Skip to main content

Hello Johnny, how are you today?

Twin Peaks
3.10: Laura is the one.

(SPOILERS) I’ve a theory that all it takes to tip a solid episode of Twin Peaks (in any season) into a great one are three or four slices of sublime strangeness. The rest can hum along amiably, in contrast to that electricity the Log Lady has something to say about, but it’s those scenes that define the overall shape and energy. Laura is the one has a good three or four, and maybe the funniest sustained Lynchian visual gag so far.


That comes in the form of the Mitchum brothers, or to be more precise Robert Knepper’s Rodney. He’s aided and abetted by Candie (Amy Shiels), part airhead, part fruit bat, attempting to swat a fly while Rodney examines casino surveillance logs. And like most of the director’s comic gold, this goes on and on and on, and you absolutely know it will end with Rodney getting clobbered. I wasn’t expecting it to be with the TV remote, though.


I’m not certain Candie’s mental state, sustained though it is, is going to be about anything other than her being in Lynch world, but the Mitchum boys gradually getting more and more frustrated with her while trying not lose it (“If you fire her, she’s got no place to go” asserts Bradley of one of his trio of, ahem, employees, as she spends five minutes on the casino floor talking about nothing to Anthony Sinclair instead of bringing him to see them).


Bradley Mitchum: That’s our Mr Jackpot, Rodney. Turns out our Mr Jones is actually Mr Jones.

I like that we’re getting to see their thick-as-thieves thinking too; “Brad, remind me to call off that hit on Ike” suggests Rodney as they watch news of the Spike’s apprehension. On first sight, this duo were simply intimidating, but now, with the Candie-inspired weirdness percolating their milieu, I want more of their surprisingly warped world. Their place in the scheme of things, meanwhile, is taking perfectly logical shape, as they’re (seemingly – Bradley does comment of Anthony “I could throw a car farther than I trust that rat fuck”) duped into believing Dougie ensured they didn’t get a $30m insurance pay out and has a vendetta against them, when really it’s Anthony in cahoots with rival casino guy Warrick (in turn in with Evil Coop).


Other weirdness, of a decidedly more psychotic kind, revolves around the Horne family. Richard, now established as most definitely Audrey’s daughter, is on a vituperative roll, bashing poor Miriam’s head in during an off camera one-shot on her trailer (last we saw, she was still breathing, though), and breaking into granny’s house and stealing her money.


It’s another of those queasily hilarious scenes, because of what’s going on at the edges. Johnny, tied to a chair with oven gloves on his hands and sporting a hard hat, so he can’t hurt himself any more, while a headless teddy on the table repeatedly queries “Hello Johnny, how are you today?” It’s a mesmerising scene. That said, at about the point where Richard’s screaming “Cunt!” at his gran, I was admittedly given pause to wonder if the restrictions of mainstream TV don’t promote a creativity all their own, and Lynch’s licence to do anything may not always be the best of all possible worlds. Which may just be the Mary Whitehouse in me.


Completing the Horne-swoggling this episode, we discover Ben is no longer with Sylvia and one good phone call (or bad phone call) persuades him an affair with Beverly may actually be a good idea. And Jerry’s still in the woods, still bereft of a phone signal.


Richard is definitely stacking up a whole world of pain for himself, as is snot-nosed spousal abuser Steven Burnett, but the character closest to being meted any kind of justice is nominally on the other side of the law. We knew Chad was a bad ’un, and now we know he’s an even worse ‘un, in cahoots with Richard Horne and believing he can hoodwink Lucy on the basis that she’s a bubble brain. So it’s pleasing to see she has duly noted Chad lifting Miriam’s grassing letter (the postie’s no slouch, either).


Nor can you can’t pull the wool over Albert and Gordon Cole’s eyes, since they have Diane’s number even if they don’t know who has hers (as for a photo of Evil Coop at the scene of the penthouse murders just happening to show up now – I still think it’s a bit too neat if he’s calling the shots there too, as I was hoping for some other individual or element to be involved). And isn’t it lovely to see romance blossoming between Albert and Constance?


Janey-E: Dougie, do you find me attractive?

Which is also the case, in a significantly more one-sided sense, with Janey-E and Dougie-Coop. Carnality abounds at any rate, with Janey-E turning Coop into the rumpo kid. It’s another funny scene as, having marvelled over her husband’s newly taut body, and been completely ignored in favour of chocolate cake, she rides Coop, his arms flailing like a puppet on a string and looking duly cheery afterwards. Can you see Coop suddenly getting his marbles back at this point? Me neither. As for Janey-E becoming smitten with a mentally-challenged, non-responsive husband. Well, maybe she’s starting on the crazy pills. Or just very, very shallow.


Dr Jacobi: They’re too busy fucking! Fucking us at the grocery store! Fucking us at the bank! At the gas pump!

Other vignettes: another marvellously splenetic rant from Jacobi, this time about big pharma (as Nadine looks on from the premises of cutely-named Run Silent, Run Drapes), Harry Dean Stanton playing the guitar, Gordon’s vision of a giant Laura at the door, reminding me of nothing so much as The GoodiesKitten Kong  (and his drawing of a, well, a reindeer anteater – a reineater? – being attacked by an elastic arm), and one of the Log Lady’s ever-cryptic calls to Hawk, warning of the glow that is dying and how the Truman brothers are among the good ones, and how he should “Watch and listen to the dream of time and space. It all comes out now, flowing like a river. Hawk, Laura is the one”. I was struck that Gordon is effectively filling in for the kind of experience absent-in-mind Coop ought to be having; is this the first example of the season improvising to cover for that state of affairs?


And Moby, at the Bang Bang Club, supporting Rebekah Del Rio in a song that sounds like it would have fitted right in 25 years ago, appropriate as the Mobe-ster lifted the Laura Palmer’s Theme for his first big hit (Go). Of the two pop artists getting billing in fantasy shows this week (the other being Ed Sheerhan dressed as a soldier), this is by far the more elegant and unassuming one. From the man who used to play nob-touch, no less.











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…

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?