Skip to main content

What, no cheese and crackers?

Twin Peaks
3.4: ...brings back some memories

(SPOILERS) If anything, the fourth episode goes even goofier than the third, before sobering up dramatically for the final scene. There’s at least one innocuous cameo here, Richard Chamberlain pulling the equivalent of George Hamilton in The Godfather Part III, but it’s most notable for the arrival of Naomi Watts and Robert Forster, and the return of Dana Ashbrook and David Duchovny. And… Michael Cera?


Wally: My shadow is always with me. Sometimes ahead. And sometimes behind. Sometimes to the left. Sometimes to the right. Except on cloudy days. Or at night.

Maybe the battiest thing in the third season to date, and that’s saying something, is Cera’s appearance as Wally Brando (born on the same day as Marlon), Andy and Lucy’s son, his appearance plays like an extended skit, with Lynch cackling away behind the camera, eager to see how long he can string it out. You pretty much get the impression that, when Forster’s Sheriff Frank Truman, Wally’s godfather, turns heel and walks off, Forster really has had enough. Cera’s doing a Brando shtick, dressed out of The Wild One, announcing he’s “decided to let them do as they wish with my childhood bedroom” and waxing philosophical about life on the road. (He also mentions the Lewis & Clark expedition, which is very significant to The Secret History of Twin Peaks). I found it hilarious, but it seems to have provoked the most Marmite reactions of anything Lynch and Frost have served up so far.


Lady Slot-Addict: Thank you, Mr Jackpot. Thank you.

Most effortlessly watchable is the continued adventure of Special Agent Charlie Babbitt, as Cooper finishes up in the casino having scored 29 mega jackpots, giving an old bag lady a few too (“Mr Jackpot, tell me which one”). I love Lynch teasing out scenes in a complete lack of hurry, such as Brett Gelman’s supervisor handing over the winnings and giving it the tough guy act (“That’s right, we’re watching you, Mr Jones”) while having absolutely no idea what’s going on. And then the reveal that Dougie somehow ended up married to Naomi Watts (Janey-E Jones), with a son(ny-Jim). By way of an equally baffled limo driver, prepared to wait outside the house with Cooper… well, forever if she hadn’t come out.


Janey-E: This is the most wonderful horrible day of my life.

It’s still unclear what trouble Dougie had got himself into, but Janey-E knows about it (of the winnings she observes there’s “Enough here to pay them back”), and she’s obviously used to Dougie being as inept as Coop currently is (the scene where he learns how to urinate is priceless). There are several cues to his greater quest (“You were tricked. Now one of you must die” he is told through the carpet), and there’s a memorable repeat of the Season Two finale’s mirror scene, but the biggest treat is his reaction to first pancakes and then coffee – if that won’t bring him back, nothing will (albeit his not-son is also doing a grand job)!


Back in Twin Peaks, the gag with Lucy and cellular phones doesn’t quite play, but it’s a good try. The twist with Bobby now being in the police is a neat one, although again, his breaking down at the sight of Laura’s photo doesn’t quite deliver (I’ve seen praise for the moment, but it fails to play as melodramatically as a similar scene would have in the original). Better is the ignorant deputy having no time for the eccentricities of the town, including Margaret (“I thought that log woman was a 10-96 and not even allowed–”; “I’m going to have a word with my pine cone”). And we get confirmation of more The Secret History of Twin Peaks information, that Cooper was the last person to see Major Briggs alive.


Gordon: There is room in this FBI for more than one beautiful woman.
Denise: That is so sweet.

The FBI side is also kicking into gear, with David Duchovny’s Denise Bryson – I hope there’s more of her in this, as Duchovny’s having a ball, and it’s good that Lynch takes to the character, Dennis/Denise having floated around when he didn’t have much to do with the series and it was generally at its lowest ebb – clearly aware of Gordon’s/Lynch’s thing for the ladies and only comfortable sending him off to South Dakota with Agent Preston when she knows Albert will be chaperoning (given Albert’s reaction to seeing Preston’s sashaying hips, maybe she shouldn’t have been).


Gordon: Albert, we’re in South Dakota. Cossacks are in Russia.
Albert: CAR SICK!

I’d been concerned about Ferrer’s ability to pick up Albert again, but that fades completely here (“We’re not going anywhere near Mount Rushmore”; “I brought a picture for you”), particularly his delivery on hearing that evil Cooper’s personal effects consist of cocaine, a machine gun and a dog leg (“What, no cheese and crackers?”)


The interview with evil Cooper is perfectly off, from the strained thumbs up to his slurred vocal pitch. But the yarn Cooper spins at least has a grain of truth; he says he has been working undercover all these years, primarily with Phillip Jeffrey (and that he’s left messages “so Phillip knows it’s safe”). Albert admits that, years before, he authorised Coop to give Jeffrey information concerning the bureau’s man in Colombia, and a week later the man was killed. Lynch and Ferrer are particularly riveting in this carpark scene – you could hear a pin drop – Lynch particularly notable for holding his own when generally in the past he has opted for sendup. Scenes like this emphasise the director’s masterful sound design; music is remarkably absent from the series, replaced by an unnerving background hum (the interview scene in particular) or even audible silence.


Gordon: I hate to admit this, but I don’t understand this situation at all. Do you understand this situation, Albert?
Albert: No.

Part of the pleasure of this season in its early stages is teasing expectation; of Cooper reconstituted and reintroduced to old faces, and of pieces of puzzle proving vital and others proving irrelevant. But so far, Frost appears to be ensuring Lynch steers a thoroughly engaged ship, and the consistency of this run is already more marked than even the first season, albeit as a very different beast. The ending, referencing blue rose, is a nod to Fire Walk with Me and Cole’s case categorisations (blue rose cases involve supernatural events, is the implication, unsurprising then that a big floating Major Briggs head should have mentioned the phrase in 3.3), but it would appear there’s also a human personification of this (“I know where she drinks”). Laura Dern’s character?


Agree? Disagree? Mildly or vehemently? Let me know in the comments below.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

She was addicted to Tums for a while.

Marriage Story (2019)
(SPOILERS) I don’t tend to fall heavily for Noah Baumbach fare. He’s undoubtedly a distinctive voice – even if his collaborations with Wes Anderson are the least of that director’s efforts – but his devotion to an exclusive, rarefied New York bubble becomes ever more off-putting with each new project. And ever more identifiable as being a lesser chronicler of the city’s privileged quirks than his now disinherited forbear Woody Allen, who at his peak mastered a balancing act between the insightful, hilarious and self-effacing. Marriage Story finds Baumbach going yet again where Woody went before, this time brushing up against the director’s Ingmar Bergman fixation.

You can’t climb a ladder, no. But you can skip like a goat into a bar.

Juno and the Paycock (1930)
(SPOILERS) Hitchcock’s second sound feature. Such was the lustre of this technological advance that a wordy play was picked. By Sean O’Casey, upon whom Hitchcock based the prophet of doom at the end of The Birds. Juno and the Paycock, set in 1922 during the Irish Civil War, begins as a broad comedy of domestic manners, but by the end has descended into full-blown Greek (or Catholic) tragedy. As such, it’s an uneven but still watchable affair, even if Hitch does nothing to disguise its stage origins.

I mean, I am just a dumb bunny, but, we are good at multiplying.

Zootropolis (2016)
(SPOILERS) The key to Zootropolis’ creative success isn’t so much the conceit of its much-vaunted allegory regarding prejudice and equality, or – conversely – the fun to be had riffing on animal stereotypes (simultaneously clever and obvious), or even the appealing central duo voiced by Ginnifier Goodwin (as first rabbit cop Judy Hopps) and Jason Bateman (fox hustler Nick Wilde). Rather, it’s coming armed with that rarity for an animation; a well-sustained plot that doesn’t devolve into overblown set pieces or rest on the easy laurels of musical numbers and montages.

You know what I think? I think he just wants to see one cook up close.

The Green Mile (1999)
(SPOILERS) There’s something very satisfying about the unhurried confidence of the storytelling in Frank Darabont’s two prison-set Stephen King adaptations (I’m less beholden to supermarket sweep The Mist); it’s sure, measured and precise, certain that the journey you’re being take on justifies the (indulgent) time spent, without the need for flashy visuals or ornate twists (the twists there are feel entirely germane – with a notable exception – as if they could only be that way). But. The Green Mile has rightly come under scrutiny for its reliance on – or to be more precise, building its foundation on – the “Magical Negro” trope, served with a mild sprinkling of idiot savant (so in respect of the latter, a Best Supporting Actor nomination was virtually guaranteed). One might argue that Stephen King’s magical realist narrative flourishes well-worn narrative ploys and characterisations at every stage – such that John Coffey’s initials are announcement enough of his…

We live in a twilight world.

Tenet (2020)
(SPOILERS) I’ve endured a fair few confusingly-executed action sequences in movies – more than enough, actually – but I don’t think I’ve previously had the odd experience of being on the edge of my seat during one while simultaneously failing to understand its objectives and how those objectives are being attempted. Which happened a few times during Tenet. If I stroll over to the Wiki page and read the plot synopsis, it is fairly explicable (fairly) but as a first dive into this Christopher Nolan film, I frequently found it, if not impenetrable, then most definitely opaque.

Seems silly, doesn't it? A wedding. Given everything that's going on.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I (2010)
(SPOILERS) What’s good in the first part of the dubiously split (of course it was done for the art) final instalment in the Harry Potter saga is very good, let down somewhat by decisions to include material that would otherwise have been rightly excised and the sometimes-meandering travelogue. Even there, aspects of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I can be quite rewarding, taking on the tone of an apocalyptic ‘70s aftermath movie or episode of Survivors (the original version), as our teenage heroes (some now twentysomethings) sleep rough, squabble, and try to salvage a plan. The main problem is that the frequently strong material requires a robust structure to get the best from it.

He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
(1982)
(SPOILERS) I don’t love Star Trek, but I do love Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. That probably isn’t just me, but a common refrain of many a non-devotee of the series. Although, it used to apply to The Voyage Home (the funny one, with the whales, the Star Trek even the target audience for Three Men and a Baby could enjoy). Unfortunately, its high regard has also become the desperate, self-destructive, song-and-verse, be-all-and-end-all of the overlords of the franchise itself, in whichever iteration, it seems. This is understandable to an extent, as Khan is that rare movie sequel made to transcendent effect on almost every level, and one that stands the test of time every bit as well (better, even) as when it was first unveiled.

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…

Old Boggy walks on Lammas Eve.

Jeeves and Wooster 2.5: Kidnapped  (aka The Mysterious Stranger)
Kidnapped continues the saga of Chuffnell Hall. Having said of 2.4 that the best Wodehouse adaptations tend to stick closely to the text, this one is an exception that proves the rule, diverging significantly yet still scoring with its highly preposterous additions.

Jeeves: Tis old boggy. He be abroad tonight. He be heading for the railway station.
Gone are many of the imbroglios involving Stoker and Glossop (the estimable Roger Brierley), including the contesting of the former’s uncle’s will. Also gone, sadly, is the inebriated Brinkley throwing potatoes at Stoker, which surely would have been enormous fun. Instead, we concentrate on Bertie being locked aboard Stoker’s yacht in order to secure his marriage to Pauline (as per the novel), Chuffy tailing Pauline in disguise (so there’s a different/additional reason for Stoker to believe Bertie and she spent the night together, this time at a pub en route to Chufnell Hall) and …

I think World War II was my favourite war.

Small Soldiers (1998)
An off-peak Joe Dante movie is still one chock-a-block full of satirical nuggets and comic inspiration, far beyond the facility of most filmmakers. Small Soldiers finds him back after a six-year big screen absence, taking delirious swipes at the veneration of the military, war movies, the toy industry, conglomerates and privatised defence forces. Dante’s take is so gleefully skewed, he even has big business win! The only problem with the picture (aside from an indistinct lead, surprising from a director with a strong track record for casting juveniles) is that this is all very familiar.

Dante acknowledged Small Soldiers was basically a riff on Gremlins, and it is. Something innocuous and playful turns mad, bad and dangerous. On one level it has something in common with Gremlins 2: The New Batch, in that the asides carry the picture. But Gremlins 2 was all about the asides, happy to wander off in any direction that suited it oblivious to whether the audience was on …