Lost in the Movies: October 2014

Journey Through Twin Peaks: Part 2 - The Center Cannot Hold

"The Center Cannot Hold" continues my 4-part video series analyzing the narrative cycle of Twin Peaks from the pilot through Fire Walk With Me. This second entry begins before the last, exploring the creation and development of Laura Palmer (juxtaposed with the films Laura and Vertigo as well as the abandoned Mark Frost-David Lynch project The Goddess, about Marilyn Monroe). After an examination of The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, we pick up where we left off in season two, covering episodes 9 through the beginning of episode 17, with a long pause to analyze the killer's reveal, including a montage accompanied by W.B. Yeats' "The Second Coming," from which this video essay draws its title. Part 2 in its entirety is fifty minutes long but I've also split it into six individual chapters, running between five and eleven minutes each, for easier viewing. Along the way, of course, there are disturbing images and spoilers (although I don't spoil episodes ahead of the ones I'm discussing).

Completing this video took far longer than expected but I am very happy with the result (well, except for my voiceover work which I am, at best, mildly happy with...). I hope you find it informative, absorbing, and thought-provoking. These episodes feature some of the most distinctive and controversial material on the show so I also hope viewers will share their own thoughts below. Part 3, scheduled for November, will cover the rest of the TV episodes with asides to explore the show's mythological influences, distinctive atmosphere, and colorful ensemble. Part 4, scheduled for December, will focus on Fire Walk With MePart 1 - "Harmony of the Dark Woods" examining the well-balanced first season and controversial season two premiere.

Journey Through Twin Peaks follows the jump accompanied by several representative images taken from the video.

Twin Peaks: "The Second Coming" (W.B. Yeats)

As the giant says, "It is happening again." For the second time in a month, an entry in my Journey Through Twin Peaks video series is taking longer than expected and cannot go up on schedule. Part 2 of the series, "The Center Cannot Hold," will go online this week, hopefully within the next few days but is proving far more complex and challenging than I imagined. This portion of the series will cover season two from the second episode to the resolution of the Laura Palmer mystery, but it also makes room for several asides: the creation of Laura's character, connections to Vertigo and Laura, excerpts from The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer by Jennifer Lynch, and a meditation on the nature of the killer's reveal and how Lynch's and Frost's previous work led up to this point. I've completed some of the most important parts and am quite pleased with the results, but I want to make sure I don't rush the rest of it so here we are (if you haven't watched it yet, here is Part 1).

In the meantime, I have posted an excerpt on YouTube; this is the introduction to the "Killer's Reveal" chapter, which couples "The Second Coming" by W.B. Yeats (as read by Harold Pinter) with some of the more unsettling moments from the series, Fire Walk With Me, and The Missing Pieces. I thought the poem would go well with the visuals and it really did, especially with the selected music. Needless to say, the video features spoilers and disturbing images. You can watch the excerpt below and keep your eyes peeled for the rest within a few days:

Twin Peaks is Back! (a conversation with John Thorne, editor of Wrapped in Plastic, pt. 3)

Needless to say (although I'm saying it anyway), this interview with John Thorne - co-editor/publisher/writer behind Twin Peaks magazine Wrapped in Plastic - will include many, many spoilers for the series and film.

When I spoke to John Thorne for the first time in July about the history of his magazine Wrapped in Plastic, I only planned to publish one interview. Yet as we spoke about the upcoming Entire Mystery blu-ray release, I realized we'd have to talk again to discuss what would probably be the last addition to the Twin Peaks canon. It took a couple months, but I was finally able to follow up with him about the deleted scenes, the mysterious Palmer family reunion, and other special features. We also spoke about the possibility of David Lynch and Mark Frost returning to Twin Peaks and both of us thought it extremely unlikely. There was even a wistful tone in John's voice as he commented about The Missing Pieces: "I would say, it felt like he was done. That this is an end point. In a way this is sort of a door closing. Arguably it could be a door opening too." He then added, referring to Lynch's recent art show in Philadelphia, "I would hope that he looks at these paintings again and thinks, I want to see these paintings move and he’s ready to do it again."

Well, here we are a month later and a third interview was obviously necessary. If you're reading this, you surely already know, but on October 6, Showtime announced it will be airing a 9-episode continuation of Twin Peaks. Every episode will be written by Mark Frost and David Lynch, and they will all be directed by Lynch. Many cast members have already declared their interest in returning, and last week (after this interview was conducted - it's impossible to keep up with the news!) Frost also announced an upcoming novel which will divulge what's happened in the town of Twin Peaks over the past twenty-five years. Clearly, John and I had a lot to discuss so we eagerly got back to it. Part three, the final installment of our ongoing conversation (for now), covers questions about the new series, John's interpretation of the original series finale, and why the media still doesn't get Twin Peaks.

Hidden Corners of Twin Peaks: a conversation with John Thorne, editor of Wrapped in Plastic, pt. 2 (The Missing Pieces & more)

Needless to say (although I'm saying it anyway), this interview with John Thorne - co-editor/publisher/writer behind Twin Peaks magazine Wrapped in Plastic - will include many, many spoilers for the series and film.

In Part 1 of this interview, conducted in early July, John and I discussed Wrapped in Plastic and his theories about Fire Walk With Me. In this installment, conducted a month ago, we discussed the blu-ray boxset Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery, released a few weeks after our last conversation, particularly The Missing Pieces (90 minutes of deleted footage from Fire Walk With Me). We also discussed the second season of Twin Peaks and why David Lynch seemed unlikely to return to Twin Peaks (little did we know). In a week I will present part 3 of the interview, conducted earlier this week, discussing the amazing news from last Monday (originally part 3 was scheduled for two weeks hence, but I've moved it forward).

Unwrapping Twin Peaks: a conversation with John Thorne, editor of Wrapped in Plastic

Needless to say (although I'm saying it anyway), this interview with John Thorne - co-editor/publisher/writer behind Twin Peaks magazine Wrapped in Plastic - will include many, many spoilers for the series and film.

For thirteen years and seventy-five issues, Twin Peaks fans had one safe haven in a media landscape completely indifferent, even hostile, to the strange, wonderful world they loved. Publishing its first issue in October 1992, a month after the critically-reviled Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me bombed at the box office, and going on permanent hiatus in September 2005, two years before the Gold Box DVD collection would introduce a new generation to the TV series, Wrapped in Plastic carried the torch during the long dark age of Twin Peaks. Or rather, it ensured that this dark age was in fact a golden era, with vital new interviews, deeply insightful essays, and the latest cast-and-crew news bundled into a slick, appealing package every couple months. Wrapped in Plastic was a fanzine but it was also something more: a vital source of scholarship in an era when one of the most iconic, original, and influential TV shows of all time was rarely discussed.

Wrapped in Plastic unearthed countless insights into the production of the series which still resonate today, via extensive interviews and close readings of production documents and other details. It solicited contributions from all quarters, publishing rich and provocative analyses of the series in light of literary criticism, television history, esoteric philosophy, even Arthurian legend. And, in the style of the show it honored, it broke the mould, mixing fanservice with erudition, commercial calculation with aesthetic consideration, personal passion with objective research. And, of course, the entire project was homemade: Craig Miller and John Thorne edited and published every single issue, barely squeaking out a profit while writing a substantial number of the essays themselves. It's no wonder they eventually felt burnt-out - what's amazing is that it took so long for the pace to get to them. Sadly, Craig Miller passed away in 2010 and with that, Wrapped in Plastic was officially over.

I discovered John Thorne's work this past spring, as I gathered quotes for a massive round-up of Twin Peaks commentary, trying to trace the elusive history of the show, the film, and their reception. Intrigued by his long-dormant blog (particularly a post called "The Subject of Laura Palmer"), and heartened by his quick responses to my inquiries, I contacted him to propose an interview. Having come to Twin Peaks only after the magazine went out of print (like many others wooed by the show in the digital/social media era), I was only dimly aware of Wrapped in Plastic and had never had the chance to sample its contents. John shared some of his work with me and I investigated the descriptions of previous issues to get a tantalizing sense of the magazine's treasures (though I haven't been able to yet, I plan to invest soon in its archives - as Gordon Cole would put it, "MASSIVE, MASSIVE QUANTITIES" of back issues!).

The following conversation was conducted nearly three months ago, several weeks before the release of The Entire Mystery blu-ray (with its 90 minutes of deleted scenes from the film) re-ignited interest in Twin Peaks in late summer. John and I discussed his own experience watching the show, the backstory of Wrapped in Plastic, his insight into Mark Frost and David Lynch, and particularly two essays on Fire Walk With Me, "Dreams of Deer Meadow" and "The Transformation of Laura Palmer." The first, Wrapped in Plastic's most controversial article, proposes that the entire prologue of the film is best - and most accurately - interpreted as Agent Dale Cooper's dream. The second, a much longer version of the blog post that hooked me, digs deeply into the process behind the development of Laura Palmer's character. Taken together, the discussion of these two essays makes up more than half of the following exchange which has been dramatically cut down from a three-hour phone conversation. Two months later, John and I would speak again - intending to touch base for half an hour, and again talking for three hours - about The Missing Pieces and other matters. That interview will appear next week as a follow-up.

Finally, I'd be remiss not to mention the big news. Rumor has it that later today, Mark Frost and David Lynch will announce one of the greatest comebacks in TV history: the return of Twin Peaks in some form, probably a miniseries on premium cable. [As expected, a few hours later Showtime declared that it will be running a brand new nine-episode Twin Peaks miniseries in 2016, which will be entirely written by Frost & Lynch and directed by Lynch. Later in the day, John Thorne posted on his blog for the first time in over two years, declaring that he is now planning to renew the mission of Wrapped in Plastic in one form or another.] In an amazing reversal for a series ignominiously cancelled after a season and a half, maligned in the mainstream media, and viciously shot down when it attempted to take cinematic form, it looks like - as Lynch and Frost simultaneously and cryptically tweeted last week - "that gum you like is going to come back in style." If this is true, we can expect the deluge of new, curious fans of the classic Twin Peaks to dwarf anything since the original series aired nearly twenty-five years ago, and it is my hope that as the torch ignites once again, we can remember the folks who carried that flickering flame in the years when the show was nearly forgotten. So let's part the red curtains, cross the threshold, and unwrap Wrapped in Plastic one more time...

Journey Through Twin Peaks: Part 1 - Harmony of the Dark Woods

"Harmony of the Dark Woods" kicks off a 4-part video series analyzing the narrative cycle of Twin Peaks from the pilot through Fire Walk With Me. This first entry introduces the hybrid tone/style of the series and focuses on the essential triptych of Laura Palmer, the town of Twin Peaks, and Agent Cooper. It covers the pilot through the season two premiere (with no spoilers for subsequent episodes, so I don't reveal the killer in this entry). The entire video runs for thirty minutes (my longest video essay yet) - but you can also watch it in five separate, short video chapters for easier viewing. Taken together, the entire video series will be feature-length.

Each month's video opens with a musical montage set to a different Julee Cruise song not featured on the Twin Peaks soundtrack (although contemporaneous with the show and film), provides a larger context for the upcoming material, and then closely - and chronologically - examines the subtle twists and turns in David Lynch's and Mark Frost's storytelling. Hopefully viewers will find this approach insightful; my goal is not simply to reiterate the events of the show but to present them in an illuminating, informative light so that when the series is finished the often bewildering saga will appear as a messy but cohesive whole.

This is my first narrated video essay in nearly two years, and I have written, narrated, and edited the project myself. [Originally this post contained a schedule that has been obsolete as each video takes longer than expected for me to complete. Regardless, you can now watch Part 2 and Part 3, as well as the first two chapters (Introduction & 7 Facts About Fire Walk With Me) of Part 4. Will update as necessary.] These will be my video posts for the coming months (this one just barely made it up in time for September). The first three entries are also a part of this blog's Six Weeks of Twin Peaks.

Hope you enjoy my "Journey Through Twin Peaks." Share your own thoughts on season one and the season two premiere (and hell, anything else that comes to mind) below.

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