Film Review: Holmes & Watson (dir by Etan Cohen)


Will Ferrell is Sherlock Holmes!

John C. Reilly is John Watson!

Together, they get really bad reviews!

Well, that and solve crimes and protect royalty.  Holmes & Watson, which came out this previous Christmas, features Sherlock and John attempting to prevent Professor Moriarty (Ralph Fiennes) from assassinating Queen Victoria.  Watson, being the proud Englishman that he is, is an obsessive fan of Queen Victoria.  In fact, he’s such a fan that, upon meeting her, he insists that she pose for a “self-photography” with him and Holmes.  Of course, cameras back then were a lot bigger and more bulkier than cameras today so Watson ends up bashing the Queen in the head.  Watson and Holmes are terrified that they’ve killed the Queen.  But then she wakes up.  That’s the joke.

Holmes & Watson isn’t so much a parody of the original Sherlock Holmes stories as much as it’s a parody of the Guy Ritchie films that almost everyone has already forgotten about.  Of course, it can be argued that the Guy Ritchie films were, themselves, parodies which makes Holmes & Watson a parody of a parody.  (Now, we just need someone to parody Holmes & Watson so that the universe can collapse in on itself.)  As a result, the film opens with a young Sherlock Holmes being tricked into kissing a donkey’s ass and then it progresses to an adult Holmes using his deductive powers to deduce that a man is a compulsive masturbator.  The film never seems to be quite sure if its version of Holmes is meant to be an eccentric genius or an overrated bungler and Will Ferrell’s inconsistent performance doesn’t help matters.  When Holmes starts to incorrectly suspect that Watson has betrayed him, we don’t know if we’re supposed to share Watson’s feeling of betrayal or if this is just another case of Holmes being a brilliant idiot.  The film doesn’t seem to know either.

In the role of Watson, John C. Reilly is expected to do most of the dramatic heavy lifting.  He gets several scenes in which he discusses how difficult it is to always be the sidekick.  It’s a role that Reilly has played in several other films and perhaps that explains why he seems so bored in this movie.  We’re all kind of used to Will Ferrell being an inconsistent performer but it’s far more depressing to see John C. Reilly sleepwalking through a film.

Anyway, Holmes & Watson is not a film that I normally would have wasted my time seeing but, with so many people proclaiming it to be not only the worst film of 2018 but the worst film of all time, I felt that I had a certain obligation to do so.  After all, I’ll be posting my worst of and best of lists over this upcoming week and Holmes & Watson seemed like it would be a legitimate contender for one of those lists.  Having now seen the film, I can say that it’s pretty bad.  Unfortunately, unlike some other bad films, it’s also rather dull and forgettable.  It’s certainly far more dull than any film featuring John C. Reilly, Ralph Fiennes, Rebecca Hall, Hugh Laurie, Steve Coogan, and Kelly MacDonald has any right to be.  It’s a comedy where so many of the jokes fall flat that even the jokes that do work kind of suffer just by association.  Usually, I would have laughed at the film’s Billy Zane cameo but I was still annoyed by the film’s unnecessary musical number so I merely chuckled.

If Holmes & Watson has a saving grace, it is that it’s just a silly comedy.  It’s not really pompous enough to justify the claim that some have made that it’s the worst film of all time.  It’s neither as smug as Vice nor as pretentious as Life Itself.  In fact, it’s not even the worst comedy of the year.  (That honor would belong to The Happytime Murders.)  What Holmes & Watson is, is a huge disappointment.  With all the talent involved, you would hope that the film would be a bit more memorable.

The TSL’s Grindhouse: Survival Island (dir by Stewart Raffill)


In the beginning, there was a yacht in the Caribbean.

Working on that yacht was a waiter named Manuel (Juan Pablo Di Pace).  Manuel was strong, handsome, and as sexy as a reality show participant.  He knew how to repair things.  He knew how to catch fish.  His job may have required him to serve margaritas to rich assholes from the United States but he always did it with an attitude.  Manuel was the type of arrogant working man who one would typically expect to find Giancarlo Gianinni playing in a Lina Wertmuller film.  Of course, Manuel is more interested in getting laid than leading a worker’s revolution.  In fact, just before setting out on his latest voyage, he broke up with his girlfriend.  She reacted by pointing at him and laughing evilly.  In a movie like this, that can only mean one thing: VOODOO CURSE!

And then there was Jenny (Kelly Brook) and her husband, Jack (Billy Zane).  While Jenny was the trophy wife, Jack was the American businessman who rented out the yacht for a fishing expedition.   Jack was arrogant.  Jack was outspoken.  Jack was convinced that he knew how to survive at sea, even though he didn’t.  He and Manuel took an instant dislike to each other.  It didn’t help Manuel’s cabin was right next to Jenny and Jack’s and that the sound of Jenny’s ecstatic moaning kept Manuel from getting a goodnight’s rest.

(Of course, another reason that Manuel was having trouble getting any sleep was because, at that very moment, his ex-girlfriend was dancing in a candle-filled room and apparently taking part in some sort of Santeria-related ceremony.)

Well, you can guess where this is going, can’t you?  Jack and Manuel have an argument on the boat.  Manuel gets fired and reacts by taking a towel and throwing it on a stove.  Soon, the boat’s on fire.  Jenny and Manuel wash up on the shore of an isolated island.  For two days, Manuel takes care of Jenny.  He catches fish for her.  He encourages her to swim naked in the ocean.  He yells at her, “You have a perfect ass, senora!  It’s shaped like a heart because God didn’t give you a real one!”  (If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that…)  Despite herself, Jenny starts to fall for Manuel.  Suddenly, Jack shows up on the beach!

Jack soon proves himself to be just as obnoxious on dry land as he was on the boat.  Earlier, Jenny and Manuel had buried the body of the boat’s captain.  Jack promptly digs the captain back up so he can get a change of clothes and some cigars.  Jenny is stunned that Jack would do something so gross.  Jack laughs it off as only Billy Zane can.

Soon, Jack is living on one end of the beach while Manuel is on the other.  And Jenny is stuck in the middle.  Meanwhile, Manuel’s ex-girlfriend is still dancing in that candle-filled room…

Survival Island is a movie that manages to both bad and brilliant at the same time.  In the role of Jenny, Kelly Brook gives a performance that hits so many wrong notes that it almost becomes a perfect example of outsider art.  When she should be scared, she seems to be mildly annoyed.  When she should be happy, she again seems to be mildly annoyed.  The script itself can’t decide whether Jenny is meant to be a noirish femme fatale or a repressed trophy wife.  Jenny never really comes to life as anything other than a plot device but I do have to admire the fact that, even after a shipwreck and several days on a desert island, her makeup was always perfect and her hair was always clean.  Still, considering that the film revolves around her, Jenny is a surprisingly insubstantial character.

Fortunately, the fact that Jenny is such a poorly written character almost doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that Billy Zane is in this movie and he’s exactly the type of shameless, over-the-top performer that this story needs.  There’s nothing subtle about Zane’s performance.  Jack talks to himself.  Even before they end up fighting over Jenny, Jack is always glaring at Manuel.  When he manages to catch something to eat, Jack breaks out into a wonderfully self-satisfied grin and when he suspects that Jenny may have cheated on him, he pouts like a child who has just been informed that his favorite toy was donated to the Goodwill while he wasn’t looking.  Jack’s the type of character who has a snarky comment about everything and Billy Zane is one of those actors who definitely knows how to deliver a sarcastic line or two.  Jack may be a jerk but so what?  He’s an American jerk so, as an American film reviewer, I’m required to be on his side.  Once Jack — and Billy Zane — loses it and goes crazy on that island, nothing else matters.  On the basis of Billy Zane’s presence alone, the film is a guaranteed a certain immortality.  Indeed, the main conflict in Survival Island isn’t between Jack and Manuel.  Instead, it’s between a film that takes itself seriously and a star who does not.

That’s really what makes Survival Island into such a slyly (if, perhaps, unintentionally) subversive film.  The movie may think that it has something to say about class, relationships, and sex but Billy Zane is always on hand to announce,, “No, this is all about watching me go batshit crazy on an island!  That’s all that matters!”  Just as how Jenny must choose between Jack and Manuel, the viewer is forced to choose between taking the movie seriously or just enjoying Billy Zane at his zaney best.

I have a feeling that most people will go with the latter.

In the UK, Survival Island was released as Three.

Horror Film Review: Dead Calm (dir by Philip Noyce)


As I was watching the 1989 thriller-horror hybrid Dead Calm, I found myself wondering what I would do if I found myself in the same situation as Rae (Nicole Kidman)?

You’re stuck on a yacht that’s floating out in the middle of the ocean, trying to mentally recover from the death of your child in a horrific car accident.  Your only company on the boat is your husband, an experienced sailor named John (Sam Neill), and a dog who always barks at the worst possible time.  One night, you see another boat in the distance.  The boat is obviously just drifting and appears as if it might be sinking.  Suddenly, a frantic man in a row boat approaches your yachet.  He says his name is Hughie (Billy Zane) and that he’s just escaped from the other boat.  He says he’s a photographer.  He says that everyone on the other boat is dead and he suggests that it was due to botulism.  (In real life, I had to look that up to figure out what Hughie and John were talking about.  However, in this scenario, you are Rae and you understand immediately.)

John has his doubts about Hughie’s story.  John says that he is going to go over to the boat on his own and check things out.  You nod and then watch as John rows away.  Of course, Hughie was supposed to remain locked up below deck but that doesn’t last long.  Soon, Hughie is free, he’s taken control of the yacht, and you are sailing away from both the other boat and John.

“Oh my God,” I thought as I watched, “what would I do if that happened to me!?  I have no idea!”

However, I then thought about it some more and I realized that would never happen to me.  I mean, let’s ignore the obvious fact that I’m terrified of drowning and would never be out in the middle of the ocean in the first place.  I would like to think that my husband would be smart enough to say, “There’s no way I’m leaving my wife, who is still emotionally recovering from the death of our son, alone on a boat with a total stranger who might be totally insane!”  And, if for some reason, my husband wasn’t that smart, I’d like to think that I would say, “Are you fucking kidding me?  You’re not leaving me alone on a boat with a total stranger who might be totally insane!”

In the past, I’ve always defended horror movies where people do stupid things by arguing that people do stupid things in real life all the time.  But Dead Calm really takes it a bit too far.  Maybe I could buy it if John and Rae were the type of teenagers who inevitably end up working as a camp counselor at Camp Crystal Lake.  But John is an officer in the Australian navy!  And Rae is Nicole Kidman!

That said, if you can accept the stupidity of the film’s premise, Dead Calm is an effective and often scary thriller.  There’s really only three characters in the entire film but Kidman, Neill, and Zane all give excellent performances, though their work is often undercut by the stupid things that the movie requires them to do.  Once Rae is trapped on that boat with the Hughie, Rae has to both play up to Hughie’s delusions while also looking for a way to get him out of the way so she can turn the yacht around and go back to rescue John and most of these scenes only work because of Kidman’s fierce performance (though, again, that same fierceness makes it hard to believe that Rae would ever have acquiesced to John’s decision to leave the yacht in the first place).  As for Zane, he is a bundle of nonstop, psychotic energy.  When he loses control, he is genuinely frightening.  This is probably the best Billy Zane performance that I’ve ever seen.  Certainly, he’s far better here than he was in Titanic.

Still, you have to wonder why Rae didn’t just shoot Hughie with a harpoon or a flare gun whenever he turned her back to him.  There’s even an extended sequence where Hughie dances on the deck, with no idea that Rae is watching him.  Considering that, by this point, there was no doubt that Hughie was a crazy murderer, it seems like Rae could have just giving him a little push overboard.  It seems like that could have saved everyone a lot of trouble…

A Movie A Day #192: Betrayal of the Dove (1993, directed by Strathford Hamilton)


Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

Ellie West (Helen Slater) has a 7 year-old daughter (Heather Lind), a sleazy ex-husband (Alan Thicke), a vampy best friend (Kelly LeBrock), and a pair of inflamed tonsils that need to come out.  When she goes in the hospital for what should be a routine procedure, she nearly dies on the operation table.  Something went wrong with the anaesthesia.  But what, why, and how?  Fortunately, Doctor Jesse Peters (Billy Zane) was there to save Ellie’s life.  Even as Ellie, with the encouragement of her best friend, starts to go out with Jesse, she still suspects that someone is trying to kill both her and her daughter.

While the title may sounds like an early 90s Merchant Ivory production, Betrayal of the Dove is actually just another “erotic” thriller, the type that used to show up exclusively on late night Cinemax.  The only thing that distinguished Betrayal of the Dove was the cast, which mixed B-movie stalwarts like Kelly LeBrock and Billy Zane with actors who usually did not appear in movies like this.  Alan Thicke was surprisingly good as a sleazy, abusive alcoholic and both Stuart Pankin and David L. Lander were cast in serious roles.

Perhaps the most surprising casting was that of veteran television comedian and Mel Brooks regular, Harvey Korman.  In the role of Ellie’s boss, Harvey not only played a serious role here but, at the end of the movie, he also got to save the day.  I’m not sure if Harvey did his own stunt work but if you have ever wanted to see Harvey Korman as an action hero, Betrayal of the Dove is as close as you’re going to get.

Or you could just watch Blazing Saddles again.

 

TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.20 “The Path to the Black Lodge” (directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal)


Welcome back to Twin Peaks!

Our latest episode begins with a closeup of Rusty Tomasky’s (Ted Raimi) face as the members of the Twin Peaks police force struggle to get the giant paper mache chess piece out of the gazebo.  While this goes on, one of Rusty’s friends talks to Andy (Harry Goaz), Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) and Harry (Michael Ontkean).  Rusty was in a band and was supposed to play a gig at Snake River.  On the way there, a tire went out on the van and a man emerged from the woods, wanting to know if Rusty wanted some “brew.”  Rusty’s friend starts to cry, which makes Andy cry.

Cooper says that Windom has taken another pawn but he did not tell them his next move.  “Windom Earle is playing off the board.”

The next morning, at the sheriff’s station, Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) asks Andy what he knows about saving the planet.  Andy says that styrofoam never dies and people need to stop tossing their beer cans into Pearl Lake.  Lucy says that tomorrow will be D-Day,  “Dad day.”  She will be choosing her baby’s father, either Andy Brennan or Dick Tremayne.  She will also be entering the Miss Twin Peaks contest because she and the baby could use the money.

At the Great Northern, Doctor Hayward (Warren Frost) is giving Ben (Richard Beymer) a physical examination.  Hayward tells Ben that he believes that Ben is trying to do the right thing but that he needs to stay away from Eileen.  Ben says he has no choice.  He has to do what his heart commands him to do.  Wheeler (Billy Zane) steps into the office.  He says that he has been looking for Audrey.  Ben says that Audrey should be back any minute but Wheeler does not have a minute.  His business partner has been murdered in Brazil.

In the attic of the Hayward house, Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle) looks over her birth certificate and sees that the identity of her father has been left blank.  She finds a scrapbook, full of pictures of her parents with Ben.

Audrey (Sherilyn Fenn) returns to the Great Northern, where Deputy Hawk (Michael Horse) is waiting for her.  Hawks tells he that Cooper needs to see her at the station, immediately.

In his office, Ben is still talking to Wheeler.  Ben is more concerned about Stop Ghostwood than Wheeler’s dead business partner.  Wheeler says that he has no choice but to go.  Not realizing that Audrey’s back, Wheeler gives Ben a note and asks him to deliver it to her.  Wheeler leaves the office.

At the sheriff’s station, Major Briggs (Don S. Davis) has obtained all of the Project Blue Book files dealing with Windom Earle.  Briggs plays a video tape of Earle ranting about the Black Lodge.  Cooper says that Earle did not come to Twin Peaks to get revenge on him.  Instead, he came to Twin Peaks to find the Black Lodge.  Now, they just have to figure out how the Black Lodge is connected to the drawing found in the cave.

Little do they know that, through the microphone hidden in the bonsai tree, Windom Earle (Kenneth Welsh) is listening to their conversation.  Earle tells Leo (Eric Da Re) that the time has come to invite Major Briggs to a Project Blue Book reunion.

At the diner, an old woman who we have never been seen before is eating cheery pie when her hand starts to shake so uncontrollably that she has to grab it with her other hand to stop it.

In a booth, Shelly (Madchen Amick) reads her Miss Twin Peaks speech on how to protect the environment to Bobby (Dana Ashbrook).  Bobby says that he has been thinking about his relationship with Shelly.  Bobby says that he knows he has not been a great boyfriend but, when he saw Shelly kissing Gordon Cole, something in his brain snapped and he realized how much he loved Shelly.  They share a passionate kiss that is interrupted by a phone call from Cooper.

At the Roadhouse, preparations are being made for the Miss Twin Peaks Contest.  Mayor Milford (John Boylan) tells Lana (Robyn Lively) that the other two judges are going to be Norma Jennings and Richard Tremayne.  The Mayor says that all they have to do to win is get Lana alone in a room with Richard.  He tells her to wear “a dress slit all the way to Seattle.”  The Mayor then starts to cry, wishing that they could just elope.  Lana says that she will only marry him if she wins Miss Twin Peaks.

At the station, Cooper tells Audrey, Shelly, and Donna that all three of them are in danger.  He orders them to check in with the sheriff at least twice a day and to never go anywhere alone.

At the cabin, Windom is talking about blood-drinking priests while Leo cleans up.  Leo sees a picture of Shelly’s face glued to a playing card.  Windom says that if Shelly wins Miss Twin Peaks, she will die.  He says that Leo can help if he wants.  “No!” Leo says before trying to attack Windom with the zapper, which does not work because, even though Leo has managed to grabbed the zapper, he is still the one wearing the electric collar.  Leo ends up zapping himself.

Audrey returns to the Great Northern, walking through the lobby and barely missing Wheeler, who is checking out.  Audrey goes to Ben’s office, when Ben welcomes her back and then tells her that the Stop Ghostwood Campaign needs a spokesperson.  Ben wants her to enter Miss Twin Peaks.  Audrey wants to know where Wheeler is.  Ben finally tells her that Wheeler had to leave for the Brazilian rain forest and tries to give the letter to Audrey.  Audrey leaves, hoping to catch Wheeler at the airport.

At the sheriff’s station, Cooper, Harry, and Andy are examining the cave drawing.  Cooper says that the symbols suggest a time but a time for what?  Cooper admits that he is having a hard time focusing because he can not stop thinking about Annie.  Suddenly, Cooper’s hand starts to shake until he grabs it with his other hand.

Major Briggs is walking through the woods when he is approached by Windom Earle and Leo, who are wearing a horse costume.  “Hello, Wilbur!” Earle says before shooting the Major with a tranquilizer dart.

At the airport, Wheeler is getting in his private plane.  He stops to take one final look for Audrey.

At the diner, Cooper orders a slice of cheery pie and uses a quote from St. Augustine to encourage Annie (Heather Graham) to enter the Miss Twin Peaks contest.  Cooper confesses that he spends most of his time thinking about Annie.  Annie says she spends all of her time thinking about Cooper.  Cooper asks Annie to go dancing with him and leans in to kiss her.  Dishes all of the counter and syrup ominously drips on the floor.

At the airport, Pete (Jack Nance) drives Audrey across the airstrip, letting her off in front of Wheeler’s plane.  Audrey runs in front of the taxiing airplane, yelling for Wheeler to stop.  Luckily, Wheeler does stop before running her over.

“I’m a virgin!” Audrey says, “I want you to make love to me.”

“Here and now?” Wheeler asks.

“It’s your jet.”

Realizing that Audrey has a point, Wheeler leads her into his plane, while Pete watches from his truck.  Pete has tears in his eyes.  Suddenly, his hand starts to shake uncontrollably.

At the cabin, Earle interrogates the bound Briggs, shooting arrows at him whenever Briggs says that he is not at liberty to divulge any information.  Earle gets annoyed and gives the major a shot of truth serum.  Earle asks Briggs what his greatest fear is.

“The possibility that love is not enough,” Briggs says.

(I would have said salmonella but that’s just me.)

Under the influence of the serum, Briggs says that the signs in the cave mean that “there is a time, if Jupiter and Saturn meet, they will receive you.”

At the Martell house, Catherine (Piper Laurie) is showing Eckhardt’s lunar box to Andrew (Dan O’Herlihy).  Andrew pushes the buttons the box and it pops open, revealing another box.  Andrew smashes that box, revealing yet another box inside.

At the Roadhouse, Annie and Cooper are dancing.  Looking at the decorations for the Miss Twin Peaks pageant, Annie tells Cooper that she has decided to enter.  Annie says that being Miss Twin Peaks would be like being in a fairy tale.  “And you’re the queen,” Cooper says.

Suddenly, time freezes for everyone but Cooper.  The lights go down.  The Giant (Carel Struycken) appears on the stage, shaking his head “NO.”  Cooper looks confused though it should be obvious to him that the Giant is saying, “No, do not enter the contest!”

At the airport, Wheeler’s plane finally takes off.  Pete gets out of his truck and is approached by a newly mature Audrey who says that she finally met the man of his dreams and now he is on his way to Brazil.  Audrey cries that Wheeler offered to take her fishing but he never did.  Pete says he has some tackle in the truck.  Pete tells her that the best cure for a broken heart is trout’s leap at midnight.

At the cabin, Leo is shaking and the Major is screaming.  Earle is singing about mummy wheat.  Earle has figured out that the drawing is actually a map to the Black Lodge.

At the dance, the Giant finally disappears.  As Cooper kisses Annie. Mayor Milford tries to get a microphone to work.  “Something’s not right,” he says, “there’s something wrong here.”

In the woods, Killer BOB (Frank Silva) emerges from a portal while the red curtains are reflected in a nearby puddle.

With only two episodes left, this was a pretty good episode.  All of the disparate plotlines of the latter half of the second season are finally coming together and the appearance of both the Giant and BOB at the end promises that the finale will be a return to the Twin Peaks of old.

Leonard is doing tomorrow’s episode and then Lisa is doing the finale so this is my last recap.  I have really enjoyed rewatching Twin Peaks and sharing my thoughts about the show with all of you.  Thank you for reading!

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
  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

 

 

 

TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.19 “Variations on Relations” (dir by Jonathan Sanger)


“Butterfingers!”

— Catherine Martell (Piper Laurie) in Twin Peaks 2. 19 “Variations on Relations”

“Tastes kind of woody.”

— Lucy Moran (Kimmy Robertson), same episode

Well, everyone, we’re coming towards the end.

There’s only a few more episodes to go and then Leonard, Jeff, and I will be finished with our look back at Twin Peaks.  Have you been enjoying it?  I hope so!  And, before you feel too sad about the end of our look back, remember that, on May 21st, a new season of Twin Peaks will premiere on Showtime!  Who knows?  Maybe we’ll even review it on this site.

Today’s episode is the 19th of season 2.  It was the first episode, since Arbitrary Law, to be written by the show’s co-creator, Mark Frost.  It was directed by Jonathan Sanger, who in 1980 produced a film called The Elephant Man.  The Elephant Man was, of course, directed by David Lynch.  It was Lynch’s first mainstream success and it’s totally reasonable to say that, if not for The Elephant Man, Lynch would probably never had a chance to put a show on American television.

We start with the opening credits.  Knowing that the show is nearly over and that this latest review series is about to come an end, Angelo Badalamenti’s opening theme music sounds even more ominous than usual.  Both Joan Chen and James Marshall are still listed in the opening credits, despite no longer being on the show.  Not listed: Heather Graham, Billy Zane, or Kenneth Welsh, despite the fact that the last few episodes have revolved around them.

Harry (Michael Ontkean), Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), Andy (Harry Goaz), and Hawk (Michael Horse) return to the Owl Cave and discover that someone has already turned the lever and caused the cave to collapse.  “Someone’s been here already,” Cooper says, “they did our work for us.”  Because Hawk can basically do anything, he notices a footprint and immediately recognizes it as being the same footprint that was found outside the power station.

“Windom Earle,” Cooper says.

“What would Windom Earle be doing here?” Harry asks.

Hey, here’s a better question — why did they leave the Owl Cave unguarded?  Why didn’t they try to turn the lever themselves?  Why didn’t they at least try to replace the part of the wall that fell off so that the lever wouldn’t just be out there in the open?  I realize that Cooper is supposed to be silly in love with Annie right now but this is still a mistake that he wouldn’t have made during the first season.

(One of the more annoying things about the latter half of the second season is that the characters are much more inconsistent.  Cooper’s level of competence changes from scene to scene.)

Cooper orders Andy to copy the drawing on the cave wall.  (To me, the drawing looks a lot like the mountains around Twin Peaks.)

We fade to Windom Earle (Kenneth Welsh) taking about how there was once a place of goodness called The White Lodge.  As Windom speaks, he smokes a pipe and, not for the first time, I find myself wondering if maybe Windom’s actually a hobbit.  Windom explains that the White Lodge was a ghastly place and then, literally, says “Heh heh.”  I know Windom’s supposed to be some sort of supergenius villain but he’s no Killer BOB.

Leo (Eric Da Re) listens as Windom explains that there was also a Black Lodge and the Black Lodge was a place of pure evil.  Windom intends to find it.  As the camera pans across the cabin, we see that Leo and Windom have a visitor.  We’ll call him Heavy Metal Stoner Dude (HMSD for short) and he’s played by Sam Raimi’s brother, Ted.  HMSD says the story’s cool but he was promised beer and a party.

“In time, young man,” Windom says, “Everything in time.”

Then, Windom starts to play that damn flute of his again.

At the Martell house, Pete (Jack Nance) is staring at a chess board and talking (to himself) about how much he loved Josie.  He even recites a poem or two.  Catherine (Piper Laurie) comes in the room and tells him to stop feeling sorry for himself.  Catherine wants to open the box that Eckhardt left behind but, as Pete quickly notices, there’s no keyhole.  It’s a puzzle box!  Pete tells a long anecdote about going on a date with two twins in Guam and then says that it could take years to open up the box.

At the Double R Diner, Bobby (Dana Ashbrook) tells Shelly (Madchen Amick) that he’s figured out the secret of success.  “Beautiful people get whatever they want,” Bobby says.  (It’s true.  We do.)  “When was the last time you saw a hot blonde go to the electric chair?” Bobby asks.  (Again, Bobby is correct but he’s Bobby so we won’t give him too much credit.)  Bobby has decided that Shelly needs to enter the Miss Twin Peaks Contest.  When Shelly tells Bobby that he’s being ridiculous, Bobby grabs her wrist and says, “Bobby’s in charge!”

Meanwhile, the Mayor (John Boylan) and Lana (Robyn Lively) sit in a booth, letting us know that, despite being with the town’s lethal sex goddess, the Mayor hasn’t had a heart attack yet.  Lana says that she wants to be Miss Twin Peaks.  I just remembered that Robyn Lively starred in Teen Witch.  Top that!

Cooper comes in and, of course, immediately goes to the counter and tells Annie (Heather Graham) that he needs doughnuts and coffee.  Cooper also asks Annie to accompany him on a nature study.  Cooper says he gets a tingling sensation when he talks to Annie.  “Interesting,” Annie says.

Considering that I happen to like both Heather Graham and Kyle MacLachlan, I never thought I would say this but Cooper and Annie have got to be the most annoying couple ever.  First off, MacLachlan — whose performance is usually perfect — goes overboard with Cooper’s awkward shyness.  It’s as if the show is so desperate to convince us that he and Audrey actually don’t belong together that Cooper is now being written like an idiot in an effort to make us go, “So that’s what true love looks like!  People in love don’t have chemistry or intelligent conversations like Cooper and Audrey did!  Instead, they get a blank look in their eyes, grin an empty grin, and talk about nature studies!”

As for Annie, it’s obvious that she was a hastily created character.  Much as Cooper’s competence changes from scene to scene, the same can be said of Annie’s innocence.  Yesterday, Jeff compared Annie to an Amish girl on rumspringa and I think that’s the perfect way to put it.  She didn’t spend the last few years on Mars, after all.  She was just in a convent.

Anyway, back to the show:

As Cooper pays for the doughnuts, Shelly recites the poem that was left for her by Windom Earle.  Cooper recognizes the poem and says that he needs to see it immediately.  Shelly hands over the poem and Cooper leaves but not before promising to pick Annie up at 4:00 sharp.

At the station, Harry reads over the poem and Cooper explains that Audrey, Donna, and Shelly have all been contacted and presumably targeted by Windom Earle.  Cooper also explains that he once sent the same poem to Caroline.  If Windom’s goal is to hurt Cooper, I can understand targeting Audrey but why Donna and Shelly?  Neither one of them has really had anything to do with Cooper.

In the Conference Room, Maj. Briggs (Don S. Davis) watches as Andy draws the cave symbol on the chalk board.  The Major correct Andy’s drawing as Cooper steps into the room.  Cooper says that he needs the Major’s help but that he can’t tell him how or why.

“Go on,” Major Briggs nods.

(It’s interesting how Briggs has gone from being Bobby’s abusive, ultra-strict father to being some sort of seer.  I like the change, though.  Don S. Davis, who died just recently, was far too good an actor to be wasted as just another abusive father figure.  His simple but firm delivery of “Go on,” is a masterclass in great acting.)

Cooper explains that the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department is investigating three separate cases: the disappearance of Leo Johnson, the appearance of Windom Earle, and the drawings found in Owl Cave.  (Why would the sheriff’s department investigate cave drawings?  Isn’t that a job for Werner Herzog?)  Cooper says that logic would say the three are unrelated but he disagrees.  Cooper calls them three notes in one big song.

“What can I do to help?” Briggs asks, wonderfully nonplussed.

Cooper says that he needs to know exactly what Windom Earle was doing with Project Blue Book.  Briggs explains that, after his disappearance, his security clearance was revoked.  He also says that there are certain moral values that must be taken into consideration.

“Yes, sir,” Cooper says, “I understand.”

Briggs asks if this information will help to save lives.  Cooper says that it will.  Briggs than asks if the drawing is a copy of what was found in Owl Cave.  Briggs explains that he once saw the same thing in a dream.  Briefly, a monk-like figure wanders across the screen, followed by an owl flying through outer space.

Back in reality, Maj. Briggs says, “I will do what you ask.”

Hawk enters with Leo’s arrest report.  Cooper looks over Leo’s confession and then announces that the poem was transcribed by Leo Johnson.

Menawhile, at the Great Northern, the Stop Ghostwood Estates campaign continues with a charity wine tasting.  Ben (Richard Beymer) explains to Dick (Ian Buchanan) that Audrey will not be around to help because she has, quite conveniently, been sent to Seattle.  (This also means that Audrey won’t be around to get in the way of the Cooper/Annie romance.)  Dick is wearing an oversized bandage on his nose.  Ben says that they will also be paying Dick’s medical bills and they’ll be providing him worker’s comp.

“Capital!” Dick says, “I’ll alert my attorney.”

As Dick walks away, Ben mutters that the urge to be bad is hard to resist.  Personally, I prefer evil Ben to this Ben but I do like the fact that, even when Ben tries to be good, he still comes across as being sinister.

At the cabin, Windom Earle is still acting like a cartoonish super villain.  (This is to be expected since Windom is a cartoonish super villain but it’s still hard not to be disappointed that he’s not the calculating genius that Cooper originally described.)  Windom has got HMSD wrapped up in some sort of big paper mache thing.  HMSD thinks that it’s a float for the Lilac Parade so he’s shocked when Windom shoots him with an arrow.  Or, he would be shocked if not for the fact that he’s dead.

(Sadly, HMSD’s last words are: “What’s with the arrow, man?  This isn’t funny.”)

Meanwhile, at the Roadhouse, the Judging and Rules Committee of the Miss Twin Peaks Pageant is meeting.  The committee is made up of Doc Hayward (Warren Frost), the Mayor, and Pete.  (I assume that Laura Palmer was last year’s Miss Twin Peaks since she was everything else in town.)  Ben has asked to address the committee.  Ben suggests that this pageant should have a pro-environmental theme.  Ben says that this year’s question-and-answer session should deal with how to save the forests.

“We’ll take it under advisement,” Doc Hayward says.

The various candidates for Miss Twin Peaks are asked to approach the committee.  There’s Lana and Donna and Shelly and Nadine (Wendy Robie).  Nadine shows up with Mike (Gary Hershberger).  When Bobby (who is there with Shelley) asks Mike what he sees in Nadine, Mike whispers something about the combination of sexual maturity and super human strength in Bobby’s ear that is apparently so impressive that all Bobby can do is shout, “WHOA!”

(Remember when Mike and Bobby were drug dealers who killed people?  A lot has changed since the first season.)

Meanwhile, at the Martell house, Harry is trying to get answers from Catherine.  He’s trying to understand who Josie was.  Catherine gets the puzzle box and says that it might have something to do with Josie.  As Harry looks at the box, Pete comes in the room and says that every beautiful woman in Twin Peaks is competing for Miss Twin Peaks.  Except, of course, for all the ones have died over the past month…

Anyway, Pete takes the box from Harry and accidentally drops it on the floor.  Catherine snaps, in the worst line in the history of Twin Peaks, “Butterfingers!”  However, the box opens as soon as it is dropped.  And what’s inside?  Another box, this one with a weird lunar pattern design on it.

(Maybe the blue key from Mulholland Drive is inside that one.  Who knows?)

Meanwhile, Cooper and Annie are sitting in a rowboat in the middle of the lake.  Annie says that she always struggled to make friends when she was younger.  Annie says that she’s had one serious boyfriend but doesn’t want to talk about him.  Annie explains that she left the convent and returned to Twin Peaks so she could face her fears “where everything went so wrong.”

Obviously, Annie is a lot of fun at parties.

Watching this scene, I again marveled at the total lack of chemistry between Heather Graham and Kyle MacLachlan.  If the Annie/Cooper relationship was meant to make us forget about the fact that Cooper and Audrey were meant to be together, scenes like this one didn’t help.  Even when Cooper and Annie kiss, it’s like watching two mannequin collide.  That’s not meant as an insult to either Kyle MacLachlan and Heather Graham.  I’ve raved about both of them on this very site.  It’s just that the Annie and Cooper scenes are incredibly awkward and unconvincing.

Anyway, after Cooper and Annie kiss, we see that they are being watched by Windom Earle, who is not even bothering to wear a disguise at this point.

At the Great Northern wine tasting, snobby people are drinking wine and Dick is serving as their host.  That this scene works is due almost entirely to Ian Buchanan.  It’s a lot of fun to watch and listen to him as Dick pretentiously describes each wine.  The fact that I don’t drink wine and consider wine tastings to be the height of bourgeois snobbery only served to make me enjoy this scene even more.

(And, of course, I love Dick but you already knew that.)

Andy and Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) are at the wine tasting,  Andy attempts to show off his knowledge by pointing out that, along with red wine, there are also white wines and sparkling wines.  Andy also makes the mistake of tasting his wine before he was supposed to, leading to Dick yelling, “Spit out!”

(I’m resisting the temptation to make a certain joke at this point.  You will thank me later.)

At the diner, Gordon Cole (David Lynch) is out on a date with Shelly.  It’s sweet little scene, actually.  Cole can actually speak in his normal voice and, while he may not be the world’s greatest actor, David Lynch has an oddly likable screen presence.  Interestingly, David Lynch and Madchen Amick have more chemistry than Heather Graham and Kyle MacLachlan.  If the Showtime revival opens with Shelly and Gordon married and living in Portland, I wouldn’t be upset.  (If the show opens with the Mayor of Portland talking about his strange younger brother, Dale Cooper, I’ll be even happier.)

Cooper comes in with Annie so, of course, Cole starts shouting again.  “THIS WORLD OF TWIN PEAKS SEEMS TO BE FULL OF BEAUTIFUL WOMEN!” he announces.  Cole also adds that “PEOPLE WHO NEED PEOPLE ARE THE LUCKIEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD!”  Cole says that he doesn’t know when he’ll be returning to Twin Peaks, a line that’s extra poignant because, by this point, I imagine David Lynch probably knew his show wouldn’t be returning for a third season.

Just as Cole leans in to kiss Shelly, Bobby walks into the diner, demanding to know what’s going on.

“YOU ARE WITNESSING A FRONT 3/4 VIEW OF 2 ADULTS SHARING A TENDER MOMENT!” Cole replies.

Seriously, they’re so cute together!

Back at the wine tasting, Dick asks everyone what flavor of wine they just tasted.

“Tastes kind of woody,” Lucy says.

“No,” Dick says with a condescending smile.  “Lana?”

“Banana?” Lana suggests.

Yes, Dick says, there is a hit of banana.  At this point, Dick’s nose bandage has become soaked in wine.

From the back of the room, Andy shouts out that he tasted chocolate.

“Why don’t we just skip the wine and have a banana split!?” Lucy shouts.

Way to go, Lucy!  TOP THAT!

Later, Lucy does top that by spitting her wine in Dick’s face, explaining that she’s pregnant and not supposed to drink.

In the Great Northern lobby, Cooper and Wheeler (Billy Zane) stare into the fireplace.  Cooper is thinking about Annie.  Wheeler is thinking about Audrey and it just feels so wrong.  Wheeler says love is Hell.  Cooper replies that “(t)he Hindus say love is a ladder to Heaven.”  Shut up, Cooper.  I never thought I’d say that but I’ve lost a lot of respect for him now that, after making such a big deal about not allowing himself to get emotionally involved with anyone, he has managed to fall madly in love with a blank slate who has only been in town for three days.

(I mean, seriously, Audrey nearly died trying to help Cooper.  Annie just pours coffee and acts as if living in a convent was the equivalent of getting stuck on Mars with Matt Damon.)

Meanwhile, it’s an awkward dinner at the Hayward house, where Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle) wonders about her mother’s relationship with Ben Horne.  What about happened to Donna’s sister?  She hasn’t been seen since the first season.  Maybe she ran away when it became obvious that everyone who knows Donna eventually ends up either dead (Laura, Harold, Maddy, Leland) or, like James, in San Francisco.

Donna asks her mother (Mary Jo Deschanel) how she knows Ben Horne.  Doc Hayward immediately says, “I told Donna about that benefit that you’re working on….”

(OH MY GOD, DONNA IS BEN’S DAUGHTER!  Which means that she is Audrey’s half-sister.  After reading all the stories about Lara Flynn Boyle and Sherilyn Fenn not getting along behind the scenes, this amuses me.)

Anyway, Donna gives her mother a hard time about seeing Ben while both of her parents try to change the subject.  If only Donna was as concerned about her suddenly missing sister.

That night, the police discover a huge crate has been left in the gazebo.  When Cooper and Harry open it, they discover a giant paper mache chess piece.  And inside the chess piece is the dead body of Stoner Heavy Metal Dude.  A note from Windom Earle is also found, announcing that the next victim will be someone who Dale knows.

Cooper says that Windom appears to be changing the way he plays the game, which is a polite way of saying that he’s a bit of an inconsistent character.

This episode wasn’t bad, though I still find myself cringing whenever Cooper and Annie start flirting.  But the scene with Cole and Shelly were fun and I’m really growing to appreciate Richard Beymer’s performance as the new, conflicted Ben Horne.  Two of my favorite Twin Peaks supporting actors, Ian Buchanan and Don S. Davis, got some good scenes as well.  While this episode can in no way match anything from the 1st season, it’s not bad for a 2nd season episode.

Well, there’s only three more episodes left and then the movie!  Jeff has tomorrow’s episode.  Then Leonard will be covering Sunday and then I’ll be back for the finale.  As for the movie — we’re still playing rock scissors paper to figure out who gets to play it.  We’re doing best out of a 1,000.  It could take a while.

While we figure it out, check out what led us to this point!

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
  27. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.18 “On The Wings of Love” (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Jedadiah Leland

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.