Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): November 2018

Friday, November 16, 2018

Finding the Missing Pages: interview w/ Lindsay Hallam, author of Devil's Advocates - Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me


This is the fifth entry in 5 Weeks of Fire Walk With Me, concluding the series.

With the explosion of Twin Peaks literature following Brad Dukes' 2014 oral history Reflections, it's become easy to forget how thin that library was for several decades. Despite its presence in David Lynch monographs and the occasional TV history, virtually no books broached the series as their central subject. Now, thankfully, our shelves have been well-stocked with scholarly studies, episodes guides, fan theories, and historical overviews. Even so, until very recently there remained a glaring blind spot in this collection. The 1992 prequel film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, has grown in reputation since its initial critical savaging and box office disaster, but most Peaks books still - of necessity - treat it as an offshoot of the series (occasionally, it's even sidelined as an irrelevant tangent). Certainly no tome took the film as its sole focus until now. Two books have been published since the premiere of The Return in 2017, one by Maura McHugh for the Midnight Marauders series (which I've not yet read but am looking forward to) and the other by Lindsay Hallam for the Devil's Advocates series.

Devil's Advocates - Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is primarily divided into four big chapters: "Filled With Secrets: Fire Walk With Me as a Twin Peaks Film"; "Cherry Pie Wrapped in Barbed Wire: Fire Walk With Me as a Horror Movie"; "'Since I was Twelve': Fire Walk With Me as a Trauma Film"; and "We Live Inside a Dream: Fire Walk With Me as a David Lynch Film". These thematic studies are interspersed with a selective study of the film's plot (not exactly chronological, different scenes are aligned with different topics) and make ample use of both an overflowing bibliography and Hallam's own keen insight; the book manages the neat trick of being a grand survey and a personal perspective. Hallam, a British film scholar who specializes in horror and trauma cinema, doesn't just cite her fellow authors, she engages directly with their words: amplifying arguments, contesting claims, and connecting different points of view. She concludes her study by looking at the paratexts that surround the film (including not just the original series and supplemental spin-offs but Showtime's 2017 third season) and, perhaps most interestingly, tracing Fire Walk With Me's echoes in recent art horror films like It Follows and Personal Shopper.

While her scholarship breaks new ground, Hallam's enthusiasm is also contagious. She's a diehard Twin Peaks fans going back to her teenage years in Australian suburbia. We decided to start our conversation not in the bracing clarity of her final analysis, but the intoxicating confusion of her first encounter...

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Patreon update #46 (Fire Walk With Me in Season 3, Pyaasa & more) and preview of Renee/Jade/Knox character studies


I planned to have a big "Other Topics" section this week covering the midterms, lots of podcast recommendations, and some random subjects that came up recently on Twitter or elsewhere, followed by more listener feedback next week. However, each of those efforts have been pushed back a week because my "Twin Peaks Reflections" and "Opening the Archive" segments are both longer than usual. For the first, I delve into my recent piece on Fire Walk With Me mofits in The Return; for the second, I revisit a 2013 review of an Indian film that has just been added to MUBI. See you next week - before Thanksgiving - for a 90th anniversary film in focus!





Line-up for Episode 45

INTRO

WEEKLY UPDATE/recent posts: Twin Peaks: The Return & Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

WEEKLY UPDATE/Patreon: 2nd tier biweekly preview - Renee/Jade/Knox

WEEKLY UPDATE/work in progress: Lady Bird review, Cinepoem, picture galleries

TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS: Fire Walk With Me in season 3

OPENING THE ARCHIVE: Pyaasa

OUTRO

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and Twin Peaks: The Return


This is the fourth entry in 5 Weeks of Fire Walk With Me. Next week I will conclude this series by interviewing Lindsay Hallam, author of a book about the film in the Devil's Advocate series.

Sixteen and a half episodes into Showtime's revival of Twin Peaks, FBI Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) - the unquestioned (if multifaceted) hero of this series, as well as the old one (two seasons, 1990-91) - is speaking to a character who never appeared in the old show yet whose familiarity is taken for granted. Portrayed by a monstrous steam-spewing machine (whose spout Lynch says he regrets; "I wish I'd just made it straight, because everyone thinks it's a teakettle"), and articulated by voice actor Nathan Frizzell, yet visualized in flashback as none other than late pop legend David Bowie, this "Phillip Jeffries" is sending Cooper back to a particular date: February 23, 1989. Cooper's one-armed companion (Al Strobel, Jr.) intones, "Eeee-lec-tric-ity..." - a curious motif for anyone who came to this decades-delayed third season after close study of seasons one and two (in the old series owls, not electrical currents, were the harbingers of spiritual energy between two worlds).

And then our protagonist closes his eyes as the camera pushes toward him, a whoosing sound filling the soundtrack before we realize it belongs to a ceiling fan. Another sound emerges - a motorcycle - and we are faced with perhaps the most important, if infrequently-glimpsed, location in this two-part finale, perhaps in the whole series. It is, we have previously been told (in parts two and twelve), the Palmer family household even though it's a distinctly different house than the one used in the classic first and second season. And then we see actors: Sheryl Lee, Ray Wise, and James Marshall (as Laura and Leland Palmer and James Hurley, respectively); all have been glimpsed in earlier parts of The Return but ow they look much younger, much younger than CGI or makeup could achieve. What's going on here?

This whole passage - the Bowie-initiated time travel, the view of a tall foreboding "Palmer house" ascending from a sidewalk, the actors who've leapt back in time a quarter-century - represents not only a return to the winter of '89. It is a return to Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, the controversial 1992 spin-off film that was for years left out of many discussions of Twin Peaks, often treated as an odd footnote at best and an irrelevant cast-off at worst. This crucial sequence of the "third season" (as Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost call it, though Showtime's designation The Return remains catchy and telling in its own right) begins with overt references to Lynch's onetime bete noire and concludes with direct immersion into that very work.

For most of the next five minutes David Lynch (who directed only six episodes of the first two seasons, but all of the third season as well as Fire Walk With Me) will play footage from his own movie, with color and score extracted and some new shots (along with a few previously unused old ones) sprinkled throughout. Having promised (or warned) viewers before the season's May premiere that his prequel film would be very important to the new work, Lynch certainly delivers. And yet this time, his Fire Walk With Me ideas are filtered through Frost's own strong vision (rather than reinforced by Robert Engels, co-writer of the film, who came closer to Lynch's own sensibility and was generally more deferential towards him). Frost was not involved at all with the film, but now he has been able to re-interpret its motifs in collaboration with Lynch. How does this impact the prequel project's legacy as well as the new material?

What follows is an exploration of all the Fire Walk With Me references in The Return.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Patreon update #45 (Fire Walk With Me as art film, Sherilyn Fenn in Twin Peaks season 3, what is Judy? & more)


This week mostly consists of listener feedback, as readers pour forth their thoughts on Judy, Diane, Richard/Linda, Red, and much more (including a few non-Twin Peaks topics too, believe it or not!). A particular highlight is one listener's recounting of Sherilyn Fenn at a recent Eraserhead Q&A in which she divulged the most in-depth account yet of what happened in season three. I also discuss Fire Walk With Me in conjunction with several European art films and offer updates on recent work, including the next "5 Weeks of Fire Walk With Me" entry which will be published within twenty-four hours (stay tuned).




Line-up for Episode 44

INTRO following quick corrections/disclaimer 3:57 

WEEKLY UPDATE/recent posts: 4 Ways to Watch Fire Walk With Me 5:42 

WEEKLY UPDATE/Patreon: 2nd tier biweekly preview - The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

WEEKLY UPDATE/work in progress: Mad Men viewing diary, Cinepoem, Fire Walk With Me & season 3

TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS: Fire Walk With Me as art film

LISTENER FEEDBACK: Sherilyn Fenn talks about season 3

OUTRO

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Patreon update #44: Halloween (+ Fire Walk With Me as horror movie, The Old Dark House & more) and preview of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari review


Halloween horror dominates this special podcast episode; taking the week off from other topics and postponing most of the extensive listener feedback I received since Episode 42, I focus on the holiday theme in almost all sections. The film in focus was an obvious pick, with John Carpenter's unforgettable theme music leading into my musings on the first Michael Myers slasher flick. For Opening the Archive, I picked James Whale's evocatively-titled but dazzlingly idiosyncratic horror comedy The Old Dark House, reading my review from seven years ago. And "Twin Peaks Reflections" emphasizes one section of my recently published essay 4 Ways to Watch Fire Walk With Me, exploring the film's links to the horror genre. The one piece of feedback, meanwhile, shares a listener's favorite horror film (expect at least one more in the next episode).

Even the biweekly preview participates in the spooky mood with a full (and longer than usual) review of early Expressionist horror film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Although I got both podcast and preview up on Patreon in time for the eve of All Hallow's Eve, by the time you're reading this cross-post we're several days into November. But like The Shape himself, the spirit of Halloween is always ready to spring out from the shadows just when you think you've finally put it to rest.


Line-up for Episode 43

INTRO

WEEKLY UPDATE/recent posts: 5 Weeks of Fire Walk With Me resumes

WEEKLY UPDATE/work in progress: lost Mad Men review, re-recorded Lindsay Hallam interview, Fire Walk With Me & season 3, finalizing 4 Ways to Watch Fire Walk With Me

TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS: Fire Walk With Me as a horror movie

FILM IN FOCUS: Halloween

LISTENER FEEDBACK: Listener's #1 horror film

OPENING THE ARCHIVE: The Old Dark House

OUTRO