Film Review: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (dir by David Lynch)


“It was a dream!  We live in a dream!”

— Phillip Jeffries (David Bowie) in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)

Even among fans of the show, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is controversial.

If you read Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks, you’ll discover that many members of the television show’s cast either didn’t want to be involved in the film or didn’t care much for it when it came out.  Fearful of being typecast, Kyle MacLachlan only agreed to play Dale Cooper on the condition that his role be greatly reduced.  (Was it that fear of being typecast as clean-cut Dale Cooper that led to MacLachlan later appearing in films like Showgirls?)  Neither Lara Flynn Boyle nor Sherilyn Fenn could work the film into their schedules.

When Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me premiered at Cannes, it was reportedly booed by the same critics who previously applauded Lynch’s Wild at Heart and who, years later, would again applaud Mulholland Drive.  When it was released in the United States, the film was savaged by critics and a notorious box office flop.  Quentin Tarantino, previously a fan of Lynch’s, has been very outspoken about his hatred of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.  When I first told people that we would be looking back at Twin Peaks for this site, quite a few replied with, “Even the movie?”

And yet, there are many people, like me, who consider Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me to be one of David Lynch’s most haunting films.

It’s also one of his most straight forward.  Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is a prequel, dealing with the events leading up to the death of Laura Palmer.  Going into the film, the viewer already knows that Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) is full of secrets.  They know that she is using drugs.  They know that she is dating Bobby (Dana Ashbrook), while secretly seeing James (James Marshall).  They know about her diary and her relationship with the reclusive Harold (Lenny Von Dohlen).  They know that she is a friend to innocent Donna Hayward (Moria Kelly, somewhat awkwardly taking the place of Lara Flynn Boyle).  Even more importantly, they know that she has spent the last six years of her life being abused by BOB (Frank Silva) and that BOB is her father, Leland Palmer (Ray Wise).  The viewer starts the story knowing how it is going to end.

Things do get off to a somewhat shaky start with a nearly 20-minute prologue that basically plays like a prequel to the prequel.  Theresa Banks, who was mentioned in the show’s pilot, has been murdered and FBI director Gordon Cole (David Lynch) assigns agents Chester Desmond (Chris Isaak) and Sam Stanley (Kiefer Sutherland) to investigate.  Chester and Sam’s investigation basically amounts to a quick reenactment of the first season of Twin Peaks, with the agents discovering that Theresa was involved in drugs and prostitution.  When Chester vanishes, Dale Cooper is sent to investigate.  Harry Dean Stanton shows up as the manager of a trailer park and David Bowie has an odd cameo as a Southern-accented FBI agent who has just returned from the Black Lodge but otherwise, the start of the film almost feels like a satire of Lynch’s style.

But then, finally, we hear the familiar theme music and the “Welcome to Twin Peaks” sign appears.

“And the angel’s wouldn’t help you. Because they’ve all gone away.”

— Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)

A year has passed since Theresa Banks was murdered.  The rest of the film deals with the final few days of the life of doomed homecoming queen Laura Palmer.  Laura smiles in public but cries in private.  She is full of secrets that she feels that she has to hide from a town that has literally idolized her.  She has visions of terrifying men creeping through her life and each day, she doesn’t know whether it will be BOB or her father waiting for her at home.  She knows that the world considers her to be beautiful but she also know that, within human nature, there is a desire to both conquer and destroy beauty.  When she sleeps, she has disturbing dreams that she cannot understand but that she knows are important.  At a time when everyone says she should be happy to alive, all she can think about is death.  Everywhere she goes, the male gaze follows and everything that should be liberating just feels her leaving more trapped.  For all the complaints that Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is somehow too strange to be understood, it’s not a strange film at all.  This is David Lynch at his most straight forward.  Anyone who thinks that Laura’s story is incomprehensible has never been a 17 year-old girl.

This is the bleakest of all of David Lynch’s films.  There is none of broad humor or intentional camp that distinguished the TV show.  After the show’s occasionally cartoonish second season, the film served as a trip into the heart of the darkness that was always beating right underneath the surface of Twin Peaks.  It’s interesting how few of the show’s regulars actually show up in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.  None of the characters who represented goodness are present.  There’s no Doc Hayward.  No Sheriff Truman.  No Deputies Andy or Hawk.  No Pete Martell.  No Bookhouse Boys.  Scenes were filmed for some of them but they didn’t make it into the final cut because their tone did not fit with the story that Lynch was seeking to tell.  The Hornes, Dr. Jacoby, Josie, none of them are present either.

Instead, there’s just Larua and her father.  As much as they try to deny it, Laura knows that she is going to die and Leland knows that he is going to kill her.  Killer BOB and the denziens of the Black Lodge may be scary but what’s truly terrifying is the sight of a girl living in fear of her own father.  Is Leland possessed by BOB or is BOB simply his way of excusing his own actions?  If not for Leland’s sickness, would BOB even exist?  When Laura shouts, “Who are you!?” at the spirit of BOB, she speaks for every victim of abuse who is still struggling to understand why it happened.  For all the talk of the Black Lodge and all the surreal moments, the horror of this film is very much the horror of reality.  Leland’s abuse of Laura is not terrifying because Leland is possessed by BOB.  It’s terrifying because Leland is her father

David Lynch directs the film as if it where a living nightmare.  This is especially evident in scenes like the one where, at the dinner table, Leland switches from being kindly to abusive while Laura recoils in fear and her mother (Grace Zabriskie) begs Leland to stop.  It’s a hard scene to watch and yet, it’s a scene that is so brilliantly acted and directed that you can’t look away.  As brilliant as Ray Wise and Grace Zabriskie are, it’s Sheryl Lee who (rightly) dominates the scene and the rest of the film, giving a bravely vulnerable and emotionally raw performance.  In Reflections, Sheryl Lee speaks candidly about the difficulty of letting go of Laura after filming had been completed.  She became Laura and gave a performance that anchors this absolutely terrifying film.

“Mr. Lynch’s taste for brain-dead grotesque has lost its novelty.”

— Janet Maslin

“It’s not the worst movie ever made; it just seems to be”

— Vincent Canby

If you need proof that critics routinely don’t know what they’re talking about, just go read some of the original reviews of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.

And yet, having just rewatched the show and now the movie, I can understand why critics and audiences were baffled by this film.  This is not Twin Peaks the TV show.  There is no light to be found here.  There is no comic relief.  (Even Bobby Briggs, who had become something of a goofy anti-hero by the time the series ended, is seen here shooting a man in the head.)  There is no exit and there is no hope.  In the end, the film’s only comfort comes from knowing that Laura was able to save one person before dying.  It’s not easy to watch but, at the same time, it’s almost impossible to look away.  The film ends on Laura’s spirit smiling and, for the first time, the smile feels real.  Even if she’s now trapped in the Black Lodge, she’s still free from her father.

Since this was a prequel, it didn’t offer up any answers to the questions that were left up in the air by the show’s 2nd season finale.  Fortunately, those questions will be answered (or, then again, they may not be) when the third season premieres on Showtime on May 21st.

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
  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

2016 In Review: Lisa Marie’s 14 Favorite Songs of 2016


Every January, I list my fourteen favorite songs of the previous year and, every January, I include the same disclaimer.  My fourteen favorite songs are not necessarily the fourteen favorite songs of any of the other writers here at the Shattered Lens.  We are a large and diverse group of people and, as such, we all have our own individual tastes.

If you ever visited the TSL Bunker, you would be shocked by the different music coming out of each office.  You would hear everything from opera to death metal to the best of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.  And then, of course, you would reach my office and you would discover that my taste in music pretty much runs the gamut from EDM to More EDM.

Now, usually, I do try to listen to a variety of music.  You can go to my Song of the Day site — Lisa Marie’s Song of the Day — and see that I do occasionally listen to other types of music.  But, I have to be honest.  2016 was not a year that inspired me to really leave me comfort zone.  If anything, music provided me with some much needed consistency in an otherwise chaotic year.  2016 was a year that made me want to dance until it was all over and, for the most part, my favorite songs of the year reflect that fact.

Before I list my 14 songs, I should make something else very clear.  These are my 14 favorite songs of 2016.  I’m not saying that they’re necessarily the best songs of 2016.  I’ll leave that debate for others.  Instead, there are the songs that I found myself listening to over and over again.  These are the songs made me dance.  These are the songs that made me sing.  A few of these songs relaxed me when I needed to be relaxed.  One of the songs made me cry but I’m not going to say which one.

It might make you cry too.

Or it might not.

That’s the beautiful thing about art.  Everyone experiences it in their own individual way.

Here are my 14 favorite songs of 2016:

14) David Bowie — Lazarus

13) Afrojack & Hardwell — Hollywood

12) Cedric Gervais (ft. Juanes) — Este Amor

11) Matoma (ft. Becky Hall) — False Alarm

10) Radiohead — Burn the Witch

9) Gorgon City (feat Vaults) — All Four Walls

8) Penthox — Give It Away

7) Britney Spears — Clumsy

6) Martin Garrix (feat Mesto) — WIEE

5) Tiesto, Oliver Heldens (feat Natalie LaRose) — The Right Song

4) The Weekend (feat Daft Punk) — Starboy

3) Radiohead — Daydreaming

2) Coldplay — Up&Up

1) The Chemical Brothers — C-h-e-m-i-c-a-l

For my previous picks, check out 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015!

Tomorrow, I will be posting some of my favorite things that I saw on television in 2016!

Previous Entries In The Best of 2016:

  1. TFG’s 2016 Comics Year In Review : Top Tens, Worsts, And Everything In Between
  2. Anime of the Year: 2016
  3. 25 Best, Worst, and Gems I Saw In 2016
  4. 2016 in Review: The Best of SyFy
  5. 2016 in Review: The Best of Lifetime
  6. 2016 in Review: Lisa Picks the 16 Worst Films of 2016!
  7. Necromoonyeti’s Top Ten Albums of 2016

Holiday Scenes That I Love: David Bowie and Bing Crosby Sing A Duet in Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas (CBS, 1977)


In this scene from Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas, David Bowie stops by the home of his old friend, Sir Percival Crosby, and meets Sir Percy’s long-lost American relative, Bing Crosby!  A discussion of modern music and parenting techniques leads to them performing a duet of Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy.

This was Bing’s final Christmas special and he died just five weeks after filming completed.  This scene is a holiday classic and has been described. by the Washington Post, as “one of the most successful duets in Christmas music history.”

When asked about David Bowie, Bing said he was “clean-cut kid and a real fine asset to the show. He sings well, has a great voice and reads lines well.”

Enjoy!

We Can Be Heroes If Just For One Day… (David Bowie, RIP)


I have never seen the online community as united about anything as they are today in both grieving and paying honor to David Bowie.

You can read Arleigh’s thoughts on Bowie the film actor here.

Click here to read Jeff’s tribute to David Bowie the musician.

And be sure to check out Gary’s overview of Bowie’s career.

As for me, I’m just going to share two videos.  One is the trailer for the German film, Christiane F.  This trailer — which I consider one of the best trailers ever made — is scored to David Bowie’s Heroes. (Both Bowie and the song also play a large and important in the film itself.) Secondly, I want to share a scene that I love, this one from Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds and featuring Bowie’s Theme From Cat People reimagined as an anthem of the French Resistance.

First off, the trailer:

Secondly, the scene:

David Bowie, RIP

In Memory of David Bowie


20140109-bowie-x306-1389299416

Last night, when I heard that David Bowie had died, I immediately flashed back to the summer of 2003.  I spent that summer hanging out with my friend Jay.  I was an aspiring writer and he was the musician who got all the girls.  Jay was also a David Bowie fanatic whose cover of The Man Who Sold The World was at least as good as Nirvana’s.  When I think about that summer, I remember the all-night bull sessions, smoking in Jay’s backyard, watching reruns of Hawaii 5-0 and agreeing that McGarrett was one cool dude, and the weekly poker games where I always seemed to lose.  But mostly, I remember David Bowie providing the greatest soundtrack anyone could want.

Over his 50 year career, David Bowie reinvented himself many times.  When he released his first single in 1964, he did so under his real name.  He was 17 years old when Davie Jones and the Queen Bees released Liza Jane.

By the time he released Space Oddity in 1969, Davie Jones had become David Bowie.  Space Oddity would introduce the world to Major Tom, a character to whom Bowie would return in the future.

1970’s The Man Who Sold The World is often erroneously believed to be a retelling of Robert Heinlein’s novella, The Man Who Sold The Moon.  In 1997, Bowie himself said that the song was about being young and feeling incomplete.

Life on Mars? was once described by BBC Radio 2 as being “a cross between a Broadway musical and a Salvador Dali painting.”

1975’s Golden Years, with its chorus of “run for the shadows,” is one of my personal favorites.

In 1977, David Bowie appeared on the final Bing Crosby Christmas Special.  He and Bing performed Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy.  At the time, Bing was quoted as saying about Bowie: “clean-cut kid and a real fine asset to the show. He sings well, has a great voice and reads lines well.”

In 1980, Major Tom returned in Ashes to Ashes.

Rather than grow stagnant as an artist, David Bowie was always reinventing himself.  In 1997, he proved he was still a force to be reckoned with when he released I’m Afraid of Americans.

In November, David Bowie released Blackstar.  In the song’s video, Major Tom made his final appearance.

Lazarus was the last single that David Bowie released during his lifetime.  The video was released three days before he died and feels like it was his way of saying goodbye.

Rest in peace, good sir.  And thank you for the music and the memories.

Scenes I Love: The Prestige


The Prestige - David Bowie

David Bowie has passed away and the world is much less brighter with his passing.

While I’ve been a fan of most of David Bowie’s music, I consider myself more of a fan of his rare appearances playing other characters in other people’s films. Whether it was as the alien Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell to Earth, to John in The Hunger and right up to his role as Jareth, King of the Goblins in the fantasy film Labyrinth, Bowie has always made himself such a presence whenever he was on the screen.

One of my favorite roles he played recently was in the 2006 film The Prestige by Christopher Nolan. In it he played the role of the eccentric genius Nikola Tesla who gains as a patron Hugh Jackman’s magician, Robert Angier. Not as showy a role as some of the others mentioned above, but Bowie easily conveys not just tired and beaten down Tesla who by this point has been hounded by Edison for years, but also understanding that his own genius has led him to obsessing over what his intellect has come up with.

Even as he battled cancer these past 18 months before losing his fight, David Bowie continued to do what he loved. Releasing a new album this month and now he lives on in his music and up on the silver screen.

“Commencing countdown, engines on…Check ignition and may God’s love be with you.”

RIP, DAVID BOWIE

Embracing the Melodrama Part II #65: Christiane F. — We Children Of The Banhof Zoo (dir by Uli Edel)


Christiane_F_Poster Dedicated to: Andreas W. “Atze” (1960 – 77), Axel W. (1960 – 77), Babette D. “Babsi” (1963 – 77) and all others who didn’t have the luck and strength to survive.

— End credits dedication of Christiane F. (1981)

After watching Out of the Blue, be sure to watch the 1981 German film Christiane F.  Like Out of the Blue, Christiane F. tells the story of what happens with adolescent aimlessness turns into self-destruction.  Like Out of The Blue, Christiane F. centers on one alienated girl and, like Out of the Blue, it features a dark ending.  Unlike Out of the Blue, Christiane F. is actually based on a true story and that makes it all the more disturbing.

Another difference between Out of the Blue and Christiane F. is that, while Out of the Blue‘s Ceebe was motivated by anger, 13 year-old Christiane (Natja Brunckhorst) is mostly just bored.  She lives in a drab apartment in Berlin, with her mother and her younger sister.  Whenever we see Christiane walking among the concrete buildings that make up her neighborhood, we can see why she’s so frustrated with her life.  She lives in a world that literally has no personality or hope for the future.

With nothing else to look forward to, Christiane becomes obsessed with going to Sound, a club that is advertised as the “most modern discotheque in Europe.”  Wearing makeup and high heels and lying about her age, Christiane manages to get into Sound and discovers an entire new world.  She meets the charismatic Detlef (Thomas Haustein) and a whole new group of friends.  All of her new friends use drugs and, eager to fit in and hoping to impress Detlef, Christiane is soon taking part.  She quickly goes from smoking pot to shooting heroin to working as a prostitute to finance her habit…

And you know what?  Just from the description, Christiane F. sounds like a typical histrionic anti-drug film, a German version of Reefer Madness.  Anti-drug films are always based on the idea that the worst possible thing that could happen will always happen and that’s certainly what happens in Christiane F.  However, Christiane F. never sinks to the level of propaganda.  There’s an authenticity to the film’s portrait of what it’s like to feel lost and alienated.  It captures the gnawing despair of feeling as if the rest of the world knows something about happiness that you’ll never be able to understand.

Which is not to say that the film doesn’t work as an anti-drug film.  I would never do heroin anyway but if I was so inclined, Christiane F. would change my mind.  As Christiane and her friends become addicts, the film takes on an element of Cronenbergian body terror.  When Christiane’s friends overdose, the camera lingers over their thin, scarred, and blue bodies.  In perhaps the film’s most shocking scene, Christiane is attacked in a public restroom by a junkie who steals her heroin and then proceeds to shoot up in front of her, plunging the syringe into his neck.

Christiane F. is a powerful film, featuring an excellent lead performance from Natja Brunckhorst and a great soundtrack from David Bowie.  Watch it with Out Of The Blue but make sure you’ve got a comedy ready to go afterward.