Skip to main content

I haven’t been this excited since I punctured Caroline’s aorta.

Twin Peaks
2.21: Miss Twin Peaks

The penultimate episode, and appropriately Tim Hunter (relied on to deal with Leland’s demise), gives it some welly for the inglorious Miss Twin Peaks contest. The contest may not be the greatest of climactic ideas, but Barry Pullman (in his last of four credits) ensures it services raising the tension.


Indeed, very little is actually distractingly slack here, although you couldn’t exactly call anything galvanising either. The contest judges, except for the mayor, are shown to be on the side of the angels. Norma hopes it will be a good day for healing, and Dick redeems himself while being mirthfully dismissive of Lucy’s revelation that she has decided Andy is the father of her child (pretty much mirroring the audience reaction, then).


Audrey is wearing a red dress, as a now un-virginal woman. Subtle that. She’s conspicuously absent from the leg-revelling and revealing dance number staged by sleazy Pinkle (he gets about, that’s for sure). Apparently Fenn demurred from appearing. Honestly, who can blame her, as fascinating as it is to watch?


Big Ed: Norma and I plan on getting married.

On the Norma front, Ed announces they are to wed, which results in Nadine claiming she and Mike are to do so too (Nadine is hit on the head at the climax, which bodes ill for happily ever afters). Donna issues an ultimatum to her parents, then has Ben reveal the truth at the contest, in not so many words (“You’re my father?”) Andrew shoots open the last remaining puzzle box to reveal a key (“And where there’s a key, there’s a lock”). All these pay off in arresting ways in the finale, which is something. There’s also a jolly bit where a labourer appears to be taking a plastic deer from behind.


Richard Tremayne: She gave a beautiful speech. Inherent in her message were words even the most craven of us could ill afford to ignore.

During the pageant, there’s some weird business where Pinkle is either getting over-excited or fresh with the Log Lady. Quite disconcerting either way.  And Lucy showcases her dance moves (Wendy Robie getting to show she’s not just a squeaky voice). Lana’s “contortionistic jazz erotica” isn’t really all that, truth be told. But neither is Annie’s Coop-scripted, Sioux-quoting paean to saving the Earth.


At least Coop is in full Zen mode again, informing Diane he has been “struck again by the realisation that all of us on this great big planet Earth live in only a fraction of our potential” and how Annie is “a completely original human being”. There follows an innuendo-stoked scene where Coop tells Annie “Your forest is beautiful and peaceful”, leading her to comment, “I don’t want to talk about trees any more”. As if that’s what they were doing.


Windom Earle: Fear Leo, that’s the key. My favourite emotional state.

Windom Earle is, as last week, the life and soul, although less vocally so this time. His curious arrival back at his shack reveals him with an ashen face and blackened mouth, no doubt having prepared himself in some manner for his entrance to the Black Lodge (working up enough fear?) Does he also have a death bag? Well, he has a bag. Leo, a very late-hour hero, ensures Major Briggs’ escape so as to save Shelly. Very touching. I’m not convinced of Windom’s leaving Leo tied to a box of spiders, however. A hand grenade might have been more convincing.


Windom Earle: I haven’t been this excited since I punctured Caroline’s aorta.

Earle’s disguise as the Log Lady is a stroke of absurd genius. Not only for the sheer spectacle, but for the subsequent moment where he beats a deserving Bobby over the head with his wooden companion (“So what? Did you bring the whole family?” Bobby inquires, assuming several of her log wielding clan are present, the clod). He makes off with the Queen of the Pageant of course, at which point, amid the dry ice and strobe effects, Coop has his first glimpse of his former partner during the show’s run.


Andy: I know where it’s telling us to go, it’s not a puzzle at all. It’s a map.

The investigative side is a little less self-assured. It’s a nice touch to have Andy diligently inspecting the petroglyph throughout, and being key to deductions, but the actual conversations and connections don’t flow as tidily as they ought. We go over what we already know about the door to the Black Lodge opening when Jupiter and Saturn are conjunct, and how fear and love open the doors (“Two doors, two lodges”). The donor of the bonsai is also revealed when Andy accidentally knocks it over. Coop is basically concluding what Windom Earle already knows, and filling Harry in on Josie’s death. It’s necessary, but none too elegant.


Special Agent Cooper: I think the Black Lodge is what you have referred to in the past as “the evil in these woods”.


Davis is on great form once again as Briggs, shaking his hands and uttering gibberish about the King of Romania. With Lynch back to helm the finale (scripted by Frost, Engels and Peyton, but with more than enough peculiarity to evidence the additional input from Jimmy Stewart from Mars), the weirdness is impressively upped but for whatever reason the involvement of Windom Earle is negligible. So it’s worth saying here that Kenneth Welsh is crucial to the success of the last half of Season Two, providing an irresistible energy in his every scene. And, as far as cross-dressing goes, he gives Duchovny a run for his money. Possibly even Michael Caine in Dressed to Kill.













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…

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…

Rejoice! The broken are the more evolved. Rejoice.

Split (2016)
(SPOILERS) M Night Shyamalan went from the toast of twist-based filmmaking to a one-trick pony to the object of abject ridicule in the space of only a couple of pictures: quite a feat. Along the way, I’ve managed to miss several of his pictures, including his last, The Visit, regarded as something of a re-locating of his footing in the low budget horror arena. Split continues that genre readjustment, another Blumhouse production, one that also manages to bridge the gap with the fare that made him famous. But it’s a thematically uneasy film, marrying shlock and serious subject matter in ways that don’t always quite gel.

Shyamalan has seized on a horror staple – nubile teenage girls in peril, prey to a psychotic antagonist – and, no doubt with the best intentions, attempted to warp it. But, in so doing, he has dragged in themes and threads from other, more meritable fare, with the consequence that, in the end, the conflicting positions rather subvert his attempts at subversion…

What ho, Brinkley. So, do you think we’re going to get along, what?

Jeeves and Wooster 2.4: Jeeves in the Country  (aka Chuffy)
The plundering of Thank You, Jeeves elicits two more of the series’ best episodes, the first of which finds Bertie retiring to the country with a new valet, the insolent, incompetent and inebriate Brinkley (a wonderfully sour, sullen performance from Fred Evans, who would receive an encore in the final season), owing to Jeeves being forced to resign over his master’s refusal to give up the trumpet (“not an instrument for a gentleman”; in the book, it’s a banjulele).

Chuffnall Hall is the setting (filmed at Wrotham Park in Hertfordshire), although the best of the action takes place around Bertie’s digs in Chuffnall Regis (Clovelly, Devon), which old pal Reginald “Chuffy” Chuffnell (Marmaduke Lord Chuffnell) has obligingly rented him, much to the grievance of the villagers, who have to endure his trumpeting disrupting the beatific beach (it’s a lovely spot, one of the most evocative in the series).

Jeeves is snapped up into the e…

What I have tried to show you is the inevitability of history. What must be, must be.

The Avengers 2.24: A Sense of History
Another gem, A Sense of History features one of the series’ very best villains in Patrick Mower’s belligerent, sneering student Duboys. Steed and Mrs Peel arrive at St Bode’s College investigating murder most cloistered, and the author of a politically sensitive theoretical document, in Martin Woodhouse’s final, and best, teleplay for the show (other notables include Mr. Teddy Bear and The Wringer).

Don't give me any of that intelligent life crap, just give me something I can blow up.

Dark Star (1974)
(SPOILERS) Is Dark Star more a John Carpenter film or more a Dan O’Bannon one? Until the mid ‘80s it might have seemed atypical of either of them, since they had both subsequently eschewed comedy in favour of horror (or thriller). And then they made Big Trouble in Little China and Return of the Living Dead respectively, and you’d have been none-the-wiser again. I think it’s probably fair to suggest it was a more personal film to O’Bannon, who took its commercial failure harder, and Carpenter certainly didn’t relish the tension their creative collaboration brought (“a duel of control” as he put it), as he elected not to work with his co-writer/ actor/ editor/ production designer/ special effects supervisor again. Which is a shame, as, while no one is ever going to label Dark Star a masterpiece, their meeting of minds resulted in one of the decade’s most enduring cult classics, and for all that they may have dismissed it/ seen only its negatives since, one of the best mo…

Ruination to all men!

The Avengers 24: How to Succeed…. At Murder
On the one hand, this episode has a distinctly reactionary whiff about it, pricking the bubble of the feminist movement, with Steed putting a female assassin over his knee and tickling her into submission. On the other, it has Steed putting a female assassin over his knee and tickling her into submission. How to Succeed… At Murder (a title play on How to Succeed at Business Without Really Trying, perhaps) is often very funny, even if you’re more than a little aware of the “wacky” formula that has been steadily honed over the course of the fourth season.

You just keep on drilling, sir, and we'll keep on killing.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2016)
(SPOILERS) The drubbing Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk received really wasn’t unfair. I can’t even offer it the “brave experiment” consolation on the basis of its use of a different frame rate – not evident in itself on 24fps Blu ray, but the neutering effect of the actual compositions is, and quite tellingly in places – since the material itself is so lacking. It’s yet another misguided (to be generous to its motives) War on Terror movie, and one that manages to be both formulaic and at times fatuous in its presentation.

The irony is that Ang Lee, who wanted Billy Lynn to feel immersive and realistic, has made a movie where nothing seems real. Jean-Christophe Castelli’s adaptation of Ben Fountain’s novel is careful to tread heavily on every war movie cliché it can muster – and Vietnam War movie cliché at that – as it follows Billy Lynn (British actor Joe Alwyn) and his unit (“Bravo Squad”) on a media blitz celebrating their heroism in 2004 Iraq …

This here's a bottomless pit, baby. Two-and-a-half miles straight down.

The Abyss (1989)
(SPOILERS) By the time The Abyss was released in late summer ’89, I was a card carrying James Cameron fanboy (not a term was in such common use then, thankfully). Such devotion would only truly fade once True Lies revealed the stark, unadulterated truth of his filmmaking foibles. Consequently, I was an ardent Abyss apologist, railing at suggestions of its flaws. I loved the action, found the love story affecting, and admired the general conceit. So, when the Special Edition arrived in 1993, with its Day the Earth Stood Still-invoking global tsunami reinserted, I was more than happy to embrace it as a now-fully-revealed masterpiece.

I still see the Special Edition as significantly better than the release version (whatever quality concerns swore Cameron off the effects initially, CGI had advanced sufficiently by that point;certainly, the only underwhelming aspect is the surfaced alien craft, which was deemed suitable for the theatrical release), both dramatically and them…

Never compare me to the mayor in Jaws! Never!

Ghostbusters (2016)
(SPOILERS) Paul Feig is a better director than Ivan Reitman, or at very least he’s savvy enough to gather technicians around him who make his films look good, but that hasn’t helped make his Ghostbusters remake (or reboot) a better movie than the original, and that’s even with the original not even being that great a movie in the first place.

Along which lines, I’d lay no claims to the 1984 movie being some kind of auteurist gem, but it does make some capital from the polarising forces of Aykroyd’s ultra-geekiness on the subject of spooks and Murray’s “I’m just here for the asides” irreverence. In contrast, Feig’s picture is all about treating the subject as he does any other genre, be it cop, or spy, or romcom. There’s no great affection, merely a reliably professional approach, one minded to ensure that a generous quota of gags (on-topic not required) can be pumped out via abundant improv sessions.

So there’s nothing terribly wrong with Ghostbusters, but aside from …