous for some reason to answer Andy's questions then and there. Gentle, simple Andy might be the wrong man for this job, agreeing to meet the guy in two hours at which point of course the guy doesn't show. There's an added ominous note in the place Andy chooses to meet--the corner of Sparkwood and 21, the same place James last saw Laura Palmer. Maybe it was in Andy's mind from going through Cooper's file. For whatever reason, the familiar synthesiser intro to Laura Palmer's theme playing over a waiting Andy did much to collect more dread.

Another nicely atmospheric, Twin Peaks location moment later in the episode featured Ben Horne (Richard Beymer) and his assistant Beverly (Ashley Judd) trying to track down the source of a faint ringing noise in the Great Northern. The lighting in the hotel was particularly evocative of the old series, the other locations tending to look less familiar because they look better, being locations instead of sets. I like the upgrade but it was sweet seeing something a little more like the old times. And I really liked the multiple ways the scene operates--on the level of spooky atmosphere, on Ben being just a little suggestive while reminiscing about Laura Palmer, and on the hint of flirtation between him and Beverly. And Beverly, true to Twin Peaks form despite being a new character, is soon revealed to have another side to her personality when she goes home to her wheelchair bound husband, Tom (Hugh Dillon).

How many wheelchairs have we seen on Twin Peaks now? The scene most clearly echoes Leo Johnson when Tom seems suspicious and abusive, until the tables turn and Beverly starts getting a bit angrier than the situation calls for. I guess she really does like Ben. Also in a wheelchair was Mrs. Hayward, who's not listed as appearing in this new season, though her husband, Doc Hayward (Warren Frost), did appear last night in an oddly adorable, unexpected Skype scene between him and Robert Forster's Frank Truman.

Watching Robert Forster interact with modern technology makes the entire modern world seem somehow silly. Sorry to have brought you to these times, Mr. Forster, but we're glad you're here. I guess it's not like he's been away--I see now on Wikipedia he did three episodes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. What the fuck. Well, okay, that newer Ninja Turtles show isn't actually that bad, I've seen part of the first season.

Last night's Twin Peaks began with Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly) lost in the woods. It's nice seeing the Horne brothers with a little more material than in the odd, brief scene in the season's first episode. The more episodes I see, the more cohesive it all feels and I can see now why Lynch considers the season more like an eighteen hour movie than a series of episodes. All the same, I'm glad he didn't release them all at once because, as much as I'm normally not given to binge watching, I know I'd shut myself in to watch all of these in one go if I could.

Jerry seems to be having a bad trip and he's worried about his stolen car, dialogue that in retrospect seems like he might be psychically channelling the scene in Dougie Jones' office where the still sleep walking Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) answered questions about his car. This was just before one of the more enjoyable moments in the series so far when Cooper suddenly became a man of action to thwart the hitman, Ike (Christophe Zajac-Denek).

And then Lynch puts the cherry on top with an appearance by The Arm, egging Cooper on to squeeze off the assassin's hand. It's one of those moments where you realise a man travelling between an earthly and spiritual plane looks quite a bit like a dangerous lunatic. That blurred edge makes everything more intriguing, much like the multiple layers in the other scenes.

The scene's also likely Lynch's revenge on Michael J. Anderson, the actor who originally played The Arm, also known as The Man from Another Place, in the original series before making slanderous statements about Lynch following his failed effort to get more money out of the director. Ironically, it was in an interview with Anderson that I learned how the famous tailgating scene in Lost Highway was made after Anderson witnessed Lynch being tailgated by an asshole motorist. Now we see the character Anderson used to play urging Cooper to mutilate a villainous little person. Among other things, it seemed like Lynch saying loud and clear, "This character ain't yours anymore, motherfucker."

Another highlight of the episode was Laura Dern as Diane, brought to interrogate the bad Cooper despite her marked reluctance. It seems clear the bad Cooper raped her shortly after the events of the second season though this is never explicitly stated. It doesn't have to be, it's entirely in Dern's performance, which speaks volumes, and the way she toasts the FBI. We can see clearly someone whose whole life was upended years ago when someone she thought she could trust betrayed her in a fundamental way. Having a great actress, and a director who knows what she's capable of, makes a very, very big difference.

Or maybe I should say "yrev". I didn't notice that bad Cooper had said one of his verys backwards the first time though I did see people online pointing it out. Last night's episode charmingly just assumed everyone had noticed. I loved Gordon (David Lynch) counting the words on Tammy's (Chrysta Bell) fingers.

I also really loved how this episode ended with just a little slice of life in the RR. I want a whole night's worth of footage.
setsuled: (Frog Leaf)

The stakes seem to be getting higher on Twin Peaks as several characters seem to be trapped, unable to move forward. I identified last week a theme of victimised children and that's certainly become even more prominent this week. Along with this, issues of identity and the line between innocence and guilt are being further developed. And of course, it's all beautifully shot and the soundtrack album is going to be phenomenal.

Spoilers after the screenshot

I'm a little sad people seem to be getting impatient with the Dougie storyline, but I guess that's to be expected. It might be the most autobiographical story David Lynch has ever filmed and part of the reason people are having trouble understanding it is that there's a growing misunderstanding of what it means to be an artist. People increasingly believe that great art is produced by formulae, that every effect an artist achieves is due to a master plan. There is plenty of calculation that goes into the work of most artists but most artists will also tell you they have no idea which things they do will have a meaningful impact on people and which they'll barely notice. That's what we see when Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) makes those seemingly meaningless doodles on the case files--and later they surprisingly have real significance to Dougie's boss, though Cooper himself seems to have no conscious understanding of what he'd produced.

Cooper had always been childlike and possessed of a great power of intuition. His experience in the Black Lodge seems to have rendered him a sleep walker and all of his powers of intuition have been enhanced. Or rather, his powers of intuition seem to be the only cognitive ability he has. But it all works as a metaphor for the artistic experience--Cooper starts out finding slot machine wins, a simple display of innate talent. Now he's moved on to something more sophisticated. At the same time, Mike (Al Strobel) implores him, "Don't die", which suggests he can't safely stay in this somnambulist state forever, and this is beautifully expressed in the idea of this great character, Agent Cooper, drowning in the dull life of Dougie Jones. This is the world of algorithms and formula that drowns an artist.

Janey E (Naomi Watts) seems to have all the other side. Her euphoria at the cash windfall has evolved--now she doesn't only want to pay off the 50 grand debt, she's decided to make the surplus from 125,000 even greater by negotiating the debt down to the original 25,000 loan. Now if only she and Cooper can combine their talents to a shared goal.

Cooper's also connected to children--Dougie's boss specifically describes his drawings as a "childish scribble"--and Cooper seems to have an instinctive connection with Sonny Jim (Pierce Gagnon). There are three innocent little boys now--Sonny Jim, the Drugged Out Mother's (Hailey Gates) son, and the poor little boy who gets hit by a car and killed, witnessed by Carl (Harry Dean Stanton).

Poor Carl. He'd already gone places and was happy where he was, as he said in Fire Walk with Me. All he wanted was a nice day in the park but it's Harry Dean Stanton's reactions that sold the emotional impact of the scene more than anything else.

These little boys--it's easy to look back and see them recurring throughout Lynch's films--Isabella Rossellini's son in Blue Velvet, Sailor and Lula's son in Wild at Heart, the child in The Grandmother. That last one, like Cooper now, seems pretty autobiographical and Lynch seems to identify with these kids, helpless in an angry and violent world.

Kids affected by war are mentioned twice--Frank (Robert Forster) and Doris (Candy Clark) had a son who committed suicide, apparently related to PTSD following service in one of the recent wars, and then Carl talks to a young man whose wife was apparently injured in the war. Neither of these characters are literally children but we learn about them through point of view characters who are their parents or old enough to be their parents.

Richard Horne (Eamon Farren), the sinister, predatory guy from the Bang Bang Bar last week, makes it clear he does not want to be thought of as "a kid" and in the process of trying to avoid this identity he kills a child, something he angrily rationalises almost immediately to avoid feeling guilty.

A generally melancholy episode, a mood assisted much by more score from Angelo Badalamenti and a closing song by Sharon Van Etten, also had some lovely lighter moments. Albert (Miguel Ferrer) angrily curses out Gene Kelly though he does so in a beautiful shot. We learn that the legendary Diane has been Laura Dern all this time, which of course makes sense, and back at the RR we see that Heidi (Andrea Hays) finally got her car started.

I also loved the sequence of Hawk (Michael Horse) finding those pages in a bathroom stall. Would those be pages from Laura Palmer's diary containing the message Annie told Laura to write in Fire Walk with Me? It seems likely though I don't see how knowing the good Dale was in the Lodge and can't leave is going to help anything. Maybe that's not all Laura wrote.

Also, is this the Black Spot from Treasure Island?

Twitter Sonnet #1002

All green collapsing matter was glued.
In ev'ry fallen hole arrived the dough.
Interred in cokey urns the drugs renewed.
A finer Hur than Ben will never row.
To set the cruel and metal chin was moot.
For tables growth discussions can result.
You must look out for any miser's suit.
Emboldened bins assay a dust assault.
Reactions mute beside the dropping face.
Above the wires speak with voice in arms.
A bunker stack of coffees start the race.
The oil sees but some of what it harms.
Inside a cauliflower stem's a mind
A hundred botanists could never find.
setsuled: (Mouse Sailor)

Twin Peaks took a turn for the melancholy in last night's new episode. So far it's been mainly intriguing weirdness but with last night's episode the show subtly shifted focus to the emotional state of victims.

We've now had essentially a five hour David Lynch movie and I can't believe there's more to come. I marvel at the consistency in filmmaking quality and it's so refreshing to have a show that never for a moment assumes I'm stupid.

Spoilers after the screenshot.

For instance, I liked how Lynch never cut to a close-up of the cup Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) is holding to explain how Frank (Bob Stephenson) knows that was his coffee. If Lynch didn't have final cut on these, I guarantee some busybody at some point would have said, "No, we have to make it super fucking clear for the morons at home."

I love watching Frank discover he really likes the green tea latte. Such a small, kind of adorable moment. I'm continually amazed how much attention to detail there is on the show, how Lynch just keeps putting together interesting shots. Look at this shot of the Drugged-Out Mother (Hailey Gates)--yes, that's the character's name in the credits.

At some point Lynch or his cinematographer, Peter Deming, said, we need a big red ball in the background to go with her top. Almost everything in her house is grey, red, white, or brown. Her poor kid's shirt is somehow sad and perfect.

We also have another sad moment for a kid when Cooper inexplicably sheds a tear for Sonny Jim sitting in the back of the car. Why? Because he knows the kid's father is gone, probably forever? That his father was only some kind of manufactured decoy?

Going to older children, I loved the scene in the Bang Bang Bar where the sinister guy toys with the teenage girls making eyes at him. It's so horrible--credibly horrible. Nowadays every kid on TV has to be a wiseass but you can see these girls really are kids, just getting a little excited by the guy who's breaking the rules by smoking a cigarette, and one of them, Charlotte (Grace Victoria Cox), takes a risk and immediately gets in over her head. It's both an unusually human moment and a classic Twin Peaks moment.

We finally get a scene in the RR and we finally meet Amanda Seyfried's character, Becky, apparently someone close to Shelly (Madchen Amick). Wikipedia says she's Shelly's daughter but I'm not sure we know that. It's hard to hear Becky and Shelly's conversation, maybe she called her "Mom" and I didn't hear it. My impression was that Shelly and Becky had developed a relationship somewhat like Shelly and Norma's (Peggy Lipton). Becky's last name in the credits is "Burnett", as is the guy she's with, the really skeevy looking Steven (Caleb Landry Jones) so I guess she's actually married to him. I guess he's not as bad as Leo but that's not saying much.

The RR scene is the closest to the kind of scene I might've predicted seeing in a new Twin Peaks series. It's obviously meant to resemble the scene in the pilot where Norma watches Shelly and Bobby outside in Bobby's car. How nice it is that this time Lynch was able to shoot entirely with the location RR instead of using an L.A. soundstage for the interior, allowing for that interplay between interior and exterior.

I like Amanda Seyfried, I look forward to seeing where Lynch takes her. Since Leland asked Cooper to look for his daughter, I've wondered if maybe Seyfried was going to be playing a reincarnation of Laura Palmer. With the cocaine and the bad boyfriend, or husband, she does seem Laura Palmer-ish, though she doesn't seem as self-possessed as Laura.

Age seems to have given Peggy Lipton a more elastic face and I loved how Lynch shot Becky's introduction from Norma's point of view, allowing us to discover the character alongside Norma trying to figure out the situation from a distance.

Poor Frank Truman (Robert Forster)--I guess his marriage isn't quite as bad as Becky's but I did feel bad for the guy. His wife, Doris (Candy Clark), is in the mould of Laura Dern's mother in Wild at Heart though maybe not quite as sinister. The things she's complaining about aren't really that unreasonable--she doesn't want to stand around watching a bucket all day--but her anger is dialled up way further than the occasion calls for. I love how Lynch shoots her from a low angle, raising her arms to the heavens when she says, "black mould!" with Frank Truman seeming to shrink in his chair from the opposite angle.

Poor Cooper, still hardly himself in that ugly lime green sport coat and stranded next to that statue he seems to take a liking to, providing an improbably perfect Lynchian composition even for something directed by David Lynch.

I guess I can't write about this show all day. Sunday seems too far away . . .
setsuled: (Default)

I had to go and watch all four of the new Twin Peaks episodes last week, so I have to wait another week to see a new episode. I guess I can say some more about the new series now since some of you spaced your doses more wisely and only just last night watched episodes 3 and 4.

Spoilers after the screenshot

I'm pretty sure Naomi Watts is wearing the same cardigan she wore at the beginning of Mulholland Drive.

I doubt her character in Twin Peaks is meant to be Betty or Diane but it's worth remembering that Lynch did say Lost Highway was set in the same universe as Twin Peaks. She sure looks happy serving those pancakes.

Imagine how nice it would be to have Naomi Watts make you breakfast. Anyway, she does a good job making it believable that she doesn't notice Cooper's wearing his tie on his head. I think we're going to learn next week that the sip of her coffee brought him back to his senses.

By the way, if you're wondering what the deal is with this ring Dougie wears, you haven't watched Fire Walk with Me. Go watch it now--you'll find other things you need to know about like the Blue Rose and the long lost Philip Jeffries. It wouldn't hurt to watch the deleted scenes, too.

But the ring hasn't ever been fully explained. It has a symbol seen in Owl Cave in season two in which a cave painting tells the story of the Black Lodge. But I strongly believe the ring is based on the emerald ring that figures into the plot of Alfred Hitchcock's 1943 film Shadow of a Doubt.

Along with Vertigo*, Shadow of a Doubt is probably the Hitchcock movie that most influenced Twin Peaks, with its depiction of a small, innocent American town, a sweet teenage girl, and her eerie relationship with her sinister uncle. Shadow of a Doubt is set in Santa Rosa, California. We meet Dougie in . . .

Which is also the name of the production company whose logo we see in the new opening credits. By the way, I really like Jade the prostitute (Nafessa Williams), I hope we see more of her.

But back to the ring. My belief that it's based on the one from Shadow of a Doubt is so strong I even worked some hidden fan fiction into a web comic I did a few years ago, Echo Erosion, where I show a character from Shadow of a Doubt, flirting with a man named Arnold Banks in 1952, my idea being they'd one day be the parents of Teresa Banks, the first victim of Bob on Twin Peaks and the first person we see wearing the ring.

In Shadow of a Doubt, the ring represents a moral choice, as accepting the ring means Teresa Wright's character, the innocent small town teenage girl, is accepting collusion with the murders her uncle has carried out--he stole the ring from one of his victims. The ring in Twin Peaks seems to work in a similar way thematically--it seems to mark its wearer for death. Dougie seems to be mixed up in something where he owes a lot of money but he's still spending cash on a prostitute, cheating on his wife in the process. The idea that Dougie is manufactured suggests he literally has no soul. When Agent Desmond in Fire Walk with Me takes the ring, he's wiped out of existence. When Laura sees the Man from Another Place holding the ring in her dream, Cooper warns her not to take it and later, when she's in the train car with Bob/Leland, we see her voluntarily putting on the ring, symbolising that, like Dr. Jacoby suggested, Laura "allowed herself to be killed". So while Dougie and Teresa wearing the ring seems to be a part of Bob's plan--he wants to kill them both--Laura wearing it is not because he doesn't want to kill her, he wants to inhabit her body. This is reminiscent of the strange psychic connexion Teresa Wright's and Joseph Cotton's characters share in Shadow of a Doubt--and the fact that both characters have the same name, Charlie, a mundane male American name, like Bob.

Well, I'd dying to see how the ring figures into the next fourteen episodes, if at all. I wonder if it's at any level meant to be a Lord of the Rings reference.

*It's well known that Laura Palmer's cousin, Leland Palmer's niece, Madeleine Ferguson, is named for two characters in Hitchcock's Vertigo, Madeleine Elster and Scottie Ferguson.
setsuled: (Mouse Sailor)

Where do I begin? I'm still in afterglow. It's not often you have your expectations not only met but exceeded but the new Twin Peaks has so far given me what I wanted and surprised me, too. Well, I wanted that surprise but there were things about these first four episodes I was only dimly conscious of having missed. It wasn't just classic David Lynch, it represented sensibilities in filmmaking that haven't been around since the 90s. Lynch shows us what we lose by allowing television to supplant film while at the same time showing us how television can adopt those things to truly be a worthy successor. He demonstrates how important a director is in a medium that is now largely more associated with writers. The atmosphere, the editing, the tone of the performances--I don't think it was simply nostalgia that made me so happy, though it was like dreaming a dream I hadn't had in twenty years. It felt like a door was opened in a room I didn't even know I was in.

Spoilers after the screenshot

Lynch largely forgoes any attempt to bring new viewers up to speed. I think a receptive new viewer might enjoy this purely for the ingenuity of filmmaking but the story doesn't waste any time picking things up right where they were left twenty five years ago with the final episode of season two and the 1992 movie, Fire Walk with Me.

People wanted to see Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) and that wonderful, charmingly innocent yet wise personality from the first episode, so I wondered if Lynch and Frost were going to dispense with the doppelgänger plot right away and try to have a sort of reboot. Maybe a new murder and then focus on the different townspeople and their reactions. Twin Peaks was originally conceived as a soap opera meets a detective procedural. Over the course of the second season, the soap opera aspect became noticeably stale and the detective aspect morphed the show into a supernatural detective series, and this is right where the new series picks up. Even Fire Walk with Me, which focused on the final days of Laura Palmer's life, was more about how the supernatural was an influence on that life and the ways in which supernatural planes interacted with the corporeal world and the FBI. The first shows to exhibit the influence of Twin Peaks, like The X-Files, tended to draw from the supernatural detective aspect while later shows like Veronica Mars or Broadchurch tended to focus on the more corporeal, earlier aspects of the show. In a world increasingly disinterested in stories of the surpernatural, or at any rate such stories that take themselves seriously, the new Twin Peaks may have trouble finding footing with new viewers, if Lynch's filmmaking brilliance can't win the day alone.

Remember what a boring idea it was when Steven Spielberg ditched the mysticism of the first three Indiana Jones films for aliens? Maybe audiences are ready to go back to that place with art more sophisticated than Dan Brown. Michael Cera's character, Wally Brando, introduced in the fourth episode of the new Twin Peaks, made me wonder if Lynch was mocking Shia Labeouf's character in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, who was, like Wally, introduced on a motorcycle wearing the identical costume based on Marlon Brando in The Wild One. We're not meant to take Wally as seriously, though, as Robert Forster shaking his head as he walked away seemed to indicate. Everyone figured out Cera would be playing the child of Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) and Andy (Harry Goaz) but I don't think anyone saw the beat Brando impression coming. But it's perfect--like Lucy and Andy, he's ridiculous while making the audience feel like there's more to him. There's a kind of poetry in his ridiculousness that seems as though it might present insight.

And with respect to Hawk (Michael Horse), I do think it's the bunnies. Lucy says she ate one bunny but we can see two and a half are missing.

I really like Robert Forster as the new Sheriff Truman. I'm sad that Michael Ontkean was unable to come out of retirement--it sounds like he has medical issues--but Forster is fantastic. Along with Lynch himself as Gordon Cole, I feel like we're seeing the face of old wisdom that, like so many other things, we don't see very often anymore. Look at how hard it was getting people to accept Peter Capaldi as the Doctor on Doctor Who.

Gods, that poster.

This leads me to another thing the new Twin Peaks gives us I haven't seen in a long time--a great supporting cast.

A great director can use a bad actor though a good actor doesn't usually hurt. I can't always tell which is which on Twin Peaks which is exactly as it should be. The great number of new people introduced are somehow both peculiar and extraordinarily credible. They're weird and yet very real. The soft cops who seem more interested in the process of getting into Ruth Davenport's apartment than in any bigger picture, the wife who's concerned about guests coming later while her husband's being arrested. The characters are types yet there's things about them that push towards being types of people you might meet than being types of people you might see on a television series. Part of this is that Lynch seems blessedly free of the increasingly neurotic political influence exerting itself in media.

The fat lady in the hotel is a good example. She's believably ditzy, there's no compulsion to give her a moment where we see she's exceptionally intelligent in some way, we don't have the need to get a flash of a whole backstory where she's in some way a badass. But I've known plenty of people like her. Lynch paints with a full palette of characters as he peoples his world. The young man watching the glass box and the girl trying to seduce him suggest full personalities with their mannerisms even as they have pretty simple functions in the story.

I guess they chose a pretty bad time to have sex. Or maybe it was the sex that attracted that weird, shivering entity. The show has always linked sex with the supernatural, often in violent, tragic ways. It's the cosmic judgement or sin that Laura Palmer died for, the inability for humans just to let love and sex happen and be beautiful without imposing ploys for dominance or hang-ups.

Damn, there's so much more to get to. As with Michael Ontkean, I was sad Michael J. Anderson couldn't return to the show, though from what I've heard it's because Anderson was being kind of a dick. Also as in the case of Truman, I really like how Lynch made do in the absence of the old actor, in this case by creating the "evolution of the arm".

As we learned in Fire Walk with Me, the little man in the red suit played by Anderson was in fact Phillip Gerard's (Al Strobel) missing arm. On the new series, where apparently people, living and dead, physically age in the supernatural realm called the Black Lodge, the little man has evolved into a sycamore tree with a bare brain or possibly wad of gum at the top. I wondered if Lynch could really do anything to make the all too familiar Red Room seem strange again and I think he pulled it off by taking things in a decidedly more Alice in Wonderland direction.

Poor Cooper, trapped in the lodge all this time. I haven't even started talking about Kyle MacLachlan! He's so far played three roles on this show. As the sinister doppelgänger Cooper, he shows that Lynch is still the same guy who created Frank Booth and Bob. I can't say I'm a fan of the hair style, but there's something effectively menacing about him, not merely from his aura of effective violence, but for things like the dialogue where he explains how he doesn't "need" anything--he only "wants".

Then there's poor Dougie, who seems not to have even been a real person, but rather a decoy. It's brilliantly sad to think about, this guy who has a wife and kids, yet you do get the impression that there is a lack of something about him.

Anyway. I could write a book. I loved Naomi Watts and the reintroduction of the Horne brothers, Jennifer Jason Leigh, the musical guests, Dr. Jacoby's art experiment in the woods, Albert--gods, Miguel Ferrer is so vital here--Chrysta Bell, Denise Bryson, Sarah Palmer's enormous television with the lions tearing apart their prey. And a million other things I'm leaving out. And there's more to come! We haven't even seen Big Ed yet!

Twitter Sonnet #995

The lonesome foghorn's plastic seeds the lake.
On banks unsafe for rings or horns she'll light.
A blue and hidden key's cocaine she'd take.
The antler shadows grew into the night.
The feathered crown is hitting houses shrunk.
On shaded lawn a frame encased a dream.
Norwegian subs for one eye have sunk.
The feathered watchers are not what they seem.
A fractured floor reveals the certain stars.
Contained in dimming light the shaking cry.
With ease the shot replaced the eyes in cars.
The horns have been and arms can try.
A bunny missing twice must take it black.
The coffee not like oil rights the track.
setsuled: (Default)

It won't be long now before we get to see a new episode of Twin Peaks. It's still not soon enough for me--"I want it now" has been repeating in my brain for over a year now; that and, "Why is it taking so long?" I've been getting ready over the past few days by watching INLAND EMPIRE, David Lynch's last feature film, released over ten years ago, and the final episode of Twin Peaks season two, the final episode of the series' original run. The two works are worlds apart, in their way, stylistically, but they're both inimitably David Lynch.

My love for David Lynch began in high school, in 1995 or 1996 or so. Lynch for me was very much a gateway drug, in terms of cinema and music. Before the Lost Highway soundtrack, all I listened to was orchestral film scores and "Weird Al" Yankovic. I went from being a nice Apollonian Trekkie to being a Dionysian lost cause pretty much thanks to David Lynch. Well, I may be overstating it slightly. But suddenly after Lost Highway my John Williams and James Horner CDs started gathering dust as I became a fan of David Bowie, Nine Inch Nails, and The Smashing Pumpkins, and instead of watching Star Trek II for a few hundred more times, I started watching not only David Lynch but also Cronenberg, South Korean horror movies, the Godfather films, and so much other weird shit. Something about Lynch showed me that there was more to art than a clever story about a nice shiny future or a sensible adventure.

I'd also have to credit my high school film-as-literature teacher, Martin Johnson, who's retiring this month. I suspect also the simple fact that I was a teenager made me more open to weird, transgressive stuff, too. But looking back, it seems to me a crucial step into adulthood, moving from my personal Age of Enlightenment into something like a personal Romanticism into Gothic and Realism (I'm referring to trends in art and literature of the late 18th century through the 19th). I can only hope with this new Twin Peaks Lynch will spur a similar maturation in audiences addicted to the simple linear logic of superhero films. I doubt it, but it would be nice.

INLAND EMPIRE, despite being, until later to-night, Lynch's latest film, may not offer any clues as to what to expect from the new Twin Peaks. Watching it a few nights ago, I was struck by the extraordinary number of close-ups, far more than in any of his other films. Often shots that start as close-ups get even closer with the effect of dehumanising the human face until it's an inscrutable mask of flesh.

Part of the reason for this, I believe, was Lynch's newfound love for low-quality digital video. Like found footage films, one of the effects of low quality footage is it makes it harder to see what might be lurking in the shadows and sudden movement and gradually revealed shapes are made eerier. But if you want to see facial expressions, you can't use long shots. But I don't think this is the only reason for the close-ups--INLAND EMPIRE is such an interior film, a beautiful and scary hallucination experienced by Laura Dern's character where suddenly no human face is familiar enough not to become frighteningly alien.

The finale of Twin Peaks season 2, by contrast, features an extraordinary number of long shots--long in duration and long as in distance between camera and subject. This, the first episode Lynch had directed in quite some time--he'd been away shooting Wild at Heart--in so many ways was clearly intended as a jab at the show Twin Peaks had turned into in Lynch's absence; an average, unremarkable soap opera. Filled with sudden, absurd, and violent terminations to plot threads, it also features some almost sadistic cinematic technique, particularly for a television screen.

It's hard for me to watch the old Twin Peaks because I've watched it just about to death, mainly just the David Lynch episodes, over and over, but one of the nice things about the Blu-Ray was the fresh perspective it gave. This final episode of season two is one of the ones that benefits most because of those long shots. Suddenly that charmingly excruciating scene in the bank, with the little old man shuffling from Audrey to Andrew and Pete, is a completely new scene because I can make out everyone's facial expressions.

But I always loved that scene, so fucking much. It's just such a beautiful and oddly sweet "fuck you" to the show that had become plot point, plot point, plot point, to plot point. Lynch mercilessly cranked it all down to have us watch this little old guy dealing with a slightly strange day at the bank that ends ludicrously and enigmatically.

I'm so glad Lynch is directing every episode of the new series, I'm so glad that he played hardball to get the budget he needed. To everyone who's talked about this new golden age of television, it's true, we are seeing some incredible TV. But whatever we see to-night, I guarantee it'll be like nothing you're used to.


setsuled: (Default)

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