Tuesday, 19 September 2017

RIP Harry Dean Stanton

I was incredibly sorry to hear that the wonderful Harry Dean Stanton had passed away in hospital last Friday. Although he had reached the ripe old age of 91 it doesn't make it any less sad to say goodbye to the legendary character actor who I took great delight in seeing in absolutely anything he did on screen.

Without a doubt my favourite Harry Dean Stanton film is Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas which I implore you watch if you haven’t ever seen it. Harry Dean plays Travis who had gone missing in the desert but turns up unexpectedly attempting to reconnect with his brother and son. It is beautifully shot and has a wonderfully haunting soundtrack composed by Ry Cooder. No matter how many times I watch this film, Harry Dean’s monologue to his ex-wife makes me blub like a baby. His talents as an actor are incredible, especially in Paris, Texas which is one of my utter favourite films. But my most favourite film of all time is Wild At Heart in which Harry Dean plays Jonnie Farragut who is hopelessly in love with and manipulated by Diane Ladd’s supreme villainous Marietta Fortune. Together they make a hilarious couple and I love the scene when Jonnie is lying on his hotel room bed barking at the hyenas on the television.

It was an utter joy to see him reprise the role of Carl Rodd owner of The Fat Trout Trailer Park in the new series of Twin Peaks. I always found his scenes in Fire Walk With Me very funny and also quite disturbing. When he utters the words, “I’ve already been places, I’d like to stay where I am” you just know he’s seen some freaky stuff in his lifetime. Mark Frost confirmed that Carl was an original Bookhouse Boy which didn’t come as a surprise. His character was reliable, loyal, charming and kind. I’m very much looking forward to seeing Harry Dean on screen again with Lynch soon in the just released film Lucky and will be sure to review it here when I do.

Lynch said of the passing of his long-time friend and collaborator, "The great Harry Dean Stanton has left us. There went a great one. There's nobody like Harry Dean. Everyone loved him. And with good reason. He was a great actor (actually beyond great) - and a great human being - so great to be around him. You are really going to be missed Harry Dean."

Another loved member of the Twin Peaks family has moved on but how lucky were we to see so much great work and especially to have him included in Twin Peaks Season 3? 91 is a very great age to reach and especially leaving the legacy behind that he has. A great man of wit and wisdom, he will be missed.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Twin Peaks Season 3: Parts 17 & 18

It’s been over a week since Twin Peaks: The Return came to an end and I am still feeling utterly baffled and at times as if someone is deliberately wishing me sleepless nights. I’m not exaggerating. When my head hits the pillow and I close my eyes I either cannot get Laura Palmer/Carrie Paige’s shrill and horrifying scream out of my mind or I find myself endlessly remembering random scenes and puzzling over their greater meaning (and if there really was any greater meaning at all). This isn’t to say I’m displeased with The Return or the finale but it is causing some distress. I don’t think there is much use in re-capping Parts 17 & 18 in a traditional way so what I will do instead is let you know what I am currently thinking about the end of Twin Peaks: The Return.

To set the scene for you, I didn’t watch the finale until about 11pm on the Monday night as I was flying home from a long weekend in Barcelona. It was very strange to be lying by a swimming pool in the sunshine thinking that all of you would have by then experienced it whilst I remained ignorant. Especially since I got up every Monday at 6am all Summer long to watch the new episodes before going to work. My phone was strictly in flight mode and I didn’t once check social media as I knew I wouldn’t be able to avoid spoilers if I did. I raced home from the airport at break neck speed to finally sit down to watch and had the most wonderful surprise waiting for me: my flatmate had set up a little Twin Peaks finale shrine complete with blue roses, a pine cone and donuts to eat. We also drank some fine Bordeaux red wine and I was utterly delighted when the opening of Part 17 saw the FBI doing the same thing.

I was not expecting Part 17 to take off in such a linear and action packed manner. I don’t think we were half way through when Cooper had arrived in Twin Peaks, Mr C had been shot down by Lucy and Freddie has fulfilled his destiny by punching BOB into oblivion. I was fist pumping the air throughout and thrilled to see everyone come together for this epic take down in the Sherriff’s station. It was a joy to get such a big pay off and I was elated but I couldn’t believe that all of that action took place so soon into Part 17 and couldn’t imagine what was yet to come.

So all of those clever people who saw the connections between Naido and Diane were absolutely right and I stand corrected for dismissing them. The real Diane appeared and I was delighted to see the romantic connection between the once faceless Diane and Special Agent Dale Cooper. I have to admit I am still pondering over this one and cannot quite work out what on earth happened to Diane in the first place and why she would have taken on the appearance of Naido... But it was a very cool reveal. When Cooper steps through the shadows flanked by Gordon and Diane it felt like a very special moment harking back to the trios work on Blue Velvet. I was also delighted to see Mike The One Armed Man once again acting as concierge of The Black Lodge for Cooper. I know how much Al Strobel adores working with Lynch and being part of Twin Peaks so to hear his gravelly, grand voice chanting the Fire Walk With Me poem once more was a treat.

Dougie Comes Home
I was delighted that Janey-E and Sonny Jim got their Dougie. I loved Cooper/Dougie with all my heart. He was so funny and adorable. His vacant expression and the way he sat silently eating his chocolate cake was just the sweetest. Janey-E is a ball buster but any woman who can negotiate so confidently with casino debt collectors is okay by me. And she loves her Dougie dearly. I was very pleased to see the new Tulpa delivered straight to her red door.

Wizard of Oz Connections
The Wizard of Oz has always been one of my favourite films. Many people pointed out the array of red shoes worn by characters throughout The Return and I quite agree with the Twin Peaks Unwrapped Podcast who theorised that The Return’s most important theme was that of returning home. A bit like Dorothy who realises at the very end that there is no place like home. Dorothy had dreamt her time in Oz all along… or had she? The appearance of Cooper’s disembodied head superimposed over a large section of Part 17 and the utterance of the phrase “we live inside a dream” has made me consider that maybe Cooper, who was told specifically that he couldn’t leave The Black Lodge until The Doppelganger returned to it, dreamt or meditated or used his subconscious to get Mr C back into The Black Lodge and all of the events of The Return didn’t really happen… or maybe they did? There is a strong argument, largely led by the appearance or absence of a pin on Cooper's lapel, that Cooper only left The Lodge for real when he steps out of the curtains and into Glastonbury Grove to meet Diane in Part 17. To understand more about this theory watch this Youtube video.

Laura Is The One
As Cooper and The One Armed Man approached Phillip Jeffries I held my breath in hope that maybe we would see David Bowie make a surprise appearance but alas, a percolator he remains. Yet, I couldn’t be disappointed because my one wish was to see Sheryl Lee in the finale and for Laura Palmer to still prove significant and thankfully that is exactly what I was granted. The black and white footage taken from Fire Walk With Me and The Missing Pieces worked seamlessly slotted into The Return and to think that the reason Laura shrieked into the dark forest was because she spotted Cooper watching from a distance was a wonderful idea. The trickery of the filmmakers into making Sheryl Lee appear a teenage Laura Palmer once more worked brilliantly for me – I completely bought it and this is possibly one of my favourite Twin Peaks moments of all time now. Seeing Cooper get to her, to try to save her, taking her hand and trying to lead that poor girl out of the dark forest and away from her brutal murder was an emotional and stunning moment to behold. But then, a glitch, and Laura disappeared and the woods seemed darker than ever…

Tulpas, Doubles and Doppelgangers
When Cooper knocked on the door and Laura Palmer answered only to say that she was not Laura and her name is Carrie Paige I just laughed in exasperation. Of course Lynch would turn the entire plot upside down with mere minutes to spare in the final episode. Lynch’s work is littered with actors playing multiple roles and characters inexplicably changing identities (see Mulholland Drive, Lost Highway and Twin Peaks Season 1) so this should never have been too surprising. When the two took to the road and we experienced long periods of driving in the darkness with little dialogue, I checked the time and realised then that the plot was going to go to strange places and none of this would be tied up neatly with a bow. And of course it wouldn’t. In true Twin Peaks style I knew The Return would end on an almighty cliff-hanger. It is a shame that some of the plots didn't get any kind of completion (the box in Buenos Aires, Becky and Stephen, the sick girl in the car who Bobby saw) and that there were a lot of strong characters who appeared only fleetingly (I was mesmerised by Red who we saw three times in total and who I hoped would become a much more significant character) but it is what it is and you never know what the future may bring.

Garmonbozia (Pain and Suffering)
When the credits rolled over Part 18 with Angelo Badalmenti’s sombre music playing, I was left feeling sad and hollow. I knew I would never find out what Laura whispered into Cooper’s ear and why it made him look so disturbed. None of us will ever know and that’s okay because life is one big mystery. David Lynch said himself that life doesn’t make sense so he doesn’t understand why people expect art to make sense. The mystery has well and truly been kept alive.

I really must go back and re-watch The Return in its entirety having now seen it all. I’m looking forward to many years of debate, theorising and exploration. In all I am completely satisfied with the magnificent return of Twin Peaks even if a little nostalgic for the old episodes. What a wonderful gift to have been given and thank you all of you who have been reading my blog throughout. I really appreciate it and love hearing from you. I apologise for the above as I know it is highly inconclusive but I think, in a strange way, that’s exactly as it is meant. I’ll see you in the trees…