Skip to main content

Somebody shot Waldo.

Twin Peaks
1.7: Realization Time

The weak link in an otherwise strong first run, 1.7 is still many times preferable to the nadirs of Season Two. But it’s victim to several humdrum plotlines that fail to grip, and even the visit to One Eyed Jacks isn’t what it might be.


Agent Cooper: Audrey, you’re a high school girl, I’m an agent of the FBI.

Chivalrous, morally scrupulous Coop diffuses the bedroom tension by asking Audrey to get dressed, of course (“Well, what I want and what I need are two different things”). He even has a clean hanky so she can dry her eyes. What a gallant fellow. Not only that, he orders two malts and two fries and “then I want you to tell me all your troubles”.


Audrey probably should have heeded his advice (“Secrets are dangerous things, Audrey”. Secrets are a recurring theme of the episode, as later we hear Laura refer to “All my secrets, the naked ones. Like your coconut”; a particularly clumsy sliver of exposition that, as it provides James and Donna with the location of the missing tape). Unbeknownst to Coop, Audrey is planning her own undercover visit to the casino (as Hester Prynne, the lead character in The Scarlet Letter). 


Where Coop is going as a patron, she is assuming the role of one of Blackie’s girls. This leads to a classic Audrey moment (it’s very easy to remember why she was an instant icon when the show arrived), as she convinces Blackie, who has quickly realised she is lying, not to send her packing by tying a knot in a cherry stalk with her tongue! It also bears note that at one point she hides in a cupboard, chugging away on a cigarette, and no one outside appears to notice.


Laura: Why is it so easy to make men like me, when I don’t even have to try very hard?

The big problem with this episode is that some of the joins start showing. Twin Peaks may not be the most appropriate show to choose if one wishes to witness rigorous plot logic, but it’s in trouble when it shows signs of the kind of desperation of the soaps it is poking fun of, but without the wit.  The most glaring of these is the ruse to prise Jacoby from his apartment so Donna and James can look for Laura’s tape. Dressing Maddy in a blonde wig and hanging about at a truck stop, while baffled Jacoby falls for the notion that it is indeed Laura, is really quite tiresome. This comes on the back the previous episode’s incredible convenience of Maddy finding a tape the police couldn’t in that old “secret hiding place”. Then there’s Bobby following James around (everyone seems to know what they’re up to on this night), and planting drugs in his petrol tank. The only striking part of all this is when Maddy slips out of the house and we see Leland sitting alone in the darkness of the living room, a severe expression on his face.


Sheriff Truman: Somebody shot Waldo.

The use of Leo here isn’t much better. It’s immensely fortuitous that he is listening to a police scanner at the very moment they are talking about Waldo. He’s appears to be a good shot too, able to hit the mynah bird from unconfirmed distance through a window. Harley Peyton wrote this one, so he must take the blame for its expediencies.


Director Caleb Deschanel (mostly a cinematographer and father of Zooey) embarks on one of his rare excursions into the realm of director and includes a few flourishes. Most notable is (a lot! It could be a Brian De Palma movie) blood splattering donuts when the bird is shot (it’s the kind of queasy food-related desecration Hitchcock was fond of, what with his cigarettes stubbed out in poached eggs). It’s also a massive stretch to assume the mynah bird would have some incriminating evidence concerning the fateful night’s events, and even more so that it does.


The actual recording of the bird’s last words is suitably eerie (“Don’t go there, hurting me, hurting me, stop it, stop it, Leo, no, Leo, no”), which goes some way to making up for this succession of narrative stretches. As to Coop’s feelings on Waldo (“I don’t like birds”), we don’t learn why.


The business with Catherine’s insurance policy, and the unlikely partnership between Ben, Josie and Hank, is mildly intriguing, but it’s never in danger of being engrossing (there’s also a scene of Ben and Jerry eating ice-cream; funny, that). It doesserve to emphasise that Harry is heading for a fall, and Cooper appears to premeditate that all is not as it should be, even though he goes with Harry’s avowal of her (“How much do you know about her?”)


Agent Cooper: Every day, once a day, give yourself a present.
Sheriff Truman: A present. Like Christmas?
Agent Cooper: Nothing like a great cup of black coffee... Oh, man. That hits the spot.

It’s interesting to see that Harry and Hank have history (“Do you think people really change, Cooper? I don’t”), but not that interesting. However, it leads to a lovely little Cooperism as he suggests daily present giving to oneself… that just happens to involve a cup of coffee. There are too many uninvolving interludes in the episode, though. Andy and Lucy’s frosty relationship is tedious and Nadine has tipped into the realm of annoying.


Ed: You think it’ll fit? I’ve got a big head.

It’s a good episode for Ed, though. Coop calls in the Bookhouse Boys (yawn) for a little fieldwork outside his jurisdiction. This entails Coop and Ed getting out the dress-up box. Coop comes over all James Bond in a natty tux (“It’s pretty spiffy, Cooper”) while Ed looks suitably ridiculous in a false ‘tache, wig and loud suit. Cooper is so smooth, he doesn’t miss a beat when they arrive at One Eyed Jacks and Blackie calls Ed out (“You look like a cop”, to which Coop replies “I’m the cop”).


Agent Cooper: Whenever I gamble with company money, I always like to bring back a 10-15% return.

The only problem is, this sequence (which extends into the next episode) isn’t nearly as much fun as it ought to be. This is also an episode that ends with someone lurking in the bushes watching Maddy. It’s kind of lazy, indicative of an instalment that never really hits its stride.







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…

Haven’t you ever heard of the healing power of laughter?

Batman (1989)
(SPOILERS) There’s Jaws, there’s Star Wars, and then there’s Batman in terms of defining the modern blockbuster. Jaws’ success was so profound, it changed the way movies were made and marketed. Batman’s marketing was so profound, it changed the way tentpoles would be perceived: as cash cows. Disney tried to reproduce the effect the following year with Dick Tracy, to markedly less enthusiastic response. None of this places Batman in the company of Jaws as a classic movie sold well, far from it. It just so happened to hit the spot. As Tim Burton put it, it was “more of a cultural phenomenon than a great movie”. It’s difficult to disagree with his verdict that the finished product (for that is what it is) is “mainly boring”.

Now, of course, the Burton bat has been usurped by the Nolan incarnation (and soon the Snyder). They have some things in common. Both take the character seriously and favour a sombre tone, which was much more of shock to the system when Burton did it (even…

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.

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.

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.

The more you drive, the less intelligent you are.

Repo Man (1984)
In fairness, I should probably check out more Alex Cox’s later works. Before I consign him to the status of one who never made good on the potential of his early success. But the bits and pieces I’ve seen don’t hold much sway. I pretty much gave up on him after Walker. It seemed as if the accessibility of Repo Man was a happy accident, and he was subsequently content to drift further and further down his own post-modern punk rabbit hole, as if affronted by the “THE MOST ASTONISHING FEATURE FILM DEBUT SINCE STEVEN SPIELBERG’S DUEL” accolade splashed over the movie’s posters (I know, I have a copy; see below).

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…

You guys sure like watermelon.

The Irishman aka I Heard You Paint Houses (2019)
(SPOILERS) Perhaps, if Martin Scorsese hadn’t been so opposed to the idea of Marvel movies constituting cinema, The Irishman would have been a better film. It’s a decent film, assuredly. A respectable film, definitely. But it’s very far from being classic. And a significant part of that is down to the usually assured director fumbling the execution. Or rather, the realisation. I don’t know what kind of crazy pills the ranks of revered critics have been taking so as to recite as one the mantra that you quickly get used to the de-aging effects so intrinsic to its telling – as Empire magazine put it, “you soon… fuggadaboutit” – but you don’t. There was no point during The Irishman that I was other than entirely, regrettably conscious that a 75-year-old man was playing the title character. Except when he was playing a 75-year-old man.