Lost in the Movies: July 2016

The Prisoner: conversation w/ James Cooray Smith

As I'm sure you've noted, things have been pretty quiet around here lately. Since I announced that I was slowing down my pace back in April, I've published just three video essays (all created within a few weeks of that announcement), two podcast appearance, and an interview. Several items have continued to linger in my backlog all this time, while other projects remained unfinished. But nothing else has lingered as unjustifiably as this interview, and no project has been left hanging more egregiously than my Prisoner series of which this is a part. In April, James Cooray Smith took the time to chat with me about the TV series and unfortunately the conversation fell by the wayside...until now. I'm thrilled to finally publish our talk here, full of fascinating history about The Prisoner, exchanges about its meaning and effectiveness, and the recounting of James' own experience with the show.

James is a prolific writer of both fiction and nonfiction, with a particular focus on both cinema and television (he has published critical biographies of film directors like Tim Burton, Quentin Tarantino, and George Lucas). He is also a columnist for the New Statesman, which is how I first came across his work: last December, he authored the provocatively-titled (albeit not by him) "There is no way Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be as good as the prequels", which mentioned my video series Journey Through Twin Peaks. We struck up a Twitter acquaintance, and as I began covering The Prisoner - one of his all-time favorite TV shows - he dropped by regularly to comment, often leaving long, thoughtful addenda to my own instant reactions. I eagerly looked forward to discussing the series with him (among other things, I knew he was a passionate defender of "The Girl Who Was Death"), but since then I've been rather selfish, keeping the conversation to myself. No longer.

Great thanks to James for his generosity and patience, and apologies for making him - and you - wait so long for his lucid insights. On with the show...

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me: my conversation w/ Twin Peaks Unwrapped

At long last, the Twin Peaks Unwrapped podcast has reached the feature film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. This week Bryon and Ben are discussing their reactions with five different commentators, including me. I talk about how Fire Walk With Me works as a standalone, a subversion of the series, and an appropriate conclusion to it, and offer my interpretation of the ending - what's really going on in that train car with Laura and Ronette. Meanwhile, John Thorne shares his "Deer Meadow dream" theory, Andreas Halskov provides context on the evolving critical reception of the film, Mya McBriar describes her own personal journey with Laura and the film, and Scott Ryan lays out his own theories about the mythology (and Cooper's hair!).

UPDATE: This video version was uploaded 2 years later and may load quicker for you:

Melodrama & minimalism: Au Hasard Balthazar & Pyaasa (video essay for Fandor Keyframe)

I've been pretty busy lately (just not online), and didn't realize that my most recent Fandor video essay had actually gone up back in June. I submitted it a few months ago, inspired partly by having recently rewatched two of my favorite movies, and partly by a minor controversy surrounding Kevin B. Lee's video "Inside the Rooms of NO HOME MOVIE" which altered the soundtrack of clips from a Chantal Akerman film. What difference does sound make in our emotional perception of a scene? What is the common ground between melodramatic and minimalist uses of sound?

I addressed these questions in the above video, as well as in the accompanying text (which you can read in full on Fandor Keyframe). Here is the intro to that text:

Behind Closed Curtains: discussing the Twin Peaks finale w/ Twin Peaks Unwrapped

A week ago, Bryon Kozaczka and Ben Durant of Twin Peaks Unwrapped released another conversation with me, my first appearance on the show since March. This time we finally reached the final episode of the show, so for nearly two hours we chatted about what really happens to Cooper out in the woods (each of us had our own distinct theory), how the mythology of the show breaks down (I went into further detail on the dugpa/lodge/dweller lore I explore in my "Mythology" video), and what Bryon could expect - without giving anything away - from the forthcoming Fire Walk With Me (the duo's episode covering that film just went up today, so you can see for yourself what he thought). In a couple weeks, I will reappear on the show to discuss the movie with them, alongside many great guests like John Thorne, Andreas Halskov, Scott Ryan, and Mya McBriar (sorry if I'm forgetting anyone). Until then, see you in the trees...

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