Saturday 18 December 2010

Double Bill Mini Musings: Fire Walk (or Run) With Me...

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me:
I've been on a big old Twin Peaks kick this November/December - thanks to the much-improved Horror Channel, and then the spiffing 10-disc box set - so naturally I would be checking out this prequel.

I wouldn't call it "revelatory", as the box art proclaims, but as a newly created big fan of the show, what it actually is, is fascinating, horrific, delerious, weird, disturbing, entrancing and transfixing. I'm not a huge fan of Daivd Lynch's movies, but I have seen a number of them over the years, and considering I had 25 hours and 35 minutes worth of Twin Peaks to go on before venturing into this dark telling of Laura Palmer's last seven days, it has been the most up-to-speed I have ever been for a David Lynch movie.

Indeed I feel after this concentrated Twin Peaks fascination I've just experienced, that I better understand Lynch's work (even though he co-created the show itself with Mark Frost). Perhaps people read too much into his work - in fact, I'm sure of it - film theorists are notorious for reading things into movies and making the simple utterly, utterly complicated, and then film viewers go in expecting it to be a head-screw when in fact things are actually a little more as they seem. It's just that oftentimes, the things as they seem just so happen to be bizarre, dreamlike things.

That's how Twin Peaks plays out - like a dream - and like in dreams, weird things happen inexplicably in the background, and the narrative of your dreams take weird and wonderful divergent turns whenever they feel like it ... and sometimes, weird things just happen. You see something weird that pops inexplicably into your life, or something weird happens to you when you least expect it, and suddenly a whole world of possibilities opens up.

So perhaps with Lynch's work things are actually a little bit more as-they-seem, despite what your assumptions (developed by years of reading-in by theorists) suggest.

The world of Twin Peaks is, simply put, a tale of good and evil, of internal battles, of incest, rape, murder, drugs, infidelity, and everything in-between and - as co-creator Mark Frost said - you'd expect such themes to present themselves in a big city, but in fact it's all here in Twin Peaks - and that's the selling point.

As for the tie-in prequel movie, which unfortunately didn't set the world on fire (thus nixing any possibility of follow-ups that we Peaks Freaks (new and old alike) would have loved to have had considering the cliffhanger end to season two), it dives full-on into territory that is merely alluded to in the TV show - no wonder it's rated 18. It recontextualises what you see in the TV show, and casts a significantly dark shadow over some key characters.

It's a beautiful, hypnotic, slightly confusing, ever-so-unnerving film, and despite being not quite so satisfying in certain areas (i.e. there's not an awful lot of Agent Dale Cooper, even considering the timeline of the movie's plot), it does really satisfy in others. Laura Palmer was the catalyst for the entire series, and was essentially the focus for the majority of the episodes, but all after (and because of) her death. Here she's alive and right at the heart of the storytelling in all it's entrancing, disturbing, and horrific ways.

Marathon Man:
Not an awful lot to say about this one, but I do love a good 'New Hollywood era' movie from the 1970s. The moral ambiguity, the gritty realism of the filmmaking and the New York setting, the non-traditional leads, and the plots - so full of paranoia - a mirror to the confused, bruised and battered psyche of America after the the Vietnam war and various political upheavals in the period when the innocence of the post-war years was lost forever. Marathon Man is one of the films that expertly illustrated this complex state of the nation.

One scene particularly gripped me - when the central antagonist ends up in precisely the sort of area of town they wouldn't want to be recognised - oh and, of course, the famous "is it safe?" sequence.

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