Well fuck me it’s darn weird being back here again, after many, many months of neglect. I could barely remember my password let alone the functions of writing a blog post, so please bear with me as I reconnect with an old but terminal exercise. The good news (I guess) is that I’m going to commit to a few year closedown posts of timid length and analysis, the bad news (if anyone really cares) is that this will lead to a final execution of this ten year project once and for all as the day job has officially overtaken this now redundant blog. What have I been doing? Phase 2 of this. What am I involved in from January 2018? This. As such I need to be spectacularly careful of my digital footprint, wary of the press for reasons myriad and numerous, especially since I’m more than positive that some of the comments and jokes I have made on here could easily be located and exploited out of context with horrific consequences. Anyway, back to the matter at hand, here is the usual December montage which isn’t particularly transcendent, and as such representative of a rather average year;
I have been relatively active over the axial orbit movie going wise, but due to project pressures I completely missed the LFF this year (didn’t see a single screening or event) as my schedule simply didn’t gel with other priorities. Ironically I am on target for seeing over 500 films this year on various eyeball assaulting formats, and have managed to cram in some mini seasons on Eric Rohmer, all of Soderbergh’s 21st century material, a revisit of Kieślowski’s Three Colours trilogy, all of the Jarmusch films on Amazon Prime, Ōkami’s Lone Wolf & Cub series and even a revisit of a John Cassavettes box-set. I still don’t chime with the love for him, as much as I can appreciate his ground-breaking achievements in championing independent American filmmaking before Sundance was a faltering glint in Robert Redford’s azure eyes. More montage mischievousness here;
So in order to temper expectations here are my films of the year thus far, presented without commentary or debate and in no particular order – make of this what you will ; Wind River, Personal Shopper, Get Out, Blade Runner 2049, Thor: Ragnarok, Moonlight, mother!, Lady Macbeth, The Death Of Stalin, Logan and maybe Malick’s Song To Song and the eerily prescient Nocturama. Alas I didn’t see The Florida Project, You Were Never Really Here, Brawl In Cell Block 99, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, Good Time, The Killing Of A Sacred Deer nor The Shape Of Water, some of which I’m sure could have arisen to the 2017 Menagerie pantheon if I’d seen them at the LFF. As it stands the ultimate event of 2017 was of course David Lynch’s spectacular bookend to his incredible career, maybe there more there will be more on that……later;
To say that the Menagerie was excited for the return of Twin Peaks, or rather more specifically the return of David Lynch after a decade hiatus is a spectacular understatement. It is a wider cultural event, with an arch-auteur who has struggled in bringing stories to any screen adding his swansong chorus to the so called third ‘golden’ age of TV broadcasting, by returning to one core text which set the foundations of the modern media landscape of long-form, small screen entertainment. More importantly for me is the simple prospect of another 18 hours of Lynch’s mind – and what a strange, ethereal and occasionally petrifying mind that is – given that he is directing every episode and writing again with his original partner Mark Frost, the stabilising force whom arguably kept Lynch in check to enable some mainstream penetration back in the midst’s of 1990. Given the import of this phenomenon I embarked on a herculean effort of preparation, going to see Mulholland Drive at the cinema which itself was the result of a cancelled TV series, I revisited the criminally unappreciated Fire Walk With Me, squeezed in a screening of Inland Empire and tore through my third re-watch of the original two seasons, all 30 episodes, in a binge watching bloat of three days. To say I am severely Lynched out is another understatement, further compounded by a lovely Sight & Sound reappraisal in this months issue which makes some illuminating observations – given the undercurrent of psychological dread and abuse it references the series Freudian oral fixations (Coffee, Cherry Pie etc.), it situates the series as an early sprouting of contemporary media ‘Hyperdiegesis‘ around narrative properties citing ‘the creation of a vast and detailed narrative space, only a fraction of which is every directly seen or encountered within the text’ and from a cinema history perspective summarises Twin Peaks contours as a molestation of Norman Rockwell Americana by European surrealism, primarily the vein championed by Bunuel and Cocteau – Yeah, I think we may have detected where that serrated Black Lodge zig-zag production design element may have originated…..
So let’s start with some fleeting observations on Lynch’s genuine masterpiece, now widely regarded as one of the greatest films of this teenage century, 2001’s Mulholland Drive which has been blessed with a 4K restoration as part of the surrounding hysteria. I’ve already reviewed the film so this will be more of a collection of further reflections and detections that this screening yielded. Firstly the transfer is exquisite, it heightens the tones and stark symbolism of Peter Deming’s cinematography (a long time Lynch collaborator he’s also back on board for the Twin Peaks revival), which reminded me of David Thompson’s lovely phrase that the opening vistas of LA by night reminded him of ‘a scattering of precious diamonds over a black velvet drape’. For all the deconstructions and analysis of the film that has occurred no piece has ever done the film full justice in my mind, in this hopeless pursuit of connecting the narrative and excavating all the mysteries. Great art should always leave some space for the viewer to bring their experiences to the table, and whilst much of the DNA of the film has been codified I prefer for some elements to remain ambivalent and uncertain, as that makes every viewing a deeply satisfying and diverse experience. Case in point – I’ve seen the film a couple of dozen times over the years, and have never noticed that the man who partially comperes the club sequence is the same man as Justin Theroux’s landlord in the sleazy part of town, another doppelgänger in a film infested with mirrors and obfuscations. I’m sure I’ve digested this elsewhere but the fact that we do indeed see the Cowboy (a Hollywood genre stalwart)after his original appearance another two times signals something, Betty/Diane/Rita’s costume when they discover
their a corpse is clearly modelled on Madeleine/Carlotta/Juila’s attire in Vertigo, (oh, also found this which is good), I’d forgotten how funny the film is (the botched assassination, the audition scene, Billy Ray Cyrus) and for me the entire Silencio sequence still remains one of the most eerily magical orchestrations ever committed to celluloid;
After this screening and that hearty binge watch I was suitably buzzed for the 2am UK transmission, after a patient wait of 27 years to return to this bizarre architecture of cryptic giants, menacing dwarves, and crimson draped para-dimensions. I was adrift in expectations after digesting the revelation that the first and last shots of the entire original series, after the title sequences that is, are both scenes refracted in mirrors – and of course similar elements play heavily in Season 3. Welcome to the labyrinth, perverting genre concepts of the soap and procedural mystery show and driving them into more different and dark terrain, as when all is said and done Twin Peaks gravitates around a disturbing orbit of incestual sexual abuse and murder, revealing a web of moral degradation that lurks within an entire locality. I’m a thick skinned viewer but the killing of Maddy, and the ultimate reveal in episode S2E14 is distressing, even in comparison to today’s thresholds I can’t believe the former got through Standards and Practices a quarter century ago.
As an article upstream notes ‘Lynch convinced a major entertainment conglomerate to pay for 18 hours of new material by David Lynch, at the budget he needed, and with complete creative control. He hasn’t had this kind of financial support since he made Dune in 1984.’ That achievement alone is staggering, no? I loved staying up for this, a shared event around the world with like minded maniacs, and boy did if fucking deliver – as others predicted this is pure, uncut, undiluted Lynch, and I’m still processing much of the first four episodes which are positively infested with his earlier work, including long abstract stretches which are pure Eraserhead. So some scattered thoughts with MINOR SPOILERS – The title sequence elicited a Proustian rush, I was shocked at how much of this was set within the Black Lodge, and it was quite touching to see Sheryl Lee as Laura Palmer back on screen, reprising an earlier incident way back in the European pilot. The appearance of Lynch alumni from other material – Brent Briscoe, Naomi Watts, Patrick Fischler & Robert Forster – sets the mind spinning on a shared universe which I’m sure other cerebellum of the internet are already formulating. I thought the Michael Cera scene was fucking hilarious, and that encounter early on, well, I’m genuinely apprehensive at giving it another watch. Especially at night. I am sure it has baffled and agitated some of the audience, even the die-hard fans given where a certain character is taken, but I for one am fully on board as the pieces started to make sense around episode 4, although we still await a revisit to some core characters. Make sure you revisit this series this at night with the lights turned off and the audio on high, as the sound mix alone is staggering. Welcome back, old friend;
Some amusing anecdotes here, and Naomi’s Lynch impression is priceless. Counting down the days now, and the question is does one take a day off work to stay up and watch the return at 2am UK time? Well, what do you think….
Well, as if this week wasn’t already looking grim, my favourite character in Twin Peaks just passed away. Fortunately he is in the new series so he will get some sort of tribute, but this sucks. He was also great in the rarely discussed Tony Scott picture Revenge which is also a fond, historical, under appreciated favourite of mine;
Oh no, now this won’t do, this won’t do at all. Catherine Coulson wasn’t just the highly regarded Log Lady of Twin Peaks fame, she was an instrumental member of Lynch’s retinue throughout his career, charting back to his early short The Amputee and a crucial production assistant on Eraserhead. She was always in good spirits about her miniscule claim to fame in such a cult TV show, and I think she will be a douglas fir sized absentee in 2017’s return to that small, sleepy Washington town. Heck, she was even married to Henry for a few years, which in it’s own way must have been quite a trip. Rest in peace, and may your sprit fly swift to the White Lodge enigmatic Log Lady;
What was that about not posting TV material? Well, after a rather hectic weekend I haven’t found the effort or inclination to finish my John Wick review, so instead let me join my voice to the chorus – c’mon Showtime, give Lynch what he wants, for everyone’s benefit;
Just to be a disgusting, facile male Madchen and Sherilyn are still looking cherry pie eh? Here’s some ephemera from the extra material of the FWWM Blu-Ray disk, sweet and unsettling dreams to all;
Fuck me gently with a chainsaw as Heather would say, yes I saw the rumors and the enigmatic tweets from Frost and Lynch over the weekend, yes it did play on my mind that something genuine might be afoot, but apparently after twenty five years – and never let us remember we have been instructed – it appears that we’re finally popping out for coffee again. This will take some time to percolate as quite frankly not every revisit / reboot / remake / over the history of communication entertainment has always been great, but the news that Lynch is directing all of the episodes and Frost is writing them, well, since Dave scuppered hope of any new film on the remote horizon a few months ago we can take this as some sort of consolation prize. Here, as I’m sure you are all fascinated to see is a deleted peek from the Fire Walk With Me Blu-Ray;
I wonder if they were waiting to see how much of a cultural and financial splash the Blu-Ray set made before making the final plunge? I dunno, I’m sure it will be fun but ever since the original mystery was solved the show went south almost immediately (as Lynch walked away to make Wild At Heart) but if they can come up with some new way to get us into the Lodge and find out ‘Where’s Anne?’……..oh, and apologies for the obvious post title which everyone else will use but hey, my mind is spinning…..
As we stroll through the purview of Twin Peaks again I am thoroughly amused to meet an old friend, whatever happened to this guy?;
I think I should be awarded (another) movie medal of honour, despite the temptation I am plundering through the entire series before we get to the darkly treasured Fire Walk With Me associated extras, I’m only three or four episodes into the much maligned Season 2 and yes my patience is waning. Still, it has it’s universe building moments, and this fantastic webcast and it’s associated pedigree has kept me going. I’m also looking into purchasing this, and building a more apocalyptic associated watch list. Interesting times eh?….
Just a quick post – As we finally launch into the Blu of the activities of that sleepy yet sulphurous small town I have to say that the box set is a thing of particular ergonomic beauty, I’m wistfully reminded of seeing the opening of this legendary series in it’s European cut version;
I’m massaging a few other series – murdering Season 3 of the The Walking Dead, impeaching season 2 of House Of Cards (didn’t see that early collusion, huh?) but can I restrain myself from accelerating through to the extra 90 minutes of Lynchian backstory, despite some fantastic behind the scenes recollections on when and how that material was shot from the original culprits? Who can say?
Heh. Anyway, our great chronicler of genre material Kim Newman has delivered a full article treatise of the enhanced and extended material which I have studiously ignored in this months S&S, a skim read assures us that the particulates of the mystery continues. I will be back once that extra FWWM material has been consumed, until then this walk down memory lane reminds me of that crucial era, a more innocent time which may thrum with more innocent chords;
If you thought Godzilla was the biggest thing to arrive this weekend then think again, as this news of the long awaited transfer of Twin Peaks to Blu-Ray and a stunning collection of extras has Lynch fans going all Log-Lady. I’ve got the 2007 Gold Box which has every episode and a few extras, but the promise of the inclusion of Fire Walk With Me (perhaps Lynch’s most underrated film) and a Black Lodge of extras from the film including at least 90 minutes of sacred unseen material – well it’s enough to make a grown man cry. Here’s a reminder of what we’ve got to look forward to;
Delving further we are promised ‘an epilogue providing a fascinating glimpse beyond the cliff-hanger finale of the TV series.’ and Between Two Worlds, in which “Lynch himself interviews the Palmer family (Leland, Sarah and daughter Laura) about their current existence in this life and the next’ – damn fine coffee!!
Very, VERY excited about this, looks like it’s only available on pre-order for US region players, I was looking to celebrate my new assignment with a equipment upgrade so I guess going all-region Blu-Ray player shopping is in order. In lieu of any new film announcements any Lynch is welcome round these parts, and just some cursory revision has led me to find this which is just fantastically cut together – don’t go having any nightmares about Bob now y’hear?;