08 November 2007

How's Annie?

Approaching something like Twin Peaks, which I just completed this evening with a viewing of Fire Walk with Me for what is probably the fifth or sixth time, is certainly not an easy task. I found myself at an embarrassing loss for words when trying to tackle Six Feet Under, and that didn’t even have the added difficulty of approaching the abstractions of David Lynch. So instead of trying (I’m still in the digesting process right now), here are some thoughts and observations about my return to Twin Peaks, 2007.

Boy, do I feel dumb never making the connection that the dancing midget is the physical “Black Lodge” manifestation of the One-Armed Man’s severed arm? He tells Cooper this in Fire Walk with Me, and I’ve always referred to him as “The Arm” - so boy do I feel stupid.

I ask this of those who’ve ventured to Twin Peaks on more than three occasions: can you still sit through any scene involving James’ departure from Twin Peaks? My interest toward James is lacking to begin with, but when he’s not moping and crooning with Donna and Maddy, I could just do without him… so throw in an Ann Coulter-looking tramp trying to blackmail him in the murder of her wealthy husband and I’m spent. My last viewing was with TP virgins, so I couldn’t really hit the fast-forward then, but this time around, I couldn’t press it quicker.

What was Diane Keaton thinking directing an episode of this show? Her other directing forays have been slight, to put it as nicely as I can, so what drew her to Twin Peaks? The episode she directs, which occurs somewhere in the middle of season 2, looks like the worst Lynch impersonation I’ve ever seen (I took several film production classes, so I’ve seen my share). She relies, poorly, on image layering and quirky visual jokes. The episode is actually somewhat climactic as the James/Evelyn bullshit finally comes to an end as well as the sometimes-tiresome story of Ben Horne’s Civil War obsession, yet Keaton handles it like a second-year undergraduate film student. Don’t quit your day job, Diane.

According to Lynch, Fire Walk with Me was to be the first in a series of films surrounding the Black Lodge. Fire Walk with Me, as many have lamented, is certainly frustrating, but in the best sort of way. Lynch introduces Special Agent Chester Desmond (Chris Isaak) and Phillip Jeffries (David Bowie), both characters whose fates bring them to the Black Lodge and around that dangerous green ring. Most sources claim that Lynch scraped the intended sequels because Fire Walk with Me didn’t fare well financially, but I ask, what Lynch films do? Mulholland Drive and The Straight Story both made modest amounts at the US box office, but Lynch isn’t really known for crowding the house. I think the financial excuse was merely to ward off the hatred that was brewing among those Twin Peaks fans who couldn’t stand where Lynch was taking the series.

Do you think Josie Packard would have been a little more tolerable if Isabella Rossellini, who was originally cast instead of Joan Chen, took the part? There’s something about Chen’s whispery delivery, and the fact that everyone on the show feels the need to comment on her supposed beauty that just turns me off. Really, Josie’s character is sort of a hybrid of Catherine Martell and Audrey Horne, a hardened backstabber with a girlish innocence about her. I’m not sure whether it’s Chen, but it doesn’t work for me.

I’m working on a longer Peaks piece, more elaborate than the last one I did… but don’t hold me to that.


filmbo said...

I think the disappointment surrounding FWWM had more to do with it being a follow up to the critically praised WILD AT HEART.

And no, I can't stomach the James/Keaton/Crap subplot, but I don't fast forward. I instead just talk through it.

I think I'm much happier for Lynch to have moved on from TP, otherwise we may not have gotten LOST HIGHWAY.

Joe said...

But... but... I think the French were the only ones who liked Wild at Heart. It really doesn't stand up as one of his better films (though the older I get, the further I move from Lynch, Twin Peaks withstanding).

And maybe this too is coming with my aging, but I'm not convinced of the merits of Lost Highway either. God, I can just picture myself at age fourteen shunning the very idea of speaking poorly on Lynch. But then again, I think my favorite "actress" at the time was Drew Barrymore. Wow... how we grow.