Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): July 2017

Monday, July 24, 2017

Twin Peaks: The Return Part 11 - "There's fire where you are going."


Wow, I'm still tingling after this one. The first half-hour of Part 11 can stand with the first half-hour of Part 3 and the last half-hour of Part 8 as among the most sustained sequences of The Return. Unlike those stretches, however, "There's a fire where you are going." jumps between many different characters and storylines. We are barely recovering from one traumatizing incident before we're thrust immediately into the next: from children discovering a bloodied Miriam crawling out of the brush (astute viewers noted that there must be a reason she was still breathing last week) to Becky screeching into her phone and rushing from the house, knocking her mother from the hood of the car before racing into an apartment building and fire several shots into the door where she believes her husband is having a tryst. Scored to a stabbing soundtrack, the camera careens through corridors and down stairs in a jagged, sped-up variation on Kubrick's signature Shining shot (which Lynch has already made his own through numerous variations in Twin Peaks, Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive, and Inland Empire - though never this fast and choppy), before settling on Stephen and his lover. I didn't identify her right away but am now pretty sure she's Donna's sister (the credits list Alicia Witt as Gersten Hayward and can't think who else she could be). As they pant and hold each other, the shot is too quick to be called a breather; it's more like a quick gulp before diving into even deeper waters.

In South Dakota, Twin Peaks takes perhaps its most direct cue from a recent prestige TV hit, evoking the sky swirls of True Detective (witnessed this time by Cole rather than Cohle). Twin Peaks' vision lingers longer and takes us further than the the cosmic cyclone glimpsed in the bowels of Carcosa but before Gordon is swept into a bleary tear in space/time, Albert pries him loose. Within minutes of this jittery threshold experience, they've discovered the headless corpse of Ruth Davenport and Hastings' own head explodes, thanks to a woodsman who casually flickers in and out of view. Neither Davenport's body nor Hastings' head are sickeningly real so much as hypnotically Baconesque - they look like Lynch sculptures, and probably were. After this queasy crime scene we receive a relative respite in the diner, less violent but still emotionally on-edge (Bobby-Shelly shippers, momentarily elated to discover Becky is indeed their mutual daughter, are instantly let down when Red arrives to make out with Shelly; clearly the teen lovers of seasons one and two are no longer together).

Before our jangled nerves have had any chance to calm, Lynch offers up the most memorable traffic jam since Godard's Weekend, or perhaps Lynch's own Fire Walk With Me - comic, agitating, and terrifying in equal measure (it's spurred by a pint-size hunter firing his father's gun). Dana Ashbrook does some of his best acting so far by simply reacting to this contained chaos with ever-evolving, finely attuned expressions that mirror our own. This mini-episode of hellish anxiety climaxes as a middle-aged driver screams in short bursts while her child passenger rises from her seat like a zombie, ooze dribbling down the sides of her mouth shuddering in the dim light as the traffic horns sound a symphony of appalling, yet somehow absolutely hilarious, horror.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Twin Peaks: The Return Part 10 - "Laura is the one."


This week Twin Peaks both fulfilled my expectations and surprised me, in a fashion I've come to understand as the way this bird flies. The overall shape of the narrative remains legible, consistently defying attempt to render it more complex. By now theories that the different storylines of The Return take place in different timelines, different levels of reality, or even different universes seem quite out of step with the methodical connect-the-dots nature of the episodes. When alternate dimensions or time travel do pop up, they are presented in a clear, distinct fashion, not hidden in sly, deceptive ways. The biggest "twist," at least since the central premise was established in part 3, hasn't had any effect on the plot so far (part 8's atomic/fifties aside, which will presumably become relevant further down the line). While the purpose of the story remains oblique, it is possible to frequently see where certain points might be going - Mark Frost knows how to hit his beats, and how to tease and satisfy just enough which keeping us mostly in the dark. Nonetheless, The Return is as likely as any other David Lynch work to indulge moments of whimsical humor or visionary transcendence and part 10 does not fail to follow this trend. As the title was all I knew before watching this episode, both my predictions and surprises this week have to do with Laura Palmer.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Twin Peaks: The Return Part 9 - "This is the chair."


For all its unpredictability, a definite pattern is emerging week after week on Twin Peaks: The Return, a pattern that other commentators had already begun to note. Aside from the two-part premiere, each plot-heavy, relatively straightforward episode has been followed by a more challenging, avant-garde episode, establishing a rhythm that corresponds to the differing interests and approaches of Mark Frost and David Lynch, as well as the demands of a televised narrative and Twin Peaks' yearning desire to break the mold and indulge in experimentation. Given the series' ostensible design as one big film, cut up arbitrarily at each hour mark, perhaps this alternation is a coincidence? Well, I would've been likelier to believe that before the one-two punch of "Gotta light." and "This is the chair." Their juxtaposition is too jarring, the delineation between them far too neat, to believe in an accident. Whether we characterize the modes of this series as Frost and Lynch, narrative and experimentation, breaking it down and breaking through, Cooper is not the only part of Twin Peaks that's split in two.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Twin Peaks Interlude: discussing Parts 1-8 w/ Twin Peaks Unwrapped


Last week, with a two-week break between episodes, Twin Peaks Unwrapped for a discussion about Parts 1-8. We talk about the value of Dougie (and waiting for Coop), whether we are going to get stories or glimpses of the vast ensemble, and the power of part 8.



See you Sunday.