A Movie A Day #89: Paint It Black (1989, directed by Tim Hunter)


This month, since the site is currently reviewing every episode of Twin Peaks, each entry in Move A Day is going to have a Twin Peaks connection.  Paint In Black was directed by Tim Hunter, who directed three episodes of Twin Peaks, including the one that I reviewed earlier today.

Jonathan Dunbar (Rick Rossovich) should have it all.  He is an acclaimed sculptor but he’s being cheated financially by his dealer and sometimes girlfriend, Marion Easton (Sally Kirkland).  Things start to look up for Jonathan after he has a minor traffic accident with Gina (Julie Carmen).  Not only are he and Gina immediately attracted to each other but it turns out that Gina is the daughter of Daniel Lambert (Martin Landau), who owns the most prestigious art gallery in Santa Barbara.  It appears that Jonathan is finally going to get the big show that he has always dreamed of, but only if he can escape from Marion’s management.

One night, Jonathan helps out a man who was apparently mugged outside of an art gallery.  The man, Eric (Doug Savant), says that he’s an art collector and that he is a big fan of Jonathan’s work.  When Jonathan opens up about his problems with Marion, Eric decides to return Jonathan’s favor by killing Marion and anyone else who he feels is standing in the way of Jonathan’s success.  Because of the way that Eric artistically stages the murders, the police suspect that Jonathan is the murderer.

Depending on the source, Paint It Black’s original director was either fired or walked off the project and Tim Hunter was brought in to hastily take his place.  According to Hunter, he spent the production “shooting all day and rewriting all night.”  Paint it Black is a standard late 80s, direct to video thriller but it is interesting as a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock.  Hunter taught a class on Hitchcock at the University of California at Santa Cruz and Paint it Black is full of shout outs to the master of suspense.  Marion’s murder is staged similarly to a murder in Frenzy.  There are frequent close-ups of scissors, a reference to Dial M For Murder.  Probably the most obvious homage is the character of Eric, who appears to be based on Robert Walker, Jr’s character from Strangers on a Train.

Rick Rossovich was best known for playing cops, firemen, and soldiers in movies like Top Gun, Navy SEALS, and Roxanne.  He’s not bad in Paint it Black but he is still not the most convincing artistic genius.  Doug Savant and Sally Kirkland were better cast and more enjoyable to watch.  In fact, Kirkland is killed off too early.  The movie loses a lot of its spark once she is gone.

Paint It Black may not live up to being named after one of the best songs that the Rolling Stones ever recorded but Tim Hunter took unpromising material and shaped it into something that is far more watchable than anyone might expect.

 

Goodbye, Don Rickles, and Thank You For The Laughter


Don Rickles, as drawn by Jack Kirby

Oh man, Don Rickles.

Remember when they used to show old episodes of Saturday Night Live on Comedy Central?  I once watched an episode from 1984.  The host was Don Rickles.  His opening monologue was pure Don Rickles, which is to say that he insulted everyone in the audience.  It didn’t matter who the person was, Rickles was going to insult them.  He insulted John Madden.  He insulted Brandon Tartikoff, the president of the NBC.  He insulted the people who had just come in from off the street.  I don’t remember much about the specific insults.  The main thing that I remember is that the audience absolutely loved it.  Even before Rickles thanked them all for being good sports, the audience was eating out of his hand.

Don Rickles was the King of Insult Comedy.  His nickname was Mr. Warmth.  The nickname was not as ironic as you might think.  Off-stage, Rickles was reportedly a kind and generous man.  And, on-stage, Rickles may have insulted the audience but he did it with a twinkle in his eye and he always thanked him at the end.  His humor may have been built on insults but it was also built on self-depreciation.  The only person he made fun of more than the guy sitting in front row of the audience was himself.  Going to one of his shows might lead to you being called a “hockey puck,” but Rickles’s ultimate message was always that we’re all in this together.

As funny as Rickles was, he was also lucky enough to start his career in the 1950s.  (Reportedly, he got his big break when he saw Frank Sinatra in the audience, said, “Make yourself at home, Frank.  Hit somebody!” and insulted his work in his last movie.  Sinatra loved it.)  If Don Rickles had started his career this century, his politically incorrect humor would have gotten him banned from most clubs and Amy Schumer and Lena Dunham would have led a twitter campaign to have him incarcerated.  Don Rickles was lucky enough to by funny at a time when comedians were actually rewarded for making us laugh.

What was your favorite Don Rickles role?  He always said that his grandkids only liked him because he voiced Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story films.  Rickles also had a rare dramatic role in Martin Scorsese’s Casino, more than holding his own against heavyweight actors like Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci.

Don Rickles died today at the age of 90.  I would say rest in peace but I don’t think Don Rickles would have appreciated the “in peace” part.  I will just say goodbye, Mr. Rickles and thank you for the laughter.

 

TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.5 “The One-Armed Man” (directed by Tim Hunter)


It’s all about team work.

Aren’t Lisa and Leonard doing a great job with their Twin Peaks reviews?  Yesterday, I was reading Leonard’s review of Rest In Pain and I immediately thought to myself, “I’m going to have to up my game if I want to keep up.”  That’s what team work does.  It challenges you to work harder and hopefully, it makes you better at whatever it is that you do.

For instance, Twin Peaks is usually thought of as being the “David Lynch show” but actually, there were several different creative voices involved and all of them left their mark on the series.  The show was co-created by veteran TV writer, Mark Frost (whose father, Warren Frost, played Doc Hayward).  Many of the show’s scripts are credited to Harley Peyton, who also wrote the film version of Less Than Zero.  Even Jerry Stahl, of Permanent Midnight fame, is credited with writing an episode.  While Twin Peaks had an easily identifiable style, only six of its 30 episodes were actually directed by David Lynch.  The other episodes were directed by directors like Uli Edel, Todd Holland, and Caleb Deschanel.  Even Diane Keaton directed an episode during season 2.  All of them brought their own talents and perspectives to this show and upped their game.

Episode 5, “The One-Armed Man,” was written by Robert Engels and directed by Tim Hunter.  Hunter, who directed two more episodes during the show’s second season, is best known for two sensitive films that he made about teenagers, Tex and River’s Edge.  Of the two, the surreal River’s Edge (which features Dennis Hopper playing a one-legged drug dealer who lives with a sex doll) feels the closest to Twin Peaks.

Episode Five opens with Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie) giving a description of Killer BOB (Frank Silva) to Harry (Michael Ontkean) and Andy (Harry Goaz) while Doc Hayward and Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle) listen.  When Leland (Ray Wise) wanders into the room and taunts Sarah about having had two visions, Sarah talks about seeing someone digging up Laura’s necklace, making Donna uncomfortable since she’s the one who buried it in the first place.

(Whenever I see Grace Zabriskie and Warren Frost play a scene together, I am reminded of their later work on Seinfeld, where they played the bitter parents of Susan Ross and Mr. Ross was revealed to have been a former lover of John Cheever.)

Back at the police station, there’s a happening.  Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) is caught up in the latest episode of Invitation to Love, where the storyline seems to parallel the efforts of Ben Horne (Richard Beymer) and Catherine Martell (Piper Laurie) to run Josie (Joan Chen) out of business.  FBI Director Gordon Cole (voiced by David Lynch, himself) calls in to let them know that Albert has discovered that Laura Palmer was bound by household twine and that the marks on her shoulder came from a bird.  When Harry and Andy show Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) the sketch of BOB, Cooper identifies him as one of the men from his dream.

Dale also finally interviews everyone’s favorite psychiatrist, Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn).  Jacoby tries to beat Cooper at his own game, speaking in riddles and comparing the people of Tibet with the native Hawaiians.  Jacoby says that, when it comes to Laura, he can not violate doctor-patient confidentiality but he does share that “Laura was a woman” surrounded by boys and that, on the night Laura was murdered, he was following one of the men that Laura had told him about.  When Jacoby says that the man drove a red corvette, both Harry and Dale realize that he is talking about Leo Johnson (Eric Da Re).

Lucy interrupts to let Dale and Harry know that Deputy Hawk (Michael Horse) has just called.  He has tracked down MIKE, the one-armed man!

At the Timber Falls Motel, Ben and Catherine are having another tryst and discussing their plans for setting the mill on fire and forcing Josie into bankruptcy.  What they do not know is that Josie is sitting outside in her car, taking pictures.

The Timber Falls Motel is also the current home of the one-armed man and, as Harry, Andy, and Dale pull up, they are met by Hawk who tells them that the man is in room 101 and that his full name is Philip Michael Gerard.  (The One-Armed Man shares his name with Richard Kimble’s relentless pursuer on The Fugitive, a show that itself centered around the search for a one-armed man.  This episode aired years before the film version and Tommy Lee Jones reintroduced the world to the character.)

Andy has a Barney Fife moment when, standing outside of Room 101, he accidentally drops his gun and it goes off.  (“Gunplay,” Catherine says in her cabin, “Sounds serious.”)  When not even the sound of gunfire can get Gerard to open the door, Harry and Dale kick it in and discover their one-armed man stepping out of the shower.

Looking at a the drawing of BOB, Gerard says that he has never seen him before but that he does “look like someone.”  When Cooper asks if he has a friend named Bob, the one-armed man replies, “Bob Lydecker is just about my best friend in the world.”  He says that he’s been at the hospital because Bob, who is apparently the “best veterinarian in the county,” is in a coma.  Gerard is a traveling salesman, selling shoes.  He says that he lost his arm in a car accident.  He admits that he did have a tattoo on the arm that he lost.  In tears, he says that the tattoo said, “Mom.”

Al Strobel was a real-life amputee whose cameo in the pilot, riding in an elevator with Cooper and Harry, was originally meant to be his only appearance, a one-time homage to The Fugitive.  Lynch was so impressed with Strobel that he filmed some additional scenes with him that were used in the version of the pilot that was released theatrically in Europe.  (Those scenes were later incorporated into Cooper’s dream.)  In this episode, Strobel gives a memorable performance that justifies Lynch’s decision to expand his role.

At the high school, Audrey (Sherilyn Fenn) is smoking in the girl’s room and begging Donna to help her investigate Laura’s murder.  Audrey says that if she can solve the murder then maybe Dale will take her away with him.  When Audrey mentions One-Eyed Jacks, Donna proves herself to be just as crushworthy as Audrey by replying, “Isn’t that a western with Marlon Brando?”  Considering that One-Eyed Jacks was a box office flop that was released years before she was born, Donna’s knowledge of Marlon Brando’s filmography is truly impressive.

At the prison, Norma (Peggy Lipton) promises the parole board that, if Hank (Chris Mulkey) is released, she will give him a job at the diner and they will live together as “husband and wife.”  That will be interesting considering that Norma is now having an affair with Hank’s former best friend, Ed Hurley (Everett McGill.)

Meanwhile, Dale, Harry, Andy, and Hawk have pulled up in front of Dr. Bob Lydecker’s vet clinic.  Hawk immediately high-fives a biker.  Harry pets a little girl’s rabbit.  Cooper notices that a convenience store is right next to the clinic and sends Andy, who is still shaken up from nearly shooting himself, to discover whether the store sells the type of twine that was used on Laura.

Inside the clinic, Dr. Lydecker’s receptionist says that the sketch of Killer BOB looks nothing like the good doctor.  As a woman leads a llama through the waiting room, Dale asks whether Lydecker had any bird patients.  As Cooper explains to Harry, “The bird that attacked Laura Palmer is a client of this office!”

Meanwhile, back at the Johnson House, Shelly Johnson (Madchen Amick) is fooling around with Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook).  Shelly says that Bobby’s outburst at the funeral really turned her on.  Bobby says that he’s going to “fix” James Hurley.  “Fix me first,” Shelley replies.  Bobby asks when Leo’s coming back and Shelly says that Leo will be gone for hours.  Whenever Shelly says that Leo won’t be back for a while, that is usually Leo’s cue to kick open the door and start yelling.

However, that does not happen this time.  For once, Leo does not show up.  According to Shelly, he is with “creepy Jacques, that Canuck who works at the Roadhouse.”  Realizing that Jacques must be the one supplying Leo with cocaine, Bobby does his innocent act.  He says that he knows that Leo has been selling drugs at the high school, maybe even to Laura.  Now, if only he can find evidence linking Leo to Laura, maybe they can get Leo out of their lives forever.  Shelly helps out by showing Bobby the bloody shirt that she found in Leo’s truck.  She also shows Bobby the gun that she just bought and she asks Bobby to show her how it works.  Hopefully, Bobby’s better with a gun than Andy.

Fan Service, Twin Peaks Style

Speaking of which, Andy is still feeling upset over nearly shooting himself so, back at the police station, Andy, Cooper, Harry, and Hawk gather at the shooting range for some gunfire and male bonding.  They all agree that women cannot be understood and they all marvel over Dale’s marksmanship.  Not only does Dale do dream interpretation but he can shoot a man in the nostrils.

At the diner, Norma thanks a man named Toad for his tip.  When Shelly comes in, they bond over their shared experience of being married to loser drug dealers.  Shelly says that she’s ready to get rid of Leo but, after seeing him at the parole hearing, Norma is now less sure about her plan to divorce Hank and marry Big Ed.  She is even more unsure after she gets a phone call telling her that Hank got his parole.  He is coming home.

Meanwhile, Ed’s nephew, James (James Marshall), is using the diner’s payphone (remember those?) to call Donna.  However, James is distracted when Maddy (Sheryl Lee), Laura’s look-alike cousin, walks into the diner.  After James approaches her, Maddy explains that she and Laura used to be close but had recently drifted apart.  Maddy says that she lives in Missoula, Montana. Missoula just happens to be the birthplace of David Lynch.

Meanwhile, at the Great Northern, Audrey deftly manipulates her father into giving her a job working at the perfume counter at Horne’s Department Store.  Audrey says that it is because she wants to learn the family business but actually, it’s because both Laura and Ronette Pulaski also worked at the perfume counter.  Ben agrees and then leaves so that he can hire Leo Johnson to burn down the Packard Mill.  Who suggested Leo to Ben?  Hank Jennings!

At the police station, Cooper, Harry, and Andy pour over the files on all of the birds treated by Dr. Lydecker.  Albert faxes over a reconstruction of a poker chip from One-Eyed Jacks that was found in Laura’s stomach, along with the information that the bird bites on Laura’s shoulder came from a mynah bird.  At the exact moment, Andy redeems himself by announcing that Jacques Renault owns a mynah bird named Waldo.

When the police show up at Jacques’s apartment, Jacques is not there.  However, Bobby Briggs is.  Bobby runs as soon as the police arrive and manages to escape out a back window.  (Assuming that Bobby is Briggs, Hawk gives chase but loses him in the woods.)  Cooper finds what Bobby was planting the apartment, Leo’s bloody shirt.

In the woods, Donna and James go to the location where Donna buried the necklace and discover that Sarah Palmer’s vision was correct.  Someone followed them and dug up the necklace.  Donna and James agree they have to solve the murder and share a kiss while an owl watches above.

At the mill, Pete (Jack Nance) asks Josie if she would consider entering a fishing competition with him.  Josie and Pete?  That would be an interesting match.  But Josie soon has more to worry about, after she receives a drawing of a domino in the mail.  No sooner has she looked at the drawing then she gets a phone call from a man asking her if she got his message.

Who is on the other line?

The suddenly very important Hank Jennings!

“The One-Armed Man” is a good episode, one that moves the story forward, introduces some new mysteries, and justifies that faith that David Lynch put into collaborators like Tim Hunter and Al Strobel.  As I said at the start of this review, it’s all about team work.

Previous Entries in The TSL’s Look At Twin Peaks:

  1. Twin Peaks: In the Beginning by Jedadiah Leland
  2. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.1 — The Pilot (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  3. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.2 — Traces To Nowhere (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Jedadiah Leland
  4. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.3 — Zen, or the Skill To Catch A Killer (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  5. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.4 “Rest in Pain” (dir by Tina Rathbone) by Leonard Wilson

Happy Tartan Day, Nessie!


Photograph of Nessie, taken in 1934 by Robert Kenneth Wilson

Today is Tartan Day, a worldwide celebration of Scottish heritage.  Here at the Shattered Lens, I’m observing Tartan Day by paying tribute to one of Scotland’s most famous residents.  Some people say she’s real.  Some people say she’s a myth.  Her official name is the Loch Ness Monster but you can call her Nessie.

Above is the most famous picture of Nessie and, sadly, most people now agree that it was probably a hoax.  But there were sightings of Nessie long before this picture was ever published.  The first recorded sighting of Nessie was in 565 AD by Saint Columba.  Are you calling a saint a liar?  I didn’t think so.

Here are what a few other artists think that Nessie might look like:

By 3punkins

By Aloysius Patrimonio

By Jay Fleck

By J C Chaparro

By Lynette Shelley

By Mariana Trench

By Michael Myers

By Norman Trench

By Shawn Olson

Whether you believe in Nessie or not, Happy Tartan Day!

Music Video of the Day: Shot In The Back Of The Head by Moby (2009, dir. David Lynch)


I’m going to need a little help, and even then, I can only tell you what I see. Here is what Wikipedia says about the video:

“The music video for the song, directed and animated by David Lynch, was released on April 14, 2009 on Pitchfork.tv. The video contains crude drawings of various objects and landscapes, such as cityscapes and factories. The music video’s plot follows a man, whose lover is a woman’s head. An unknown person shoots the man in the back of the head, murdering him. The woman’s head jumps on the killer and murders him. The video concludes with drawings of the night sky as the video fades to black.”

I see us being introduced to a dirty and dank city before we enter an apartment where a man enters from the bottom of the screen–jiggling while he does it. Why is he jiggling? I thought of masturbating at first, but after watching the video a few more times, it feels more like anticipation then anything else. Then a floating head come up, reaches him, and disembodies one of his arms when it cuts outside.

That’s followed by an arm holding a gun that comes in and fires a shot at the man’s head. It’s ambiguous as to whether it actually blows his head off or not with that shot. I believe that was the intention because you do see her head appear right over his. However, you also don’t see it travel around his head. That’s immediately followed by–we assume–the killer leaving the building. We have to assume it is the killer seeing as she’s a head and we have no real reason to believe he isn’t dead–at least dead in his head.

More city follows before cutting to a shot that looks like it’s from Rabbits (2002). It also looks like a guy with a missing head that is smoking off the top of it. We then see what I believe to be the American flag in the background underneath all the black lines. You could also see it simply as stars in the night sky. Smog travels across it before we cut to a guy walking.

Then what looks like the guy from the beginning, minus the top of his head, appears to be looking at us while the flag continues to wave in the background. Then the man dives down to the bottom of the screen. Note that depending on how you look at that shot, it can be seen as her diving downwards where his head would be.

After her head flies across the city, we see his disembodied hand pass over the flag.

Feel free to interpret it as you please. It’s Lynch after all.

Enjoy!