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

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Patreon update #7: Blade Runner 2049 w/ Max Clark (+ music of Journey Through Twin Peaks & more)


Every now and then, I will have a friend on the show as a guest. Max Clark, one of my oldest friends and a fellow commentator on film, is also a patron who chose this week's topic as his Film in Focus. Because it's an extended discussion, this episode will feature only one movie although from now on, double/triple/quadruple features will be the norm.

Blade Runner 2049 is one of the few films I saw in theaters in 2017 (coincidentally or not, while visiting Max in Boston). I enjoyed it and thought it would provide a rich subject for conversation, and it did. We focused on questions around the character Joi (does she have any humanity, and if not what's the point?), the ubiquity of Replicants in the world of this sequel, the political allegory of 2049, and of course its relationship to the original film among many other aspects.

Additionally, I highlight the musical bookends and markers of my Journey Through Twin Peaks series, muse on why I prefer Winter to Summer Olympics, and dig a bit into my fascination with Aldous Huxley.

INTRO
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WEEKLY UPDATE/recent posts: updated links for 32 Days of Movies clips
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WEEKLY UPDATE/Patreon: Films in Focus
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WEEKLY UPDATE/works in progress: re-scheduling Twin Peaks Character Series, Buster Keaton for Voyage into the Movies, Baudelaire for Cinepoems, Mad Men viewing diary
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FILM IN FOCUS: Blade Runner 2049 w/ guest Max Clark
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TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS: Making Journey Through Twin Peaks, pt. 2 - the music of Journey Through Twin Peaks
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OTHER TOPICS: The Winter Olympics & North Korea
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LISTENER FEEDBACK: High-Rise, Aldous Huxley, A Field in England
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OPENING THE ARCHIVE: "Open Season for Blogging" (November - December 2009), this week's highlight: For the Love of Movies interview

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Patreon update #6: Inherent Vice, Monkey Business & High-Rise (+ history of video essays, Donkeyskin/Fire Walk With Me & more) and preview of the TWIN PEAKS Character Series "Rules"


Rounding up the last of the January Film in Focus topics, I didn't think this triple feature would have a thematic or aesthetic throughline. In fact, however, all three movies are characterized by a narrative descent into chaos, disintegrating social norms until we are just as bewildered as the figures onscreen. I liked one of these films quite a lot, had a mixed but generally positive reaction to another, and didn't care at all for the third, but I had a good time digging into each first-time viewing.

Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice adapts Thomas Pynchon's Big Lebowski/Long Goodbye-esque tribute to the slacker-as-sleuth genre. Surprisingly, this is the first Anderson film I've reviewed on this site (the only other acknowledgement of his work was a #WatchlistScreenCaps image for The Master several years ago). Howard Hawks' Monkey Business is a madcap (or maybe not so madcap as you'd expect, initially) screwball comedy with some interesting subtexts about Hollywood, aging, and the generation that came to prominence in the thirties Golden Age. Ben Wheatley's High-Rise is another notable adaptation, this time of J.G. Ballard's iconic text of the seventies; the acidic satire opens with a calmly dystopian interior landscape and closes with a peculiar Margaret Thatcher quote and song from The Fall.

Additionally, I dig into the history of the video essay form over the past ten years, and how the desire to experiment with that form led to Journey Through Twin Peaks; I find some more Mark Frost-written Hill Street Blues episodes, and I receive some great feedback exploring Fire Walk With Me's fairy tale links, especially to the disturbing fable Donkeyskin by Charles Perrault. This is the longest episode yet - hopefully you find it enjoyable.

Finally, if you're thinking of becoming a 3rd-tier patron ($10 a month), I've just published a couple pages of the introduction to my revised Twin Peaks character series explaining (among other things) how I will cover the complicated characters of Cooper and Laura, and offering links to the timeline I'm using as a frame of reference for The Return.


Line-up for Episode 6

INTRO
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WEEKLY UPDATE/recent posts: creating Journey Through Twin Peaks
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WEEKLY UPDATE/Patreon: 3rd tier Biweekly Preview - intro to character series, February films in focus - suggest several titles
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WEEKLY UPDATE/works in progress: minor characters, Fire Walk With Me history
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FILM IN FOCUS: Inherent Vice
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FILM IN FOCUS: Monkey Business
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FILM IN FOCUS: High-Rise
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TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS: Making Journey Through Twin Peaks, pt. 1 - the history of video essays, form in the Journey videos
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OTHER TOPICS: 2 more Mark Frost-written Hill Street Blues episodes, Dario Argento on the Joe Franklin Show
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LISTENER FEEDBACK: Marie Antoinette, watching the Twin Peaks killer's reveal at 13, Fire Walk With Me as a fairy tale (comparison w/ Donkeyskin) and Christian martyrs' tales
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OPENING THE ARCHIVE: "Examining the Options" (June - October 2009), this week's highlight: Lawrence of Arabia

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Creating Journey Through Twin Peaks (pt. 2 of 3)


In Part 1 of this look back at my video series, I focused on the build-up to its creation as well as the fast-paced, relatively brief process of putting together the first part. This entry examines the much longer period spent on the subsequent three parts, concluding with the presentation of the complete Journey Through Twin Peaks at this time three years ago on February 4. Part 3 will eventually chronicle the creation of new Journey chapters focused on The Return, which have yet to be produced but will hopefully be available this summer.

On the morning of October 3, 2014 less than twenty-four hours after I'd put the finishing touches on the first part of Journey Through Twin Peaks, the entire context of Twin Peaks - and with it, my little video project - was forever altered. David Lynch's and Mark Frost's simultaneous Twitter teases would be revealed within days as what many suspected: Twin Peaks' return to television as a limited series on Showtime in 2016. This was a cosmic coincidence for my purposes; not only had I just launched what would become my most ambitious online work just as it became newly relevant, but this same week I'd announced that I'd be devoting the following six weeks exclusively to Twin Peaks, including perhaps the longest interviews ever conducted with John Thorne, publisher of the legendary fanzine Wrapped in Plastic. We'd spoken during the summer, and at one point we mused about the future of this world we were both falling back in to. (John, whose involvement with the work had obviously been far more extensive than my own, hadn't written or engaged with Peaks much at all in the previous decade; the magazine's last issue had been 2005 and its co-founder, Craig Miller, had passed away a few years later.) As exciting as The Missing Pieces was for Peaks fans that had been starved for new content since the early nineties, John noted that this was all a bit of tempest in a teacup - or, perhaps, a coffee cup.

John's friend had attended the red-carpet premiere for The Missing Pieces in Los Angeles and observed (in John's paraphrase) "it was the same types of people who are at every Lynch event, it was a fairly small venue. From the outside, it has this glamour to it like it was a big event, and Twin Peaks was in the air. But in fact it was a small event magnified by social media and the internet." John himself added, "I’m glad it’s still there and I’m glad it’s getting press coverage but there’s a small core devoted." We both reflected that the old Lynch - the one who savvily played the "Czar of Bizarre" for mainstream media in the early nineties - would have capitalized on this momentum rather than calmly letting it pass. I remembered the odd buzz of the spring, when (twenty-fourth!) anniversary pieces were popping up left and right, Twin Peaks would randomly trend on Twitter, and the first announcement of the deleted scenes was made; I noted that if Lynch and Frost wanted to seize the moment with some sort of revival, this would have been the opportunity. But a couple months had passed since the blu-ray, Brad Dukes had already made the rounds to promote his oral history (the first of a tsunami of Peaks literature though at the time it seemed an unprecedented one-off), and if there was any chance of Twin Peaks re-emerging in the broader public consciousness, it was rapidly fading. And then, of course, the news.

By the time that particular interview went up, I'd already conducted another with John to wrestle with this unexpected windfall. Those Wrapped in Plastic interviews were published three weeks in a row after the first part of Journey Through Twin Peaks; also in October I interviewed Martha Nochimson, author of The Passion of David Lynch and David Lynch Swerves, and continued a deep dive into the archives of the Twin Peaks Usenet forms (alt.tv.twin-peaks) where early internet adopters discussed the series in the early nineties. After all, the Journey videos were only supposed to be one part of my now expanded "Twelve Weeks of Twin Peaks," a central feature perhaps but not the only show in town. And while the blog content was exclusively Peaksian, I still found room for non-Peaks endeavors elsewhere - for example, tweeting my "alternate Oscar" picks, a new year every day, throughout the fall. By early December, however, the video series had taken over the weekly Peaks posts altogether; by the end of the month, when a much-delayed Part 3 finally premiered, I had dropped the "Twelve Weeks" limitation entirely and was dedicated to publishing about Twin Peaks as long as it took to finish this project, and as the new year dawned my Twin Peaks immersion became exclusive and all-encompassing, not just yielding by far my most popular work but changing me in the process.

This is the story of how I created parts 2 - 4 of Journey Through Twin Peaks, and what that experience meant to me.


Saturday, February 3, 2018

Patreon update #5: Marie Antoinette & Heart of a Dog (+ The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, French response to #MeToo, Roman Polanski, SMILF, The Stepfather & more)


Another double feature this week, as we approach the end of January rewards (next week I'll be covering at least three Films in Focus). Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette is paired with Laurie Anderson's Heart of a Dog and I finally finished - and covered - The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer. I also finish the extended "Other Topics" I started several weeks ago with a lengthy passage that begins with the controversial response of many French actresses to #MeToo, winds its way through Roman Polanski and a SMILF episode focused on Woody Allen and winds up digging in to The Stepfather (all subjects linked to The Secret Diary, though the timing was largely coincidental).

Thanks to all the patrons who made January a success. If you're not a patron, don't worry - though I've been focused on the podcast lately, another public post is coming very soon (tomorrow being the anniversary of my Journey Through Twin Peaks video series) and hopefully this month will see some very long-gestating projects finally debut.



INTRO
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WEEKLY UPDATE/Patreon: revised last biweekly preview & upcoming guest appearance
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WEEKLY UPDATE/works in progress: minor Twin Peaks characters, The Wire/Mad Men viewing diaries, Kieslowski/Winehouse montage, looking for Cinepoems, History of Journey Through Twin Peaks, The Last Laugh for Voyage into the Movies
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FILM IN FOCUS: Marie Antoinette
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FILM IN FOCUS: Heart of a Dog
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TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS: audiobook of The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer
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OTHER TOPICS: French response to #MeToo & From Revolution to Ethics (history of left attitudes on post-1968 sexual conduct), Roman Polanski, Repulsion, Woody Allen, SMILF season finale, Brad's Status (the neurotic midlife crisis film in transition), The Stepfather
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LISTENER FEEDBACK: The Last Jedi & Christopher Nolan
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OPENING THE ARCHIVE: "Covers, Characters, and Wonders" (April - June 2009), this week's highlight: Reading the Movies

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Patreon update #4: Interstellar & The Prestige (+ millennials, Soviet communism, mumblecore & more) and preview for Fire Walk With Me as horror/art film & Fellini montage


This week brings the first double feature (expect many more, as well as triple and occasionally quadruple features as the number of 2nd-tier patrons - and therefore patron-selected films in focus - grows). Usually they won't be particularly linked but two different patrons recommended Christopher Nolan films this month so I thought it would be a good idea to pair them. I think this was only the second time I saw both of these films, and I was surprised what I had forgotten. Elsewhere, the podcast's theme seems to be generations and the passage of history - I talk about my short film Class of 2002, confusion about millennials, the legacy of the sixties in the eighties, Eastern Europe after the fall of Communism, and the curiosity of reviewing a 2002 film in 2009 - and then discussing that film in 2018. I also attempt and probably fail to pronounce "epistolary," "epoch," and "Bujalski."

By the way, make sure you check out the links in the podcast post - this week in particular they're chock full of fascinating tangents.







Line-up for Episode 4

Intro
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WEEKLY UPDATE/2nd tier Biweekly Preview: Fire Walk With me as horror & Fellini montage video

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WEEKLY UPDATE/recent posts: Class of 2002 5th Anniversary

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WEEKLY UPDATE/works in progress: Phenomena as part of FWWM/horror, FWWM & season 3, FWWM & original episodes, The Art Life, The Wire viewing diary, upcoming montage (Kieslowski/Winehouse), The Last Laugh for Voyage into the Movies, postponing character series, including Diane recordings in her character entry, background character entry

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FILM IN FOCUS: Interstellar

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FILM IN FOCUS: The Prestige
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TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS: audiobooks of The Secret History of Twin Peaks & The Final Dossier, The Lodgers discuss Lynch/Frost collaboration

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OTHER TOPICS: defining (and misdefining) millennials, "tankies" & violence (Marxism-Leninism/Stalinism/the recent Twitter controversy), Hill Street Blues episodes about 60s/70s radicals in the early 80s

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LISTENER FEEDBACK: plausibility of The Prestige, Nolan as blockbuster auteur (would Lynch have followed his path if Dune was a hit?), flaws of The Last Jedi

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OPENING THE ARCHIVE: "Sophomore Slump" (January - March 2009), this week's highlight: Funny Ha Ha

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Patreon update #3: Army of Shadows (+ Hill Street Blues/Mark Frost & more)


This week's "Film in Focus" was a patron recommendation from my friend Max with whom (coincidentally) I first saw this movie on its American release in 2006. Army of Shadows is a magnificent study of the French Resistance, and in this discussion I cover its tangled history (it was a failure in France at the time for a variety of political and aesthetic reasons), its striking ethos (less ideological than existential), its look, and its unusual story structure, among other topics. I also use my "Twin Peaks Reflections" this week to discuss Mark Frost's first episode for Hill Street Blues, which has some significant crossover with his later work on Twin Peaks.


Podcast #3: Army of Shadows (+ Hill Street Blues/Mark Frost & more)


Line-up for Episode 3

Intro
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WEEKLY UPDATE/works in progress: Mad Men viewing diary, illustrating Twin Peaks characters, upcoming Voyage into the Movies podcast on No Ship Network, Fire Walk With Me as a horror film, Fellini montage video
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FILM IN FOCUS: Army of Shadows
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TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS: Mark Frost's first episode for Hill Street Blues
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OTHER TOPICS: Film vs. TV critics on Twin Peaks: The Return, Hill Street Blues & old TV dead ends
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LISTENER FEEDBACK: on Mulholland Drive/Twin Peaks\
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OPENING THE ARCHIVE: "Typing Up Loose Ends" (November - December 2008), this week's highlight: The Way We Weren't - Art Under Bush

BECOME A PATRON

Sunday, January 14, 2018

My film Class of 2002 - 5th Anniversary


Five years ago today, I premiered the the final version of my short film Class of 2002. I'd spent the past month and a half producing it, after writing and casting over the summer and fall (I wrote in detail about the full process a couple days after uploading the video). The project was an unusual one - taking a narrated documentary form and relying on existing snapshots for its visual texture but nonetheless a work of fiction. Over time, I received several surprised responses from people who had thought it was all true. This was both flattering and unsettling - on the one hand, I was pleased they were convinced by my characterization, on the other hand, I didn't want the story to be a "gotcha" gimmick playing a trick on viewers. Indeed several seemed mildly disoriented by this realization (initially I presented the film in blog posts unambiguously marking it as fiction, but eventually people discovered it on YouTube on their own, with little to no context).

Class of 2002 reveals the lives of five characters, as well as a sixth character who knew them all and narrates their stories. It's fairly grim; I scripted some more humorous passages that fell by the wayside as its final form was consolidated - ultimately this needed to be a somber narrative. This bleakness plus its unusual form plus the lack of an eyecatching hook ensured that it would not really be among my most popular material...nonetheless, existing feedback has been fairly positive and I remain very proud of the work. To date, it's the only narrative work I've created in a decade of Lost in the Movies, that rare creation not reliant in any way (aside from general influence of course) on a pre-existing work...although of course almost everything onscreen was captured by other people, long before they came into play here! Additionally, the use of a single narrator's voice interacting with the visual material places it in the general vicinity of my video essay work, however different the context.

For me, the film now stands not just as a look back over the previous decade, but as a bit of a time capsule itself. I was in my late twenties, working two retail jobs less than a year after moving to California, and I was in a different place at the time (literally as well as figuratively). My engagement with audiences through video essays, my (ongoing) political awakening after years of disillusioned quasi-apathy, perhaps especially my illuminating immersion into Twin Peaks...all were still on the horizon, along with more immediate work and life experience that would have a strong effect on me. Above all, I don't think I would be as compelled to end a film in so quietly despairing a fashion as I did here, though that melancholy ambivalence does suit this particular story (and as I noted even at the time, the character's outlook was not necessarily my own).

There's some mature equanimity in this development, but also a sense of renewed energy. As Bob Dylan once chuckled, "Oh, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now."



Saturday, January 13, 2018

Patreon update #2: Mulholland Drive & Twin Peaks (+ Reactionary Boomers, Stranger Things & more)


I recorded this week's podcast almost immediately after the other, hoping to get into a routine where I was always at least a week ahead of time. And it's a good thing I did, because it ended up being kind of a beast. The film in focus came courtesy of a new patron, with the request that I look at Mulholland Drive not just as a film in and of itself, but a Lynch work with strong links to Twin Peaks. The result was a half-hour segment (much longer than these will usually be) which I enjoyed preparing for. In the latter part of the episode, I touch on some series I've been watching, and ask why suddenly the cultural stereotype of baby boomers has been flipped on its head.

Intro
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WEEKLY UPDATE/works in progress: 5 Weeks of Fire Walk With Me (Fire Walk With Me & season 3)
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FILM IN FOCUS/TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS: connections between Mulholland Drive & Twin Peaks
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(pt. 1: Intro/History of Mulholland Drive)
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(pt. 2: Relationship to original Twin Peaks/Fire Walk With Me, Mulholland Drive's mythology if it continued as a show)
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pt. 3: Relationship to Twin Peaks season 3...iconography/actors, structural similarities - sprawling start, loose ends, tightening at the end, story grows colder/darker at end, identity shift in protagonist, Martha Nochimson's interpretation of Lynchian shifts to darkness, Audrey in s3, Carrie Page & Diane Selwyn, differences...female vs. male perspective, stylistic distinction from the Mary Sweeney era, exception of the Becky sequence)
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ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS: The Boomer-ang: has the characterization of boomers as uber-reactionaries gone too far? (plus Showtime's Guerrilla series, Stranger Things season 2 - the Duffers' nostalgia for an era they didn't experience, and Hill Street Blues on Bickering Peaks) (pt. 2: Relationship to original Twin Peaks/Fire Walk With Me)
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OPENING THE ARCHIVE: "Building Commitments and Community" (August - November 2008), this week's highlight (Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me)

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Patreon update #1: The Last Jedi & more


Every Saturday from now on, I will offer an update of my Patreon activities. The update will cover the weekly podcast episode, Patreon blog posts, and any other news and information. The content will be accessible to anyone who becomes a patron, while these descriptions will keep regular readers abreast of my activity over there, in case they are thinking about joining, or if they are just curious to know what's going on.

This week, for the only time in the foreseeable future, I'm releasing the intro to the podcast as an illustrated clip on YouTube; it also doubles as an explainer for the format and the Patreon in general. You can hear/view it here:



This week I kicked off my new account with the first episode of my new podcast, and a few blog posts (one to go with the podcast, another a welcome, and another a preview). The Film in Focus this week is The Last Jedi; with the surprising number of second-tier patrons who joined up right out of the gate (meaning they can select future films for me to discuss) it looks like this may be the last one I pick myself, and possibly the last time I just focus on one film in an episode.



Here is the line-up for the podcast episode (the timestamps can be found in the blog post):

Intro
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Brief background for Lost in the Movies
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Explaining weekly podcast format
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Welcome to the Patreon
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FILM IN FOCUS: The Last Jedi
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TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS: Difference between old & new Twin Peaks, Mark Frost's contributions
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WEEKLY UPDATE (will usually be after intro)/recent posts: Secret History & The Return, video announcement
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WEEKLY UPDATE/works in progress: Patreon, illustrating the Twin Peaks character series, Breaking Bad season 1, Hill Street Blues season 2, Fire Walk With Me & European "art films", Fellini montage video
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*skipping additional thoughts/listener feedback this week*
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OPENING THE ARCHIVE "Look Ma, I'm Blogging!": becoming a movie fan in 1990 (VHS collection/movie monster books/Home Alone-Kindergarten Cop/Edward Scissorhands), first weeks of blogging (July - August 2008), this week's highlight: The Brave Little Toaster

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Lost in the Movies on Patreon


After much deliberation and preparation, today I finally launched my Patreon account - the first real way for readers and viewers to support my online work since it began nearly a decade ago. You can visit the page for more details, but in summary: there are three basic tiers (as well as a couple advanced commission levels), offering early access to video essays, the ability to choose a topic for me to discuss in a new podcast, and sneak peeks of upcoming work. sometimes months in advance. Perhaps most notably, all levels will have access to the exclusive Patreon podcast, in which I update listeners on my work, share thoughts on a "Film in Focus" (first up will be The Last Jedi), reflect a bit on whatever Twin Peaks topic comes to mind, and offer a guided tour through my archives building up to the tenth anniversary of the site this summer. Within a few days, I will provide a teaser of the first podcast on YouTube.

Thanks to everyone who is interested in becoming a patron, but also of course to those who aren't (or can't) but have enjoyed or shared my work in the past and going forward. This is an exciting new step for me, and I hope you all get something out of it as well!