Skip to main content

He is changing the pattern of the game board.

Twin Peaks
2.19: Variations on Relations

As if to underline the approaching end game, Mark Frost has his first writing credit since the demise of Leland Palmer. Jonathan Sanger, a TV journeyman delivering his sole Twin Peaksepisode, aids Frost’s cause, and includes a few attention-grabbing touches (most notably the cowled figure whose robes frame the image, MTV-style).


Heavy Metal Dude: Hey man, your story’s cool but you promised me beer.

This is the one with the human chess piece, memorably portrayed by Ted Raimi (well, he’s entombed in a papier mâchépawn and then shot with an arrow by Windom Earle). It’s interest to see Leo, monosyllabic at best, crumbled to the state of one with moral qualms. He baulks at the intended murder of Ted, resulting in some nasty electro-shocks.


Windom Earle: Once upon a time, there was a place of great goodness called the White Lodge. Gentle fawns gambolled here, amid happy laughing spirits. The sounds of innocence and joy filled the air. And when it rained, it rained sweet nectar that infused one’s heart with a desire to live life in truth and beauty. Generally speaking, a ghastly place, reeking of virtue’s sour smell.

Earle’s description of the White Lodge, complete with undisguised disdain for its saccharine excesses, is memorable and very funny. He’s a moustache-twirling rotter in scenes like these, and really lifts the series. As such, his description of the Black Lodge, an opposite place of almost unimaginable power, isn’t nearly as arresting since he’s in earnest.


Special Agent Cooper: Harry, someone’s been here already.

Coop, back in his suit where he belongs, is showing a bit of deductive acumen in between mooning over Annie (he asks her to accompany him on a nature study, like a proper boy scout, tingles talking to her, and takes her out on a lake accompanied by much quacking). He learns of the Shelly poem from Shelly (one he wrote to Caroline) and notes that Earle takes “a perverse pride insinuating himself into innocent lives”.


Special Agent Cooper: He is changing the pattern of the game board.

He also persuades Major Briggs to give them the lowdown on what he knows of Earle from his Project Bluebook days, which Briggs consents to, having mulled the moral judgements involved. The episode concludes with Earle forsaking the back and forth of the chess game when he delivers the body of Raimi and announces by note “Next time it will be someone you know.” This is good stuff, and keeps the episode ticking along.


Special Agent Cooper: It feels like someone’s taken a crowbar to my heart.

Less engrossing is the love chat between Coop and Billy Zane (he’s a cool dude). Billy Zane announces, “Love is hell” whereas Coop is more optimistic (“The Hindus say love is a ladder to heaven”).


The riveting prospect of a Miss Twin Peaks contest is reving up, of course. Which involves Lana wanting the Mayor to fix it for her and Bobby trying to persuade Shelly to enter (“Beautiful people get everything they want”). Bobby’s using and manipulation comes back to bite him, however, since Gordon Cole is still shouting about the place:


Gordon Cole: This world of Twin Peaks seems to be filled with beautiful women.

No shit, David. I wonder how that came to be?


Gordon Cole: You’re witnessing a front three quarter view of two adults sharing a tender moment… Take another look sonny; it’s going to happen again.

Yes, this is the (much-deserved) snubbing of feckless Bobby when before his eyes Cole kisses Shelly not once but twice ("two adults sharing a tender moment"). Yeah, I know, Lynch is twice her age, but it’s adorable isn’t it? What really makes these scenes is how funny Amick seems to genuinely find the whole deal (or she’s just a really great actress, which I’m not rejecting out of hand).


Andy: There are also white wines and sparkling wines.

Dick Tremayne is also on good form, hosting a wine tasting. These sorts of plots are scraping the barrel really, but when you’ve got someone like Buchanan wringing every ounce of comedic nuance from of them, they tend to work despite themselves. There’s his oozing smarm towards Lana but best of all his indignant  SPIT IT OUT!” to Andy (who drinks his wine, wisely, anyway).


Mike: Do you have any idea what a combination of sexual maturity and superhuman strength can result in?

Meanwhile, Pete’s composing poetry to departed Josie, Donna’s threatening to study overseas unless her mother tells the truth about Ben, and Mike is whispering the secret of his tryst with Nadine to Bobby. And Ben has come up with the theme for Miss Twin Peaks (“How to save our forests”, no self interest there) and agreed to pay Dick’s nasal expenses.


The Catherine/Andrew plot involving the puzzle box is actually quite okay as obvious intrigue goes, and about the first time their storyline has become engaging (no fault of the actors). As shown in the US, this was the pre-penultimate episode (the last was shown as a double). I recall finding the Earle plot just as engrossing as the first season on initial viewing. Admittedly, it isn’t. But it’s also the case that the show was far from having run out of juice at this point. It just needed more care and understanding directed its way.





Comments

  1. Since the begin of the mail business, each mailer out there has had one shared objective - to better convey. We've seen a great deal of innovations go back and forth, all helping us achieve this objective. Yet, through all that time, one objective has dependably escaped us: to efficiently print static and variable information, in one go, in fantastic shading. Ending for nectar

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

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…

Exit bear, pursued by an actor.

Paddington 2 (2017)
(SPOILERS) Paddington 2 is every bit as upbeat and well-meaning as its predecessor. It also has more money thrown at it, a much better villain (an infinitely better villain) and, in terms of plotting, is more developed, offering greater variety and a more satisfying structure. Additionally, crucially, it succeeds in offering continued emotional heft and heart to the Peruvian bear’s further adventures. It isn’t, however, quite as funny.

Even suggesting such a thing sounds curmudgeonly, given the universal applause greeting the movie, but I say that having revisited the original a couple of days prior and found myself enjoying it even more than on first viewing. Writer-director Paul King and co-writer Simon Farnaby introduce a highly impressive array of set-ups with huge potential to milk their absurdity to comic ends, but don’t so much squander as frequently leave them undertapped.

Paddington’s succession of odd jobs don’t quite escalate as uproariously as they migh…

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.

I don’t need to be held together, I’m fine just floating through space like Andy.

Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond (2017)
Or, to give it its full subtitle, Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – The Story of Jim Carrey & Andy Kaufman Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton. Carrey’s in a contradictory place just now, on the one hand espousing his commitment to a spiritual path and enlightened/ing state, on the other being sued in respect of his ex-girlfriend’s suicide and accompanying allegations regarding his behaviour. That behaviour – in a professional context – and his place of consciousness are the focus of Jim & Andy, and an oft-repeated mantra (great for motivational speeches) that “I learned that you can fail at what you don’t love, so you may as well do what you love. There’s really no choice to be made”. The results are consequently necessarily contradictory, but always fascinating.

Nothing in the world can stop me now!

Doctor Who The Underwater Menace: Episode Three

Episode Three is pretty much 25 minutes of filler, revolving around a kidnap attempt on Zaroff and Sean encouraging the fish people to engage in industrial action. But, laughable (intentional or otherwise) as the plot mechanics may be, this is never dull. Smith keeps the action zipping along. She has limited space at her disposal, but ensures the action scenes are tightly shot and well-edited. This means that, even when the staging isn’t especially convincing (the crowded market square, all 30 feet of it, the fight between Jamie and Zaroff), it’s a million times better executed than any comparable studio action set piece from the Davison era that isn’t directed by Graeme Harper.

No, by the sky demon! I say no!

Doctor Who The Pirate Planet
I doubt Pennant Roberts, popular as he undoubtedly was with the cast, was anyone’s idea of a great Doctor Who director. Introduced to the show by Philip Hinchliffe – a rare less-than-sterling move – he made a classic story on paper (The Face of Evil) just pretty good, and proceeded to translate Robert Holmes’ satirical The Sun Makers merely functionally. When he returned to the show during the ‘80s, he was responsible for two entirely notorious productions, in qualitative terms. But The Pirate Planet is the story where his slipshod, rickety, make-do approach actually works… most of the time (look at the surviving footage of Shada, where there are long passages of straight narrative, and it’s evident Roberts wasn’t such a good fit). Douglas Adams script is so packed, both with plot and humour, that its energy is inbuilt; there’s no need to rely on a craftsman to imbue tension or pace. There is a caveat, of course: if your idea of Doctor Who requires a straig…

For a special agent, you're not having a very special day, are you?

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)
(SPOILERS) Guy Ritchie would evidently have liked to make a Bond film as much as his former producer Matthew Vaughn, and either would undoubtedly add more spark to the franchise than current darling Sam Mendes (lush cinematography or no lush cinematography). While Vaughn brokered his fandom into a patchy but violent and vibrant original earlier this year (Kingsman: The Secret Service) and won considerable box office as a result, Ritchie picked up Steven Soderbergh’s discarded menu items and went with refashioning an existing property, one he had no yearning interest in. Sometimes that shows in the result, but mostly The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a breezy, playful exercise in period spyfare. As such, it’s a shame this looks destined to remain a one-time only outing.

Which isn’t to say there’s necessarily much else left to do with it (one can imagine desperate approaches like throwing them into the ‘70s a la Austin Powers and X-Men), but the amount of fun Ritchi…

You can’t be in England and not know the test score!

The Lady Vanishes (1938)
(SPOILERS) Alfred Hitchcock’s penultimate UK-based picture, The Lady Vanishes can be comfortably paired with The 39 Steps as a co-progenitor of his larkier suspense formula (watch these two and then jump to North by Northwest and the through line is immediately obvious). Part of its great blessing is Hitchcock being handed a screenplay by Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat, latterly directors themselves, and knowing to make the most of the very funny dialogue, including arguably the picture’s greatest gift (well, other than Hitch himself): Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne as ultimate English cricket enthusiasts – to the exclusion of all else – Charters and Caldicott.

This place sure isn’t like that one in Austria.

Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017)
(SPOILERS) Brawl in Cell Block 99 is most definitely cut from the same cloth as writer-director-co-composer Craig S Zahler’s previous flick Bone Tomahawk: an inexorable, slow-burn suspenser that works equally well as a character drama. That is, when it isn’t revelling in sporadic bursts of ultraviolence, including a finale in a close-quartered pit of hell. If there’s nothing quite as repellent as that scene in Bone Tomahawk, it’s never less than evident that this self-professedchild of Fangoria” loves his grue. He also appears to have a predilection for, to use his own phraseology, less politically correct content.

This is how we do action in Uganda.

Who Killed Captain Alex? (2010)
Uganda’s first action movie”, Who Killed Captain Alex? is a cheerfully ultra-low budget, wholly amateur picture made by Nabwana Isaac Godfrey Geoffrey. It’s the kind of thing you and your mates would make and (rightly) expect no one else to ever watch (aside from a few hundred hits on YouTube). But stick a frequently hilarious running commentary over the top from VJ (video joker) Emme, and it this home-ish move takes on something approaching the spoofy quality of What’s Up Tiger Lilly?