1085 words on Films
I probably only saw an episode or two of Twin Peaks [IMDB, Wikipedia] when it came on telly in the 1990s. Hence I was familiar with the existence of Laura Palmer bit didn’t really connect to the story. With the opportunity to watch the whole series now, I can say that I managed to finally catch up: In the typical way that makes DVD sets both a joy and a curse – you get your series fix at the speed you want it but you lose the anticipation of looking forward to ‘this week’s episode’.
The series is very compelling in the way it builds up the mystery of Laura Palmer’s death, introducing special agent Cooper and his colleagues who come into Twin Peaks to solve it and by doing that slow peel layer by layer off the onion of relationships in the small town – and, by doing so, unveil more new mysteries than they solve. To top things off the relationships and affairs in Twin Peaks are rather intertwined and pretty much everybody has things to hide, thus making the investigations less fruitful but possibly more interesting.
The ‘mystery’ aspects of the series along with the ‘new age’ aspects of special agent Cooper give a strange counterpoint to the ‘professional’ investigation that is conducted, the heart-felt appreciation for cherry pie and all those ‘damn good coffee’s and of course the countless pointless messages spoken to tape for special agent Cooper’s mystery assistant Diane.
Twin Peaks is lauded for having created the blueprint for many successful modern TV series and the collection of cliffhangers and new pointless mysteries to dig into. While I do appreciate the open-endedness of that, I also think that few TV authors actually have the skills to keep a story going. Most of these series start running out of interesting stories to tell and keep alive by living on their hype, repetition and introducing new characters and plots wherever they can. That may keep things going but it lacks the cohesion of a proper story as well as the sense of direction one may expect from a competent author. Sometimes stories are told and it wouldn’t be a loss to just leave it at that.
Twin peaks also suffers from the resolution of the Laura Palmer murder as this simply terminates the main story and the additional plots, if they qualify for that term, often seem tacked on. It may be clever to build up all these stories about the inhabitants of Twin Peaks and their secrets but at some stage things do run thin. A few episodes after that, they drive all their ‘Black Lodge’ stuff to an absurd end which people probably considered clever back in the days.
To top things off, we also watched the ‘prequel’ film Fire Walk With Me [IMDB] which offers a little insight into the pre-history of people like Laura, Bob or special agent Cooper as well as a pointless cameo appearance by David Bowie. But it seemed like the film is by far too long and mostly lacking substance. Pretty much a waste of time.
I hoped I could find a nice graph of the countless relationships in the series, but Google didn’t find a comprehensive one for me, just what seem to be small views into the Twin Peaks universe. I suppose I would like something along the lines of a a xkcd style Movie Narrative Chart.
The ‘documentary’ King Corn [IMDB] offers another view into the world of modern agriculture. This one is tacked onto the somewhat absurd personal-touch story of two guys wanting to ‘do’ agriculture on an acre of land. Which means they don’t actually do anything but have the neighbouring farmers do the work and mostly stand there wondering about what happens – I guess they wouldn’t have needed their ‘own’ acre to gather the same information.
Not so surprisingly they arrive at the same results everybody else does: American agriculture business loves corn and you can only make money growing it by growing a huge amount of it and getting nice taxpayer money in the form of subsidies on top of it. Based on this all-American (which isn’t to say things aren’t very similar in Europe…) bit of capitalism FAIL is pretty much the complete industrial food chain as highlighted in books like The Omnivore’s Dilemma in more detail.
Admittedly there was very little that could go wrong with the film Invictus [IMDB, Wikipedia] about Nelson Mandela getting behind (the conceptually white and hostile) Springboks rugby team during the Rugby World Cup 1995 in an attempt to unite all of the nation, no matter what their history or skin colour. The plan worked better than expected with South Africa winning the title and the enthusiasm gripping the country. The film is based on a real story of real people. And as things go with Mandela, the story is incredibly good.
Morgan Freeman plays a great Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon – as usual – looks too much like a little boy to pass as a rugby player. The message, as well as Mandela’s incredible determination to reconcile his country, is made clear. Perhaps a bit too clear in places with the film working hard not to omit any of the clichéd stereotypes one could imagine.
Unfortunately it seems very unlikely that history will not repeat again this year as the football world championship takes place in South Africa in the coming weeks as Bafana Bafana don’t seem to be doing too well in the past years.
Based on the English story of the same name it shows us the magic castle of Howl which is driven by a fire that is in fact a kind of demon who is joined together with Howl by some kind of dark magic. With its door that has an adjustable exit – pick the other side of the door by choosing a colour it’s full of weird ‘magic’ again and also puts quite a bit of focus on the ‘darker’ sides of the characters. I really enjoyed that.
I’m enough of a fossil to have been around for the initial TV run of Twin Peaks on ABC back then. It’s really hard to overstate how influential that initial series run was. I was fairly obsessed with the series at the time.
Fond memory: one Thursday evening, my friends and I took a quick trip to Dunkin’ Donuts so that we could reproduce the “policeman’s dream” table of donuts from episode 3 in time for that week’s viewing.
Those Donut shots did drive home police stereotypes – and were genius. Obviously I envied the policepeople like hell in those situations.
Also: Diane, that cherrie pie…
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