Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image)

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Is Twin Peaks a dream? & much more ... April 2019 Patreon Podcasts: LOST IN TWIN PEAKS #3 - Season 1 Episode 3 and LOST IN THE MOVIES #54 - Cooper's dream or mediated reality? (bonus conversation w/ John Thorne + favorite films archive #67 - 57: The Apu Trilogy, Rear Window, Au Hasard Balthazar, The Best Years of Our Lives, 42nd Street, Barry Lyndon, Apocalypse Now, Civilisation, Dekalog, Annie Hall, Casablanca)

"We live inside a dream..." and with this episode the dream continues. I conducted a long interview with Twin Peaks scholar John Thorne last December but almost immediately after he dove into an extensive new analysis and hoped we could discuss this too. So a few weeks ago we talked again, this time focused mostly on his thesis that the third season of Twin Peaks is a "mediated reality" in which we view Cooper's vision of "real" events (though what's "real" is itself a sticky question). I've shared selections from this conversation publicly on YouTube, divided into the following topics: The Return as dream/mediated reality; the desire or necessity for a dream/mediated reality interpretation; the beginning and end of The Return and the end of Fire Walk With Me; and Cooper's interpretation as a "cover story."

Here are my Patreon podcasts this month, starting with the $5/month Twin Peaks rewatch in which I go episode by episode through the entire series. David Lynch returns to the show he kicked off and incorporates his alternate ending to the pilot, which I incorporate at length. There are also asides into the context of the time, including surrounding shows like an interview with Donald Trump's mistress and the quintessentially late eighties/early nights cop show Max Monroe (which must be seen to be believed). This is one of my longest episodes for season one, as the "uncanny" truly begins to blossom in the small Northwestern town.

Besides an additional hour of conversation with John Thorne (the whole section runs for over eighty minutes), I continue my "Favorites" reading series with classics from Hitchcock, Kubrick, and Coppola among others; updates, podcast recommendations, and listener feedback will be saved for next month as this episode was already quite long without them.

Podcast Line-ups for...

Sunday, March 31, 2019

The path to Journey Through Twin Peaks

You can bookmark this post to check back periodically. I will update each step to note when it is completed, bringing me that much closer to publishing new Twin Peaks videos. (last updated May 17, 2019)

What I will finish behind the scenes before Journey is published:

1) create all Patreon podcasts ahead of time through October 2019
(one main and one rewatch podcast each month)
completed May 15, 2019

2) create a viewing diary for Veronica Mars
(finish watching/reviewing seasons two and three and the feature film before the Hulu revival begins this summer)
update: The Hulu revival is scheduled for July 26
(see revelant thread)

3) research the work of Mark Frost
(finish watching Hill Street Blues season five and Buddy Faro, maybe re-read/re-watch books/films/episodes, etc)

4) create one 3 1/2 Minute Review video and two Side by Side videos

(I discussed the structure here)

6) Re-design the site

What I will present on the site before Journey is published:

1) Publish, as frequently as necessary, the Veronica Mars viewing diary for the old episodes leading up to the Hulu premiere
(the Hulu viewing diary will go up alongside video essays if necessary - it won't be, see above)

2) Publish, once a week, seven non-Twin Peaks video essays leading up to the first Journey video

You can follow my progress even more closely in this Twitter thread.

The details:

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Lynch Madness: choosing our favorite Lynch film on Twin Peaks Unwrapped (w/ Mya McBriar)

I joined the Twin Peaks Unwrapped podcast (along with Mya McBriar, of Twin Peaks Fanatic) for our first discussion in a year, and it was a doozy - not just a normal conversation, but a "March Madness"-style competition to determine our collective favorite Lynch films by setting two against each other in brackets and advancing until only one remained. You won't believe what happens next...

There are plans to use this format again for episodes, and I can't wait. It's of course ridiculous to set Lynch's film against each other this way, but by embracing that ridiculousness we had a blast and even managed to point out some interesting strengths, flaws, and surprises about the various works. How would you have voted in each step?

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

March 2019 Patreon Podcasts: LOST IN TWIN PEAKS #2 - Season 1 Episode 2 and LOST IN THE MOVIES #53 - John Thorne conversation, pt. 3 (+ Roma, problematic art/artists, Venezuela, Late Spring, The River, La Roue, Pandora's Box, Gone With the Wind, Ivan the Terrible Part II, Scarface, Jaws, The Seventh Seal, God's Country, Satantango, podcast recommendations, Listener Feedback bonus - Catholicism vs. Protestantism in First Reformed, Democratic Socialists of America, Spirituality & Psychology in Twin Peaks & much, much more)

As winter turns to spring, I thought my podcasts were going to become more streamlined, but even as I pare my approach down to its essentials there's way too much material to keep the titles short, let alone the episodes. For starters, my "Lost in Twin Peaks" rewatch podcast continues for second-tier patrons with an extensive overview of the first regular episode in season one. This incorporates everything from my analysis of the episode's structure to what went down on Cheers the night that Twin Peaks made its Thursday debut.

On the main episode, John Thorne and I wrap up our extended Twin Peaks conversation...for now. We zoom in on questions about Judy, the Experiment, and Diane (among others) and I won't be surprised if we do this again, soon, because just in the time since recording this John has already revised some of his thoughts on Cooper and written about them for The Blue Rose. The archive "favorites" series continues with a mix of very obscure, hard-to-find titles and a couple of the biggest blockbusters of all time, and after offering some brief reflections on the recent Academy Awards ceremony and the acclaimed nominee (but not winner) Roma I end the episode with an extended podcast recommendations session. This yields long deep dives into topics like problematic art and artists, the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, and Bernie Sanders' 2020 campaign.

Episode 53: John Thorne's Twin Peaks conversation, pt. 3
(+ Roma, Oscars, True Detective season 1, podcast recommendations, problematic art/artists, Venezuelan crisis, favorite films archive #78 - 68: Late Spring, The River, La Roue, Pandora's Box, Gone With the Wind, Ivan the Terrible Part II, Scarface, Jaws, The Seventh Seal, God's Country, Satantango & more)

I've been thinking for a while that it might become necessary to present listener feedback as an independent, bonus entry alongside the main podcast and it surely was this month. Often the feedback circulates around Twin Peaks, but in February and March there were a number of topics provoking fascinating discussions. Some are tangentially Peaks-related (whether trauma or mysticism, or both, provides a better lens for the show's drama, branching off into conversations about Carl Jung and the David Cronenberg film A Dangerous Method, about early psychoanalysis). Others aren't at all (including a dive into the theology and ethos of First Reformed - ok, maybe that gets a little Peaks-y - and a fascinating report from a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, one of the fastest-growing political organizations in the U.S., about the community work they are doing in San Francisco). You'll have to scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post for the full array of topics, because I couldn't even to begin to fit them all into the title.

Episode 53 (listener feedback bonus)
First Reformed & Catholicism vs. Protestantism, Democratic Socialists of America, Spirituality vs. Psychology, Carl Jung, A Dangerous Method, Trauma in Twin Peaks, Netflix movies, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, DC vs. Marvel, True Detective season 3, critique of my Satyajit Ray video, how I cover Twin Peaks & more

Podcast Line-Ups for...

Monday, March 4, 2019

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

The story is simple, straightforward, and the style carries the conviction of a raw immediacy difficult to fake. This is not to say that elaborate machinations and cagey deceptions were not involved in the events of April 11-14, 2002, in which the popular left-wing Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez was deposed (an occurrence all too familiar in the history of Latin America) and then restored (an occurrence not nearly familiar enough). Nor is this to ignore the sophistication of this documentary's analysis, its exacting deconstruction of the privately-owned media's duplicity as well as its own - consequently somewhat ambivalent - skill in shaping a narrative from a vast array of choices. The Irish filmmakers shot at a 200:1 ratio, meaning for every one minute of footage they used, three hours and nineteen minutes were discarded; struggling to tighten their focus, they hired a particularly crucial collaborator, editor Ángel Hernández Zoido, who has argued, "There are always hundreds of stories sleeping inside the material and you have to find them and wake them up." No, what I mean by observing - and praising - the story and style of The Revolution Will Not Be Televised is that the filmmakers never lose sight of the essential truths at the film's core.

What are these essential truths? First, that the political tension in Venezuela hinges on class war, with Chávez's support rooted in the more impoverished sectors while the opposition's support is rooted in the more wealthy. Second, that the private media reflects its often oligarchical ownership by pushing narratives that relentlessly attack Chávez, through manipulation if necessary. Indeed, one of the film's most significant and highly cinematic observations is that an image used to justify the coup relies on a dishonest camera angle that denies wider context: Chávez supporters supposedly firing at a crowd of opponents when in fact their defensive fire was directed at hidden snipers in an area mostly devoid of protesters. Third, that the leaders of the opposition - despite their self-righteous claims to be resisting an authoritarian outlaw - gladly operate outside of the law when the opportunity arises; as soon as they have even a flimsy grasp on power they do not turn to democratic means to claim their legitimacy. Notably, although the details of the documentary can be, and frequently have been, vehemently if unconvincingly argued with lawyerly devotion, the film's critics tend to concede or avoid these broader, fundamental truths. They are essential not only because they make the most important facts clear but because they orient us toward the wider context and pattern.

Monday, February 25, 2019

True Detective season 3 episode 8 - "Now Am Found"

This True Detective viewing diary is being written while the new series airs. As such, future readers need not worry: there are no spoilers for upcoming episodes.

This season of True Detective ends not so much with a bang or a whimper as with a sigh, and an ambiguous one at that: a sigh of resignation, satisfaction, trepidation, or bemused awe? This is a finale determined to resolve the central mystery with due diligence, so diligent that it needs an extra fifteen minutes to allow itself the necessary breathing room for more heartfelt matters (including some that still incorporate the big mystery). But the episode unravels its secrets in a measured, muted manner, a stylistic decision both deflating and appropriate; if the first season's somewhat simplified conclusion felt like a betrayal of the grand conspiracizing that had come before, this one has more of an "of course" logic at work. That isn't to say it's entirely successful even within its own parameters; while the third season was careful not to let our expectations get out of hand, this eighth episode is by far the least dramatic and most perfunctory of any installment. The finale's strongest moments arrive when it allows itself to prioritize what has always been Pizzolatto's primary concern: the relationships between the characters.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

February 2019 Patreon Podcasts: LOST IN TWIN PEAKS #1 - The Pilot and LOST IN THE MOVIES #52 - John Thorne conversation, pt. 2 & film in focus: First Reformed (+ Venezuelan crisis, my projects before tackling Journey, favorite films archive #89 - #79: Stop Making Sense, Place de la Republique, Platform, Miraculous Virgin, Schindler's List, Raging Bull, Syndromes and a Century, The End of Evangelion, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Wizard of Oz & more)

Although I'm saving the image for later publications, the big news this month is the official kickoff for Lost in Twin Peaks, my in-depth introcast/rewatch of the first two seasons (mostly spoiler-free for an eventual public audience, but with a spoiler section near the end). Today is the thirtieth anniversary of Cooper's arrival in town, so it seemed like the perfect time to cover that episode (I offered a preview of the podcast format last month by discussing The Missing Pieces). I had so much to say that I divided the recording into three sections...

On the main podcast, there are second entries in a couple ongoing endeavors. My conversation with John Thorne continues as we address Diane, the did-Cooper-do-it theory, and the shocking Twin Peaks spoiler that Lynch allowed to leak back in 2015. Meanwhile, the "100 of my favorite films" miniseries continues on Opening the Archive with my #89 - 79 entries). I'm also ending/pausing some other features: my last film in focus (at least for a while) will be Paul Schrader's First Reformed, which also concludes my Ethan Hawke series that began with Dead Poets Society in September. And my discussion of the Venezuelan crisis will be my last political section for now as I try to streamline the show's structure.

Episode 52: John Thorne's Twin Peaks conversation, pt. 2 / film in focus: First Reformed
(+ Venezuelan crisis, my projects before tackling Journey, favorite films archive #89 - #79: Stop Making Sense, Place de la Republique, Platform, Miraculous Virgin, Schindler's List, Raging Bull, Syndromes and a Century, The End of Evangelion, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Wizard of Oz & more)

From now on, I will publish monthly Patreon updates. When I begin releasing public podcasts, probably next year, I will post Patreon episodes in the same cross-posts as public ones; I'm trying to de-clutter the site somewhat so hopefully this helps. Patreon too is becoming simpler as I limit my activity to two monthly podcasts for now: one main episode for the $1/month patrons (usually including a general Twin Peaks discussion, listener feedback, podcast recommendations, quick updates on my work, and the reading aloud of archive reviews), and one Lost in Twin Peaks episode for the $5/month patrons. Those episodes will be released on a monthly basis to $1/month patrons with a six-month lag, beginning in July.

Podcast Line-Ups for...

Monday, February 18, 2019

True Detective season 3 episode 7 - "The Final Country"

This True Detective viewing diary is being written while the new series airs. As such, future readers need not worry: there are no spoilers for upcoming episodes.

The third season of True Detective started strong, with a bold conceptual frame, a hypnotic style, and a comfortably familiar milieu and mystery plot - reassuring us that the series was returning to the strengths of season one and not venturing into over-ambitious season two territory. From there we might have expected a solid eight episodes, putting us on firm ground again with a series and creator we'd grown worried about. And indeed, this story has avoided some of the more grandiose tendencies of the last one, and even ducked some of the first season's flamboyance even as it offers winks and nudges toward a grand unifying theory: an idea which becomes explicit - and appears to be abruptly dismissed - in episode 7 (I've not yet read this article, but am already nodding along with the headline). Eliza displays Rust's and Marty's pictures on her laptop and eagerly puts forward the idea that the Purcell children were kidnapped by a massive pedophile ring related directly to the Tuttle/Yellow King operation busted up by our original protagonists; Wayne of course is having none of it (he even seems a little disappointed/disgusted with how off-track the interviewer is) but less because it's too big and more because it doesn't seem rooted enough in the reality he knows. Surprisingly, the third season is both much more grounded than any previous iteration of the series, and potentially more accomplished as well. There's a strong argument to be made that this is developing into the best-written season of the show - it's certainly the most mature.

Friday, February 15, 2019

True Detective season 3 episode 6 - "Hunters in the Dark"

This True Detective viewing diary is being written while the new series airs. As such, future readers need not worry: there are no spoilers for upcoming episodes.

"You walked away," the aged Roland reminds (or informs?) his long-estranged buddy near the end of the previous episode. Was he being literal? In "Hunters in the Dark," we see Wayne and Roland bicker on a 1990 ride home and the angry Wayne grabs the wheel, storms out of the car, and marches down the road in a cloud of dust as his partner drives away. The incident seems like an explosive but nonetheless temporary rupture in their professional relationship (triggered by Roland's insistence that they stop working for the day, although obviously facilitated by other factors), but what if the two would not speak again for twenty-five years? Considering what happens at the end of episode 6, it's not hard to imagine that the investigation comes to an abrupt end and while we don't see the detectives kill anyone (as some cryptic dialogue suggested they might have) maybe what they were really referring to was their treatment of Tom, driving him over the edge. Then again, there's the question of state cop-turned-Hoyt security man Harris James (Scott Shepherd). Why did he disappear in 1990 if not because a suspicious Wayne and Roland cracked down in private? We'll probably find out soon.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

True Detective season 3 episode 5 - "If You Have Ghosts"

This True Detective viewing diary is being written while the new series airs. As such, future readers need not worry: there are no spoilers for upcoming episodes.

As with previous episode fives, "If You Have Ghosts" places us in an "after" position on the central case. We now know what happened to the original investigation - crime scene evidence (planted, as it's later revealed) linked Brett Woodard to the missing kids and so, conveniently, he was posthumously convicted of their murder. The drama of the middle period is in full swing too, having established the basic scenario against which the partners will be torn apart and a family may be separated. In the almost-present, we're shifting from a reflective look back toward a full-on investigation; Wayne reunites with his partner and makes a crucial realization, that Lucy herself wrote the ransom note (he connects the dots after finally reading his wife's book). So far, so familiar as True Detective story structures go. There are some neat quirks to the storytelling: this season's 1990 scenes combine aspects of both the middle and late periods from season one, and, closer to season two, the older characters re-unite to pursue a non-professional investigation at the end of this episode, rather than waiting for the sixth. And of course, we now have a significantly expanded time span to work with (three and a half decades vs. half that time in the original season). Despite these and other small variations, Nic Pizzolatto prefers a certain loose formula and it works quite well here, lending the episode a good deal of its dramatic satisfaction. However, the episode's more profound impact stems from something new.

Friday, February 1, 2019

The Last Weekly Patreon Update: John Thorne conversation, Pt. 1 / Before Midnight & Boyhood (+ Kevin B. Lee/video essay history, La Vieja Memoria, La Haine, Lost in Translation, Celine and Julie Go Boating, Dogville, Persona, Death by Hanging, All the President's Men, Emak-Bakia, Faust, Cria Cuervos, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Cold War, BlacKkKlansman, La Religieuse, Mary Sweeney's short film, AOC hits Congress, podcast recommendations & much, much more)

The first part of a three part, two-and-half interview with legendary Twin Peaks scholar John Thorne, creator of Wrapped in Plastic and The Blue Rose magazines, highlights this epic five-hour episode (if you plan to listen to the whole thing, and probably even if you don't, you will want to break it into several listening sessions). I've made twenty minutes of this segment public on YouTube - if you like what you hear, and want to hear more, you can access the rest of the interview as a patron over the next several months.

Episode 51 also includes my first double feature film in focus since last winter, and that's only the surface of its bounty which also includes my reading of a dozen archive reviews, brief thoughts on another dozen or so films or TV shows I watched in the past month, updates on many different projects I've been working on, reflections on a very tumultuous month in politics, pieces of listener feedback across several different platforms, and a dive into the work of Kevin B. Lee and the history of video essays. The links section is equally epic, including probably a hundred different resources based on what I discuss in the episode.

Episode 51A: Film Viewing Diary & Political Topics
(The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Cold War, BlacKkKlansman, La Religieuse, Bohemian Rhapsody, Aquaman, The American Meme, Mary Sweeney's short film, second seasons of Mad Men & Veronica Mars, Inside Out, Thirteen, Derry Girls, Hill Street Blues, Christmas film songs, best year in film history, AOC hits Congress, fair use history of a dance meme + intro, updates, podcast recommendations & more)

(+ Kevin B. Lee/video essay history & Opening the Archive favorite films #100-90: La Vieja Memoria, La Haine, Lost in Translation, Celine and Julie Go Boating, Dogville, Persona, Death by Hanging, All the President's Men, Emak-Bakia, Faust, Cria Cuervos)

(+ listener feedback: the Owl Cave ring, spirituality vs. psychology, Ray Wise, LeftTube recommendations & more)

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

True Detective season 3 episode 4 - "The Hour and the Day"

This True Detective viewing diary is being written while the new series airs. As such, future readers need not worry: there are no spoilers for upcoming episodes. Incidentally, I'm going to switch to a first-name basis for the detectives to match other characters; it just flows better.

Mahershala Ali continues to flourish as the undoubted protagonist of True Detective. For whatever reason, his makeup/performance as the elderly Wayne feels slightly less convincing this round but he is still a strong presence in the younger sequences, an iteration of the Pizzolatto detective persona that feels fully lived-in rather than superimposed on the actor. And after an unassuming debut, Stephen Dorff is emerging as a fascinating character in his own right, sturdy in both eras in very different ways. After the last episode hinted at the outcome of his friendship with Tom in the 1990 timeline, the roots are excavated in "The Hour and the Days"' 1980 scenes; Roland discovers the grieving alcoholic father at his absolute lowest and something in him pities the man. Both actors are excellent, and both characters are quite compelling. However, I think my favorite so far, for both acting and writing (and the way the two element complement one another), is Carmen Ejogo as Amelia. In the wrong hands, the part could miss the mark but Ejogo crafts a convincing portrait of curiosity, confidence, and confusion - do I get an A for alliteration, Ms. Reardon?