Twin Peaks: The Return

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Director: David Lynch

Stars: Kyle MacLachlan, David Lynch, Laura Dern, Naomi Watts

The greatest TV series of all time

It’s 11pm and I have just finished watching the last episode of Twin Peaks: The Return. Normally I’d give something else a watch before tottering off to bed but the images and ideas presented in the two-hour finale are relentlessly whirring around my head. David Lynch has done it again. 25 years ago he re-invented television with the original series which mixed offbeat comedy with pure horror and surrealism. Audiences were enthralled by the mystery of who killed Laura Palmer, only to find that the startling cliffhanger left in 1991 wouldn’t be resolved until 2017.

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David Lynch has had an exceptional career. Debuting with surrealist masterpiece, Eraserhead and providing us with horrific treats in Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart and Lost Highway. In 2002 he created what I believe to be the greatest film of all time, Mulholland Drive and seemingly disappeared off the Earth in 2006 after the impenetrable INLAND EMPIRE. However, we can now forgive Lynch for the frustrating ten-year hiatus because he has generously provided us with 18 hours of unadulterated perfection. The Return could very well be his magnum opus.

There has never been anything like this on TV and there will probably be nothing like this ever again, unless Lynch decides to delve back into the small screen again, of course. The series was shrouded in secrecy so people didn’t really have a clue what was going to happen when the two-hour opening aired. Unsurprisingly all expectations were cut dead within the first fifteen minutes. The whole season is nothing like the original run, in fact less than half the time is spent in the beloved town of Twin Peaks.

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This season is more interested in doppelgängers in Las Vegas, murders in South Dakota and frightening absurdities in the red room. Mysteries are constantly being raised and very few clear answers are ever provided. The series also runs at a very deliberate pace. Lynch really isn’t interested in wrapping things up quickly, in one scene we watch a man sweeping the floor for three minutes, yet somehow none of it is boring in the slightest. Instead we feel lost in an intoxicating dreamlike atmosphere where anything can happen. Many will find the lack of nostalgia and glacial pacing frustrating, but this is truly a ground-breaking work of art.

It also has to be noted that Kyle MacLachlan’s performance is the one of the greatest in TV history. It has to be said that he has never particularly shone in his acting career, aside from Dale Cooper (obviously) but here he does something extraordinary. Playing three different characters, MacLachlan shows an astonishing acting range and never fails to compel whenever he’s on screen. There are also memorable performances from Naomi Watts, Laura Dern and David Lynch himself, all in challenging and remarkably interesting roles.

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What’s really extraordinary about this 1000 minute masterpiece is that is manages to encompass every human emotion, often at the same time. At one moment side-splittingly funny, then pants-wettingly terrifying the next. There are also moments of desperate sadness, tension and surprise. What ever the feeling though, there is always a strong sense of mystery in the air. Don’t expect many easy answers though.

Many people were disappointed by the ending which offered absolutely no closure in the slightest. Much like the original series, the season ends on a extraordinarily haunting note. In fact, it could quite possibly be the most haunting ending of any film or TV show I have ever seen. Rather than providing answers, we’re left with even more questions than we had at the start but that’s where its brilliance lies. If Lynch gave us a cosy ending where all the pieces tied neatly together then we wouldn’t be talking about the series for years to come. There is so much to analyse and digest, fans will be picking this series apart until the end of days.

Unlike anything else on TV, Twin Peaks is always unpredictable. You can never guess what is going to happen next and although it isn’t easy to understand, it isn’t really supposed to be. This is an experience where you can leave your brain at the door and just go along for the sensational ride. Forget Breaking Bad. Forget Game of Thrones. Forget what ever you thought the best series on TV ever was. The greatest thing to ever grace the small screen is categorically and unquestionably, Twin Peaks: The Return.

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Blue Velvet (1986)

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Director: David Lynch

Cast: Kyle Maclachlan, Laura Dern, Dennis Hopper, Isabella Rossellini

David Lynch is the king of filmmaking!

It seems like Blue Velvet has had the same effect Eraserhead on me. I didn’t have the same strong physiological reaction to Blue Velvet, but I sort of have the same psychological effect, in the sense that I can’t stop thinking about it. I finished watching Blue Velvet last night but it feels as if I haven’t gone to sleep. When I was lying in bed all I could think about was Blue Velvet and I even had a dream about Blue Velvet. Waking up now, all I can still think about is Blue Velvet! I was painfully excited to see it. David Lynch happens to be my favourite director of all time, and Blue Velvet always seems to get rave reviews even from people who aren’t fans of Lynch.

I was pumping myself up for Blue Velvet so much. I planned exactly when I was going to watch it and prepared my own mental countdown to the day. Watching a new film by David Lynch is a massive event for me, because you can only see his films once. I can never watch Mulholland Dr. (my favourite Lynch film, and one of my favourite ever films period) the same bemused way I watched it the first time. I can’t put my excitement into words when I actually popped the disc in and was getting ready to press ‘Play Movie’. What followed was 2 hours of me looking awe-struck.

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Blue Velvet is a masterpiece and quite possibly the best thriller I’ve ever seen. If any other director was given a story like this in the 80’s then they would’ve made it exceedingly bland and conventional. However, in the hands of our God (David Lynch) he has created a thoroughly absorbing and seductive piece of work which can proudly sit with his other insane masterpieces. Blue Velvet is definitely one of his more linear works. It’s easy to understand (though not as shockingly normal as The Elephant Man or The Straight Story) yet it still evokes a sense of power and magic you can’t put into words.

Much has been said about the brilliant opening which lifts a beautiful blue curtain to reveal a bright and beautiful American town (not dissimilar to Twin Peaks) only to then change its tone rapidly by depicting a man having a stroke. The camera then mesmerizingly pushes through the green grass to reveal a dark and revolting world where bugs crawl. This is of course the basis of the film. Not everything is as it seems, and what goes on behind closed doors can be more disturbing than anything you can imagine. As Jeffrey and Sandy say throughout the film, “it’s a strange world.”

The film begins as a chirpy mystery. It evokes the atmosphere of a 50’s noir with the fantastic dramatic music and simple mystery plot. It also has the innocent love interest, Laura Dern, who is brilliant here as she is in Wild at Heart and Inland Empire, although Inland Empire features undoubtedly her greatest performance. The mystery begins when Jeffrey (Kyle Maclachlan, playing almost the same character as detective Dale Cooper) finds a human ear on his walk home. There’s a fantastic wholesome quality about Jeffrey. He seems like the innocent young lad who’s after a bit of adventure. This makes it all the more interesting when the mystery becomes so intense that it starts showing a darker side to Jeffrey’s character.

Blue Velvet is a gripping yarn, but it becomes all the more gripping when Jeffrey starts hiding in the apartment of the mysterious singer, Dorothy (wonderfully played by Isabella Rossellini). I don’t want to spoil what happens because it’s one of the greatest moments in the film. It’s when the atmosphere turns from being innocent and lively to unbelievably dark and disturbing. It’s a classic Lynch scene which feels very nightmarish and dreamlike as it’s very long and drawn-out, which in turn sucks you in. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen, even though what was happening was not pleasant to watch.

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You might’ve guessed that the scene in question features Dennis Hopper as the legendary Frank Booth. Here Dennis is a deranged mass of energy, not too dissimilar to Day Lewis’ immortal Daniel Plainview, only Booth is less calculating. He’s a frightening sado-masochist who reacts purely on instinct and bizarrely inhales some sort of gas when he gets himself worked up. Obviously this performance was far too daring and memorable for the academy as Hopper wasn’t even up for a gong!

Lynch brilliantly puts the audience in the shoes of Jeffrey. We feel ourselves becoming more and more sucked in to the mystery and succumbing to the seductive and hypnotic dreamlike atmosphere. The film probably reaches its disturbing peak when Booth takes Jeffrey for a joyride and we’re introduced to his strange and psychotic friends. The lip-synch to ‘In Dreams’ is just classic Lynch and so beautifully haunting.

Whilst Blue Velvet isn’t quite as wonderfully layered or as surreal as Mulholland Drive or Inland Empire, it’s still an incredibly piece of work. This is the work of a true magician who has a passion for Hollywood’s golden age and is desperate to revive it, whilst still adding his own distinctive brush strokes. David Lynch is one of the few directors who realises that film is an art and when done correctly, it can take you on a mesmerising journey and evoke feelings and emotions you didn’t know you had. Blue Velvet is a beautiful film with incredible music and a moving ending. It’s one of the greatest films I’ve seen.
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