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New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2018) #24!

We should be back to something resembling a weekly release schedule with the Scannain podcast.

This week, it’s a rather intimate affair with myself, Grace Duffy, and Donnacha Coffey from Filmgrabber. However, the conversation is suitably wide-ranging, discussing everything from the audience-versus-critics conflicts over Hereditary and Gotti to the politics of David Lynch to the sad story of Johnny Depp to the latest surreal controversy involving Star Wars fandom. Along the way, we discuss the usual array of subjects, from the week in film news to the top ten to new releases including Sicario: Day of the Soldado, Dublin OldschoolTag, Escape Plan 2: Hades and Adrift.

Give it a listen at the link, or check it out below.

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Non-Review Review: Twin Peaks – The Missing Pieces

It says a lot about Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me that there were enough deleted scenes that they could be structured into a ninety-minute feature film. It says even more that the resulting feature film is almost coherent.

Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces is a strange piece of work, essentially a narrative film stitched together from the cast-offs of a theatrical release two decades earlier. It is a collection of deleted scenes, but deleted scenes that have taken on an uncanny importance. These deleted scenes have been edited together into something approaching a linear narrative by David Lynch, the director who shot them in the first place. They even come packaged with an introduction and a set of closing credits. They are vitally important to the revived television series. They are, in other words, like a real movie.

“Yeah, he’s going to need about twenty five years to recover.”

Some of this is because Fire Walk With Me is a notoriously inscrutable and abstract film, one defined by strange choices and bizarre imagery. David Lynch is a surrealist, and Fire Walk With Me reflects this; it is full of odd cul-de-sacs and strange segues. Fire Walk With Me was also a film heavily cut before its release, which accounts for why it feels like a film defined by what is absent so much as what is present. The incomplete nature of Fire Walk With Me makes the incomplete nature of The Missing Pieces more understandable. They fit together like the two pieces of Laura Palmer’s heart-shaped necklace.

However, The Missing Pieces is illuminating for more than just the little details of continuity and the appearances of familiar faces. It is a film that in some ways shades Fire Walk With Me, existing as a remainder of the absences carved from that earlier film. The Missing Pieces defines Fire Walk With Me through contrast, revealing the elements of Fire Walk With Me that were deemed inessential to the theatrical release. In keeping with Lynch’s recurring fascination with doppelgangers and doubles, The Missing Pieces illuminates Fire Walk With Me by presenting an alternative; it is what Fire Walk With Me chose not to be.

Past prologue.

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Non-Review Review: Twin Peaks – Fire Walk With Me

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is a fascinating piece of work, in no small way due to how it has been re-evaluated and reclaimed since its premiere.

Despite the urban legend, Fire Walk With Me was not booed on its premiere at Cannes. Nevertheless, the widely-reported rumour that it was says a lot about the film’s reception and the ensuing mythology around it. Young provocateur Quentin Tarantino even took the opportunity for a pot shot at David Lynch, lamenting that the director had disappeared so far up his own ass.” The film earned just over four million dollars at the United States box office. Those watching at the time would (fairly, in context) have deemed the film’s failure as the end of the line for Twin Peaks.

In darkness…

Of course, hindsight has reversed a lot of these opinions. Critics like Mark Kermode are willing to make impassioned arguments in support of Fire Walk With Me, and the tone of coverage of the film leading into the television revival two decades later was largely positive. Modern reviews tend to speak about Fire Walk With Me as a “harrowing tour de force”, and as a key part of both Lynch’s evolving filmography and in the development of what Twin Peaks could be. It is an impressive reversal of public opinion, in a relatively short amount of time. (Lynch’s in-between success with Mulholland Drive might have helped.)

It is possible to see both of those films wrestling within the finished product, to understand how the film could once be a provocative disappointment and an insightful statement. In some ways, this wrestling match within Fire Walk With Me feels entirely appropriate with the themes of both the film itself and the series leading into it. Lynch’s oeuvre is populated with doppelgangers and twisted reflections, and it feels strangely appropriate that Fire Walk With Me should exist as its own shadow self.

A singular maniac.

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Twin Peaks – Northwest Passage (Review)

This is Special Agent Dale Cooper.

Gary Cooper?

Agent Cooper. Agent.

Twin Peaks remains something of a pop cultural oddity.

Despite its trappings and its pedigree, Twin Peaks was not a niche phenomenon. It was an event. The pilot was the most-watched television movie of 1990, and set about a wave of speculation and engagement. The series inspired a whole generation of television copycats, from Picket Fences to The X-Files. It redefined what was possible on television. It was a water-cooler show. This fact is somewhat obscured by the underwhelming ratings of the recent relaunch and even the sharply declining ratings of the original run.

And yet, in spite of all of that, Twin Peaks is undoubtedly the product of David Lynch. Of course, Lynch was working with writer Mark Frost, who deserves a great deal of credit for fashioning Lynch’s surrealist tendencies into something as coherent and accessible as Twin Peaks. Nevertheless, Twin Peaks is very much “of a piece” with the rest of the director’s work. Even beyond its use of familiar faces and its unmistakable tone, there is a clear sense that Twin Peaks belongs alongside Lynch’s films like Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire.

However, the beauty of the original Twin Peaks is the way in which so skillfully distills that illusive and ethereal Lynchian quality into something that is much more conventional than a lot of his cinematic output; something that has the same depth and uncanniness that defines so much of Lynch’s work, while also seeming very much in tune with the popular consciousness. It is a rare quality, a piece of art both universal and specific.

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Non-Review Review: David Lynch – The Art of Life

This film was seen as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2017.

David Lynch: The Art of Life is a fairly conventional and straightforward affair as these sorts of documentaries go.

The documentary eschews a lot of the trapping of more adventurous entries in the genre. Indeed, most of David Lynch: The Art of the Life could have been filmed and recorded in David Lynch’s art studio, as the director talks at length about his life and the camera pans loving across his working space and intercuts his monologues with art work that seems to hit on some of the core themes of his narration at any given moment. There is something very standard about the way that David Lynch: The Art of Life is put together.

davidlynch1

Indeed, the film largely eschews any sense of outside context or material. The only voice heard over the course of the film is that of David Lynch himself, recording at his own home studio. Only rarely do the production team need to use material that doesn’t belong to Lynch to flesh out his dialogue, notably during his discussion of his time in Philadelphia. Those occasions are especially noticeable because the documentary takes great care to credit those sources, drawing attention to how much material comes from Lynch’s own archives and records.

However, there is a strong argument that Lynch is suited to this approach. Lynch is a surrealist artist, and it is very hard to argue that anybody has a stronger grip on or understanding of his work. Indeed, the most effective and striking aspect of David Lynch: The Art of Life is the way in which it allows Lynch to make his own arguments from his own perspective crafting a narrative that feels distinct and unique. For all that Lynch is a surrealist, David Lynch: The Art of Life allows him to make a strong case as the only sane man in an insane world.

davidlynch4

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The X-Files – Eve (Review)

The X-Files owes a conscious debt to Twin Peaks, in quite a few ways. David Lynch’s landmark television series perfectly blended the mundane with the surreal, creating a world that managed to be both incredibly familiar and hauntingly ethereal. One of the hallmarks of Lynch’s approach to Twin Peaks – and of his work in general including, most obviously, Blue Velvet and Dumbland – was the sense that there was something quite horrid and rotten lurking beneath the flowerbeds and picket fences of those lovely suburban houses.

Eve is the show’s first real exploration of suburbia, hitting on all manner of rich Cold War anxieties and fears lurking just behind those neatly-trimmed hedges.

Breaking up families...

Breaking up families…

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Non-Review: Reported Missing (Die Vermissten)

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013.

Die Vermissten feels almost like a Clint Eastwood film by the way of David Lynch. If that sounds like a pretty strange combination, it really is. When his 16-year-old daughter disappears, divorcee Lothar is initially reluctant to investigate. He tries to convince his ex-wife that she’ll turn up, while trying to explain to his new girlfriend that he has a daughter. Eventually determining to conduct his own inquiries into the disappearance of his child, Lothar discovers that the incident isn’t quite isolated, and that there’s something much larger going on here.

Missing vital evidence...

Missing vital evidence…

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