Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): December 2014

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

7 Facts About Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me


And now we (begin to) reach my favorite part of Twin Peaks, and also one of the most troubled and controversial: Fire Walk With Me, the 1992 prequel film by David Lynch. Although the film's reputation has improved since its disastrous reception two decades ago, it remains greatly misunderstood and underappreciated. I explore the context for positive and negative opinion in the following video (an excerpt from the upcoming Part 4 of Journey Through Twin Peaks, it can still be watched on its own). There are obviously many other details that could be pointed out: the film's structural messiness, the difficulty getting Kyle MacLachlan to do more than a cameo, the hour and a half of deleted footage. But these will be addressed in upcoming chapters and did not seem as integral to me as these seven fundamental facts. While some of these statements can seem more like opinions - how do we "prove" that Fire Walk With Me fulfills Twin Peaks? - they remain solidly rooted in visual and/or historical evidence which I present onscreen.

Needless to say, there are spoilers and graphic/disturbing content.

The video is presented below, alongside screen-caps of each of the seven facts for easy reference. Happy New Year - see you in 2015. Meanwhile, if you are new to Journey Through Twin Peaks you can watch Part 1 (Harmony of the Dark Woods), Part 2 (The Center Cannot Hold), and Part 3 (The Whole Damned Town). You can also start directly with Chapter 1 on YouTube.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Journey Through Twin Peaks: Part 3 - The Whole Damned Town


Well, it's finally here, just in time for Christmas...after nearly two months of preparation, I've finished Part 3 of my 4-part video series analyzing the narrative cycle of Twin Peaks from the pilot through Fire Walk With Me. This is longest video yet (split into 8 individual chapters on YouTube or a single 75-minute presentation on Vimeo), and certainly the most ambitious. Half of Part 3 continues the progression through the second half of the series, including the very weak episodes of the mid-season and the astonishing David Lynch-directed finale. The other half makes room for essential asides embracing the Twin Peaks as a whole, focused on the colorful ensemble, the palpable spirit of the show (including its early celebration in the media), the development of Agent Cooper as a complex character, and in the chapter which took the most time and effort, the mythology of the series.

If Part 2 hinted at divisions between Lynch and Frost in their interpretation of Laura Palmer, "The Whole Damned Town" further explores their fruitful creative tensions: their varying takes on Cooper (whom Lynch idealizes and Frost humanizes), and their individual contributions to the mythology - Lynch through personal, dreamlike images, Frost through concepts imported from Theosophy, the nineteenth-century spiritual movement begun by Madame Blavatsky. Visually, I had to get more creative in this part of my series, since much of the time I'm speaking of abstract ideas rather than something specifically happening onscreen. I had a lot of fun overlapping images, combining montages with pertinent quotes, and creating collages-in-motion. I've reproduced some of the images below.

Next up is Fire Walk With Me, hopefully early in January. It's my favorite piece of Twin Peaks and will conclude our journey so I'm really looking forward to it. Meanwhile, you can start with Part 1 (Harmony of the Dark Woods) and Part 2 (The Center Cannot Hold), or jump right into Part 3: The Whole Damned Town...

Monday, December 15, 2014

New Chapters in Journey Through Twin Peaks: Cooper, the mid-season, and the spirit of Twin Peaks


I've got good news (as the Little Man says)! "Journey Through Twin Peaks" is moving full speed ahead as I post the chapters of Part 3 one-by-one. This week I've finished chapters on the mid-season 2 doldrums, the spirit of Twin Peaks (including a look at the media buzz of season 1 and the Access Guide fake tour book), and the development of Agent Cooper as a character. Enjoy, and stay tuned as more chapters will post this week.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Journey Through Twin Peaks: Beyond the Investigation (the ensemble)


I planned to post more chapters of Part 3 but am holding off as I work out some issues with the videos. In the mean time, here is the chapter I put up early last week. It looks back over the various characters, reminding us who they are and what they do, as the series prepares for its post-Laura Palmer stretch. As I ask (rhetorically) at the end of the video: what could go wrong? Speaking of which, you may have trouble playing these on YouTube in the next few days. If so, stay tuned. I hope to resolve any issues and complete the series. And, as always, if you haven't watched them yet, here are Part 1 and Part 2. For now...

Monday, December 1, 2014

Twin Peaks status update: some things take a while...


Unfortunately, I did not meet my November 30 deadline for posting Part 3 of the "Journey Through Twin Peaks" video series. Since June I have been posting one video a month but if I had to fall short of my goal, this is the occasion. When Part 3 does go up, it will be my longest, most ambitious video ever. One half cover the post-Laura episodes of the show, while the other half focuses on important individual subjects: the ensemble cast of characters, the atmosphere (and publicity) of Twin Peaks (town) and Twin Peaks (series), the evolution of Agent Cooper, and the mythology of the series. I discussed the upcoming video in greater detail last week.

Of course, I don't expect anyone to watch the entire video in one sitting (although you are certainly welcome to!). For that reason I will be dividing Part 3 into eight chapters, much like the other entries in the series. Unlike the other entries, I will be uploading each of these chapters up as they are finished, instead of waiting for everything to be done. I won't update this blog until Part 3 is complete, but if you follow my YouTube channel or you can check out the video piece by piece (I will also be sharing updates on Twitter).

Finally, as "12 Weeks of Twin Peaks" comes to a close on December 15, I want to establish what to expect. Originally I had several other posts planned - particularly a list of favorite scenes from the show and a long-planned close reading of Sheryl Lee's performance in Fire Walk With Me. The first, while fun, seems inessential - perhaps another time, perhaps not. The second is another matter - it's still something I very much want to do, maybe in a month or two. This allows more time to develop the piece (I've never focused an analysis entirely on a single performance before, so this will be a challenge). Furthermore, the essay will go up alongside classic film reviews, an important context because I view this as a great performance full-stop - work that can stand alongside great achievements from any era (but particularly the silent cinema, with which I see many similarities in style). Hopefully, I'll continue this approach in the future: two other underrated/overlooked performances I would like to honor are Bing Crosby in The Country Girl and Anna Magnani in Mamma Roma.

For the moment, I am going to focus exclusively on the two remaining parts of the video series (after which I will post some round-ups, of all my Twin Peaks videos and also of extra pictures from my "90 Years of Cinema" tribute on Twitter, followed by some good old-fashioned straight-up movie reviews in January!). After Part 3 is finished, I will jump right into Part 4. It may be unrealistic for me to finish it by the December 15 deadline, but I don't expect it to take nearly as long as Parts 2 and 3. Part 4 only deals with Fire Walk With Me (i.e. two hours of material, rather than fourteen!), which is a subject I don't need to research nearly as much. It's my favorite piece of the puzzle and something I've already written about numerous times: though I will be taking a very different approach, and embracing a very new perspective, in this video. This, basically, is what I've been working towards all year, at least since the conversation with Tony Dayoub in the spring. In the mean time here, if you haven't yet, check out Part 1 (Harmony of the Dark Woods) and Part 2 (The Center Cannot Hold) of "Journey Through Twin Peaks."