Lost in the Movies: March 2015

Shattering the Screen: a conversation with Andy Burns, author of Pop Classics: Wrapped in Plastic (Twin Peaks)

We are living through a golden age for Twin Peaks fans, despite recent concerns about a snag in the new Twin Peaks (my take: rest easy, neither Showtime nor David Lynch wants to lose this opportunity). In addition to the return of the series and the release of the deleted scenes from the film, new Twin Peaks books are finally hitting the shelves. If Brad Dukes' oral history Reflections explored the offscreen world of the series, Andy Burns' brand new Wrapped in Plastic (Twin Peaks), part of the ECW Pop Classics series, examines what's onscreen. Through seven elegant chapters, Andy investigates the partnership of David Lynch and Mark Frost, the fifties influence, the complicated relationship to soap opera, the theme of doubles, the treatment of family, the supernatural mythology, and the impact Twin Peaks has had on subsequent TV series.

In our discussion, Andy describes the process of creating the book, but we also delve deeply into the show and film itself: charting its rapid rise and fall, analyzing the twists and turns of Lynch's mass media image, and parsing a revelatory Jennifer Lynch quote featured in Wrapped in Plastic, in which she offers her own analysis, and critique, of the "Bob" issue. If that's not warning enough, there are major spoilers on the horizon.

The Last Stage

When Wanda Jakubowska entered the gates of the women's camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau as a political prisoner of the Nazis, she seized upon a goal that may have kept her alive in the months and years to come. Although she had joined the Polish Resistance early in World War II and been committed to the Left many years before that, this was not a political goal (at least not primarily). Jakubowska had also been a filmmaker for over a decade, founding the film group START and crafting experimental films throughout the thirties, climaxing with a feature film whose only print was destroyed during the German invasion of Poland in 1939. Inside the concentration camp, Jakubowska conceived the idea for her second feature even as she herself, not just her work, faced destruction. If and when the Nazis were defeated and Auschwitz was liberated, she would create a film about life in the camp. And so she did.

Status update: Let's get lost in the movies (and shows)...

It has been a month since I completed Journey Through Twin Peaks. This four-hour video series ended up being the most ambitious project I've ever created for this blog, is on its way to becoming the most popular (it certainly received more positive feedback than anything else I've ever done), and is definitely among my favorite. While I'm ready to move forward, you haven't heard heard the last of Twin Peaks from me.

When Showtime presents the original series before debuting the continuation in 2016, I will probably present a new written episode guide as accompaniment for new viewers (maybe two posts for each episode - one spoiler-free, one looking at the larger context). The guide would incorporate elements from my previous work alongside new observations. And when the new series airs, I will definitely be sharing my reactions after each episode. In the mean time I will continue to offer Twin Peaks posts, probably once a month - starting in two weeks with my interview with Andy Burns, author of the new Pop Classics title Welcome to Twin Peaks.

But I also have much more in store. I am currently working now on resuming the long-abandoned series on Neon Genesis Evangelion, (also check out my visual tribute to a favorite episode, from last fall), as well as my Favorites series detailing my choices for the "100 of My Favorite Films" list. I also still want to pursue the idea of a "Collection" series in which I review all the videos I own that have not yet been written up for this blog. Some of these projects will take years to unfold, especially since I don't intend to resume/begin posting any series until I finish it (having learned my lesson in the past). In fact over the past few years I have written Evangelion and Favorites posts that remain unpublished for that very reason. I don't want to play my cards until I've got a full house.

I am also drawn to a new idea: discussing many TV shows through a short viewing diary, writing up a page in a journal after I watch each episode (again, this would not be shared until I finish a given series). Among the shows I will be watching soon, for the first time in every case (other than stray episodes or occasionally stray seasons): True Detective, The Prisoner, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Wire, Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and The X-Files. The possibilities are endless and I suspect that in upcoming years these viewing diaries will provide much of the material that appears on Lost in the Movies.

Meanwhile, I have several video essay ideas hovering in the back of my mind. None will be as extensive as Journey Through Twin Peaks but each in its own way will hopefully be rewarding and exciting, for viewers as well as myself. This is the form of blogging I am most interested in, and I plan to keep pursuing it. If you enjoyed Journey, I also recommend checking out my previous video essays - including meditations on Lady and the Tramp, David Lynch's early work, Modern Times, Fists in the Pocket, and three of Brian De Palma's films. (These are also available on Vimeo, if you prefer.) And you may also enjoy this voyage through film history via clips from my collection.

Thanks for following, and stay tuned for more. Next week I want to post a movie review, my first in nearly six months. Of what film? I'm not sure yet. With all the plans, it's nice to leave some things uncertain...

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