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…

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…

I don't like bugs. You can't hear them, you can't see them and you can't feel them, then suddenly you're dead.

Blake's 7 2.7: Killer

Robert Holmes’ first of four scripts for the series, and like last season’s Mission to Destiny there are some fairly atypical elements and attitudes to the main crew (although the A/B storylines present a familiar approach and each is fairly equal in importance for a change). It was filmed second, which makes it the most out of place episode in the run (and explains why the crew are wearing outfits – they must have put them in the wash – from a good few episodes past and why Blake’s hair has grown since last week).
The most obvious thing to note from Holmes’ approach is that he makes Blake a Doctor-substitute. Suddenly he’s full of smart suggestions and shrewd guesses about the threat that’s wiping out the base, basically leaving a top-level virologist looking clueless and indebted to his genius insights. If you can get past this (and it did have me groaning) there’s much enjoyment to be had from the episode, not least from the two main guest actors.

An initiative test. How simply marvellous!

You Must Be Joking! (1965)
A time before a Michael Winner film was a de facto cinematic blot on the landscape is now scarcely conceivable. His output, post- (or thereabouts) Death Wish (“a pleasant romp”) is so roundly derided that it’s easy to forget that the once-and-only dining columnist and raconteur was once a bright (well…) young thing of the ‘60s, riding the wave of excitement (most likely highly cynically) and innovation in British cinema. His best-known efforts from this period are a series of movies with Oliver Reed – including the one with the elephant – and tend to represent the director in his pleasant romp period, before he attacked genres with all the precision and artistic integrity of a blunt penknife. You Must Be Joking! comes from that era, its director’s ninth feature, straddling the gap between Ealing and the Swinging ‘60s; coarser, cruder comedies would soon become the order of the day, the mild ribaldry of Carry On pitching into bawdy flesh-fests. You Must Be Joki…

Like an antelope in the headlights.

Black Panther (2018)
(SPOILERS) Like last year’s Wonder Woman, the hype for what it represents has quickly become conflated with Black Panther’s perceived quality. Can 92% and 97% of critics respectively really not be wrong, per Rotten Tomatoes, or are they – Armond White aside – afraid that finding fault in either will make open them to charges of being politically regressive, insufficiently woke or all-round, ever-so-slightly objectionable? As with Wonder Woman, Black Panther’s very existence means something special, but little about the movie itself actually is. Not the acting, not the directing, and definitely not the over-emphatic, laboured screenplay. As such, the picture is a passable two-plus hours’ entertainment, but under-finessed enough that one could easily mistake it for an early entry in the Marvel cycle, rather than arriving when they’re hard-pressed to put a serious foot wrong.

Luck isn’t a superpower... And it isn't cinematic!

Deadpool 2 (2018)
(SPOILERS) Perhaps it’s because I was lukewarm on the original, but Deadpool 2 mercifully disproves the typical consequence of the "more is more" approach to making a sequel. By rights, it should plummet into the pitfall of ever more excess to diminishing returns, yet for the most part it doesn't.  Maybe that’s in part due to it still being a relatively modest undertaking, budget-wise, and also a result of being very self-aware – like duh, you might say, that’s its raison d'être – of its own positioning and expectation as a sequel; it resolutely fails to teeter over the precipice of burn out or insufferable smugness. It helps that it's frequently very funny – for the most part not in the exhaustingly repetitive fashion of its predecessor – but I think the key ingredient is that it finds sufficient room in its mirthful melee for plot and character, in order to proffer tone and contrast.

Ain't nobody likes the Middle East, buddy. There's nothing here to like.

Body of Lies (2008)
(SPOILERS) Sir Ridders stubs out his cigar in the CIA-assisted War on Terror, with predictably gormless results. Body of Lies' one saving grace is that it wasn't a hit, although that more reflects its membership of a burgeoning club where no degree of Hollywood propaganda on the "just fight" (with just a smidgeon enough doubt cast to make it seem balanced at a sideways glance) was persuading the public that they wanted the official fiction further fictionalised.

I didn't kill her. I just relocated her.

The Discovery (2017)
(SPOILERS) The Discovery assembles not wholly dissimilar science-goes-metaphysical themes and ideas to Douglas Trumbull's ill-fated 1983 Brainstorm, revolving around research into consciousness and the revelation of its continuance after death. Perhaps the biggest discovery, though, is that it’s directed and co-written by the spawn of Malcom McDowell and Mary Steenburgen (the latter cameos) – Charlie McDowell – of hitherto negligible credits but now wading into deep philosophical waters and even, with collaborator Justin Lader, offering a twist of sorts.

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.

How many galoshes died to make that little number?

Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003)
(SPOILERS) Looney Tunes: Back in Action proved a far from joyful experience for director Joe Dante, who referred to the production as the longest year-and-a-half of his life. He had to deal with a studio that – insanely – didn’t know their most beloved characters and didn’t know what they wanted, except that they didn’t like what they saw. Nevertheless, despite Dante’s personal dissatisfaction with the finished picture, there’s much to enjoy in his “anti-Space Jam”. Undoubtedly, at times his criticism that it’s “the kind of movie that I don’t like” is valid, moving as it does so hyperactively that its already gone on to the next thing by the time you’ve realised you don’t like what you’re seeing at any given moment. But the flipside of this downside is, there’s more than enough of the movie Dante was trying to make, where you do like what you’re seeing.

Dante commented of Larry Doyle’s screenplay (as interviewed in Joe Dante, edited by Nil Baskar and G…