Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image)

Friday, November 16, 2018

Finding the Missing Pages: interview w/ Lindsay Hallam, author of Devil's Advocates - Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me


This is the fifth entry in 5 Weeks of Fire Walk With Me, concluding the series.

With the explosion of Twin Peaks literature following Brad Dukes' 2014 oral history Reflections, it's become easy to forget how thin that library was for several decades. Despite its presence in David Lynch monographs and the occasional TV history, virtually no books broached the series as their central subject. Now, thankfully, our shelves have been well-stocked with scholarly studies, episodes guides, fan theories, and historical overviews. Even so, until very recently there remained a glaring blind spot in this collection. The 1992 prequel film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, has grown in reputation since its initial critical savaging and box office disaster, but most Peaks books still - of necessity - treat it as an offshoot of the series (occasionally, it's even sidelined as an irrelevant tangent). Certainly no tome took the film as its sole focus until now. Two books have been published since the premiere of The Return in 2017, one by Maura McHugh for the Midnight Marauders series (which I've not yet read but am looking forward to) and the other by Lindsay Hallam for the Devil's Advocates series.

Devil's Advocates - Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is primarily divided into four big chapters: "Filled With Secrets: Fire Walk With Me as a Twin Peaks Film"; "Cherry Pie Wrapped in Barbed Wire: Fire Walk With Me as a Horror Movie"; "'Since I was Twelve': Fire Walk With Me as a Trauma Film"; and "We Live Inside a Dream: Fire Walk With Me as a David Lynch Film". These thematic studies are interspersed with a selective study of the film's plot (not exactly chronological, different scenes are aligned with different topics) and make ample use of both an overflowing bibliography and Hallam's own keen insight; the book manages the neat trick of being a grand survey and a personal perspective. Hallam, a British film scholar who specializes in horror and trauma cinema, doesn't just cite her fellow authors, she engages directly with their words: amplifying arguments, contesting claims, and connecting different points of view. She concludes her study by looking at the paratexts that surround the film (including not just the original series and supplemental spin-offs but Showtime's 2017 third season) and, perhaps most interestingly, tracing Fire Walk With Me's echoes in recent art horror films like It Follows and Personal Shopper.

While her scholarship breaks new ground, Hallam's enthusiasm is also contagious. She's a diehard Twin Peaks fans going back to her teenage years in Australian suburbia. We decided to start our conversation not in the bracing clarity of her final analysis, but the intoxicating confusion of her first encounter...

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Patreon update #46 (Fire Walk With Me in Season 3, Pyaasa & more) and preview of Renee/Jade/Knox character studies


I planned to have a big "Other Topics" section this week covering the midterms, lots of podcast recommendations, and some random subjects that came up recently on Twitter or elsewhere, followed by more listener feedback next week. However, each of those efforts have been pushed back a week because my "Twin Peaks Reflections" and "Opening the Archive" segments are both longer than usual. For the first, I delve into my recent piece on Fire Walk With Me mofits in The Return; for the second, I revisit a 2013 review of an Indian film that has just been added to MUBI. See you next week - before Thanksgiving - for a 90th anniversary film in focus!





Line-up for Episode 45

INTRO

WEEKLY UPDATE/recent posts: Twin Peaks: The Return & Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

WEEKLY UPDATE/Patreon: 2nd tier biweekly preview - Renee/Jade/Knox

WEEKLY UPDATE/work in progress: Lady Bird review, Cinepoem, picture galleries

TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS: Fire Walk With Me in season 3

OPENING THE ARCHIVE: Pyaasa

OUTRO

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and Twin Peaks: The Return


This is the fourth entry in 5 Weeks of Fire Walk With Me. Next week I will conclude this series by interviewing Lindsay Hallam, author of a book about the film in the Devil's Advocate series.

Sixteen and a half episodes into Showtime's revival of Twin Peaks, FBI Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) - the unquestioned (if multifaceted) hero of this series, as well as the old one (two seasons, 1990-91) - is speaking to a character who never appeared in the old show yet whose familiarity is taken for granted. Portrayed by a monstrous steam-spewing machine (whose spout Lynch says he regrets; "I wish I'd just made it straight, because everyone thinks it's a teakettle"), and articulated by voice actor Nathan Frizzell, yet visualized in flashback as none other than late pop legend David Bowie, this "Phillip Jeffries" is sending Cooper back to a particular date: February 23, 1989. Cooper's one-armed companion (Al Strobel, Jr.) intones, "Eeee-lec-tric-ity..." - a curious motif for anyone who came to this decades-delayed third season after close study of seasons one and two (in the old series owls, not electrical currents, were the harbingers of spiritual energy between two worlds).

And then our protagonist closes his eyes as the camera pushes toward him, a whoosing sound filling the soundtrack before we realize it belongs to a ceiling fan. Another sound emerges - a motorcycle - and we are faced with perhaps the most important, if infrequently-glimpsed, location in this two-part finale, perhaps in the whole series. It is, we have previously been told (in parts two and twelve), the Palmer family household even though it's a distinctly different house than the one used in the classic first and second season. And then we see actors: Sheryl Lee, Ray Wise, and James Marshall (as Laura and Leland Palmer and James Hurley, respectively); all have been glimpsed in earlier parts of The Return but ow they look much younger, much younger than CGI or makeup could achieve. What's going on here?

This whole passage - the Bowie-initiated time travel, the view of a tall foreboding "Palmer house" ascending from a sidewalk, the actors who've leapt back in time a quarter-century - represents not only a return to the winter of '89. It is a return to Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, the controversial 1992 spin-off film that was for years left out of many discussions of Twin Peaks, often treated as an odd footnote at best and an irrelevant cast-off at worst. This crucial sequence of the "third season" (as Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost call it, though Showtime's designation The Return remains catchy and telling in its own right) begins with overt references to Lynch's onetime bete noire and concludes with direct immersion into that very work.

For most of the next five minutes David Lynch (who directed only six episodes of the first two seasons, but all of the third season as well as Fire Walk With Me) will play footage from his own movie, with color and score extracted and some new shots (along with a few previously unused old ones) sprinkled throughout. Having promised (or warned) viewers before the season's May premiere that his prequel film would be very important to the new work, Lynch certainly delivers. And yet this time, his Fire Walk With Me ideas are filtered through Frost's own strong vision (rather than reinforced by Robert Engels, co-writer of the film, who came closer to Lynch's own sensibility and was generally more deferential towards him). Frost was not involved at all with the film, but now he has been able to re-interpret its motifs in collaboration with Lynch. How does this impact the prequel project's legacy as well as the new material?

What follows is an exploration of all the Fire Walk With Me references in The Return.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Patreon update #45 (Fire Walk With Me as art film, Sherilyn Fenn in Twin Peaks season 3, what is Judy? & more)


This week mostly consists of listener feedback, as readers pour forth their thoughts on Judy, Diane, Richard/Linda, Red, and much more (including a few non-Twin Peaks topics too, believe it or not!). A particular highlight is one listener's recounting of Sherilyn Fenn at a recent Eraserhead Q&A in which she divulged the most in-depth account yet of what happened in season three. I also discuss Fire Walk With Me in conjunction with several European art films and offer updates on recent work, including the next "5 Weeks of Fire Walk With Me" entry which will be published within twenty-four hours (stay tuned).




Line-up for Episode 44

INTRO following quick corrections/disclaimer 3:57 

WEEKLY UPDATE/recent posts: 4 Ways to Watch Fire Walk With Me 5:42 

WEEKLY UPDATE/Patreon: 2nd tier biweekly preview - The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

WEEKLY UPDATE/work in progress: Mad Men viewing diary, Cinepoem, Fire Walk With Me & season 3

TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS: Fire Walk With Me as art film

LISTENER FEEDBACK: Sherilyn Fenn talks about season 3

OUTRO

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Patreon update #44: Halloween (+ Fire Walk With Me as horror movie, The Old Dark House & more) and preview of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari review


Halloween horror dominates this special podcast episode; taking the week off from other topics and postponing most of the extensive listener feedback I received since Episode 42, I focus on the holiday theme in almost all sections. The film in focus was an obvious pick, with John Carpenter's unforgettable theme music leading into my musings on the first Michael Myers slasher flick. For Opening the Archive, I picked James Whale's evocatively-titled but dazzlingly idiosyncratic horror comedy The Old Dark House, reading my review from seven years ago. And "Twin Peaks Reflections" emphasizes one section of my recently published essay 4 Ways to Watch Fire Walk With Me, exploring the film's links to the horror genre. The one piece of feedback, meanwhile, shares a listener's favorite horror film (expect at least one more in the next episode).

Even the biweekly preview participates in the spooky mood with a full (and longer than usual) review of early Expressionist horror film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Although I got both podcast and preview up on Patreon in time for the eve of All Hallow's Eve, by the time you're reading this cross-post we're several days into November. But like The Shape himself, the spirit of Halloween is always ready to spring out from the shadows just when you think you've finally put it to rest.


Line-up for Episode 43

INTRO

WEEKLY UPDATE/recent posts: 5 Weeks of Fire Walk With Me resumes

WEEKLY UPDATE/work in progress: lost Mad Men review, re-recorded Lindsay Hallam interview, Fire Walk With Me & season 3, finalizing 4 Ways to Watch Fire Walk With Me

TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS: Fire Walk With Me as a horror movie

FILM IN FOCUS: Halloween

LISTENER FEEDBACK: Listener's #1 horror film

OPENING THE ARCHIVE: The Old Dark House

OUTRO

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

4 Ways to Watch Fire Walk With Me: Art Film, Horror Movie, Lynch Project, Twin Peaks Episode


This is the third entry in 5 Weeks of Fire Walk With Me. Next week I will discuss connections between the film and the new Showtime season last year.

David Lynch's Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992) is a confounding experience for many viewers because it can be so hard to contextualize. Cinephiles may feel too alienated from its connections to a TV series to appreciate its qualities as an art film; horror enthusiasts may be tripped up by its reliance on surreal experimentation over genre tropes; Lynchheads may be perplexed by its raw, grisly intensity, its ingredients less balanced than they are in other, equally strange entries in his oeuvre; and Twin Peaks fans may be the most bewildered of all. This is all the more true if those TV viewers came to the beloved ABC series thanks to soap opera, sci-fi, or quirky comedy but are unfamiliar with the more abrasive work of its auteur. Haunted for many years by its undeserved bad reputation, the Twin Peaks prequel wandered in the wilderness lost like a lost soul, a film without a home. The truth, however, is not so much that Fire Walk With Me doesn't belong in any of those contexts - in fact, it belongs to all of those contexts. If the movie doesn't fit neatly into any one category, it still spills over into many, in deeply fascinating ways. Here are four ways to watch Fire Walk With Me, each gripping on its own but even richer when viewed in conjunction with the others.

Inevitably, major plot points will be discussed below. And if you're hungry for an additional "Four Ways" analysis, in this case placing the movie inside different junctures of the series, check out the brilliant "The Four Placements of Fire Walk With Me" by Julius Kassendorf. My own analysis will eventually explore Fire Walk With Me's connections to the series (in the most extended section of them all), but first I want to start as far away from that perspective as possible.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

"5 Weeks of Fire Walk With Me" (finally) resumes this week


Just over a year ago, I announced a loose series of posts: "5 Weeks of Fire Walk With Me" to celebrate the release of the Twin Peaks movie as part of the Criterion Collection. Some of these pieces were more ambitious than others, and I had to pause my schedule after a couple weeks. I never thought it would take an entire year to come back!

Now, however, the remaining entries are either completely or almost ready and Halloween seemed like a good time to return, not only because the first post discusses the film within the horror genre (among several contexts) but because the last day of Fire Walk With Me's production happened to fall on October 31, which is also - believe it or not - the birthday of both the actors who played Bob and the Man From Another Place.

So this Wednesday, look for "4 Ways to Watch Fire Walk With Me," a study of the film in light of art cinema, horror, Lynch's filmography, and Twin Peaks. The following week, hopefully by Wednesday, I will publish "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and Twin Peaks: The Return," a collection of connections between the film and the third season (which featured many callbacks). And finally, in a concluding entry that wouldn't have been possible if the series stayed on schedule last year, I will interview Lindsay Hallam, author of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, a new book in the "Devil's Advocate" series.

See you in three days.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Patreon update #43 (The Shining, Cooper & Mr. C, the year after Twin Peaks, Hill Street Blues early season 4, Mimi, Schitt's Creek, "race vs. class" on the left, podcast recommendations & more)


This was intended to be a light episode but it ended up being kind of packed. The "other topics" section is vast this week, despite mostly limiting itself to very recent media intake. This includes the unsettling French film Mimi, the comedy series Schitt's Creek, and an extended discussion of Hill Street Blues' early fourth season, including another Mark Frost-penned episode (although he was also story editor for all the episodes this season). There are also a load of new podcast recommendations alongside a reflection on some recent Twitter beef involving the hoary "race vs. class" debate that has only worsened since 2016 while taking on new (and in my mind lopsided) manifestations.

For "Twin Peaks Reflections" I go broad, surveying the past year for a general discussion of what the fallout from The Return has looked like. I read some listener feedback on that Showtime season and close out the program with an apropos reading of my 2010 essay on my "#1 horror film" The Shining (although a year later, it didn't even show up in a top 100 films of all time list alongside Rosemary's Baby or Fire Walk With Me - so who knows about these things). I'm hoping there will be much more Halloween programming in a few days but it might be difficult to complete the work in time. Wish me luck and maybe I'll have a treat instead of a trick for listeners early next week.


INTRO

WEEKLY UPDATE/Patreon: thread of biweekly previews

WEEKLY UPDATE/work in progress: Mad Men viewing diary, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari review, notes on Hill Street Blues

TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS: the past year of post-Return Twin Peaks fandom, plans for season 1/2 rewatch

LISTENER FEEDBACK: Cooper & Mr. C, Leland & Cooper

OTHER TOPICS: Mimi, Schitt's Creek, Hill Street Blues, Blue Rose magazine's Women of Lynch, Twitter arguments about race & class, podcast recommendations

OPENING THE ARCHIVE: The Shining

OUTRO

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Patreon update #42: Gattaca (+ The Contender, Kavanaugh hearings, Twin Peaks interviews, podcast recommendations & more) and preview of Daguerréotypes review


The Ethan Hawke film in focus series continues for its second month; October's selection is Gattaca, the 1997 sci-fi film in which Hawke plays a genetically "deficient" young man who passes as someone else. Enmeshed in a murder mystery while awaiting an imminent trip into outer space (and romancing Uma Thurman in a very hip nineties pairing), he's pulled in two directions at once. At the end of this podcast, after discussing podcasts about the recent Brett Kavanaugh judicial confirmation, I revisit my 2008 review of The Contender about a scandal-plagued vice presidential candidate tormented by a Republican political inquisition (this is a film I thought for all the world had been written by Aaron Sorkin until about three hours ago). I also have quite a lot of listener feedback this week, in response to several different episodes, and for "Twin Peaks Reflections" I look back over the interviews I've conducted with Twin Peaks scholars since 2014.

The biweekly preview, meanwhile, is an Agnes Varda documentary about shopkeepers - another full review, and the twentieth preview this year. Now is a good time to become a $5 patron because I have yet to publish any of the pieces I've previewed since January: that's roughly thirty-five pages of written material, a dozen or so images, and a couple minutes of video essay footage only available to members of the second tier. Be the first one on your block to get a sneak peek!





Line-up for Episode 41

INTRO

WEEKLY UPDATE/recent posts: updated TV/director directories & Top Posts

WEEKLY UPDATE/Patreon: 2nd tier biweekly preview - Daguerreotypes

WEEKLY UPDATE/work in progress: Boyhood for Patreon, choosing next Cinepoem, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised review, finished Twin Peaks character runners-up

TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS: history of Twin Peaks interviews

FILM IN FOCUS: Gattaca

LISTENER FEEDBACK: patrons switching places at the diner, the actor in Carrie's house is not the hitman, Frost's knowledge of casting, Dead Poets Society, the existence of good and evil, Great Expectations, season 1/2 rewatch for Twin Peaks Reflections?, FWWM early draft, I Love the 90s w/ Twin Peaks theme

OTHER TOPICS: Podcast recommendations, Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation

OPENING THE ARCHIVE: The Contender (w/ 2018 reflections)

OUTRO

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Patreon update #41: Mark Twain (+ the 2000s decade/documentary, the French Revolution, Nicaragua, podcast recommendations, early Fire Walk With Me draft & more)


Bit by bit over the past month, I've been watching Ken Burns' fascinating documentary Mark Twain. I didn't know many details of Twain's life before watching so both the style and the story made for a captivating experience. In this episode, the 2002 Twain is my film in focus, while "Twin Peaks Reflections" focuses on an early (and apparently contested, as I only found out after recording) draft of Fire Walk With Me. The latter half of Episode 40 is dominated by podcast recommendations, covering Nicaragua, Washington congressional candidate Sarah Smith, animator Ub Iwerks, and the French Revolution - among many other topics. You can watch Mark Twain here and here.




Line-up for Episode 40

INTRO

WEEKLY UPDATE/recent posts: updated a couple 2017 Twin Peaks cross-posts

WEEKLY UPDATE/work in progress: interviewed Lindsay Hallam, Mad Men season 2 viewing diary, Daguerreotypes, Twin Peaks characters runners-up (limo driver), watched Gattaca for upcoming podcast

TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS: early draft of Fire Walk With Me

FILM IN FOCUS: Mark Twain

OTHER TOPICS: CNN documentary on the 2000s, Back to the Future Part II, PBS book program, Vice segment on Nicaragua, podcast recommendations

OUTRO

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Patreon update #40 (The End of Evangelion, Carrie Page as the dreamer, American Made, The Children Act, Wire's 154 & more) and preview of Zama review


What would you be interested in hearing from "Twin Peaks Reflections" in the future? With the Return rewatch over, I consider some different options and also ask for your input. Additionally, I survey all of the Twin Peaks subjects I've covered so far. Elsewhere on the podcast, I finish reading my 2015 End of Evangelion review, read some follow-up feedback from the listener who discussed Cooper as the dreamer (now she's focusing on Carrie Page as Laura's dream), and run down the films, books, and music I've experienced in the past several months. For the biweekly preview, I share a full review for the first time, of the Argentine film Zama.





Line-up for Episode 39

INTRO

WEEKLY UPDATE/recent posts: updated Twin Peaks directory, from now on focusing on my backlog

WEEKLY UPDATE/Patreon: 2nd tier biweekly preview - Zama, discussing biweekly preview backlog

WEEKLY UPDATE/work in progress: Ethan Hawke films for Patreon, The Unseen: La La Land, Devil's Bride review, Fire Walk With Me early draft, read Lindsay Hallam's Fire Walk With Me book, Mad Men season 2 premiere viewing diary

TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS: Where should I go with this section?

LISTENER FEEDBACK: Twin Peaks/Neon Genesis Evangelion, Double R counter patrons - is that shift/cut a continuity error & does it matter, Carrie Page as Laura's dreamer, remembering what Ethan Hawke was in

OTHER TOPICS: American Made, The Children Act, other films I've watched for online work, Dead Poets Society special features, still playing DVDs & CDs, Alan Splet, Roku menu, Spielberg bio, Lynch's Room to Dream bio, Blue Rose Magazine including Women of Lynch episode, Fire Walk With Me book, Classics Illustrated (90s editions), Time Machine books, Common Ground photo book, 154 (Wire album), Live from the Salem Witch Trials (The Fall album), Sister Ray

OPENING THE ARCHIVE: The End of Evangelion (2 of 2)

OUTRO

Friday, September 28, 2018

Patreon update #39: Dead Poets Society (+ Twin Peaks for new viewers & more)


Fall is the perfect time to focus on the richly autumnal Dead Poets Society but I'm emphasizing the film for another reason as well. I've recently watched three Ethan Hawke films: Before Sunset and Before Midnight, to finally follow up on the first Before film I covered back in June, and coincidentally First Reformed, in which he plays a Protestant clergyman seized by growing fanaticism. I decided I might as well make this a thing, so I added Dead Poets Society, Gattaca, and Training Day to the mix with plans to cover one a month in chronological order until February. In an admittedly very rambling monologue, I touch on the film's vivid location, its place in the "inspiring teacher" genre, the cringe factor of its romantic storyline, and the ambiguity of Robin Williams' character. For a more jaundiced (and more disciplined) take on the film, Roger Ebert's 1989 takedown is worth reading. Many of his points (and those of the commentators) are quite solid, but I have a soft spot for this film. What are your thoughts on it?

From now on, episodes will be a little shorter and I'll tend to shift between categories each week rather than running through all of them every time.




Line-up for Episode 38

INTRO

WEEKLY UPDATE/work in progress: Zama review, The Unseen: La La Land, character bonus: Johnny Horne

TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS: my dugpa comments round-up & first time viewer companion

FILM IN FOCUS: Dead Poets Society

OUTRO