TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return Part 9 (dir by David Lynch)


As I watched Part 9 of Twin Peaks on Showtime tonight, it occurred to me that there really are only two types of people in the world.

There are people who love Twin Peaks.

And there are people who hate Twin Peaks and therefore, really don’t matter.

The problem is that, despite not being that important, that second group of people tends to be very vocal.  They really want you to know how much they hate Twin Peaks.  It’s funny to listen to them because you can tell that they think they’re being truth tellers.  They think that they — and they alone — have the guts to admit the truth about Twin Peaks.

They remind me of this idiot who was in a Literature class that I took at the University of North Texas.  Not only did she loudly announce that she would not be reading Lolita but she also said, “Would anyone actually read this book if this class didn’t force them to!?”

(She really seemed to think she was the first person to ever ask that very simple-minded question.)

Seriously, some people are so fucking stupid.  Fortunately, for the rest of us, there was a new episode of Twin Peaks tonight!  Here’s what happened!

Things open in the present day.  We are no longer in 1956 and, I have to admit, I was kind of relieved to see that.  As much as I loved and was intrigued by Part 8, there was also a part of me that was worried that Lynch would spent the next 4 episodes following the Woodsman around as he asked random people, “Got a light?”

(Make no mistake.  If Lynch had gone in that direction, I would have happily watched all four of those episodes.  Though I may not always understand his intentions, I have total faith in Lynch as an artist.)

Doppelganger Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) walks down a country road, still covered in blood.  He spots a red bandana sitting on a fence post and, with a look of disgust on his face, snatches it.

Above South Dakota, Gordon (David Lynch), Tammy (Chrysta Bell), Albert (Miguel Ferrer), and Diane (Laura Dern) sit on a plane.  Albert and Diane sleep.  Gordon talks on the phone with Colonel Davis, while Tammy listens.  Davis tells Gordon that the body (if not the head) of Major Garland Briggs has been found in Buckhorn.

“I don’t appreciate your language at all!” Gordon shouts back.

No, Gordon — BUCKhorn!

(It’s a corny joke, to be honest.  But, as an actor, David Lynch sells the Hell out of it.  There’s something undeniably charming about how much fun Lynch seems to be having in the role of Gordon Cole.)

Back on the ground, Doppelganger Cooper meets two of his associates, Chantel (Jennifer Jason Leigh, returning for the first time since Part Two) and Gary “Hutch” Hutchens (Tim Roth!).  They have apparently commandeered a farm.  Gary tells Doppelganger Cooper that the farm’s owners are “out back.  Sleepin’.”

Meanwhile, back on the plane, Gordon tells Diane that they’re making a stop in Buckhorn, South Dakota.  “Fuck you!” Diane replies, “I want to go home.”  However, Gordon reveals that it’s a blue rose case.

While Gordon is explaining to the pilot that they’ll be making an unscheduled stop, he gets a call from Warden Murphy (James Morrison.)

“Cooper flew the coop!” Gordon announces and, again, Lynch delivers it with such unapologetic gusto that you can’t help but love both the director and the character.

Back at the farm, Chantel and Doppelganger Cooper walk around back and we see an old couple laying dead on the ground.  As Chantel watches, Doppelganger puts in a call to Duncan Todd (Patrick Fischler) in Las Vegas.  He asks if Dougie is dead.  When Todd replies, “Not yet,” Doppelganger tells him, “It better be done the next time I call.”

Hutch brings the Doppelganger a rifle and a box of bullets.  The Doppelganger tells Hutch that he wants the Warden dead within the next two days and then he has a “double header for you in Las Vegas.”  Hutch then tells Chantel, who is apparently his wife, to “give the bossman a wet one.”  Doppelganger and Chantel share a passionate kiss.

(What’s interesting is that the Doppelganger actually seems to sincerely like both Hutch and Chantel.  He even calls Chantel “sweetheart.”)

This is actually from Part 6 but it’s the Fuscos!

At the Las Vegas Police Department, my favorite detectives — the Fuscos (Eric Edelstein, Dave Koechner, and Larry Clarke) — are asking Bushnell (the wonderfully distinguished Don Murray) if he can think of anyone who would want to harm either Dougie or Janey-E (Naomi Watts).  Bushnell says no, though tempers do run high in the insurance business.  He also mentions that Dougie has been working for him for 12 years and that he can occasionally seem slow because of the lingering effects of a car accident.

My favorite Fusco — Smiley Fusco — starts to giggle.

Out in the hallway, Dougie and Janey-E sit on a bench and wait,  Bushnell approaches and tells the blank-faced Dougie/Cooper that he can take the rest of the day off.  Janey-E says that’s great.  She needs to get him to a doctor, anyway.  Meanwhile, Dougie/Cooper stares, entranced first by an American flag and then on a random secretary who is wearing the same type of red high heels that Audrey Horne used to wear.  Finally, he stares at an electrical socket and we’re reminded that the residents of the Black Lodge often travel through electrical currents.

Meanwhile, in their office, the Fuscos discuss the fact that there is no legal record of Dougie Jones even existing before 1997.  Could he be in witness protection?  D. Fusco has a friend at the Justice Department that he says he can call.  The Fuscos then start to talk about broken taillights, which leads to Smiley Fusco giggling.  Soon, all the Fuscos are laughing!  Good times!

But it’s not all fun and games.  D. Fusco also takes Dougie/Cooper a cup of coffee, the better to get his finger prints and his DNA.

Speaking of fingerprints, another officer announces that the prints off that gun have come back!  It belonged to Ike the Spike ( Christophe Zajac-Denek), who has apparently been tracked down to a cheap motel.  The Fuscos rush to the motel to “join the fun.”  The police catch Ike just as he’s leaving his motel room.  Smiley Fusco starts to giggle.

At the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department, Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) and Andy (Harry Goaz) shop for furniture online.  Lucy wants a beige chair.  Andy wants a red chair.  Andy says that they can get the beige chair so Lucy orders the red chair.  They’re so cute!

At the Horne House, Johnny Horne (Eric Rondell, who I guess is replacing Robert Bauer in the role) slams his head into a wall, crashing to the floor and leaving a bloody hole in the plaster.  Sylvia Horne (Jan D’Arcy) cries over Johnny’s body.

Deputy Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook) drops in on his mother (Charlotte Stewart), the wife of the late Garland Briggs.  Bobby, however, does not come alone.  He has brought Truman (Robert Forster) and Hawk (Michael Horse) with him.  They ask her about Cooper’s final visit with Major Briggs, the visit that occurred the day before Briggs’s mysterious death.

Mrs. Briggs says that she’s not surprised.  Before his death, Major Briggs told her that, one day, Truman, Hawk, and Bobby would ask her about Special Agent Dale Cooper.  Mrs. Briggs says that the Major told her to give them something when they asked, a black tube that she has apparently been hiding in a chair for over 25 years.

What follows is a truly brilliant piece of acting from Charlotte Stewart, who previously starred in Lynch’s very first film, Eraserhead.  Mrs. Briggs’s monologue, with it’s unapologetic mix of melodrama and sentiment, feels like a throw back to the old Twin Peaks.  she explains that Major Briggs somehow always knew that Bobby would grow up to be a better man then he was at the time of the Major’s death.

At the Bucktorn morgue, Gordon, Tammy, Diane, and Albert meet with Knox (Adele Rene) and Macklay (Brent Briscoe).  When Diane lights a cigarette, she deals with Macklay’s objections by pointing out that “It’s a fucking morgue!”  After everyone else leaves to look at the Major’s headless body, Diane looks at a message on her phone: “AROUND THE DINNER TABLE.  THE CONVERSATION IS LIVELY.”

Meanwhile, Macklay gets Gordon, Tammy, and Albert up to date on what’s been happening in the Bill Hasting case.  Apparently, his lawyer — George — was arrested for the murder of Bill’s wife.  (We, of course, know she was actually killed by the Doppelganger.)  The day after, Bill’s secretary was killed by a car bomb.

“What’s happening in season 2?” Albert asks, a cheerful acknowledgement of the fact that Twin Peaks started out as a deliberately over the top nighttime soap opera.

As they stand over the Major’s headless body, Macklay goes on to explain that Bill and Ruth Davenport were working on “some strange little blog about an alternate dimension.”  Apparently, in his final post, Bill wrote, “Today we entered the Zone and we met the Major…”  Meanwhile, the coroner (Jane Adams) shows them the ring that she found in the Major’s stomach.  She reads the inscription, “To Dougie, Love Janey-E.”

In Twin Peaks, Jerry (David Patrick Kelly) is still stoned and lost in the wilderness.  He looks down at his shoes and hears a voice: “I am not your foot.”  Is Jerry just really high or has his foot been possessed by something from the Black Lodge?

At the Sheriff’s Department, everyone is on their lunch break.  Everyone but Truman, Bobby, and Hawk.  They’re too busy trying to open that black tube.  Fortunately, Bobby knows how to do it.  (It basically involves throwing it down on the ground several times.)  Inside the tube are two small pieces of paper.  The first features a drawing of the two mountains (the literal twin peaks) and the following directions: “253 yards, east of Jack Rabbit’s Palace.  Before leaving Jack Rabbit’s Palace, put some soil from that area in your pocket.”  There are also two dates (10/1 and 10/2) and a time (2:53).  Truman says that’s two days from now.

Bobby laughs, saying his father has apparently set all of this up so that he can be the hero.  Apparently, Bobby knows exactly where Jack Rabbit’s Palace is because his father used to take him there when he was a little kid.  It’s a place in the wilderness where they went to “make up stories.”  Bobby was even the one who named the place Jack Rabbit’s Palace.

“He saw all this,” Truman says, “whatever this is.”

On the second piece of paper are a series of numbers and two words: “Cooper/Cooper.”

“Two Coopers,” Hawk says.

Back in South Dakota, Diane is joined outside by Gordon and Tammy.  They watch Diane smoke.  Gordon takes a puff off the cigarette.  It’s a classic Lynch scene, one that turns social awkwardness into an art form.

Later, as Gordon, Albert, Diane, and Macklay watch, Tammy talks to Bill Hasting (Matthew Lillard).  Bill does not appear to be adjusting well to prison.  He will not stop sobbing.  Tammy asks him about his blog, “Search for the Zone.”  Bill explains that Ruth was very good at discovering hidden records.  She could pinpoint the exact time and the exact place where they would be able to enter another dimension.  Bill says that he and Ruth met the Major in another dimension.  The Major was “hibernating” but he wanted to go to a different place and he asked Bill and Ruth to get him the “coordinates” of a secret military base.  Bill says that they got the numbers but then “something terrible happened.”  Others entered the dimension and attacked the Major and demanded to know the name of his Bill’s wife.

Tammy interrupts to show Bill six pictures and she asks him to identify the Major.  Bill points to a picture of Garland Briggs.  Bill then says that, after they gave him the coordinates, the Major floated up in the air and said two words: “Cooper, Cooper…”  It was beautiful, Bill says.  And then Ruth was dead and then suddenly, Bill woke up in his own house.

“I want to go scuba diving,” Bill wails.

Watching the scene, Albert says, “Fruitcake, anyone?”

That night, at the Great Northern, Ben (Richard Beymer) and Beverly (Ashley Judd) are still listening to the strange humming in his office.  (Ben doesn’t seem to be too concerned about Johnny smashing his head into a wall earlier that day.)  Then, in a totally surprising turn of events, Ben tells Beverly that he can’t have an affair with her.

“You’re a good man, Ben,” Beverly replies, reminding us that she’s still relatively new to town.

At the Roadhouse, two apparent meth heads have a conversation.  One complains that she has a “wicked rash” under her arm pit.

And our episode ends with another haunting musical performance, this time from Au Revoir, Simone.

Obviously, this episode will not get as much attention as Part 8.  This is a much more straight forward episode, or at least as straight forward as Twin Peaks is ever going to get.  That said, after the high of Part 8, I was happy to get this rather normal episode.  Not only did it reintroduce us to some characters and actors who I thought we may never see again (like Jennifer Jason Leigh and Matthew Lillard) but it also linked up several of the storylines that have been developing since Twin Peaks: The Return began.  With this episode, David Lynch assured us that he does have a destination in mind.

I can’t wait to see where he’s taking us.

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)

Film Review: Baby Driver (dir by Edgar Wright)


Baby Driver, the new film from director Edgar Wright, is awesome!

That’s the succinct way of putting it and, if you really want to fully enjoy this film, I suggest that you stop reading this review now. There’s no way that a review cannot, to a certain extent, spoil a movie.  Baby Driver is a kinetic blend of action, comedy, romance, and music and it is a movie that you should see without any preconceived notions and expectations.  It’s a movie that earns the right to surprise you with just how good and entertaining it is.  It’s a movie that you should experience fresh.

So, go see the movie.  Seriously, go right now.  GET OUT OF HERE AND SEE THE MOVIE!  This review will still be waiting for you when you get back.  Who knows?  Maybe, while you’re watching the movie, I’ll actually correct some of the typos.  Or maybe not.

Anyway, go away.  I’ll wait for you to return.

la dee da la dee da…

Okay, did you see the movie?  It’s really great, isn’t it?

As a result of the childhood car accident that killed his parents, Baby (Ansel Elgort) has been left with a permanent case of tinnitus.  He uses music to drown out the constant ringing in his ears.  There’s almost never a time that Baby isn’t listening to his ipod.  When we first see Baby, he’s sitting behind the wheel of a car, singing along with Jon Spencer and the Blues Explosion.  The second time that we see him, he’s getting coffee while listening to Harlem Shuffle.  In a delirious homage to Singin’ In The Rain (and in a scene that puts the opening traffic jam of La La Land to shame), Baby literally dances across the streets of Los Angeles.  For Baby, every day is a musical.

Of course, Baby doesn’t just use music to block out the ringing.  He also uses the music (and an ever-present pair of sunglasses) to keep the world out.  He rarely speaks or even makes eye contact and, as long as he’s listening to his ipod, he has an excuse not to interact.  He doesn’t have to explain the small scars around his eyes or how he makes his money.  The few times that he does speak to people, it’s to record their voices, which he then turns into music.  Music and the driving are the only two ways this orphan can express his feelings.

When the movie begins, Baby appears to be close to only two men.  One is his deaf foster father, Joseph (CJ Jones).  Baby lives with Joseph, in an apartment where Baby regularly stashes thousands of dollars.  Joseph always watches in disapproval as Baby hides the money under the floorboards.  Joseph signs at Baby that he deserves better than the life he’s leading.  Baby always signs back that he’s only a few jobs away from being done.

Baby’s other father figure is Doc (Kevin Spacey).  Doc is a rich and connected man.  At times, he seems to sincerely care about Baby but there are other times when Doc is just as quick to threaten to kill him and everyone that he loves.  Doc plans bank robberies for a living.  Doc may change associates from robbery to robbery but one thing always remains consistent.  Baby is always his driver because Baby is the best.  As Doc explains it, the first time he saw Baby, he was stealing Doc’s Mercedes.  Baby drives for Doc as a way of paying off his debt to the older man but you still believe Baby’s sincerity when he tells Doc, “We’re a team.”  (One the film’s best throw-away jokes is the line where Doc reveals that he knows where Baby got the idea to say that.)

Things start to change for Baby when he meets Debora (Lily James), a waitress who appears to love music just as much he does.  For Baby and Debora, it’s love at first sight but Doc has one more job that he needs Baby for.  It’s their most dangerous job yet and, making thing even more complicated, are the three people who Doc has recruited to work with Baby.  Buddy (Jon Hamm) is a former wall street banker who is eager to prove what a badass he is.  Darling (Eiza Gonzalez) is his wife, who enjoys talking about how many of their former partners have died.  And finally, there’s Bats (Jamie Foxx), a complete and total psycho who brags about never telling a single story that doesn’t end with someone getting killed.

Baby Driver is a propulsive blast of pure adrenaline, perhaps the closest that we will ever get to a genuine pulp musical.  The action scenes left me literally breathless.  I saw the movie at the Alamo Drafthouse and, before the film started, there was a clip of Edgar Wright listing his favorite car chases.  He listed all of the usual suspects, Bullitt, The French Connection, Mad Max: Thunder Road.  The chases scenes in Baby Driver can proudly be listed next to all of those scenes.  This is genuinely exciting crime film, featuring wonderfully over-the-top turns from Foxx, Hamm, and especially Spacey.

But you know what?  Baby Driver may be a great action film but what makes it special is that it’s also a film with a heart.  Rather bravely, Edgar Wright has not only made an action musical but he’s also mixed in a very sincere and unabashedly sentimental love story.  You never doubt for a second that Baby would give up everything — music, driving, even his life — for Debora.  The scenes between Baby and Debora are almost deliriously romantic.  Ansel Elgort and Lily James both share a very likable and very real chemistry.  You want things to work out for Debora and Baby.  You feel like they belong together and, when it looks like either Baby or Debora might be in danger, you worry for both of them.  As exciting as the film’s action sequences were, it was the ending that brought tears to my eyes and that was almost totally due to the performances of Elgort and James.

Baby Driver is one of the best films that I’ve seen so far this year.  See it this weekend!  If you’ve already seen it, see it again!  This film deserves to be rewarded.

 

 

Playing Catch-Up With The Films of 2016: Elvis & Nixon (dir by Liza Johnson)


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When you think of actors who you could cast in a biopic of Elvis Presley, Michael Shannon is probably not the first actor who comes to mind.  And yet that’s just what the people behind Elvis & Nixon did.  They also cast Kevin Spacey as Richard Nixon, a decision that, on the surface, makes more sense than Shannon playing Elvis.

And yet, in the finished film, it’s Shannon who gives the memorable performance while Spacey often seems lost in the role of Nixon.  Fortunately, with Kevin Spacey’s role largely being an extended cameo, Michael Shannon is the one who is in nearly every scene of the movie.

Elvis and Nixon is based on a true story.  In 1970, Elvis Presley asked for a meeting with Richard Nixon who, if the film is to be believed, wasn’t quite sure who Elvis actually was.  It turns out that Elvis was very concerned about the growing popularity of illegal drugs.  In between consuming prodigious amounts of legal drugs, Elvis formulated a plan.  Perhaps he could go to the White House and convince Nixon to deputize him.  Elvis could be a special agent of the FBI.  Even more importantly, maybe Elvis could get a FBI badge.

So, was Elvis sincere or was he just crazy?  Elvis & Nixon walks a thin line between those two possibilities, suggesting that Elvis may have been a bit unblanced but he was also achingly sincere.  Michael Shannon plays Elvis as a man who is blissfully out-of-touch but who truly wants to make the world a better place.  As played by Shannon, Elvis is defined by ennui.   He may be the biggest star in the world but he still struggles with the feeling that he hasn’t accomplished anything.  This is a film that asks, “When you’ve reached top, where else can you do?”  Elvis wants to make the world a better place by combating the spread of drugs.

And he also really, really wants that badge.  There’s an almost child-like petulance to Shannon’s Elvis.  He may be sincere but he’s also very much used to getting whatever he wants.

For that matter, so is Nixon.  And Nixon really doesn’t want to visit with Elvis.  Of course, that’s before his White House aides mention that being seen with Elvis could help him with the youth vote when he runs for reelection.  And then his daughter says that she wants Elvis’s autograph….

Anyway, it all leads to a meeting in the Oval Office and a scene that would have worked better if Spacey’s performance as Nixon was a bit less of caricature.  That said, the scene still works because Michael Shannon totally invests himself in the role of Elvis.  When he’s talking to Nixon and showing off his karate moves, Elvis is happier than we’ve ever seen him.  He’s performing on the biggest stage of his career.

Elvis & Nixon came out earlier this year.  It’s an enjoyable film, even if it’s never quite as good as you might want it to be.  If nothing else, this film proves that Michael Shannon can pretty much do anything.

 

Horror Film Review: The Green Inferno (dir by Eli Roth)


The_Green_Inferno_poster

AGCK!

Seriously, it’s hard for me to think of any recent film that has made me cringe as much as Eli Roth’s cannibal epic, The Green Inferno.  A film about a bunch of Occupy activists who end up getting eaten by a native tribe in the jungles of Peru, The Green Inferno does not shy away from showing us all the icky cannibal action.  Eyes are scooped out of heads.  Heads are removed from bodies.  Flesh is ripped off of a bones.  Blood flows everywhere and …. well, let’s just say that I didn’t have much of an appetite after watching The Green Inferno.

And, to be honest, I have no idea whether or not the gore effects were realistic or not.  It always amuses me when some of my fellow film bloggers say, “That’s not what the inside of a human body really looks like.”  Like we would know!  Listen, I have no idea what it’s like to cook a human body and I never will.  It may have been realistic or it may not have been.  It doesn’t matter.  All I know is that, in a very visceral and frightening way, the effects worked.  They made me look away from the screen.  They inspired me to say, “Agck!” and I imagine that’s the exact response that Roth was going for.

If The Green Inferno was a box office success, I imagine that thousands of people would leave the movie and promptly google, “Can you get cannibals high by stuffing a baggie of marijuana in a dead body?”  (The Green Inferno certainly argues that you can but it also suggests that, once a cannibal tribe gets the munchies, bad things will happen as a result.)

However, I doubt that The Green Inferno is going to be a box office success, at least not during its theatrical run.  The film was originally made in 2013 and it’s taken two years for it to finally get a theatrical release and it’s pretty much being dumped into theaters with little fanfare.  Not surprisingly, it’s currently getting slammed by most mainstream critics and it’s hard to imagine anyone who doesn’t review films online waking up and spontaneously saying, “I want to see that movie about people being eaten alive!”  (Myself, I had no great desire to see it but I felt somewhat obligated, considering that I’m a self-described grindhouse fan and horror lover.)  Jeff and I saw The Green Inferno on Tuesday, at the Cinemark 14 in Denton, Texas.  The theater was nearly deserted.

And, in many ways, it is a difficult film to recommend, though that’s exactly what I’m doing.  It’s not an easy film to watch but it does what it does well.  Back in the day, many grindhouse films were advertised as being “a film that goes all the way” and, for better or worse, The Green Inferno goes all the way.  At a time when so many horror films are either watered down or just the usual found footage rehash, The Green Inferno is a film that actually made me squirm in my seat.  It’s a film that delivered exactly what it promised and that does count for something.  The Green Inferno is being advertised as being nightmare fuel and that’s exactly what it is.

(SPOILER ALERT!  READ NO FURTHER IF YOU’RE GOING TO WHINE ABOUT SPOILERS AS A RESULT!)

There’s an interesting and unexpected political subtext to The Green Inferno and, I would argue, that political subtext is exactly why so many online critics are having such a violently negative reaction to the film.  The Americans who end up getting eaten by the cannibals are all Occupy-style political activists.  The reason that they are in Peru is to protest a company that is chopping down the rain forests.  When they do their protest, they all wear masks (which makes the Occupy comparison obvious) and they use social media to make sure that the whole world is watching.  It’s only later, once the surviving activists are all locked away in a cage and waiting to be eaten, that they learn that their leader, the arrogant Alejandro, was actually working for a rival logging company.  And now, they’re desperately waiting for that rival company to show up, tear down the rain forest, and save their lives.

And, oh my God — some reviewers (mostly the ones that write at sites like the A.V. Club)  are so upset about this!  But, honestly, those reviewers are missing the point.  The Green Inferno is not attacking the politics of the activists.  Instead, the film is attacking the shallowness of the activists themselves.  Almost all of them are caucasian, all of them come from privileged backgrounds, and all of them are so high on their own self-righteousness that they don’t even realize that they’re being manipulated by the same system they claim to be destroying.  And, just like the college students who spent a few months doing the Occupy thing and then went on to get a job on Wall Street, they ultimately expect the system to protect them even as they play revolutionary.  At the end of the film, hundreds of new white, privileged protestors are wearing t-shirts decorated (Che-style) with Alejandro’s face.  It’s a deeply cynical vision of political activism but, in many ways, it’s far more realistic than a lot of people want to admit and it makes The Green Inferno a bit more interesting than your typical gore film.

(Add to that, there are thousands of movies about heroic political activists so what’s wrong with having one film where they all get eaten in the Amazon rain forest?  Seriously, it’s not the end of the world…)

Admittedly, the film does make a huge mistake.  It features a mid-credits scene which sets up a sequel.  (And a sequel was announced way back in 2013 but has apparently been abandoned.)  That mid-credits scene — which feels more appropriate for a Marvel film — is totally unnecessary.  There’s no need for a sequel.  The Green Inferno accomplishes exactly what it set out to do.

The Green Inferno’s Eye-Popping Red Band Clip


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It would be difficult to call Through the Shattered Lens a film blog that appreciates grindhouse filmmaking if we didn’t mention something about the cannibal subgenre of horror once in awhile.

Once a huge thing during the 70’s and right up to it’s demise during the early 1980’s, the cannibal films from Europe (especially by exploitation filmmakers from Italy) would compete with Italian giallo film and Euro-zombie knock-offs for on which one could be the most gory and grotesque. It was like a grand guignol royal rumble.

As founders of the site there’s one particular cannibal film that both Lisa and I have some sort of admiration for. This film is Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust. It would go down as one of the video nasties that kept the film as one that new fans of horror were told they must see if they were to complete their journey into the dark side.

After two years of distribution limbo, Eli Roth’s homage to the cannibal films of the 70’s and 80’s finally gets to show it’s wares up on the bigscreen and this red band clip will give audiences a brief taste of what to expect.

The Green Inferno is set for a September 25, 2015 release date.

Trailer: The Green Inferno (2nd Official)


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Ah, the Italian cannibal subgenre of grindhouse and exploitation films. It’s been awhile since we’ve had something like this. Sure, we’ve had cannibal-based films throughout the years with some even becoming cult hits (I look at Ravenous as an example), but not one that takes it’s setting and basic plot straight out of the cannibal films of the late 70’s and early 80’s from the Italian horror filmmakers of that era.

Eli Roth returns to directing after a seven years in hiatus to give horror fans a taste of the old-school cannibal flicks with his homage to Ruggero Deodato’s classic grindhouse film Cannibal Holocaust. The interesting bit about Roth’s film is how it’s title actually is part of the homage to Deodato’s film which was originally suppose to be called….The Green Inferno.

This is the second official trailer for The Green Inferno and it even uses a quaint, serene song to open it up the way Deodato’s film and trailer for said film does over thirty years ago. We don’t see much cannibal feasting going on, but it’s hinted at that it’s what’s for dinner.

Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno is set for an September 5, 2014 release date in the US.

Trailer: Green Inferno


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Let’s make it a triple-bill of trailers.

Here’s the first official trailer for Eli Roth’s first film in 6 years. It’s been awhile since we;ve had a proper cannibal film in the theaters and from the buzz coming out of the festival circuit this one could be something to keep a look out for.