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 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…

I added sixty on, and now you’re a genius.

The Avengers 4.3: The Master Minds
The Master Minds hitches its wagon to the not uncommon Avengers trope of dark deeds done under the veil of night. We previously encountered it in The Town of No Return, but Robert Banks Stewart (best known for Bergerac, but best known genre-wise for his two Tom Baker Doctor Who stories; likewise, he also penned only two teleplays for The Avengers) makes this episode more distinctive, with its mind control and spycraft, while Peter Graham Scott, in his third contribution to the show on the trot, pulls out all the stops, particularly with a highly creative climactic fight sequence that avoids the usual issue of overly-evident stunt doubles.

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…

Where is the voice that said altered carbon would free us from the cells of our flesh?

Altered Carbon Season One
(SPOILERS) Well, it looks good, even if the visuals are absurdly indebted to Blade Runner. Ultimately, though, Altered Carbon is a disappointment. The adaption of Richard Morgan’s novel comes armed with a string of well-packaged concepts and futuristic vernacular (sleeves, stacks, cross-sleeves, slagged stacks, Neo-Cs), but there’s a void at its core. It singularly fails use the dependable detective story framework to explore the philosophical ramifications of its universe – except in lip service – a future where death is impermanent, and even botches the essential goal of creating interesting lead characters (the peripheral ones, however, are at least more fortunate).

He's going to emasculate our nuclear deterrent and bring the whole damn country to its knees… because of his dreams.

Dreamscape (1984)
(SPOILERS) I wasn’t really au fait with movies’ box office performance until the end of the ‘80s, so I think I had an idea that Dennis Quaid (along with Jeff Bridges) was a much bigger star than he was, just on the basis of the procession of cool movies he showed up in (The Right Stuff, Enemy Mine, Innerspace, D.O.A.) The truth was, the public resisted all attempts to make him The Next Big Thing, not that his sly-grinned, cocky persona throughout the decade would lead you to believe his dogged lack of success had any adverse effect on his mood. Dreamscape was one of his early leading-man roles, and if it’s been largely forgotten, it also inherits a welcome cult status, not only through being pulpy and inventive on a fairly meagre budget, but by being pretty good to boot. It holds up.

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.

The aliens are not coming, just so you know.

The X-Files 11.1: My Struggle III
(SPOILERS) Good grief. Have things become so terminal for Chris Carter that he has to retcon his own crap from the previous season, rather than the (what he perceived as) crap written by others? Carter, of course, infamously pretended the apocalyptic ending of Millennium Season Two never happened, upset by the path Glen Morgan and James Wong, left to their own devices, took with his baby. Their episode was one of the greats of that often-ho-hum series, so the comedown was all the unkinder as a result. In My Struggle III, at least, Carter’s rewriting something that wasn’t very good in the first place. Only, he replaces it with something that is even worse in the second.

I'm going to open an X-file on this bran muffin.

The X-Files 11.2: This
(SPOILERS) Glen Morgan returns with a really good idea, certainly one with much more potential than his homelessness tract Home Again in Season 10, but seems to give up on its eerier implications, and worse has to bash it round the head to fit the season’s “arc”. Nevertheless, he’s on very comfortable ground with the Mulder-Scully dynamic in This, who get to spend almost the entire episode in each other’s company and might be on the best form here since the show came back, give or take a Darin.

He's a wild creature. We can't ask him to be anything else.

The Shape of Water (2017)
(SPOILERS) The faithful would have you believe it never went away, but it’s been a good decade since Guillermo del Toro’s mojo was in full effect, and his output since (or lack thereof: see the torturous wilderness years of At the Mountains of Madness and The Hobbit), reflected through the prism of his peak work Pan’s Labyrinth, bears the hallmarks of a serious qualitative tumble. He put his name to stinker TV show The Strain, returned to movies with the soulless Pacific Rim and fashioned flashy but empty gothic romance Crimson Peak (together his weakest pictures, and I’m not forgetting Mimic). The Shape of Water only seems to underline what everyone has been saying for years, albeit previously confined to his Spanish language pictures: that the smaller and more personal they are, the better. If his latest is at times a little too wilfully idiosyncratic, it’s also a movie where you can nevertheless witness it’s creator’s creativity flowing untrammelled once mo…

You’re never the same man twice.

The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970)
(SPOILERS) Roger Moore playing dual roles? It sounds like an unintentionally amusing prospect for audiences accustomed to the actor’s “Raise an eyebrow” method of acting. Consequently, this post-Saint pre-Bond role (in which he does offer some notable eyebrow acting) is more of a curiosity for the quality of Sir Rog’s performance than the out-there premise that can’t quite sustain the picture’s running time. It is telling that the same story was adapted for an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents 15 years earlier, since the uncanny idea at its core feels like a much better fit for a trim 50 minute anthology series.

Basil Dearden directs, and co-adapted the screenplay from Anthony Armstrong’s novel The Strange Case of Mr Pelham. Dearden started out with Ealing, helming several Will Hay pictures and a segment of Dead of Night (one might imagine a shortened version of this tale ending up there, or in any of the portmanteau horrors that arrived in the year…