• Following Us

  • Categories

  • Check out the Archives









  • Awards & Nominations

New Escapist Column! On Understanding “Twin Peaks” Emotionally, Rather than Intellectually…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine yesterday. With the thirtieth anniversary of Twin Peaks, I got to talk a little bit about the show and David Lynch.

Lynch has a reputation as a “difficult” artist for audiences, a filmmaker whose art is challenging and provocative. It’s easy to see why. On a simple mechanical level, it can be very difficult to explain what happens during a David Lynch film or television show. More to the point, two different audience members might provide two very different descriptions. However, that’s always been what I admired about Lynch. As a critic, he forces me to engage emotionally with his work because an intellectual understanding is never enough. I feel Lynch’s work, even if I don’t comprehend it.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

124. Twin Peaks: The Return – This Just In/Daffodil Day/April Fool’s Day 2019 (#∞)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every Saturday at 6pm GMT, with the occasional bonus episode thrown in.

This time, a special treat: David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: The Return.

Twenty-five years after Special Agent Dale Cooper disappeared from the small town of Twin Peaks in Washington, a series of strange occurrences suggest that mysterious forces are still playing a dangerous game on the mortal plane. What connects a secret FBI task force, a sinister crime lord, an isolated rural community, a set of Las Vegas gangsters, a strange glass cube in New York, and a strange murder in South Dakota? It’s happening again.

At time of recording, it was ranked the ∞th best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

Continue reading

“The 250 Live: Twin Peaks – The Return”, 23rd March 2019 in Support of the Irish Cancer Society

As a fundraiser for the Irish Cancer Society’s annual Daffodil Day, the Irish popular film podcast The 250 is hosting a live eighteen-hour podcast covering David Lynch’s groundbreaking television series Twin Peaks: The Return from 2pm GMT (8am EST/5am PST) on Saturday 23rd March.

Twin Peaks: The Return is considered a landmark in modern popular culture. Originally broadcast on Showtime in May 2017, The Return has been described as “one of the most groundbreaking TV series ever” by Sean T. Collins at Rolling Stone. Matt Zoller Seitz argued that it was “the most original and disturbing to hit TV drama since The Sopranos.”

However, there is also an argument that it transcends television, and is in fact an eighteen-hour film. Those who worked on the show have suggested that director David Lynch (who directed all eighteen episodes) saw it as a single eighteen-hour movie. Film magazines like Cahiers du Cinéma and Sight and Sound ranked Twin Peaks: The Return among the very best films of the year.

What better way to hash out this debate over whether Twin Peaks: The Return is an eighteen-hour film than with an eighteen-hour podcast?

Over the course of those eighteen hours, guests will wrestle with everything from the question of whether these eighteen hours are film, television or something else entirely, take a broader look at David Lynch’s filmography, explore the themes of the series/film, and even try to make sense of the wealth of imagery within. “We’re hoping to create an experience that will appeal to both casual fan and eager enthusiast,” explained co-host Darren Mooney. “The eighteen-hour podcast should offer something for everybody. I’m very excited. And maybe a little terrified. But it’s for a good cause.”

The event will be broadcast live on The 250’s Mixlr, and an edited version of the entire podcast will be released for public consumption on The 250’s Soundcloud after the fact. Donations can be made to the Irish Cancer Society through The 250’s Just Giving in both the lead-up to and during the event itself.

The live broadcast will begin at 2pm GMT on Saturday 23rd March and run through until 8am GMT on Sunday 24th March, bringing the podcast up until midnight in Washington State. Darren and Andrew will need some damn fine coffee and cherry pie to get them through the night, which is being thoughtfully provided by the Camerino Bakery.

Although the schedule is subject to change, due to the nature of live broadcasting, at the moment it looks like:

  • 2pm: “Home.” Nostalgia and Twin Peaks: The Return, with guests Niall Glynn and Richard Drumm (HeadStuff, Quantum of Friendship)
  • 3pm: “It’s Happening Again.” Fire Walk With Me as a prelude to Twin Peaks: The Return, with guest Niall Glynn
  • 4pm: “Damn Good Coffee.” Food in Twin Peaks as a slice of Lynch’s American, with guest Caryna Camerino
  • 5pm: “We’re in the version layer.” Actor Amy Shiels (Candie) talks about working with David Lynch and her career.
  • 6pm: “This is the man I told you about.” Discussing Cooper, masculinity (and apparently Wally Brando) with guest Charlene Lydon (Element Pictures, The Lighthouse)
  • 7pm: “Not where it counts, buddy!” Discussing David Lynch’s filmography, and The Return‘s place in it with guest Donald Clarke (The Irish Times)
  • 8pm: “What is that thing?” “A glass box.” Discussing whether The Return is an eighteen hour film, an eighteen part series, or something else entirely, with guests Brian Lloyd (Entertainment.ie) and Jenn Gannon
  • 9pm: “Gotta light?” Dissecting Part 8 with Phillip Bagnall and Jason Coyle (Scannain)
  • 10pm: “Next on the Roadhouse playlist…” Analysing the musical choices of The Return with guest Cian (Selected)
  • 11pm: “What’s going on around here?” Does The Return make literal sense? Does it have a single correct meaning? Does it have to? With guest Phillip Bagnall
  • Midnight: “… is that one of the Marx Brothers?” Balancing genre, tone and pacing in The Return. With guest Phillip Bagnall.
  • 1am: “… drink deep and descend.” Alone at last, Darren and Andrew discuss Andrew’s first binge through the series, from The Pilot to the end.
  • 2am: “We’re not anywhere near Mount Rushmore.” The Return as a portrait of America, particularly modern America, and as an extension of Lynch’s vision of the country.
  • 4am: “… the evil that men do.” Andy Hazel (Twin Peaks Season 3) stops by to talk about evil as it exists in Twin Peaks.
  • 5am: “Wrapped in plastic”; Laura Palmer and the trope of the dead girl, and the engagement of The Return with that.
  • 6am: “… a long way from the world.” Darren and Andrew discuss some of their favourite moments and characters from the series, especially those neglected in earlier hours.
  • 7am: “What year is this?” Is Twin Peaks finished? Could it come back? Do we really want it to? Will it take another twenty-five years? Is the ending the best place to leave it?

Important/useful links:

New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2018) #10!

The tenth edition of the new and revived Scannain podcast discusses the week that has been in Irish film.

Joined by Grace Duffy and Graham Day, we take a look at the usual array of topics. We discuss what we’ve watched over the past week, the big news stories of the day and the top ten. We also take a look at the new releases hitting cinema this week. I also confuse Alia Shawkat with Ilana Glazer.

Check it out here, or give it a listen below.

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

New Podcast! The X-Cast X-Files Podwatch – Episode #82 (Je Souhaite/Requiem)

I’m thrilled to be a part of The X-Cast X-Files Podwatch, a daily snippet podcast rewatching the entirety of The X-Files between now and the launch of the new season. It is something of a spin-off of The X-Cast, a great X-Files podcast run by the charming Tony Black. Tony has assembled a fantastic array of guests and hosts to go through The X-Files episode-by-episodes. With the new season announced to be starting in early January, Tony’s doing two episodes of the podcast per day, so buckle up. We’re almost there at this point, now marking the end of the Duchovny era of the show.

My final appearance of the somewhat uneven seventh season reteams me with the fantastic Sarah Blair. We’re discussing the last two episodes of the seventh season, and the last two episodes of the show’s original cast configuration, Je Souhaite and Requiem. Two episodes that could in their own way have served as finales for The X-Files.

Continue reading

No, “Twin Peaks: The Return” is Not a Movie

It is December.

As tradition dictates, the major publications are rolling out their “best of” lists. One of the more interesting trends of the “best of” season in 2017 has been the repeated suggestion that David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: The Return should be considered an eighteen-hour movie. It made the Sight & Sound and Cahiers du Cinema polls, and even got a write-in vote at the Los Angeles Film Critics Awards. This is interesting on a number of levels, because it suggests that labelling The Return as a feature film is not a lone act of contrarianism, but something of a minor trend.

Of course, there are grey areas between film and television. There always have been, given the similarities in the technology and mechanism. Film can be shown on television, and television can be shown in cinemas. There are television movies and film series, and it is often possible for stories that start in one form to transform into the other. The boundaries are not as absolute as they are with theatre or prose, where the technical form is so fundamentally different that any comparison is ridiculous. After all, consider the debate over movies released on Netflix, or films edited for television.

The Return is not an ambiguous area, though. It is a fairly simple case. It is a television series. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Continue reading

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…

Continue reading