Skip to main content

No, I don’t think I’ll call Mr Strawberry.

Twin Peaks 
3.5: Case files

(SPOILERS) I didn’t find the fifth instalment quite as compelling as the previous quartet, I suspect mainly because it flits about so much, from character to character and plotline to plotline, never alighting quite long enough to pick up steam. Nevertheless, it’s only comparatively weaker, as there’s some great, inimitable material here, and several lurches from comedy to extreme violence that couldn’t be more Lynchian.


Most substantial in coverage are the dual Coops. Real Coop-as-Dougie’s Chance the Gardener interactions are still diverting, but I’m definitely feeling it’s time to cut to the chase now. We’re almost a third of the way through the run, and you don’t want to end up feeling short-changed on having the series’ main character resuscitated. Although, that’s exactly the kind of thing Lynch would probably do: prevaricate by avoiding his most iconic figure.


Nevertheless, the ongoing theme of the instinctual essence of Coop, reduced to a guiding intuition whilst he’s operating on barely any motor functions at all, continue to mine rich comic seams. So he follows the guidance of a cowboy statue to work, and follows the coffee his well-meaning co-worker Phil (Josh Fadem) is carrying, managing to appropriate a cup through persistence (“Damn good Joe”; naturally, it belongs to Frank, although more surprisingly – and hilariously – Bob Stephenson’s Frank, initially put out, discovers he really loves green tea lattes).


Further signs of synchronicity and destiny are Dougie working at Lucky 7 Insurance; having covered the domestic scene, new-born Coop’s odyssey of American life now segues into the work arena. The highlight of which is another light switching on over a particularly ravaged looking Tom Sizemore as Anthony Sinclair when he claims “Littlefield’s legit”; “He’s lying” pronounces Coop, before returning to a torpor. The rest is par for the course: more japery involving a bursting bladder, being loaded with case files to look through, facing the wrong way in an elevator and finishing up once again at the cowboy statue as dusk falls.


Bradley Mitchum: And you let us know if this man ever comes through here again.

Other odd Coop-related scenes include Jade putting the key to Coop’s Great Northern room in the mailbox, and carjackers mirthfully blowing themselves up when they attempt to steal Dougie’s car, a particularly twisted Lynch set-up as we wonder if the druggie mum’s kid is going to get it. And there’s more, particularly unrestrained, violence as the Mitchum brothers lay into poor Supervisor Burns (“Are you trying to tell me you weren’t in on this?”), blaming him for Coop’s multi-jackpots (the disinterested casino girls are a classic Lynch tableau). Robert Knepper is the particularly vicious one (Rodney) but something tells me Jim Belushi (Bradley Mitchum) isn’t much better. It’s also impossible to believe Lynch and Frost would set this up without Coop finding his way back to the casino at some point (hopefully sooner rather than later).


Warden Murphy: What did this guy just do?

If Coop is just batty, Evil Coop is coming out with some bonkers stuff to more malignant ends. I wondered about the “You’re still with me. That’s good” in reference to Bob (complete with face morphing) as he looks in the mirror (Lynch’s use of jump cuts in these original series flashbacks is effectively jolting), suggesting that there’s more than one constituent to his form than simply Bob (the Coop facsimile is a separate shell, as was Dougie?) Most uncanny, though, is Coop’s phone call; aware that he is being listened to, he punches a botch of numbers into the phone after explaining to his watchers “No, I don’t think I’ll call Mr Strawberry”. Then announcing the key phrase “The cow jumped over the Moon” as all are distracted by the prison entering alert mode (James Morrison brings his best 24 super-seriousness to Warden Murphy). And a call box reduced in size to what? Why (something to do with Lorraine’s role)? All very baffling. I half expected evil Coop to spirit himself away at that moment, given his evident abilities, but maybe he’s just initiating an offbeat prison break plan.


Constance: Cause of death. It took me a while, but I think someone cut this man’s head off.

There are also separate examinations of his trail underway, with Constance winningly irreverent as she details her post mortem verdict (it looks like it is Major Briggs, and he has Dougie’s ring inside him, somehow). I hadn’t realised Don Harrison was played by Buffy guy Bailey Chase (probably because he was so non-descript in Season 4) Linking to this is Colonel Davis (Ernie Hudson) sending Lieutenant Knox (Adele Rene) to investigate the Major Briggs database hit. Then there’s Tammy looking at Coop’s/Evil Coop’s finger prints…


Jacoby: The same vast global conspiracy. Different day. You can’t see it, without a cosmic flashlight. Guess what? I’ve got mine. Oh yeah.

The rest of the incidents are Twin Peaks-based, which has perversely become the less interesting place to be in the season thus far, despite there being several standouts here too. Among them, learning why the former Dr Jacobi was spray-painting all those shovels gold; cashing in on conspiracy theorists, of course, the same saps who lapped up Mark Frost’s The Secret History of Twin Peaks, and selling them their own “shiny gold shovel. Dig yourself out of shit”. Only 29.99. Dr Amp’s Gold Shit-Digging Shovel. That’s right, “Shovel your way out of the shit!” He has his devoted viewers, two at least: Jerry Horne, who obviously likes a toke and a titter in the woods, and Nadine, who has probably ordered that shovel tout suite. It’s 7 o’clock, do you know where your freedom is?


Talking of the Hornes, perhaps the most disturbing scene comes from a previously unseen junior (Jerry’s junior, or a Ben offspring? Surely not Audrey’s? Or Johnny’s?) Eamon Farron’s Richard Horne, up to no good (drug deals, most likely) and meeting his contact by smoking by a non-smoking sign in the Bang Bang Bar, is a thoroughly irredeemable piece of work, grabbing and threatening Charlotte (Grace Victoria Cox), who mistakes his cool looks for a cool guy (“I’m gonna laugh when I fuck you, bitch!”) It’s a highly effective scene, as razor-edge in its impending violence as the evil-Coop lockdown scene is uncannily odd.


Only marginally less deplorable is Caleb Landry Jones playing his usual type (“What an asshole”) as, presumably, Shelly’s son-in-law Steven Burnett – he’s married to Amanda Seyfried’s Becky and appears to be a cokehead, which is a good fit for Jones, as he always looks like one (or grown-up Macauley Culkin’s little brother). Amusing too to see jock Mike Nelson (Gary Hershberger) now reconstituted as a straight-edged boss. The season’s blissed-out par excellence moment so far finds Becky staring skywards from Steven’s sports car, listening to The Paris Sisters’ I Love How You Love Me; it’s Lynch girl overdrive (certainly more infused than coffee or green tea lattes will make you)


Andy: I haven’t found any Indians. Hawk, have you found any Indians, anywhere?
Hawk: No, Andy.

Apart from that, there’s a reminder that Hawk and Andy aren’t getting anywhere (these Indian jokes may run and run) and a marvellously unruffled Sheriff Truman, refusing to be stirred up by his on-the-warpath wife Doris (Candy Clark), who is enraged by a house full of leaks (“Can you get a bigger bucket?” he suggests nonchalantly) His unwillingness to be bated into an argument only adds fuel to her fire (“You’re impossible!”) The continued references to Harry are odd, though, since we know he won’t be appearing. He’s turned into Mrs Columbo.


This episode feels like it’s caught midway between events either side, without even a glimpse of Gordon and Albert. It’s still a cut above, but a shift down from earlier weird and wonderfulness.



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…

The head is missing... and... he's the wrong age.

Twin Peaks 3.7: There’s a body all right.
First things first: my suggestion that everyone’s favourite diminutive hitman, Ike “The Spike” Stadtler, had been hired by the Mitchum brothers was clearly erroneous in the extreme, although the logistics of how evil Coop had the contingency plan in place to off Lorraine and Dougie-Coop remains a little unclear right now. As is how he was banged up with the apparent foresight to have on hand ready blackmail tools to ensure the warden would get him out (and why did he wait so long about it, if he could do it off the bat?)


Launching right in with no preamble seems appropriate for his episode, since its chock-a-block with exposition and (linear) progression, almost an icy blast of what settles for reality in Twin Peaks after most of what has gone before this season, the odd arm-tree aside. Which might please James Dyer, who in the latest Empire “The Debate”, took the antagonistic stance to the show coming back and dismissed it as “gibbering nonsen…

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…

You keep a horse in the basement?

The ‘Burbs (1989)
(SPOILERS) The ‘Burbs is Joe Dante’s masterpiece. Or at least, his masterpiece that isn’t his bite-the-hand-that-feeds-you masterpiece Gremlins 2: The New Batch, or his high profile masterpiece Gremlins. Unlike those two, the latter of which bolted out of the gate and took audiences by surprise with it’s black wit subverting the expected Spielberg melange, and the first which was roundly shunned by viewers and critics for being absolutely nothing like the first and waving that fact gleefully under their noses, The ‘Burbs took a while to gain its foothold in the Dante pantheon. 

It came out at a time when there had been a good few movies (not least Dante’s) taking a poke at small town Americana, and it was a Tom Hanks movie when Hanks was still a broad strokes comedy guy (Big had just made him big, Turner and Hooch was a few months away; you know you’ve really made it when you co-star with a pooch). It’s true to say that some, as with say The Big Lebowski, “got it” on fi…

It does work, you know. The fire, the wooden stakes, the sunlight. I’ve got a list right here, somewhere.

Vamp (1986)
(SPOILERS) My affection for Vamp is only partly based on the adorability therein of Dedee Pfeiffer, in what might be the closest she’s come to a starring role. Ostensibly an entry in the resurgent vampire-comedy genre (Fright Night, The Lost Boys), Vamp actually slots more effortlessly into another ‘80s subgenre: the urban nightmare comedy. We’d already had Scorsese’s masterful After Hours and John Landis’ knockabout Into the Night, and writer Richard Wenk’s big screen directorial debut shows a similar knack for throwing its protagonists in at the deep end, up against an unfamiliar and unfriendly milieu.

I freely chose my response to this absurd world. If given the opportunity, I would have been more vigorous.

The Falcon and the Snowman (1985)
(SPOILERS) I suspect, if I hadn’t been ignorant of the story of Christopher Boyce and Andrew Daulton Lee selling secrets to the Soviets during the ‘70s, I’d have found The Falcon and the Snowman less engaging than I did. Which is to say that John Schlesinger’s film has all the right ingredients to be riveting, including a particularly camera-hogging performance from Sean Penn (as Lee), but it’s curiously lacking in narrative drive. Only fitfully does it channel the motives of its protagonists and their ensuing paranoia. As such, the movie makes a decent primer on the case, but I ended up wondering if it might not be ideal fodder for retelling as a miniseries.

Garage freak? Jesus. What kind of a crazy fucking story is this?

All the President’s Men (1976)
It’s fairly routine to find that films lavished with awards ceremony attention really aren’t all that. So many factors go into lining them up, including studio politics, publicity and fashion, that the true gems are often left out in the cold. On some occasions all the attention is thoroughly deserved, however. All the President’s Men lost out to Rocky for Best Picture Oscar; an uplifting crowd-pleaser beat an unrepentantly low key, densely plotted and talky political thriller. But Alan J. Pakula’s film had already won the major victory; it turned a literate, uncompromising account of a resolutely unsexy and over-exposed news story into a huge hit. And even more, it commanded the respect of its potentially fiercest (and if roused most venomous) critics; journalists themselves. All the President’s Men is a masterpiece and with every passing year it looks more and more like a paean to a bygone age, one where the freedom of the press was assumed rather than a…

You may not wanna wake up tomorrow, but the day after that might just be great.

Blood Father (2016)
(SPOILERS) There are points during Blood Father where it feels like Mel is publically and directly addressing his troubled personal life. Through ultra-violence. I’m not really sure if that’s a good idea or not, but the movie itself is finely-crafted slice of B-hokum, a picture that knows its particular sandpit and how to play most effectively in it.

Sometimes the more you look, the less you see.

Snowden (2016)
(SPOILERS) There are a fair few Oliver Stone movies I haven’t much cared for (Natural Born Killers, U-Turn, Alexander for starters), and only W., post millennium, stands out as even trying something, if in a largely inconspicuous and irrelevant way, but I don’t think I’ve been as bored by one as I have by Snowden. Say what you like about Citizenfour – a largely superficial puff piece heralded as a vanguard of investigative journalism that somehow managed to yield a Best Documentary Feature Oscar for its lack of pains – but it stuck to the point, and didn’t waste the viewer’s time. Stone’s movie is so vapid and cliché-ridden in its portrayal of Edward Snowden, you might almost conclude the director was purposefully fictionalising his subject in order to preserve his status as a conspiracy nut (read: everything about Snowden is a fiction).

Oh look, there’s Colonel Mortimer, riding down the street on a dinosaur!

One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing (1975)
(SPOILERS) There’s no getting round the dinosaur skeleton in the room here: yellow face. From the illustrious writer-director team who brought us Mary Poppins, no less. Disney’s cheerfully racist family movie belongs to a bygone era, but appreciating its merits doesn’t necessarily requires one to subscribe to the Bernard Manning school of ethnic sensitivity.

I’m not going to defend the choice, but, if you can get past that, and that may well be a big if, particularly Bernard Bresslaw’s Fan Choy (if anything’s an unwelcome reminder of the Carry Ons lesser qualities, it’s Bresslaw and Joan Sims) there’s much to enjoy. For starters, there’s two-time Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Ustinov (as mastermind Hnup Wan), funny in whatever he does (and the only Poirot worth his salt), eternally berating his insubordinate subordinate Clive Revill (as Quon).

This is a movie where, even though its crude cultural stereotyping is writ large, the dialogue frequen…