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

Monday, August 14, 2017

Twin Peaks: The Return Part 14 - "We are like the dreamer."


What's the biggest news this week? That the gang finally made it to Jack Rabbit's Palace? That the FBI has now linked up with both Twin Peaks and Las Vegas? That Chad was busted by his compatriots? Nah, of course not. We saw all of those things coming, even if we couldn't figure out when (especially after Part 13 tipped its hand about screwy chronology). Far more shocking and memorable were any of the following: Monica Bellucci finally appears as...Monica Bellucci! (In David Lynch's, er, Gordon Cole's dream!!) Sarah Palmer literally killed an obnoxious bar patron by removing her face and then biting off his neck!!! Andy is the one to make contact with the other side (specifically the Giant ??????? The Fireman)!!!! James' gloved British buddy was sent to Twin Peaks personally by the...Fireman!!!!! DIANE AND JANEY-E ARE SISTERS!!!!!! And yet in some ways the scene that affected me most was the final one, maybe simply because it was the cherry on top of everything else, the moment that tipped my overall impression toward something I've been wanting to feel but hadn't quite yet: the intoxicating desire to enter into mysteries that I suspect will never be solved.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Twin Peaks: The Return Part 13 - "What story is that, Charlie?"


Somewhere between watching last week's and this week's episode I finally got a grip (I think) on the shape of this series. (Hey, it only took twelve hours.) Nothing big - well, nothing big big, like no earth-shattering twist on the level of a quasi-comatose Cooper popping out in Dougie Jones' place in Las Vegas - is going to happen again until the finale. True, part 8 is already something of an outlier, but look what it actually achieved: not so much a crazy narrative development as a dazzling stylistic detour (whose explicit plot relevance, if any, probably won't be revealed until later). And I don't think we're headed for another part 8 any time soon, though I'm admittedly less certain about that. In a way, this is an odd statement to make right now: aren't I just repeating what I've been saying since the beginning? I have, more or less, voiced such views about Dougie/Cooper (and, with the series more than two-thirds over, I think I've won that bet). But I thought other parts of the narrative would pull the rug out form under us, or rather pull back the curtain and reveal a hidden reality or shocking secret that reoriented our understanding of what we were watching.

This created a nervous dynamic each week: particularly eventful episodes would excite me, inspiring me to think, "Oh boy, we're really onto something big now!" while more low-key episodes would frustratingly evoke the feeling of being stuck in a rut. But after mulling over last week's perplexing, frequently perverse installment I finally sighed in a mixture of relief and resignation. I've always said that David Lynch's notion of an ongoing narrative is different from Mark Frost's (and many other television writers'): less a cycle of beginnings, middles, and ends - existing within an overarching narrative perhaps, but still full of self-contained units - and more an extension of a single middle as long as possible. I should have listened to myself, despite Frost's deceptive proclivity to sprinkle breadcrumbs along the three-and-a-half month-long path. Set-ups and payoffs do exist, characters and storylines have moved (if not exactly advanced), and there are a few mini-arcs within the larger narrative. For the most part, though, The Return wants to linger and doodle between A and B, not leap from A to B to C and onwards.

So the best way to enjoy each week is simply to sit back and let it happen without too many questions or expectations. This isn't a slow-moving train, it's a train that has stopped and calmly rests in place, partly to refuel for the final destination (the terminal point within sight on the horizon, yet frustratingly no closer as each hour passes). but also to allow to let us wander and explore at this particular way station. In that sense, those who grumble that Lynch stretched a nine-hour story into an eighteen-hour one aren't necessarily wrong, but that's the point. Don't rush the journey, we'll resume eventually; for now, just enjoy the scenery. You'll miss it when it gone.