Rat Pack – 3 = FOUR FOR TEXAS (Warner Brothers 1963)

cracked rear viewer

The wait is finally over, my new DirecTV receiver has arrived and is all hooked up! Unfortunately, all my DVR’d movies have vanished. And since it was filled to about 70% capacity, that’s a lot of movies! Needless to say, I’ve got to load up the ol’ DVR again. Thanks to TCM, I re-recorded one of my old favorites the other day, FOUR FOR TEXAS, an action-packed Western comedy I’ve seen about 100 times already (ok, that’s a slight exaggeration). This combines the two leaders of the Rat Pack, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin , with the talents of director Robert Aldrich. The result is an all-star, slam-bang entertainment that is loads of fun for film fans.

The pre-credits sequence looks like we’re about to watch a traditional Western, with a gang of outlaws led by Charles Bronson   riding out to ambush a stagecoach. But wait, that’s Frankie and Dino…

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Movie a Day #110: Femme Fatale (1991, directed by Andre R. Guttfreund)

Joseph Price (Colin Firth) was once a painter but now he is the world’s least likely park ranger.  One day, he meets the beautiful and mysterious Cynthia (Lisa Zane).  Within days, Joe and Cynthia are married but one morning, Joe wakes up to discover that Cynthia is gone and she has only left behind a brief note.  Searching for his wife, Joe goes to Los Angeles and discovers how little he knew about Cynthia.  Joe’s search eventually leads him into the world of porn, drugs, S&M, and performance art.

This month, every entry in Movie A Day has had a least one Twin Peaks connection.  Femme Fatale has two.  Joe’s best friend, a laid back artist who is usually seen painting a topless woman who sometimes wears a brown bag over her head, is played by Billy Zane, who appeared as John Justice Wheeler during the second season of Twin Peaks.  Also, Catherine Coulson (the show’s famous Log Lady) appears as a nun who provides an important clue to Cynthia’s past.

Femme Fatale used to show up on HBO in the 1990s and it is currently on YouTube.  It may not be a great film but it does have a good cast.  Along with Billy Zane and Coulson, Femme Fatale also features Scott Wilson as a shady psychologist, Lisa Blount as an actress who used to work with Cynthia, and Pat Skipper and John Lavachielli as two talkative thugs named Ed and Ted.  Both Carmine Caridi and the great Danny Trejo show up in small roles.  It may seem strange to cast the very British Colin Firth as a park ranger but it works.  As for Lisa Zane, who is Billy’s older sister, Cynthia was probably her best role.

Predictable though the movie may be, Femme Fatale is enjoyably stupid if you are in the right mood.  There should always be a time and place for the old neo noirs of 1990s.

TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.18 “On the Wings of Love” (dir by Duwayne Dunham)

Welcome back to Twin Peaks!

This episode opens at the Bookhouse, where lingerie-clad Jones (Brenda Strong) is climbing on top of Harry (Michael Ontkean).  Harry, in his whiskey-dazed state, thinks that she is Josie (Joan Chen).  He comes to his senses right when Jones wraps a garrote around his neck and starts to strangle him.  Harry manages to overpower her, leaving her knocked out cold on the couch.

At the Great Northern, Audrey (Sherilyn Fenn) delivers room service to Wheeler (Billy Zane).  I am not sure what to make of Wheeler.  I know that he was brought in so that Audrey would have a love interest other than Cooper but, since he’s played by Billy Zane, I don’t trust him.

At the sheriff’s station, Harry tells Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) that he has not been able to get anything out of Jones.  She wants to talk to the South African consulate.  Harry wonders why Eckhardt would have wanted him dead.  “Sexual jealousy,” Cooper replies before saying that it is good to have Harry back.

In the sheriff’s office, Doctor Hayward (Warren Frost), Harry, and Cooper look at a Bonsai tree that was delivered that morning.  Harry looks at the card.  It was a present from Josie.  Before Harry can get too depressed, Hayward tells them about Windom Earle coming back his house and he shows them the knight that Earle gave to Donna.

Gordon Cole (David Lynch) enters the office, yelling as always and making Harry’s headache worse.  Cole shouts that he has just come from Bend, Oregon, that he is bringing Cooper the classified portion of Windom Earle’s file and that he is reinstating Cooper in the FBI.

What no one knows is that the Bonsai tree is hiding a microphone and Windom Earle (Kenneth Welsh) is listening to every word that they say.  Earle complains to Leo (Eric Da Re) that Cooper is refusing to play fair.  Earle has Leo pick three cards.  They are all queens — Queen Donna, Queen Audrey, and Queen Shelly.  Earle has Leo pick a king card — “Little Dale.”  Earle reaches behind Leo’s ear and produces one more card — the Queen of Hearts.  The Queen of Hearts will be whoever is named Miss Twin Peaks.

Cole tells Cooper that, in the institution, Earle was put on the same drug that the One-Armed Man used.  Cooper notices that Earle was involved with Project Blue Book, just like Major Briggs.  Cooper says that there is some definite linkage, which makes Cole think of sausage patties and breakfast.

At the Great Northern, Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle) spies on her mother, Eileen (Mary Jo Deschanel), meeting with Ben Horne (Richard Beymer).  Donna goes to the front desk and, as Mike (Gary Hershberger) and Nadine (Wendy Robie) check out, Donna asks to speak with Audrey.  When Audrey comes out, Donna asks her if there’s any reason why Donna’s mother would visiting Audrey’s father.  Audrey leads Donna to the secret passageway so that they can spy on their respective parents in Ben’s office.

In the office, Eileen tries to get Ben to take a bundle of letters but he refuses, saying that they are her letters.  They were written to her.  Ben says that he hasn’t held Eileen for nearly 20 years.  Ben asks if Eileen has “told her.”  Eileen tells Ben to stay away from her and to never come by the house again.

At the diner, Cole, Harry, and Cooper show up for breakfast. While  hungover Harry is busy throwing up, Cooper and Cole get a booth.  Cole spies Shelly and shouts, “What a beauty!”  Cole walks over to the counter and loudly asks Shelly if he might ask her for a cup of coffee “and in the process, engage you with an anecdote of no small amusement.”  Shelly says that he doesn’t have to shout and Cole is shocked to discover that he can hear her, even when she is speaking in her normal voice.

Back at the booth, Harry and Cooper are debating cars when Annie (Heather Graham) comes over and pours them both a cup of coffee.  Cooper and Annie flirt while Harry Days music plays in the background.  Annie notices that Cooper has drawn a picture of the three marks on Major Briggs’s neck and tells him that the same design can be found at Owl Cave.  Cooper tells Harry that he has to see this Owl Cave.

At the Hayward house, Donna gets a postcard from James.  He says that he is in San Francisco.  When Dr. Hayward steps into the room, Donna tells him that Ben visited yesterday.  Dr. Hayward tells her that Eileen and Ben are probably just working on a charity together.  Suddenly, roses arrive.  They are for Eileen.  There’s no card.

At the library, Audrey is getting a book on political science and civil disobedience when she runs into pipe-smoking Edward Perkins, who is actually Windom Earle in disguise.  Perkins says that he is a professor who teaches a class in poetry so Audrey asks him about the poem that she received.  Perkins tells her that it is by Shelley and that Audrey looks like a queen.  Realizing that there is something strange about Edward Perkins, Audrey says that she has to go and makes a hasty exit.

At the diner, Annie finds an advertisement for Miss Twin Peaks.  Shelly asks her if she is going to enter but Annie says life is already strange enough without wearing high heels and a bathing suit.  Annie says that it’s also strange being around men again and asks Shelley what she knows about Cooper.  Shelly tells Annie to go for it.

Back at station, Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) thanks Andy (Harry Goaz) for helping out during yesterday’s weasel riot.  “That’s more than a certain Dick did,” Lucy says.

At the Great Northern, Ben is talking to Audrey about the Kennedy Brothers.  Ben says that he needs Audrey to be his Bobby Kennedy.  He needs her to be by his side, always willing to tell him the truth.  Ben apologizes for not being a better father and then says that he needs Audrey to go to Seattle to meet with the environmentalists.  When Wheeler steps into the office, Audrey says she is not sure that she can leave on short notice but Ben will hear nothing of it.

After Audrey leaves, Ben confesses to Wheeler that he is not really sure how to be good.  Ben asks Wheeler, “What’s the secret?”  Wheeler tells him to keep his eye on his heart and always tell the truth.  Wheeler confesses that he is falling in love with Audrey.  He and Ben eat a carrot.

Meanwhile, Johnny Horne (Robert Bauer) is outside, shooting rubber arrows at wooden buffaloes.

That night, at Owl Cave, Cooper, Andy, Harry, and Hawk (Michael Horse) explore.  They find the markings on the cave and discover that they are a combination of the markings on the Major’s neck and the Log Lady’s leg.

Thanks to wonders of incredibly primitive CGI, an owl flies around the cave.  Andy panics and swings his pickaxe, accidentally embedding it in the symbol.  Part of the wall falls away, revealing a stone lever that is decorated with a petroglyph on an owl.  Cooper smiles and says he does not know where this is going to lead but he is sure it will be somewhere “both wonderful and strange.”

Annie sits alone in the Great Northern cocktail lounge, when Cooper, fresh from Owl Cave, enters.  Annie tells Cooper that it is strange being back in the real world.  Cooper notices the scars on her wrist.  Annie says that she worries that she might try again.  Annie tells Cooper that some people think that she is strange.  Cooper says that he knows the feeling.

Back at Owl Cave, Earle sneaks in and sees the lever.  He turns it and, as the episode ends, the entire cave starts to shake.

This episode, which played like a cross between Picket Fences and Lost, shows just how much of an identity crisis Twin Peaks suffered during its second season.  Is it a comedy? Is it a romance?  Is it supernatural?  No one seems to know.

The best part of the episode was the trip to the Owl Cave and Ben’s conversation with Audrey.  The worst part of the episode?  Annie, who spent a few years in a convent but is written like an Amish girl on rumspringa.

Up next: Variations on Relations.

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
  6. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.5 “The One-Armed Man” (directed by Tim Hunter) by Jedadiah Leland
  7. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.6 “Cooper’s Dreams” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  8. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.7 “Realization Time” (directed by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  9. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.8 “The Last Evening” (directed by Mark Frost) by Leonard Wilson
  10. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.1 “May the Giant Be With You” (dir by David Lynch) by Leonard Wilson
  11. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.2 “Coma” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
  12. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.3 “The Man Behind The Glass” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Jedadiah Leland
  13. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.4 “Laura’s Secret Diary” (dir by Todd Holland) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  14. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.5 “The Orchid’s Curse” (dir by Graeme Clifford) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  15. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.6 “Demons” (dir by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Leonard Wilson
  16. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.7 “Lonely Souls” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
  17. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.8 “Drive With A Dead Girl” (dir by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  18. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.9 “Arbitrary Law” (dir by Tim Hunter) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  19. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.10 “Dispute Between Brothers” (directed by Tina Rathbone) by Jedadiah Leland
  20. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.11 “Masked Ball” (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Leonard Wilson
  21. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.12 “The Black Widow” (directed by Caleb Deschanel) by Leonard Wilson
  22. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.13 “Checkmate” (directed by Todd Holland) by Jedadiah Leland
  23. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.14 “Double Play” (directed by Uli Edel) by Jedadiah Leland
  24. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.15 “Slaves and Masters” (directed by Diane Keaton) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  25. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.16 “The Condemned Woman” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Leonard Wilson
  26. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.17 “Wounds and Scars” (directed by James Foley) by Lisa Marie Bowman

Music Video of the Day: The Perfect Kiss by New Order (1985, dir. Jonathan Demme)

Rest in peace, Jonathan Demme.

New Order is a band that was formed by the remaining members of Joy Division after the death of lead singer Ian Curtis. To most people, they are probably best-known for their song Blue Monday. That’s how I know of them. I think this is the first time I have heard another song by them.

Obviously the video is notable for the fact that it runs just short of 11 minutes with credits. Visually, there is a disconnection between the members of the band, and themselves with their instruments. There isn’t even a shot of the whole band together till halfway through the video. There’s a solemn mood about the whole thing–from the walls, to the looks on their faces. It was apparently shot in the band’s practice room. You can see a Joy Division poster in the background, which adds even more sadness to the whole thing.

From what I have read, this was a live video. That would explain why their isn’t a lot of glamour here. Maybe if this were on a stage, and in front of an audience, then it would. But this is just in their practice room. There is a nice article over on Billboard magazine’s website that goes into more detail than I can, but it boils down to the same thing. It is a noteworthy live video that captures New Order–warts and all–performing an exhausting composition live, alone, and far from any kind of glamour or artiness of a Blue Monday ’88 or Regret. If I had to guess, the disconnection was intentional in order to visually convey the separation of the different artists’ parts in the song, the concentration that purges the individual to a well-oiled machine, and the fact that some of the song was performed on the fly, while other parts were pre-programmed.