This Week’s “Peaks” : Parts One And Two (Spoilers Abound)

Trash Film Guru

How, exactly, does one begin to process all this?

The only way one can, I suppose — one scene, one instance, one moment at a time.

After all, it’s been 25 years and,  despite Laura Palmer’s promise, until it was first cryptically hinted at via twitter, then officially announced what already feels like countless months ago, I think it’s fairly safe to say that none of us thought this would happen. And yet, happening it is — “again,” as its promotional materials point out. David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks has, indeed, returned to television. And it’s been a “pinch yourself to make sure it’s real” night all the way.

Damn, but they did a good job of keeping all the details under wraps, didn’t they? In a world where the president of the United States feels compelled to spill classified info to the Russians in order to prove…

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12 Initial Thoughts on Twin Peaks: The Return Parts One and Two

I just finished watching Parts 1 and 2 of Twin Peaks: The Return on Showtime.  I’m not ready to write an in-depth review yet.  I’m going to have to rewatch the show, twice or maybe even three times.  But I did want to share a few of my initial thoughts about what I just saw:

1. In many ways, this was David Lynch at both his best and his most frustrating.  That the story held my interest even while making little to no sense is a testament to his abilities as a director.  For all the credit that he’s been given as a visual artist, Lynch is often underrated as a storyteller.  Lynch is often accused of being self-indulgent and, in many ways, he is.  At the same time, he still knows where his story is going and how to keep the audience invested in the journey.

At the same time, I imagine that there are a lot of frustrated people right now.  For all the talk about how Twin Peaks was finally returning, very little of tonight’s episode actually took place in Twin Peaks.  Instead, we had a horror movie going on in New York.  We had a murder mystery going on in South Dakota.  And we had a lot of Dale Cooper in the Black Lodge.  If you came into this episode hoping to get caught up with Bobby Briggs, Audrey Horne, or Doc Hayward, you were out of luck.  However, since this episode ended at the Roadhouse, with Shelley Johnson giving James Hurley a friendly wave, I assume that we’ll be spending more time in Twin Peaks next week.

2. Apparently, Doppelganger Cooper has been extremely busy.  I have to admit that I would probably be more intimidated by evil Cooper if not for the hair.

3. For those keeping track of what we did learn about what’s been going on in Twin Peaks over the past 25 years: Ben and Jerry Horne are still operating at the Great Northern and Ben appears to have given up on the whole being a force of good thing.  Deputy Andy and Lucy are still together.  Deputy Hawk is now deputy chief and is basically in charge while Sheriff Truman is away.  James Hurley apparently had a motorcycle accident and now appears to be the town weirdo.  Shelley Johnson still lives in town and apparently likes James now.  Sarah Palmer appears to be a drunk who spends her time watching nature documentaries.  The Log Lady is still getting messages from her log.  Cooper is considered to be a missing person.  Dr. Jacoby is living in a trailer out in the middle of nowhere.

4. Rather sweetly, tonight’s episode was dedicated to the memories of Frank Silva (the original Killer BOB) and Catherine E. Coulson.  Coulson passed away shortly after shooting her scenes as the Log Lady.  It was obvious, in her scenes, that she didn’t have much time left.  I’m glad that she got to recreate her most famous role and that the show didn’t resort to introducing a new Log Lady.  (“My name is Maggie.  My grandma left me this log in her will.  You may call me Log Girl.”  See, that would not have been a good thing…)

5. How creepy were those scenes in New York!?

6. Brent Briscoe, who played the detective in the South Dakota scenes, also played a detective in Mulholland Drive.  In fact, many of the scenes in South Dakota reminded me more of Mulholland Drive than Twin Peaks.

7. The difficulty that the cops had in getting a key to Ruth Davenport’s apartment was pure Lynch.  People are either going to love it or hate it.

8. The scenes in the Black Lodge were perhaps the best part of the episode.  The talking tree-thing totally freaked me out.  At the same time, Lynch is a master of how to use silence to create an ominous atmosphere.  It was during the moments when no one was talking that I often found myself the most creeped out.

9. Matthew Lillard is not always an actor who gets a lot of credit but he really delivered tonight.  On the one hand, Lillard’s character appeared to be sincere when he claimed he was innocent.  On the other hand, we’ve seen Matthew Lillard play so many crazy characters that our natural instinct is to distrust.  I don’t know if we’ll see his character again but we definitely won’t forget him.

10. To which character did I most relate?  Probably Tracy, because we both deliver coffee and wear thong underwear.

11. I loved the song at the end!

12. As I hinted earlier, I imagine that a lot of people were frustrated by tonight’s episode.  In many ways, the first 80 minutes reminded me of the Chris Isaak/Keifer Sutherland prologue that started off Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.  I think people who are familiar with and who appreciate Lynch’s style probably found a lot to love tonight.  Casual viewers, on the other hand, are probably wondering what the rest of us are so excited about.  David Lynch has always defiantly gone his own way and stayed true to his own unique vision.  That’s what makes him such an exciting artist.  At the same time, mainstream audiences hate being confused.  Surrealism makes them feel insecure.

Anyway, those are my initial thoughts!  I’ll have a more in-depth review either later tonight or maybe tomorrow!

Twins Peaks on TSL:

  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
  27. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.18 “On The Wings of Love” (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Jedadiah Leland
  28. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.19 “Variations on Relations” (directed by Jonathan Sanger) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  29. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.20 “The Path to the Black Lodge” (directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  30. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.21 “Miss Twin Peaks” (directed by Tim Hunter) by Leonard Wilson
  31. TV Review: Twin Peaks 22.2 “Beyond Life and Death” (directed by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  32. Film Review: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  33. Here’s The Latest Teaser for Showtime’s Twin Peaks by Lisa Marie Bowman
  34. Here’s The Newest Teaser for Showtime’s Twin Peaks by Lisa Marie Bowman


A Movie A Day #133: American Ninja 2: The Confrontation (1987, directed by Sam Firstenberg)

Duuuuuuuuude!  The American Ninja is back!

In this sequel to the first American Ninja, ninja Joe (Michael Dudikoff) and sidekick Jackson (Steve James) are now Army Rangers.  They have been assigned to provide security at an embassy on a small Caribbean island.  At first, it seems like an easy gig but then Joe discovers that a large number of Marines have recently vanished.  According to the only witness, they were abducted by men dressed in black.  Joe and Jackson know what that means!

The Marines are being set up by a traitor in their own ranks, Tommy Taylor (played by Miguel Ferrer look-alike Jonathan Pienaar).  Taylor is being blackmailed by a master criminal known as, I kid you not, Leo the Lion (Gary Conway, who also co-wrote the script).  Leo is brainwashing the Marines, shooting them up with all sorts of drugs and transforming them into zombie-style ninjas.

Doing away with any pretense towards reality, American Ninja 2 is pure comic book action.  A bad guy even says, “It’s the American Ninja!” when he sees Joe.  It’s a strange film.  On the one hand, it is full of goofy humor and it even has a streetwise kid sidekick, all things that would indicate that it was made to appeal to kids.  On the other hand, the first cut was reportedly so violent that it got a dreaded X-rating.  The final version still has enough impalings, decapitations, and throwing stars to the head to earn its R.

With its combination of nonstop action and Steve James one-liners, American Ninja 2 is both a worthy sequel and a worthy addition to the Cannon library.  Still, it bothers me that at least a few of the ninjans that Joe and Jackson killed were probably just brainwashed Marines.  That amounts to a lot of innocent victims being killed by our heroes.

The life of an American ninja is never an easy one.

What Else Lisa Watched Last Night #166: Seduced By A Stranger (dir by Scott Belyea)

Secrets of My Stepdaughter was not the only thing that I watched last night!  I also watched Seduced By A Stranger on the Lifetime Movie Network.

Why Was I Watching It?

When a movie is called Seduced By A Stranger, you watch it.  Seduced is one of the most powerful words in the English language.  I even tried to get Arleigh to call this site Through the Seduced Lens but he ended up going with Shattered instead.

(Which is okay because shattered is almost as powerful word as seduced.  Someday, Lifetime will realize that I’m right and commission a film called Shattered Seduction.  I’m already working on the script.)

What Was It About?

It’s about a woman who is seduced by a stranger.

Actually, there’s a little more to it than just that.  In fact, it’s actually a movie about a teenager named Dana (Cate Sproule) and her good-for-nothing (but charming) father named Martin (Steve Bacic).  Because Martin is a professional con man, Dana and Martin have never stayed in one place for too long.  Dana feels like she’s missing out on life.

So, Martin agrees to settle down in a nice little town.  Dana finally gets to enroll in high school.  She even meets a cute boy named Charlie (Madison Smith) and soon, they’re a couple.  However, Martin is also dating Charlie’s mother (Chandra West) and Dana is worried that her father is going to slip back into his old ways.

And, of course, there’s the stalker.  Sloane (Lucie Guest) lost everything to one of Martin’s cons and she’s determined to get her revenge.  Now that Martin has settled down in one place, it looks like she may finally get her chance…

What Worked?

This one was a lot of fun and actually kind of sweet in its own weird way.  Charlie and Dana were a really likable couple and you hoped that things would work out for them.  Both Cate Sproule and Madison Smith gave good performances and it was kind of nice to see a Lifetime film where, for once, the teenagers were alright and the adults were totally clueless.

Lucie Guest did a good job as crazy Sloane.  The best role in any Lifetime film is always the obsessive stalker and Guest really made the most of the opportunity.

What Did Not Work?

It all worked.  It was fun and enjoyable Lifetime film.  The only thing that kept it from being perfect was that there was no kitchen dance party.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

When someone says that Dana has stolen Charlie’s heart, Dana instinctively responds with, “I don’t steal.”  For some reason, I related to that moment.

(I know that’s vague but identifying an “Oh my God!  Just like me!” moment is not an exact science.)

Lessons Learned

Sometimes, being seduced by a stranger is the best thing that can happen to you.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #165: Secrets of my Stepdaughter (dir by Jem Garrard)

Last night, I watched Secrets of my Stepdaughter on Lifetime!

Why Was I Watching It?

Why Not?  It was on Lifetime and Secrets of my Stepdaughter is a great title.  As our regular readers know, Jeff, Leonard, and I spent all last month watching and reviewing the first two seasons on Twin Peaks.  As soon as I saw the title of this Lifetime film, I immediately thought of that great line from the third episode of series: “She is full of secrets.”

What Was It About?

When teenager Rachel Kent (Tiera Skovbye) survives a robbery that leaves her best friend dead, she becomes a minor media celebrity.  Everyone loves Rachel but the detective (Lucia Walters) in charge of the case has suspicions.  And soon, so does Rachel’s stepmother, Cindy (Josie Davis).  Rachel is just enjoying being a celebrity too much and when Cindy catches Rachel rehearsing the story of the robbery in front of a mirror, Cindy starts to suspect that Rachel may indeed be full of secrets.

What Worked?

The film told an intriguing story.  It opened with a title card telling us that it was “based on a true story” and I’d believe it.  This is actually something that happens fairly regularly.  A victim of a crime will become a minor celebrity, just to then have it revealed that they actually committed the crime themselves.  People love the attention.  What’s interesting is that you never hear much about these people once it’s revealed that they were not victims but instead guilty.  They kind of get pushed to the side and the story gets abandoned because no one wants to admit to having been fooled.

Josie Davis gave a good performance as Cindy.  She’s appeared in several Lifetime films and it was interesting to see her finally play a sympathetic character for once.  The entire film, however, was stolen by Tiera Skovbye, who was a force of cheerfully destructive nature in the role of Rachel.

What Did Not Work?

This was yet another Lifetime film where the family pet is killed off, presumably so we don’t have any doubt that we’re dealing with a total sociopath.  Killing the dog felt so cruelly unnecessary and totally gratuitous that it made it difficult for me to enjoy the rest of the movie.  It seemed to be done for shock value but, at this point, so many pets have been killed in so many Lifetime movies that it’s no longer shocking.

Seriously, leave the pets alone!

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

“Wow, Lisa, since this movie was about a sociopathic, shoplifting teenage murderer, there were probably a lot of Oh my God!  Just like me! moments!”

Okay, you are no longer my friend.

Actually, to be honest, I did relate to Rachel at the very beginning of the movie.  When she was rehearsing in front of the mirror, I gave her the benefit of the doubt because I do that too.  But then it became obvious that she actually had killed her best friend and the family dog and I was like, “Nope, I have nothing in common with this psycho!”

Lessons Learned

It’s a lot more difficult to fake a crime than you might think.

Music Video of the Day: Won’t Look Back by Duke Dumont (2014, directed by Tim Main)

Y’all are going to have to forgive me.  I am absolutely exhausted as I write this so I’m not going to say as much about this wonderful video as I possibly should.

One the one hand, this video is a pitch perfect takeoff of almost every heist film released since the mid-90s.  From the masks to the guns to the thrilling escape and subsequent chase, Won’t Look Back gets everything right.  Of course, what sets Won’t Look Back apart from other action homages is that it replaces fast cars with pogo sticks and segways.  It’s terrifically amusing and it all works a thousand times better than it has any right to.

This video was directed by Tim Main and edited by Sam Jones.  Pat Scola is credited as director of photography.  All three did an excellent job and have a lot to be proud of with this video.