Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is every bit David Lynch’s love letter to the original TV series as well as a middle finger to it. He returns to control of the incredibly popular TV show, now in film, and has the chance to make corrections and deliver closure to the end of the series. Except David Lynch is also a troll so none of that happens and this is a mostly prequel.

I don’t know if I can do justice to how big a deal Twin Peaks was when it came out in 1990. The first season is amazing TV and swept pop culture. It might have been the first cinematic TV show. It’s an amazing season of TV and the first episode is almost a movie in itself.

“Who killed Laura Palmer?” was at the forefront of pop culture. Remember how Game of Thrones would take over your Twitter and Facebook? Imagine that level before social media.

Season one is endlessly rewatchable with great characters, weird characters, real characters and complete weirdo fake characters that somehow totally work. Because it’s Twin Peaks, and in Twin Peaks no one is what they seem.

It mixes equal parts soap opera, crime drama, horror and comedy. But the tone always stays and the story never gets lost despite this. Every episode is just one day in this town that you get immersed more into its complete weirdness.

Then season two happened and it crashed and burned really hard in 1991. The first 8-9 episodes of that season are still terrific and the last 2 episodes are pretty good too. In fact, the final cliffhanger was so good that it had people lined up for this movie and also in a tizzy for a sequel 25 years later.

Where the show failed in season two was in the struggle between creators David Lynch and Mark Frost up against the network and what it wanted. The result was them mostly, to completely, pushed out during the bulk of season two. The other, is that solving the death of Laura Palmer was never supposed to happen. It was just the entry point to this town where no one is what they seem, and what else is going on here? It’s a town full of mysteries.

Not intending to solve her death doesn’t mean Laura Palmer isn’t or wasn’t important. She was. She is this movie. She’s the reason for the whole show and David Lynch takes this chance to show you why.

We knew that Laura Palmer was important to everyone in this town, and we found out how everyone had crossed paths with her. But we never really knew how it happened.

Now we do, and it’s horribly depressing and disturbing. (Trigger warning for rape, incest, sexual abuse and trauma)

We know how this ends so watching it all feels so much more tragic. You know there isn’t a happy ending.

We’re seeing the last two weeks through Laura Palmer’s eyes. We see how she did connect to everyone in this small town. She’s the prom queen on the surface but underneath she’s a deeply disturbed and traumatized kid dealing with the toxicity of popularity, people around her not having her best interests in mind, family problems, sexual abuse, malicious guys trying to groom her or use her and a generally aimless existence.

Despite all that, Lynch wants to give dignity and a character to Laura Palmer. Showing us all the awful things she got swept up into or willingly joined but still why everyone loved her and how she did what she could to get through it all.

It’s dark and unsettling, but it isn’t excessive. You’re not being guilted or forced into these feelings and it never feels like torture porn.

I don’t know if I’ve seen a movie that handles similar subject matter in a similar way. Wind River is similar, but that feels more real and dark than surreal and creepy.

And that isn’t to say that this movie is unrealistic. Twin Peaks just doesn’t meddle in unambiguous realism. It’s supernatural and abstract at times. But the emotions are real.

Sheryl Lee is fantastic as Laura Palmer. She’s so good at being creepy and deliberate. She has an amazing piercing scream. She conveys through her eyes everything you need to know about how she’s feeling and the horror of the moment. You never stop empathizing with Laura.

She’s a young girl living through horrific sexual abuse, coping with it and finding ways to try and move forward. She’s involved with shady characters at night while trying to stay the prom queen during the day. She’s embracing the dark spiral she’s going down, but wants to make sure her friends and other girls don’t get caught in it. She has nowhere to go and be safe.

And this girl is only 17 years old.

Ray Wise returns as Leland Palmer and he’s as good as ever in that role. He’s creepy. So creepy. Yet he has a commanding presence that believably terrifies Laura into paralysis. It makes you worry for her immediately.

The line between Bob and Leland is blurred more than the show. There are a lot of ways you could read it but you’re never told. Its purposefully ambiguous. How much of this is Bob vs Leland is something we are never supposed to find out.

Every scene they have together is tense. Excellent use of ambient noise to feel real. When they’re in a nightclub you can’t hear them over the music. The sound of car horns and engines overpower their dialogue. They’re drowned out. It’s overwhelming.

The movie gets so loud at points that you’re unclear what’s going on. It becomes chaotic with screaming and rumbling. It adds to the layers of dread and unease. But then it comes back down to the slow piano music that’s equal parts comforting and forboding.

The cinematography is much more intimate and claustrophobic than the show. There are a lot of close ups and shots that hold sometimes forever, sometimes ending too soon. You’re often looking up or down at characters. It all works with the overacting to make everything seem that extra bit supernatural and twisted.

If you’re not familiar with the show, you might not understand as much in this movie as it expects you to. It does stand well on its own, but you’ll definitely be confused or left feeling a bit empty on certain scenes.

This is Laura’s movie, but we don’t get there for a little while. We open in Bizarro World Twin peaks with a crappy diner, rude cops, a cheap trailer park but they do find a dead body of a pretty blond girl mysteriously murdered.

We go to the FBI offices and hang out briefly with agent Dale Cooper but he isn’t being a total weirdo yet. Some weird stuff happens with David Bowie, and the apartment over the convenience store with the spirits is established. The Red Room is present. It feels a bit fanservicey, but it’s also establishing the supernatural side of things.

David Lynch is equal parts mad man and mad genius. This movie would be incomprehensible with anyone else at the helm, but it makes sense in the end because it’s David Lynch. There’s a magic when Twin Peaks and him collide, even when examining something so dark.

The movie is an examination of a damaged girl, the way her town tore her down, and the way no one was there to help her. We know everyone had their chance to help her, but didn’t. We now know why “Who killed Laura Palmer?” mattered so much to Twin Peaks. And now we know how bad this girl had it first.

@Adam_Pyde on Twitter, Adam Reviews Things on Facebook. CanadianAdam on Twitch.

Dune Is Pretty Good. But Just Pretty Good.

Dune is pretty good. It has everything that makes a movie good. Good actors. Good sets. Good design. Good camera work. Good tone. Good writing. Everything is good. But it leaves a lot riding on the sequel to complete itself.

Denis Villeneuve is one of the few directors going that gets his movies automatically onto my radar regardless of the movie. Dune wasn’t high on my radar when I first heard about it but when I heard he was directing then I got on board. He doesn’t make bad movies.

I feel like he just asked a bunch of people to be in the movie and they agreed because he’s Denis Villeneuve and its Dune. You’re going to recognize just about every face in the movie, even if you don’t know their names. I don’t think there’s really a “no name” actor in this movie in any kind of starring role. It’s really quite impressive.

Cinematically the movie is shot excellently with big, wide shots to give you scale and size and weight and make this world feel large, lived in and old. There’s excellent use of light or the absence of it to move your focus around the screen to keep your attention. Every shot is deliberate and included for a reason. It’s real in the way a war movie would feel real from the big details to the small ones.

There’s something very 1980’s Star Wars-y to the design. Everything is a little bit dirty. We’re in the super far space future but you get that industrial bend to the way the spacecrafts are designed, the type of weaponry used and the architecture of buildings.

The plot is more of a Game of Thrones however: warring factions that want supremacy, different families vying for the emperor’s favour and power, betrayals and prophecy and stuff. We follow along with a Chosen One character that’s got a bit of a Gary Stu situation going on. This is where it’ll start to lose the audience.

I was pretty confused through the first hour but started to piece things back together as the movie went along. Give it the extra half hour, go full Lord Of The Rings. Explain everything so I can follow along a bit more. I normally complain about long movies, but that’s when they’re unnecessarily long and the pacing is ruined.

I’m still not totally 100% sure of everything that happened but at least I think that I think that I think I know what certain plot points, dialogue and whatnot all meant. I’m tempted to click on one of those extreme clickbait “EVERYTHING IN DUNE SPOILED AND EXPLAINED!” videos but I’ve held off so far.

On a re-watch the blanks would fill in, and probably even more so after Part Two. Oh, yeah this is a Part One movie. No idea when Part Two comes out other than it’s in development right now but they haven’t started shooting, so I guess it’ll be like 2024.

The Part One-ness of the movie might be the biggest drawback. The Fellowship Of The Ring feels like the movie is a contained story with a proper ending inside a larger story. Dune feels as if it ends on a mid-season cliffhanger like a TV show going into its Christmas break. Or more like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One, where it very much ends in a way that feels like “Insert Disc 2” should appear on screen instead of end credits.

I don’t think it transcends over as must see cinema, yet. It’s a movie made for fans of the book, sci-fi nerds and cinephiles. My dad would be confused and bored while my mom would probably have as much grasp as I do – probably more. I know a few friends that would dig this and a few that would be bored stupid.

I liked it and want to see more and will see Dune Two but I also can’t strongly recommend Dune itself. Because it’s good, but it’s just good.

@Adam_Pyde on Twitter, Adam Reviews Things on Facebook. CanadianAdam on Twitch.

F9 Is So Fast and So 9 It Couldn’t Be Anymore Furious

F9: The Fast Saga is a good movie because it’s dumb. These movies have fully embraced their big dumb side and the franchise is better for it. Does this get to the level of Fast Five? Not close. But if you enjoyed Furious 7 and The F8 of the Furious then you’re getting buckled back in for more of the same.

(Mild spoilers ahead.)

One thing these movies do to try and keep the formula fresh, with varying success, is that each movie tries to be different in its own big and dumb way. Now, that’s led to the franchise going from grounded in street racing subculture to taking down drug lords to a Yakuza film to FBI vigilante hunter to heist movie to saving the world and flying a Pontiac into space, but still. Different!

So what’s the difference this time out? What new angle are they taking The Fast franchise in? Prequel-sequel-origin story for Dom Toretto based around family drama!

Yeah, I know how lame that sounds. But it’s fitting. One thing these movies never let you forget is that everything is about family. Anything is possible with the power of family. Dom is basically a superhero because he has family. So much family.

It can be a bit hard to separate the ego from the project since everything that came out about Vin Diesel (and The Rock and Jason Statham) having contract clauses that they can’t lose an on-screen fight. Why? Because then movie goers might not think they’re the toughest biggest baddest dude’s ever.

Maybe take a page from John Wick. Taking a few lumps isn’t a bad thing. But then again, this movie isn’t trying to be realistic. It isn’t grounded unless the plot calls for it. It’s a Fast & Furious franchise film where anyone with muscles is basically a Corona drinking Captain America-James Bond hybrid.

The movie plays like a Greatest Hits of the entire franchise. It hits on some older story beats and locations the films would travel to. There’s weirdly a lot of lore in this universe, somehow, and you get plunged back into every important bit of it to help make sense of this big dumb world where a 1970 Charger is as powerful as Thor.

Playing more to the greatest hits is that the cast is bigger than ever. There has to be like 20 star actors in this movie. It feels like every past character appears again. Even characters you might have been iffy on return in a pleasant way. And the best return of all is Han (Sung Kang). Han is so cool. He’s my favourite. I’m so happy he’s back.

Coming in new to the cast is John Cena who acts his heart out as a big tough guy super spy secret agent hero man. I like seeing John Cena in things, whether its WWE or Hollywood. I like seeing any wrestler, really, so this is just cool. It makes sense for him to debut after all this time considering we can’t see him.

One of my favourite things about these movies is explaining to my friends who refuse to watch it how absurd it is. Then they react by laughing and going “No way, that sounds too dumb!” To which I reply, “Yeah! Exactly! That’s the point!”

If you’re not one for turning off part of your brain when watching something like this then you’re already out. You should know that by now though because this is a movie that involves relatively consequence free destruction as a giant truck train military super smasher smashes everything in sight and also EMP electromagnetic wave vacuums and space-ship Pontiacs.

This is what happens when a child gets their GI Joe toys and smashes them into their Hotwheels with a plot they daydreamed up while ignoring math class. Just add 150 million dollars to film it.

Nothing has to make sense as long as it can make sense in The Fast and The Furious.

@Adam_Pyde on Twitter, Adam Reviews Things on Facebook. CanadianAdam on Twitch.

Holidate Is Fun

Have you ever been vaguely a mid-late 20-something or an early-mid 30-something and it feels like everyone around you is always asking “When are you going to get married?” and “Why haven’t you found someone?” Are you tired of being compared to a younger sibling who lived life “according to plan” better than you? Has it gotten so annoying that you’re willing to consider a platonic friend to fake kiss just to shut your aunt up? Then boot up Netflix because Holidate is the movie for you!

A Netflix movie that’s good? Yeah I know. Maybe they’re onto something or maybe they’re just doing a more expensive version of the Blumhouse thing where you throw spaghetti at the wall until it sticks then claim success.

But this one is actually pretty good. It looks like a Hallmark movie intentionally, while subverting that into something that is very much not a Hallmark movie. It takes a nice big steamy well mannered cheeky dump on those movies, not unlike Recipe For Seduction.

You get F words, dick jokes, sex jokes, cringe embarrassment, drinking, smoking. Not very Hallmark, but still very fun.

Comedy movies are not easy to make. An average comedy is meh. A bad comedy is painful. But a good comedy? Rare and very good.

You’ll know within the first 5-10 minutes if this is the kind of comedy movie for you. They front load a couple of the cruder jokes to set the tone.

The straight play of some of the comedic scenes is great. There’s a few gags that I can still laugh at every time I think about them. Plus the inverting and subverting of the Hallmark movie tropes while also still playing along with them is pretty fun too.

The concept isn’t new, mainly because it’s ripping on your Hallmark movies directly. Two strangers down on their luck with love. They’re both tired of being single for the holidays mostly because they’re sick of the family pressure that comes with it. They wackily end up spending time together and continuously running into each other. It’s all platonic friendship until oopsie! FEELINGS! Oh my gosh, how will they ever deal with their feelings for each other?

Sometimes it’s nice to watch a short-ish throwaway rom-com. There is chemistry between the leads to make you care just enough. There’s nothing wrong with junk food movies. No new ground is broken, but that doesn’t matter. You know what you’re watching and how it’s going to end, but it gets there and amuses along the way.

By no means is this a timeless holiday classic. You’re not replacing Home Alone on your watch calendar. But if you’re looking for something aimed at your ambiguously defined “millennial” folks who like to drink and party to feel better, but in an innocent way, then it’s a fun movie to mix in.

Plus, the concept of this sort of relationship sometimes really speaks to me as a single thirty-something. Even attending a backyard fire or a barbecue among friends at the park brings up the “so why aren’t you seeing anyone?”, “when are you gonna find someone?”, and “you’re getting older, you should get married soon!” things. Like I don’t know! If I had those answers I wouldn’t be single and wouldn’t have to put up with your questions, would I? Living through that as these characters do makes them feel real to me.

I might watch it again. I might not. But I’m glad I did as for 90 minutes I had a good time laughing at the characters, laughing at myself and drinking some candy cane hot chocolate with a bit of adult happy juice.

@Adam_Pyde on Twitter, Adam Reviews Things on Facebook. CanadianAdam on Twitch.

The Disaster Artist: An Okay Movie About The Worst Movie

The film adaptation of The Disaster Artist is both admirable that it exists, as much as it is a bit of a disappointment as a fan of the The Room and the titular book that it wades into fiction. It’s a perfectly fun and lighthearted watch that gives you a nice little half-documentary retelling of a great tale. But that’s where the movie falls short. It’s just a half-documentary/mockumentary and leans into the comedy side a bit much for me, with the focus more on having fun making a movie versus staying true to the source material.

Usually when a project like this gets made, it looks like a Kickstarter movie: flat angles like a soap opera, efficient shooting and cinematography, one or two “star” actors that are definitely actors but not really stars and overall acceptable acting but nothing special. But this movie is different. It has a real budget and has actual name talent in the roles and a litany of cameos.

James Franco is the man behind it all and he cast himself as the infamous Tommy Wiseau. He doesn’t generally excite me as an actor but he does a really good Tommy Wiseau impersonation. It would be so easy for him to play to the comedy side but he restrains from going too far that way. He nails it and really has you buy in. It doesn’t feel like a comedic impersonation, but that he really wanted to be in character in service of the best movie he could make so I give him props for that.

His brother Dave Franco plays our beloved Greg Sestero and the results there are much more mixed. I’ve met Greg Sestero, read his book, seen him in interviews and followed some of his other work. I don’t feel that Dave Franco captures Greg’s personality and overall demeanor the same way that his brother committed to going full Tommy. Plus his fake beard is terrible. It’s full on pubes-glued-to-face bad.

Seth Rogen is in the movie as an off-screen personality as Sandy Sinclair. I guess you can’t really have a Franco movie without Rogen and you get the feeling that they wanted to cast their friends in the movie too. There are a lot of small roles and cameos by actors you’ll recognize: Zac Efron, Jason Mantzoukas, and Sugar Lynn Beard were most notable to me. Sugar is my favourite as I grew up watching her on YTV. I really like Sugar.

The point of the movie and the entire aura of this project is to tell the tale of the worst movie ever made. To visually tell the story of a movie that got reviews such as “it feels like you’re being stabbed in the head”. That’s the goal, and this is where the film is just okay.

The movie does a decent job of telling the story you want to see. You do get a glimpse through the looking glass and get to learn some of the behind the scenes quackery. There is a charm to seeing the wild interaction and unfiltered Tommy moments from the book now being played out visually.

But it’s still glossy and sugary. The book will constantly drive home all the different ways that Tommy was a terror on set. Arriving late, treating people like trash, being an emotionally abusive asshole, etc. But then also the moments where he’s just a guy passionately trying to make his passion project while being woefully unequipped to do so from every perspective.

The movie glosses over a lot of those moments. There’s really only one moment where you get terrorist Tommy. The rest of his scenes are just loveable doofus. I wanted to see more of Tommy the Terrorist dickhead and not this sympathetic weirdo.

The relationship between Greg and Tommy is also much different on screen compared to the book. They’re more along the lines of good pals in the movie that are having some ups and downs, yet they stay close through the whole ordeal of The Room. Reality was much different where Greg and Tommy weren’t really friends for a very long time. Greg tolerated Tommy and Tommy was trying to use Greg. The dynamic there definitely involves some weird interpersonal stuff and manipulation. I don’t know about you, but that isn’t common to me in a healthy friendship.

They’ve reconciled obviously, since money will do that.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it can be tough to treat this movie as a serious or accurate re-telling when you know you’re looking at fiction. Because when you know this part isn’t real, like the motivation of the beard shaving scene, then you’re going to question other parts you’re less familiar with.

Overall, the movie does a decent job of telling an entertaining story but it fails to accurately tell the true story behind it all. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, as Tommy and Greg were both officially involved in this project and both would want to be seen in good ways and not have their dirty laundry exposed.

But that’s the juicy meaty goodness in the book to me. This is more comedy film than a historical film or bio-pic. The novelty of this kind of movie should be celebrated. I enjoyed it. But I just wanted more. If you know you know at this point.

And so wraps The Room quadrilogy: The Room, The Room flash game, The Disaster Artist book and the Disaster Artist film.

@Adam_Pyde on Twitter, Adam Reviews Things on Facebook. CanadianAdam on Twitch.