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

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A Review of “The X-Files: I Want to Believe”

CAPTION:  Hello?  Has anyone seen my career?

No Country for Old X-Files, 27 July 2008
5/10
Author: David H. Schleicher from New Jersey, USA

The world is a greatly changed place since the heyday of The X-files.  Back in the late 1990’s the TV show was at its height and tapping into the shared fears of the day: fear of the unknown, fear of the impending millennium, and fear that something larger than us (the government or alien invaders) was up to no good. Flash forward to the year 2008 and we know all that hubbub about the millennium was for nothing, our government has been up to no good for years, and it’s not space invaders we need to worry about but other people terrorizing us. The murky, gloomy, grim style of The X-Files is now the norm with feverish and dark films like There Will Be Blood and The Dark Knight tapping into the mindset of culture today from opposite ends of the film spectrum.

Apparently creator Chris Carter didn’t realize his baby was irrelevant now. His only mission should’ve been to please the faithful. If he wanted to revive his series on film, he had best stick to the labyrinthine alien mythology that still has some die-hard fans buzzing, or at the very least deliver a fun stand-alone monster-of-the-week style flick that would make fans jump in their seats. With The X-Files: I Want to Believe he does neither of those things. Instead, he gives us a story where Mulder and Scully come out of hiding to work on a case where the FBI are using a psychic criminal priest to help locate a missing agent and track down a potential serial killer. The plot fits more into the mold of his far less popular companion series Millennium than it does to The X-Files.  Apparently Carter wanted to please no one except perhaps himself.

The weirdest thing about the film is that it isn’t all that bad. Carter as a director lays on some decent atmosphere (with all the global-warming defying snow and some eerie nighttime shots) and creates some palpable tension as the horrors of the case grow grimmer. The chemistry between Mulder (a lazy but effective David Duchovny) and Scully (an amazingly fully ranged and emotional Gillian Anderson) is still there, and Anderson’s performance is especially gripping. Billy Connolly, cast against type, gives an interesting turn as the corrupted priest searching for redemption through his visions that probably would’ve garnered an Emmy nod had this been a very special two-part TV episode. Also good is Amanda Peet, looking smashing in her smart FBI pantsuits.

Most interesting is the story arc given Dana Scully. I honestly had stopped watching the show after the sixth season, and aside from the mythology storyline that built up to the first film released ten years ago, I recall some of my favorite episodes being the ones where Scully questioned her faith and struggled with reconciling her Catholicism with her scientific approach to the paranormal investigations. This is again explored here, as Scully, always the skeptic, so desperately wants to believe in something. However, it’s an odd choice for Carter to focus on this internal human drama when he should be focusing on how to bring fans back into the fold. It would’ve been an interesting and compelling layer had Carter not been so inept with the rest of the plot.

In the end some fine performances and a moody atmosphere do not add up to a good time. Eventually it becomes an uncomfortable and anachronistic creep-fest that plays like the type of suspense thriller that ruled the roost in the mid-1990’s after films like Silence of the Lambs and Seven made police detection and serial killing popular entertainment. Well, it’s 2008, Mr. Carter, and it’s time to wake up from your prolonged nightmare that was rendered uninteresting in 2001.

Originally Published on the Internet Movie Database:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0443701/usercomments-148

A Review of “Things We Lost in the Fire”

In 2004 it was Birth.  In 2005 it was The New World.  In 2006 it was Marie AntoinetteThings We Lost in the Fire was the most unfairly dismissed and overlooked film of 2007.  Most audiences go to movies for escapism, and Things We Lost in the Fire flew in the face of that notion and dealt with subject matter that never lights the box office on fire but deserves to find its audience on DVD.

CAPTION:  Shhhh, Halle Berry, go to sleep.  No one needs to know you were in a movie that was actually good.

One Day at a Time…, 4 May 2008
8/10
Author: David H. Schleicher from New Jersey, USA

Sometimes you have to view movies one day at a time. As a film buff, I have to take the good with the bad. Danish director Susanne Bier’s first American venture, Things We Lost in the Fire is one of those surprisingly good human dramas that often gets lost in the shuffle and doesn’t receive the credit it deserves.

When Audrey (Halle Berry) loses her husband (David Duchovny) in a tragic Good Samaritan act gone bad, she deals with her grief in an unexpected way by inviting his drug-addicted best friend Jerry (Benicio Del Toro) to come live with her and her two young children while he “gets on his feet.” Featuring a music score designed to remind people of 21 Grams (which also starred Del Toro and played with many of the same themes) and interesting cinematography full of extreme close-ups and small visual details designed to evoke intimacy and realism, Things We Lost in the Fire delicately mirrors Audrey’s grief process against Jerry’s rocky recovery.

The film is far from perfect as it sometimes deals with subjects (especially the scenes where Jerry is withdrawing from heroin) in a clichéd manner. Berry also struggles as she seems to underact in some of the more poignant scenes as a way to balance her overacting in some of the more theatrical scenes. However, her performance as an organic whole is very strong, and her character and her family feel and look “real.” The things they say and the way they deal with their situations are raw and heartfelt without ever being sappy or sensationalistic. The kids are naturalistic, and they actually look like they could be the children of Berry and Duchovny. Del Toro is once again a revelation, and his performance speaks volumes with his mannerisms and facial expressions as he attempts to reconcile his sad past with a hopeful future. Sadly, his tour de force was overlooked by every end of the year awards in 2007.

The bread and butter, however, is in the small details. Things We Lost in the Fire uses visual motifs, side stories, character foils, mirroring, and nuanced repetition in dialog as ways to develop grander themes. This is the stuff of great novels, and rarely do we find it attempted in film. What could have easily been dismissed as a melodramatic weeper turns out instead to be something quite good. The overlapping closing scenes where Berry speaks not a word while coming in from the rain, and Del Toro delivers a rehab monologue that gives quite possibly the most honest insight into addiction and recovery ever captured on screen, is a hauntingly hopeful mosaic of small moments. Yes, there were some moments of formulaic Hollywood gobbily-gook and some moments of strained drama, but these closing moments are real. They are good, and we as human beings (as film goers) have to learn to accept the good.

Originally Published on the Internet Movie Database:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0469623/usercomments-43