Posts Tagged ‘Eric Edelstein’

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 meant to see writer/director Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room when it was out in theaters “back” in 2015. Never happened. Then I meant to see it as soon as it came out on Blu-ray (from Lionsgate, who have put together a nice little package with a “making-of” featurette and a full-length director’s commentary track that’s pretty engaging). Never happened. Then it finally made it to the top of my Netflix rental queue (yes, I still have one of those) and guess what? Last night I did, finally, see it. And you know what? I’m glad I waited.

I say that because as good as Green Room no doubt seemed when it came out — and it is very good — it now seems downright prescient as an allegory for American life circa late 2016/early 2017. A year-and-change ago this punks-vs.-Nazis survival horror probably came off as being a bit far-fetched to many viewers, but that was back when the idea of uneducated rural racists seemed an almost quaint anachronism of a day and age that had thankfully passed. Now, their chosen con-man-turned-candidate is headed for the White House, and he’s bringing their wretched movement’s most successful spokesman, the risible and pathetic Steve Bannon, along for the ride — and so, in a very real sense, this flick has ended up becoming a preview of Trump’s America in microcosm.

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Of course, back when Green Room came out, co-star Anton Yelchin was also very much alive, so a solemn air of a Hollywood — and an America — that was and might have been hangs heavy over the proceedings here and accentuates a wistful tone already inherent in the beautiful and near-romantically shot Pacific Northwest landscapes. If you saw this film upon release, then, you’d probably be doing yourself a favor to go back and check it out again now in light of the small- and large-scale tragedies that have happened since and see if it hits you even harder this time. My bet is that it almost certainly will.

For those unfamiliar with the set-up here, it plays out as follows : an east coast punk band consisting of lead singer Tiger (played by Callum Turner), guitarist Sam (Alia Shawkat), bassist Pat (Yelchin), and drummer Reece (Joe Cole) are wrapping up their latest tour with no money, food, or gas for their van. Their final show ends up a total bust thanks to half-assed preparation from Bay Area fan-boy/promoter Tad (David W. Thompson), but all hope is not lost — Tad can line ’em up with one more gig thanks to some cousin of his who knows a club out in the sticks that needs a bill-filler the next afternoon as part of an all-day music fest. It pays cash, which is always nice, but he warns them not to get too political, as it’s strictly a “boots and braces” crowd out in BF Oregon.

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Tell ya what, though, this band has balls — they get up in front of the racist fucking skinhead bastards (remember when we called ’em what they were instead of all this “alt- right” and “white nationalist” bullshit?) , play the DK classic “Nazi Punks Fuck Off,” and somehow get out of the place alive. For a second, at any rate. Until they get back to the titular green room, where they witness a brutal crime that suddenly thrusts them into an uneasy temporary alliance with a local “white power” fraulein named Amber (Imogen Poots) as they all fight to stay alive against the low-rent stormtroopers under the command of cold-blooded backwoods would-be Hitler Darcy Banker (Patrick Stewart at his absolute best and most chilling). Spurts of intensely bloody and graphic violence expertly timed for maximum impact punctuate the white-knuckle (in this case very white-knuckle) tension that Saulnier lays on thick and heavy, but the real genius of this film lies in marrying the kind of psychotic evil we’re used to seeing in the horror genre (its most obvious physical manifestation here coming in the form of Eric Edelstein’s “Big Justin” character) with a very real and dangerous political ideology. And it’s twice as frightening now that there are far fewer than six degrees of separation between the skinhead movement and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

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Populated with heart, gallows humor, spellbinding performances across the board, agonizingly human characters, and a very real and palpable threat, Green Room would (and, hey, should) have been my pick for best horror film of 2015 if I had seen it then — in post-election 2016, it’s downright essential viewing. This is what we’re up against, and it’s very frightening indeed. Nazi Trump Fuck Off.