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

Poor Easy Breezy.

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019)
(SPOILERS) My initial reaction to Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood was mild disbelief that Tarantino managed to hoodwink studios into coming begging to make it, so wilfully perverse is it in disregarding any standard expectations of narrative or plotting. Then I remembered that studios, or studios that aren’t Disney, are desperate for product, and more especially, product that might guarantee them a hit. Quentin’s latest appears to be that, but whether it’s a sufficient one to justify the expense of his absurd vanity project remains to be seen.

I just hope my death makes more cents than my life.

Joker (2019)
(SPOILERS) So the murder sprees didn’t happen, and a thousand puff pieces desperate to fan the flames of such events and then told-ya-so have fallen flat on their faces. The biggest takeaway from Joker is not that the movie is an event, when once that seemed plausible but not a given, but that any mainstream press perspective on the picture appears unable to divorce its quality from its alleged or actual politics. Joker may be zeitgeisty, but isn’t another Taxi Driver in terms of cultural import, in the sense that Taxi Driver didn’t have a Taxi Driver in mind when Paul Schrader wrote it. It is, if you like, faux-incendiary, and can only ever play out on that level. It might be more accurately described as a grubbier, grimier (but still polished and glossy) The Talented Ripley, the tale of developing psychopathy, only tailored for a cinemagoing audience with few options left outside of comic book fare.

So you want me to be half-monk, half-hitman.

Casino Royale (2006)
(SPOILERS) Despite the doubts and trepidation from devotees (too blonde, uncouth etc.) that greeted Daniel Craig’s casting as Bond, and the highly cynical and low-inspiration route taken by Eon in looking to Jason Bourne's example to reboot a series that had reached a nadir with Die Another Day, Casino Royale ends up getting an enormous amount right. If anything, its failure is that it doesn’t push far enough, so successful is it in disarming itself of the overblown set pieces and perfunctory plotting that characterise the series (even at its best), elements that would resurge with unabated gusto in subsequent Craig excursions.

For the majority of its first two hours, Casino Royale is top-flight entertainment, with returning director Martin Campbell managing to exceed his excellent work reformatting Bond for the ‘90s. That the weakest sequence (still good, mind) prior to the finale is a traditional “big” (but not too big) action set piece involving an attempt to…

They literally call themselves “Decepticons”. That doesn’t set off any red flags?

Bumblebee  (2018)
(SPOILERS) Bumblebee is by some distance the best Transformers movie, simply by dint of having a smattering of heart (one might argue the first Shia LaBeouf one also does, and it’s certainly significantly better than the others, but it’s still a soulless Michael Bay “machine”). Laika VP and director Travis Knight brings personality to a series that has traditionally consisted of shamelessly selling product, by way of a nostalgia piece that nods to the likes of Herbie (the original), The Iron Giant and even Robocop.

This is one act in a vast cosmic drama. That’s all.

Audrey Rose (1977)
(SPOILERS) Robert Wise was no stranger to high-minded horror fare when he came to Audrey Rose. He was no stranger to adding a distinctly classy flavour to any genre he tackled, in fact, particularly in the tricky terrain of the musical (West Side Story, The Sound of Music) and science fiction (The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Andromeda Strain). He hadn’t had much luck since the latter, however, with neither Two People nor The Hindenburg garnering good notices or box office. In addition to which, Audrey Rose saw him returning to a genre that had been fundamentally impacted by The Exorcist four years before. One might have expected the realist principals he observed with The Andromeda Strain to be applied to this tale of reincarnation, and to an extent they are, certainly in terms of the performances of the adults, but Wise can never quite get past a hacky screenplay that wants to impart all the educational content of a serious study of continued existence in tandem w…

I'm reliable, I'm a very good listener, and I'm extremely funny.

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)
(SPOILERS) When I wrote my 23 to see in 2019, I speculated that James Cameron might be purposefully giving his hand-me-downs to lesser talents because he hubristically didn’t want anyone making a movie that was within a spit of the proficiency we’ve come to expect from him. Certainly, Robert Rodriguez and Tim Miller are leagues beneath Kathryn Bigelow, Jimbo’s former spouse and director of his Strange Days screenplay. Miller’s no slouch when it comes to action – which is what these movies are all about, let’s face it – but neither is he a craftsman, so all those reviews attesting that Terminator: Dark Fate is the best in the franchise since Terminator 2: Judgment Day may be right, but there’s a considerable gulf between the first sequel (which I’m not that big a fan of) and this retcon sequel to that sequel.

Welcome to the future. Life is good. But it can be better.

20 to See in 2020
Not all of these movies may find a release date in 2020, given Hollywood’s propensity for shunting around in the schedules along with the vagaries of post-production. Of my 21 to See in 2019, there’s still Fonzo, Benedetta, You Should Have Left, Boss Level and the scared-from-its-alloted-date The Hunt yet to see the light of day. I’ve re-included The French Dispatch here, however. I've yet to see Serenity and The Dead Don’t Die. Of the rest, none were wholly rewarding. Netflix gave us some disappointments, both low profile (Velvet Buzzsaw, In the Shadow of the Moon) and high (The Irishman), and a number of blockbusters underwhelmed to a greater or lesser extent (Captain Marvel, Spider-Man: Far From Home, Terminator: Dark Fate, Gemini Man, Star Wars: The Rise of the Skywalker). Others (Knives Out, Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum) were interesting but flawed. Even the more potentially out there (Joker, Us, Glass, Rocketman) couldn…

It’s like an angry white man’s basement in here.

Bad Boys for Life (2020)
(SPOILERS) The reviews for Bad Boys for Life have, perhaps surprisingly, skewed positive, given that it seemed exactly the kind of beleaguered sequel to get slaughtered by critics. Particularly so since, while it’s a pleasure to see Will Smith and Martin Lawrence back together as Mike and Marcus, the attempts to validate this third outing as a more mature, reflective take on their buddy cops is somewhat overstated. Indeed, those moments of reflection or taking stock arguably tend to make the movie as a whole that much glibber, swiftly succeeded as they are by lashings of gleeful ultra-violence or humorous shtick. Under Michael Bay, who didn’t know the definition of a lull, these pictures scorned any opportunity to pause long enough to assess the damage, and were healthier, so to speak, for that. Without him, Bad Boys for Life’s beats often skew closer to standard 90s action fare.

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…

Look, the last time I was told the Germans had gone, it didn't end well.

1917 (2019)
(SPOILERS) When I first heard the premise of Sam Mendes’ Oscar-bait World War I movie – co-produced by Amblin Partners, as Spielberg just loves his sentimental war carnage – my first response was that it sounded highly contrived, and that I’d like to know how, precisely, the story Mendes’ granddad told him would bear any relation to the events he’d be depicting. And just why he felt it would be appropriate to honour his relative’s memory via a one-shot gimmick. None of that has gone away on seeing the film. It’s a technical marvel, and Roger Deakins’ cinematography is, as you’d expect, superlative, but that mastery rather underlines that 1917 is all technique, that when it’s over and you get a chance to draw your breath, the experience feels a little hollow, a little cynical and highly calculated, and leaves you wondering what, if anything, Mendes was really trying to achieve, beyond an edge-of-the-seat (near enough) first-person actioner.