Posts Tagged ‘Don Murray’

The first ten minutes (or thereabouts) of part elven of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks 2017/Twin Peaks : The Return/Twin Peaks season three were all about what I thought was going to happen : I thought that at least one of the kids out playing catch at the beginning, who make a very grisly discover indeed, was going to get hit by a speeding car coming out of nowhere; when the domestic drama that Amanda Seyfried’s Becky is currently (or maybe that should be always) enduring finally reaches a boiling point that sees her long-suffering mother, Shelly (played by Madchen Amick) going for a ride on the hood of her own vehicle, I thought something far worse than a skinned knee was going to happen to her when she was finally thrown from it; when Becky bursts into the motel where she thinks her  two-timing old man is to be found, I was absolutely sure that somebody was gonna get shot — maybe even several somebodies.

But no, the timely intervention of Harry Dean Stanton’s Carl (wait until you see how he hails a ride into town) and the wise advice of busybody Norma Jennings (Peggy Lipton) saw to it that disaster was averted — with no small assist coming from Deputy Bobby Briggs (Dana Ahsbrook), who really is our central figure of audience identification (as well as, officially, Becky’s dad — although I can’t see how that would come as a surprise to anyone) for what part eleven is all about, a point to which we will return momentarily.

First, though, it has to be said — some bad shit really does go down, it goes down in Buckhorn, South Dakota, and Matthew Lillard’s luckless high-school-principal-turned-paranormal-blogger Bill Hastings is on the business end of it. Our fivesome of Feds and their friends (Lynch’s Gordon Cole, Miguel Ferrer’s Albert Rosenfield, Chrysta Bell’s Tammy Preston, Laura Dern’s Diane Evans, and Brent Briscoe’s Detective Dave Mackley) have — uhhhmmm — “escorted” the hapless Mr. Hastings back to the scene of his supposed “crime,” only to discover a vortex portal to the Black Lodge, an uncharacteristically overweight (but characteristically ethereal) Woodsman, and the dead, headless body (I’m sorry, but Lynch’s “she’s dead” line is fucking priceless) of the woman he supposedly killed. Within moments, though, the aforementioned Woodsman sees to it that Hastings himself joins his former paramour on “the other side,” and his method of dispatch is — well, let’s just call it grisly in the extreme, shall we? Poor Bill — but then, we’ve been saying that about him from the outset.

Other stuff happens, too, and plenty of it — Dougie (Kyle MacLachlan)’s Mr. Bean routine and timely purchase of a cherry pie (a “damn good” one, at that) save his ass yet again after his boss, Bushnell Mullins (Don Murray) unknowingly sets him up for a date with death at the hands of Robert Knepper and Jim Belushi’s brothers Mitchum; Amy Shiels keeps on just plain killing it as Candy; Catherine E. Coulson’s Log Lady helps guide Michael Horse’s Deputy Hawk though an ancient Indian map that he, in turn, guides Robert Forster’s Sheriff Frank Truman through; Lynch gets to talk about “the policeman’s dream” (you’re looking at it in the photo above) — but while all that definitely matters, I really do want to get back to Bobby.

He’s obviously a guy who’s learned from his past mistakes. Once a low-level drug dealer and Ben Horne’s lackey, he’s now in the business of busting his former friends as a duly sworn officer of the law. Previous installments have shown the deep sense of regret with which he views his less-than-glorious past, and we also get more than an inkling that there was much he wanted to say to his father before the Major’s his untimely demise. He’s done his level best to perform what we’d call a radical course correction on his life — and for that reason, it rips his heart out to see that his ex-wife is still running around with stereotypical “bad boys” (specifically Balthazar Getty’s Red, as we learn tonight), and that his daughter seems to have a lot more of her mom in her than she does of him. Bad habits being passed down from generation to generation are never a pleasant thing to see play out before one’s own eyes, and how much of that comes down to nature vs. how much of it comes down to nurture is the central question Lynch and Frost are asking in this segment — a point driven home when what first appears to be a (yes, you’re reading this correctly) drive-by shooting at the Double R turns out to be the accidental discharge of a carelessly-placed firearm from a vehicle stopped at a red light outside. Bobby quickly goes into heroic deputy mode, only to find that the kid who may have been handling the gun is wearing the same redneck-ass camouflage hunting garb — and has the same flat, distant, emotional affect — as his idiot, peckerwood, MAGA father. Are we then, in fact, doomed to become carbon-copy clones of our parents — or are they doing their level best to ensure that’s all we become, because it’s all that they themselves know how to teach us?

The incessant honking of a car horn and a child with a grotesque mystery illness stomp all over this reverie before we (and Bobby) have too much time to ponder it, but the question lingers in the back of the mind long after the credits (accompanied this time out by a piano-playing Vegas lounge lizard) roll, and it’s among the most profound — and perhaps ultimately impossible to answer — that Lynch and Frost have asked in this series to date.

 

Can you ever really go back home again?

Two weeks ago, David Lynch and Mark Frost detonated what we thought television was capable of — perhaps even what reality itself was all about, depending on who you ask — in part eight of Twin Peaks 2017/Twin Peaks : The Return/Twin Peaks season three with as much undeniable and unalterable (fuck, is that a word?) force as the atomic explosion they took us so deeply into the heart of. I was bummed we didn’t get a new segment last week, but actually appreciated having the extra time to process all we had witnessed, and now the question becomes one of whether or not you can put the genie back in the bottle. We don’t want or need every part to have the sheer nuclear impact of that last one, of course — much of its power lies in its singularity — but now that we’ve seen the “other side,” so to speak, what’s to be made of this one?

As luck — or, okay, fair enough, Lynch’s skill — would have it, quite a lot, thankfully, for while part nine is punctuated throughout with any number of small and slow “character moments” of the sort to which we’re becoming accustomed to, if not outright spoiled by (Lynch’s Gordon Cole longingly eyeing the cigarette being enjoyed by Laura Dern’s Diane Evans being a particular favorite), we’re also treated to so much sheer plot progression (executed with a kind of quiet grace that only looks and feels laconic while actually bearing down with the force of a goddamn locomotive) that, once again, a couple of viewings, at the least, are going to be necessary in order to take it all in.

In short order, then : Evil Coop (portrayed, as ever, by soon-to-be-Emmy-winner-if-there’s-any-justice-in-this-world Kyle MacLachlan) is up and running again and makes his way to “The Farm,” where we meet Tim Roth for the first time and Jennifer Jason Leigh for the second. He’s got business that needs attending to with Duncan Todd (Patrick Fischler) back at the Silver Mustang Casino in Vegas, so we’ll see what that’s all about, and speaking of Sin City, Dougie (MacLachlan again) and Janey-E Jones (Naomi Watts) are still in the process of being cut loose from police questioning after Dougie’s attempted assassination at the hands of the diminutive Ike “The Spike” (Christophe Zajac-Denek). There’s some terrific interaction between Dougie’s boss, Bushnell Mullins (Don Murray) and the trio of Detectives Fusco (David Koechner, Eric Edelstein, and Larry Clarke), and not too long after they, and the rest of Las Vegas Metro, get to play heroes by finally bringing Ike to justice in a fleabag North Strip (by the look of it) motel room.

Concurrent with all this, Cole, Agents Tammy Preston (Chrysta Bell) and Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer), along with Diane and Cole, find their return flight to Philadelphia interrupted by a spur-of-the-moment course change to, no shock here, Buckhorn, South Dakota, where we learn that mild-mannered high school principal Bill Hastings (Matthew Lillard) , still under lock, key, and the watchful eyes of Detective Dave Macklay (Brent Briscoe) and the Pentagon’s Lt. Knox (Adele Rene) is actually a blogger (poor sap) with a keen interest in what he calls “The Zone,” which seems to be shorthand for the “world between worlds” that we’ve explored in parts three and eight. He knows Major Garland Briggs — hell, he’s met the man — and what that all means is surely going to be one of the key mysteries explored in the nine short weeks we have left with this, the most remarkable piece of work ever crafted for American television screens, but for now it looks very much like Lynch and Frost have pulled another of their trademark “you didn’t think this shit was connected, but check this out!” twists, and I’ll bet you anything that the glass box in New York ties right into this particular plot thread, as well.

Meanwhile, in the town of Twin Peaks proper, while Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) and Andy (Harry Goaz) shop for furniture online, Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster), Deputy Hawk (Michael Horse) and Deputy (it still sounds weird to say this) Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook) are bestowed with a gift from the aforementioned late (any way you slice it) Major, and when they’re given both it and as much of an explanation as she can muster from Bobby’s mom, Betty (Charlotte Stewart), we witness arguably the most powerful and affecting performance we’ve seen in this series so far, with the possible exception of Catherine E. Coulson’s as-brief-as-it-was-brave reprisal of her role as the Log Lady. Stewart’s straight-up incredible in her few moments of screen time here, Lynch directs the scene with superb humanistic understatement that really allows her to shine, and when she breaks her soliloquy with “should we have that coffee now?,” well — everyone feels both relieved and, somehow, not to sound too grandiose, transported. It’s beautiful stuff, and manages to outdo even Lillard’s harrowing breakdown under questioning that comes later in the epis — shit, there I go again, part.

Oh, and while all that’s going, Ben Horne (Richard Beymer) and his assistant, Beverly (Ashley Judd) still can’t find the source of the mysterious “hum” in the corner of her office (but its power definitely seems to be drawing them inexorably closer together), and brother Jerry (David Patrick Kelly) is just plain out of his gourd on weed that absolutely has to be laced with something stronger. After all, I’ve been pretty damn high in my time, but I’ve never had my foot talk to me, much less tell me it wasn’t my foot at all.

Further questions abound (why is Johnny Horne running head-first into a wall? Who are the two — sorry to use the term, but — meth skanks hanging out in the Roadhouse at the end?), but between the transcendent moments from Stewart and Lillard and the usual beyond-stong work from MacLachlan, Dern, and company, it has to be said that Lynch did the one thing he could, indeed the one thing he absolutely needed to do, in order to get all of our heads “back in the game” this week : trusted his cast to hit it out of the park. And they did.

So, to return to our question from the outset : can you ever really go home again? It seems you can. Our eyes are open wider, the scope of our vision expanded, our expectations amped up to a degree that no TV show has ever even attempted, much less actually been able, to follow through on, but yes. This is familiar territory. We know the world of Twin Peaks as well as we ever have.

Which is to say, of course, not at all.

 

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I know I’ve got a well-deserved reputation as a movie and comic book curmudgeon, but believe it or not I also possess a sentimental side, and I thought I’d let you lucky readers have a rare glimpse of it here, on this most romantic of holidays.

Yes, friends, love is in the air, and while the cynical among you might think that Valentine’s Day is nothing but a twisted exercise perpetrated by florists and greeting card companies to torture single people since most couples end up forgetting about it altogether, rest assured that nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is, all of us married guys damn well better not forget to buy some flowers, chocolates, a card, and a gift, or it’s gonna be a cold night out on the couch. A dinner reservation and a romantic movie might not hurt, either, fellas, so do keep that in mind. It seems that Deadpool is destined to be the big Valentine’s weekend box-office draw here in 2014, but in a simpler, more romantic age — say, back in 1981 — the meaning of this day had yet to be buried under a wave of crass commercialization and ultra-violent bluster, and the flick of choice for couples everywhere that year was Franco Zeffirelli’s Endless Love.

Based on the runaway best-selling novel of the same name by Scott Spencer and given the Tinseltown treatment by then-“hot”  screenwriting talent Judith Rascoe, this movie would seem to have everything lovebirds in the early-’80s could hope for : a pedigreed director (he’d done Romeo And Juliet, for Christ’s sake! Who could possibly doubt his credentials?), Hollywood’s most bankable young female lead, semi-risque subject matter, and a schamltzy, over-wrought theme song courtesy of Diana Ross and Lionel Ritchie. I can only imagine the pressure most folks who were paired up at the time felt to live up to the relationship standard set by Endless Love.

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Or, ya know, maybe not. After all, this isn’t so much about a love affair as it is about a doomed love affair — and doomed for good reason. Well-heeled 15-year-old rich girl Jade Butterfield (played by Brooke Shields at the height of her fame and popularity) is introduced by her brother to a dashing, but somewhat mysterious, fella named David Axelrod (Martin Hewitt) who’s two years her senior, they fall madly in love instantly, and her loving but over-protective parents, Ann (Shirley Knight) and Hugh (Don Murray) disapprove either passively and with a hint of jealousy (in Mom’s case) or near-violently (in Dad’s). They conspire to do everything in their power to keep the star-crossed young lovers apart — not that their efforts are entirely successful given that David does, in fact, manage to “de-flower” their precious little rosebud — but all this meddling comes with a heavy price : when the heartbreak of not being able to see Jade gets to be too much,  you see,  David goes and burns their fucking house down. And you thought you had some psycho exes —

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Cue a nice long stint in a mental hospital for our “hero,” but he still can’t get that jailbait out of his mind, and the minute he’s a free man he has only one objective — to win back his lady-love,  despite the fact that they have both supposedly “moved on” with their lives,  and to rekindle that special magic that made a forlorn pyromaniac out of him. At this point, the only thing that has any chance of keeping them apart is if one or both of them recognize what everyone in the audience already has — that maybe they’re really not all that good for each other after all, and that love and obsession are two very different things. Good luck with that, kids.

As melodramatic and frankly absurd as all this sounds, my understanding is that Spencer’s novel is even more unbelievable : set in the ’60s rather than the (then-)present, the Butterfields in their printed-page iteration are actual hippies rather than well-to-do ex– hippies, and take their “free love” pretty seriously — Jade’s mom, for instance, goes so far as to pull up a seat and watch her daughter have sex with David, and the night the house burns down the entire clan is tripping on acid together as some sort of “familial bonding” exercise administered by dear old dad. Zefirelli and Roscoe were probably wise to chuck all that, but they threw the baby out with the bathwater,  since the book definitely made David out to be an unhinged, and quite dangerous, stalker (back before they were even called that) who Jade was enamored with at first, sure, but came to fear pretty quickly. In the film, all that’s been swapped out in favor of a rather milquetoast “over-enthusiatic young love” depiction of their relationship that’s hell-bent on insisting that she’s every bit as unhealthily fixated on him as he is on her. Besides, whether we’re talking about Play Misty For Me or Fatal Attraction, if there’s one thing Hollywood’s taught us it’s that the stereotypical “scorned female” is always the one you have to watch out for when it comes to the whole “stalker phenomenon” — never mind that way too many newspaper headlines and pretty much every reputable sociological study on the subject has shown us that just the opposite is usually the case.

ENDLESS LOVE, Brooke Shields, 1981. ©Universal Pictures

Still, there’s nothing wrong with Endless Love that a couple of semi-believable lead performances couldn’t save, right? I mean, if Hewitt and Shields can really “sell us” on the idea of their all-consuming passion, then logic and reason can go right out the window and we’ll take their bait no questions asked. Unfortunately, they’re both ridiculously bland and one-dimensional and you get the overwhelming sense that not only were their lives somehow “incomplete” before they met each other, they literally had nothing else to do prior to their first, fateful encounter. All of Zeffirelli’s artful staging can’t change the simple fact that when two beautiful but boring people meet, all you’re gonna get is a beautiful but boring “love” story. And honestly, for all the technical bravado he brings along to the party,  the director seems as coldly disengaged with the proceedings here on an emotional level as his listless young stars are (plus the talents of Richard Kiley and Beatrice Straight are wasted in throwaway roles as David’s parents — but be on the lookout for a very young James Spader and an even younger Ian Ziering as his brothers!), and it almost seems as though he feels that adapting a trashy grocery store check-out aisle “romance” novel for the screen is too big a “come-down” after Shakespeare (which, let’s be honest, it is) for him to give it much by way of effort.

So, yeah — all in all, Endless Love just isn’t all that great. But take heart, all you romantics out there — Hollywood would give the same story another go in 2014. Would it make this film look like amateur hour or Masterpiece Theater by comparison? I’m sure that you probably already know the answer, but we’ll confirm your biases for you in our next review anyway.