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Tag Archives: Twin Peaks

My Top 50 Films of 2017

Here is a list of my 50 favorite feature films to first play Chicago in 2017. Films that had press screenings here but won’t officially open ’til next year (e.g., Phantom Thread) aren’t eligible but may make my Best of 2018 list. I’m also disqualifying from inclusion Jennifer Reeder’s Signature Move and Gabe Klinger’s Porto, which I programmed at my Pop-Up Film Festival, and Stephen Cone’s Princess Cyd because friends and colleagues worked on it; but I do recommend all of them highly. Next to each title below I’ve also linked to my original reviews where applicable. Enjoy!

The Top 10:

10. Félicité (Gomis, Senegal/Democratic Republic of Congo)
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Félicité, the fourth feature film from French/Senegalese director Alain Gomis, would make an excellent double feature with the Safdie brothers’ Good Time, with which it shares an urgent deadline structure involving one character’s frantic search for quick cash; only where the Safdies offer a subtle and sly critique of white privilege in their depiction of Robert Pattinson’s charismatic, Greek-American punk — a con artist in Queens who plays the race card to his advantage at every opportunity — Gomis explores the tragedy of a black African woman who, through no fault of her own, cannot transcend the dire straits of the life she has always known in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Nonetheless, the title character of Gomis’ film, a Kinshasa nightclub singer and single mother trying to hustle money to pay for an emergency operation for her son, comes across as resilient and even indomitable as incarnated by a force of nature named Véro Tshanda Beya Mputu. This woman’s radiant performance, along with the film’s sublime, borderline-surreal musical interludes featuring electrified, polyrhythmic Afropop, go a long way towards tempering the bleakness.

9. The Other Side of Hope (Kaurismaki, Finland)
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The Other Side of Hope, the second film in Aki Kaurismaki’s proposed trilogy about the refugee crisis in Europe, improves upon its predecessor, the already formidable Le Havre. This is in large part because, even though the plots and character dynamics between the films are quite similar, the true protagonist in Hope is actually the outsider/refugee character instead of the good-hearted European man helping to provide him refuge (reversing the case in the earlier film). A critic friend recently speculated that the complete lack of empathy that characterizes the current President of the United States and his inane daily pronouncements on social media has made moviegoers hungrier than ever to see empathy portrayed onscreen. This gentle, minimalist comedy, made by a former-misanthrope-turned-humanist, is exhibit A for what he’s talking about. Plus it has a great dog performance.

8. Let the Sunshine In (Denis, France)
film_Let_the_Sunshine_In_1200x800-1024x683Some critics have treated this unexpected comedy from Claire Denis as if it were a mere divertissement as they await High Life, her ambitious, Robert Pattinson-starring sci-fi follow-up due out next year. But this warm and wise film is actually much better than that. I reviewed it for Cine-File Chicago here.

7. On the Beach at Night Alone (Hong, S. Korea)
On-the-Beach-at-Night-AloneThis melancholy dramedy, the only one of the three features Hong Sang-soo made this year to reach Chicago so far, stars the mighty Kim Min-hee as a famous actress having an affair with a married film director, a situation clearly inspired by the notorious real-life affair between Hong and Kim during their previous collaboration, last year’s delightful Right Now, Wrong Then. The personal nature of this film, however, is evident not just in the details of the plot but in the fact that Kim’s character, Young-hee, is arguably Hong’s strongest and most complex female character to date; you can feel the closeness of their working relationship in Kim’s richly textured performance as the introspective Young-hee, reeling from the scandal of the affair, travels to Germany for some “me time” before returning to Korea and visiting her lover on the set of his new movie (where, this being a Hong Sang-soo joint, a soju-fueled argument provides an explosive climax).  It is absolutely astonishing how much creativity and variation Hong has been able to continually wring from the same plot elements, character types, themes and narrative structures. He has now made 21 features in 21 years and I hope he doesn’t slow down anytime soon.

6. Good Time (Safdie/Safdie, USA)
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100% pure cinema. Pattinson is amazing. I reviewed it on this blog here.

5. Nocturama (Bonello, France)
nocturamaA group of attractive, ethnically diverse young people plan and execute a series of deadly bombings across Paris then seek refuge in a shopping mall for the night as a police dragnet closes in around them. Writer/director Bertrand Bonello synthesizes sundry cinematic influences (Alan Clarke, John Carpenter, Robert Bresson, George Romero) and applies them to prescient subject matter in a way that feels vital and new but the real masterstroke of this challenging, zeitgeist-capturing film is to illustrate what “terrorism” is by keeping discussions of ideological motivations by the protagonists almost entirely offscreen.  Had these characters been explicitly portrayed as, say, Marxists or jihadists, the viewer would have been asked to “understand” them and, by extension, either agree or disagree with their point-of-view. But by keeping their motivations opaque, Bonello forces us to focus instead on the simple material facts of what they do — and the results are cold, terrifying and brilliant. When future generations want to know what the 2010s were like, I have a feeling that this is the movie that will provide them with the best global snapshot. Also, dude knows how to use a pop song.

4. Toni Erdmann (Ade, Germany) tonierdmann_02The film that made everyone’s best-of list last year didn’t receive its Chicago premiere until early 2017. Yep, I love it too and reviewed it on this blog at the beginning of the year here.

3. Faces Places (Varda/J.R., France) Faces-Places-Feature
I’ve heard more than a few intelligent critics remark that the ending of this masterful documentary is somehow conclusive proof that Jean-Luc Godard is a dick. Which seems like a superficial way to read an essay film that is clearly blending documentary and fiction techniques in the classic Varda tradition and thus inviting viewers to closely interrogate what exactly it is they’re watching. Is it not more probable, I would propose, that Godard and Varda concocted the ending of Faces Places together? Does anyone really think that Varda, who has been friends with the hermetic Godard since the 1950s, would actually plan on showing up at his home unannounced and bumrush him with a camera? And does not JLG’s supposed “refusal” to appear before said camera provide her film with an awfully convenient narrative and emotional climax? In other words, the structuring absence of Godard is what allows Varda to shed tears and subsequently be comforted by her acolyte J.R. (when he removes his dark sunglasses for the first time). An actual Godard cameo would have been a lesser gift to this movie. I reviewed it for Time Out here.

2. Happy Hour (Hamaguchi, Japan)
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The single most important cinematic discovery of 2017 for me was seeing Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s 5-hour-and-17-minute Japanese masterpiece for the first time. It tells the story of four 37-year-old female friends living in Kobe who are given occasion to re-evaluate their personal and professional lives after spending the night together at a spa/hot-spring resort in a nearby town. This quiet, absorbing drama is written, directed and acted to perfection and its moment-to-moment narrative unpredictability belies a rigorous structural ingenuity, which only becomes obvious in hindsight: a lengthy scene depicting a workshop attended by the four protagonists about “unconventional communication” takes up much of the film’s first third; this sequence, reminiscent of the rehearsal scenes in Jacques Rivette’s Out 1, not only foreshadows the drama that is to follow but also is elegantly mirrored by another lengthy scene involving an author talk/Q&A session in the film’s final third. I haven’t seen any of Hamaguchi’s other films yet but I plan on changing that very soon. I feel like I could have watched these women’s lives unfold onscreen indefinitely.

1. Twin Peaks (Lynch, USA)
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Is it a movie? Is it T.V.? What year is this?! If Twin Peaks should be considered a film, it’s not because it “transcends” the medium of television (whatever that means) but rather because it was written, financed, shot and edited the way that movies are and serialized T.V. shows are not. But regardless of what you call it, the bottom line is that the newest iteration of Twin Peaks is David Lynch’s magnum opus — a career-defining work (made on the largest canvas that he’s ever had to work with) that summarizes everything he’s done before while simultaneously also striking out in bold new directions. It’s a miracle that this thing got made at all and I spent a lot of time between May and September wondering why anyone was doing anything other than watching and talking about Twin Peaks. I wrote quite a bit about it this year — the most substantial piece being one where I discussed how Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost use western movie tropes to make some surprisingly trenchant political points about life in America today. You can read that piece on this blog here.

The Runners-Up:

11. Slack Bay (Dumont, France). Capsule review here.
12. The Lost City of Z (Gray, USA). Interview with director James Gray here.
13. Lover for a Day (Garrel, France)
14. The Florida Project (Baker, USA)
15. The Ornithologist (Rodrigues, Portugal). Capsule review here.
16. Death in the Terminal (Shemesh/Sudry, Israel). Capsule review here.
17. The Death of Louis XIV (Serra, France). Capsule review here.
18. The Lovers (Jacobs, USA)
19. My Happy Family (Ekvtimishvili/Groß, Georgia) 
20. The Son of Joseph (Green, France). Capsule review here.
21. Detroit (Bigelow, USA)
22. Golden Years (Techine, France)
23. The Beguiled (Coppola, USA). Review here.
24. It’s Not the Time of My Life (Hajdu, Hungary)
25. Mudbound (Rees, USA)
26. Personal Shopper (Assayas, France). Capsule review here.
27. Get Out (Peele, USA)
28. BPM (Campillo, France)
29. The Human Surge (Williams, Argentina/Mozambique/Thailand)
30. The Shape of Water (Del Toro, USA)
31. Dawson City: Frozen Time (Morrison, USA)
32. Western (Grisebach, Germany/Bulgaria)
33. Austerlitz (Loznitsa, Germany/Ukraine). Capsule review here.
34. Lady Bird (Gerwig, USA)
35. Lucky (Lynch, USA). Capsule review here.
36. Louise by the Shore (Laguionie, France)
37. Blade of the Immortal (Miike, Japan)
38. Mimosas (Laxe, Morocco) 

39. Battle of the Sexes (Dayton/Faris, USA)
40. Ethel & Ernest (Mainwood, UK). Capsule review here.
41. El Mar la Mar (Bonnetta/Sniadecki, USA). Capsule review here.
42. Lost North (Lavanderos, Chile). Capsule review here.

43. Such is Life in the Tropics (Cordero, Ecuador). Capsule review here.
44. Top of the Lake: China Girl (Campion/Kleiman, Australia)
45. Have a Nice Day (Liu, China)
46. The Unknown Girl (Dardenne/Dardenne, Belgium)
47. Columbus (Kogonada, USA)
48. 76 Minutes and 15 Seconds with Abbas Kiarostami (Samadian, Iran)
49. Orders – (Stasiulis/Marsh, USA). Interview with directors Andrew Stasiulis and Eric Marsh here.
50. Kedi (Torun, Turkey/USA)

Finally, I don’t normally include short films on these lists but I’d like to give special mention to the delightful Take Me Home, the final film Abbas Kiarostami completed in his lifetime, which screened at the Siskel Center’s Annual Festival of Films from Iran in February (a final feature, 24 Frames, completed by others after Kiarostami’s death, premiered at Cannes last May and will almost certainly play Chicago at some point in 2018). You can read my review of Take Me Home at Time Out here.

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The Top 10 Home Video Releases of 2017

My Blu-ray/DVD consumption has waned somewhat in the wake of my subscribing to FilmStruck but I was still able to easily cobble together a list of my top 10 favorite home video releases of 2017 (plus 11 runners-up). Enjoy:
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10. A Page of Madness/Portrait of a Young Man (Kinugasa/Rodakiewicz, 1926/1931, Flicker Alley Blu-ray)
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Director Teinosuke Kinugasa was a member of a group of avant-garde Japanese artists known as Shinkankaku-ha (“the school of new perceptions”) and this experimental film, written in collaboration with future Nobel Prize-winning author Yasunari Kawabata, is a good example of their rebellion against realistic representation. Apparently not influenced by The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (which Kinugasa claimed not to have seen at the time), this nonetheless tells a similarly mind-bending story about the goings on in a mental hospital. The plot has something to do with a man getting a job as a janitor in the same asylum to which has wife has been committed in order to be near her but I’ve never fully grasped exactly what is going on, which for me is part of the appeal; I just give myself over to the dreamlike imagery. Silent Asian films have had an even smaller survival rate than their American and European counterparts, which makes a startling, non-narrative film like this all the more valuable. Flicker Alley has done cinephiles a huge favor by creating a new HD transfer of a 16mm print only one source removed from the original camera negative. While there are limitations to the image quality, it’s still a vast improvement over the only previous home video release — a fuzzy VHS tape that came out way back in the 1990s. Also included, the silent experimental American film Portrait of a Young Man, directed by one Henwar Rodakiewicz, which is well worth a look.

9. Despite the Night (Grandrieux, 2015, Matchbox DVD)
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Philippe Grandrieux’s unique brand of transgressive but poetic cinema stands as one of the high-water marks of 21st century European art. His latest masterpiece, Despite the Night (Malgre la Nuit), didn’t receive U.S. distribution but fortunately turned up for a single screening in Chicago last year with Grandrieux in attendance. The film’s emotionally wrenching story involves a young Englishman’s search for his missing ex-girlfriend in the shadowy underworld of Parisian porn and prostitution rings but the thematic darkness, and we’re talking black as midnight on a moonless night, is also perfectly counter-balanced by the visual splendor of some of the most transcendent passages in modern movies; I am particularly fond of the lyrical use of superimposition, recalling the syntax of the silent-film era, in a scene where Roxane Mesquida sings in a nightclub. Matchbox Films in the UK put out this bare bones DVD over the summer, which, although not as ideal as the extras-laden Blu-ray release this film deserves, is still a must-own for Grandrieux fans in the English-speaking world.

8. 3 Classic Films by Claude Chabrol (Chabrol, 1992-1997, Cohen Media Group Blu-ray)
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Seven years after his death at the age of 80, Claude Chabrol remains the most underrated of the major French New Wave directors in the U.S. in spite of the fact that it is easier now than ever before to see his work – thanks especially to the Francophile distributor Charles Cohen who, in a span of a few short years, has released 10 of Chabrol’s features via his Cohen Media Group shingle. The latest of these releases, 3 Classic Films By Claude Chabrol, bundles together three movies made by “France’s Alfred Hitchcock” between 1992 and 1997, long after his supposed critical and commercial peak of the late ’60s and early ’70s. Yet calling these films “classics” is by no means a stretch even if the most well-known title in the bunch, the Isabelle Huppert-starring comedic-thriller The Swindle, is also the most trifling. Betty is a dark, rich character study featuring an amazing performance by Marie Trintignant in the title role (not long before her tragic real-life murder) as well as the final collaboration between Chabrol and his longtime leading lady (onscreen and off) Stephane Audran; and L’enfer, which Chabrol adapted from a famously abandoned project by Henri-Georges Clouzot, remains one of the most psychologically acute depictions of jealousy ever committed to celluloid. The transfers of all three films are great and the supplements, including commentary tracks for two of the films by Chabrol experts Wade Major and Andy Klein, as well as a lengthy interview between critic Kent Jones and actor Francois Cluzet, are most welcome.

7. Celine and Julie Go Boating (Rivette, 1974, BFI Blu-ray)celine-and-julie-go-boating-1974-003-celine-and-julie-in-wardrobe-makeup-00n-q0s-ORIGINAL
Jacques Rivette’s beloved “persona-swap” movie, his most comedic and playful foray into what he called the “house of fiction” and one of the high points of improvisational filmmaking ever made by anybody, finally receives its long-awaited A/V upgrade via the British Film Institute’s remarkable new Blu-ray. Based on a restoration of the film’s original 16mm elements, the colors are now tighter than ever before while film grain is beautifully preserved — at times giving the image the quality of a pointillist painting. But the irresistible central performances — by two actresses with pointedly contrasting styles (the theatrically trained Dominique Labourier and the natural-born movie star Juliet Berto) — have always been and still are the main draw. Adrian Martin’s new audio commentary track is jam-packed with interesting insights, from his pointing out the identities of various cameo performers (e.g., Jean Eustache) to discussing the film in relation to feminism, queer studies, Commedia dell’arte, Alice in Wonderland, and films like Frank Tashlin’s Artists and Models and Vera Chytilova’s Daisies. This is one rabbit hole I am always happy to go down.

6. Tout va Bien (Godard/Gorin, 1972, Arrow Blu-ray)ToutVaBien04_igrande
The most accessible film from Jean-Luc Godard’s least accessible period — his “Dziga Vertov Group” collaborations with Jean-Pierre Gorin from 1968 to 1972 — Tout va Bien saw the master returning to something resembling a conventional plot and characterization (as well as collaborating again with movie stars in the persons of Jane Fonda and Yves Montand) while also not abandoning his interest in Marxist ideology and Brechtian distancing devices. Tout va Bien shows the difficulty of balancing one’s personal and professional lives through its depiction of a married couple (Montand is a documentary filmmaker, Fonda a reporter) assigned to cover a workers’ strike in a sausage factory. Some sources claim that Gorin was the film’s nominal director but its most daring cinematic conceits — constructing the factory on a giant “dollhouse”-like set (a la Jerry Lewis’ The Ladies Man) or capturing a riot in a supermarket with an epic lateral tracking shot — bear the unmistakable stamp of the author of Pierrot le Fou and Weekend. Among the extras in Arrow’s incredible Blu-ray package are the Dziga Vertov Group’s feature-length essay film Letter to Jane, a vintage Godard interview on film, a new Jean-Pierre Gorin video interview, a trailer, a lengthy booklet featuring newly translated writings about the film and more.

5. Right Now, Wrong Then (Hong, 2015, Grasshopper Blu-ray)
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The newly formed Grasshopper Films has rapidly become one of the most important distributors of independent and foreign films in the U.S., filling a void by scooping up important titles that other distributors aren’t likely to touch. One case in point is Hong Sang-soo’s Right Now, Wrong Then, which made my year-end best-of list when Grasshopper released it theatrically in 2016 and has now been followed up with this splendid Blu-ray, the first of Hong’s many films to be released on the format. As with nearly all new, digitally shot films, the transfer here perfectly reproduces its theatrical presentation so the real value lies in the copious extras: among them are Lost in the Mountains, a 30-minute Hong short from 2009 that stands as a mini-masterpiece in its own right, a great 25-minute video introduction by Dan Sallitt, a critic and filmmaker whose smart, talky rom-coms show a kinship with Hong’s work, and a 20 minute press conference with Hong and leading lady Kim Min-hee from the film’s Locarno premiere. More like this, please.

4. Anatahan
(Von Sternberg, 1953/1958, Kino/Lorber Blu-ray)
anatahanJosef Von Sternberg’s fiercely independent final feature is one of cinema’s most sublime swan songs. Filmed in Japan with an entirely Japanese cast speaking untranslated Japanese dialogue, but featuring English narration by Sternberg himself, this tells the fascinating true story of a group of Japanese marines stationed on a remote island in the Pacific who refuse to believe that the Empire has been defeated in WW2. After maintaining a facade of their military routine for years, the soldiers eventually discover a lone female inhabitant on the island, the beautiful “Queen Bee,” who soon roils jealousy and desire in their hearts. Sternberg knew how to use black-and-white cinematography as expressively as anybody so it is a major treat to finally see the film’s exquisite interplay of light and shadow in such an outstanding HD presentation as this. Included are two separate cuts of the film, the 1953 theatrical version and the 1958 director’s cut, the latter of which features considerably more nudity and eroticism.   

3. Bunuel: The Essential Collection (Bunuel, 1964-1977, Studiocanal Blu-ray)
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This impressive new Bunuel box from Studio Canal UK collects most of the Spanish master’s great late works: his final six French films plus the French/Spanish co-production Tristana. The titles making their Blu-ray debuts are: The Diary of a Chambermaid (whose depiction of a nationalistic and anti-semitic France on the eve of WW2 looks timelier than ever in the age of Le Pen and Trump), The Milky Way and The Phantom of Liberty. Belle de Jour is included in a sparkling new 50th anniversary restoration that bests all previous releases (including Criterion’s), and the set is rounded out with The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and That Obscure Object of Desire. Bunuel is on my personal Mount Rushmore of directors and I’m glad that Studio Canal UK has made these titles available. If only an American distributor would follow suit (and release the films of his great Mexican period as well). It’s a crime that the filmography of cinema’s preeminent Surrealist filmmaker is harder to access now than it was during the VHS era, especially when a charlatan like Alejandro Jodorowsky is enjoying a new wave of popularity among young cinephiles.

2. Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 2 (Various, 1931-1989, Criterion Blu-ray)
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The Criterion Collection’s second volume of Martin Scorsese’s “World Cinema Project” is even more impressive than the first. The purpose of the project is to restore and release treasures of global cinema from countries whose film industries lack the resources and finances to carry out the restorations themselves. The only one of the six titles here that I had seen previously was Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s incredible debut, the “exquisite corpse”-game/documentary Mysterious Object at Noon, although the best reason to buy the set is the gorgeous new restoration of Edward Yang’s Taipei Story, a key work of the Taiwanese New Wave starring and co-written by Hou Hsiao-Hsien. The biggest surprise of the bunch for me was Lino Brocka’s Insiang, a landmark of Philippine cinema (the first movie from that country to screen in competition at Cannes) that successfully melds melodrama tropes with social realism; I enjoyed it so much I screened it in a recent World of Cinema class where it went over like gangbusters. Rounding out the set are the visually stunning Russian film Revenge, the experimental Brazilian film Limite, and the Turkish neo-western Law of the Border, all of which I was very glad to see. Let’s hope this Criterion/World Cinema Project collaboration continues for many more releases.

1. Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series (Lynch, 2017) – Paramount Blu-raypeaksOf course this is number one. David Lynch and Mark Frost’s expectation-shattering third season of their game-changing television show was the cinematic event of the year, and the “18-hour movie” got the home-video release it deserved via Paramount’s Blu-ray box set. The image quality of the episodes is better on these discs than it was when they were aired by Showtime over the summer (with blacks, in particular, being noticeably richer) but what really amazes here are the plentiful bonus features, especially the ten half-hour behind-the-scenes “Impressions” documentaries directed by someone named Jason S. Although I could have done without Mr. S’s faux-Herzgogian philosophical voice-over narration, the footage he managed to capture of David Lynch at work on set, including many moments of Lynch corresponding very precisely with his actors during key scenes of the shoot, is absolutely thrilling to watch and invaluable in terms of understanding the director’s process. Now bring on season four.

Runners-Up:

The Before Trilogy (Linklater, 1995-2013, Criterion Blu-ray)
Black Girl (Sembene, 1966, Criterion Blu-ray)
Casa de Lava (Costa, 1994, Grasshopper Blu-ray)
Daughter of the Nile (Hou, 1987, Masters of Cinema Blu-ray)
Jeanne Dielman (Akerman, 1975, Criterion Blu-ray)
The Lovers on the Bridge (Carax, 1991, Kino/Lorber Blu-ray)
Melville: The Essential Collection (Melville, 1956-1972, Studiocanal Blu-ray)
Ophelia (Chabrol, 1962, Olive Films Blu-ray)
Othello (Welles, 1952, Criterion Blu-ray)
They Live By Night (Ray, 1948, Criterion Blu-ray)
The World’s Most Beautiful Swindlers (Godard/Chabrol/Gregoretti/Horikawa, 1964, Olive Films Blu-ray)


The Innovative Closing Credits of Twin Peaks Season Three

In honor of the Twin Peaks: Limited Event Series Blu-ray set being released today, here’s something new I wrote about the show’s innovative use of closing credits to impart narrative information.

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Along with everything that’s more obviously groundbreaking about it, one of the most subtly innovative aspects of the new season of Twin Peaks is the unique way the show’s makers used the end title credits to convey or conceal important narrative information and thus build a unique form of suspense in the process. Let’s start with the unusual fact that only key crew members are listed in the opening credits while all of the cast members, including star Kyle MacLachlan, are listed only in the closing credits. For those watching “live” on Showtime over the summer, this had the effect of not tipping off viewers in advance as to which actors in the extensive 200+ cast-member list would appear in each episode while also inviting viewers to scrutinize the end credits more closely in order to figure out exactly who was who and what was going on. This is where the real narrative gamesmanship begins: the way actors are (and are not) credited, and the way their credited character names sometimes change from one episode to the next, serves at least five different purposes in the show.

1. A character’s name is represented by question marks until his name is revealed on the show.

Carel Struyken’s character in Season Two was credited as “The Giant.” Many fans were surprised when the credits first rolled on Part One of Season Three to see that he was now credited as “???????” Even though Struyken was still playing a benevolent extra-dimensional being with a fondness for bow ties, was he the same character from 25 years ago or a new one? In Part 14, he introduces himself to Deputy Andy Brennan as the “Fireman,” which is how his character is then named in the closing credits of that episode. It seems likely that Lynch and Frost didn’t want viewers to know too soon that this guy puts out fires, whether literally or metaphorically, which would’ve perhaps allowed them to connect certain dots concerning the Black and White Lodge mythologies.

2. Some actors are not credited at all.

In some cases, this appears to have been done to preserve a sense of mystery about the character being portrayed. A case in point is the charcoal-black vagrant-looking character who first appeared in a prison cell next to Matthew Lillard’s Bill Hastings way back in Part 2. Some enterprising internet sleuths soon discovered that this spectral entity was played by character actor Stewart Strauss. Later on, when more of these characters appeared, the most prominent among them was credited as “Woodsman” (a memorable turn by professional Abraham Lincoln impersonator Robert Broski). It seems likely that crediting Stewart Strauss as a “Woodsman” in Part 2 would have revealed too much too soon in the eyes of the show’s creators – especially since Jurgen Prochnow and David Brisbin were also credited as “Woodsmen” in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me where they were explicitly depicted as Black Lodge denizens.

3. A character’s last name was initially withheld.

Madchen Amick’s Shelly Johnson from Seasons One and Two is credited only as “Shelly” up until Part 11 where it is revealed both in the dialogue of the episode and in the closing credits that her name is now “Shelly Briggs.” In this same episode it can be inferred that Shelly is now divorced from her second husband Bobby Briggs. Had Shelly been credited as “Shelly Briggs” in Part One of Season Three, many viewers would have believed that Shelly and Bobby were still married. It is likely that her new last name was initially withheld in order to avoid misdirecting viewers in to getting their hopes up.

4. Credited character names clue viewers in to the fact that familiar actors are and are not playing familiar characters.

Longtime fans would have assumed that Lynch favorite Phoebe Augustine was reprising her role as Ronette Pulaski in the experimental opening of Part Three had the closing titles not informed us instead that her character was instead named “American Girl.” Conversely, many longtime fans would have assumed that Mark Frost’s delightful cameo as a trailer-park denizen walking his dog was meant to be a different character than the T.V. news reporter he originally played in Season One until the closing credits of Part 16 informed us that he was, in fact, reprising the role of “Cyril Pons.”

5. A character’s last name is revealed early in order to avoid surprising viewers.

New Twin Peaks characters are only given a last name in the credits of Season Three in the event that their last names are also spoken on the show. One exception to this is Eamon Farren’s Richard Horne, the offspring of Audrey Horne and the evil “Mr. C.” When this character first appeared, assaulting a young woman in a bar in Part Five, his full name appeared in the credits. This caused much speculation among fans about how exactly he was related to the other Horne characters with many correctly inferring that Mr. C must have raped Audrey while she was in a coma. Had Richard’s last name not appeared in Parts 5 and 6, it would have come as a major surprise to everyone when he turned up at Sylvia Horne’s home in Part 10 and referred to her as “Grandma.” This surprise seems to be something the show’s creators wanted to avoid.


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.


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