Skip to main content

You’re standing on General Stuart.

Twin Peaks
2.13: Checkmate

A solo script credit to Harley Peyton and Todd Holland’s last of two directorial stints, Checkmatefeatures several significant developments tipping the wink that the show will soon begin to struggle out of its season two morass.


Special Agent Cooper: Is my death so important to you?

As ever, the main Coop plotline is the most diverting, even if the execution (literally) of the Jean Renault revenge storyline’s finale is slightly rickety. Sweaty Ernie blows his wire at their Renault drugs meet, endangering him and a duded-up Denise (“You can call me Dennis”). Deputised Coop offers barters himself and, if the confrontation isn’t all it might be, that’s merely a reflection of a less than riveting Jean plot in the first place.


Jean Renault: Maybe you brought the nightmare with you, and maybe the nightmare will die with you.

Renault certainly reveals himself to be not such a mastermind. Against all common sense a reconstituted Denise (it’s like Big John Little John; Dennis and Denise are never in the same room at the same time) is allowed to deliver pizza (“Let her come, it’s just a girl”). Coop snatches a cunningly placed gun from Denise’s garter, and Jean is toast. It’s also goodbye to Duchovny, who did good in a trio of episodes that unfortunately came at the series’ nadir (“It was just my legs”).


Special Agent Cooper: It’s a chess game. Windom Earle’s next move.

No sooner has that plotline been exited than Windom Earle’s gathers pace, with the ex-Fed causing confusion by lighting fires. His objective: to deliver a human chess piece/victim. It’s notable that this is early ’91, and Lynch the series has the jump on the serial killer victim variations-on-a-theme premise that would inform a ‘90s subgenre.


Major Briggs: Everything is known to me, but somehow beyond my reach.

That’s about it for Coop in this one, aside from the dismayed look he gives a donut with a bite taken out of it (by someone else). And the opening interrogation of the returned Major Briggs. We learn that, amongst his many skills, he is immune from regression.


He can’t quite recall what transpired during his missing time, but a giant owl featured. And, very X-Files, he has three triangular scars behind his right ear in perfect proportion. Briggs trots out the “That’s classified” mantra (at least one an episode wouldn’t be the same) but drops some clues about how project Blue Book was disbanded in 1969 (one can hear Mulder scoffing) yet continued in an unofficial capacity; one aspect of this was the “search for a place called the White Lodge”.


Elsewhere we’re witness to the much-deserved doing for of Hank. Owing to his following of Norma, who finally consummated her passion with Ed, Hank misses arrest at the bust. He begins wailing on Big Ed, only for Nadine to arrive at beat the shit out of the rotter. This, after planting one (a kiss) on Mike in the diner. There’s something a little female gremlin in Gremlins 2 about her seduction of Mike.


The rest is the (now) usual less than scintillating business. Andy and Dick visit the orphanage to investigate the Satan child. James is all mopey-dopey, and then quite shameless as he takes Evelyn Marsh in the harsh courtyard daylight. Powerful aphrodisiac, champagne. “Brother” Malcolm looks on, the perv. Although you could hardly miss them.


There’s more Josie and Harry, more Catherine and Ben, although the best line in his weak swill aberrant mind plotline is “You’re standing on general Stuart” when Audrey doesn’t look where she’s going.


Bobby is being a right little prick, and fully deserves his slap when he announces to Shelly she can look after Leo as he’s got better things to do. Leo has woken up, however, and Holland over stokes the double climax (the other being the discover of the chess piece) with Leo looking like some kind of clown while a clockwork doll freaks out Shelly.


Leo may be awake, but he’s not going to turn the tide his way; the extent to which the character is turned into a punching bag for whatever steam the writers want to let off next is a constant source of mirth, and credit is due to Eric DaRe for being so stoic/deadpan. His encounter with Windom Earle will open up a whole new world of pain.






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…

My name is Dr. King Schultz, this is my valet, Django, and these are our horses, Fritz, and Tony.

Django Unchained (2012)
(MINOR SPOILERS) Since the painful misstep of Grindhouse/Death Proof, Quentin Tarantino has regained the higher ground like never before. Pulp Fiction, his previous commercial and critical peak, has been at very least equalled by the back-to-back hits of Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained. Having been underwhelmed by his post Pulp Fiction efforts (albeit, I admired his technical advances as a director in Kill Bill), I was pleasantly surprised by Inglourious Basterds. It was no work of genius (so not Pulp Fiction) by any means, but there was a gleeful irreverence in its treatment of history and even to the nominal heroic status of its titular protagonists. Tonally, it was a good fit for the director’s “cool” aesthetic. As a purveyor of postmodern pastiche, where the surface level is the subtext, in some ways he was operating at his zenith. Django Unchained is a retreat from that position, the director caught in the tug between his all-important aesthetic pr…

You look like an angry lizard!

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
(SPOILERS) I can quite see a Queen fan begrudging this latest musical biopic for failing to adhere to the facts of their illustrious career – but then, what biopic does steer a straight and true course? – making it ironic that they're the main fuel for Bohemian Rhapsody's box office success. Most other criticisms – and they're legitimate, on the whole – fall away in the face of a hugely charismatic star turn from Rami Malek as the band's frontman. He's the difference between a standard-issue, episodic, join-the-dots narrative and one that occasionally touches greatness, and most importantly, carries emotional heft.

I am so sick of Scotland!

Outlaw/King (2018)
(SPOILERS) Proof that it isn't enough just to want to make a historical epic, you have to have some level of vision for it as well. Say what you like about Mel's Braveheart – and it isn't a very good film – it's got sensibility in spades. He knew what he was setting out to achieve, and the audience duly responded. What does David Mackenzie want from Outlaw/King (it's shown with a forward slash on the titles, so I'm going with it)? Ostensibly, and unsurprisingly, to restore the stature of Robert the Bruce after it was rather tarnished by Braveheart, but he has singularly failed to do so. More than that, it isn’t an "idea", something you can recognise or get behind even if you don’t care about the guy. You’ll never forget Mel's Wallace, for better or worse, but the most singular aspect of Chris Pine's Bruce hasn’t been his rousing speeches or heroic valour. No, it's been his kingly winky.

I don’t think you will see President Pierce again.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)
(SPOILERS) The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and other tall tales of the American frontier is the title of "the book" from which the Coen brothers' latest derives, and so announces itself as fiction up front as heavily as Fargo purported to be based on a true story. In the world of the portmanteau western – has there even been one before? – theme and content aren't really all that distinct from the more familiar horror collection, and as such, these six tales rely on sudden twists or reveals, most of them revolving around death. And inevitably with the anthology, some tall tales are stronger than other tall tales, the former dutifully taking up the slack.

It was one of the most desolate looking places in the world.

They Shall Not Grow Old (2018)
Peter Jackson's They Shall Not Grow Old, broadcast by the BBC on the centenary of Armistice Day, is "sold" on the attraction and curiosity value of restored, colourised and frame rate-enhanced footage. On that level, this World War I documentary, utilising a misquote from Laurence Binyon's poem for its title, is frequently an eye-opener, transforming the stuttering, blurry visuals that have hitherto informed subsequent generations' relationship with the War. However, that's only half the story; the other is the use of archive interviews with veterans to provide a narrative, exerting an effect often more impacting for what isn't said than for what is.

There's something wrong with the sky.

Hold the Dark (2018)
(SPOILERS) Hold the Dark, an adaptation of William Giraldi's 2014 novel, is big on atmosphere, as you'd expect from director Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin, Green Room) and actor-now-director (I Don’t Want to Live in This World Anymore) pal Macon Blair (furnishing the screenplay and appearing in one scene), but contrastingly low on satisfying resolutions. Being wilfully oblique can be a winner if you’re entirely sure what you're trying to achieve, but the effect here is rather that it’s "for the sake of it" than purposeful.

Believe me, Mr Bond, I could shoot you from Stuttgart und still create ze proper effect.

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
(SPOILERS) Some of the reactions to Spectre would have you believe it undoes all the “good” work cementing Daniel Craig’s incarnation of Bond in Skyfall. If you didn’t see that picture as the second coming of the franchise (I didn’t) your response to the latest may not be so harsh, despite its less successful choices (Blofeld among them). And it isn’t as if one step, forward two steps back are anything new in perceptions of the series (or indeed hugely divisive views on what even constitutes a decent Bond movie). After the raves greeting Goldeneye, Pierce Brosnan suffered a decidedly tepid response to his second outing, Tomorrow Never Dies, albeit it was less eviscerated than Craig’s sophomore Quantum of Solace. Tomorrow’s reputation disguises many strong points, although it has to be admitted that a Moore-era style finale and a floundering attempt to package in a halcyon villain aren’t among them.

The Bond series’ flirtations with contemporary relevance have a…

It seemed as if I had missed something.

Room 237 (2012)
Stanley Kubrick’s meticulous, obsessive approach towards filmmaking was renowned, so perhaps it should be no surprise to find comparable traits reflected in a section of his worshippers. Legends about the director have taken root (some of them with a factual basis, others bunkum), while the air of secrecy that enshrouded his life and work has duly fostered a range of conspiracy theories. A few of these are aired in Rodney Ascher’s documentary, which indulges five variably coherent advocates of five variably tenuous theories relating to just what The Shining is really all about. Beyond Jack Nicholson turning the crazy up to 11, that is. Ascher has hit on a fascinating subject, one that exposes our capacity to interpret any given information wildly differently according to our disposition. But his execution, which both underlines and undermines the theses of these devotees, leaves something to be desired.

Part of the problem is simply one of production values. The audio tra…

You stole my car, and you killed my dog!

John Wick (2014)
(SPOILERS) For their directorial debut, ex-stunt guys Chad Stahelski and David Leitch plump for the old reliable “hit man comes out of retirement” plotline, courtesy of screenwriter Derek Kolstad, and throw caution to the wind. The result, John Wick, is one of last year’s geek and critical favourites, a fired up actioner that revels in its genre tropes and captures that elusive lightning in a bottle; a Keanu Reeves movie in which he is perfectly cast.

That said, some of the raves have probably gone slightly overboard. This is effective, silly, and enormous fun in its own hyper-violent way, but Stahelski and Leitch haven’t announced themselves stylistically so much as plastered the screen with ultra-violence and precision choreography. They have a bit of a way to go before they’re masters of their domain, and they most definitely need to stint on their seemingly insatiable appetite for a metalhead soundtrack. This kind of bludgeoning choice serves to undercut the action a…