Skip to main content

Fire is the devil hiding like a coward in the smoke.

Twin Peaks
1.6: Cooper's Dreams

If not quite back up to first gear, Mark Frost’s script for the sixth episode includes a winning combination of the whacky and weird. It’s also blessed with considerable forward momentum. This is Lesli Linka Glatter’s first work on the show, and she’s a mainstay of some of the best TV series around (she started out on Spielberg’s Amazing Stories, and like Tim Hunter she has worked on Mad Men, but also on The Leftovers, Justified, and Ray Donovan). Glatter really gets on with the comedy, and there’s some lovely staging throughout.


Agent Cooper: It just goes to prove the point that once a traveller leaves his home he loses almost 100% of his ability to control his environment.

Much fun is to be had at the Great Northern, kicking off with Coop being awoken by a “godawful noise”. The root cause is rowdy Icelanders (“There’s a large group of insane men staying on my floor”), which means Coop needs copious coffee. Richard Beymer is particularly well served humour-wise, paying off the previous week’s gag (“A socialist who wants to be king”) and coming over all JFK (“We are all Icelanders”). The extent of his tentacles is further revealed, by which we discover he is in league with Josie to supplant Catherine (a very devious web there).


There’s also a lovely little scene of escalating insanity, in which first Jerry arrives with an entire leg of lamb, courtesy of Hebba (“a giant snow queen”) then Leland stops by, has another breakdown, to the background hum of the Icelandic entourage. Glatter times it all impeccably timed. Leland is back in disconsolate mode later, with only Catherine’s intervention on the dance floor to prevent another scene (complete with improvised Leland-mimicking hand gestures).


Agent Cooper: Wednesdays were traditionally a school day when I was your age.
Audrey: I can’t believe you were ever my age.
Agent Cooper: I’ve got the pictures to prove it… How old are you?
Audrey: Eighteen.
Agent Cooper: Well, see you later Audrey.
Audrey: See you later. (Coop adjourns.) Bye.

Coop’s encounters at the Great Northern aren’t limited to unruly Icelanders. Audrey’s in particularly vivacious mode, oozingly provocative with Coop at the outset and ending up under his covers at the climax. It’s a Twin Peaks in full soap cliffhanger mode (will Coop do the dirty with the young girl?) It’s generally a good episode for the attire of repose, as Maddy also looks rather cute in her PJs. 


Audrey is at her most manipulative, “persuading” department store manager Emory to put her on the perfume counter (“If you don’t, I’m going to rip my dress apart, scream at the top of my lungs, and tell my father you made a pass at me”).


Have I mentioned how banal anything involving James and Donna is? I know I have, but it bears repeating and repeating ad infinitum. There’s a particularly ripe scene here where James is fed dialogue about how dad was a musician and mom was an alcoholic. I all but nodded off. They secure the help of kooky cutey Maddy, who orders Cherry Coke and voices Lynch’s world of psychic interconnectivity (“The day before she died I had a feeling Laura was in trouble”).


In contrast, the Shelly-Bobby subplot is particularly good this time, although their most memorable scenes are where they aren’t together (perhaps that’s why). There’s an alarming scene where Shelly and Norma return from the beautician looking like a couple of drag queens, but the main event occurs when Hank beats up Leo. It’s a surprise to see the wife beating bully so roundly bested (“I told you to mind the store, Leo, not open up your own franchise”).


Hank’s hyperactivity does rather beg the question of what would have happened if he hadn’t been paroled. I guess Leo would be the fall-back guy, but Hank seems fairly crucial to a series of dodgy endeavours. If Coop’s cliffhanger is the soap one, Shelley’s is the dramatic one, as she points a gun at her raging husband (“You’re not going to hurt me again!”), it fires, and we hear his scream. The resolution is akin to Coop’s announcement of knowing who killed Laura a few episodes ago; Leo’s fine, aside from a grazed arm.


The scene between Bobby and Dr Jacoby is dynamite. It’s surprising and compelling for a number of reasons. Glatter starts off in comedy mode, bouncing the camera back and forth from Bobby’s dad to his mom at the uneasy family counselling session. This leads to a particularly chortlesome piece of Bobby petulance.


Bobby: Have you every killed anybody?
Dr Jacoby: Have you?
Bobby: My father has.
Major Briggs: During wartime.
Betty Briggs: That’s different.
Bobby: Different from what?

The best is to come, however. Everything so far has suggested Jacoby is a complete flake, with an unhealthy passion for his expired patient. Yet his method with Bobby is perceptive and yields profound results. For the first time we see Bobby in a sympathetic light, a boy who has played at being a man due to the manipulation of the girl who was out of his league.


Dr Jacoby: What happened the first time that you and Laura made love?
Bobby: What the hell kind of question is that?
Dr Jacoby: Bobby, did you cryyyy?
Bobby: Did I what?
Dr Jacoby: And then what did Laura do? Did she laugh at you?

Bobby’s account of Laura’s state of mind and view of the world, how “people liked to be good, but they were really sick and rotten, her most of all” and how she was periodically pulled deeper and deeper into the blackest nightmare, finding it harder and harder to climb back up into light, is highly evocative, and Jacoby’s analysis is shrewd (“Laura wanted to corrupt people, because that’s how she felt about herself”). This leads to Bobby’s revelation that behind the rebellious teenager is a sensitive soul (“She made me sell drugs”). It’s a great scene.


Agent Cooper: Fellas, lets pack a lunch. We’re taking a walk in the woods.

Glatter shows similar deftness in the scene at Jacque’s apartment. Why exactly a copy of Flesh World is stuck(!) to the ceiling is anyone’s guess, but it instantly puts the scene off kilter; Coop sustains a conversation while staring at the ceiling, and we think it must be just another quirk until he asks Harry for a leg up. There’s also a classic moment where donuts are passed round, and a succession of latex-gloved hands grasps the confectionary.


Coop’s on top deductive form, concluding it was Jacque Renault’s blood on Leo Johnson’s shirt and that a partial picture is of Laura (“The drapes, Harry, from my dream”). When they arrive at the cabin in the woods, Julie Cruise is playing (Into the Night) and it further confirms Coop’s dream insights (“And there’s always music in the air”). Since Waldo is in the cabin, and the poker chip with the piece missing is also there (the piece found in Laura’s stomach), it seems that everything is beginning to fall into place.


Agent Cooper: What did your log see?

It’s curious then, that Coop is so uncharacteristically reticent when the team come across the Log Lady’s cabin. It’s Hawk, tracking like a demon, who gets to be all sage (“The wood holds many spirits, doesn’t it Margaret?”), and who insists they remain with her rather than continue in search of the correct cabin. Shouldn’t Coop be following such intuitive leaps, particularly as he earlier failed the Log Lady’s test? Even his manners are off (reaching for a biscuit, the Log Lady slaps his hand and instructs him to “Wait for the tea!”)


Nevertheless, he eventually sees sense, and cryptic metaphors shrouding her language are both strange (“The owls won’t see us in here”) and revealing (her first person narration of what she heard on the night of Laura’s death include “The owls were flying… Two men. Two girls… The owls were near… One man passed by… Screams far away… Terrible, terrible… The owls were silent”) and mention of a third man. Dr Hayward’s interpretation of her words about her husband (“He met the devil”) suggest there is clear understanding to be gleaned if she can be decoded (“It was the day after the wedding, wasn’t it, Margaret?”) The conclusion reached by Cooper sets up much of what Lynch will play out in his prequel movie (“Laura and Ronette. Jacques, maybe Leo. Who was the third man?”) Glatter even throws in a little tableau pose of the four hikers as they happen upon Jacques’ cabin. Although, rather than owls, a crow observes their progress.


After the fairly standard practices of 1.5, this scene is a sure sign that the motor that powers the ship is the peripheral realm of the uncanny. Stray too far from it, and Twin Peaksbegins to look too much like other shows, gradually losing its lustre. The last two episodes of the season are more in the manner of 1.5.






Comments

Popular posts from this blog

She writes Twilight fan fiction.

Vampire Academy (2014)
My willingness to give writer Daniel Waters some slack on the grounds of early glories sometimes pays off (Sex and Death 101) and sometimes, as with this messy and indistinct Young Adult adaptation, it doesn’t. If Vampire Academy plods along as a less than innovative smart-mouthed Buffy rip-off that might be because, if you added vampires to Heathers, you would probably get something not so far from the world of Joss Whedon. Unfortunately inspiration is a low ebb throughout, not helped any by tepid direction from Daniel’s sometimes-reliable brother Mark and a couple of hopelessly plankish leads who do their best to dampen down any wit that occasionally attempts to surface.

I can only presume there’s a never-ending pile of Young Adult fiction poised for big screen failure, all of it comprising multi-novel storylines just begging for a moment in the Sun. Every time an adaptation crashes and burns (and the odds are that they will) another one rises, hydra-like, hoping…

Your honor, with all due respect: if you're going to try my case for me, I wish you wouldn't lose it.

The Verdict (1982)
(SPOILERS) Sidney Lumet’s return to the legal arena, with results every bit as compelling as 12 Angry Men a quarter of a century earlier. This time the focus is on the lawyer, in the form of Paul Newman’s washed-up ambulance chaser Frank Galvin, given a case that finally matters to him. In less capable hands, The Verdict could easily have resorted to a punch-the-air piece of Hollywood cheese, but, thanks to Lumet’s earthy instincts and a sharp, unsentimental screenplay from David Mamet, this redemption tale is one of the genre’s very best.

And it could easily have been otherwise. The Verdict went through several line-ups of writer, director and lead, before reverting to Mamet’s original screenplay. There was Arthur Hiller, who didn’t like the script. Robert Redford, who didn’t like the subsequent Jay Presson Allen script and brought in James Bridges (Redford didn’t like that either). Finally, the producers got the hump with the luxuriantly golden-haired star for meetin…

He mobilised the English language and sent it into battle.

Darkest Hour (2017)
(SPOILERS) Watching Joe Wright’s return to the rarefied plane of prestige – and heritage to boot – filmmaking following the execrable folly of the panned Pan, I was struck by the difference an engaged director, one who cares about his characters, makes to material. Only last week, Ridley Scott’s serviceable All the Money in the World made for a pointed illustration of strong material in the hands of someone with no such investment, unless they’re androids. Wright’s dedication to a relatable Winston Churchill ensures that, for the first hour-plus, Darkest Hour is a first-rate affair, a piece of myth-making that barely puts a foot wrong. It has that much in common with Wright’s earlier Word War II tale, Atonement. But then, like Atonement, it comes unstuck.

Never mind. You may be losing a carriage, but he’ll be gaining a bomb.

The Avengers 5.13: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Station
Continuing a strong mid-season run, Brian Clemens rejigs one of the dissenting (and departing) Roger Marshall's scripts (hence "Brian Sheriff") and follows in the steps of the previous season's The Girl from Auntie by adding a topical-twist title (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum came out a year earlier). If this is one of those stories where you know from the first who's doing what to whom, the actual mechanism for the doing is a strong and engaging one, and it's pepped considerably by a supporting cast including one John Laurie (2.11: Death of a Great Dane, 3.2: Brief for Murder).

The simple fact is, your killer is in your midst. Your killer is one of you.

The Avengers 5.12: The Superlative Seven
I’ve always rather liked this one, basic as it is in premise. If the title consciously evokes The Magnificent Seven, to flippant effect, the content is Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, but played out with titans of their respective crafts – including John Steed, naturally – encountering diminishing returns. It also boasts a cast of soon-to-be-famous types (Charlotte Rampling, Brian Blessed, Donald Sutherland), and the return of one John Hollis (2.16: Warlock, 4.7: The Cybernauts). Kanwitch ROCKS!

Dude, you're embarrassing me in front of the wizards.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
(SPOILERS) The cliffhanger sequel, as a phenomenon, is a relatively recent thing. Sure, we kind of saw it with The Empire Strikes Back – one of those "old" movies Peter Parker is so fond of – a consequence of George Lucas deliberately borrowing from the Republic serials of old, but he had no guarantee of being able to complete his trilogy; it was really Back to the Future that began the trend, and promptly drew a line under it for another decade. In more recent years, really starting with The MatrixThe Lord of the Rings stands apart as, post-Weinstein's involvement, fashioned that way from the ground up – shooting the second and third instalments back-to-back has become a thing, both more cost effective and ensuring audiences don’t have to endure an interminable wait for their anticipation to be sated. The flipside of not taking this path is an Allegiant, where greed gets the better of a studio (split a novel into two movie parts assuming a…

Who are you and why do you know so much about car washes?

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
(SPOILERS) The belated arrival of the Ant-Man sequel on UK shores may have been legitimately down to World Cup programming, but it nevertheless adds to the sense that this is the inessential little sibling of the MCU, not really expected to challenge the grosses of a Doctor Strange, let alone the gargantuan takes of its two predecessors this year. Empire magazine ran with this diminution, expressing disappointment that it was "comparatively minor and light-hitting" and "lacks the scale and ambition of recent Marvel entries". Far from deficits, for my money these should be regard as accolades bestowed upon Ant-Man and the Wasp; it understands exactly the zone its operating in, yielding greater dividends than the three most recent prior Marvel entries the review cites in its efforts at point scoring.

I freely chose my response to this absurd world. If given the opportunity, I would have been more vigorous.

The Falcon and the Snowman (1985)
(SPOILERS) I suspect, if I hadn’t been ignorant of the story of Christopher Boyce and Andrew Daulton Lee selling secrets to the Soviets during the ‘70s, I’d have found The Falcon and the Snowman less engaging than I did. Which is to say that John Schlesinger’s film has all the right ingredients to be riveting, including a particularly camera-hogging performance from Sean Penn (as Lee), but it’s curiously lacking in narrative drive. Only fitfully does it channel the motives of its protagonists and their ensuing paranoia. As such, the movie makes a decent primer on the case, but I ended up wondering if it might not be ideal fodder for retelling as a miniseries.

Everyone creates the thing they dread.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
(SPOILERS) Avengers: Age of Ultron’s problem isn’t one of lack. It benefits from a solid central plot. It features a host of standout scenes and set pieces. It hands (most of) its characters strong defining moments. It doesn’t even suffer now the “wow” factor of seeing the team together for the first time has subsided. Its problem is that it’s too encumbered. Maybe its asking to much of a director to effectively martial the many different elements required by an ensemble superhero movie such as this, yet Joss Whedon’s predecessor feels positively lean in comparison.

Part of this is simply down to the demands of the vaster Marvel franchise machine. Seeds are laid for Captain America: Civil War, Infinity Wars I & II, Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok. It feels like several spinning plates too many. Such activity occasionally became over-intrusive on previous occasions (Iron Man II), but there are points in Age of Ultron where it becomes distractingly so. …

Just make love to that wall, pervert!

Seinfeld 2.10: The Statue
The Premise
Jerry employs a cleaner, the boyfriend of an author whose book Elaine is editing. He leaves the apartment spotless, but Jerry is convinced he has made off with a statue.