Twin Peaks – The Return: Hour Five

Twin Peaks – The Return: Complete Hour by Hour Guide

NOTE TO READERSThese weekly posts are meant to recap what happened (SPOILERS AHEAD) and provide conversation starters for fans to comment and share theories.  Do not read if you have not watched this week’s hour(s) yet.

HOUR FIVE

“The Cow Jumped Over the Moon”

Well, well, well…where to even begin? So much happened in hour five, yet nothing happened…and with a resurgence of “high-hat-jazz” meets “1950’s grunge” music throughout the hour, this was the closest we’ve gotten to traditional Twin Peaks yet…Yet there was that mondo-bizarro Buenos Aries (yes, that’s right, Buenos Aries!) and Buckhorn, South Dakota stuff too!

So what did we learn this hour?

Under the radar character actor Jane Adams’ Buckhorn forensic scientist apparently moonlights as a comedian. “I think the cause of death was his head was chopped off.” And whose head was it? Well, apparently it was someone whose stomach contained a wedding ring engraved by none other than Janey E. Jones!

Back in Rancho Rosa, that sad-eyed kid with the drugged-out mom watches as some morons accidentally torch themselves after setting off the bomb some other morons set underneath Dougie’s car outside the foreclosed house where he had his trysts with Jade. Cue the scene of Jade (the no-nonsense yet somewhat empathetic Nafessa Williams – quickly becoming a sardonically sexy fan favorite) dropping the Great Northern key that magically showed up in Dougie’s pants (and he dropped in her car) into the mailbox.

Meanwhile, Janey E. Jones (a wonderfully exasperated Naomi Watts) is just about losing her patience with her husband, Dougie (who apparently has psychic abilities that tells him his insurance company comrade, an always slimy Tom Sizemore, is lying).  “Ok, Dougie, you’re acting weird as shit,” she tells him while he gets teary eyed looking at his kid. Yeah, our thoughts exactly, Janey… Continue reading

The Greatest Television Series of All Time

Next up for polling at Wonders in the Dark are The Greatest Television Series of All Time. For theses ballots, both series and mini-series can be considered.

As daunting as this was (and as difficult as it was to consider current running series that deserve a spot, but who knows how they might last or age over time), I had to put in my ballot.

The Top 60 countdown at WitD will begin later this summer.

Until then, see how your own choices would stack up against mine.

#57 I’ll Fly Away

#53 Newsradio

#49 Chappelle’s Show

#35 The Kingdom

#31 Homefront

#18 Elizabeth R

#14 Rome

#10 The Prisoner

#7 BoJack Horseman

#4 The Decalogue

#1 Twin Peaks

And now for the Spin’s Full Top 60 (with some “oh-so-close’s”) Continue reading

Twin Peaks – The Return: Hours Three and Four

Twin Peaks – The Return: Complete Hour by Hour Guide

NOTE TO READERSThese weekly posts are meant to recap what happened (SPOILERS AHEAD) and provide conversation starters for fans to comment and share theories.  Do not read if you have not watched this week’s hour(s) yet.

HOUR THREE:

“Do chocolate bunnies have anything to do with your heritage?”

Andy (Harry Goaz) asks Hawk (Michael Horse) this amongst the spread of old Laura Palmer files, donuts and coffee as he and Lucy try to help the Deputy Chief figure out what the Log Lady meant and what exactly is…missing? “It’s not about the bunny,” Hawk stoically muses, “Or is it is about the bunny?”

Earlier the third hour opened with more Red Room / Black Lodge / Limbo / WhateverAndWhereverTheHellItIs, which every nook and cranny could be described and it would still be as incomprehensible as the craziest dream with Lynch having evolved (or is it devolved?) these manipulated digital photography sequences into moving modern art installations…or, as my wife pointedly pondered, is that vast ocean Cooper looks out over in the opening moments where Lynch goes when he does Transcendental Meditation? Cooper does find his way out…and voila! he’s taken the place of some awwshucks schmuck named Dougie Jones in Las Vegas. Simultaneously the Evil Cooper vomits creamed corn and black poison while overturning his Lincoln outside of Buckhorn, South Dakota. The dazed Cooper in Las Vegas is then dropped off at a casino by his hooker-with-a-heart-of-oh-brother where he proceeds to light-up slot jackpots guided by images of that zig-zag floor topped with a flame over the machines.

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia (YES!), Special Agent Tamara “Tammy” Preston (a chic and slinky Chrysta Bell) is giving Gordon Cole (old Lynch himself) and Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer) the rundown on that nasty piece of business in New York City (where those two poor kids were indeed mauled to death by whatever came out of that glass box) only to be whisked away by a phone call from someone claiming to have in custody none other than the long lost…Agent Cooper!

Cue the closing Bang!Bang! Roadhouse song and credits.

HOUR FOUR:

“Holy Jumping George!”

And Gordon Cole is right. Hour Four is where this new Twin Peaks finds its groove. What was disjointed and weird in the first three hours congeals into a jazzy-funny-scary tour de force, most of the action this hour bouncing back and forth and forth from our continued re-entry into our hometown through Hawk, Lucy and Andy; Gordon, Albert, and Tammy’s trip to Blue Rose territory and the increasingly bizarre Buckhorn, South Dakota case (where the bad Coop is itching to be debriefed by Cole); and good Coop’s entry into Dougie Jones’ family life. Continue reading

Twin Peaks – The Return: Two Hour Premiere

Twin Peaks – The Return: Complete Hour by Hour Guide

NOTE TO READERSThese weekly posts are meant to recap what happened (SPOILERS AHEAD) and provide conversation starters for fans to comment and share theories.  Do not read if you have not watched this week’s hour(s) yet.

HOURS ONE and TWO

“The Stars Turn and a Time Presents Itself”

The Log Lady (Catherine Coulson) states this rather matter-of-factly to Deputy Chief Hawk (Michael Horse), part of message for him to go find out in the woods that which has been missing…

Most of the premiere had a tense, occasionally obtuse, and brooding vibe – somewhere between the madness of Fire Walk with Me and the tone of Mulholland Drive. Three main story-lines (along with plenty other tangled threads) were set up for some vast cosmic and physical convergence: Agent Cooper being trapped in the Red Room (for 25 years!); an evil doppelgänger Cooper running amuck in the real-world whose days are numbered and is wanted back at the Black Lodge; and some key players in our beloved hometown gearing up for something.

The two hours both inch along and somehow fly by thanks to Lynch’s uncanny knack to make you feel as uncomfortable as hell knowing that at any moment a long, static shot with stilted actors doing not much of anything could turn into an absurd experimental horror show (witness the truly ghastly special-effects that harken back to Lynch’s art school days in Philadelphia and Eraserhead). I wanted some scenes to end so badly, while at the same time I didn’t want the experience to end. Continue reading

Life is very very Complicated and we’re ready for our Mirror, Mr. Lynch

Bob Cooper Mirror

Life is very, very complicated, and so films should be allowed to be, too. – David Lynch

David Lynch has been saying that the new “season” of Twin Peaks is really just an 18 hour film. And, Jeeze Louise, ain’t the world all kinds of fantastic complicated right now? What better time then for a complicated, complicated film that will last all summer long?

I can’t help but muse upon the context with which we are about to consume this 18 hours, where Bob-willing we’ll get lost in a place both wonderful and strange.

Lynch is a proud Eagle Scout, and his re-entry into the social consciousness couldn’t be more eerily timed as two other Boy Scouts (Comey and Mueller) play detective in an attempt to unearth just what in Sam Hell is going on in the White House these days. Is there a world in more need of Boy Scouts than the world of today?

Be Kind. Be Courteous. Be True. And most importantly…Be Prepared!

Lynch has historically had an uncanny mastery of tapping into…”something”…that may have been unbeknownst to him at the start of the project. What will he accidentally tap into here (what big fish has he caught)? What was it that was so special…so great…about the context in which Twin Peaks enthralled a nation and world over 25 years ago? What is different…or the same… about the context today in which Twin Peaks returns?

What was the original Twin Peaks if not the tale of a Patriarch (Leland Palmer – possessed by Bob) run amok – and a Boy Scout (Cooper) who solved the mystery about what made that mad man tick (but alas, did we ever learn how to make Bob stop)? Weren’t we all Laura Palmer – living under Killer Bob’s tyrannical reign and longing for a way out?

And don’t we all love a good mystery? Don’t we all desire to get lost in those woods again? Can’t you just smell those Douglas Firs? How cathartic does this return to Twin Peaks have the potential to be? What will it say about our shared fears…about the American soul…about aging…about dying…about life?

We all have our hopes up so high…but even if it fails to tap into some sense of what Makes America Great Again…at the very least, I hope this new mystery provides a most pleasant diversion to the turmoil we’ll be roiling in all summer long (and perhaps beyond).

As I immerse myself in this world again, I will try to only report – hour by hour – on what is seen, what is felt. I’ll try to keep politics out of it. But all great art is made greater in equal parts by the baggage both the maker and the viewer bring to it. And, oh brother, we have a lot of baggage to unpack. So Be Prepared!

Don’t let us down, Davy boy…we couldn’t be more ready for complicated if we tried.

And Don’t Forget to Follow the Hour by Hour Spin, Brave Boys and Girls!

A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance: The Popular Appeal of Hidden Figures and Rogue One

rogue-one

hidden-figures

Americans love movies. The movie theater has in many ways always been (even through the golden age of television and our current age of social media) our most beloved and nostalgia brewing institution. Often when our other beloved institutions, namely of a political nature, become maligned (and most recently, tainted a most toxic orange) Americans will flock to the darkness of the communal cinematic space and revel in stories of real and fantastic rebellion. Could there be a more perfect milieu for the crowd pleasing and rabble-rousing likes of Hidden Figures and Rogue One? Continue reading

The Spin’s Cinema Rewind: 2016

Outside of the theaters, 2016 was one of the most tumultuous years around the globe, especially politically with Brexit and a US presidential election that saw “the virulent madness” prophesied in 1976’s Network come to a red-hot orange, roiling, boiling head. The greatest of films often speak to the times in which they were made, and 2016 saw tumult of the artistic kind in cinema mirroring (whether intentionally or not) what had been bubbling up in society for years. If it proved anything, it’s that art is 50% the artist’s intent, and 50% the lens with which the audience views it through. Artists and audiences alike brought heavy baggage into the theaters, and we witnessed some potential masterpieces.

For me, the year’s most memorable film, Arrival, allowed the audience to breathe a collective sigh of relief at just the right time and showed us life is still worth living even when we know how (potentially horrifically) it will end.  The lovely and melancholy musical La La Land arrived at the tail end of the year to remind us it’s still okay to dream big, even when those dreams don’t always play out how we originally hoped (hope is not a strategy…but hard work is). The masterful character study Moonlight showed humanity and beauty can still be found even in the most dire of circumstances, and the search for one’s true self is a continuing journey. The true-story Loving uncovered the most sturdy bricks for building a compassionate society are quiet dignity, grace, and steady determination to fight for what’s right. Then there was the neo-western Hell or High Water, which tapped into some of the same economic rage a certain political campaign did, and showed presciently that sometimes “what don’t ya want?” is what you accidentally bring upon yourself.

My Top Ten picks for 2016 have been chosen with some initial thoughts and links to my full reviews below: Continue reading

I’ve Got a Part You Will Kill in La La Land

la-la-land-mia

“Betty, I’ve got a part…you will kill,” casting director Linney James (Rita Taggart) tells naive ingenue Betty Elms (Naomi Watts) in David Lynch’s self-described “love story in the city of dreams”, the seminal classic, Mulholland Drive.

Fifteen years later, Damien Chazelle has delivered the greatest “love story in the city of dreams” since Mulholland Drive with his swooning, joyous and melancholy musical La La Land…and he’s left the greatest part for us. In his story, we get to play the audience. And, boy, in this year of pop cultural celebrity deaths that has 1980’s children in nostalgia tinted tears and a political wasteland that hath wroth His Orange Emperor, man…we are so PERFECT for this part! We are gonna kill it! And we are going to love La La Land with its toe-tapping musical themes and heart-ringing ballads forever echoing in our collective unconscious to be passed down from generation to generation like our communal love for flickering wonders in the dark and dreams writ large on a silver screen. It’s possibly the defining fluff piece of our times, and it is beautiful.

Like Mulholland Drive, La La Land weaves an archetypal tapestry of dreamers falling in love and getting swept up in the pulse and vibrations of Los Angeles. Here we have struggling actress Mia (almond-eyed, red-haired, fair-skinned, cute-as-a-button and sassy as all get-out Emma Stone in the type of role you wonder if a young actress could ever out-shine) and struggling jazz musician Sebastian (Ryan Gosling at the top of his Gos Game) breaking out into song (hell, and why shouldn’t they?) and literally dancing on air (a feeling anybody who has fallen in love can relate to). Like Lynch’s film, there are moments where you will drift away into the most rapturous of reveries (the opening “drivers-stuck-on-the-LA-freeway-breaking-out-into-song” bit perfectly disembodied, transportive and tone-setting), fall in love, laugh, perhaps cry, and wonder along with our big-eyed dreamers.

Where Chazelle takes the film from beautiful fluff to art is his insistence on not resting on the musical norms while at the same time exploiting them for all their worth. Each wondrously choreographed dance number is breathtakingly dreamlike, both eschewing what we expect (and I normally loathe) in musicals while adhering to the genre’s most universal and transportive tropes. Chazelle employes lyricists who tell the story through the songs, not just put on a show…while the set designers, costumers and choreographers put on one hell of a show.   Continue reading

The Mother of All Others and The Secret History of Twin Peaks

NOTE:  The Secret History of Twin Peaks is presented by the publisher in old-fashioned collector’s edition format. It truly is a beautifully rendered book from a purely physical standpoint. I took a picture below of the book and its dust jacket on the “David Lynch” floors of the house we purchased in June…purchased mainly because we instantly fell in love with those floors!

the-secret-history-of-twin-peaks

Content-wise, the book is built for fans. If you are a novice to Twin Peaks, this is not where you should start. Watch the original series, then read this for some twisted back-story that will shade the colors of your perspective on what you just watched.

And now for the review…

Late in the game of Mark Frost’s fevered construction, Doug Milford (a retired Man in Black?) reveals to his protegé (the author of the dossier being reviewed by an unidentified FBI agent who has presented this “book” to us) that all that spooky weird stuff going on up there in the woods had revealed to him the mother of all others. In a way, Twin Peaks was always about “the others” – the lost souls, the tormented demons both internal and external, the abused, the forgotten, the forlorn, the troubled teens, the Log Ladies…all those spirits whispering in the wind blowing through the sycamore trees and whose sad tales found equal release in the hoots of owls as they did in the sad-sack songs of dreary-eyed chanteuses at The Road House.

In demented fashion, Mark Frost, the co-creator of Twin Peaks (along with the more shamanistically revered David Lynch) has taken a comical character, Doug Milford – the supposedly dumb, rich brother of the town’s eternal mayor who falls victim to a comely little gold-digger played by Robyn Lively – from the marginalia of the series and puts him at center stage (or is it off-stage?) of human kind’s grandest conspiracy.   Continue reading

About Southside with You

Southside with You

Shortly after the 2008 Presidential election, South Park aired one of their greatest episodes of all-time, About Last Night. With their usual juvenile yet savvy aplomb, Trey Parker and Matt Stone gleefully eviscerated both sides of the aisle, but their coup de gras was that the entire election was an elaborate jewel heist. Heck, it turned out that Barack and Michele weren’t even married…they were just two crazy kids, who through the course of the heist fell in love. And with DeBussy’s “Clair de Lune” playing over the closing scenes, those two crazy kids decide to give it all…love…marriage…the presidency…a chance.

Even the crudest of satirists could see that the real-life Barack and Michelle were in love. And that love’s first glimmers spark over the course of 84 minutes in writer/director Richard Tanne’s quasi-fictionalized account of one fateful summer day in Chicago in 1989. The compact film is full of small pleasures and big dreams. Small talk and big dialogue.   Continue reading