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David Lynch

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The Return.

“[A]s the giant once foretold: It is happening again. Twin Peaks: The Return — the Showtime reboot of the Lynch series — didn’t just exceed its progenitor’s what-the-fuck quotient right out of the gate; as it meanders through a series of daringly protected, often mysterious scenes, the show seems determined to destroy any preconceptions we had about what another Twin Peaks would look like, or even what post–Twin Peaks television could aspire to be. What Lynch and Frost are doing feels so new to TV that even showrunners whose triumphs are built on Lynchian foundations are in awe of it.” — Matt Zoller Seitz, “The Best Show on TV is Twin Peaks: The Return.

The 2016 movie list may finally be done and the 2017 list is right around the corner. And there are a lot of great TV shows on these days — Legion, Bojack Horseman, Halt and Catch Fire, Preacher, Fargo, the waning-but-still-entertaining Game of Thrones. But it’s safe to say that I’m not going to see a movie or TV this year, or for awhile thereafter, that I love as unabashedly as Twin Peaks: The Return. 27 years ago, before there was a GitM or even all that much of an Internet, I was just a high school sophomore in Florence, South Carolina who couldn’t wait for the weekend to bring the next installment of Twin Peaks. For 16 Sundays this summer, as soon as the classic theme kicked in, that 1990-91 experience came viscerally roaring back.

If, like me, you still find yourself dwelling on the deeply melancholy final episode — and with the caveat that the real Judy/Jiao Dai is apparently “to explain” — here’s the best and most in-depth fan explanation going around, at least until Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier comes out on Halloween. As someone notes in the comments, this theory makes a good deal of sense, but still doesn’t quite feel right. Whatever else was going on from Odessa to “Alice Tremond’s” house, it was emotionally clear that Coop hadn’t (yet) saved the day, and Laura was still — and may forever be — haunted by forces vast and cool and unsympathetic. [Update: It’s since come out that this theory was written up by one of Milo Yiannopoulos’s media pen pals, so the author’s sense of judgment should be considered even further suspect.]

In its mournful finale, and in its curtain calls for so many beloved original cast members who have left us — Catherine Coulson, Miguel Ferrer, Don Davis, Jack Nance, Frank Silva, David Bowie, now Harry Dean Stanton — the new Twin Peaks also made clear that, however much you may want to, you can’t really turn back the clock, at least not in the way you ever expected. As The Ringer‘s Alison Herman put it, “it was immediately obvious upon The Return’s premiere in late May that this was not going to be the Twin Peaks of the ’90s, with its soap opera shape, good-natured quirk, and Angelo Badalamenti’s steadying compositions. What was not obvious, however, was just how aware Lynch and Frost were of our yearning for the original Twin Peaks, or how they would capitalize upon it to maximize the uncanny horror and visceral sadness of The Return.”

Twin Peaks came back to us completely transformed in 2017, and yet, in its own way, still as captivating and chimerical, inspiring and visionary, funny and true as it was a quarter-century ago. In these cynical, Trumpian times, what a gift it was to have this show back again — still expanding the boundaries of what is possible on TV, still serving up damn fine cups of coffee (and musical numbers), still pushing us to rail against the darkness and malevolence in our midst.

Midichlorians? Garmonbozia… | Leland ’14.


He’s more machine now than man, twisted and evil. David Lynch’s Return of the Jedi. (Hey, it almost happened.) I’ll admit, the Sy Snootles gag cracked me up.

“You’ve been dead for around 25 years now.” Also in the Lynch department: For the new Blu-Ray collection Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery (take my money!), David Lynch interviews the Palmer family, in character. The Leland/Ray Wise one is below. It’s, er, weird…but you already knew that.

From the Files of Dr. Jacoby.

“Because there was no still photographer on the set during the filming of the last Twin Peaks episode, Richard Beymer (aka Benjamin Horne) was given permission by David Lynch to shoot some pictures on the set. The resulting ‘behind the scenes’ photos are nothing short of stunning.”

Cinephile Archive offers a smattering of rare Twin Peaks arcana. Worth a look-thru if you’re Peaks-inclined…Alas, it still doesn’t answer the real question: How’s Annie?

Without Chemicals, He Shakes.


If you’ve also been wondering how Agent Cooper has been faring in the Black Lodge after two decades — presuming you never got him out — the answer is: NOT WELL. (Also, I thought I was relatively well-versed in bizarre Internet memes, but this Harlem Shake business had to this point totally passed me by.)

Update: Harlem is not amused.

Twenty Years of Garmonbozia.

Does it work if you haven’t seen the TV show? As Lynch might put it, gosh, no. (It’s a prequel, but it bends time and space to wrap up a few stray plot threads from the series — if you’re working your way through the show on DVD, treat the movie like a coda or you’ll be lost.) But that’s what’s fascinating about it — in some ways, Lynch’s most uncompromising and unrelenting movie is the one he made while beating the dead ghost-horse of a canceled soap opera.”

Twenty years after its opening, Grantland‘s Alex Pappademas takes another look at Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. I never understood the hate this film received. (Then again, I also liked Peaks’ much-maligned second season.) Sure, it’s a bit all over the place, but there are impressionistic moments in Fire Walk With Me — the trapped Leland monkey, the picture-within-a-picture, the phantom Bowie — that still frighten me for reasons I find impossible to explain, much in the same way some of the third act bizarroland suicide stuff in Mulholland Drive — the blue box, the creepy homeless guy, the little tourists — seems to bypass my brain completely and just frazzles my spinal cord. And what’s not to like about Special Agent Chet Desmond?

hOw’S aNnIe?

The good Dale is in the Lodge, and he can’t leave. Write it in your diary.” Since, two decades later, we never got a satisfactory resolution on Agent Cooper’s fate in the Black Lodge — although I guess it’s possible Ed Helms freed Annie from there during his epic Hangover — some enterprising soul has turned Dale’s attempted escape into a downloadable 8-bit game (available here, and here’s the source material.) Extra points for the 8-bit “Sycamore Trees.”

Riled at Heart.


“To ‘direct’ something implies more to me than weighing in on the sad state of current affairs with a still shot of the United States Capitol and some sound effects, but the gesture is there.” Director David Lynch briefly weighs in on recent events in Washington. “‘Has Lynch ever before offered something so overtly political? Or is this actually post-political — a means of saying, ‘The system isn’t broken, it’s finished, who’s up for a song?‘”

We are still in the desert.

“‘As a David Lynch movie, I loved it,’ he said of the 1984 “Dune” adaptation by the famously trippy ‘Twin Peaks’ filmmaker. ‘As a “Dune” fan, I was not such a big fan.‘” Taken and From Paris with Love director Pierre Morel talks about his next project, Dune, and so far he’s saying all the right things: “I’ve been reading it over and over again – well, I’m 45 now, so for 30 years…[B]y the time I bought the sixth book I had already read the first one six times! So, I’m a hardcore fan.

The Oughts in Film: Part IV (25-11).

Hello again, and a happy New Year’s Eve to you and yours. Well, I thought this Best of the Decade would end up being four parts, but now it’s looking like five. The recaps for this last twenty-five got so long that MT seems to be consuming the bottom of the entry as I write.

So, with that in mind, here’s #’s 25-11 for the Oughts, with the top ten of the decade to follow in due course. If you’re new to this overview, be sure to check out part 1, part 2, and part 3 before moving on to the…

Top 100 Films of the Decade: Part IV: 25-11
[The Rest of the List: 100-76 | 75-51 | 50-26 | 25-11 | 10-1]
[2000/2001/2002/2003/2004/2005/2006/2007/2008/2009]


25. Donnie Darko (2001)

From the original review: “All in all, this is a marvelously genre-bending film with wonderful anchoring performances by the Gyllenhaals. I think I liked this movie much more for not knowing a lot about it going in, so I won’t mention the particulars here. But it’s definitely worth seeing. Extra points for the soundtrack, which with ‘Head over Heels,’ ‘Love will Tear Us Apart,’ and ‘Under the Milky Way’…reminded me more of my own high school experience than any other film I can remember. (The Dukakis era setting helped, since that was my own eighth grade year.)

I almost took this movie out of the top 25 on account of its association with Southland Tales and The Box, and even the director’s cut of this film, which snuffs out a lot of this movie’s weird magic by slathering it in needless Midichlorian-style exposition. As I said in my recent review of The Box, Donnie Darko seems to be a clear and undeniable case where studio intervention saved a movie.

Nevertheless, part Philip K. Dick, part John Hughes, Darko was a touching coming-of-age story (thanks in good part to Mary McDonnell and Holmes Osborne as Donnie’s cranky but loving parents), a decently funny satire about the vagaries of small-town life (think Sparkle Motion, “sleep-golfing,” and the Love-Fear axis), and a trippy sci-fi/psychological thriller. (Was Donnie really talking to a demon-rabbit from the future, or was he just off his meds? The original version muddles this question a lot better than the Kelly cut.)

Whether or not Richard Kelly just got struck by lightning here, everyone else involved clearly brought their A-game to this production. Two Gyllenhaals got on the Hollywood board with this flick, although Maggie would have to wait for Secretary to really break out. The Michael Andrews score contributed mightily to the proceedings, as did the Gary Jules cover of “Mad World,” which got a lot of run in the Oughts, from Gears of War to American Idol. And there are plenty of quality performances in the margins, from the late Patrick Swayze riffing on his image, to Beth Grant typecasting herself for the decade, to Katharine Ross coming back for one more curtain call. Fluke or not, the original version of Donnie Darko was one strange and memorable bunny, alright.


24. High Fidelity (2000)

From the year-end list: “An excellent adaptation of a great book, even if I preferred the Elvis Costello britrock emphasis of Hornby’s tome to the indie Subpop scene of the movie.

Charlie, you f**king b**ch! Let’s work it out!” Arguably John Cusack’s finest hour (although 1999’s Being John Malkovich is right up there, and I know many might cite the Lloyd Dobler of old), Stephen Frears’ adaptation of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity has continued to grow on me over the years. If it counts as one of David Denby’s slacker-striver romances (see the discussion of Knocked Up at #40), it’s definitely the one that hits closest to home for me.

The first thing people usually remember about this movie is all the Jack Black/Todd Louiso banter in the record store. (“It’s a Cosssssby sweater!“) And it’s true — All of that stuff is both really funny and all too telling about the elitism and obsessiveness inherent to the fanboy mentality — “Don’t tell anyone you don’t own ‘Blonde on Blonde’! It’s gonna be okay.” Besides, let’s face it, this entire end-of-the-decade list is really just an extended High Fidelity-style Top 5 (and I had a great time back in July organizing my history books chronologically, a la Rob’s record collection.)

Still, as with the book, High Fidelity‘s killer app is really the dispatches filed from Rob’s romantic life, as he ponders what went wrong with his Top 5 Crushes gone awry. (“We were frightened of being left alone for the rest of our lives. Only people of a certain disposition are frightened of being alone for the rest of their lives at the age of 26, and we were of that disposition.“) There’s a lot of truthiness throughout High Fidelity, from Rob’s catastrophic hang-up on Charlie (Catherine Zeta Jones) to his eff-the-world rebound with an equally besotted Sarah (Lili Taylor), to his single-minded infatuation about whether his ex, Laura (Iben Hjejle), has slept with the loathsome new boyfriend, Ian (fellow Tapehead Tim Robbins in a great cameo) yet.

In short, I’d argue High Fidelity gets the inner-male monologue closer to right than any flick this side of Annie Hall. In the immortal words of Homer J. Simpson, it’s funny because it’s true.


23. In the Mood for Love (2000) / 2046 (2004)

From the original review: “Since I spent Friday evening watching In the Mood for Love — a tale of a romance-that-almost-was, told in furtive hallway glances — and 2046 — a broader and more diffuse disquisition on love and heartache — back-to-back, here’s an

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