Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image)

Monday, December 4, 2017

Announcement: new Journey Through Twin Peaks coming mid-2018 (video)

I've been getting a lot of questions on YouTube about my plans for upcoming Journey Through Twin Peaks videos. Obviously many viewers either don't know about this site or understandably don't want to dig around looking for updates, so I decided to create a video addressing these questions. In it I describe my planned approach for the new videos, although of course those plans could change! The video also announces some other upcoming projects, and points people who've enjoyed Journey to my other work, here and elsewhere. I'm still in the early stages of the character series (and haven't even begun work on various video essays), but now with Thanksgiving travel/celebrations over, I am planning to settle back into a routine. This will hopefully position me to launch the new character entries around January 28, giving way to the new Twin Peaks videos once the character entries  conclude in June. I'll have to make significant progress in December to make that possible, so wish me luck...

Friday, November 17, 2017

Last Words? - discussing The Final Dossier w/ Twin Peaks Unwrapped (+ another status update)

For the first time in two and half months - and perhaps the last time ever - I can provide fresh coverage of brand new Twin Peaks material. I bought The Final Dossier in the evening of October 31, braving Halloween traffic to pick up a copy ordered from a local bookstore. Late that night, ten minutes before midnight to be exact, I opened it up and began to read. When I finished it a mere two and half hours - this was a stunningly quick read - I was wiser to this universe, and a year older (well, sort of; November 1 was my thirty-fourth birthday).

I found the book refreshing and shared some initial thoughts on Twitter, beginning with this tentative prediction: "I don't think we've seen the last of Twin Peaks." A week or two later, I recorded the following discussion with Twin Peaks Unwrapped, paired with an equally long conversation they held with John Thorne.

As for other plans...

Monday, November 13, 2017

Fear The Double: discussing Lost Highway w/ Fireside Friends podcast (+ "5 Weeks of Fire Walk With Me" status update)

This weekend I was invited as a guest onto Fireside Friends, hosted episode by Ryan Persaud and Allen Ibrahim. Under discussion was Lost Highway, a film I'd been meaning to rewatch ever since The Return ended. In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and similar cases emerging from Hollywood almost daily, the film felt particularly relevant. We talk about this aspect of the work, as well as Mary Sweeney's editing of the film, its ties to season three of Twin Peaks, its roots in Fire Walk With Me, the convolutions of its narrative, and its relationship to the O.J. Simpson trial and the avant-garde classic Meshes of the Afternoon (referencing my video essay on the subject). And, on a lighter note, Lynch's propensity for absurdly decadent party scenes, with requisite reference to Crazy Clown Time.

Listen to Fireside Friends

In other news, I was not able to keep up with even my back-up schedule for "5 Weeks For Fire Walk With Me." I do plan to continue publishing those pieces, however, although I'm not sure if I'll try to squeeze them all in before the original deadline (releasing two or three in a single week) or spread them out into December, rendering the title of the series as "5 discreet weeks over a long period" rather than "5 weeks in a row." Oh well - stay tuned for those, and also another recently-recorded podcast in the next few days...

Friday, November 3, 2017

Fire Walk With Me belongs in the Criterion Collection

This is an entry in 5 Weeks of Fire Walk With Me. Next week I will discuss the history of the movie's production, reception, and legacy.

What is this movie? Is it a movie at all? Of course it is, and attempts to claim otherwise dissolve into babbling mystification. Yet they persist - primarily because the TV show which Fire Walk With Me descends from remains more legendary than the film but also because the film itself is so abrasive and overwhelming that it makes sense to retreat into the most convenient explanation: this is a TV spin-off and, good or bad, it can only be appreciated in relation to the series. Furthermore, many viewers, probably a substantial majority, reach Fire Walk With Me after watching two seasons of a surreal soap opera, so it's difficult for most to disentangle their knowledge of the show from their experience of the film even if the relationship is subversive rather than complementary. In a few weeks, I'll write about Fire Walk With Me both as a component of a larger story and as a standalone film (or perhaps several: a lucid psychodrama, a formally hypnotic art film, a hybrid slasher/American giallo/psychological horror flick, an entry in David Lynch's own unique bigger-than-life - and certainly bigger than TV - filmography). For now, I don't merely want to isolate Fire Walk With Me from Twin Peaks but to explain why it can stand side by side with the other titles in the Criterion Collection, which it officially joined two and half weeks ago. Fire Walk With Me needs defending not just for its place within a saga, or even as a bold rejection of that saga defined precisely by said rejection (still therefore dependent on what it negates), but as a movie movie, a piece of cinema history valuable on its own filmic terms.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Lost in Twin Peaks #8: discussing Fire Walk With Me & the end of season 3 w/ Twin Peaks Unwrapped

Although I initially planned to kick off my "5 Weeks of Fire Walk With Me" series with a review/response to the new Criterion Collection edition (look for that as next week's entry), it makes sense to begin with what I recorded first. A couple weeks ago, in anticipation of this upcoming release, I joined hosts Ben and Bryon of the Twin Peaks Unwrapped podcast for our first post-season three discussion. This is also the first official "Lost in Twin Peaks" segment since before the third season began (my appearances since then have been to discuss films or the ongoing series); hopefully there will be more to come this fall and winter.

We cover Fire Walk With Me from several angles, focusing on how the new season does or doesn't change our view of the material (particularly the ending of the film), why it would be a bad idea for David Lynch to release a recut of the movie including The Missing Pieces (as producer Sabrina Sutherland has said he would consider), and if the film functions as a standalone. My segment appears in the latter half of the episode; the rest is devoted to a fascinating discussion of the UK Twin Peaks Festival, sprinkled with snippets of Sutherland's Q&A. (And make sure you check out this episode's amazing cover art, which doesn't show up in the embed.) See you next week for more Fire Walk With Me.

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, and the podcast posts before the Criterion review.

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. (This ended up appearing as the second entry instead.)

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.