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Review: The Revived 'Twin Peaks' Proves We Can Have Nice Things

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Venom
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« on: May 23, 2017, 01:16:57 pm »



Review: The Revived 'Twin Peaks' Proves We Can Have Nice Things





https://www.forbes.com/sites/lukethompson/2017/05/22/review-the-revived-twin-peaks-proves-we-can-have-nice-things/#1af256202aa7









 


 














 






Luke Y. Thompson   , 
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I live for, and write about, movies, TV and toys.  Full Bio 

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Showtime promo banner for Twin Peaks
Showtime



Showtime promo banner for Twin Peaks
 
Although David Lynch has always been something of a critical darling and a cult hero, the quality of his work hasn't necessarily translated into box office dollars. Yes, Mulholland Drive got rave reviews, and was even voted best film of its decade by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (full disclosure: I'm a member and did not vote for it, feeling that as a rejiggered TV pilot it wasn't as deep as people were giving it credit for). But in terms of box office? $20 million international. His follow-up, Inland Empire, was way down from even that, at merely $4 million international, less than $1 million of which was domestic. Granted, as a three-hour abstract movie shot on low-res video, it was a tough sit for the casual viewer, but it was fully in keeping with Lynch's surrealistic body of work, and surely not a surprise to any of his devoted followers. Yet it seemed to be a career-capper; since it came out, Lynch has said he won't make another movie, because it's just too difficult to get the funding for what he wants to do.

Thankfully, Showtime has allowed him to milk the one property he controls that does have nostalgia value--Twin Peaks--and because it already had a built-in sequel valve of sorts (a line in the original that suggested the story would continue 25 years later) Lynch is back in the director's chair. And with no threat of cancellation (18 episodes have already been approved) and no network censors to appease, he can do whatever he wants in the sandbox he and Mark Frost created. As reboots go, this is the best case scenario.

Before the pilot of the new series aired, there were many jokes going around on social media that it would be impossible to spoil. Lynch, it was said, would only answer questions with questions, and if you thought Lost was bad at answering mysteries, by golly, wait till you kids got a load of Twin Peaks! It's an understandable assessment given how narratively twisty and only partly comprehensible Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire were, but it also turned out to be 100% wrong. Yes, the new Twin Peaks is weird, and feels like Lynch more unfiltered than ever, but it also very definitely has a narrative, and by the end of the first two episodes (which aired as one pilot) you will know what happened to Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), Killer Bob (the late Frank Silva), and many of your favorite denizens of that northwestern town. You'll even have a pretty good idea what the stakes are, though of course with Lynch being Lynch, he may ignore them later. So yes, it is possible to "spoil" the initial offering, and if you want to go in completely virgin, come back and read this later. If you're okay with mild spoilage, stay with me.





Ever a contrarian, Lynch knows we want to get back to the familiar town that give the show its name, so of course most of the episode takes place elsewhere. Whatever it is that is "happening again" is doing so in more places than one: a decapitated, mutilated and mismatched body in South Dakota bears the hallmarks of killer Bob, while in New York, a young man in a top-secret facility stares at a giant glass box that opens out into a window, certain that something (he knows not what) may appear in it at any time (Lynch manages to make even a standard Manhattan skyline establishing shot totally creepy). We also return to the Black Lodge, where a skinny tree called "the Arm" with a Little Shop of Horrors mouth as a topper is the latest mysterious character to offer cryptic clues.

MacLachlan, who looks a dead ringer for Michael Madsen in some shots, stretches more in these episodes than ever before, playing Dale Cooper in familiar and unfamiliar forms; reconciling those differences will likely become a key factor in the plot. Matthew Lillard makes a great addition to the cast as a murder suspect who may or may not be Bob's latest pawn, and just as Lynch cast Henry Rollins as a prison guard in Lost Highway, he has here recruited UFC fighter Michael Bisping for similar honors. Other additions who fit right in include Lost Highway's Balthazar Getty and Gummo's Max Perlich; there's also a bizarre backwoods family who look like they were born looking strange and cast accordingly.


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Of all the Lynch trademarks, only big crying scenes are absent thus far, and they'll almost certainly come later. Near darkness, droning noises on the soundtrack, a fascination with the minutiae of procedure via long takes of people performing basic tasks, and characters repeating banal cliches so slowly and weirdly they become transcendent (check out Ben Horne's "R-E-S-P-E-C-T"),  and of course coffee (though not quite how you expect it) are present. What the director excels at, though, and doesn't always get enough credit for, is terror. We fear what we don't understand, and Lynch exploits this masterfully both by placing the viewer in a disorienting setting that doesn't follow familiar rules, then by attacking his characters with strange things that defy description. There's a kill scene here that's like something out of a formless nightmare, where you can't precisely describe the threat because it's like nothing you've ever seen or can even get a good look at, but you're powerless to even deal with it until it's over. Getting a studio exec to approve a moment like that would require somehow describing it on the page, and you can't.

Lynch also takes advantage of digital effects in a way he's never been able to before. The things that show up in the glass box require all manner of visual trickery, and no, none is a Guild Navigator from Dune, though the set-up is reminiscent. And when Laura Palmer in the Black Lodge takes her face off and puts it back on, we know intuitively that it's CGI, but the way Sheryl Lee affixes it in place sells the effect like a dream...literally.
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Venom
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« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2017, 01:17:46 pm »

Continued from page 1

While Deputies Hawk and Andy, along with receptionist Lucy, get some time to set up their end of the mystery, it isn't until the end of the double-episode that we're back in a familiar bar, revisiting all-grown-up former high schoolers and listening to the Chromatics do their best Julee Cruise impersonation. Angelo Badalamenti's original soundtrack strikes a primal chord with me, taking me back to high school days when I played it constantly in my first car, and I have a near-Pavlovian reaction to it, but I'm excited to hear good new music as well. The aforementioned Chromatics, as well as whatever industrial band it is that plays underneath footage of a car journey at night, fit effortlessly into the Lynchian soundscape.

Yes, at times the show may tax your patience. Lynch's characters, like an unorthodox FBI agent in a small town, like the slower pace of life the setting demands, and rarely get to the point right away. One Fargo-esque South Dakota woman turns these tangential trains of thought into pure comedy, while the Log Lady merely delivers her elliptical lines like they're her last...which, sadly, they are, as Catherine Coulson died during production.

If David Lynch never makes another movie, but keeps being allowed to make TV like this, we have plenty of reasons to be happy. While there's just enough Mark Frost influence here to keep the story reasonably on track, the rest is unfettered Lynch, and he knows where your dreams and nightmares dwell.

If you like what you've just read, please check out my other articles on Forbes. I promise they're mostly as good as this one.
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