Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image)

Friday, October 20, 2017

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


UPDATE: “5 Weeks of Fire Walk With Me” will begin next week (the week of October 22) rather than this weekend as originally announced.

This week the Criterion Collection released DVD and blu-ray editions of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. Considering its inclusion in a deluxe Twin Peaks boxset three years ago, this may seem anticlimactic; aside from a couple new interviews, it's nothing we haven't seen before. However, I think Criterion spine number #898 is significant and worth celebrating, for reasons I'll explain more in-depth in a few days, after I've had a chance to rewatch the film.

This review/statement of "Why Fire Walk With Me Belongs in the Criterion Collection" will discuss the new interviews and older special features, but will particularly pay attention to Fire Walk With Me's legacy as cinema, and not just a part of Twin Peaks. It will also kick off "5 Weeks of Fire Walk With Me" during which I am planning to celebrate this great, still underrated film with a new post each week.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

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


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



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

Sunday, October 1, 2017

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

Newfound Lake, NH
(site of some early inspiration)

On October 1, 2014, I uploaded the first Journey Through Twin Peaks video. Since then, this series has become by far my most popular work, and certainly one of the projects I'm proudest of. Journey took about four and a half months to complete, and began as the coming-together of several different ideas. By the fall of 2014, I had already been publishing a lot about Twin Peaks for six months, ever since I casually decided to read a book of Twin Peaks essays (Full of Secrets, edited by the late David Lavery) that had been sitting on my desk for four months, and in my online cart for half a decade before that. What follows is a short history of the process that led to this video series, if you find such things interesting! (Well, it was supposed to be short but it ended up kind of long - in fact I will follow up at another time with parts 2 and 3, as I enjoyed revisiting this process, however navel-gazey...)

Thank you to everyone who has watched, shared, commented on, or otherwise engaged with Journey Through Twin Peaks. I hope it continues to help people in their own journeys with this work.

And here is where the playlist for Journey Through Twin Peaks begins:



Thursday, September 28, 2017

TV Countdown - Twin Peaks


Yesterday's essay on all three seasons of Twin Peaks - one of the longest pieces I've ever written - represented several opportunities for me. First of all, it's always a pleasure to take part in Sam Juliano's "genre" countdowns on Wonders in the Dark - the site whose journey has been most intertwined with my own for nearly a decade now. This is, I believe, the tenth such countdown since the exercise began in 2010, with some authored all by one writer but most featuring dozens of different contributors. I've participated in five of these: the Musical Countdown (a visual tribute to The Gay Divorcee featuring Arlene Croce's descriptions, a video essay and written essay for 42nd Street, and a written essay on An American in Paris), the Comedy Countdown (a video essay featuring multiple critical perspectives on Modern Times), the Western Countdown (a written essay on several versions of Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid - make sure to read the extensive comment by Paul Seydor, who edited one of those versions), the Romance Countdown (a video essay on different genres featured in Lady and the Tramp, and a written essay on the TV and film versions of Marty), and now the TV countdown - the first to expand its scope beyond just a film genre into an entire medium (the entries included everything from game shows to prestige miniseries - where else could you find the avant-garde, Brechtian seven-hour opus Our Hitler: A Film from Germany literally back-to-back with The Flintstones?!!)

That said, the opportunity also provided a chance to reach a milestone with another long-running companion of this site: Twin Peaks. Back in 2014, when The Missing Pieces (deleted scenes from the movie Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me) looked like they would place the final punctuation (probably a question mark, naturally) on the Twin Peaks cycle, I hoped to write a lengthy, comprehensive essay covering the entire series from pilot to feature film. This project eventually evolved into my Journey Through Twin Peaks series, but putting the show into words remained unrealized until now. I didn't plan to write this much, but the final result clocks in at over 11,000 words (approximately 22 pages) and is about as comprehensive as I could manage - though undoubtedly many (including me) will look back and say "But what about..." The big "missing piece" is the feature film, my favorite part of Twin Peaks but beyond the purview of a "TV countdown" (though inevitably the subject emerges anyway in several paragraphs). However, the Criterion Collection release of that film is imminent and I'll probably write something new and in-depth on Fire Walk With Me for that event; taken together, this essay and that will probably represent my most concentrated yet comprehensive written analysis of Twin Peaks.

And that brings me to the final key opportunity - Twin Peaks' high placement on this poll (it comes it at #2, just below The Twilight Zone) meant that it was delayed until just a few weeks after the third season finale. Hence, aside from scattered thoughts on Twitter and other forums - and very immediate reactions contained within a review focused on Parts 17 and 18 - this gives me my first real opportunity to grapple with the new material as a whole. I hope you enjoy the results - and please feel free to join the conversation on Wonders, which always fosters a lively discussion.

I've placed the introduction here and then you can follow the link to read the rest on Wonders (I'll archive it here eventually too, but not for a while).

Twin Peaks is not a TV show.” You’ve probably heard this refrain before, perhaps moderated to “Twin Peaks is not normal television,” or, more generously to the medium, “Twin Peaks changed TV forever.” However phrased, the essence remains the same: Twin Peaks still stands out boldly from the rest of the televisual landscape, twenty-seven years after its debut on the ABC network immediately following America’s Funniest Home Videos. As if to cement this iconic status, when the series returned for an eighteen-hour limited run this summer (dubbed by Showtime’s marketing department as Twin Peaks: The Return although filmmaker David Lynch, co-creator with author/TV writer Mark Frost, simply calls it the third season) this transgressive reputation persisted. Even against the tighter competition of “Prestige TV,” critics were dazzled by its revolutionary nature, especially the (literal and figurative) atomic blast of Part 8, which could almost have been a program of standalone avant-garde Lynch shorts. Yet the story of Twin Peaks is – like everything else in Twin Peaks – a dual narrative, embedded at once in the world of surrealist cinema (and Lynch’s own private universe) as well as TV conventions it embraced, wrestled with, and frequently overthrew.

Friday, September 22, 2017

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


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

Monday, September 18, 2017

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


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

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

Thursday, September 14, 2017

What's next: TWIN PEAKS & more


It has been a week and a half since the finale, but my activity around the show has not really slowed down - if anything it's only escalated! (Twitter in particular has been nonstop.) I mentioned on a podcast a few weeks ago that while Parts 17 and 18 would bring to a close the experience of reacting to new, fresh Twin Peaks, in a sense the end of The Return would be more of a beginning. Now that we can see how this series functions as a whole, and the ways it does and doesn't fit in with the already existing Twin Peaks, we can begin the real work of diving into and exploring this world. (Meanwhile, of course, you can explore all of my previous work on Twin Peaks while waiting for some of my long-term responses to The Return to emerge.)

First of all, though, thanks to everyone who has read, shared, commented on, or otherwise engaged with my writing on The Return. It's been wonderful to see that the essays - meant to be real-time reactions rather than careful retrospective analysis - have resonated with other viewers, including those who created a lively, impromptu community in the comments sections each week (if you haven't read the responses yet, please do - the discussion for the last episodes in particular is close to, or perhaps already has, exceeded the longest thread on any of my blog posts). For years, comments on this blog have been minimal, with conversations and observations emerging on other platforms if anywhere. I'm glad to see that this home base has life in it yet!

Speaking of which, I have many plans for the next year of Lost in the Movies, so many plans that in fact I'm not sure they all can be contained in a single year - some might spill out into the latter half of 2018 or even further. And, of course, a lot of this involves Twin Peaks.

Monday, September 4, 2017

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


Poor Cooper. He stands uniquely in David Lynch's work - a hero so sterling and steadfast that when the narrative mill eventually demands more complexity and darkness, it must manufacture an evil copy of him to do the trick. Twenty-five years ago, the second season of Twin Peaks struggled up to that endpoint, providing a serviceable backstory to set him up for his final Lodge confrontation with a shadow-self who feels as incongruous to him as to us. When "the good Cooper" returned in Part 16, it was with the full force of the first season's bravado - commanding but generous, cheerful yet sensitive, enthusiastic and wise at the same time. This is the Cooper who shows up at the sheriff's station in Part 17 to oversee the destruction of his doppelganger and the Bob bubble - emphasis on "oversee" since it's Lucy (in a marvelous twist!) and Freddie the Glove who do most of the heavy lifting. And this is the Cooper who, in the spirit of The Wizard of Oz and one of the better moments from the old "Leland's wake" episode (where the original series went horribly wrong, erasing the Palmers and kicking Coop out of the FBI), says goodbye to his lovably cartoonish friends and associates before heading into that humming door beneath the Great Northern. This takes Cooper right into the darker, deeper, more abrasive realm of Twin Peaks where he has always been much more lost. The first half-hour of the two-hour finale is an absolute joy and delight, a satisfyingly zany conclusion to a story that doesn't take itself too seriously. And then, with the length of a feature to go, the true brilliance begins - and we are reminded why Cooper is, and will remain, "poor Cooper."

Sunday, September 3, 2017

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


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

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



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

See you on the other side.

Friday, September 1, 2017

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


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

Sunday, August 27, 2017

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


So...that just happened. As I reach for comparisons, the first to come to mind is episode 16 of the original Twin Peaks: the one in which Cooper magically solves the show's central mystery, captures Leland Palmer, and (temporarily) expunges Bob from the material world. "No knock, no doorbell." has the same breakneck sense of pacing, a jaunty, breathless, butterflies-in-stomach eagerness to hit its marks and give us what we've anticipated for...well, sixteen episodes come to think of it (ok, that's cheating - the original episode 16 doesn't include the pilot in its count). Narratively the match isn't exact because Cooper's awakening precipitates but does not deliver a climax, and tonally the heroic return of our protagonist is a far more joyous occasion than the death of a killer. Stylistically though, and on a more fundamental level of spirit, this feels remarkably similar. As followers of my work may know, I am not the biggest fan of episode 16 - but I liked Part 16 quite a bit. True, David Lynch's open embrace of cheeky absurdity is a welcome addition to the original mix, since he didn't direct that earlier episode (Leland's capture has been compared to a Law & Order episode given its more straightforward approach); but some of the things I enjoy about this semi-resolution are the same as what I do like about that older one. What differs is the context.

The other comparison that just occurred to me, which feels more apt, is to the Neon Genesis Evangelion finale. Not to the sections featuring avant-garde animation or lengthy, psychoanalytical internal monologues but to a specific moment just before the end when the lead character, Shinji, himself awakens. (Skip two paragraphs if you care about a jarring, if brief, surprise twist in that episode.) The boy pops out of bed, greeted by his stereotypically ordinary parents (doing the dishes and reading the newspaper), and races out the door with his best pal Asuka. Schoolyard drama ensues and the whole thing has an air of wacky, antic energy, bubbling over with a sense of fun even as its setting is aggressively everyday. In this, I'm told, the spirit of the sequence corresponds with many other anime shows...without at all corresponding to the rest of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Shinji's parents aren't truly kitchen-dwelling normies; his dad is a sociopathic warlord and his mother is dead (well, kind of, it's a long story). His gal pal/girlfriend is in real life catatonic following her own violent trauma, and the city he cheerfuly jogs through has - outside of this dream state - actually been devastated by a massive battle (in which he, no ordinary schoolboy, took part). Shinji, in the midst of a psychedelic reckoning both physical and metaphysical, actually exists in a post-apocalyptic society, his life a mixture of numb depression and intense trauma (far from being everyday in its milieu, the series features giant mechas battling otherworldly monsters over the fate of the world).

Shinji's classroom interlude is a fantasy and/or alternate reality demonstrating how his mind can create other realities. The sequence also offers what many frustrated viewers yearn for, the ability to relax alongside beloved characters without any anxiety (which the show otherwise cultivates). This is, in a word, fanservice - but delivered with a cheerful wink and sleight of hand. We enjoy the moment because it's enjoyable, and we appreciate it because it exists within a more profound if troubling frame.

Does Twin Peaks?

Monday, August 21, 2017

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


There are three possibilities. First possibility: Cooper is dead (although, as the giant Jeffries kettle reminds us, Mr. C is still Cooper in some fundamental sense as well). Wouldn't that be a pisser? David Lynch and Mark Frost string us along for fifteen episodes, allowing Dougie to elude numerous assassins, and then dispatch him by having the guy stick a fork into a wall outlet. The event is even triggered by him hearing the name of David Lynch's character (is Sunset Boulevard the first movie we ever see played in Twin Peaks?), as if to remind us exactly who is doing this to our beloved hero. The ultimate troll? Beyond pure sadism, this development could serve some dramatic purpose - forcing Mr. C to be the conduit (no pun intended) of Cooper's redemption or sending the good Cooper back to the Lodge/elsewhere (as the Log Lady says, death is not an ending, just a transformation) so he can find another way out or achieve something even more important, which we can't foresee. Yet I suspect the series isn't going to go there. For whatever reason, even though I was audibly shouting at my TV "Don't do it!", I'm not particularly worried about the character right now.