Twin Peaks: The Return

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Director: David Lynch

Stars: Kyle Maclachlan, Sheryl Lee, Catherine Coulson

Episodes 1 & 2

Before I start delving into the two-part premiere of Twin Peaks: The Return, I’d like to give you some context to my Lynch obsession. To me David Lynch is the greatest filmmaker that has ever lived and I mean no hyperbole by that statement. His films aren’t for everyone but there’s no denying that there’s nothing like them around, he’s simply incomparable to his peers. Watching his films is like viewing a painting or listening to a piece of music, there’s something inside of you which either likes it and accepts it or doesn’t, and it’s fine if you don’t like it. It’s a perfectly normal reaction to watch a woman in a radiator singing at you with massive hamster cheeks and think ‘what the heck is this load of rubbish!?’ and turn it off. However, to me it’s an indescribably haunting and hypnotic experience which makes my heart race.

I am definitely more of a David Lynch fan than a Twin Peaks fan. For me, the episodes directed by the man himself are by far the strongest and most ground-breaking, particularly the final cliff-hanger episode which stands as one of the most fantastically immersive things Lynch has ever done. I also much prefer the dark, horrifying vision of Fire Walk With Me which departed from the jovial tone of the TV series, signified by the opening shot of a television being destroyed. However, there are still hardcore Twin Peaks fans who consider the film an abomination due to how drastically different the story and tone is. These same people are going to be incredibly frustrated by the opening of season 3.

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David Lynch seemingly (and tragically) disappeared from the edge of the Earth after the release of his impenetrable feature film, INLAND EMPIRE in 2006. So you can imagine my excitement when it was announced that Twin Peaks was going to come back with 18 episodes, all directed by David Lynch. That’s almost 18 hours of pure magic after over ten years of nothing Lynchian on our screens. The announcement was made back in 2014 so we’ve been patiently waiting for what feels like an age for Twin Peaks to come back on our screens and the other night it finally appeared!

No one knew what to expect when the two-hour premiere was about to start. The production has been kept absolutely top-secret and the teasers released by Showtime barely show more than three seconds of new footage at a time. However, I can guarantee that no one in the world would predict how the opener turned out as it did. In typical Lynch fashion our expectations were completely and utterly subverted within the first ten minutes. Those expecting a cosy rehash of the original series must be incredibly disappointed because this is not the old Twin Peaks we know and love, however it is unapologetically the David Lynch we know and love.

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I was immediately reminded of Eraserhead in the opening five minutes which sees the kindly giant chatting with Dale Cooper in stark monochrome adjacent to a puffing gramophone. They’re in the iconic red room which they’ve been sitting in for twenty five long years. Everything about the scene has the director’s fingerprints all over it and it’s beautiful to see. The giant spouts total nonsense to an aged Cooper to which he responds, “I understand” a hysterical in-joke for Lynch fans. Things don’t become much clearer in the next 100 minutes.

Shockingly, the premiere spends barely any time in Twin Peaks and is more interested in startling events surrounding New York, South Dakota and Las Vegas. Old characters are met fleetingly and with more weirdness than usual. The structure and atmosphere of the show resembles Mulholland Drive more than the original Twin Peaks as there are so many strange strands and subplots which all somehow relate to each other in intriguing and inexplicable ways. It’s interesting to think that most of the feature film, Mulholland Drive is actually a pilot episode; so this new season may give us a glimpse of what the shelved Mulholland Drive TV series could have looked like.

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Like most David Lynch films, the best way to experience it is to just go with the flow and ask questions later because nothing makes sense. It feels like we’re watching an explosion of Lynch’s unconscious mind on film, only I do believe that there is a solvable plot in there unlike the anarchic madness of INLAND EMPIRE. There are some extraordinary scenes of pure cinema which cannot be explained with words. The New York segment, for example, is utterly hypnotic and finishes with one of the scariest moments I have ever seen on screen thanks to nightmarish imagery and a terrifying sound design. I literally flew out of my seat, something I haven’t done since the tramp sequence in Mulholland Drive. There are also moments of surreal terror in the red room which go beyond anything we’ve ever seen in the world of Twin Peaks.

It’s the most astonishing two hours of telly I’ve ever experienced. It’s a true work of art and the directing is unparalleled. No other director can conjure up such an immersive dreamlike atmosphere quite like this. Detractors will moan about how they don’t understand it but it isn’t supposed to be totally understood. It isn’t a Christopher Nolan sci-fi flick, it’s a surrealistic painting designed to terrify and thrill. After watching The Return and being thrown back into normal life I stuck on an episode of Game Of Thrones (which I’ve just started watching) and was struck by just how ordinary it was.

The original Twin Peaks was ground-breaking stuff and The Return looks as if it’s going to be no different. This is unlike anything that has ever been on TV before and is already way ahead of its time. Thank the heavens that Showtime have given David Lynch free reign to truly create what is bound to be a masterpiece. David is back with a vengeance and reminding us what we’ve been missing whilst he’s been on hiatus for years. It’s incredibly exciting to think that a whopping 16 more instalments are left. Who knows where they’re going to take us, but it’s going to be one hell of an unforgettable ride.

INLAND EMPIRE (2006)

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Director: David Lynch

Stars: Laura Dern, Justin Theroux, Jeremy Irons

Admittance to Lynch fans only

I remember when I watched Inland Empire for the first time. You could say that I was something of a David Lynch virgin as I had only seen The Elephant Man, Wild At Heart and Mulholland Drive. I have since devoured everything and anything he’s put his hands on from his earliest short film, Six Men Getting Sick to his bizarre animated series, Dumbland. Inland Empire is definitely jumping into the deep end though if you’ve only seen a handful of Lynch’s stuff, so I was either going to sink or swim. Luckily for me I sat there completely spellbound throughout the hefty 180 minute acid trip and was left completely shaken by what I had just seen. It was the film which turned me from a fan and into a super-fan.

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This isn’t the normal reaction to Inland Empire though. Even the most die-hard Lynch fans find massive fault with it and I can completely understand this viewpoint. This is a film which defies description. Some people liken it to David Lynch shooting random crap on a cheap digital camcorder, but I think it’s important to approach the film as you would with a piece of art or music. It’s a feeling and you either get it or you don’t. I could write an essay about how Cher’s ‘Believe’ is the best song of all time but if you hear it and don’t like it then nothing’s going to change your mind. Inland Empire is not something you can casually stick on and watch whilst playing on your phone, it’s a film which requires your absolute fullest attention. Your eyes can’t afford to leave the screen otherwise the magic will be ruined. Forget everything you know about coherent plots and movies, this is something which you have to truly immerse yourself and get lost in.

It has that lucid dream-like quality to it just like Mulholland Dr, but this time even more so. If Mulholland Drive was a dream captured on camera, then Inland Empire is a full-blown nightmare. It made me feel as if I was turning insane (in a good way). If David Lynch aimed to get his audience in the same twisted mind-set as his protagonist then he certainly succeeded. The film was a total mind funk from start to finish. I have never taken drugs before, but this is what I would imagine a ‘bad trip’ feels like. It’s exactly like experiencing a dream because dreams feel like they’re going on forever when you’re in them, yet when you wake up you can only remember bits and pieces. Inland Empire is three hours long and yet I find it difficult to recall most scenes. It feels like it’s going on forever when you’re watching it and not long at all, all at the same time. It’s the closest you will ever come to experiencing a dream whilst awake.

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You could argue that Inland Empire does lack a strong plot. Whilst Mulholland Drive by no means has a coherent and linear narrative, there is still a strong sense of a plot and a lot of it is open to deep analysis and interpretation. However, Inland Empire will have you utterly bemused right from the black and white opening which sees a blurred-faced Polish girl interacting in a hotel room. That’s not to say that there is no plot though, I just wouldn’t worry about it too much on the first viewing, just go with the flow and let the madness wash over you. It somehow manages to be grossly unwatchable, yet utterly hypnotic. I remember first watching the film and thinking that this is either the worst film of all time, or the greatest.

Most people don’t class Inland Empire as a horror film, however it’s one of the very scariest films I have ever seen and I don’t scare easily! The look of the film is very early Lars Von Trier, as it was shot on a digital camera, which adds a very raw and real edge to the film. It feels like you’re experiencing a nightmare first-hand. There are some very claustrophobic moments where the camera is right up to the actor’s face and some moments which will chill you to the core. If you jumped at the Winkie’s Diner scene in Mulholland Drive then wait until you see Laura Dern’s face in this (no offence to Laura, you’ll see what I mean).

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Talking of Laura Dern, what a performance she gives in this! If the film was more accessible then people would be calling this a performance for the ages and she would’ve rightly won the Academy Award. It’s also important to note that Dern wasn’t even given a complete script so she was as in the dark as us in regards to what the heck is going on. David would write the film as the shoot was going on and give Laura a freshly written page of script each day. I’d also like to mention the extraordinary music used in the film which adds the unsettling atmosphere. Composed by Marek Zebrowski and Lynch himself, some of it is reminiscent of The Shining and a piece of music from The Shining is even used at one point which is delightful.

If you’re going to watch Inland Empire then it’s important to do it right. Set aside three hours at night time and make sure there are zero distractions. Put your kids and partner to bed, make sure you’re comfortable and switch your phone off. Make sure you have a sizable TV with good sound, pop in the disc, press play and do not take your eyes off the screen. If you follow these tips then you should find yourself feeling lost in a nightmarish labyrinth that will seemingly never end. It’s not always a pleasant experience, but it’s certainly like nothing you’ll ever see again. In some ways, Inland Empire is the epitome of David Lynch’s gorgeous filmography.

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Nocturnal Animals (2016)

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Director: Tom Ford

Stars: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson

This animal deserves to be seen in daylight

Tom Ford’s brilliant new thriller, ‘Nocturnal Animals’ had a release date primed just in time for Oscar season. When I first saw it, I was sure that it was going to get nominations for every major category because it deserved them. When the Golden Globes were announced I was surprised to see that it was only up for three gongs (Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor) despite all being deserved, I would’ve liked to have seen noms for Best Actor and Actress as well. Thankfully the BAFTA awards came and recognised the film’s fantastic efforts by nominating it in 8 categories. Surely that means that the Oscar noms will come flooding in? Apparently not as #NocturnalAnimals is up for one measly award for Michael Shannon as Best Supporting Actor.

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Whilst I’m glad that Michael Shannon has finally been recognised for his sensational performance in the film, a film as visually gorgeous and stunningly complex as Nocturnal Animals really should be recognised for more awards. In my opinion it’s better than Best Picture nominees #Arrival and #Lion, more competently directed than Mel Gibson’s #HacksawRidge and has a screenplay more dazzling than any film nominated in the Best adapted screenplay category.

Let’s also not forget just how incredible the cast is. #AmyAdams always seemed to be Oscar-nominated but in the year when she pulled out not one, but two career-best performances (the other film being Arrival) the Academy completely snubs her. Her performance in Nocturnal Animals is so brilliantly subdued and intricate, she could’ve single-handedly stole the whole film if it wasn’t for the equally strong supporting cast. #JakeGyllenhaal can always be relied upon for giving a role his all and that’s exactly what he does here. Playing two characters (the author and the book’s character) Gyllenhaal is up for the task of playing two different characters, one a love-struck author and the other a weak father on the quest for vengeance which is no mean feat as seemingly both characters are different; however Gyllenhaal still has to stay true to his author character whilst in the role Edward Sheffield as he is essentially the author’s manifestation. Jake pulls it off exquisitely.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson rightly garnered a lot of recognition in his supporting role as the slimy villain of the story. The Kick-Ass star is often known in likable roles, however here Taylor-Johnson boasts his versatility by playing a vicious and animalistic character that you can’t help but hate. However, it’s the previously mention Michael Shannon who steals the show for me. He plays Bobby Andes, a stone-faced detective with a Southern drawl and a troubled past. He chews up just about every scene he’s in and still proves himself to be one of the very best actors of our generation.

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It isn’t just the acting that makes Nocturnal Animals so great though, if anything it’s the screenplay. Adapted by Tom Ford himself, the film beautifully weaves and winds around a dual narrative reminiscent of David Lynch. Not only does it manage to be entertaining and gripping on the surface, but if you dig a little deeper you’ll find a rich smorgasbord ripe for analysis and interpretation. Each character is fantastically realised and fleshed out, and both stories are handled with a precision which is close to perfection. Let’s also not forget about Tom Ford’s gorgeous directing. Pretty much every shot could be framed and placed in an art gallery, it’s that beautiful.

So where are this film’s much-deserved Oscars? It does everything a great film should do and more. Its intelligent ambiguity means that the film never quite leaves you. I was left wondering about the events and characters for weeks after which is more than can be said for a few of the films nominated this year.

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Ranking David Lynch’s Films

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Just last week I managed to tick off the final Lynchy feature film I had left to see, Lost Highway. I was saving it and saving it until I finally gave in so that I can finally say that I have seen every feature film from my favourite ever filmmaker, David Lynch. The man is a god! He understands that film can be as artistic and powerful as any other piece of art. No other director creates worlds like David Lynch. You know that if you stick on one of his films that you’ll be transported into another place for a few hours and it’s quite an extraordinary feeling. The very best David Lynch films are more like an experience than an average film so it’s important not to think about what’s going, but to feel it instead. Even his short films like The Alphabet and The Grandmother offer more ingenuity than the majority of Hollywood’s churnings.

I would normally be feeling mournful at the fact that there’s no more David Lynch output to look forward to, however that simply isn’t true! Laura Palmer promised that she’d see us again in 25 years and here we are with David directing a Twin Peaks revival. With the renaissance TV is going through at the moment with brilliance such as, Breaking Bad and Fargo, there’s every chance that David could blow every series that’s gone out of the window! But for now, here are my rankings of David’s ten film canon complete with my weirdness rating and overall film rating.

10) Dune

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Let’s begin with the elephant (man) in the room. Dune was a self-confessed disaster which even the most hardcore David Lynch fan finds impossible to excuse. There are a few sci-fi weirdos who love it, but I’m not one of them. Everything about this film is just plain bad, from the clunky dialogue to the inexplicable plot. David had absolutely no control over this beast and was lost amidst a gigantic behind-the-scenes crew and controlling production company. David wanted to create a strange three hour plus epic, but those pesky studio execs grabbed hold of it and butchered the film to its very bare bones. The scene which sums the film up is the part where David Lynch himself plays a muddied miner whose trying to harvest all the good spice he can until a giant sandworm (which he couldn’t possibly control) gobbles him up. So as David didn’t really have any power over Dune at all, let’s just pretend it didn’t happen okay?

Best bit: Probably the line, “Bring in that floating fat man!”
Weirdness rating: 6/10
Movie rating: 3/10

9) The Straight Story

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David Lynch surprised the world when he released a genuinely sweet film for all the family to enjoy. Younger viewers might get a little restless at its snail pacing, but for those who appreciate great acting and warmth will find a lot to like. It follows the (mostly) true story of Alvin Straight, a man who rode for miles on his lawnmower to meet his estranged brother. Honestly, it really is that simple! Not a lot happens but somehow it isn’t boring at all. Perhaps it’s because of how involving it feels. You feel as though you’re going through the long and strenuous journey with Alvin, and the end scene really is beautiful and moving. However, us Lynch fanatics see it as one of his lesser films due to the lack of dancing dwarves and general dreamlike weirdness.

Best bit: The cockles-warming end scene.
Weirdness rating: 1/10
Movie rating: 8/10

8) Wild At Heart

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This Palme D’or-winning road trip boasts plenty of Lynchy weirdness, including a squealing peg-legged Grace Zabriskie and an appearance from the fairy godmother herself (played by Laura Palmer). In fact, Wild at Heart features some of the most memorable characters and performances David has ever mustered. Diane Ladd (Laura Dern’s real Mum!) possibly steals the show as Lula’s nightmarish, psychotic mother. Her wildly hammy performance quite rightly garnered an Oscar nomination as she gives Bette Davis a run for her money! Equally impressive is Willem Dafoe as the terrifying Bobby Peru. Willem has never been easy on the eye but Lynch turns him into the stuff of true nightmares. The only thing that stops Wild at Heart propelling to the top is Barry Gifford’s linear and less interesting plot. It’s still a fantastic journey full of fun, frights and lunacy!

Best bit: When Diane Ladd turns to reveal her entire face smothered in lipstick.
Weirdness rating: 7/10
Movie rating: 8/10

7) The Elephant Man

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The other ‘normal’ David Lynch film (along with The Straight Story) which catapulted him into the big time. After the super low-budget Eraserhead found its way into the hearts of Midnight Movie fans, Mel Brooks gave David the chance to direct the true story of Joseph Merrick. The story goes that Lynch accepted the job as soon as he heard the title of the film! Considering how young and inexperienced he was at the time, The Elephant Man is a truly miraculous piece of work and a timeless film by anyone’s standards. It’s impossible not to feel moved and involved in Joseph’s tragic life as he’s taken into care by a kindly Anthony Hopkins. Seeing him transform from a terrified mute into a compassionate and confident character is a pretty life-affirming experience. It also features one of the most powerful and upsetting endings of all time. Despite the scenes which bookend the film, The Elephant Man features virtually no signature strangeness which is why it falls slightly shorter for me. However, it’s still a fantastic piece of work.

Best bit: The soul-crushing ending
Weirdness rating: 1/10
Movie rating: 9/10

6) Lost Highway

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Another Barry Gifford collaboration, although it’s clear who’s in the driving seat here! After a terrific title sequence over David Bowie’s haunting I’m Deranged song our polarising non-linear narrative begins. The first Fred Maddison story features some of the best stuff David has ever done as we’re transported into a frightfully eerie dream world in which a saxophone player and his missus are plagued by mysterious videotapes. The suffocating atmosphere disappears slightly when a perplexing second story begins involving a young mechanic called Pete Dayton. Lost Highway is a gripping and thought provoking psycho-sexual-horror-neo-noir which offers no easy answers. It also features one of the David’s scariest creations in the Mystery Man who’s probably the key to entire mystery but who doesn’t fit into the story at all (seemingly). It perhaps doesn’t feature his strongest protagonists’, but it is unfairly overlooked when discussing David. It’s also masterfully directed.

Best bit: Fred’s first meeting with the Mystery Man is probably the moment which sticks out the most. After his dream!
Weirdness rating: 8/10
Movie rating: 9/10

5) Eraserhead

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This is where it all began! A five year labour of love where a cash-strapped young Dave even lived on the set for a short while to save money. Those five years resulted in 90 minutes of pure genius. It’s quite possibly the weirdest film ever made and transports the viewer into a strange and terrifying land where a funny-haired young man copes with the struggles of caring for a mutant baby. No, it’s weirder than it sounds! It’s exactly like watching a dream and every scene is filled with an inexplicable sense of dread. Eraserhead is the quintessential Lynch film with a polarising narrative, strange characters and dreamlike sequences which end up everywhere and nowhere. Whilst there is no real explanation to it all, David has claimed that he’s still yet to read an interpretation which matches his.

Best bit: The Lady in the Radiator’s haunting singing solo
Weirdness rating: 10/10
Movie rating: 10/10

4) INLAND EMPIRE

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Another film where David gave himself complete control to let his dangerous creative juices flow. Unsurprisingly, it’s also tied with Eraserhead as one of the very weirdest films of all time (IMO). It’s the ultimate test to see how much of Lynch fan you really are. Most people despise INLAND EMPIRE with pure venom due to its hefty 180 minute runtime and incomprehensible plot which is clear as mud. I’ll never forget when I first watched it though (one of my first David Lynch films) and feeling utterly transported. I watched it alone, in the middle of the night with no distractions (the only way to watch a David Lynch film) and I felt as though I was actually having a nightmare. It didn’t feel like I was watching screen, it felt as though I was asleep and having a nightmare I couldn’t escape. Once the film is over you feel as though you’ve spent you’re whole life watching it, yet you can only bits and pieces which is exactly like waking from a dream. At the centre of it all is a stunning performance from Laura Dern, a woman transported into total madness. INLAND EMPIRE is by far David Lynch’s scariest film, and also his most magical.

Best bit: When the prostitutes dance to the locomotion
Weirdness rating: 10/10
Movie rating: 10/10

3) Blue Velvet

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The velvet of blue is often cited as the best film in the Lynchian canon (along with my number one) and it’s easy to see why. Whilst the film has its moments of bizarreness, for the most part it’s an audience-friendly mystery thriller although it’s far from conventional. Kyle Maclachlan is a Dale Cooper in training as he becomes obsessed with finding out where a severed ear came from. The first thirty minutes are like a straightforward albeit gripping, mystery film. Things get dark and subversive when Kyle hides in Isabella Rossellini’s closet and watches her get horrifically raped by Dennis Hopper. Somehow Dennis Hopper didn’t get Oscar nominated for his electrifying performance as Frank Booth. Every scene with Frank is filled with intensity and jet-black comedy. Luckily, David Lynch got himself nominated again as best director to make up for things! Blue Velvet is a masterpiece by anyone’s standards and features scene after scene of classic Lynchian moments.

Best bit: Ben’s strange lip-synch to In Dreams
Weirdness rating: 7/10
Movie rating: 10/10

2) Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

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Ooh would you look at me being controversial! It was booed at Cannes and reviled by fans of the series yet somehow it’s crept its way up to second place in my list. I love the original Twin Peaks series but the darker elements have always interested me more than the comedic side and with Fire Walk with Me, David goes full into full horror mode as we explore Laura Palmer’s final week of life. She was an enigma in the series, but here she’s thrown into the spotlight and becomes one of the most compelling characters David Lynch has ever created. After a bizarre opening in which we’re transported into a parallel Twin Peaks universe with Fat Trout trailer parks and reappearing David Bowie’s we suddenly focus on Laura’s final days. Sheryl Lee’s performance is outstanding and the moments of horror are frighteningly intense. The final sequence where Laura is killed is particularly horrifying and ultimately moving. Fire Walk with Me is, in my opinion, one of David’s most harrowing films.

Best bit: The powerful final scene which manages to be tragic and uplifting at the same time.
Weirdness rating: 8/10
Movie rating: 10/10

1) Mulholland Dr

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Ah yes, Mulholland Drive is possibly my favourite film of all time. It wasn’t always that way though! When I first saw it I gave it a 9/10 and wasn’t totally spellbound, but then I read all the explanations and realised just how rich and detailed every single scene was. Mulholland is all the magic of the movies rolled into one. It’s set in Hollywood and features the archetypal Hollywood noir plot of an amnesiac, a mysterious key and a bag of cash. It’s so much more than that though. In fact, Mulholland Drive is so layered and ingenious that it hurts your head just thinking about it. On the surface it’s just a series of random and meaningless scenes which shouldn’t work, but it just does. There’s an intense signature dreamlike atmosphere which dominates every scene right up until the final thirty minutes where the rug is pulled from our feet and the film spirals into total lunacy. Mulholland Drive is an extraordinary achievement which will never be topped.

Best scene: The entire sequence in the Club Silencio is the probably the best thing David Lynch has ever created.
Weirdness rating: 9/10
Movie rating: 10/10

Well there’s my ranking of my favourite filmmaker. Agree or disagree? Let me know below please!

Lost Highway (1997)

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Director: David Lynch

Stars: Bill Pullman, Patricia Arquette, Balthazar Getty, Robert Blake

Dick Laurent may be dead, but long live David Lynch!

I make no secret about David Lynch being my favourite ever director. He makes films like no other by building dark worlds which draw you in by putting you in some sort of spell. I love him so much that I put off seeing Lost Highway for over a year because it was the only David Lynch film I was yet to see. I was even considering not seeing it at all just so I could always have that one new David Lynch film, but then I thought that would just be ridiculous. Also, the revival of Twin Peaks was enough to pique my David Lynch anticipation meter to breaking point so I finally gave in and stuck in Lost Highway.

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Firstly, I don’t think it’s as grossly strange as some people make out. Yes, it has all the trademark bizarreness you come to expect from David but the majority of the film is surprisingly linear. I was expecting some next level INLAND EMPIRE stuff the way some folk bang on about it! The first 40 minutes are like Michael Haneke’s Hidden in dream form. It’s probably some of the best stuff our David has ever done due to the inexplicably tense and hellish atmosphere. A lot of the scariness is down to the terrifying music which ranges to ominous drones to extremely loud strings. There’s one seriously nightmarish image near the start (which I’ve never heard anyone talk about, surprisingly) which sent chills up my spine. It’s a full-on Lynchian assault on the senses which takes you down some dark and enthralling corners. The atmosphere is chock-a-block full of mystery.

There are endlessly beautiful scenes including Fred playing the saxophone, the unsettling meeting with the Mystery Man and extremely frightening dream sequences. I think it’s also important to note the expert positions David places the camera. There always seems to be too much space surrounding the characters and it makes for seriously eerie viewing. There’s also that fantastic Francis Bacon inspired colour scheme of dark purples/pinks and shadows. He really does direct the hell out of the first forty minutes of this film.

Suddenly the film changes into something entirely different as soon as Fred Madison randomly transforms into a young mechanic called Pete Dayton and takes on an entirely new life. No one seems to bat an eyelid about Fred Madison disappearing and the sudden change is quite jarring. In my opinion, this is when the film goes down a gear. I think because the first story is so strong, this second one pales slightly in comparison as the suffocating atmosphere somewhat dissipates and the overall strangeness ceases. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a lot to love it just feels less Lynchy and more straightforward, and the Pete Dayton story is the biggest chunk of the film.

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There are still some spectacular sequences though, including a mysterious gangster getting road rage and Patricia Arquette’s intriguing Alice character. There’s also a strong feeling of everything not quite being what it seems and it gives you time to ponder over exactly what the heck you’re watching. Thankfully for us weirdos things do start to get extremely strange towards the final half hour of the film before breaking down into total chaos until your mind finally explodes.

Lost Highway is extremely puzzling in a similar way to Mulholland Dive. All of the clues seem to be there as well as a few abstractions to throw lots of spanners into the works (what does this Mystery Man have to do with it all!?) but there is a complex and very intelligent story buried underneath all the bizarreness. It feels like a warm-up exercise before Dave finally broke the mould of film with Mulholland Drive. Everything in Mulholland feels like a perfected version of Lost Highway from the more passionate love story to the unrelenting dreamlike atmosphere.

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Lost Highway is still a film to cherish on the Lynchian canon though. It’s very much its own thing and I felt a strong urge to see it all again once it had all finished. Unlike Mulholland Drive there doesn’t seem to be a universal theory to Lost Highway which makes it all the more interesting to watch again and again to dig for clues. However, as with all Lynchy films the best thing to do is just sit back and let your intuition drive you rather than your brain. It’s not an IQ test but a piece of art which is designed to take you on a journey. No one makes films that make you feel quite like David Lynch does. Let’s hope that the Twin Peaks revival encourages our Dave to get back into more regular filmmaking again. I couldn’t bear to wait another ten years!

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Let’s talk about Twin Peaks: Season 2, Episode 7 [SPOILERS!]

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I’ve decided to go off-piste and review a TV episode because it’s that good.

I watched the Twin Peaks series in its entirety for the first time a couple of years ago, and was in a very lucky position as I didn’t know who the killer was! It’s rare not to get something spoiled for an old film or TV series when you’re looking around on the interweb, especially if it’s for such a popular show like Twin Peaks. People think, ‘oh well it came out 50 years ago, everyone knows the twist!’ when actually, there are still young people (ala me) interested in older pop culture and don’t want things spoiled!

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Obviously being such a massive David Lynch fan, I was loving the series. I was especially loving the episodes which David himself directed because they were full of such classic Lynchian moments. The dancing dwarf, the red curtains, the strange music, the giant, the log lady etc. I also genuinely had no idea who the killer would be. No one in Twin Peaks seem to fit the bill of a serial-killing rapist. The reveal itself, however has to be the most shocking moment in television history. Not just because who it is, but how it’s revealed with such a horrifying and bemusing way.

I’m currently re-watching the whole series again in the wake of a third series being commissioned (although that looks dead in the water now that David has said he won’t be directing anymore) and last night saw the episode where the killer is revealed again. It lost none of its shocking ferocity as when I saw it for the first time. I’d very much like to delve into the episode so please be aware that there will be heavy spoilers from here in.

From the moment the episode starts you can tell that David’s behind the camera, just by the odd choices of camera angles and movements. In fact, the episode opens with Gordon Cole leaving Dale and the gang. I’m wondering if this is a postmodern element, as David Lynch himself pretty much abandoned the show after this episode. It reminds me of the opening of Fire Walk With Me where David Lynch basically opens the film shouting ‘ACTION!’ as a director.

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Things get Lynchy pretty much from the start with a load of people bouncing balls in the Great Northern for no apparent reason, and then the one armed man having a fit as Ben Horne walks in. Pretty much everything in this episode is more bizarre than usual! I love the scene where Maddie announces to uncle Leland and aunt Sarah that she’s leaving, along with a strange version of ‘What a Wonderful World’ playing in the background. Things seem quite optimistic here on the surface, but you just know that underneath it all there’s something sinister lurking.

Much of the episode concerns all the other Peak crew doing weirder things. A vegetable-like Leo randomly calls out for new shoes, Audrey rats out her Dad after he oddly confesses to having loved Laura and Nadine demonstrates more of her superhuman strength and hilarious delusions. I must also mention the other shocking revelation in this episode that the peculiar Mr. Tojamura is in fact Piper Laurie!

Things turn really sinister when we see Sarah Palmer crawling down the stairs. The music turns dark and ominous, whilst the log lady beckons Dale over to The Roadhouse. Lo and behold, Julee Cruise is performing again with her fantastically haunting voice! David Lynch even penned the lyrics to the two songs she sings and Angelo Badalamenti composed them beautifully. It’s the classic David Lynch motif of a woman singing on stage in front of a red curtain. It symbolises that something will be revealed. There’s also the lingering image of a white horse standing in the Palmer’s sitting room. This symbolises death.

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The horror really begins when a bright spotlight shines on Dale’s bemused face as he sees the giant appear on stage repeating the eerie words, “It is happening again.” We then see exactly what is happening, as it cuts to Leland grinning in the mirror and the horrifying BOB grinning back at him. The first time I saw this, I gasped. Leland killed Laura? But he was so hysterical throughout the whole two seasons! He was always dancing, singing and crying feverishly in every scene (often all at the same time) it just can’t be him. The fact that he killed and raped his own daughter is all the more disturbing.

The scariest moment in this episode though (and arguably the entire series) is when Maddy enters and screams as Leland runs towards her. He grabs her and swings her around the living room like some sort of animal playing with its prey. It’s all done in a weird slow motion though and changes between BOB in the spotlight, screaming like a beast and Leland. As with most projects by David Lynch, it’s very difficult to put into words and something you need to really experience for yourself.

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The murder itself is pretty violent as Maddy smashes her head on a picture frame after Leland beats her to death in a similar way to Frank Booth four years earlier in Blue Velvet. He then grotesquely shoves a letter up her fingernail as previously found in Laura, Ronnette and Teresa. It then cuts back to The Roadhouse with Julee now singing a much slower and sadder song as Dale looks on in melancholy. Everyone in The Roadhouse seems to recognise that a tragedy has occurred and it feels just like a dream.

There ends one of the greatest television episodes in the universe. It’s pure Lynch magic. What’s remarkable is that this isn’t even the best episode in the series. That accolade would go the nightmarish madness of the very final episode, which would easily be the very best television episode in the universe. I don’t normally rate TV episodes, but if I did then this would certainly be a:

10/10

Industrial Symphony No.1: The Dreams of the Broken Hearted

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Director: David Lynch

Stars: Julee Cruise, Michael J Anderson, Laura Dern, Nicolas Cage

David Lynch does broadway!

Ever wondered what it would be like if David Lynch put on a musical stage show with Julee Cruise? Wonder no more! Industrial Symphony is a supremely strange stage show put together by David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti for the annual Brooklyn Academy of Music. They only had two weeks to prepare for the show, and so the result is rather remarkable.

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It opens with Sailor and Lula from Wild at Heart (presumably it’s supposed to be them?) on the phone, with Sailor leaving Lula. The rest of the film is an extended fever dream set on stage. It reminded me of a concert, only this is a concert by David Lynch so there’s awful blonde wigs, half naked women gyrating on cars and dwarfs sawing logs. I found it fabulous.

Julee’s vocals are incredibly haunting and hypnotic. Match this with the visuals David presents us and it feels incredibly nightmarish. There’s a moment where Julee stops and screams mid-song and falls from the rope suspending her from the ceiling. It’s so jarring and it actually scared me a little bit. It doesn’t help that she turns into some 30ft skinned papier-mâché deer either.

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The whole thing wouldn’t have felt out of place if it appeared as a scene in Inland Empire, so that gives you an idea of its mesmerising weirdness. For most people it will be unwatchable, but I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the screen. Like with most David Lynch films, the experience is difficult to put into words, it’s something you simply must see for yourself. Twin Peaks fans might also be interested as a few of the songs Julee sings in the Road House are also performed here. All that’s missing is Falling and Mysteries of Love. It’s a shame that there’s no good quality version available. For Lynch fans, it’s unmissable. For everyone else, it isn’t.

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