Horror Film Review: The Belko Experiment (dir by Greg McLean)


How far would you go if all you had to do was follow orders?  That is the question posed by The Belko Experiment.

A violent and disturbingly plausible social satire/horror film, The Belko Experiment was released into theaters on March 17th.  It was one of the best films of the first half of 2017 but, as so often happens whenever a genre film subverts the traditional narrative, The Belko Experiment is also one of the most overlooked films of 2017.  It got mixed reviews, with most critics focusing on the fact that the script was written by James Gunn.  (Though Gunn may be best known for directing Guardians of the Galaxy, his non-MCU work has always  been distinguished by a subversive, often transgressive sensibility.)  A few critics dismissed it as being just another lurid celebration of violence, showing once again that you can always count on certain mainstream critics to unfairly categorize any film that doesn’t neatly fit into their preconceptions.  Yes, The Belko Experiment is violent.  And yes, it is gory and sometimes hard to watch.  However, to dismiss The Belko Experiment as merely being that latest entry in the torture porn genre is to totally miss the point.

Mike Milch (John Gallagher, Jr.) is one of the many employees of Belko Industries.  He’s a nice enough guy.  In fact, if I worked for Belko Industries, Mike would probably be one of my favorite co-workers.  He’s friendly.  He’s funny.  He’s not unattractive.  He’s kind of a less smirky version of The Office‘s Jim Halpert.  I’d want to be his friend.  Since Belko’s offices are located in a remote area of Colombia, I would want to make all the friends that I could.

(Early on in the film, we’re informed that every employee of Belko Industries has been required to get a tracking device implanted at the base of their skull.  They’re told that this is because there’s always the risk that one of them will be kidnapped by drug traffickers.  Of course, as the film plays out, we discover that it’s actually for a totally different reason.)

When The Belko Experiment begins, it’s a day like any other.  People show up for work. Some people actually do work.  Some people slack off.  Everyone tries to look busy whenever the boss, Barry Norris (Tony Goldwyn), wanders by.  The maintenance workers (Michael Rooker and David Dastmalchian) do their thing.  A few employees sneak up to the roof of the office building and get high.  Everyone tries to avoid Wendell Dukes (John C. McGinely), a pervy executive.  The security guard (James Earl) watches the door.  The newest employee (Melonie Diaz) learns about her new job and coworkers.

Of course, there are a few strange things.  Some new security guards have shown up and they don’t appear to be particularly friendly.  They turn away all of the locals who work at the office, only allowing in the American employees.  Everyone agrees that it’s strange but, instead of thinking about it too much, they just keep going about their day.

Then, the steel shutters slam down, effectively sealing the building off.

Then a voice (Gregg Henry) demands that they select two co-workers to die.  When the employees of Belko Industries refuse (with several dismissing the whole thing as being a tasteless prank), tracking devices start to randomly explode until four employees are dead.  The voice goes on to say that, unless 30 employees are killed in the next two hours, 60 people will be randomly killed…

Some of the co-workers refuse to kill their friends but many more do not.  And soon, even those who refused to take part in the murders, are forced to start killing just to keep from being killed themselves…

The Belko Experiment wastes no time in establishing that anyone can die at any moment.  It doesn’t matter how funny you were a few seconds ago or how likable you may be.  If the unseen voice decides to flip your switch, that “tracking device” will explode and it’ll take your head with it.  And, even if the unseen voice doesn’t get you, your coworkers might.

That, by itself, would be disturbing enough.  However, The Belko Experiment ultimately succeeds as a work of horror because it illustrates a truth that many people would prefer to ignore.  When the employees of Belko Industries start to kill each other, it feels all too plausible.  Culturally, human beings are conditioned to follow orders.  We like to have an authoritarian around to tell us what to do.  It’s a good way of avoiding responsibility for our own actions.  (“I was following orders.”  “I was following protocol.”  “I’m just doing my job.”)  As The Belko Experiment demonstrates, most people would never dream of hurting someone else … unless they were ordered to do so.  The characters in The Belko Experiment start the movie as individuals but, as the experiment unfolds, all quirks and differences vanish.  All that is left are drones who slavishly do what they’re told.

Making the nightmare scenario feel all the more believable is a large and strong cast of familiar faces.  As the closest thing that this film has to a hero, John Gallagher, Jr. is likable and you find yourself hoping that he’ll somehow manage to survive all of this with his humanity intact.  Tony Goldwyn brings some interesting shades to his role while John C. McGinley is memorably creepy as Wendell.  Micheal Rooker, Abraham Benrubi, Sean Gunn, Josh Brener, Melonie Diaz, Brent Sexton, and Adria Arjone all shine in smaller roles.  To be honest, you really don’t want to see any of these people suffer, which makes their inevitable fate all the more disturbing.

The Belko Experiment is ultimately a portrait of how easily people can be persuaded (or ordered) to surrender their humanity.  It’s the exact mentality that we currently see everyday, with people willingly becoming slaves to one ideology or another and then tossing around terms like “treason” whenever anyone dares to do something other than obey.  It’s the exact mentality that leads to people accusing you of being “selfish” when you refuse to surrender your right to self-determination.  Our real-life Belko Experiment has been going on for several years now and it doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon.  This movie is frightening because it’s real.

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TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return Part 10 (dir by David Lynch)


I’m getting a late start on this recap and I imagine that, by the time I’m finished rewatching the latest episode of Twin Peaks and typing all this up, I’ll probably barely be able to keep my eyes open.  Dexedrine is a wonderful and helpful tool but it can only do so much.

(Don’t freak out, I take it for my ADD.  It helps me focus.  The endless energy is just a nice side benefit.)

So, I better not waste any time!  Let’s talk about Part 10 of Twin Peaks!

We open in Twin Peaks, at the trailer park to be exact.  Richard Horne (Eamon Farren) pulls up outside the trailer of Miriam (Sarah Jean Long), the poor woman who was unlucky enough to see him running down that little boy a few episodes ago.  As this episode will demonstrate, Richard is perhaps the most loathsome character to ever appear in a David Lynch film.  Even Blue Velvet‘s Frank Booth never ran down a child while driving around Lumberton.

From inside her trailer, Miriam yells at Richard that not only has she gone to the police but that she also wrote Sheriff Truman a letter, telling him that, if anything happens to her, Richard is the one responsible.  Richard responds by rushing into the trailer and beating Miriam to death.

As Richard walks away from the trailer, he calls his Deputy Chad (John Pirruccello) and orders him to intercept the letter and keep Truman from reading it.

Elsewhere in the trailer park. Carl (Harry Dean Stanton) sits in front of the manager’s office, plays his guitar, and sings.  The gentleness of Carl’s voice provides a stark contrast to the rest of the episode.

Carl’s song is interrupted by the sound of Steve (Caleb Landry Jones), in another trailer, yelling at Becky (Amanda Seyfried) and throwing stuff out the window.  Becky is not only Shelley’s daughter but apparently, she’s found herself married to a modern-day Leo Johnson as well.  Just like Leo, Steve is upset because he feels Becky isn’t keeping their home clean enough.

(Whatever happened to Leo?  I assume all those tarantulas eventually fell on his face and killed him.)

In Las Vegas, Candie (Amy Shiels) — wearing her iconic pink dress — attempts to kill a fly by hitting it with a remote.  Unfortunately, the fly happens to be on the face of Rodney Mitchum (Robert Knepper), which leads to him getting smacked.  Bradley (James Belushi) rushes into the room the make sure that Rodney is okay, while Candie screams and sobs. The fly, I believe, escaped unharmed.

Janey-E (Naomi Watts) and Dougie (Kyle MacLachlan) visit with Dr. Ben (John Billingsley).  While Dougie continues to stare blankly forward, Janey-E explains that he’s been acting strangely for a few days.  Janey-E explains that Dougie has a drinking and gambling problem.  Dr. Ben is bemused by Dougie’s weight loss.  Janey-E agrees that Dougie has lost a lot of weight … “in a good way.”  Dr. Ben announces that Dougie appears to be in perfect health.  “Remarkable,” Janey-E says while looking at the shirtless Dougie.

Back the Mitchum place, Candie is still crying while Rodney assures her that he’s fine.  On the TV, Bradley and Rodney watch a news story about both Dougie and the arrest of Ike the Spike.

“Brad,” Rodney says, “remind me to call off that hit on Ike.”

“Saved us a wad of dough!” Bradley agrees, “Niiiiiiiice!”

Bradley recognizes Dougie from the news.  “That’s our Mr. Jackpots,” Bradley says.

At the Jones house, Janey-E watches Dougie eat cake.  She asks if he finds her attractive.  Dougie says nothing, entranced by the cake.  Janey-E tells him that she finds him attractive.  Dougie stares at her blankly.  Janey-E takes Dougie upstairs, where she rides him while he lays underneath her in a state of stunned euphoria.  (Dougie/Cooper, of course, is experiencing all of this for the first time.)  Afterward, she tells Dougie, “I love you.”  “Love you,” Dougie blankly repeats.

In Twin Peaks, Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) rants on his podcast about pharmaceutical companies.  Nadine (Wendy Robie) listens approvingly.  We see that she’s sitting in her own store, Run Silent Run Drapes.  Yay!  Nadine finally perfected her drape runners!

It’s morning in Vegas.  As Sonny Jim (Pierce Gagnon), fresh from being traumatized by all the noise his parents made while he was trying to get some sleep, waits in the car, Janey-E tells Dougie that she can’t stop thinking about last night.  Dougie blankly nods.

In the wilderness outside Twin Peaks, Jerry (David Patrick Kelly) is still lost.  “You can’t fool me!” he yells, “I’ve been here before!”

At the Sheriff’s office, Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) wonders why Deputy Chad is hanging out in the lobby.  Of course, we know that Chad is waiting for the mail so that he can intercept Miriam’s letter.  Chad, however, just says that he’s appreciating the beauty of the day.  Chad sees the mailman pulling up so he runs outside to meet him.  Lucy is rightly suspicious, especially when Chad rather obviously stuffs Miriam’s letter under his shirt.

This is followed by a scene that literally left me queasy.  At the Horne House, a bruised and battered Johnny Horne (Eric Rondell) stares at a creepy toy that has the body of teddy bear and a head of glass.  Throughout the entire violent and brutal scene that will follow, the toy continues to ask — in a vaguely British accent — “Hello, Johnny.  How are you today?”

Johnny Horne (Richard’s uncle)

Richard bursts into the house and demands that Sylvia (Jan D’Arcy) give him money.  When she tells him to ask his grandfather, Richard grabs her by throat.  As Richard attacks her (and Farren is absolutely terrifying in this scene), Johnny falls out of the chair and groans on the floor.  It gets even worse when Johnny calls Sylvia “grandma.”

Sylvia, Richard’s grandmother

In other words, tonight, my greatest fear was confirmed.  Richard is Audrey’s son.  And judging from both his sociopathic personality and their shared affinity for leather jackets, it appears that Richard’s father is the Doppelganger.  A few episodes ago, Dr. Hayward revealed the, when Cooper last saw Audrey, she was still in a coma.

Richard Horne (son of Audrey and Cooper’s Doppelganger)

Richard gets the money.  He also calls his grandmother the C-word and steals her jewelry.  “Why do you have to make something so simple so fucking difficult!?” Richard snaps before leaving.

Seriously, this scene — more than anything else that we’ve seen so far in this series — left me truly shaken.  The performances of Farren and D’Arcy were so intense that, even though I knew it was coming and what would happen, I still had to take a break after rewatching this scene.

After that disturbing scene, we cut back to Las Vegas.  Roger (Joe Adler) tells Duncan Todd (Patrick Fischler) that it’s true that Ike has been captured by the police.  After Roger leaves, we see that Anthony Sinclair (Tom Sizemore) is in Duncan’s office.  Duncan tells Anthony that he’s to go to the Mitchum Brothers and that he’s to claim that Dougie cheated them out of an insurance claim.  Duncan believes that the Mitchums will respond by killing Dougie.  If the Mitchums don’t kill Dougie, Anthony will have to do it himself.

In South Dakota, love is in the air.  Albert (Miguel Ferrer) is on a date with coroner Constance Talbot (Jane Adams).  A bemused Gordon (David Lynch) watches them, with Tammy (Chrysta Bell) at his side.  But Gordon — you belong with Shelley!

Back in Vegas, Anthony goes to the casino and is spotted by the Mitchum brothers.  They tell Candie — who, like the other ladies in pink, is hanging out in their office — to bring Anthony to see them.  “You want me to bring him here?” Candie asks, somewhat vaguely, before heading to the casino floor.

As they watch Candie and Anthony on the surveillance footage, the Mitchum brothers realize that they may have made a mistake sending Candie.  Candie and Anthony start to have a long conversation.  Bradley is finally forced to tell the pit boss, Warrick (David Dastmalchian) to bring both Candie and Anthony back to the main office.

Before Rodney can complain, Bradley says, “If we fire her, she’s got no place to go.”  So, in case you were wondering which brother was the nice brother, apparently it’s Jim Belushi.

Anyway, Candie and Anthony finally arrive at the office.  The Mitchums demand to know what Candie and Anthony were talking about.  Candie thinks for a minute and then remembers that they were talking about how it was going to be hot and smoggy the next day.

Anthony finally gets his chance to tell the Mitchum brothers that Dougie handled their denied claim and that he has a personal vendetta against them.  Anthony is not exactly the best liar and the Mitchums tell Candie to show Anthony out of their office.

“You have an enemy in Douglas Jones!” Anthony shouts.

Later, Bradley and Rodney have a drink in their living room.  Despite Anthony not being the most convincing of storytellers, the Mitchum brothers appear to believe him and they both agree that Dougie has to die.  Rodney announces, “Now I know how Brando felt.”

(Wally Brando, maybe?)

Back in South Dakota, Gordon sits in his hotel room and draws a picture — one that resembles the cave drawings from the 2nd season of Twin Peaks — on a piece of paper.  Someone knocks on his door.  When Gordon answers it, he has a vision of Laura crying while hearing Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriksie) calling Laura’s name.

As the vision fades, Gordon sees that Albert is standing out in the hallway.  Albert enters the hotel room and reveals that, while they were in the morgue, Diane received a text on her phone: “Around the dinner table, the conversation is lively.”  Albert says that he and Tammy tracked the text as coming from Mexico.  Diane responded with a heavily encrypted message: “They have Hastings.  He’s going to take them to the site.”

“What should we do?” Albert asks.

“Keep her close,” Gordon replies.

Tammy then shows up at the room, revealing that she has new information concerning “the penthouse murders” in New York City.  (That would be the murder of poor Sam and Tracy in Part 1.)  She shows Gordon a picture of the Doppelganger in the penthouse, standing in front of the glass case.

At the Great Northern, Ben (Richard Beymer) takes a call from his now ex-wife, Sylvia.  Sylvia demands that Ben repay her all of the money that Richard stole from her.  Ben refuses.  Sadly, when Ben asks if Johnny’s okay, Sylvia snaps back, “No concern about me!”

Hanging up on his former wife, a frustrated Ben calls out, “Beverly, do you want to have dinner with me?”

At her lonely house, the Log Lady (Catherine Coulson) calls Hawks (Michael Horse) and tell him that “Electricity is humming.  You can hear it in the mountains and rivers…in these days, the glow is dying?  What will be in the darkness that remains?”

(This scene is even more poignant when you consider it was probably the final thing that Coulson ever filmed before passing away last year.)

The Log Lady tells Hawk that the Truman brothers are “true men … they are your brothers … watch and lesson to the dream of time and space…Hawk…Laura is the one…”

At the Road House, Rebekah Del Rio performs, providing both this episode and the series as a whole with yet another link to Mulholland Drive.  (That’s not as crazy as it sounds.  Mulholland Drive was originally envisioned as being a spin-off of Twin Peaks, with Audrey moving to Hollywood.)

What to say about this episode?  It was, in many ways, deceptively simple.  All of the disparate elements of the show are finally coming together.  The appearances by Sizemore, Belushi, and Knepper served to remind us — just as Jennifer Jason Leigh did last week — that Twin Peaks is not just random David Lynch quirkiness.  Everything is connected.  A story is being told.  You just have to have the patience to look for the clues.

And finally, to those reviewers complaining that Twin Peaks: The Return is misogynistic, open your eyes.  Yes, many of the characters are misogynists.  Not a single one of them is, in anyway, portrayed sympathetically.  He may be a surrealist but David Lynch is one of the most humanistic filmmakers of all time.  If the world of Twin Peaks is sometimes ugly, so is the world outside your front door.

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)
  51. TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return Part 7 (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  52. Ten Initial Thoughts on Twin Peaks: The Return Part 8 (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  53. This Week’s Peaks: Part Eight by Ryan C (trashfilm guru)
  54. TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return Part 8 (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  55. 16 Initial Thoughts on Twin Peaks: The Return Part 9 (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  56. This Week’s Peaks: Part Nine by Ryan C (trashfilm guru)
  57. TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return Part 9 (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  58. 20 Initial Thoughts On Twin Peaks: The Return Part 10 (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  59. This Week’s Peaks: Part 10 by Ryan C (trashfilm guru)

TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return Part 5 (dir by David Lynch)


Well, there’s one thing that you can definitely say for sure about not only Twin Peaks but also about every other film that David Lynch has ever made.  (And make no mistake — they may be calling this the third season of Twin Peaks but it’s obviously meant to be more of an 18-hour film than a traditional television series.)  Lynch moves at his own pace.  He knows where he’s going but, often, he doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to get there.

And, quite frankly, that can sometimes to be frustrating.  David Lynch requires patience on the part of the viewer and a willingness to have faith in his ability as an artist.  To a certain extent, the modern world almost seems to be set up to make things as difficult as possible for an artist like David Lynch.  We’re used to things being fast-paced.  We’re used to having immediate (if superficial) answers to any and all questions.  In a time when movies are dominated by hyperactive editing and overwhelming soundtracks, David Lynch has the courage to portray moments of silence and stillness.  It’s what sets him apart from other filmmakers.  It’s also the reason why this critically acclaimed director has always struggled to get his films made.  In 41 years, David Lynch has had ten films theatrically released.  Michael Bay directed his first film twenty years after the release of Eraserhead and he has gone to direct twelve more.

Part 5 of Twin Peaks is a perfect example of Lynch’s deliberate pace.  As I watched it, I found myself occasionally saying, “When is Cooper going to get normal again!?”  I mean, Kyle MacLachlan is doing great work as Dougie/Cooper but how many more times am I going to have to watch him get confused over the need to urinate?  That’s a joke that’s getting old.

Yes, I was frustrated.

But here’s the thing:

As frustrated as I may be by the whole Dougie/Cooper situation, I’m not going anywhere.  I trust David Lynch and, throughout Part 5, there were scenes that reminded me of why I trust David Lynch.  The man is a genius.  I’m thinking of the three women in pink nonchalantly watching as the casino pit boss got beaten.  I’m thinking of the close-up on Amanda Seyfried’s face after she snorted the cocaine.  I’m thinking of Russ Tamblyn ranting.

I will follow David Lynch anywhere.

As for Part 5, it opened with Lynch’s camera prowling through the streets of Las Vegas, a city that seems especially Lynchian.

Out at the Rancho Rosa Development, the two hitmen who were sent to kill Dougie are still sitting outside of the deserted house that Dougie used for his lost weekend with Jade.  They’re watching Dougie’s car.  One of them calls a woman and tells her that they still haven’t seen Dougie.  She does not take the news well.  She sends a message to Argentina, where it is apparently received by a black box sitting in a basin.

In South Dakota, the coroner has found something in the stomach of the body that was found underneath the head of Ruth Davenport.  It’s a gold ring, one that has an inscription: “To Destiny, With Love, James C.”  (I’ve listened to the line about the inscription about a dozen times and I’m pretty sure that’s what the coroner said.  If I’m wrong, please let me know.)

(CORRECTION: According to Dylan Lange, host of Dylan Knows, the inscription read: To Dougie With Love, Janey-E.  Thank you, Dylan! — LMB)

In his prison cell, Doppelganger Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) stares at himself in his cell’s tiny mirror.  He flashes back to the time he and Killer BOB shared a laugh in the Black Lodge.  He sees himself smashing his face into the mirror at the Great Northern.

In Twin Peaks, we are reintroduced to Mike Nelson (Gary Hershberger), who was Bobby’s best friend and fellow drug dealer during the first two seasons of Twin Peaks.  (He eventually became Nadine’s boyfriend during the time that she had amnesia and thought she was 16.)  Mike is a grown-up, suit-wearing professional now, sitting in an office that is decorated with the mounted heads of dead deer.  Mike is conducting a job interview with Steve Burnett (Caleb Landry Jones), who appears to be a real loser.  Mike informs Steve that his resume is the worst resume that he’s ever seen and then kicks him out of the office.

At the Sheriff’s Department, Doris Truman (Candy Clark) comes by to yell at Frank (Robert Forster) about something.  Honestly, I kinda tuned out this scene and I hope that Doris doesn’t become a major character.  If anything, Frank is even more laconic than his brother.

Back in Las Vegas, Janey-E (Naomi Watts) finally gets Dougie/Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) out of the house.  She has to tie his necktie for him.  As she tells him everything that he needs to do, Dougie/Cooper stares at her with a blank look.  It’s interesting that, as frustrated as Janey-E gets with Dougie/Cooper, she still tries to rationalize his strange behavior.

At the Rancho Rosa development, Dougie’s car continues to sit there.  The two hitmen drive by again.  They are followed by five more guys, who are all in a black car and playing their music super loud.

Janey-E drops Dougie/Cooper off at his place of employment.  Apparently, Dougie worked for Lucky Seven Insurance.  However, Dougie/Cooper is less interested in his job and more fascinated by a statue of a cowboy pointing a gun.  In an oddly beautiful scene, he imitates the statue’s pose.  Finally, one of his co-workers wanders by and tells Dougie to “get the lead out” because they have a meeting.  That co-worker is carrying 8 cups of coffee so, of course, Dougie/Cooper follows after him.

At the meeting, which is full of vapid insurance people, Dougie/Cooper reveals that he can now tell when people are lying.  Apparently, whenever someone lies, a green light flashes across their face.  When Dougie/Cooper offends another agent (played by Tom Sizemore, no less) by calling him a liar, their boss, the wonderfully named Bushnell Mills (Don Murray), defuses the situation by giveing Dougie/Cooper several case files to take home with him.

Out in the hallway, Dougie/Cooper needs to pee but, like a panicking Sim, has no idea what to do.  Luckily, one of his co-workers, assuming that the men’s room must be locked, sneaks Dougie/Cooper into the ladies room.

At the Silver Mustang Casino, Rodney Mitchum (Robert Knepper) and Bradley Mitchum (Jim Belushi) demand to know how Cooper/Dougie could possibly have won 30 jackpots.  Rodney’s way of handling it is to beat up the pit boss (David Dastmalchian) while three women in pink stand in the corner of the room and nonchalantly watch.

Back at Rancho Rosa, Drugged-Out Mother (Hailey Gates) is passed out so her son leaves the house and walks across the street, intent on investigating Dougie’s bomb-laden car.  Fortunately, before the kid can set the bomb off, the black car pulls up.  The five men jump out of the car and tell the kid to “get the fuck outta here!”  They’re planning on stealing Dougie’s car for themselves.  Of course, as soon as the engine starts, the car explodes and takes three of the car thieves with it.  The kid runs back to his house, where the junkie mom is just now starting to come out of her stupor.

At a nearby carwash, Jade (Nafessa Williams) is getting her car washed when she comes across the key to Cooper’s room at the Great Northern.  She drops the key in a nearby mailbox.

At the Double R Diner — it’s Norma (Peggy Lipton) and Shelley (Madchen Amick)!  25 years have passed and they’re still exactly where we left them.  Except that Shelley now has a daughter named Becky (Amanda Seyfried) and Becky’s married to Steve.  Becky comes by the diner to borrow money from Shelley.  Then she goes outside and snorts cocaine with Steve.  Lynch’s camera gives us a close-up of Becky’s face as the drugs temporarily takes away all of her problems.  In this scene, not only does Becky look like Shelley’s daughter (Madchen Amick and Amanda Seyfried really do look like they could be related) but there’s also a disconcerting resemblance to Laura Palmer as well.

(Also, remember how Shelley used to say that she married Leo because of his car?  Well, Steve has a corvette of his own.)

Back in Vegas, Dougie/Cooper is still acting weird.  He doesn’t understand that, when riding an elevator, you’re supposed to get off when the doors open.  Some people get upset with him about that but Dougie/Cooper is more interested in going outside and staring at that statue.  Of course, Dougie/Cooper is still holding onto those case files.

At the Sheriff’s Department, Andy (Harry Goaz) and Hawk (Michael Horse) go through the Laura Palmer case files, searching for what’s missing.

In his trailer, Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) goes live online, delivering a rant about globalist corporate conspiracies and selling his gold-painted shovels so that his listeners can “dig yourself out of the shit.”  Nadine (Wendy Robie) and Jerry (David Patrick Kelly) listen appreciatively.

At the Pentagon, Col. Davis (Ernie Hudson) is informed that they’ve gotten another “database hit” on Garland Briggs’s fingerprints.  Apparently, in the years since his mysterious death, Briggs’s finger prints have shown up in 16 different locations.

At the Roadhouse, the kickass band Trouble is playing.  Meanwhile, a handsome but dangerous looking man (Eamon Farren) sits under a sign that says no smoking and smokes a cigarette.  When a Roadhouse employee tells him to put out his cigarette, the man hands over a pack of cigarettes.  Inside the pack are several hundred dollar bills.  So, apparently, the Roadhouse is still the center of the Twin Peaks drug trade.

When Charlotte (Grace Victoria Cox) tries to flirt with him, the man suddenly turns violent, grabbing her and taunting her with, “Do you want to fuck me, Charlotte?  Do you want to fuck?  I’m going to laugh when I fuck you, bitch!”  It’s a deeply unpleasant scene, as Lynch obviously meant for it to be.

The man’s name is not mentioned but, according to the end credits, he’s Richard Horne.  Presumably, he’s a member of the infamous Horne Family.  Is he a cousin?  Or maybe Jerry’s kid?  Or, even more intriguingly, Audrey’s son?  Whatever he is, Richard is bad news.

(And let’s not forget that, way back at the start of Part One, the Giant told Cooper to remember “Richard and Linda.”)

At FBI Headquarters, Tamara (Chrysta Bell) compares the finger prints of both Cooper and his Doppelganger.

At the South Dakota prison, Doppelganger Cooper finally gets his phone call.  The warden (James Morrison) thinks that they’ll be able to listen in on the call but Doppelganger Cooper has other plans.  After taunting everyone listening, Cooper pushes several keys on the phone, which somehow causes every alarm in the prison to go off.  While the warden tries to restore order, Doppelganger Cooper says, into the phone, “The cow’s jumped over the moon.”  As soon as Doppelganger Cooper hangs up, the alarms fall silent.

In Argentina, the black box changes into a small ring.

In Vegas, Dougie/Cooper continues to stare at the statue.

And so, the latest episode ends.  The story may be moving at its own pace but I can’t wait to see where else it leads.

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)

 

 

 

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


David Lynch as Gordon Cole

It seems appropriate that there should be a picture of David Lynch at the top of this recap.  There’s a lot of good things to be said about the third and fourth “parts” of Twin Peaks but ultimately, these two hours are all about Lynch and his unique vision.

This is especially true of the first 20 minutes of Part 3.  This is Lynch at his best.  Unconcerned with the traditional rules of narrative, Lynch creates an extended nightmare, one that sticks in your head long after the show itself has moved on.

Much as how Eraserhead started in space, with a hideously scarred man pushing and pulling the levers that eventually created that film’s mutant baby, Part 3 opens with Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) falling through darkness, plunging into a purple cloud.  When Cooper lands, it’s in a purple-tinted world that immediately made me think of the final scene in Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond.

Cooper is standing outside a house, looking out over what appears to be a purple ocean.  When Cooper enters the house, he finds a woman.  She is wearing a red dress and her eyes are sewn shut.  The first time I saw this, I assumed that the woman was meant to be Ruth Davenport, mostly because Ruth was found without eyes.  However, Ruth is not listed in the end credits.  For that matter, neither is the eyeless woman.

Cooper asks where they are but the woman cannot speak.  Perhaps she has lost her tongue, as well as her eyes.  Suddenly, someone starts to pound on the door.  The woman holds her finger to her lips, telling Cooper to be silent.

Cooper sees what appears to be a safe on the wall but, when he tries to approach it, the blind woman steps in front of him and pushes him back.  As the pounding continues, the woman leads Cooper to another door and then up a ladder.

And suddenly, Cooper and the woman are standing in outer space.  The house has now become a satellite, hovering in the star-filled sky.  As the pounding continues on the soundtrack, the woman tries to speak but Cooper cannot understand what she’s saying.  Suddenly, the woman pulls down a lever, apparently electrocuting herself before falling off the satellite and disappearing into space.

Suddenly, Cooper sees the face of Major Garland Briggs (Don S. Davis) floating underneath him.  “Blue Rose,” Briggs says.

(In Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, it was suggested that the FBI refers to paranormal cases as being “Blue Rose cases.”)

Cooper reenters the satellite.  He finds himself back in the house.  There is now a second woman and those familiar with the show will recognize her as being played by Phoebe Augustine, the same actress who played Ronette Pulaski in the earlier seasons of the show.  If Augustine playing Ronette here?  It’s hard to say.  Her character is listed as being “American Girl.”  Cooper does not seem to recognize her but, then again, he also hesitated before recognizing Laura Palmer during Part One.  Being in the Black Lodge for 25 years can’t be good for one’s memory.

Cut to Doppelganger Cooper, driving down a South Dakota highway.  At the same time that the real Cooper is once again approaching the safe in the Space House, Doppelganger Cooper is having a seizure while driving.

In the Space House, American Girl/Ronette says, “When you get there, you will already be there.”

The pounding starts again.

“You better hurry,” American Girl/Ronette says, “my mother’s coming.”

Suddenly, Cooper is sucked into the safe, with only his shoes being left behind in the Space House.

In South Dakota, Doppelganger Cooper flips his car, crashing into a mountain.  Doppelganger Cooper survives but suddenly, he starts to throw up.  He puts his hand over his mouth and then sees the red curtains of the Black Lodge appearing before his car.

In an empty house located the Rancho Rosa development in Nevada, a dorky guy named Dougie Jones (Kyle MacLachlan) has just paid a prostitute named Jade (Nafessa Williams).  While Jade takes a shower, Dougie puts on a mustard yellow suit jacket and, judging by how ugly it is, I’m guessing that Dougie must be in real estate.  (Perhaps he works for Rancho Rosa, selling people suburban houses in the middle of the desert.)  Suddenly, Dougie grabs his stomach and collapses to the floor.

What follows is one of the grossest scenes ever as we cut back and forth between Dougie and the Doppelganger vomiting.  Seriously, this was one of the most grotesquely realistic vomiting scenes that I have ever seen.  I averted my eyes and covered my ears!  It was so gross.

At the same time that Dougie vanishes from the house, the red curtains in front of the Doppelganger’s car also vanishes.  But the Doppelganger is too busy throwing up to notice.  Again, I have to admit that I averted my eyes during most of this.  (I also realize that both Dougie and the Doppelganger were throwing up their essences, the stuff that allowed them to pretend to be human.  I don’t care.  The only thing I hate more than vomiting is watching other people vomit.)

Dougie is in the Black Lodge.  MIKE (Al Strobel) doesn’t appear to be too happy to see him.  MIKE explains that someone manufactured Dougie.  I’m assuming that the Doppelganger created Dougie so that, if Cooper ever escaped from the Black Lodge, he would take over Dougie’s existence instead of the Doppelganger’s.  “That’s weird,” Dougie says, as he his hand wastes away.  Then Dougie’s head vanishes, replaced by a black cloud of smoke.

Back at the house, another black cloud comes out of an electrical outlet.  Soon, the cloud forms into Cooper.  Cooper lies on the floor, next to Dougie’s vomit (ewwww!) until Jade yells at him that they have to get out of the house.

Apparently in a state of shock, Cooper silently follows Jade out of the house.  After being locked away in the Black Lodge, it appears that Cooper no longer quite remembers how to be human.  Or maybe he’s not really human at all anymore.  All I know is that he’s acting strange and, as brilliant as Kyle MacLachlan is, I do kind of hope the old Cooper returns at some point soon.

Because Dougie/Cooper doesn’t have his car keys (though he does still have his room key from the Great Northern), Jade gives him a ride into Vegas.  Two gangster types watch as Jade drives off.  One of them has a rifle.  The other has a bomb.  Apparently, they work for someone to whom Dougie’s owes money.  Because Cooper leans down to pick up his room key, the one with the rifle does not spot him in Jade’s car.  The other places the bomb under Dougie’s car, which is still sitting outside of the empty house.

While this happens, a woman — listed in the credits as being “Drugged-Up Mother” and played by Hailey Gates — is shouting “One one nine!  One one nine!” while her son watches on the couch.

In South Dakota, two troopers approach the Doppelganger’s car.  One of them catches whiff of the vomit and collapses to the ground, physically ill.

At the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department, Hawk (Michael Horse), Andy (Harry Goaz), and Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) look through all the evidence that was collected in the Palmer case.  Andy says that he and Lucy can’t find out what’s missing.  “If it’s here,” Hawk replies, “how can it be missing?”

As Hawk recites what the Log Lady told him — that something is missing and that the way he’ll find it has to do with his heritage — Lucy freaks out when she spots an empty box of chocolate bunnies.  Many years ago, Lucy ate the bunny.

“Do chocolate bunnies have something to do with your heritage?” Andy earnest asks.

“IT’S NOT ABOUT BUNNIES!” Hawk snaps.  Then, “Is it about the bunny? …. No, it’s not about the bunny.”

Meanwhile, off in the middle of nowhere, Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) spray paints the ladders that were delivered to him at the start of Part One.

In Vegas, Jade drops Dougie/Cooper off at a casino.  Dougie/Cooper has been reduced to just repeating back phrases that other people say to him but no one seems to notice.  Still, when Jade tells Dougie/Cooper that he can “go now,” Dougie/Cooper has a flashback to Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) saying the same thing.

The casino, with its combination of glitz and the grotesque, brings out the best in Lynch.  As Dougie/Cooper wanders through the casino — which is populated by typical Lynchian characters — he notices that he can see the red curtains of the Black Lodge floating over certain slot machines.   Cooper pulls the levers, hitting jackpot after jackpot.  As the coins flood out of the machines, Cooper announces, “HELLO!”  Why?  Because he heard another gambler do it.  Dougie/Cooper is learning how to be human again.

When Dougie/Cooper walks away after having won another jackpot, leaving all of his coins on the floor, one old woman considers taking the coins for herself but then glances up at the camera on the ceiling — “and the eye in the sky watches us all,” to quote Casino — and thinks better of it.  Instead, she just asks Cooper to tell her which machines are about to hit.  She calls him Mr. Jackpot, which is kinda sweet.

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, the FBI is meeting and — oh my God!  It’s Gordon Cole (David Lynch), Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer), and Tamara Preston (Chrysta Bell).  (Preston will be familiar to anyone who has read Mark Frost’s The Secret History of Twin Peaks.)

They start out discussing a senator who has been accused of murdering his wife.  The senator says that he knows who did it but he can’t reveal the name because of “national security reasons.”  (Since this is taking place in 2014, I’m going to continue the Casino theme and assume that the senator was creepy old Harry Reid.)

Cole is more interested in hearing about the murders of Sam and Tracey in New York City.  It turns out that the cameras caught a picture of that demonic creature in the glass box.

Suddenly, a call comes in.  Cooper has been found and he’s in a South Dakota prison and … oh shit!  That’s not Cooper!  We know that’s the Doppelganger!  Regardless, Cole announces that he, Albert, and Tamara are going to South Dakota.  Albert says he can’t wait to see Mount Rushmore.

“The absurd mystery of the strange forces of existence,” Albert tells Tamara.  “How about a truck load of valium?”

Cut to The Cactus Blossoms, performing at the Roadhouse and announcing that Part Three is over.

Part Four opens with Dougie/Cooper still hitting jackpots and still chanting, “Hello!”  When the old woman who has been following him around hits a jackpot of her own, a small smile comes to Cooper/Dougie’s lips.

A friend of Dougie’s, Bill Shaker (Ethan Suplee), approaches and he and Dougie have a thoroughly superficial conversation.  Dougie/Cooper asks where his home is.  Bill assures him that he lives at Lancelot Court, in a house with a red door.  The house, Bill says, is near Merlin’s Market.  As Cooper/Dougie leaves to get a cab, Bill says, “I hope he’s okay.”

“I don’t think he’s okay,” Bill’s wife, the wonderfully named Candy Shaker (Sara Paxton) says.

Before Dougie/Cooper can leave to find the house with the red door, he is dragged to the office of the vaguely threatening casino manager (David Dastmalchian).  The manager gives Dougie/Cooper his winnings and then asks if he wants anything — like “companionship” — for the night.  “Think of us as your home away from home,” he says.  When Dougie/Cooper repeats that he wants to go home (his real home), the manager arranges for him to ride in a limo.

(It pays to be a winner.)

As the limo drives down Lancelot Court, the driver (Jay Larson) says that it might be hard to spot a red door at night.  However, he then sees the door and oh my God, is it ever red!  Dougie gets out of the limo and seems unsure what to do.  Fortunately, his wife — Janey-E (Naomi Watts) — comes out of the house and starts hitting him.  Apparently, Dougie has been missing for three days.  He even misses his son’s birthday party!  (Perhaps significantly, as everyone stands outside the house, an owl flies overhead.)

Fortunately, once they’re inside the house, Janey-E sees just how much money Dougie/Cooper won at the casino.

“Don’t tell me you hit the jackpot!” Janey-E says.

“Mr. Jackpot,” Dougie/Cooper says, pointing at himself.

“There’s enough here to pay them back!” Janey-E continues as she looks at the money, “This is the most wonderful day of my life!”

“Of my life,” Dougie/Cooper says.

“Yes,” Janey-E replies.

At FBI Headquarters, Cole has a meeting chief of staff Denise Bryson (David Duchovny).  Cole tells Denise about finding Cooper and says he’s going to South Dakota.  Denise is concerned about Cole traveling with Tamara.  “I know your profile, Gordon,” Denise explains, “Female agent.  Early 30s.”

“I’m old school,” Cole replies, “you know that.”

Cole reminds Denise that he defended her when she first transitioned.  He told everyone who had a problem with her to “Fix their hearts — or die!”

At the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department, Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster) enters the front lobby, which causes Lucy to scream and faint.  Apparently, Lucy was confused because she has just been talking to Frank on the phone and she can’t understand how Frank could be in two places at once.  Andy attempts to explain to her how cell phones work.  “You’re so good at your job,” Andy says, “in every other way…”

At the Sheriff’s Department, we learn a few interesting things:

First off, Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook), former drug dealer and murderer, is now a deputy, one who specializes in watching for drug dealers sneaking across the Canadian border.  (That’s something that Bobby should know a bit about.)  He also has gray hair and he cries when he sees a picture of Laura in the conference room.

Secondly, Major Garland Briggs died in a fire, a day after being the last person to see Dale Cooper.  (Presumably, Major Briggs actually saw Doppelganger Cooper.)

Third, Lucy and Andy’s son has grown up to be Wally Brando (Michael Cera).  Wally is a motorcycle enthusiast who has spent the last few years riding across the country.  Wally dresses like Marlon Brando in The Wild One and delivers a hilariously nonsensical monologue that is largely made up of pretentious references to different Brando roles.  What makes Wally’s scene so wonderful is the combination of Cera’s Brandoesque scenery chewing and Robert Forster’s deadpan reaction.

The next morning, in Vegas, Dougie/Cooper still can’t figure out how to do anything.  After spending 25 years in limbo, even urination is a new and scary experience for him.  Even when MIKE appears to tell him that he was tricked into leaving the Lodge and that either Dougie/Cooper and the Doppelganger must die, Dougie/Cooper looks confused.  Still, his son — the oddly named Sonny Jim (Pierce Gagnon) — is amused when his father eats breakfast with a tie wrapped around his head.

In South Dakota, the police investigating the murder of Ruth Davenport are shocked to discover that they can not access the identity of the owner of the finger prints that they took off of the male Joe Doe.  Apparently, it’s top secret.  “Military authorization required.”

Meanwhile, Cole, Albert, and Tamara are driving out to the South Dakota prison.  During the car ride, Cole complains that they’re not anywhere near Mount Rushmore but, luckily, Albert has brought a picture for him.  Meanwhile, Tamara has to ride with her head leaning out of the window because she gets car sick.

(I sometimes get car sick too.  That’s one reason why I never sit in the back seat.  I share your struggle, Tamara!)

At the prison, Cole, Albert, and Tamara meet with Warden Murphy (James Morrison).  When it is mentioned that the Doppelganger was throwing up poison, Murphy says, “Must have eaten locally.”  I love that line!

Anyway, the meeting with the Doppelganger doesn’t go well.  The Doppelganger, having thrown up whatever it was that allowed him to act human, is now speaking in a stiff and halting tone.  The Doppelganger claims that he’s spent the last 25 years working undercover for Philip Jeffries.  Haltingly, he says that he needs to be released so that Gordon can “debrief” him.  Stiffly, the Doppelganger attempts to give Gordon the thumbs up sign.

After the meeting, Cole and Albert agree that something was off about “Cooper.”  They agree that there’s one woman who can tell them if it’s really Cooper in prison.  Cole asks if Albert still knows where she lives.

“I know where she drinks,” Albert replies.

Who could Albert be talking about?  Audrey Horne?  Or maybe Sarah Palmer?  Sarah, after all, is psychic and appears to still have a drinking problem.

We’ll find out next week!  Until then, Parts 3 and 4 — along with Parts 1 and 2 — will continue to haunt my thoughts and dreams.

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 (dir by David Lynch)
  41. 10 Initial Thoughts About Twin Peaks: The Return Part Four (dir by David Lynch)

 

 

Film Review: Animals (dir by Collin Schiffli)


Animals

Animals is a pretty depressing movie and I guess that’s appropriate since it’s a movie about two heroin addicts.  The script was written by David Dastmalchian, who also plays the role of Jude.  Reportedly, he based the script on his own experiences with drug addiction.  As a result, Animals is one of those movies that is full of believable details.  I’ve never used heroin and I don’t think I ever would.  However, even if there was a chance that I would touch heroin, Animals would probably change my mind.  It’s a seriously dark movie.

And don’t get me wrong — that’s a good thing.  If you’re going to make a movie about two people slowly killing themselves as a result of their drug addiction, the movie probably should be a bit on the dark side.  But, at the same time, that doesn’t necessarily make Animals a lot of fun to watch.

The film tells the story of Jude and his girlfriend, Bobbie (Kim Shaw).  They both come from upper middle class backgrounds, they’re both obviously well-educated (it’s suggested that Jude may have gone to medical school), and — even in the throes of drug addiction — they’re both still attractive enough that they can still blend in with “mainstream” society.  As we see, in a handful of flashbacks, they once owned a comfy apartment together.  Now, they live in a car that they park outside of the Chicago Zoo.  Jude and Bobbie spend most of their time trying to figure out how they’re going to make enough money to get their next fix.

And the best parts of the film are the parts that deal with Jude and Bobbie tricking unsuspecting people out of their money.  As tedious as Jude and Bobbie’s addiction-centered existence may sometimes be, it’s hard not to admire their determination.  Their schemes range from the simple to the complex.  They go to weddings and steal the gifts.  Pretending to be a high-priced online prostitute, Bobbie goes to men’s houses and, after grabbing their money, runs outside where Jude waits for her in a running car.  (Needless to say, none of the men are willing to risk the public shame of calling the police and admitting to how they met Bobbie in the first place.)  Probably their most impressive scheme involves tricking a mall security guard into splitting the reward money for finding a stolen laptop.  Jude and Bobbie are so good at cheating people that you do end up regretting that they couldn’t put their obviously intelligence to less self-destructive uses.

Eventually, of course, one of the two has an overdose and gets taken to the hospital.  For the first time, the two of them are separated and forced to realize just how destructive and co-dependent their relationship really is.  Will they stay apart and get clean or will true love (and heroin addiction) conquer all?

There’s a really harrowing scene in which Jude and Bobbie are harassed by some undercover cops who turns out to be just as brutal as the drug dealers that they claim to be fighting.  And both Shaw and Dastmalchian give good performances.  Even John Heard gets to play a character who isn’t a scheming and corrupt government official.  There’s a lot to admire about the film but, ultimately, it’s so dark and depressing that it’s difficult to recommend.  Unlike a film like Trainspotting, there’s not much going on underneath the grimy surface.  On the basis of their work here, I’ll watch anything else that Schiffli, Shaw, and Dastmalchian do but Animals is one of those films where one viewing is more than enough.

Quick Review: Marvel’s Ant-Man (dir. by Peyton Reed)


Marvel's Ant-Man

*** Wait a minute! Before checking this out, be sure to read TrashFilmGuru’s thoughts on Ant-Man and then if you like, double back here. Two opinions are better than one! ***

I walked into Ant Man with a bias.

As a fan of Edgar Wright, his departure on the film due to creative differences left me wondering if it was worth seeing. Mix that with the idea that Marvel diverged from the character’s comic book origins for a better fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it all seemed like a recipe for failure. This was going to be the Cars 2 of the MCU, I was sure of it.

Ant-Man isn’t as large a tale as Captain America: The First Avenger or as star spanning as Guardians of the Galaxy. At times, it feels like it the story would be better suited for an extended Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Crossover or a Netflix one shot instead of a big screen event. It actually reminded me of Jon Favreau’s Iron Man in many ways, back when all of this was so small that audiences weren’t searching for tie-ins to next film in the line up or homages to The Story So Far. Ant-Man comes with the MCU connections (and comic book ones too), but if you walk in expecting revelations as big as Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the film may be a disappointment. It’s just a hero, and idea that even small actions can have big effects. It’s easily the film’s greatest strength, that it’s so personal. The film’s best components are it’s casting (particularly in House of Cards & The Strain’s Corey Stoll and Fury’s Michael Pena), and the effects themselves. It’s a movie that’s well worth the 3D treatment, if you can catch it that way.

Ant-Man focuses on Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a former thief who is just trying to spend more time with his daughter, or at least be a hero in her eyes. Scott ends up meeting with Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) who brings him on board for a job that just happens to cover his particular skill set. The job comes with a special suit that allows Lang to shrink down to about the size of an Ant, while at the same time allowing him to be much stronger. When Pym’s protege and rival Cross (Stoll) discovers another way to possibly make the shrink ability work, it’s up to Lang to try to stop the progress.

The film had 4 writers during it’s creation. It had Edgar Wright, who many moviegoers know from the Cornetto Trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End) and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Adam McKay worked with Rudd in the past on the Anchorman films, and was responsible for Talladega Nights & Step Brothers. Both McKay and Rudd had a hand in writing Ant-Man. Finally, Attack the Block’s Joe Cornish was on board. The end result of all this is a film with a great deal of comedy influences in it, though not all of them hit the mark. I felt there were at least 2 moments in the film where Rudd’s character had a one liner that just didn’t hit the mark, or elicit a response from the audience. This isn’t a terrible thing, at most it’s just nitpicking. Overall, you could consider Ant-Man a comic caper with superhero moments.

Additionally, the writers had to also figure out how to make the character of Dr. Hank Pym useful in a storyline where one of his biggest arcs in the comics – creating Ultron – was already handled in a previous story. I like to think this was handled pretty well, as comic readers will already recognize Scott Lang as being the 2nd Ant-Man – or least this is what I learned from the Marvel Encyclopedia. They’ve managed to keep familiar storylines in place while still anchoring it to the larger tale at hand.

The performances in Ant-Man are good, though it’s the co-stars that potentially steal the film from the leads. Lang’s heist buddies, played by David Dastmalchian (The Dark Knight), Cliff “T.I.” Harris (Takers), and Michael Pena (Fury) were indeed funny in this. Pena in particular stood out as someone who gets ahold of information through some pretty wild sources. Michael Douglas was a strange pick for me when I first heard about it, but he’s actually a fantastic fit for the whole story. Evangeline Lilly looked like she had a lot of fun with this, though her character served as a second mentor for Lang. I wanted to see her do a bit more in the film, actually. Bobby Canavale (Chef, Third Watch) and Judy Greer (Jurassic World) both have nice supporting roles in this.

Corey Stoll has played an ass so much on-screen that I’m not entirely sure he isn’t that way off camera. Between Non-Stop, House of Cards, Midnight in Paris and now Ant-Man, he’s plays the kind of characters that were historically set aside for character actors like Jeff Kober or Michael Ironside. Honestly, they couldn’t have made a better choice here. Cross comes off like a variant of Iron Man’s Odebiah Stane, resentful, evil, and maybe a little crazed. Rudd, on the other hand, handles the Hero’s Journey with ease, bringing his own sense of comedy that works almost as well as it did for Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s not perfect, but the character’s lighthearted nature is a good contrast from the serious gloom and doom that most of the Avengers are going through these days, and I feel Rudd did well here.

That’s another aspect of Ant-Man that needs to be recognized. The story in this may have a larger impact in things to come, but it felt really compact. Since the focus on the story involves Lang getting back to his daughter and stopping this one small thing, it takes a step back from the escalation we’ve been getting in previous MCU films. To me, since Phase Two started, every film’s been a stepping stone with at least one huge revelation somewhere that shows this is all much bigger than any one hero can take on. Discovery of the Infinity Stones, the big reveal of S.H.I.E.L.D. In the Winter Soldier and the events in Age of Ultron cover a large area. Maybe it’s better to say that they have an impact that’s covers a wide distance. With Ant-Man being the first film of Phase Three, it feels almost as if a step back it taken to something more personal. It’s not bad, but it’s different. It has the potential to leave viewers with a bad taste in their mouths if they were expecting something grand.

The effects in Ant-Man are good, really, really sweet. Quite honestly, it may be one of the first times where I haven’t found myself annoyed by what I call “The Zoic Effect” – that technique used in almost every film these days where you’re watching something and the director decides “Hey, let’s do a maximum level quick zoom on that target right there!”, because there’s a chance the audience might not see the subject. I believe Zoic Studios were the first to do that with Firefly and Battlestar Galactica, though I could be wrong. In Ant-Man, that rapid intense zoom is almost a welcome requirement when watching a little figure run and leap up and over objects. Add a 3D effect to all that, and I found myself enjoying that on the big screen. From a directing standpoint, it’s all very straightforward and you get an idea of the influences from all of the writers involved. Still, Peyton Reed (Down With Love) keeps from the film from straying too far away from it’s intended focus. Additionally, though the help of CGI, Disney/Marvel was able to digitize a younger Michael Douglas, and the look of this was even better than what they accomplished with Jeff Bridges in Tron: Legacy.

Overall, Ant-Man is a great addition to the MCU and on it’s own, it’s strong. I suppose Thor will still have to stay as the Cars 2 of that movie library. Note to viewers: If you’re planning to see this, be sure to stay until after the end credits. There’s a mid scene during the credits and one at the very end.

Ant-Man Keeps the Marvel Train Moving Along


Ant-Man

Will Marvel Studios have it’s first misstep when Ant-Man arrives in theaters this July? Or will it surpass many people’s expectations the way Guardians of the Galaxy did when it came out late summer of 2014? These are questions that fans and critics alike have been pondering since the rather underwhelming teaser trailer which was released earlier this year.

Now, with Avengers: Age of Ultron just weeks away from bulldozing over everything in it’s way it looks like Marvel and Disney have turned their attention to getting the Ant-Man hype train up to speed. If any film needs some fueling up it would be this one which has had a more than contentious production. It loses it’s original director in Edgar Wright after he and the heads at Marvel Studios (Kevin Feige) disagreed on how to proceed with the film. The search for a director to replace Wright became a game of which comedic filmmaker would pass on the project next (Peyton Reed finally was the last man standing).

When the teaser finally came out the tone it gave seemed too serious for a film that was being billed as a sort of action-comedy or, at the very least, an action film that included more than the usual comedic beats than past films in the MCU.

Today we see the first official trailer for Ant-Man and gone is the super serious tone of the teaser and in comes a mixture of action and comedy. It’s a trailer that actually gives us an idea of the sort of powers the title character has outside of being just being tiny. Then we get more than just a glimpse of Scott Lang’s main antagonist with Corey Stoll in the role of Darren Cross aka Yellowjacket.

Maybe this film will still end up giving Marvel Studio it’s very first black-eye, but this trailer goes a major way in making sure it doesn’t happen.

Ant-Man is set for a July 17, 2015 release date.