TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return Part 7 (dir by David Lynch) (SPOILERS)


As I sit here typing this, I just noticed that Vox has a new analysis of the show.  The headline reads: “Twin Peaks Brings New Meaning To The Idea of an 18-hour movie.”  Hey, Vox!  I said that three weeks ago!  I know you guys claim to be the smartest people in the world but you need to give credit where credit is due!  Anyway … Welcome back to Twin Peaks!

Before even getting into recapping tonight’s episode, I’m just going to say it.  I absolutely loved this episode.  While I’m not going to claim that it’s the best of the season so far (it’ll take a lot to beat any of the first four episodes), I think it can be argued that Part 7 is perhaps the most entertaining.  Without sacrificing any of Lynch’s signature style, this episode moved the story forward and served to prove — regardless of what some naysayers may claim — that there is a method behind the madness.  Even though we’re not sure where, Lynch is taking us someplace.  We just have to be willing to keep the faith until we reach our destination.

We open, as so many episodes have, in the woods.  Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly) stares at the trees, totally stoned.  He calls Ben (Richard Beymer) at the Great Northern and announces that someone has stolen his car.  Ben, not being fluent in the language of marijuana, is of little help.

At the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department, Hawk (Michael Horse) shows Frank (Robert Forster) the pages that he previously found in the bathroom stall.  It turns out that they are pages from Laura’s diary, in which she writes about a dream she had in which a woman named Annie appeared and told her that she had been with Dale and that the “good Dale was trapped in the Black Lodge and could not come out.”

Hawk explains that the diary was found, years ago, in Harold Smith’s house.  Hawk also shows Frank that, on one of the pages, Laura had written that she knew who BOB was.  Hawk suggests that maybe her father, Leland, hid the pages in the stall before he died.  Hawk also mentions that Leland also killed Jacques Renault, an important reminded since, later in this episode, we’re going to meet yet another Renault brother.

Frank goes to his office and places a call to Harry, who is apparently in a hospital somewhere.  From the tone of the conversation, it becomes apparent that Harry is terminally ill.  (As always, the shadow of death hangs over Twin Peaks.)  Frank doesn’t ask Harry about Cooper.  “Beat this thing,” Frank tells his brother.

After talking to Harry, Frank skypes with old Doc Hayward (Warren Frost, who passed away shortly after filming his scenes and to whom this episode was dedicated).  Frank asks Doc Hayward about the night that Cooper returned from the Black Lodge.  Doc Hayward says that he can’t remember what he ate for breakfast but he’ll never forget that night.  Hayward retells the story of the second season finale.  Other than revealing that Audrey was in a coma after the bombing at the bank, it’s nothing that we don’t already know but it’s still good to see both Doc Hayward and Warren Frost again.

Out in a field, Andy (Harry Goaz) has found the truck that Richard was driving when he ran over the little boy during the last episode.  Andy talks to the truck’s owner, who is not Richard and who is also obviously very afraid to talk about his truck.  Andy agrees to meet with the man in two hours in a safer, more secluded location.

In South Dakota, Lt. Knox (Adele Rene) meets with Detective Macklay (Brent Briscoe).  Knox asks about the finger prints that Macklay submitted.  He takes Knox to see the headless corpse that was found in Ruth Davenport’s bed.  Knox is shocked to hear that the dead man — who possesses Garland Briggs’s fingerprints — was in his late forties and, when discovered, had only been dead for five to six days.  Briggs supposedly died 24 years ago in a fire and, even if he had survived, he would have been much older than just his late 40s.  Stepping out into a hallway, Knox calls Col. Davis (Ernie Hudson) and lets him know that 1) they have a body, 2) the head is missing, and 3) the body is the wrong age.  Davis says that he’ll have to make “the other call.”

While Knox speaks to Davis, a shadowy figure walks down the hallway behind her.  Knox barely glances at it as she steps back into the morgue and tells Macklay that she doesn’t think this is going to be his investigation for too much longer.  The shadowy figure walks past the room as they speak.

At the FBI HQ, Gordon Cole (David Lynch) whistles in his office until Albert (Miguel Ferrer) enters and tells him that Diane’s response to the prospect of seeing Cooper was “No fucking way.”

Gordon and Albert go to Diane’s apartment, where Gordon talks Diane (Laura Dern) into going with them to see Cooper in prison.  For years, fans of the show have wondered what Diane was really like and Laura Dern does not disappoint.  Dern plays the role like a tough film noir femme fatale.  One of Diane’s defining traits is that she tells everyone that she sees to fuck off.  Nobody handles profanity with quite the skill of Laura Dern.

On the plane to South Dakota, Albert’s sarcastic, Diane drinks, and Gordon flirts with Tammy (Chrysta Bell).  Bleh.  No offense to Tammy (who I sympathize with because we both get car sick) but everyone knows that Gordon’s soulmate was Shelley Johnson.  We also learn that, over the past 25 years, the only know photograph of Cooper (actually Cooper’s Doppelganger) was of Cooper outside of a house in Rio.  In the picture, Cooper looks like a drug lord from a cheap 80s crime show.

At the prison, Diane reacts to kind words from Tammy by saying, “Fuck you, Tammy!” and then she has her meeting with Evil Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan).  Evil Cooper is still speaking slowly and without emotion.  Diane sees through him almost immediately.  She traps him by asking him if he remembers the last night they saw each other.

“I’ll always remember that night,” Evil Cooper drones.

“Who are you!?” Diane hisses.

“I don’t know what you mean, Diane,” the dead-voiced Evil Cooper responds.

Diane storms out of the meeting room.  Outside of the prison, in a beautifully acted scene, an emotional Diane tells Gordon that Evil Cooper is not the “Dale Cooper that I knew.”  Diane says that Evil Cooper, whoever he is, is missing something inside.

Evil Cooper is returned to his cell.  He tells the guard that he wants to see Warden Murphy.  “We need to speak about a strawberry,” Evil Cooper says.

In Twin Peaks, Andy stands on the side of the road and waits for the owner of the truck.  The owner never shows up.

Back at the prison, Evil Cooper is escorted into the office of Warden Murphy (James Morrison).  Murphy sends the guards out of the office, tells Evil Cooper that the security cameras have been turned off so that they can speak freely, and then pulls out a gun.

“The dog’s leg,” Evil Cooper says, “That dog had four legs.  One you found in my trunk.  The other three went out with the information that you’re thinking about right now.”

When Murphy asks why he should believe that Evil Cooper knows what he’s talking about, Evil Cooper replies, “Joe McCluskey.”  Warden Murphy gets a panicked look on his face and Evil Cooper explains that he wants a car for himself and Ray Monroe.  He wants a gun in the glove compartment.  And he wants to leave the jail at one in the morning.

In Las Vegas, Janey-E (Naomi Watts) waits impatiently for Dougie/Cooper to get off work.  However, Dougie/Cooper is busy sitting in his office, drawing stuff and ignoring his former friend, Anthony Sinclair (Tom Sizemore).  Both Janey-E and the police — led by Detective Fusco (David Koechner) — enter the office at nearly the same time.

Fusco wants to know about Dougie’s car.  As usual, Dougie/Cooper has little to say, though he is fascinated by the officer’s badges.  (“Badge,” he says as he reaches forward.)  When Janey-E asks if Dougie’s car was stolen, Dougie replies, “Stolen.”  The police all get their notebooks out and start taking notes.  Janey-E demands to know what’s happening and Fusco reveals that Dougie’s car was blown up.  Fortunately, Janey-E is there to do the talking.

(And let me just say that I totally and absolutely loved this scene, everything from the performances to the fact that, after all this time, absolutely no one seems to realize that Dougie/Cooper is acting strangely.  Another thing that I liked is that all three of the detectives were named Fusco — according to the credits they were E. Fusco, D. Fusco, and “Smiley” Fusco.)

As Janey-E and Dougie leave the office building, they are attacked by Ike the Spike (Christophe Zajac-Denek).  Fortunately, Ike bent his spike during the previous episode and is forced to come at Dougie with a gun.  However, Dougie/Cooper suddenly comes to life (perhaps Cooper’s FBI training somehow managed to kick in) and, along with Janey-E, they kick Ike’s homicidal ass.  While Dougie/Cooper is grabbing Ike’s gun, the mutated “arm” suddenly appears and orders, “Squeeze his hand off!  Squeeze his hand off!”  Dougie/Cooper gets the gun out of Ike’s hands and Ike runs off to parts unknown.

The police and the media arrive.  As Dougie/Cooper blankly stares forward (a bit like Chance the Gardner in Being There, to be honest), a very animated Janey-E tells the story of how Dougie took down the assassin.  Other onlookers — some of whom look traumatized by the whole thing — also tell what they saw.  One woman proudly announces that Dougie Jones is not a victim.  “He moves like a Cobra!”

At the Great Northern, Ben and Beverly (Ashley Judd) are in his office.  Beverly has been hearing a strange hum in the office.  Pervy old Ben walks around the office with her, searching for the source of the buzz.  As they do so, Beverly shows him that an old room key came in the mail.  Ben looks at it and, after mentioning that the Great Northern switched for keys to cards over twenty years ago, he notices that it’s from 315.  Ben says that he thinks that was the room where Agent Cooper was shot.

“Who is Agent Cooper?” Beverly asks.

“He was here 25 years ago,” Ben explains, “investigating the murder of Laura Palmer.”

“Who’s Laura Palmer?” Beverly asks.

“That, my dear, is a long story,” Ben says.

The buzzing continues as Lynch’s camera glides across the office, finally focusing on one of the wooden walls.

Beverly returns home, where her sickly husband, Tom (Hugh Dillon) is waiting and angry.  He wants to know why Beverly was late.  Beverly says some things came up at work.  When Tom says that he doesn’t want his dinner, Beverly snaps.  “I know you’re sick and in pain,” she tells him, “but do not use that to fuck with me!”  Tom stares at her as she asks if he realizes how lucky she is to have gotten her job.  “Do not fuck this up for me, Tom!” she yells.

At the roadhouse, we spend two minutes watching an anonymous janitor sweep the place up while Jean-Michel Renault (Walter Olkewicz) cleans up behind the bar.  Jean-Michel gets a call and, judging from the conversation, Jean-Michel is just as bad as his brothers.  He talks about sending someone two blondes.  As I rewatched the episode for this review, I heard something that I somehow missed the first time I watched it.  Jean-Michel says that the Renault family has owned the roadhouse for over fifty years.  That explains why there’s always a Renault working there, despite the fact that the family has, in some way, been involved with every bad thing that has ever happened in Twin Peaks.

At the prison in South Dakota, Evil Cooper and Ray Monroe (George Griffith) are allowed to leave their cells and the prison.  Outside, a car and a gun are waiting for them.  Murphy watches as they drive off.

From this sordid and menacing scene, we return to Twin Peaks.  This episode ends at the diner, where Shelley (Madchen Amick) is pouring coffee and Norma (Peggy Lipton) is looking over the bills.  A man ducks into the diner.  “Hey,” he yells, “has anyone seen Bing!?” After being told no, the man leaves.

And life goes on as the end credits role…

Twin 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
  35. 12 Initial Thoughts About Twin Peaks: The Return Parts One and Two by Lisa Marie Bowman
  36. This Week’s Peaks: Parts One and Two by Ryan C. (trashfilm guru)
  37. TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return Parts One and Two (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  38. 4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Twin Peaks Edition by Lisa Marie Bowman
  39. This Week’s Peaks: Parts Three and Four by Ryan C. (trashfilm guru)
  40. 14 Initial Thoughts About Twin Peaks: The Return Part Three by Lisa Marie Bowman (dir by David Lynch)
  41. 10 Initial Thoughts About Twin Peaks: The Return Part Four by Lisa Marie Bowman (dir by David Lynch)
  42. TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return Parts Three and Four (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman 
  43. 18 Initial Thoughts About Twin Peaks: The Return Part 5 (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  44. This Week’s Peaks: Part Five by Ryan C. (trashfilm guru)
  45. TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return: Part 5 (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  46. 14 Initial Thoughts On Twin Peaks Part 6 (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  47. This Week’s Peaks: Part Six by Ryan C. (trashfilm guru)
  48. TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return Part 6 (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  49. 12 Initial Thoughts on Twin Peaks: The Return Part 7 (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  50. This Week’s Peaks: Part Seven by Ryan C. (trashfilm guru)

12 Initial Thoughts on Twin Peaks: The Return Part 7 (dir by David Lynch)


As always, a full recap will be posted either later tonight or tomorrow!

1. We’ve all known a stoner like Jerry.

2. I was wondering if we’d hear anything else about or from Annie in the revival, especially since Heather Graham was not listed as being in the cast.  Actually, I’m a little bit surprised that she’s not still working at the diner.  Apparently, nobody ever leaves that place.

3. I always enjoy Harry Goaz’s performance as Deputy Andy, in both the original series and the revival.  There’s an authenticity to Goaz that allows him to make even the strangest of dialogue convincing.

4. It was nice to see Warren Frost, getting in one last hurrah as Doc Hayward.  Frost passed away last year, after filming his scenes.  When I watched the original Twin Peaks, I was struck by how Warren Frost almost seemed like he had stepped out of a Capra film.  He was the epitome of small town decency and fortitude.  Frost was the also the father of Twin Peaks co-creator, Mark Frost.

5. Let’s take a moment to appreciate Laura Dern’s skill with profanity.  For all the talk about how important a collaborator Kyle MacLachlan has been to David Lynch, one could argue that Laura Dern has been just as important.  Along with appearing in Blue Velvet, Dern also starred in Wild at Heart and Inland Empire.  For whatever reason, she — along with Naomi Watts — seems to be the perfect Lynch actress.

6. Ever since the new cast was announced, I’ve been wondering who David Koechner would play.  It’s hard to think of any other actor who does quite as well with playing obnoxious characters as Koechner.

7.  OH MY GOD!  Suddenly, Dougie’s a badass!  I have to admit that I’m also getting a big kick of Dougie/Cooper’s childlike fascination with badges.

8. It took 6 episodes but, finally, Richard Beymer and Ashley Judd are back.

9. How many Renault brothers are there?  Has it occurred to anyone to just not hire them to work at the roadhouse?  It seems like that would be a way to avoid a lot of trouble.

10. I loved the shot of Doppelganger Cooper leaving his cell and walking down that dark hallway.

11. For the first time since the series began, we end somewhere other than the roadhouse.  Instead, we end at the much more wholesome diner.

12. So, Doppelganger Cooper is on the loose and it looks like Dougie/Cooper might be getting his face on the news as a result of beating up Ike the Spike.  I’m sure that won’t lead to any complications.

Twin 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
  35. 12 Initial Thoughts About Twin Peaks: The Return Parts One and Two by Lisa Marie Bowman
  36. This Week’s Peaks: Parts One and Two by Ryan C. (trashfilm guru)
  37. TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return Parts One and Two (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  38. 4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Twin Peaks Edition by Lisa Marie Bowman
  39. This Week’s Peaks: Parts Three and Four by Ryan C. (trashfilm guru)
  40. 14 Initial Thoughts About Twin Peaks: The Return Part Three by Lisa Marie Bowman (dir by David Lynch)
  41. 10 Initial Thoughts About Twin Peaks: The Return Part Four by Lisa Marie Bowman (dir by David Lynch)
  42. TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return Parts Three and Four (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman 
  43. 18 Initial Thoughts About Twin Peaks: The Return Part 5 (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  44. This Week’s Peaks: Part Five by Ryan C. (trashfilm guru)
  45. TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return: Part 5 (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  46. 14 Initial Thoughts On Twin Peaks Part 6 (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  47. This Week’s Peaks: Part Six by Ryan C. (trashfilm guru)
  48. TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return Part 6 (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman

TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return Parts One and Two (dir by David Lynch) (SPOILERS)


As I sit here working on my recap of the first two episodes of Showtime’s revival of Twin Peaks, it’s occurring to me that this is not going to be an easy job.  Last month, when Leonard, Jeff, and I were reviewing the show’s first two seasons, we had the advantage of knowing where the story was leading.  We knew what would be important and what was a red herring.

With this revival, we no longer have that luxury.  I have no idea where this show is going.  All I know, for sure, is that David Lynch has given us 18 hours of new material.  It’s not necessarily going to be easy to review the revival.  I can already tell that.  From what I’ve heard and read, it appears that Lynch approached this less as a TV series and more as an 18-hour movie.  I’ve already noticed that several reviewers are already overplaying the “Twin Peaks is weird” angle.  David Lynch may be a surrealist but there is always a definite logic to all of his work.  You just have to have the patience to find it and I imagine that’ll be the case with Twin Peaks: The Return as well.

I’ve already shared my initial thoughts on the first two episodes and Ryan The TrashFilm Guru has posted a review of his own.  What follows below is a more in-depth recap of what we saw last night.  Needless to say, if you haven’t seen the first two episodes of the revival yet, this entire post is one huge spoiler.  So, read it at your own risk!

Okay — ready?

Let’s go!

We start where we left, with a clip from 27 years ago.  In the Black Lodge, Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) tells Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) that she will see him in 25 years.

Cut to Twin Peaks, the town that we all know and love.  The trees are still shrouded in fog.  The high school hallways are empty.  Laura Palmer’s homecoming queen picture still sits in the trophy case.  The title appears.  Angelo Badalamenti’s haunting theme music starts to play.  We see the waterfall.  We read the opening credits.  Twin Peaks is back.

In the Black Lodge, a much older Giant (Carel Struycken) talks to an aged Cooper.  The inhabitants of the Lodge still speak backwards and we are still provided with subtitles so that we can follow what they’re saying.  Cooper still speaks in his normal voice, indicating that he may be trapped in the Lodge but he has yet to truly become a part of it.  The Giant tells Cooper to listen to the sounds and looks over at an old-fashioned phonograph.  “It is in our house now,” the Giant says.  “Remember Four Three Zero.  Richard and Linda.  Two birds with one stone.”

“I understand,” Cooper says.  (I’m glad someone does.)

Cut to a trailer sitting in the middle of nowhere.  A pickup truck drives up.  The truck has two cardboard boxes in the bed.  Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) comes out of the trailer and gets the boxes.  What’s inside the boxes?  Shovels, of course!  Jacoby certainly does seem to be happy to have them.  Maybe he’s still looking for that necklace that Donna and James buried 25 years ago…

Cut to New York City.  Sam Colby (Ben Rosenfield) has a new job.  He sits on a couch in a room and he watches a black box that is sitting inside of a glass box.  His job is to see if anything happens in the box and to make sure that there is always a camera filming the box.  There’s a guard posted outside of the room.  Sam’s friend, Tracey (Madeline Zima), is allowed to bring him coffee but she’s not allowed to enter the room or see the boxes.  The sight of Sam sitting in that room, staring at that box, reminded me of the scenes with Michael Anderson as the man who controlled Hollywood in Mulholland Drive.  As creepy as that box may have been, it was the stillness of this scene that made me nervous.  Sam seemed remarkably uninterested in why exactly he had to watch the box and that lack of curiosity struck me as odd and just a little depressing.

Cut to … oh my God, we’re back at the Great Northern!  And there’s Ben Horne (Richard Beymer)!  He’s in his office and he’s leering at his new secretary, Barbara (Ashley Judd).  It’s just like old times and, of course, it’s nice to see that Ben survived striking his head on the fireplace mantle 25 years ago.  That said, Ben appears to have given up on being a do-gooder.  He’s back to obsessing over money.  Jerry (David Patrick Kelly) drops by for a visit and reveals that, since Washington legalized marijuana, he’s made a fortune.  Way to go, Jerry!

Cut to the Sheriff’s Department and there’s Lucy (Kimmy Robertson)!  An insurance salesman comes in and asks to see Sheriff Truman.  Lucy asks him if he wants to see the Sheriff Truman who is sick or the Sheriff Truman who is out of the office.  Neither one is available.

Cut to a country road.  Someone is driving down the street while listening to evil music.  The driver is none other than … Agent Cooper?  Well, it kind of looks like Agent Cooper but it’s not Cooper.  For one thing, this guy has long, greasy hair and doesn’t wear a dark suit.  He also doesn’t smile.  He has cold, dead eyes.  For another thing, he parks next to a shack and beats up a redneck, which is not exactly Agent Cooper behavior.  Then he goes inside, where he meets Buelah and Otis.  He tells them that he has come to pick up Ray (George Griffith) and Darya (Nicole LaLiberte).  I don’t remember Agent Cooper having such an affinity for white trash…

Oh wait!  That’s not Agent Cooper!  That must be Cooper’s Doppelganger!

Meanwhile, back in New York, Tracey shows up with more coffee.  She and Sam are shocked to discover that the guard has left his post.  This means that Tracey can now go into the room and see the mysterious box for herself!  It also means that she and Sam can have some fun on the couch.  While they do, Sam suddenly sees that the inside of the glass box has turned black.  Suddenly, what appears to be a demonic creature appears in the box.  It springs through the glass and, in a scene that leaves no doubt that this is Showtime Twin Peaks and not ABC Twin Peaks, it literally rips Sam and Tracey into pieces.

Along with giving me a good fright, this scene made me sad because I thought Sam and Tracey were a cute couple.  The reviewer at TVLine complained about Sam and Tracey and the actors playing them and I really have to wonder what show he watched because, to me, both Ben Rosenfield and Madeline Zima were likable and sympathetic in their brief time on screen.  Then again, the TVLine recapper also managed to confuse Bobby Briggs and James Hurley so we know he’s not a true Twin Peaks fan.

I should also mention that this scene, with hints of the demons flickering in the darkness before the sudden attack, reminded me of the infamous “there’s an evil man behind the dumpster” scene from Mulholland Drive.

Cut to Buckhorn, South Dakota.  We’re confronted with a very Lynchian image.  A fat woman walks a tiny dog down the hallway of an apartment building.  She stops when she smells a terrible stench coming from the neighbor’s apartment.  She calls the police, worried that her neighbor Ruth Davenport may be dead.

The police arrive and it takes them forever to find a key to open up the apartment.  This is one of those sequences that Lynch loves, the sequence were a simple task is made progressively more and more difficult by awkward minutia.  The neighbor doesn’t know if there’s a manager available but then remembers that the manager’s been committed to an asylum.  However, the manager’s brother might have the key.  But she doesn’t know where the brother is but the brother’s friend, Hank Filmore (Max Perlich), might know.  Hank does know but he refuses to tell and then the neighbor suddenly mentions that she has an extra key to the apartment.  When the police finally get inside the apartment, they discover the naked remains of Ruth Davenport in bed.  Her eyes have been removed and her head has been disconnected from her body.

Continuing the Mulholland Drive comparison, the discovery of Ruth’s body was shot in much the same way as the discovery of Diane Selwyn’s body in Mulholland Drive.  As well, Brent Briscoe played a detective in Mulholland Drive and he plays one in Twin Peaks as well, leading the investigation into Ruth’s murder.

Cut back to Twin Peaks.  The Log Lady (Catherine Coulson) calls Deputy Hawk (Michael Horse), who is now Deputy Chief Hawk and who is in charge while Sheriff Truman is gone.  The Log Lady tells Hawk that her log has a message.  “Something is different and you have to find it,” she tells him.  “It has to do with Federal Agent Dale Cooper and with your heritage.  This is the message of the log.”

(Coulson died shortly after filming her scenes here and her frailty make her scenes here unexpectedly poignant.  As she talks to Hawk, it’s obvious that both of them know that this could be their last conversation.)

Back in South Dakota, Detective Dave is informed that one man’s finger prints have been found all over Ruth’s apartment.  The finger prints belonged to Bill Hastings (Matthew Lillard), a respected high school principal.  As his shocked wife, Phyllis (Cornelia Guest), watches, Bill is arrested and charged with murder.  “But the Morgans are coming to dinner!” Phyllis shouts as Dave leads Bill away.

Back at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department, Hawk, Lucy, and Andy (Harry Goaz) gather in the conference room.  Hawk order them to look through all the files on the disappearance as Dale Cooper.  Lucy says that Cooper disappeared 24 years ago and then mentions that her son is 24 years old.  “He was born on the same day as Marlon Brando,” Lucy says.

Back in South Dakota, Dave is interrogating Bill.  When Dave asks Bill if he’s ever heard of Ruth Davenport, Bill says that he only knew her in passing.  He denies having ever been to Ruth’s apartment but, when he says it, he nervously glances around the room.  Is Bill hiding something or is he just nervous as anyone who has been arrested — whether guilty or innocent — would be?  It turns out that Bill can’t account for where he was during every minute of the previous night.  Dave jots down some notes on a legal pad.  That’s never good.  Bill wants a lawyer.  Dave says that lawyer is on the way but he also asks if there’s anything else Bill would like to add “before we get a lawyer involved.”  At this point, I was yelling at the screen, “Stop talking!  The police are not your friends!”  Dave immediately proved my point by accusing Bill of murder and then taking him to a jail cell.

Dave and the cops then go back to the Hastings house, the time with a search warrant.  While the police search his car, Bill sits in his jail cell and probably wonders why he hasn’t been allowed to see his lawyer yet.

Suddenly, Dave arrives with Phyllis.  Phyllis steps into the cell and tells Bill that they’re not going to give him bail.  Bill says that he was never in Ruth’s apartment but that he had a dream the night that she was killed.  “Fuck you!” Phyllis sanps, “you fucking bastard!”  She reveals that she knows that Bill was cheating on her with Ruth.  Bill shouts back that he knows about Phyllis and someone named George.  Phyllis taunts him.  “You’re going down.  Life in prison.”

After Phyllis leaves, Bill sits in his cell.  Little does he know that, three cells down, a shadowy man is sitting on a bed.  The shadow slowly fades away, becoming a wisp of smoke that eventually dissipates in the air.

Phyllis arrives home.  Doppelganger Cooper is waiting for her.  Phyllis smiles and asks what he’s doing there.  Doppelganger Cooper replies that Phyllis did a good job duplicating human nature and then shoots her in the head.

Cut to Las Vegas, Nevada.  A man in an office (Patrick Fischler, who also played the man who had a morbid — and justifiable fear — of the dumpster behind the diner in Mulholland Drive) talks to his associate Roger about a mysterious figure who “uses” him.  “You better hope you never have someone like him in your life,” the man says.

Cut to a diner in South Dakota, where Doppelganger Cooper has an awkward dinner with Ray and Darya.  Doppelganger Cooper tells Ray that he doesn’t “need anything.”  However, he does want things.  Ray kind of smirks.  Doppelganger Cooper explains that what he wants is information.

Cut to Ghostwood Forest.  Equipped with a flashlight, Hawk walks.  He gets a call from the Log Lady.  “The stars turn,” she tells hm, “and a time presents itself.”  The Log Lady says she wishes she could go with Hawk but then tells him to stop by.  She has coffee and pie for him.  Hawks says he will, as he approaches Glastonbury Grove, which once served as the entrance into the Black Lodge.

Speaking of the Black Lodge, Cooper is still sitting in the waiting room.  He has been joined by MIKE (Al Strobel), the one-armed man.  “Is it the future or is it the past?” MIKE asks before saying that someone has come to see Cooper.

Enter Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), still wearing the black dress from the last time that we saw her but definitely no longer a teenager.  (Of course, this is because 25 years has passed not only on the show but in real life as well.  Still, in the world of Twin Peaks, it’s interesting that time passes in The Black Lodge and people continue to age, even after they die.)  Cooper and Laura recite some of the same dialogue from the dream that Cooper had during the third episode of the first season of Twin Peaks.

When Laura says, “I am Laura Palmer,” Cooper replies that Laura is dead.

“I am dead,” Laura says, “yet I live.”

Laura opens her face like a door, revealing a bright white light.

“When can I go?” Cooper asks as Laura closes her face.

Laura kisses Cooper and then, just as she did in the original dream, she starts to whisper in his ear while the aged Cooper smiles.

Suddenly, the curtains shake and Laura screams.  Something appears to yank her into the air and she vanishes.  A wind blow through the lodge and suddenly, the curtain disappear.  The same white horse that, 25 years earlier, appeared to Sarah Palmer now appears to Cooper.

Suddenly, Cooper is back in the waiting room and MIKE is again asking if it is the past or the future.

MIKE leads Cooper into another room, one that is inhabited by a tree that has what appears to be a perfectly smooth brain sitting atop of it.  MIKE says that the tree is his arm.  The tree starts to speak to Cooper.  It asks if Cooper remembers his doppelgänger.  Cooper does and we get a flashback to this still powerful scene:

The tree explains that before Cooper can go out, the Doppelganger must return to the Black Lodge.

Meanwhile, in South Dakota, the Doppelganger is busy killing people.  First he kills a business associate and then he returns to his motel and confronts Darya with the knowledge that someone hired her and Ray to kill him.  Darya says that she doesn’t know who hired them and puts all of the blame on Ray.  The Doppelganger reveals that he’s supposed to go back to the Black Lodge but he’s not planning on returning.  Then, in a disturbing and deeply unpleasant scene that I personally felt went on a bit too long, the Doppelganger beats and then murders Darya.

Having killed Darya, the Doppelganger places a phone call to Philip Jeffries, the FBI agent who was played by David Bowie in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.  They have a cryptic conversation.  Philip says that the Doppelganger should be in New York and then says that the Doppelganger met with Major Garland Briggs.  “How did you know that!?”  the Doppelganger demands.  “I just called to say goodbye,” Philip says.

The Doppelganger downloads the plans for Yankton Federal Prison and then walks down to another motel room.  There he is greeted by Chantel (Jennifer Jason Leigh!).  He tells Chantel that he needs her to go “clean up” the other room.  Chantel is more than happy to do it.

At the Black Lodge, Cooper continues to stare at the tree.  The tree says that Cooper can go but when Cooper goes out to the hallway, he finds that he still cannot pass through the curtains and back into our world.  Cooper continues to walk through the Lodge until he discovers Leland Palmer (Ray Wise) sitting in a leather chair.

“Find Laura,” Leland says.

Suddenly, MIKE and the Tree appear again.  MIKE says something is wrong.  The tree says to find the Doppelganger.  Cooper continues to walk around the lodge.  (Is this all he’s been doing for the past 25 years?)  He finally manages to open the curtains and finds himself watching as his Doppelganger drives down a desert road.  Suddenly, the tree appears and starts lashing out at him with its limbs.

“Non-existent!” the tree snaps.

Cooper falls through the floor of the Lodge.  Suddenly, he’s in the glass box in New York.  And he can see Tracey and Sam having the same conversation that they had before they were killed by the weird demon creature.  (Is time looping back on itself, in much the same way that it did at the end of Lost Highway with Bill Pullman telling his future self that “Dick Laurent is dead?”)

Suddenly, Cooper is falling again.

In Twin Peaks, Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie) sits alone in the Palmer House, drinking, smoking, and watching one of those traumatic nature documentaries where predators eat their prey in closeup.

At the Roadhouse, the Chromatics are singing a beautifully dream-like song.  Shelley (Madchen Amick) is sitting at a booth with a group of friends.  She says she’s worried about her daughter, Becky.  Suddenly, they see that James Hurley (James Marshall) has entered the bar and is now looking over at them.

“What’s wrong with that guy?” one of them says.

“There’s nothing wrong with that guy!” Shelley says, “He was in a motorcycle accident but he’s just quiet.  He’s always been cool.”

And it’s such a sweet scene, even if it does feel a bit odd since Shelley and James didn’t even seem to know each other during the original series.  I found myself wondering if Shelley is now married to Bobby Briggs.  If James ends up stealing Shelley away (and that certainly seems a possibility, especially with Lara Flynn Boyle not coming back to reprise the role of Donna Hayward), this will be the second time Bobby has lost a lover to James.

(By the way, both James Marshall and Madchen Amick have aged wonderfully.  If anything, James Marshall is far more handsome now than he was during the first two seasons of the show.)

There was also some excitement online when Walter Olkewicz appeared as the bartender at the roadhouse.  Could it be, we all wondered, that Jacques Renault was once again alive!?  Well, no.  According to the credits, Olkewicz was playing Jean-Michel Renault.  Apparently, he’s the fourth Renault brother.

And that’s how this perplexing episode ends.  The Chromatics perform on the Roadhouse while two of our favorite characters acknowledge each other.  At times, I loved this episode.  At times, I was frustrated.  However, I was always intrigued and this ending — this wonderfully sentimental little moment between Shelley and James — was the perfect way to cap it all off.

Do I understand everything that happened tonight?  No, but it doesn’t matter.  I can’t wait to see where Lynch is taking us next.

  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
  35. 12 Initial Thoughts About Twin Peaks: The Return Parts One and Two by Lisa Marie Bowman
  36. This Week’s Peaks: Parts One and Two by Ryan C. (trashfilm guru)

 

Never Nominated: 16 Actresses Who Were Never Nominated For An Oscar


The late actress Deborah Kerr was nominated for six Oscars over the course of her distinguished career.  She never won and, in fact, she currently holds the record for the most Best Actress nominations without a victory.

But, at least, Deborah Kerr was nominated!

The 16 actresses below have never been nominated for an Oscar, despite some excellent and compelling performances.  10 of them still have a chance to be nominated.  Sadly, 6 of them are no longer with us.

  1. Emily Blunt

Emily Blunt came close this year.  She received a SAG nomination for her performance in Girl On The Train and some of the critics groups also honored her work.  However, when the Oscar nominations were announced, Meryl Streep was nominated for a film nobody saw and Emily Blunt was nowhere to be seen.  This year, she’s in good company, as neither Amy Adams nor Annette Bening picked up expected nominations either.  Personally, I didn’t care much for Girl on the Train.  I would have much rather seen Blunt nominated for Looper, Sicario, or even Edge of Tomorrow.  Blunt will be nominated eventually.

2. Dale Dickey

You may not know Dale Dickey’s name but you’d recognize her if you saw her.  She usually plays characters who are strong, outspoken, and occasionally a little scary.  You never want to get on the bad side of someone played by Dale Dickey.  To date, Dickey’s most award-worthy role was in Winter’s Bone.  She also had a memorable (if small) role in Hell or High Water, playing the bank teller who, when asked if the men who robbed her were black, replies, “Their skin or their souls?”

Melancholia

3. Kirsten Dunst

As a result of Bring It On, Dunst is often thought of as being the ideal cheerleader.  But, by far, her most award-worthy turn was in a film that was about as different from Bring It On as possible, Melancholia.  Dunst was just twelve when she was first mentioned, for her performance in Interview With A Vampire, as a potential nominee.  She was also very good in Marie Antoinette and the overlooked Crazy/Beautiful.  Dunst fell off the radar for a while but she’s been quietly making a comeback.

4. Greta Gerwig

Greta Gerwig is my spirit animal.  She deserved a nomination for Francis Ha and for Damsels in Distress before that.  She’ll be nominated some day.

5. Rebecca Hall

Rebecca Hall received some Oscar buzz last year for Christine.  I haven’t seen Christine but I think that her performances in 2008’s Vicky Christina Barcelona and especially 2010’s Please Give were criminally overlooked.

6. Katharine Isabelle

Though Isabelle is best known for Ginger Snaps, I think she deserved a nomination for last year’s underrated 88.  One of the best actresses working today, Isabelle will hopefully get a role worthy of her talents.

Film Review Under the Skin

7. Scarlett Johansson

It’s a bit of a shock that Scarlett Johansson has yet to be nominated.  Her work in Lost in Translation was just as important to that film’s success as Bill Murray’s.  And her performance in Under the Skin remains one of the bravest pieces of acting to ever be put on screen.

8. Ashley Judd

Unfortunately, Ashley Judd now seems to be more concerned with political activism than acting.  It’s been a while since she’s appeared in a really great role (and no, the Divergent movies don’t count).  Judd’s best work came in the 90s, when she gave award-worthy performances in Ruby in Paradise, Heat, and especially Normal Life.

9. Kelly MacDonald

Scottish actress Kelly MacDonald doesn’t make enough movies but it’s still hard not to feel that she’s been overlooked by the Academy.  Not only did she hold her own in Trainspotting but her performance in No County For Old Men provided that otherwise cold film with a much-needed heart.

Kristen Stewart

10. Kristen Stewart

Kristen Stewart managed to survive the Twilight films and has emerged as a consistently interesting actress.  Her work in Clouds of Sils Maria won her a Ceasar but was overlooked by the Academy.  Before that, Stewart did excellent work in Into the Wild, Adventureland, Still Alice and Welcome to the Rileys.

Sadly, these six unnominated actresses are no longer with us:

  1. Rita Hayworth

That the wonderful Rita Hayworth was never nominated — not even for Gilda — is nothing less than mind-blowing.

2. Myrna Loy

Myrna Loy was an actress who was such a natural that she made it look easy.  Perhaps that’s why she wasn’t even nominated for The Thin Man.

Marilyn

3. Marilyn Monroe

Perhaps one of the most tragic actresses in the history of Hollywood, Monroe was never nominated despite giving some of the most iconic performances in film history.  I would even make the case that she deserved a nomination for her tiny cameo in All About Eve.

4. Maureen O’Hara

Despite great performances in classic films like The Quiet Man and Miracle on 34th Street, Maureen O’Hara was never nominated for the Oscar she deserved.

detour1

5. Ann Savage

You may not recognize the name but if you’ve ever seen Detour, you know Ann Savage.  Savage largely appeared in low-budget noirs and she always gave performances that were just as fierce as her last name.

Edie!

Edie!

6. Edie Sedgwick

Sadly, Edie never got a chance to play a truly award-worthy role.  Actually, since almost all of her films were underground Andy Warhol movies, it’s debatable whether she ever played a role at all.  During the 1960s, as one of the top models in New York (a so-called “youthquaker”), Edie was best known for being herself.  But, whenever I see Edie in an old Warhol film like Vinyl or even in something like Ciao! Manhattan, I see what a great actress she could have been if she’d only been given the chance.

Edie Sedgwick (1943 -- 1971)

Edie Sedgwick (1943 — 1971)

Playing Catch-Up With 6 Film Reviews: Avengers Grimm, Bad Asses On The Bayou, Hayride 2, Insurgent, Poltergeist, Tomorrowland


Here are 6 films that I saw during the first half of 2015.  Some of them are on Netflix and some of them were major studio releases.  Some of them are worth seeing.  Some of them most definitely are not.

Avengers_Grimm

Avengers Grimm (dir by Jeremy M. Inman)

Obviously made to capitalize on the popularity of Avengers: Age of UltronAvengers Grimm opens with a war in the world of fairy tales.  Evil Rumpelstiltskin (Casper Van Dien) uses Snow White’s (Laura Parkinson) magic mirror to cross over into our world and he takes Snow White with him!  It’s now up to Cinderella (Milynn Sharley), Sleeping Beauty (Marah Fairclough), and Rapunzel (Rileah Vanderbilt) to cross over into our world, save Snow White, and defeat Rumpelstiltskin.  Also sneaking over is rebellious Red Riding Hood (Elizabeth Petersen) who is determined to kill Rumpelstiltskin’s henchman, The Wolf (Kimo Leopoldo).  

Got all that?

Avengers Grimm is another enjoyably insane mockbuster from The Asylum.  The budget’s low, the performances are intentionally melodramatic, and it’s all lot of fun.  Casper Van Dien has a lot of fun playing evil, the women all get to kick ass, and Lou Ferrigno is well-cast as a labor leader named Iron John.

Avengers Grimm is currently available on Netflix.

Bad_Asses_on_the_Bayou

Bad Asses On The Bayou (dir by Craig Moss)

Apparently, this is the third film in which Danny Trejo and Danny Glover have respectively played Frank Vega and Bernie Pope, two old guys who kick ass in between worrying about their prostates.  I haven’t seen the previous two Bad Asses films but I imagine that it really doesn’t matter.

In this film, Trejo and Glover go to Louisiana to attend a friend’s wedding.  When she’s kidnapped, they have to rescue her and impart some important life lessons to her younger brother.  It’s all pretty predictable but then again, it’s also pretty good for a film called Bad Asses On The Bayou.  This is a film that promises two things: Danny Trejo kicking ass and lots of bayou action.  And it delivers on both counts.

In fact, I would say that Bad Asses On The Bayou is a better showcase for Danny Trejo’s unique style than the better known Machete films.  Danny Trejo is a surprisingly adept comedic actor and he gives a performance here that shows his talent goes beyond mere physical presence.

Bad Asses On The Bayou is currently available on Netflix.

hayride-2

Hayride 2 (dir by Terron R. Parsons)

I should admit up front that I haven’t seen the first Hayride film.  Luckily, Hayride 2 picks up directly from the end of the first film and is filled with so many flashbacks and so much conversation about what happened that it probably doesn’t matter.

Essentially, Pitchfork (Wayne Dean) is a murderous urban legend who turns out to be real.  He killed a lot of people in the first film and he stalks those that escaped throughout the 2nd film.  Like all good slasher villains, Pitchfork is a relentless killer.  He’s also an unrepentant racist, which leads to a genuinely unpleasant scene where he attacks a black detective (Corlandos Scott).  Say whatever else you will about the film, Hayride 2 deserves some credit for being on the side of the victims.  No attempt is made to turn Pitchfork into an anti-hero and the movie is relentlessly grim.

Hayride 2 is an odd film.  The film’s low-budget is obvious in every single scene.  The pacing is abysmal and the performances are amateurish.  And yet, when taken on its own meager terms, it has a dream-like intensity to it that I appreciated.  Then again, I always have had a weakness for low-budget, regional horror films.

Hayride 2 is available on Netflix.

Insurgent_poster

Insurgent (dir by Robert Schwentke)

Insurgent is both the sequel to Divergent and was also 2015’s first YA dystopia film.  Shailene Woodley is as good as ever and I guess it’s good that she has a commercially successful franchise, which will hopefully inspire audiences to track down better Shailene Woodley films like The Spectacular Now.  

All that said, Insurgent often felt even more pointless than Divergent.  For a two-hour film featuring performers like Woodley, Kate Winslet, Octavia Spencer, Ansel Elgort, and Miles Teller, Insurgent has no excuse for being as forgettable and boring as it actually was.  The next installment in The Hunger Games can not get here soon enough.

Poltergeist_2015_poster

Poltergeist (dir by Gil Kenan)

When a family (led by Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt) move into a new house, they discover that everything is not what it seems.  For one thing, they come across a bunch of creepy clown dolls.  They also hear a lot of scary sounds.  They discover that the house was built on an old cemetery.  Their youngest daughter vanishes.  And finally, someone says, “Isn’t this like that old movie that was on TCM last night?”

Okay, they don’t actually say that.  However, as everyone knows, the 2015 Poltergeist is a remake of the 1982 Poltergeist.  Since the 1982 Poltergeist still holds up fairly well, the 2015 Poltergeist feels incredibly unnecessary.  It has a few good jump scenes and it’s always good to see Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt in lead roles but ultimately, who cares?  It’s just all so pointless.

Watch the wall-dancing original.  Ignore the remake.

Tomorrowland_poster

Tomorrowland (dir by Brad Bird)

Welcome to the world of tomorrow!  Wow, is it ever boring!

Actually, I feel a little bit bad about just how much I disliked Tomorrowland because this is a film that really did have the best intentions.  Watching the film, you get the sinking feeling that the people involved actually did think that they were going to make the world a better place.  Unfortunately, their idea of a better world is boring and almost oppressively optimistic.  There is no room for cynicism in Tomorrowland.  Bleh.  What fun is that?

Anyway, the film basically steals its general idea from the Atlas Shrugged trilogy.  Tomorrowland is a secret place that is inhabited by inventors, dreamers, and iconoclasts.  Years ago, Frank (George Clooney) was banished from Tomorrowland because, after learning that the Earth was destined to end, he lost “hope” in mankind’s future.  Fortunately, he meets Casey (Britt Robertson), who is full of hope and through her, he gets to return.  They also get a chance to save the world and battle a cartoonish super villain played by Hugh Laurie.  (Why is he a villain?  Because he’s played by Hugh Laurie, of course!)

After all the hype and build-up, Tomorrowland turned out to be dull and predictable.  What a shame.  The Atlas Shrugged trilogy was at least fun because it annoyed the hipsters at the AV Club.  Tomorrowland is just forgettable.

6 More Film Reviews From 2014: At Middleton, Barefoot, Divergent, Gimme Shelter, The Other Woman, and more!


Let’s continue to get caught up with 6 more reviews of 6 more films that I saw in 2014!

At Middleton (dir by Adam Rodgers)

“Charming, but slight.”  I’ve always liked that term and I think it’s the perfect description for At Middleton, a dramedy that came out in January and did not really get that much attention.  Vera Farmiga is a businesswoman who is touring colleges with her daughter (Taissa Farmiga, who is actually Vera’s younger sister).  Andy Garcia is a surgeon who is doing the same thing with his son.  All four of them end up touring Middleton College at the same time.  While their respective children tour the school, Vera and Andy end up walking around the campus and talking.  And that’s pretty much the entire film!

But you know what?  Vera Farmiga and Andy Garcia are both such good performers and have such a strong chemistry that it doesn’t matter that not much happens.  Or, at the very least, it doesn’t matter was much as you might think it would.

Hence, charming but slight.

Barefoot (dir by Andrew Fleming)

Well, fuck it.

Sorry, I know that’s not the best way to start a review but Barefoot really bothered me.  In Barefoot, Scott Speedman plays a guy who invites Evan Rachel Wood to his brother’s wedding.  The twist is that Wood has spent most of her life in a mental institution.  Originally, Speedman only invites her so that he can trick his father (Treat Williams) into believing that Speedman has finally become a responsible adult.  But, of course, he ends up falling in love with her and Wood’s simple, mentally unbalanced charm brings delight to everyone who meets her.  I wanted to like this film because I love both Scott Speedman and Evan Rachel Wood but, ultimately, it’s all rather condescending and insulting.  Yes, the film may be saying, mental illness is difficult but at least it helped Scott Speedman find love…

On the plus side, the always great J.K. Simmons shows up, playing a psychiatrist.  At no point does he say, “Not my tempo” but he was probably thinking it.

Divergent (dir by Neil Burger)

There’s a lot of good things that can be said about Divergent.  Shailene Woodley is a likable heroine.  The film’s depiction of a dystopian future is well-done. Kate Winslet has fun playing a villain.  Miles Teller and Ansel Elgort are well-cast.  But, ultimately, Divergent suffers from the same problem as The Maze Runner and countless other YA adaptations.  The film never escapes from the shadow of the far superior Hunger Games franchise.  Perhaps, if Divergent had been released first, we’d be referring to the Hunger Games as being a Divergent rip-off.

However, I kind of doubt it.  The Hunger Games works on so many levels.  Divergent is an entertaining adventure film that features a good performance from Shailene Woodley but it’s never anything more than that.  Considering that director Neil Burger previously gave us Interview with the Assassin and Limitless, it’s hard not to be disappointed that there’s not more to Divergent.

Gimme Shelter (dir by Ron Krauss)

Gimme Shelter, which is apparently based on a true story, is about a teenage girl named Apple (Vanessa Hudgens) who flees her abusive, drug addicted mother (Rosario Dawson).  She eventually tracks down her wealthy father (Brendan Fraser), who at first takes Apple in.  However, when he discovers that she’s pregnant, he demands that she get an abortion.  When Apple refuses, he kicks her out of the house.  Apple eventually meets a kindly priest (James Earl Jones) and moves into a shelter that’s run by the tough Kathy (Ann Dowd).

Gimme Shelter came out in January and it was briefly controversial because a lot of critics felt that, by celebrating Apple’s decision not to abort her baby, the movie was pushing an overly pro-life message.  Interestingly enough, a lot of those outraged critics were men and, as I read their angry reviews, it was hard not to feel that they were more concerned with showing off their political bona fides than with reviewing the actual film.  Yes, the film does celebrate Apple’s decision to keep her baby but the film also emphasizes that it was Apple’s decision to make, just as surely as it would have been her decision to make if she had chosen to have an abortion.

To be honest, the worst thing about Gimme Shelter is that it doesn’t take advantage of the fact that it shares its name with a great song by the Rolling Stones.  Otherwise, it’s a well-done (if rather uneven) look at life on the margins.  Yes, the script and the direction are heavy-handed but the film is redeemed by a strong performance from Vanessa Hudgens, who deserves to be known for more than just being “that girl from High School Musical.”

Heaven is For Real (dir by Randall Wallace)

You can tell that Heaven is For Real is supposed to be based on a true story by the fact that the main character is named Todd Burpo.  Todd Burpo is one of those names that’s just so ripe for ridicule that you know he has to be a real person.

Anyway, Heaven Is For Real is based on a book of the same name.  Todd Burpo (Greg Kinnear) is the pastor of a small church in Nebraska.  After Todd’s son, Colton, has a near death experience, he claims to have visited Heaven where he not only met a sister who died before he was born but also had a conversation with Jesus.  As Colton’s story starts to get national attention, Todd struggles to determine whether Colton actually went to Heaven or if he was just having a hallucination.

You can probably guess which side the movie comes down on.

Usually, as a self-described heathen, I watch about zero faith-based movies a year.  For some reason, I ended up watching three over the course of 2014: Left Behind, Rumors of War, and this one.  Heaven is For Real is not as preachy (or terrible) as Left Behind but it’s also not as much fun as Rumors of War.  (Rumors of War, after all, featured Eric Roberts.)  Instead, Heaven Is For Real is probably as close to mainstream as a faith-based movie can get.  I doubt that the film changed anyone’s opinion regarding whether or not heaven is for real but it’s still well-done in a made-for-TV sort of way.

The Other Woman (dir by Nick Cassavetes)

According to my BFF Evelyn, we really liked The Other Woman when we saw it earlier this year.  And, despite how bored I was with the film when I recently tired to rewatch it, we probably did enjoy it that first time.  It’s a girlfriend film, the type of movie that’s enjoyable as long as you’re seeing it for the first time and you’re seeing it with your best girlfriends.  It’s a lot of fun the first time you see it but since the entire film is on the surface, there’s nothing left to discover on repeat viewings.  Instead, you just find yourself very aware of the fact that the film often substitutes easy shock for genuine comedy. (To be honest, I think that — even with the recent missteps of Labor Day and Men, Women, and Children — Jason Reitman could have done wonders with this material.  Nick Cassavetes however…)   Leslie Mann gives a good performance and the scenes where she bonds with Cameron Diaz are a lot of fun but otherwise, it’s the type of film that you enjoy when you see it and then you forget about it.

Embracing the Melodrama #44: Normal Life (dir by John McNaughton)


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Out of all the sin-in-the-suburbs films that I’ve watched recently, 1996’s Normal Life is one of the best.  Judging from the lack of reviews of this film online, it also appears to be one of the least known.  So, allow me to rectify that by telling you a little about Normal Life.

In Normal Life, Luke Perry plays Chris Anderson, a seemingly naive police officer.  From the minute that we first see Chris, it’s obvious that he’s a cop.  With his thinning hair, his anonymous mustache, and his deliberately calm and controlled manner, there’s no way that Chris could be anything else.

One night, Chris goes out to a bar and sees Pam (Ashley Judd) getting into a fight with her date and cutting her hand.  Chris, playing the hero, bandages it and then asks her for a dance.  For him, it’s love at first sight.  Soon, Chris is taking Pam on dates to the shooting range and, before you know it, they’re married.  Pam, it soon becomes obvious, is emotionally unstable.  She deals with disagreements by threatening to kill herself and trashing the apartment that she shares with Chris.  She makes little secret of how little respect she has for Chris’s family and she often goes out of her way to embarrass him.  However, Chris will never leave her because he’s in love with the idea of being the only one who can save her.  And, even though Pam may not admit it, she wants to be saved.  Chris gives her stability while Pam gives Chris a taste of excitement that his life would otherwise lack.

Unfortunately, even after Chris loses his job, Pam continues to spend money extravagantly.  Soon, in order to support his wife, Chris starts to utilize his law enforcement experience by robbing banks.  Now that they finally have money, they are able to move to a perfect house in the suburbs and Chris is able to pursue his lifelong dream of opening and running a small used bookstore.

However, Pam eventually discovers that Chris is a bank robber and soon decides that she wants to rob a bank with him.  Chris knows that it’s a mistake to involve the unpredictable Pam but, as the film makes clear, he will always chose her happiness over everything else…

Normal Life was directed by John McNaughton, who also directed the seminal serial killer film Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.  And while Normal Life is a far less disturbing film than Henry, it does utilize a similar technique of emphasizing just how banal Chris’s suburban lifestyle really is.  When Chris isn’t robbing banks or dealing with his suicidal wife, he’s essentially a rather boring guy who is perfectly happy to spend his days running his little bookstore.  The best scenes in the film are the ones where Chris simply walks to the doorway of his house, the placid calmness of the suburbs providing a strong contrast to what we know is going on inside that house and inside Chris’s head.

Of the two lead performers, Ashley Judd has the showier role and she does give a fantastically brave performance, providing an honest and sympathetic portrayal as a character who is not always pleasant to watch.  Luke Perry, however, is even better.  Whereas Judd is playing a character who is literally incapable of hiding her emotions, Perry has to play a character who keeps all of his emotions hidden.  Judd’s performance is almost totally external while Perry’s performance is largely internal and, when those two techniques come together, it tells us all we need to know about why Chris and Pam are fated to be together.

Normal Life is a film that you need to see.  And you can watch it below!