Archive for September, 2017

A Tribute To Our Little Trixie

Posted: September 30, 2017 in Uncategorized

That’s Trixie. We never really knew how old she was, or what kind of life she had before we picked her out at the pound, but we knew we loved her from the minute we got her — just a little over three years ago.

She was a pudgy little thing, and lazier than hell even by domesticated cat standards, but she could show a surprising amount of energy at the drop of a hat — when we first got her, for instance, she’d race to the kitchen and guard her food the minute you headed in that direction.  And she had a little bit of a pissy attitude, too — she hated being picked up, she’d snarl at you just for the hell of it sometimes, she’d go from purring away to biting at your fingers the instant you started rubbing her the wrong way, and she went through a couple of phases where I swear to God she made a game out of trying to trip you whenever she could. But she definitely mellowed over time, and as she eased into what we guessed to be her old age, she got a lot more picky about what she’d eat, when she’d come greet you at the door, or how often she’d even open her eyes sometimes.

About a month ago she wouldn’t come out from underneath our kitchen table for a couple of days, so we took her to the vet and they tested her blood, gave her a fluid injection, and put her on a steroid to get her strength back up. While we waited on pins and needles for her test results, she tore around the house like a cat reborn — at least for a couple of days. Her bloodwork came back looking good, no problems as far as her liver or stomach were concerned were evident, but her energy level went back down in fairly short order. Then it bottomed out altogether. Last Sunday morning, I found her sprawled out beneath an old chair that she’d never sat under before, unable to walk, stand, or even lift her head. Her skin had turned a dullish yellow color overnight and her eyes were completely glazed over, yet open wide. Back to the vet.

Aaaaand you don’t need me to tell you that she never came back home. Our little troublemaker’s kidneys had failed on her and we had to put her to sleep. We got to hold her as she peacefully shuffled off her mortal coil, which was bittersweet in the extreme, and of course we’ve been missing her ever since. Deinell and I haven’t been without a cat in over ten years, and I don’t imagine we will be for long, but we won’t find another like Trixie, that’s for sure. We still instinctively check for her the minute we get home, see her moving out of the corner of our eyes, hear her claws clicking and clacking on the floor. When I’m sitting at my laptop writing, I still look over and expect to see her sitting on her favorite blanket, watching me. We loved her, she’s gone, and I won’t kid you, it sucks. I hope we made the last few years of her life her best ones, but five or ten more sure would have been nice. Oh, and I suppose we don’t need to save out empty Amazon boxes anymore :

So, if you’re wondering why things have been a little quiet at trashfilmguru recently, that’s one big old heartbreaking reason. But there’s another, as well : I’ve decided to “split off” my comics criticism into its own site (a move long overdue), and so I’ve been plugging away trying to get some content slapped up over at It’s sort of fun starting a new blogging venture up from scratch, and downgrading my expectations accordingly (50 views a day is “good” for me over there, while 500-6oo is the norm at TFG) is good for my ego, but it is going to take some time to really build up anything like a steady readership over there, and that means fewer film reviews for a few months or so while I try to get things established at FCA.

October, however, will be an exception to that not-exactly-a-rule. It’s Halloween again (well, almost), and the TFG tradition of talking all horror movies, all month long isn’t going anywhere. I’m also going to be sticking with the streaming-service-oriented theme I started a few years back with “Netflix Halloween,” but we won’t be doing “Halloween On Hulu” again this year simply because most of the horror offerings I found on that site last year were less than inspiring, to say the least. So, as you’ve probably already guessed by now, it’s going to be “Amazon Prime Halloween” this year, and I’m looking forward to opining on some of the lesser-known and certainly lesser-seen horror flicks I find on there for the next 31 days, starting — ah, what the hell, how does tomorrow sound? Okay, good — it’s a date, then.


As a general rule of thumb, when you give Stephen King material the “Spielberg Treatment,” good things happen — just ask Rob Reiner, who did it twice and found critical and box office success on both occasions. Admittedly, the opportunities to make nominally “family-friendly” populist blockbusters based on novels by a guy billed as the “Master of Horror” are few and far between, but still — when you can find ’em, you gotta take ’em. Especially when there’s (for reasons I can’t really fathom, but that’s neither here nor there) a bona fide 1980s revival going on. So, yeah, in a very real sense, director Anthony Muschietti’s cinematic adaptation of It has all the pop culture stars aligned in its favor. And yet —

Plenty of other sure-fire “successes” that were served up equally easy slow pitches over the middle of the plate somehow managed to swing and miss, didn’t they? Not that it entirely deserves its decades-long slagging, but we’re still talking about Ishtar to this day with barely-stifled mockery and condescension. Every single obituary written for the late, great Michael Cimino just had to bring up Heaven’s Gate. And having the “hottest” couple Hollywood ever saw (at least at the time of its release) as its two co-stars wasn’t enough to convince anyone to spend their hard-earned money on a ticket to see Gigli. None of these films have much in common on paper, I suppose, other than the one thing that matters most — studio execs were absolutely sure they were going to be not just big, but huge  (and they were willing to spend a lot of money to prove how right about that they were), but audiences just didn’t care. There’s no such thing, in the final analysis, as a “guaranteed” cultural phenomenon.

And let’s face it — in the time between me seeing It and finally getting off my ass (or on it, as I guess would be more technically accurate) to review the damn thing, “cultural phenomenon” is precisely the status it’s graduated to. I saw it on Monday, it’s now Saturday, and in that short six-day span it’s gone from being one of the rarest creatures found in the Tinseltown jungle — a genuine fall season blockbuster — to the highest-grossing horror film of all time, surpassing the total cumulative take of William Friedkin’s The Exorcist in just its third weekend of wide release. That’s just plain nuts.

Astute followers of this site could be forgiven, then, at this point, for assuming that a negative review was forthcoming here as a matter of course — if most people like it then I probably won’t being a pretty fair summation of how things usually work around these parts — and I’ll be the first to admit that my inner cynic was battling hard against my largely- (and thankfully-) repressed sentimentalist streak for about the good first half or so of the film, but then something funny happened : my inner cynic, uncharacteristically, just gave up the fight. It had me beat. I shut up (not that I ever really talk during a movie, much less to myself), went with the flow, and damn near loved the thing.

And, hey, why not? Sure, I already knew the story — an evil clown (let’s be honest, they all are) who hangs out in a storm sewer (okay, they don’t all do that) named Pennywise (played by Bill Skarsgard) abducts a kid named Georgie Denbrough (Jackson Robert Scott), kicking off a big ole mystery wherein Georgie’s older brother, Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) and his gang of misfit friends decide to get to the bottom of not just the recent spate of disappearances in their hometown of Derry, Maine, but all the freaky and evil shit that’s been happening there for centuries — but the story, dare I say it, is almost surplus to requirements here. Flicks like this are all about invoking heavy-duty atmosphere, and it’s on that score that Muschietti and his small army of screenwriters come up trumps.

What sort of “atmosphere” are they shooting for, though, I hear you ask? Well, that by and large depends on how old you are, and the fact that you can see exactly how and why It would appeal to the two disparate age groups it’s geared towards is the surest sign that they got this film more or less exactly right. For the teens and tweens, everything here is metaphor for loss of innocence, the inevitable onset of puberty (and, eventually, adulthood), and all your other standard “coming-of-age” stuff (look for the most painfully obvious and overblown “fear of menstruation” scene you’ve ever seen in your life, with a whole goddamn bathroom full of blood), while for the grown-ups the whole thing is a bittersweet nostalgic lament for all we lost when we made the highly questionable decision (not that nature gave us much choice in the matter) to grow the fuck up. If you’re thinking “hey, that just sounds like E.T. or The Goonies with a creepy-ass clown,” I’m not going to say you’re wrong, but — really, it does work. I promise.

Much of that’s down to the cast, of course — child actors Lieberher, Scott, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard (who did this exact same thing already in Stranger Things), Wyatt Oleff, Jack Dylan Grazer, and Chosen (really? You’d do that to your own flesh and blood?) Jacobs all do superb work (particularly Lillis, who navigates her role as the lone girl in the group amazingly well), but the script gives almost all of these kids a bit more in terms of backstory than we’re used to in movies of this sort, probably owing to the extra “fleshing out” that the film’s “R” rating allows for. None of the Goonies kids were being molested by their fathers, for instance, as Lillis’ Beverly character is here, and there were no potential love (or at least crush) triangles among Elliott’s group of pals. Injecting these decidedly downbeat and “adult” themes into a movie of this sort could be trouble, of course, but you know what? Muschietti and his cast strike just the right notes with even their most combustible sub-plots and you end up liking these kids all the more precisely because of the sympathy you feel for them being forced to grow up too damn fast. Oh, and far as junior psychopaths go, Nicholas Hamilton’s Henry is the best we’ve seen in a popcorn flick in a long time — and even he’s given the dignity of some explanation as to why he’s such a disagreeable little bastard.

Still, even for all this effusive praise, who are we kidding? When you crank out a review this late in the game, chances are that anyone reading it has already seen the movie in question — and it seems like everybody in the world has already seen It. So, yeah, even if you trust my judgment as a critic implicitly (as if), nothing I say here is going to get you out to the theater to give this a look because 90-plus percent of the folks reading this have already done so. Tell you what, though — there’s surely no shame in seeing something this well-done again, is there? And the more I think about It, the more I become convinced that I’m probably going to end up doing exactly that myself.


Yeah, it’s a holiday, but you’d never know it if you follow any number of Twin Peaks-related fan sites, or even any “entertainment” sites in general. The long-dormant wheels within any number of Lynch-nerd minds are spinning and churning, ganglionic gears grinding in a way not seen since Mulholland Drive first hit theaters. We want to know what we just watched, and since David Lynch isn’t exactly telling us, we’re doing the work for ourselves. In other words, the fun is just beginning.

So — that finale. Yup, it was a doozy. And many a wiser and more astute critic than I appears to have met their match when it comes to trying to decode what Lynch and Mark Frost were “getting at” not just with it, but with the entirety of Twin Peaks 2017/Twin Peaks : The Return/Twin Peaks season three. Hell, they’re even second-guessing what Twin Peaks : Fire Walk With Me was “really” all about. It’s too early to say that anything like a “consensus” reading of any/all of it has developed, but to the extent that a “popular” theory seems to be forming, it goes something like this —

Part eighteen? It’s a dream. Or, perhaps, everything from the point in part seventeen where Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) says “we live inside a dream” onwards is a dream. The “saga” of Twin Peaks is wrapped up, Julee Cruise sang us out, and then we got a perplexing epilogue.

It’s a nice theory. I can definitely understand its appeal. On some level, I may even wish it were “true.” But I think it’s exactly wrong. So let me tell you what I think makes a hell of a lot more sense —

It all comes back to the words spoken by The Fireman (Carel Struycken) in part one : “Find Richard and Linda.” Part eighteen showed us that Richard was Coop/Kyle MacLachlan and that Linda was Diane/Laura Dern. Find yourself is what our giant friend was telling Cooper. Which means —

“We live inside a dream” is indeed a significant line. And so is the fact that Cooper’s omniscient, observing face is superimposed in the background of the entire climactic scene in the office of Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster). He’s watching this whole thing unfold from inside the Black Lodge. He’s seeing his dream play out and starting to wake up from it. He’s coming back to himself. And that means — well, that means something that a lot of people aren’t going to like, and may even be resistant to.

It means that that everything we’ve seen between The Fireman’s instructions to Coop in part one and the “wake-up call” that begins in part seventeen and concludes with our guy Dale and his gal Diane “crossing over” in part eighteen was a dream. So, pretty much the whole show. When Cooper re-emerges into Glastonbury Grove and he and Diane both assure each other that they really are who they are, it’s a further realization that this re-emergence is occurring, and when he says they’ll be different after they “cross over,” that’s the big clue, at least to my mind, right there.

Think about it : they both act very differently after “crossing over,” don’t they? When Diane observes a second version of herself in the motel parking lot, that’s the “Diane” part exiting the scene and “Linda” fully taking over. It hits Coop/Richard later, when he reads the “Dear John” letter in the morning, but the bizarre coldness of their sex scene (where Diane spends most of her time trying to cover his face) in contrast to their enthusiastic make-out session in part seventeen is another good, solid hint that these folks are different people altogether. And now they’re in a different world, to boot.

The motel’s different. The car’s different. The badge Coop brandishes isn’t a typical FBI photo-identification, it’s some cheap rent-a-cop-looking thing. And then, of course, Sheryl Lee turns out not to be Laura Palmer but Carrie Paige. This is a new reality. And it’s not that great a place, form what I can tell.

Traces of the old remain, though. The white horse. Carrie/Laura’s recognition of her mother’s voice. Something’s happened, reality has been over-written, but the process is not entirely complete. We know who’s doing it — Chalfont, Tremond, Judy’s Diner, come on, it’s the Black Lodge that’s in the driver’s seat here — but this is all the waking world. A waking world where Dale Cooper saved Laura Palmer but lost to the Lodge. Where his fucking with the time-line may in fact have given them the foothold they needed to “take over,” since even if his rescuing of her took place at the tail end of his dream, their power to enter conscious reality via the dream-state is already well-established. Where his good intentions really did pave a road to hell.

Come on, admit it — this all makes sense. Lynch did an approximation (albeit a more obvious — a term I use loosely, I assure you —one) of the same thing with Mulholland Drive. All of which probably means that my earlier contention that Twin Peaks isn’t over would be wrong. It would also mean that those who view part seventeen as being the “real” ending and part eighteen as the “dream” have the running order exactly reversed.  And lastly, it means that if you view things in the manner I’ve just “prescribed,” you can  be somewhat (God, I hesitate to use this term,but) satisfied that this has all been seen through to a kind of “completion,” and that this entire season/revival was even more absolutely effing brilliant than it appeared to be.

I’m going to close with a very important caveat, though : I said that this reading “all makes sense.” And for my money, it does. But I didn’t say that it was necessarily right.




At this very moment, every single brain in the Twin Peaks fan community is melting.

And, hey, why shouldn’t they be? For a minute there, it really did look like everything was going to come together, especially with roughly, I dunno, 15 minutes to go in part seventeen of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks 2017/Twin Peaks : The Return/Twin Peaks season three — Kyle MacLachlan’s good cop/bad cop routine (the best ever seen, might I add) was over with and “Evil Coop” dispatched permanently; Freddie (played with heroic aplomb by Jake Wardle) had indeed met his destiny and used his rubber-gloved “super hand” to scatter BOB to the four winds; Kimmy Robertson’s Lucy got the chance to be more of a truly unexpected heroine; John Pirruccello’s Deputy Chad was thwarted in his lame jail-break attempt by his former co-worker, Andy (Harry Goaz); Lynch’s Gordon Cole, Miguel Ferrer’s Albert Rosenfield, and Chrysta Bell’s Tammy Preston got where they were needed — that being the office of Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster) just in the nick of time; Jay Aaseng’s disfigured drunk-and-disorderly kept imitating everything he heard; Ben Horne (Richard Beymer) was preoccupied with getting his brother out of trouble yet again; Don Murray’s Bushnell Mullins delivered his message to Cole word for word; the eyes-wide-sorry-sewed-shut woman from “The Zone” played by Nae Yuuki turned out to be the “real” Diane Evans  and morphed into Laura Dern before our eyes; and Robert Knepper, Jim Belushi, Michael Horse, Dana Ashbrook, Amy Shiels and her “colleagues” — well, they pretty much just stood around and watched in disbelief, but at least there were plenty of sandwiches to be enjoyed by one and all as television history played out before their eyes. And as a large image of Cooper’s face remained superimposed in the background.

Not so fast, though —

Agent Cooper, ever the stand-up guy, informed everyone that the past shapes the future and then set about to prove it by going there — Diane seemed to have an inkling about what was to come as words about “the curtain call” were exchanged between the two of them, and then we learned that the convenience store needn’t actually exist anymore in order for Coop and Phillip Gerard (Al Strobel) to ascend the staircase above it, and that Philip Jeffries — who, according to Cole, “really doesn’t exist anymore” himself — and his numerical clues (speaking of which, every single one from earlier parts is resolved/comes into play) are guardians of a gateway of sorts, one that would take Coop to 1989, and specifically smack-dab into the middle of Twin Peaks : Fire Walk With Me.

William Hartnell famously said, in the truly classic early Doctor Who adventure “The Aztecs,” that “you can’t change history — not one line,” but it’s clear what Cooper is here to do : save Laura Palmer (no such consideration is given to Phoebe Augustine’s Ronette Pulaski, unfortunately). Hell, Leland Palmer (Ray Wise) even told him to do it. This sequence, it has to be said, is truly genius shit as we finally learn what Laura (Sheryl Lee) was reacting to in her scene with James Hurley (James Marshall) in the woods — and seeing all this vintage material from a decidedly different POV is amazing. The (uncredited, as far as I can tell) stand-in actress for the younger Laura in scenes where new material was required isn’t exactly convincing, but the overall gist of what Lynch and Frost are doing here, goddamn — I mean, it’s breathtaking. And for a minute there, as scenes from the original TV pilot with Joan Chen, Piper Laurie, and the late, great Jack Nance that occur prior to the discovery of Laura’s body play out, you really can be forgiven for thinking that Cooper was successful. Julee Cruise closes out part seventeen with a musical number at The Roadhouse, and it seems like we are well and truly headed home.

But, ya know — then things got wonky. As in, “even by Twin Peaks standards” wonky.

In regards to part eighteen, the only thing I got right occurs at the very outset : a “new” Dougie is “manufactured” from “the seed” and a lock of his hair, and sent “home” to Vegas to be “reunited” with Naomi Watts’ Janey-E and Pierce Gagnon’s Sonny Jim by Carel Struycken’s “Fireman” and — uhhmmm — the face of the departed Don S. Davis. Beyond that, hey, I’m not too proud to admit that I was as taken for a loop as anyone else by everything.

“Find Richard and Linda” is a call-back to part one, only it turns out, after locating the proper “coordinates” and driving through them under some seriously active power lines, followed by a night of some — interesting — sex in which Laura Dern covers Kyle MacLachlan’s face with her hands the whole time, that Coop and Diane are Richard and Linda. And that Richard/Cooper is in a different motel than the one the two of them checked into the previous evening and is driving a different car — not to mention generally acting halfway like the Coop we know, and halfway like his now-wiped-from-existence evil doppleganger. We learned earlier that the mysterious “Judy” is a force of pure evil even older and more powerful than BOB, and so a stop at Judy’s Diner in Odessa, Texas seems like the move Coop oughtta make. He gets into it with some local rednecks, but the waitress that he somehow knows he should be looking for isn’t there, so he gets her home address, goes to her dilapidated spread, and meets this Carrie Paige — only it’s Sheryl Lee. It’s Laura Palmer. Not that she knows it.

Coop informs her that he’s here to take her home, to Twin Peaks, to be reunited with her mother (Grace Zabriskie), but it all sounds pretty hare-brained to her — still, given that she’s just killed her old man and all, she’s down for the whole concept of getting the fuck outta Dodge. Their road trip is mostly uneventful apart from a short sequence where it seems someone might be tailing them (and who knows, maybe they were), but when they finally reach the Palmer household nothing’s ringing a bell with Laura at all — and somebody else altogether lives there. Somebody who’s a lot more forthcoming about answering questions from some stranger at the front door in the middle of the night than I would be. The bewildered homeowner informs Coop that she and her husband have lived there for some time, and that her name last name is Tremond. Before that, the house was owned by the Chalfonts.

Annnnnnnddd we’re firmly back into Fire Walk With Me territory, as those are names, not that Cooper knows it mind you, of people associated with The Black Lodge. Laura/Carrie hears Sarah Palmer call, almost inaudibly, “Laura” from within the house and a sudden and immediate sense of reognition seems to overcome her since she screams, a shrieking wail from the core of her being, while Coop asks himself what year it is, the presumption being that he did manage to save her, but that now they’re both stuck (damn, this always happens to poor Dale) in 1989.

Only thing is, that doesn’t add up, because in 1989 the Palmers were living in that house. And Laura wouldn’t be the grown woman she is “today.” My theory, then, to the extent that it’s formed, is that when Coop and Diane “crossed over” underneath those power lines, they truly did cross over — as in, this is another dimension and/or reality altogether. One we haven’t seen at all, perhaps because Cooper’s meddling with time is what created it in the first place. As the end credits  roll, we’re left with the image from part one of Laura whispering something into Cooper’s ear in the “Red Room” — and we still don’t know what she said.

And you know what? I’m not even going to venture a guess — because theories and, even worse, assumptions are proving to be a real son of a bitch as far as this show goes.

Which brings us to the biggest and best revelation of all, after an evening that contained several (even if they were, admittedly, completely overshadowed by mountains of new questions) — at least I’m hoping that it does. We all assumed (there’s that word again) that this Twin Peaks revival was a “one-and-done” deal. That one way or another, Lynch and Frost were ending the story. But we have precisely zero idea what’s going on with Cooper and Carrie/Laura. Ditto for whatever the deal is with Audrey Horne. “Judy” is still very much “at large.”  Sarah Palmer is still out there eating throats for dinner. And Carrie had a plastic white horse on the mantle in her Odessa shithole. Heck, let’s  throw in the previously-mentioned fact that the stand-in for a young Laura Palmer didn’t exactly “match up” all that well as another “loose end” while we’re at it, too, because there are no “accidents” in Lynch films — everything is designed to be noticed by the careful viewer, and it all means something. I know that, yes, it’s an assumption — and that I just said that I was through with those — but you wanna know what I’m thinking? I’m thinking that we’re not done with Twin Peaks. I’m thinking that we’re not done with it by a long shot.

And, crucially, I don’t think that David Lynch and Mark Frost are, either.