Archive for David Lynch

I Understand

Posted in FILM, Mythology, Television with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2017 by dcairns

No I bloody don’t!

Still wrestling with Twin Peaks: The Return/Twin Peaks season 3, a show whose troubling ambiguities extend even to its title. Of course, you can’t SOLVE a David Lynch (& Mark Frost) mystery, and you’re not meant to. Except MULHOLLAND DR., which comes equipped with clues and Lynch helpfully told us where to look and a lot of the film DOES make a kind of sense when you apply them. but some bits still seem to have no logical reason to be there.

But I like puzzling things out. I even spent a certain amount of time trying to interpret MARIENBAD, and that one REALLY isn’t meant to be solved.

Who is Judy? I want to solve that one, for the sake of poor old Mr. C, who asks that question.

“You’ve already met Judy,” says Philip Jeffries, in the form of a big kettle. So, Judy was at some point known to Mr. C, or two BOB who is inside him, or to agent Cooper whose life he’s taken over. That narrows it down, but not by much. The three-in-one-meet a lot of people, some of whom even survive the experience.

Judy was first mentioned by Jeffries back in FIRE WALK WITH ME, when he was David Bowie. “We’re not going to talk about Judy,” he insisted. Well, you brought her up, mate. In episode 19 of The Return, FBI director Gordon Cole (Lynch himself) tells us that Judy is a corruption of Jowday, an extreme negative force he and Jeffries were investigating. OK, so probably not Lucy, then. And maybe not even female, as the name has apparently been distorted over the centuries.

In THE MISSING PIECES, a collection of outtakes from that movie — Twin Peaks‘ answer to TRAIL OF THE PINK PANTHER — we see Bowie in Buenos Aires, asking if Judy has checked into a hotel. An oddly mundane thing for an extreme negative force to do, but I suppose she/he/it has to sleep somewhere. But back when this was filmed, Judy was supposed to be the twin sister of Josie Packard (Joan Chen). Furious retconning has since occurred — still, I think it’s legit to look for clues here. In this version of events, Jeffries says, “I been to one of their meetings. It was above a convenience store.” Also, that he found something in Seattle, at Judy’s, and then, “there they were. And they sat quietly for hours.” Which seems to link Judy to the Black Lodge entities.

Things play out differently in FWWM, where Bowie’s recollections are interrupted by what seems to be a garbled flashback, breaking in like interference. The viewer assumes that this sequence showing the room above the convenience store inhabited by sinister characters is Bowie’s memory of something he somehow spied on. We get our first look at a couple of woodsmen (but they haven’t gotten all dirty yet), there’s Bob, there’s Mrs. Tremond/Chalfont and her grandson, and the malign, doppelganger version of the Arm/man from another place (I’m pretty sure it’s not the nice one we’re used to, though I only just figured this out: the film doesn’t bother to remind us that he has a doppelganger). But the first person we see is this geezer ~

He’s billed as The Jumping Man. He wears a loud suit exactly like The Arm’s, a sort of flat-top afro, and a plaster mask with a pointy, Commedia Del’Arte nose.

Now, there’s an old prison song, recorded by folk music specialist Alan Lomax, one version of which goes like this ~

Jumpin’ Judy, jumpin’ Judy, hanh!
Jumpin’ Judy, jumpin’ Judy, hanh!
Jumpin’ Judy, jumpin’ Judy, hanh!
All over dis worl’, hanh, all over dis worl’, hanh!

So there’s a connection of sorts between jumping and Judies.

In Episode 15 of The Return, this fellow makes one of his rare appearances, as Mr. C. goes above the convenience store, which apparently has the ability to TARDIS about from place to place. On this occasion, the JM has Sarah Palmer’s face projected on top of his mask.

But there’s another jumping man, or anyway jumping boy, in FWWM. He’s the grandson of Mrs. Tremont/Chalfont, who appears in both season 2 of the original TP, and in FWWM, though he’s played by different kids each time. Leland sees him jumping in one scene. Here and in the convenience store scene, he wears a mask like the Jumping Man’s, and at one point whispers “Judy.”

The grandson (who may be the Magician of that bit of Black Lodge doggerel — he performs magic tricks in the original series) and his grandmother are quite hard to figure out, in terms of their intentions. They seem associated with negative things, turning up around the time of Teresa Banks and Laura Palmer’s murders, but they also give Laura valuable information. But then, there they are, sitting calmly with BOB and the woodsmen etc. And this guy.

So, we might infer that the grandson and the Jumping Man have to do with Judy. It would certainly make sense of Jeffries’ comment, “You’ve already met Judy.” Mr. C. literally passed the Jumping Man on his way in.

There are other candidates, however. In Episode 1 we meet The Experiment, a violent, faceless woman who appears in a glass box apparently constructed at the behest of Mr. C. Mr. C. is looking for something with a sort of bug-like aspect, and it’s probably The Experiment. In Episode 8, she turns up inside the first atomic test, sneeze-ejaculating BOB into the world. So it feels like Mr. C. is looking for BOB’s mother. But he doesn’t know the name Judy until Phillip uses it. He has no clue why Phillip has brought her up.

(But then, does Phillip ever really understand which Cooper he’s talking to? He was apparently part of a task force with the real Cooper to find Judy. Although in FWWM it’s obvious they’ve never met before. Still, when you’re floating in a tin can, it’s slippery.)

I like the idea that BOB is looking for his mother. Sweet.

Meanwhile, Sarah Palmer has an extreme negative force lurking inside her. It rips a trucker’s chin off. It seems to feature Laura’s smile, and her finger. (Both Sarah and Laura apparently have faces that open on hinges. Not sure what this means.) So a lot of people think this is Judy. Poor Laura: with BOB inhabiting her father and Judy in her mother, what chance did she have in life?

“You’ll find Judy in here,” says Phillip, before sending Cooper into the past. Cooper eventually ends up in the present but in Odessa, Texas (arguably worse than the past) where he finds a diner called Judy’s, which leads him to Laura Palmer, living under a new identity with no memory of her old one. He then takes her to Sarah Palmer’s house, but instead finds a Mrs Tremond, who bought the house from Mrs. Chalfont.

Ever since LOST HIGHWAY, Lynch has been exploring the slipperiness of identity. This series is probably the most convoluted and involuted rendition of that theme, even more so than INLAND EMPIRE. When the new Mrs. Tremond gives her name, and her predecessor’s name, we can be pretty sure that she’s the same character (whatever that means in this universe) who previously bore that name (sure, the show is full of Bobs, Mikes, Philips, but surnames have a specific quality). Also, she has an offscreen husband she talks to, lurking within the house, reminding us of the “something” in Sarah Palmer’s kitchen.

So, has Coop found Judy as he was promised? In this universe, is she merely the name of a franchise of threatening diners? Has she gone abstract, the way Mabuse did? Or does this extreme negative force still attach to human vessels, sometimes? Is Alice (through the looking glass) Tremond and her troublingly abstract husband also Mrs Chalfont, the Jumping Man, the inside of Sarah Palmer, AND Judy?

It’s quite a houseful in there.

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Just think of BOB and JUDY

Posted in FILM, Mythology, Television with tags , , , , , on September 6, 2017 by dcairns

Preliminary responses…

It’s like David Lynch wanted to give us a penultimate episode that’s pure Twin Peaks and a final episode that’s pure LOST HIGHWAY.

As with that 1997 “twenty-first century noir horror,” you get call-backs in lieu of closure — the names Chalfont and Tremont are significant and suggestive to TP regular viewers, but can serve only as an invitation to make up our own stories about what might be going on at the end of episode 18.

Do I wish there were more answers? Kinda. Audrey Horne’s storyline seems like a prolonged tease without a pay-off, which would matter so much if it were delightful in itself, but quite a bit of it was pretty well the opposite of delightful. It eventually became genuinely intriguing but then… no resolution. Though you might exercise your imagination by trying to connect Audrey’s last scene to the alternative world of the last episode… somehow.

Do I wish the resolution were happier? Yes. Although episode 17 gave us lots of the things we would hope for, episode 18 ended with Agent Cooper lost in another realm much as season 2 had. And we still don’t know How’s Annie?

How do I feel about all the throwaway fragments? Ashley Judd’s entire role… the roadhouse customers and their mini-soaps… the sick girl in the car… Some of them were genuinely crazy, unsettling, amazing scenes. Some of them weren’t. At the time of WILD AT HEART Lynch took to saying that he collected ideas for scenes on index cards, and once you had around 65 cards you had a movie. Not necessarily. WILD AT HEART was a book, first, and many of the bits in it that stem from the book are more satisfying than the bits that feel like interleaved index cards. But I think it’s worth accepting all these scenes, so we get the good ones.

How do I feel about the Twin Peaks story strands? Nadine and Norma and Big Ed added up to, well, not quite ba storyline, but a beautiful end to a story begun back in the original series. Shelly and Bobby and Red and Becky and Steven and Gersten gave us quite a number of terrific scenes but I couldn’t really say it added up to a satisfactory story at all. But if they ever made a series 4 that’s one of the things I’d be keenest to see more of. Ben & Jerry, fine, amusing. James ended up as a tagalong for Freddie Sykes, but that was fine. What a team.

Las Vegas? All that stuff was great fun, and came to a surprisingly satisfying resolution, allowing for about a million loose ends. A lot of those plot strands frayed away to nothing, but in amusing ways. Nothing to complain about there.

Buckhorn? The loose ends far outnumber the knotted ones here. What was going on with Matthew Lillard’s wife and why did Mr. C. shoot her? The caretaker at Ruth Davenport’s apartment building? Why was Dougie Jones’ wedding ring inside the Major’s torso, and why didn’t he have a miniature letter E under his fingernail? Amusing to note that the FBI achieve basically nothing in this show, apart from shooting a tulpa who would have been perfectly harmless if they’d left her alone. All their investigations lead them at last to the Twin Peaks sheriff’s station where they arrive just in time to do… nothing. If they had just taken one look at Ruth Davenport’s head and the Major’s body and concluded, “We’re never going to figure THIS one out,” the result would have been the same.

I would have liked to see Joan Chen and Heather Graham — I particularly wondered how they could do without the character of Annie Blackburn. And it turns out she did leave kind of a hole, since we couldn’t just forget she’d been there. At times Frost & Lynch seemed to be trying to retcon her out of the history, but then they admitted she’d been there.

But I have to say — I will enjoy wondering about some of these mysteries. And Twin Peaks will be one of the main memories laid down for me by summer 2017. It actually slowed time down — a precious thing when one is nearing fifty. Both by durational tricks (take a bow, floor-sweeping guy!) and by making the weeks stretch out like Cooper’s face as it nears that big power socket, as we waited for the next exciting installment.

Fiona, on the other hand, is quite cross. But we still have to watch the last three episodes again (we’ve been watching everything twice) and she may come around.

When I complained about the lack of explanation at the end of Lost (yeah, we watched the whole thing), a very wise friend said, “Well, look at how crummy that show got whenever it tried to explain stuff. Did you really want more of THAT?” Mind you, the same friend insisted the makers had a clear, coherent plan all through those middle series when it turned out they were just winging it. Deduct ten points.

Audrey is the dreamer, it seems. Is her awakening in that white psych ward/UFO interior space linked to the “real” world Cooper finds himself in at show’s end? Audrey has been dreaming the roadhouse, it seems, but has she been dreaming the whole show? If so, it’s really smart that they finished her narrative three episodes early, so rather than being a corny “It was all a dream” cop-out, it becomes one more frustrating/intriguing element.

To the extent that non-diegetic info is admissible to help us understand an artwork, the fact that the “real” owner of the Palmer house we meet in the last scene is played b the REAL owner of that house in our reality does seem to suggest that Cooper/Richard has crossed over into OUR reality, or a version thereof: A world where the essentially Manichean character dynamics of Twin Peaks no longer function, where Cooper has some of the dead-eyed violence of his defeated doppelganger (it makes sense that he‘s somehow acquired the first name of his doppelganger‘s asshole son), where the new Laura Palmer has a sullen, slatternly quality and a chirrupy, girlish quality, and a murdered man in her front room… his arms raised off the armrests, recalling the recalling the uncanny standing, moving corpse in BLUE VELVET.

(Lynch was asked to comment on that guy in BV. “Well, the lab phoned. Normally they’re only supposed to phone if there’s something wrong with the negative. The wanted to know what was going on. Is he supposed to be dead? We see him moving!”)

Okay, a final theory. One of the many frustrations and bafflements is that Cooper receives instructions from the Fireman/Giant/???????, and seems to follow those instructions, but it’s not clear that the result is a good one. In fact, it MIGHT be — Laura is evidently remembering who she is at the end… but everything about the presentation makes this conclusion seem bleak, desolate, incomprehensibly and frightening. Why has Cooper ended up at this terrible outcome? He did as the Fireman advised.

Well, the Fireman isn’t like you and me. I think it’s possible he sincerely believed this ending would make Cooper happy.

Twin Peaks Precap

Posted in FILM, Television with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 29, 2017 by dcairns

I’ve been enjoying all the Twin Peaks recaps, including my friend Keith Uhlich’s on The Notebook. And listening religiously to Diane, for my money THE podcast on the subject.

Obviously it’s too late for me to start recapping TP now, but it can’t surely be too late to recap episode 12, since it hasn’t aired yet. These are my predictions for what’s going to happen — a kind of precap, if you will. Obviously we have to wait until Sunday to see if I’m right but I am confident that I will be VINDICATED in every detail. So there are spoilers ahead. I won’t change anything after the episode airs so you’ll be able to see how devastatingly accurate I am.

You’ll maybe have noticed that while each episode features numerous hanging threads, usually these are not picked up in the following episode. You have to wait until the episode after, or maybe several episodes after. Matthew Lillard made an astonishing impression in the role of Earthworm Jim Principal Hastings but then disappeared for over a month.

In episode 8 we saw the ????? Giant use something which Fiona christened the Fallopian Tuba to blast a glowing orb full of Laura Palmer at the old BBC globe of the world ident. Well, we haven’t seen him and his girlfriend and the tuba for about a month, so I think they’ll be back. I expect we’ll see him blast a few follow-up orbs at us, perhaps containing the effulgent faces of Dick Tremayne, Dwayne Mibbler and that guy with the plaster-of-paris nose mask.

Tim Roth and Jennifer Jason Leigh are going to do some terrible things to Warden Murphy. There was apparently a lot of really bad stuff in WILD AT HEART concerning Harry Dean Stanton’s demise at the hands of a duo of hitpersons, and it got cut out. I think Lynch has been saving it up.

Gordon and Albert and Tammy and Diane won’t get to the other coordinates yet. But Gordon deliberately let Diane memorise the figures so she can tell Dirty Cooper, because they want him there so they can catch him.

When they do go there, maybe in episode 13 or 14, it will all link up with Jack Rabbit’s Palace and they’ll see Truman, Hawk and Bobby in Twin Peaks. They might also see the Major’s head float past. I don’t know what he’s going to say this time but it’ll be pretty deep. Also, Jerry Horne, stoned out of his mind and lost in the woods, will blunder in at an inopportune moment. Maybe he’ll fall in the pit they’ve dug for Dirty Cooper. But that’s in the future. That won’t happen this week.

Benjamin Horne announced his intention of taking his new secretary Beverly to dinner, but we didn’t see it. It’ll happen this week, with no explanation for the delay. My theory which I really think is true is that the reason he couldn’t kiss her before — she thinks it’s because he’s a good man, but we know that isn’t true — is that she’s actually his daughter. Old Ben sure sowed a few wild oats in his time. Ashley Judd is an oat who has come home to roost. Remember in series 1 he nearly had sex with Audrey.

The humming sound that’s been bugging them is Joan Chen in a doorknob, but she won’t come out yet. They have to save something for season 4.

Frustratingly, after the Buckhorn police found Dougie’s wedding ring inside a corpse, nobody has tried to trace a couple called Dougie and Janey-E. Probably because it hasn’t occurred to them that Janey-E could be someone’s actual name. If they checked, I bet there’s only one couple in the whole of America with those names. But they haven’t checked, so they’re not going to. So I’m not sure what purpose the wedding ring serves or why Dirty Cooper presumably left it there. Or when he got it from the original Dougie. Presumably at the time he replaced it with the “sacrificial ring” from FIRE WALK WITH ME? It’s pretty hard to figure out what that guy’s up to except it all has to do with  killing Dougie/Dale so he can stay on Earth and not go back to the Lodge.

Andy has apparently forgotten all about the hit-and-run child death he was investigating. Lucy is a better cop than Andy. She saw Chad stealing Truman’s mail and was mildly suspicious about it.

The nasty Richard Horne will get Steven and Gersten and the armpit rash girl and her friend involved in his drugs deal with the sinister Red. Chad is already involved, as is the last of the Renaults. We will see signs of this developing. In the last episode they will all get caught in a big net dropped from a tree by Hawk.

But that’s later. This week, Richard will visit his mom, Audrey, who will be clad in some kind of fetishy disability costume like Rosanna Arquette in CRASH (the good one).

Candy Clark may well do some more epic complaining. But maybe this time she’ll soften, also. Third time’s the charm.

Diane will tell the entirety of Buckhorn, South Dakota, to fuck off.

Detectives Fusco, Fusco & Fusco will interrogate Ike the Spike using the famous “bad cop, bad cop, bad cop” routine. Ike will refuse to snitch until they get Uri Geller in to give his spike metal fatigue, then he’ll tell them everything.

In episode 12 Norma will look concerned. I think also eventually it will be revealed that she’s living with Big Ed at his Gas Farm.

We will find out who the girl was who got the frog-moth down her throat. We will be surprised.

Who’s going to play Philip Jeffries? I think the only exciting guest stars left are Monica Bellucci and John Savage. Since Bellucci will be more surprising, it ought to be her. Or maybe Jim Belushi will unzip his head and reveal that he’s really been Monica Bellucci all along. All his life.

Leo Johnson’s skeleton will be found in a lonely cabin, clutching a rope between his teeth. The Deer Park deputy Bobby shot and buried in the woods in FIRE WALK WITH ME will be uncovered by animal activity. It will turn out that the owls really ARE what they seem.

Dougie’s friendship with the Mitchum Bros will not be developed in this episode. No good can come of that, even if a shared appreciation for pie and repetition seems like a sound basis for friendship. But they’re not going to be happy with Tom Sizemore. Neither is rival mobster Duncan Todd. But probably they’ll all wait an episode before doing anything about it. And then Bushnell Mullins will get to punch somebody out. You can’t have the remarkably spry Don Murray as an ex-boxer with a poorly-Photoshopped poster and then not have him punch anybody. Not in a show with Tim Roth in it.

Also due for punching: Chad. He won’t get caught in Hawk’s net, Sheriff Truman will apprehend him in his office, and pull the wooden knob repeatedly so that the wood-panelled Skype-screen pops out of the desk really fast and smashes Chad in the face. Then he can Skype Doc Hayward and get him to come over and fix Chad’s face before he’s hauled off by the Feds.

We’ve learned that both Dougie and James were in traffic accidents. It will be revealed that they collided with each other, in an incident caused by Wally Brando’s erratic bikemanship.

A heartwarming scene showing what the woodsmen get up to when they’re not busy being terrifying. They sit around a formica table drinking Cup-a-Soups, possibly. They also whittle.

In an unadvertised cameo, Billy Ray Cyrus will perform at the Bang Bang Bar. Everyone will leave as the credits roll.