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Tag Archives: David Lynch

Western Mythology and Motifs in TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN

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In his perceptive review of the controversial Twin Peaks Season 3 finale, the New Yorker‘s Richard Brody makes a startling yet logical comparison between Part 18 of David Lynch’s magnum opus and one of the greatest of all American films: “Over the course of the series’s final sprint, Lynch turns this story into an elemental drama of dramas, a distorted and refracted version of the lone American male hero on a relentless quest to rescue an abused woman — he turns ‘Twin Peaks: The Return,’ in other words, into a modern-day version of John Ford’s ‘The Searchers,’ and the tragic depth of his view of the solitary and haunted Western hero is worthy to stand alongside Ford’s own.”

I don’t necessarily believe that John Ford’s masterpiece was a conscious influence on Part 18 — although it is worth noting that an explicit nod to The Searchers did occur in the first episode of Twin Peaks Season 2 back in 1990: the senile room-service waiter at the Great Northern Hotel who serves a glass of warm milk to Agent Cooper, not realizing that he’s been shot, was played by none other than Hank Worden, a character actor from Hollywood’s golden age best known for playing “Old Mose” in The Searchers. In fact, Lynch and Mark Frost (who is credited with the “teleplay” of this episode) even have Worden repeat Mose’s signature phrase “Thank you kindly!” upon receiving Agent Cooper’s gratuity.

But Brody’s instructive comparison got me thinking about the proliferation of references to both western movie mythology and the “settling” of the actual American West that occurs throughout Twin Peaks: The Return — and how Lynch and Frost use such references to paint a surprisingly political portrait of a contemporary America whose essentially savage and gun-crazy nature seems rooted in the original sin of the genocide of Native American people. What follows is a series of notes on some of the prominent western references throughout Twin Peaks Season 3.

– One of the most pleasant initial surprises of the new season for many viewers was realizing how much the role of Deputy Hawk, the Native American character played by Michael Horse, had been expanded. Hawk’s late night phone calls with the ailing Log Lady (Catherine Coulson), spread across five episodes, form the emotional and spiritual core of the new Twin Peaks. The Log Lady informs Hawk that “something is missing” relating to the Laura Palmer investigation and that finding it will have something to do with his “heritage.” When Hawk actually does find the missing pages from Laura’s diary there’s a poignant irony in that the process doesn’t relate to the beliefs or customs of his Nez Perce tribe in any meaningful way. Rather, the missing pages have been hidden in a bathroom stall door that just happens to be embossed by a manufacturing company logo featuring an Indian wearing a feathered bonnet. The fact that a dropped Indian Head nickel leads Hawk to this discovery further reinforces the idea that Lynch and Frost intended this aspect of the plot to be a commentary on the commodification of Native American culture. Michael Horse ultimately starred in 14 episodes of the new season, more than any actor aside from Kyle MacLachlan, and appears to have been given an unusual degree of agency by the show’s makers: Horse confirmed that he himself painted the delightful “living map” that Hawk shows Sheriff Truman (Robert Forster) midway through the season.

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– To the surprise of many, most of the new season takes place not in the title town but in Las Vegas — a desert city in the heart of the American Southwest where never-ending strips of air-conditioned casinos serve as monuments to the twin triumphs of westward expansion and capitalism. Outside of the Vegas branch of the “Lucky 7” Insurance Company where Dougie Jones/Dale Cooper works is a statue of a cowboy. Oddly, the statue, which Dougie/Coop becomes fixated on, is pointing a gun directly at the entrance of the building.

– Wally Brando (Michael Cera), who is, let’s face it, a modern-day cowboy — on a steel horse he rides! — tells Sheriff Truman that he’s been traversing the highways and byways of America and following in the footsteps of “Lewis and his friend Clark” (who, Wally helpfully points out, were the “first caucasians” to see the Pacific Northwest). The funniest scene in all of Twin Peaks?

– The office of the “Detectives Fusco” (Larry Clarke, Eric Edelstein and David Koechner) in the Las Vegas police department is adorned with a painting of a cowboy on horseback.

– The genocide of Native Americans is explicitly invoked in Part 14 when Chantal (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Hutch (Tim Roth) eat fast food in their van while discussing the morality of their jobs as assassins. Hutch speculates that there’s nothing wrong with them being paid to kill people precisely because the U.S government “killed damn near all the Indians.”

– Lissie, one of David Lynch’s favorite contemporary singer-songwriters, performs a song titled “Wild, Wild West” at the conclusion of Episode 14. Many critics have pointed out that the pop songs performed in the Roadhouse (often at the conclusion of the episodes) seem to have been chosen because their lyrics resonate with prominent themes in the show, which is certainly the case with Lissie’s song.

– Part 18 features more western motifs in the imagery and even the dialogue (e.g., Sheryl Lee’s Carrie Page talking about “getting out of Dodge,” etc.) than all of the other episodes put together. It takes place in a small town in Texas — even if it’s an alternate-reality version of Texas — just like The Searchers, which makes Brody’s comparison even more striking. One very memorable scene in this episode takes place in a diner where Cooper asks three armed and cowboy-hatted men to unhand the waitress they are harassing. The scene ends on a note of absurd humor as Cooper disarms these “concealed carry” aficionados like a true western hero before dropping all of their guns into the diner’s deep frier. Is it a coincidence that the waitress being harassed is played by Francesca Eastwood, daughter of western movie icon Clint Eastwood?

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The Possibility of Parallel Realities in TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN

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Almost everyone I know who is closely watching the astonishing third season of Twin Peaks agrees by now that the chronology of the scenes set in the town of Twin Peaks itself is far more scrambled than the chronology of the show’s other narratives set outside of Twin Peaks (see my updated timeline for examples). A lot of commentators, including me, believe that this non-linearity is deliberate on the part of the show’s creators, David Lynch and Mark Frost, and that it relates to their desire to further explore the kind of time/space paradoxes that have always been central to both the show and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (Annie Blackburn appearing to Laura Palmer in a dream and conveying information about Dale Cooper before his arrival in town being perhaps the most prominent example). While puzzling over the current season’s tricky chronology – specifically the way two different episodes depict separate scenes of Bobby Briggs that appear to be occurring in the Double R Diner on what seems like the same night (one involving him interacting with Shelly and Becky, the other involving him interacting with Big Ed and Norma) – an idea struck me: what if, instead of a jumbled timeline, the town of Twin Peaks and its residents exist simultaneously in two separate realities? And what if David Lynch is freely cutting back and forth between these parallel realities without giving viewers any clear or comforting indication of when we are seeing what I’ll call “Reality A” vs. when we are seeing what I’ll call “Reality B?”

The most solid evidence in favor of this theory can be found at the end of Part Seven. In one of the show’s most baffling moments to date, a young man identified in the credits as “Bing” bursts into the Double R Diner and excitedly blurts out the question “Has anybody seen Billy?” before turning and running back outside. This action happens over a series of wide shots taken from the back of the diner that are interrupted by medium shots of Norma sitting in a booth and looking up from her paperwork, seemingly in response to the commotion caused by Bing. Interestingly, the dozens of customers populating the diner are completely different from one wide shot to the next – even though no time appears to elapse over the straight cuts that separate them. Some cynical viewers have suggested that the use of shots featuring different extras is a mere “continuity error.” Others think the sense of temporal dislocation imparted by these cuts is intentional on Lynch’s part but cannot agree on the purpose of this bizarre editing scheme. Could it be that this scene is the key to understanding that Lynch is explicitly juxtaposing two different realities – where waitresses Shelly and Heidi are working the same shift but where their customers are totally different in each? Adding to the confusion, the scene ends with Bing, who we already saw exit the diner, walk up to the cash register to pay his tab. So, let’s say that in Reality A, a man named Billy is missing in the town of Twin Peaks and that his friend Bing is frantically looking for him. In Reality B, Billy is not missing and his friend Bing is enjoying a leisurely meal at the Double R Diner. You can watch the scene in its entirety here.

In Parts 12 and 13, the beloved character Audrey Horne made her long awaited reappearance on the show in two exceptionally dreamlike scenes. In both, she bitterly argues with her husband, Charlie, about the fact that her boyfriend, Billy, has been missing for two days. Audrey begs Charlie to escort her to the Roadhouse in order to help her look for Billy but both scenes end on a curious note of irresolution as Audrey seems almost physically incapable of leaving her home. Many viewers have speculated that the “real” Audrey is either still in a coma (caused by the bank explosion at the end of season two) and that these scenes are her dreams as she lies unconscious in a hospital bed, or that Audrey is inside some kind of mental hospital and that her “husband” in these scenes is actually a psychiatrist engaging her in a form of therapeutic role play. Both of these theories make sense: there is no technology in Charlie’s home office more recent than 1989 (when Audrey went into a coma) and, in a line of dialogue reminiscent of something Ben Kingsley says at the end of Shutter Island, Charlie at one point ominously threatens to “end” Audrey’s “story.” The problem with these theories, however, is that Audrey seems to have knowledge of events taking place in town that we have seen independently of her (e.g., the fact that someone named Billy has been missing for “two days,” and, if we are to further assume that Billy is the “farmer” interviewed by Deputy Andy in Part 7, that his truck was both stolen and returned prior to his disappearance).

The possibility of multiple realities reconciles this contradiction somewhat: could it be that Audrey is stuck in a loveless marriage to Charlie and having an affair with Billy in Reality A but that she is in a coma in Calhoun Memorial Hospital in Reality B? Could the empathetic Audrey of Reality A somehow sense that another version of herself is in a coma in a parallel reality? This would explain why, distraught, she tells Charlie that she feels like she’s “someone else” and “somewhere else.” Could this also be why Big Ed seems to react to the fact that his reflection in a window at the end of Part 13 is out of synch with his actions? Could the Big Ed of one reality be glimpsing a version of himself in another reality? Could the weirdness in Sarah Palmer’s home, including the strange looping of a boxing match on her television set near the end of Part 13, indicate that she is somehow trapped “between two worlds?” Finally, might this theory also explain the discrepancies between Mark Frost’s Secret History of Twin Peaks novel and the events of the show’s first two seasons (notably concerning the death of Norma’s mother and the fact that there are two different Miss Twin Peaks pageant winners)? While I’m not 100% sold on this idea, I find it intriguing to think about. Future episodes (and further close viewing) should bring clarity.


Twin Peaks: The Return – A Timeline

For the past two months I have obsessively watched and rewatched every episode of the still in-progress new season of Twin Peaks. I have seen each of the nine episodes so far either four or five times in full. I have also skimmed back through all of the episodes and watched them in pieces for the sole purpose of creating a timeline to determine exactly when each scene is taking place. Before the new limited series began airing this past May, many fans speculated that the show would be taking place in the year 2014 – in order for Laura Palmer’s promise to Agent Cooper in the Season Two finale (“I’ll see you again in 25 years”) to literally become true. As appealing as that notion might be, a close reading of the show – and Mark Frost’s accompanying Secret History of Twin Peaks novel – reveals that nearly all of the action of the new season actually takes place in September and October of 2016. (When I write “nearly all,” I am barring the major flashbacks to 1945 and 1956 New Mexico in Part Eight and the “extra-dimensional” scenes scattered throughout the season that may be seen as taking place “outside of time.”)

The first tip off that Twin Peaks: The Return begins in September of 2016 comes from The Secret History of Twin Peaks. Frost’s novel begins with a memo written by FBI Deputy Director Gordon Cole (the beloved hard-of-hearing character played by David Lynch on the show) to Special Agent Tammy Preston (a new character played by singer Chrysta Bell) asking her to analyze a secret “dossier” that was recovered from a crime scene in July of 2016. This memo is dated 8/4/2016 and is followed by a notarized response from Preston dated 8/28/16. At the conclusion of Frost’s novel, after Preston has read and annotated the dossier and discovered that its mysterious “compiler” is none other than Major Garland Briggs, there is another notarized statement from her that she doesn’t know “what happened to either Major Briggs or Agent Cooper at this point.” It is not logical that Preston would make this claim in 2016 if the events of the new season had taken place two years previously: Preston, after all, learns a great deal about both Briggs and Cooper (and what happened to them in the 25 years between Seasons Two and Three) in Twin Peaks: The Return.

More evidence comes from the show itself: Bill Hastings’ driver’s license, which can be clearly seen in Part One: My log has a message for you, shows that his birthday is August 15, 1973. In Part Nine: This is the chair, during an instant-classic interrogation scene that is simultaneously both genuinely tragic and genuinely hilarious, Hastings tells Agent Preston that he is 43-years-old, indicating the show takes place after August 15, 2016. It is also during this scene that Hastings, at Preston’s request, writes the day’s date as “9/29,” which, if one counts the days backwards through each episode of the season, means that Bill was arrested on Saturday, September 24. Indeed, when Bill is first interrogated by Buckhorn cop Dave Macklay in Part One, he is asked to account for his whereabouts over the past “three or fours days.” After mentioning that he had been at work on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Bill, a high school principal, tells Dave that he had been at home “all day today,” indicating that Bill was arrested on a Saturday.

Contrary to rampant online speculation, Twin Peaks: The Return has so far followed a surprisingly linear chronology. The only times when there appear to be either flash-forwards or flashbacks are either at the very end or the very beginning of certain episodes. This makes sense given that Lynch has stated he had no clue how he was going to “break up” his 18-hour movie into hour-long segments until he and his editors actually started cutting it. The decision to give the series a sense of structural symmetry by ending most episodes with musical performances at the Roadhouse means that Lynch occasionally flashes forward to a nighttime scene at the Roadhouse before “back-tracking” to the afternoon of the same day in the episode that immediately follows. For whatever it might be worth, I hope some of you find this timeline useful:

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Part One: My log has a message for you.
Day One: Wednesday, September 21
Cooper and ??????? in black-and-white room – ?
Jacoby receives shovels in Twin Peaks – Day
Sam watches glass box in NYC – Night

Day Two: Thursday, September 22
Ben and Jerry Horne and Beverly at the Great Northern – Day
Insurance salesman and Lucy in Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Day
Mr. C goes to Beulah’s in South Dakota – Night
Sam and Tracy watch glass box and are killed in NYC – Night

Day Three: Friday, September 23
Buckhorn police discover corpses of Ruth Davenport and Garland Briggs – Day

Day Two: Thursday, September 22 (Cont’d)
Log Lady calls Hawk in Twin Peaks – Night

Day Four: Saturday, September 24
Constance and Macklay in Buckhorn police station – Day
Bill Hastings is arrested in Buckhorn – Day

Day Three: Friday, September 23 (Cont’d)
Hawk, Andy and Lucy in Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Day

Day Four: Saturday, September 24 (Cont’d)
Hastings is interrogated in Buckhorn police station (and says it’s Saturday) – Day
Macklay searches Bill’s car in Buckhorn – Day

Part Two: The stars turn and a time presents itself.
Day Four: Saturday, September 24 (Cont’d)

Phyllis visits Bill in the Buckhorn jail – Night
Duncan and Roger in Las Vegas – Night

Day Three: Friday, September 23
Mr. C, Darya, Ray and Jack in a South Dakota diner – Night

Day Four: Saturday, September 24 (Cont’d)
Hawk at Glastonbury Grove in Twin Peaks – Night
Agent Cooper w/ Laura, MIKE and the Evolution of the Arm in the Red Room – ?
Mr. C gets a new car from Jack in S.D. – Day
Mr. C kills Darya in a S.D. motel – Night
Agent Cooper, Leland, MIKE and the Evolution of the Arm in the Red Room – ?

Day Two: Thursday, September 22 (Cont’d)
Agent Cooper visits glass box / Sam and Tracy are killed – (explicit FLASHBACK to Day Two: Thursday night)

Day Four: Saturday, September 24 (Cont’d)
Sarah Palmer watches television at home – Night
The Chromatics play the Roadhouse – Night

Part Three: Call for help.
Agent Cooper, Naido and “American Girl” in purple purgatory – ?
Day Five: Sunday, September 25

Mr. C crashes car in Black Hills of S.D. – Day
Dougie and Jade in Las Vegas – Day
Drugged Out Mother and Son in Las Vegas – Day
Cops find Mr. C in Black Hills – Day

Day Six: Monday, September 26
Hawk, Andy and Lucy in Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Day
Dr. Jacoby spray-paints shovels in Twin Peaks – Day

Day Five: Sunday, September 25 (Cont’d)
Jade drops Cooper off at Silver Mustang Casino in Vegas – Day

Day Six: Monday, September 26 (Cont’d)
Gordon, Tammy and Albert in Philadelphia – Day
The Cactus Blossoms play the Roadhouse – Night

Part Four: …brings back some memories.
Day Five: Sunday, September 25 (Cont’d)

Cooper at the Silver Mustang Casino – Night
Cooper gets a ride from casino to Dougie’s home in Las Vegas – Night

Day Six: Monday, September 26 (Cont’d)
Gordon Cole meets w/ Denise Bryson in Philadelphia – Night
Sheriff Truman, Andy, Lucy, Bobby and Wally Brando at Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Night
Cooper has breakfast with Janey-E and Sonny Jim – Morning

Day Seven: Tuesday, September 27
Constance and Macklay in Buckhorn – Morning
Gordon, Albert and Tammy drive from airport to Yankton jail – Day
Gordon, Albert and Tammy question Mr. C in jail – Day
Gordon, Albert and Tammy talk at a South Dakota airport – Dusk
Au Revoir Simone plays at the Roadhouse in Twin Peaks- Night

Part Five: Case files.
Day Five: Sunday, September 25
Lorraine talks to hitmen in Vegas (it only makes sense that this conversation would follow the missed hit earlier that day)

Day Eight: Wednesday, September 28 (Cont’d)
Constance and Macklay in the Buckhorn morgue – Morning
Mr. C gets breakfast in jail in Yankton – Morning

Day Seven: Tuesday, September 27 (Cont’d)
Steven’s job interview with Mike Nelson in Twin Peaks – Morning
Sheriff Truman and Doris at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Morning

Day Six: Monday, September 26 (Cont’d)
Janey-E gives Cooper a ride to work in Las Vegas – Morning (this scene has to follow the breakfast scene in Part Four)
Cooper attends work meeting in Las Vegas – Morning
Mitchum brothers beat up the Supervisor of the Silver Mustang Casino in Las Vegas – Day
Car thieves attempt to steal Dougie’s car in Rancho Rosa in Las Vegas – Day
Jade mails Great Northern key from Las Vegas to Twin Peaks – Day

Day Seven: Tuesday, September 27 (Cont’d)
Becky asks Shelly for money in RR Diner in Twin Peaks – Day

Day Six: Monday, September 26 (Cont’d)
Cooper gets off work at Lucky 7 in Las Vegas at 5:30pm – Dusk

Day Seven: Tuesday, September 27 (Cont’d)
Hawk and Andy at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Night
Dr. Jacoby’s internet infomercial at 7:00pm – Night

Day Eight: Wednesday, September 28 (Cont’d)
Lt. Knox and Col. Davis at the Pentagon in Arlington, VA – Night
Trouble plays at the Roadhouse in Twin Peaks – Night
Tammy studies fingerprints in Philadelphia – Night
Mr. C makes a phone call from Yankton jail – Night

Day Six: Monday, September 26 (Cont’d)
Cooper caresses shoes of statue outside Lucky 7 office in Vegas – Night

Part Six: Don’t die.
Day Six: Monday, September 26 (Cont’d)
Police give Cooper a ride from Lucky 7 office to Dougie’s home in Las Vegas – Night

Day Seven: Tuesday, September 27 (Cont’d)
Albert approaches Diane at Max Von’s Bar in Philadelphia – Night

Day Eight: Wednesday, September 28
Red and Richard meet at a Twin Peaks warehouse – Morning
Carl and Mickey get a ride from the New Fat Trout Trailer Park into Twin Peaks – Morning
Miriam at the RR Diner in Twin Peaks – Morning
Carl witnesses a hit and run in Twin Peaks – Morning
Duncan Todd receives message from Mr. C in Las Vegas – Morning

Day Seven: Tuesday, September 27 (Cont’d)
Dougie’s car is towed away from Rancho Rosa in Las Vegas – Day (This may be a flashback to Monday, September 26.)
Ike the Spike receives hit orders in Las Vegas motel – Day
Cooper meets Bushnell at Lucky 7 in Las Vegas – Day
Janey-E meets loansharks in park in Las Vegas – Day
Ike the Spike kills Lorraine in her office in Las Vegas – Day

Day Eight: Wednesday, September 28 (Cont’d)
Red cleans truck in Twin Peaks – Day
Hawk finds Laura’s missing diary pages in Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Day
Doris visits Sheriff Truman at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Day
Sharon Van Etten plays at the Roadhouse – Night

Part Seven: There’s a body all right.
Day Eight Wednesday, September 28 (Cont’d):

Jerry, lost in the woods in Twin Peaks, calls Ben at the Great Northern – Day
Hawk meets Sheriff Truman at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Day
Sheriff Truman calls Harry from the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Day
Andy meets Farmer at 2:30pm in Twin Peaks – Day (Andy’s watch says it’s the 10th – could be a Flash-forward to October 10)
Sheriff Truman Skypes with Doc Hayward from the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Day
Lt. Knox meet Macklay at Buckhorn police station – Day
Lt. Knox, Macklay and Constance in the Buckhorn morgue – Day
Gordon and Albert at FBI headquarters in Philadelphia – Day
Gordon and Albert visit Diane at home in Philadelphia – Day
Gordon, Albert, Tammy and Diane fly to Yankton – Day
Diane interviews Mr. C in Yankton prison – Day
Diane talks to Gordon outside of the Yankton prison – Day
Mr. C talks to prison guard in Yankton prison – Day
Andy waits for farmer in Twin Peaks at 5:05pm – Day
Mr. C meets Warden Murphy – Day

Day Seven: Tuesday, September 27 (Cont’d)
Las Vegas police interview Cooper at Lucky 7 office in Las Vegas – Day
Cooper fends off Ike the Spike outside Lucky 7 office in Las Vegas – Dusk
Las Vegas police interview witnesses outside Lucky 7 office – Night

Day Eight Wednesday, September 28 (Cont’d):
Ben and Beverly at the Great Northern in Twin Peaks – Night (Cooper’s key arrives two days after Jade mailed it.)
Beverly and Tom at home in Twin Peaks – Night
Jean-Michel Renault at the Roadhouse in Twin Peaks – Night
Mr. C and Ray leave Yankton prison – Night
Bing looks for Billy at the RR Diner in Twin Peaks – Night

Part Eight: Gotta light?
Day Eight: Wednesday, September 28 (Cont’d):

Ray shoots Cooper in rural South Dakota – Night
The Nine Inch Nails perform at the Roadhouse in Twin Peaks – Night
Flashbacks to New Mexico in 1945 & 1956

Part Nine: This is the chair.
Day Nine: Thursday, September 29:

Mr. C walks to a South Dakota farm – Morning
Gordon, Tammy, Diane and Albert fly from Yankton to Buckhorn – Day
Mr. C, Hutch and Chantal on a South Dakota farm – Day

Day Eight: Wednesday, September 28 (Cont’d):
Fusco brothers, Bushnell Mullins, Cooper and Janey-E in Las Vegas police dept. – Day
Fuscos arrest Ike the Spike in Las Vegas motel – Day

Day Nine: Thursday, September 29 (Cont’d):
Andy and Lucy at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Day
Twin Peaks police visit Betty Briggs – Day
Philadelphia FBI agents visit Buckhorn morgue – Day
Jerry Horne wrestles with his foot in the woods of Twin Peaks – Day
Sheriff Truman, Bobby and Hawk at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Day
Tammy interrogates Bill in a Buckhorn jail – Day
Ben Horne and Beverly in the Great Northern – Night
Hudson Mohawke and Au Revoir Simone perform at the Roadhouse – Night

Part 10: Laura is the one.
Day Nine: Thursday, September 29 (Cont’d):
Richard appears to kill Miriam in her Twin Peaks trailer – Day

Day Eight: Wednesday, September 28 (Cont’d):
Steven and Becky at the Fat Trout Trailer Park in Twin Peaks – Day
The Mitchum brothers and Candie at home in Las Vegas – Day
Janey-E takes Cooper to the Doctor in Las Vegas
The Mitchum brothers watch T.V. – Night (The extended weather forecast tells us it’s Wednesday then there is a story about Ike’s arrest, which a news anchor says happened “today.”)
Janey-E and Cooper having sex in their Las Vegas home – Night

Day Nine: Thursday, September 29 (Cont’d):
Nadine watches Jacoby’s video blog from her Twin Peaks drapery store – Night
Janey-E drives Sonny Jim to school and Cooper to work in Vegas – Morning
Jerry is lost in the woods of Twin Peaks – Day
Deputy Chad intercepts the mail at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Day
Richard Horne robs Sylvia Horne at her Twin Peaks home – Day

Day Eight: Wednesday, September 28 (Cont’d):
Anthony Sinclair visits Duncan Todd’s Las Vegas office – Night

Day Nine: Thursday, September 29 (Cont’d):
Albert has a dinner date with Constance in Buckhorn – Night

Day Eight: Wednesday, September 28 (Cont’d):
Anthony Sinclair visits the Mitchum brothers at the Silver Mustang Casino – Night
The Mitchum brothers at home – Night

Day Nine: Thursday, September 29 (Cont’d):
Albert and Tammy visit Gordon in his Buckhorn hotel room – Night
Ben Horne takes a call from Sylvia at the Great Northern Hotel – Night
The Log Lady calls Hawk at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Night
Rebekah Del Rio performs at the Roadhouse – Night

Part 11: There’s fire where you are going.
Day Nine: Thursday, September 29 (Cont’d)
Kids discover Miriam still alive in Twin Peaks – Day

Day Eight: Wednesday, September 28 (Cont’d):
From her trailer Becky calls Shelly at the RR Diner – Day
Becky, Shelly and Carl in the Fat Trout trailer park – Day
Carl calls the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. while giving Shelly a ride – Day
Becky shoots holes in Gersten’s apartment door – Day

Day 10: Friday, September 30 (Cont’d)
Hastings takes the FBI to the “vortex” in Buckhorn – Day

Day Eight: Wednesday, September 28 (Cont’d):
Bobby, Shelly and Becky at the RR Diner – Night

Day Nine: Thursday, September 29 (Cont’d):
Hawk shows Truman his map in the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. – Night (Hawk says, “The major also gave us a date, the day after tomorrow,” putting this scene on the same day as the Twin Peaks scenes in Episode 9)

Day 10: Friday, September 30 (Cont’d)
The FBI agents and Macklay in the Buckhorn police station – Night

Day Nine: Thursday, September 29 (Cont’d)
Bushnell and Cooper at the Lucky Seven office in Vegas – Day
The Mitchum brothers at home in Vegas – Day
Bushnell escorts Cooper to the Mitchum brothers’ limo – Day
Driving through Vegas montage – Day
Cooper meets the Mitchum brothers in the desert – Dusk
Cooper and the Mitchum brothers in a Las Vegas restaurant – Night

Part 12: Let’s rock.
Day 10: Friday, September 30 (Cont’d)
Gordon and Albert initiate Tammy into the Blue Rose Task Force at a Buckhorn hotel – Night
Jerry makes it out of the woods in Twin Peaks – Day
Sarah Palmer shops for liquor at a Twin Peaks grocery store – Day
Carl Rodd talks to Kriscol at the Fat Trout trailer park – Day

Day 8: Wednesday, September 28? 
Cooper and Sonny Jim play catch in their backyard in Las Vegas – Day (this has to be a flashback; we learn in Part 13 that Cooper didn’t come home the night he went out with the Mitchum brothers; this brief scene was almost certainly inserted here so that Kyle MacLachlan would be able to have one scene in this episode.)

Day 10: Friday, September 30 (Cont’d)
Hawk visits Sarah Palmer at home – Day
Miriam at the Calhoun Memorial Hospital – Day
Diane in a hotel bar in Buckhorn – Night
Sheriff Truman visits Ben at the Great Northern – Day
Albert visits Gordon’s hotel room in Buckhorn – Night
Hutch and Chantal kill Warden Murphy in Yankton – Night
Nadine watches Jacoby’s video blog from her Twin Peaks drapery store – Night
Audrey talks to her husband Charlie in his home office – Night (Charlie says, “It’s a new moon tonight, it’ll be dark out there.” The lunar calendar confirms there was a new moon on September 30, 2016.)
Diane in a hotel bar in Buckhorn – Night
The Chromatics perform at the Roadhouse in Twin Peaks – Night

Part 13: What story is that, Charlie? 
Day 10: Friday, September 30 (Cont’d)
The Mitchum brothers and Dougie bestow gifts on Bushnell at Lucky 7 – Morning
Anthony Sinclair calls Duncan Todd in his Las Vegas office – Morning
Movers deliver gym set/BMW to Janey-E in her Vegas home – Day
Sonny Jim plays on his gym set – Night
Mr. C kills Ray in a warehouse in western Montana – Day
Detectives Fusco/Anthony Sinclair/Det. Clark in the Vegas police dept. – Day (Fuscos reference Mr. C escaping prison “two days ago.”)
Chantal and Hutch drive through Utah – Night

Day 11: Saturday, October 1
Janey-E drops Cooper at work/coffee w/ Anthony Sinclair – Morning

Day 10: Friday, September 30 (Cont’d)
Becky calls Shelly at the Double R (says Steven hasn’t been home for “two nights.”) – Day

Day 11: Saturday, October 1
Anthony Sinclair confesses to Bushnell Mullins at Lucky 7 – Day

Day Nine: Thursday, September 29 (Cont’d)
Bobby, Norma, Big Ed and Walter at the Double R – Night (Bobby says “We found some stuff that my dad left today.”

Day 10: Friday, September 30 (Cont’d)
Dr. Jacoby visits Nadine at “Run Silent, Run Drapes” – Night
Sarah watches boxing on T.V. – Night
Audrey talks to Charlie in their home – Night (This is a continuation of the conversation between these characters from the previous episode albeit in a different room of their home. They are wearing the same clothes.)
James Hurley performs at the Roadhouse – Night
Big Ed eats soup in his Gas Farm – Night

Part 14: We are like the dreamer.
Day 11: Saturday, October 1 (Cont’d)

From his Buckhorn hotel room, Gordon calls Sheriff Truman in Twin Peaks – Day
Albert, Tammy, Gordon and Diane in the Buckhorn hotel – Day
Truman, Hawk, Bobby and Andy arrest Chad at the T.P. Sheriff’s Dept. – Day
Truman, Hawk, Bobby and Andy visit Jackrabbit’s Palace – Day
Andy, Lucy, Chad, Naido and Drunk in the T.P. Sheriff’s Dept. jail – Night
James and Freddie at the Great Northern Hotel – Night
Sarah at the Elk’s Point #9 Bar – Night
Lissie performs at the Roadhouse – Night

Part 15: There’s some fear in letting go.
Day 11: Saturday, October 1 (Cont’d)

Nadine visits Ed at the Gas Farm – Day
Ed and Walter visit Norma at the Double R – Day

Day 10: Friday, September 30
Mr. C visits Phillip Jeffries above the convenience store – Night (Mr. C asks Jeffries if he called him “five days ago.” This makes sense if the phone call scene from Part 2 took place on Sunday the 24th after midnight.)

Day 11: Saturday, October 1 (Cont’d)
Steven, Gersten and Cyril in the woods – Day
Cyril and Carl Rodd at the Fat Trout Trailer Park – Day
James and Freddie visit the Roadhouse – Night
Chantal assassinates Duncan Todd and Roger in Las Vegas – Night
Hawk and Bobby lock up James and Freddie in the Twin Peaks jail – Night
Chantal and Hutch eating fast food in their van – Night
Cooper eats chocolate cake and watches Sunset Blvd. in his Las Vegas home – Night
The Log Lady calls Hawk from her log cabin – Night
Hawk informs Truman, Bobby, Andy and Lucy of the Log Lady’s death – Night
The Veils play at the Roadhouse – Night

Part 16: No Knock, No Doorbell 
Day 11: Saturday, October 1 (Cont’d)
Mr. C and Richard check out the coordinates in Twin Peaks while Jerry observes – Night
Day 12: Sunday, October 2
Chantal and Hutch and Las Vegas FBI stake out Dougie and Janey-E’s home – Day
The Mitchum brothers, Bushnell, Janey-E and Sonny Jim visit Cooper in the hospital – Day
Gordon in a Buckhorn hotel – Day
Phil Bisby calls Bushnell in Cooper’s hospital room – Day
A Polish accountant in a fit of road rage kills Chantal and Hutch – Day
Cooper wakes up in the hospital and calls the Mitchum brothers at home – Day
Cooper drives Janey-E and Dougie to the Silver Mustang Casino – Day
Diane receives a text from Mr. C in a Buckhorn hotel bar – Day
Diane visits Gordon, Tammy and Albert in their room – Day
Diane and MIKE in the Red Room – ?
Cooper says goodbye to Janey-E and Sonny Jim at the Silver Mustang – Day
Cooper rides with the Mitchum brothers and “Andie” sisters to their jet – Day
Audrey and Charlie in the Roadhouse/Audrey in a white room – ?


The Best Films of the Year So Far

Now that we’ve reached the half-way point of 2017, it’s time to post a list of my favorite films of the year so far. A cursory glance at the list below should tell you that we’ve seen an uncommonly good six months of cinema. As is customary with all my lists, I’m only including films that first premiered in Chicago in 2017. This means I’m including titles that opened elsewhere in late 2016 (Silence, Toni Erdmann) while not including other worthy titles that had their first theatrical runs in 2017 after playing festival screenings here last year (A Quiet Passion, Raw). It will be yrev, very interesting to see what the next six months bring.

25. Silence (Scorsese, USA/Japan) – Music Box

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“Scorsese is one of America’s greatest living filmmakers and probably only he would have been capable of getting a big-budget art film like this financed by a major studio like Paramount.” Review here.

24. 76 Minutes and 15 Seconds with Abbas Kiarostami (Samadian, Iran) – Annual Festival of Films from Iran (Siskel Center)

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Farewell, maestro.

23. Rat Film (Anthony, USA) – Doc10 Film Festival (Davis)

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More docs like this please.

22. Such is Life in the Tropics (Cordero, Ecuador) – Chicago Latino Film Fest

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“A superb political thriller that intertwines several compelling storylines set in Guayaquil, Ecuador.” Capsule review here.

21. Beach Rats (Hittman, USA) – Chicago Critics Film Fest (Music Box)

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I really enjoyed this for the naturalistic performances and as a piece of “sensory cinema.” Still not sure about the contrived climax.

20. Shelley (Abbasi, Denmark) – Chicago European Union Film Fest (Siskel Center)

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Not only well-crafted as horror, this Danish movie made by an Iranian writer/director in exile also succeeds as sly political allegory in the way it examines the unconscious xenophobia of a rich, ostensibly liberal hippie couple through their subtle mistreatment of a Romanian housekeeper.

19. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (Anderson, USA/UK) – Wide Release

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No one does 3D like W.S. Here I am getting ready to watch it the way it was meant to be seen.

18. Lost North (Lavanderos, Chile) – Chicago Latino Film Fest

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“The film’s clever dual road-trip conceit allows Lavanderos to create a compelling Murnau-like dichotomy between city and country, past and present, and man and woman, but there’s also welcome humor in the characters’ differing attitudes towards ‘unplugging’ and letting go of the modern world.” Capsule review here.

17. Ethel & Ernest (Mainwood, UK) – Chicago European Union Film Fest (Siskel Center)

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“The voice work of Jim Broadbent and Brenda Blethyn as the central couple is magnificent and cinephiles should especially appreciate that their first date involves taking in a screening of John Ford’s Hangman’s House.” Capsule review here.

16. Personal Shopper (Assayas, France) – Chicago European Union Film Fest (Siskel Center)

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“Stewart’s unique, sometimes controversial brand of ‘underplaying’ has rarely been used to better effect than here.” Capsule review here.

15. Get Out (Peele, USA) – Wide Release

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Jordan Peele uses the conventions of the horror film to comment on the horrors of racism in contemporary America. Sharp debut.

14. Louise by the Shore (Laguionie, France) – Chicago European Union Film Fest (Siskel Center)

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No one does animation like Jean-François Laguionie.

13. Baby Driver (Wright, USA) – Wide Release

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Baby Driver has a lot of virtues. Chief among them is the way it expresses a love for the simple act of listening to music.

12. Austerlitz (Loznitsa, Germany) – Chicago European Union Film Fest (Siskel Center)

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Austerlitz is a provocative and challenging German documentary on the subject of ‘Holocaust tourism’ by the Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa.” Capsule review here.

11. Lucky (Lynch, USA) – Chicago Critics Film Fest (Music Box)

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“Harry Dean Stanton is a national treasure.” Capsule review here.

10. It’s Not the Time of My Life (Hajdu, Hungary) – Chicago European Union Film Fest (Siskel Center)

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Brilliant Hungarian comedy about a dinner party with the in-laws gone wrong. More people need to see this.

9. The Death of Louis XIV (Serra, France) – Chicago European Union Film Fest (Siskel Center)

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“The formal control of Serra’s precise compositions and exquisitely candle-lit interiors, which resemble 18th century paintings, is impressive but don’t let the somber veneer distract you from the movie’s most appealing aspect: its bizarre, poker-faced sense of humor.” Capsule review here.

8. Death in the Terminal (Shemesh/Sudry, Israel) – Doc10 Film Festival (Davis)

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“This incredibly complex and disturbing documentary by co-directors Tali Shemesh and Asaf Sudry does more to explain the culture of violence in the Middle East today than any other single work of art I know of.” Capsule review here.

7. The Beguiled (Coppola, USA) – Wide Release

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“Viewers looking for an alternative to mindless summer blockbuster fare can do no better than to check out this visually sumptuous and surprisingly funny Civil War-era melodrama, which boasts a raft of great performances.” Review here.

6. The Son of Joseph (Green, France) – Chicago European Union Film Fest (Siskel Center)

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“A masterful comedy/drama about a teenage boy (Victor Ezenfis) searching for the identity of his birth father (Mathieu Amalric), a journey that ends up taking on parallels to the Biblical stories of the birth of Christ and Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac.” Capsule review here.

5. The Ornithologist (Rodrigues, Portugal) – Chicago European Union Film Fest (Siskel Center)

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“The homoeroticism and mystical-jungle imagery may put one in the mind of Apichatpong Weerasethakul but the Catholic symbolism and meditation on solitude vs. companionship are distinctly Rodrigues’ own.” Capsule review here.

4. Slack Bay (Dumont, France) – Chicago European Union Film Fest (Siskel)

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“As if the positive response to Li’l Quinquin has given him confidence, Dumont also successfully turns the wackiness here up to 11; Slack Bay is one of the funniest and craziest films in recent memory.” Capsule review here.

3. The Lost City of Z (Gray, USA) – Wide Release

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“Many critics have noted this thrilling adventure film is a ‘departure’ for Gray, although the classicism of the filmmaking and the focus on family dynamics make it all of a piece with his earlier New York-set dramas.” Interview with director James Gray here.

2. Toni Erdmann (Ade, Germany) – Music Box

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“The poignant father/daughter relationship at its core is as universal and timeless as that of Yasujiro Ozu’s Late Spring (although it is also given a refreshingly female-centric spin by its female writer/director).” Review here.

1. Twin Peaks: Parts 1 – 8 (Lynch, USA) – Showtime

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It’s darker, scarier, stranger and funnier than it was the first time around. It eschews the warmth and softness of the original’s 35mm film textures for a visual style that deliberately leans into the cold, hard, clean lines of high-definition digital (including a brilliant and extensive use of CGI). The long-awaited third season of Twin Peaks has been nothing short of a miracle for its first eight parts. Coming off of an 11-year filmmaking hiatus (his last major work being 2006’s sublime INLAND EMPIRE), David Lynch’s new incarnation of Twin Peaks feels so far like he fully intends it to be his magnum opus; there are times when watching it has put me in the mind of watching each of his 10 feature films, including Dune, even while the end result ultimately feels like he’s striking out in bold and exciting new directions.

Before the first two “parts” (he doesn’t like to call them episodes) aired on May 21, Lynch repeatedly referred to this limited series as an “18-hour movie.” Few had any clue at the time what that meant but six parts later, it’s obvious: the series’ gradual unfolding of its impossibly mammoth scope, in which 200+ characters are introduced in glacially paced scenes taking place in locations all over the world, has resulted in something both structurally and aesthetically radical: the masterful way Lynch has been carefully and slowly bringing these various narrative threads together forces viewers to completely rethink how a T.V. show should be watched and processed. In so doing, he’s created a work for the “small screen” that dwarfs all of the other “big screen” experiences on this list and cements his place alongside Ford, Hitchcock and Welles in the pantheon of the all-time greats of the American cinema.


Filmmaker Interview: David Lynch

I was thrilled to be able to interview David Lynch for Time Out recently. Here’s the interview in its entirety.

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At 70-years-old, iconoclastic filmmaker David Lynch is more popular than ever. A much-publicized BBC poll of film critics around the world recently named his 2001 masterpiece Mulholland Drive the best film of the 21st century and anticipation for the much-hyped third season of Twin Peaks, which is scheduled to premiere on Showtime next year, has reached a fever pitch.

On September 25, Yoga Gives Back, a non-profit organization dedicated to alleviating poverty in India, will present Lynch with the “Namaste Award” at its fifth annual “Thank You Mother India” gala fundraiser. Yoga Gives Back is honoring Lynch for his humanitarian efforts through the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace, which helps children and adults in various areas of the world through the teaching and practice of Transcendental Meditation.

Lynch has said that he is honored to receive the award “on behalf of the thousands of teachers of Transcendental Meditation in India, the United States and all over the world who are working with great energy, wisdom and devotion in order create a more peaceful, progressive, and healthier world.” I recently had the chance to interview Lynch about his relationship to both meditation and creativity.

MGS: When you feel creatively blocked, how do you work through the problem?

DL: I desire an idea and after two-and-a-half minutes the idea comes.

MGS: Gun violence has reached epidemic proportions in my hometown of Chicago. How might Transcendental Meditation be used to combat this epidemic and increase peace at the local level?

DL: Sometimes violence can be done with fists. Sometimes with rocks. Sometimes with knives. Sometimes with baseball bats. Sometimes with hand grenades. Sometime with bombs. The whole idea is to get rid of the desire to create violence, or the need to make violence. If people are happy and blissful within, if they’re filled with universal love within, they don’t have any desire to hurt anyone or make violence. They just enjoy life and enjoy all the diversity in life. Every human being has a treasury of love and bliss within, and to access that treasure and infuse it we need a technique. Transcendental Meditation as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi allows any human being to access that treasury within each of us, and utilize that treasury to enjoy a peaceful and blissful life. There are Vedic techniques that Maharishi brought out that eliminate the enmity in any enemy, these techniques raise collective consciousness and can be powerful enough to raise collective consciousness in whole nations and even in the whole world. These techniques bring real peace. Not just the absence of war, or the desire for violence, but the absence of all negativity. We could all very easily enjoy peace on earth, heaven on earth, if these technologies are utilized everyday on a permanent basis. Mankind was not made to suffer. Bliss is our nature. The individual is cosmic.

MGS: How do Transcendental Meditation and coffee relate to each other?

DL: Both are very enjoyable.

MGS: What’s something new you want to try that you’ve never done before?

DL: Making gold from lead.

MGS: The current cultural climate doesn’t seem conducive to filmmakers with personal visions. Do you feel optimistic about the future of the feature film?

DL: The feature film and the form of the feature film is not so pleasing to people these days. A continuing story seems to be what is interesting for people nowadays. Cable television is the new art-house.

MGS: “Binge watching” has become fashionable. Why is it important to you that Twin Peaks airs in weekly installments, rather than being released all at once?

DL: I’m not allowed to talk about Twin Peaks.

MGS: If the 70-year-old David Lynch could impart a word of advice to the 35-year-old David Lynch, what would it be?

DL: Don’t throw out your B negative!


Blue Velvet at 30

I wrote the following appreciation of Blue Velvet, on the occasion of its 30th anniversary, for Time Out Chicago. My original version, printed here in its entirety, is slightly longer than Time Out’s edit.

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The long awaited third season of Twin Peaks, David Lynch and Mark Frost’s groundbreaking prime-time television series that originally ran from 1990-1991, is currently in post-production but not anticipated to air until the second quarter of 2017. Chicagoans breathlessly awaiting Showtime’s reboot can tide themselves over with a temporary fix of quintessential Lynchian weirdness by heading to the Music Box to catch a 30th anniversary engagement of Blue Velvet. Lynch’s controversial erotic thriller, arguably his seminal work, as well as one of the great American films of the 1980s, looks fresher than ever when seen from the vantage point of today; the director’s nightmarish vision of the evil lurking behind the white-picket fences of seemingly idyllic small-town America captures the schizophrenia of the Trump/Clinton era better than any contemporary film I know.

Blue Velvet’s continued relevance can perhaps be chalked up to the fact that it has always seemed out of time: a vision of America set in the Reagan era but nostalgically steeped in the 1950s that perversely pits the irresistible, Nancy Drew-esque amateur-sleuth team of Kyle MacLachlan and Laura Dern against Dennis Hopper’s sadistic, nitrous oxide-sniffing villain (still one of the most frightening performances in cinema history). Caught between these worlds is Isabella Rossellini’s mysterious roadhouse chanteuse, a masochistic femme fatale (and source of much of the film’s original controversy) who appears to have sprung from Lynch’s id like a golden sapling. Blue Velvet may express the reactionary desire to return to “simpler times” but it also fully — and troublingly — acknowledges the impossibility of doing so. For those who’ve never seen it, or only seen it on home video, the director’s famously meticulous attention to image and sound should come as a revelation in what the Music Box’s publicity is touting as a “gorgeous” new restoration.

For more information, visit the Music Box’s website.


WCCRH Episode 4: Talking David Lynch with Rob Christopher

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The fifth episode of the White City Cinema Radio Hour podcast is now online. I sat down to talk about the career of the great David Lynch with Chicago film critic and filmmaker Rob Christopher (whose debut feature, the 20-years-in-the-making Pause of the Clock, recently had a rapturous reception at its world premiere at the Denver Film Festival). Rob and I discuss Twin Peaks and Mulholland Dr., Lynch’s relationships with collaborators Mark Frost and Barry Gifford, and Lynch’s influence on Pause of the Clock. You can listen to the episode here.


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