von Donnersmarck The Lives of Others BeforeWeDieFilms.com

#1081 The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen) (2006)

The Lives of Others is a brilliant feat of storytelling that portrays the necessity of artistic subversiveness in the face of political horror, specifically that of undermining the figurative and literal prisons of the Berlin Wall. In the story,  Stasi Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler is tasked with spying on the playwright Georg Dreyman. The film shows the various ways in which Dreyman as the enemy shifts in Wiesler’s mind, eventually leading him to make some difficult choices in understanding who exactly is a definitive enemy of the state. Stellar performances accompany a strong script examining the limits of human devotion to a cause that, regardless of rational understanding of its effects on the individual, can turn even the most practical participant into a monster.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lives_of_Others

Garrett

I am certainly not alone in thinking the most beautiful part of the film is its turning point. A memorable moment when Wiesler, alone in his dreary hovel of an observation deck, listens to Sonate vom Guten Menschen and his character changes for the remainder of the film – an exceptional moment in the story as well as in Ulrich Mühe’s striking performance in the film. This moment – a quiet one that seems to balance the weight of everything the film holds on its thematic and emotional scales – highlight the beautiful and subtle stresses that hum underneath every moment of the piece. I found this truly captivating film all the more powerful in the context of a period piece with a lot of connections to a book I am working on. This beautiful film presents many of my intellectual turn-ons, not the least of which is its portrayal of being an artist examining the struggle of creating what is beautiful, what is right, and what is acceptable in a society embracing more and more totalitarian and suppressive behavior.

Ulrich Mühe’s performance is absolutely unforgettable.

 Jennifer

This movie presents a really interesting perspective of history that I was only slightly aware of. This story sincerely puts the politics of East and West Berlin into the context of everyday lives. It was incredible for someone to write a script that focuses on the ordinary lives of the people living in this way, and what they are willing to do to shed light on their living conditions.

The twist that occurs with Wiesler as a character was great. At the beginning, it is easy to really hate him. But when he has that big character change in the middle, I came to feel sorry for him – almost more than the protagonists. He is a great character because of the range of emotions that we can understand, and the way the character develops in the story is simply fascinating.

I also enjoyed the epilogue at the end. We get to see what happened to some of the characters years later, and it is refreshing to find this in such a political and dangerous story. The sections with the file disclosures and the book with the dedication at the bookstore both lent a beautiful afterword to a great film.

In a way, this film has a lot to say about today. No matter how different our beliefs are, political and otherwise, it’s clear we have many more similarities than we have differences among us when we distill humanity down to its core experience. This is the most beautiful lesson of the film.

Twin Peaks: The Return (2017) [AND 1 (1990), AND 2 (1991), AND FWWM (1992), AND The Secret History of Twin Peaks, AND HOLY MOLY THIS IS FANTASTIC!]

I know, I know. You are wondering where we’ve been and why we haven’t posted some new reviews. Truth is, we have them all queued up, and we just need to polish them up and add the photos to some of them. The real reason? Hopefully, seventeen weeks of David Lynch’s eighteen-hour reboot of Twin Peaks is enough of a reason for your favorite blog’s lack of updates. It certainly was for us.

We have literally waited decades for this. Twin Peaks is easily one of our favorite universes to play in. We own several of the various DVD sets (they get us every time with new special features, lost material, or a new format that is usually just reasonable enough for us to drop another hundred bucks. Every time we want a ticket in, and they know they got us). We probably watch the two seasons of the series and the movie the entire way through once a year. When David Lynch announced that there would be a new season of Twin Peaks in October of 2014 coinciding with the release of two new books, we were ecstatic along with the rest of our brothers and sisters in our rabid fanbase. Would there be new storylines? Would some of the old storylines be tidied up? Would our favorite cast members return, some of them hopefully before their inevitable death in the near future? What would this look like? Feel like? Who would be producing and airing it? Would it feel more like Season 1? Season 2? Fire Walk With Me? Mulholland Drive? So many questions – but the inevitable conclusion we immediately had was, unlike many other series that go way off the rails when they are reboot (so many), there was no doubt that this was going to be something absolutely amazing as long as it was still in Lynch and Frost’s hands.

We began with our yearly rewatch of Season 1, Season 2, and Fire Walk With Me. Jumping back in, we are flooded with nostalgia. We are reminded of our early days watching it on VHS in friends’ basements, on college televisions balanced on 2x4s and milk crates, and complete runthroughs when the first DVD set came out. Of course, there was the second DVD set that actually included the original pilot and first episode that was missing from the first release because of a strange copyright battle. We also remember the first time we saw the weird British mini-pilot featuring a strange sidecut of Coop cornering Bob in the basement of the hospital in a strange candle-circled entrance to…the black lodge? What was that, even?

The first season was always our favorite. The storylines were taken so seriously, and the major nostalgia and beautiful moments in the Great Northern, Double R, One Eyed Jacks, the Roadhouse, the Palmer residence… Everything here is second only to Fire Walk with Me. We swoon at Audrey’s dance, at Bob’s unveiling, at the incredible, disorienting, and stark moments in the black lodge. Everything is a wonderful culmination of drama, humor, and horror. The second season is somewhat of a wreck, but in many ways, it’s necessary and beautiful. Our characters are back, but they’re back along with a strange addition of guest stars. I am not entirely sure if this was a decision by Lynch, but it was a decision that put this piece in line with any number of successful television programs of the time. Season 2 has its amazing beautiful moments as well, not the least of which include the shocking final episode…which inevitably led us to the third season.

Between the two seasons and today, there were a series of books (not the new one, but equally deserving of their own paragraph) that added to the Twin Peaks universe – a universe that literally mixes almost any genre you can think of. Is it a mystery? A science fiction story? A romance? A comedy? A drama? A western (yes, a western)? Fantasy? Try us with any of the possible genres, and we can justify it. There was a travel guide to Twin Peaks, which broke the fourth wall and presented a little pocket guide that wove between the show, the area, the mythology of the show, and real-life events. It was a cool little addition to the collection. There was the Audiobook of the Diane Tapes, a 45-minute performance of Kyle MacLachlain as Dale Cooper, recorded on site in the audiotapes Coop sent to Diane. The cool part about this performance is that they were recorded both on-set and separately to uncover a great deal more about Coop’s investigation in this immersive experience for the audience. There was the Autobiography of Special Agent Dale Cooper, which is presented like the audiobook in tapes to Diane and some other source documents. This book shows how Coop ended up as an FBI agent. It ends as he joins the force’s installment in Washington. Both Coop pieces were truly adept interpretations of his character and entries into the Twin Peaks universe by Scott Frost, brother of Mark Frost. He worked on the program with Mark and David, so it is no surprise that these two pieces are the most effective and adept spinoffs from the era. The last book is The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer. To us, this book seemed way off not only from Laura’s character but of young teenage women in general no matter their moral and sexual proclivities. It seemed like the penthouse letters-form of the character’s diaries. Whether or not that was the point remains to be seen, but it seemed way off the mark from the character we had come to know and in our opinion not a very good companion to the series.

Now, it is important to note Fire Walk With Me separately from the shows. In this film, which we are extremely excited to get as a Criterion release, we see a prequel for the entire mystery that features some excellent performances from the original cast in addition to David Bowie, Chris Isaak, and Kiefer Sutherland. Lynch stretches his wings in this film without any of the pretense and limitations of the television program. His characters are real, navigating through their world without any concerns of the puritanical tastes and narrative expectations of the regular television-viewing American public. What ends up happening here, however, is that the film takes a very specific Lynchian turn that is much more reminiscent of the work that he is known for, and as a result, we are given what is essentially a postmodern puzzle that feels and acts much differently than the show. The result is the true vision of the backstory of Twin Peaks in all of its complicated and deliberately confounding and absurd glory. It is important to also talk about the new book, The Secret History of Twin Peaks  in this paragraph, namely because it is essential that one experiences the book and Fire Walk With Me in order to fully understand a lot of what goes on in the third season. Mark Frost built an incredible mixed-media masterpiece in this beautifully constructed production by Flatiron Books. It is seriously one of the most beautiful books I have purchased and read in the last ten years. It examines American History and its place in the Twin Peaks Mythos, bringing in Lewis and Clark, various presidents and wars, the role of the military in the development of our nation and westward expansion, and of course, the role of Major Briggs in the investigation of strange events happening in the US from a silent outpost in the backwoods of Washington. Yes, there are aliens, and yes, there are references to the instability of spacetime. It is beautiful, and we totally preordered The Final Dossier that will be released and delivered to our doorstep this month.

So, that brings us to the show. Season Three.

Here is an episode-by-episode rundown of our thoughts. As a quick note, there is a lot of information and some of it is definitely spoiler-y, so if you haven’t watched the show and want to save your surprise I would definitely revisit this page after having watched it. That said, you can also scroll down and look out for the overall summary at the bottom of this post (and come back once you’re caught up!).

If you don’t want to read any spoilers, click HERE to skip to the end of the post!

EPISODE 1

The series opens with location after location, new character after new character. Dr. Amp / Dr. Jacoby is painting some shovels. Cooper is trapped in the black lodge while he speaks with The Fireman about some new unknown characters, Richard and Linda. Jerry and Ben are at the Great Northern examining some new business opportunities. A weird box is being monitored by a random new character and his girlfriend in a New York skyscraper, and leads to a bad end. The body of a local librarian is found, and the local principal is the prime suspect lacking a reasonable alibi. Finally, the log lady makes an appearance with a warning to Hawk. A second Cooper is on the loose.

This was a pretty disjointed episode, and it ended with the feeling that there were a lot of threads already dangling at the beginning of a series where we know little about what is going to happen. In hindsight, this was actually our least favorite episode in the series. But we started feeling optimistic, as it is somewhat unusual for Lynch to take this Tarantino-sequel setup with the characters and the locations. Like a Russian novel, he is more likely to give us a bunch of characters here and there to be used as set pieces and discarded. While not much satisfying happens in its first hour, the momentum is electric.

EPISODE 2

The momentum, locations, and excitement of the new series really picked up for us in episode 2. The principal’s wife visits him in prison and meets an unsavory end. A businessman in Vegas, Duncan Todd, is somehow involved in some business dealings with the events of the story. Cooper’s doppelgänger knows that he is somehow going to be relegated to the black lodge permanently if he is brought back there, and it’s clear in this episode that he is going to not only take out whoever sets out to bring him back but also needs the help of some other people to keep him wandering the earth. He has a phone conversation – presumably Phillip Jeffries (which builds excitement for Bowie’s return to the series) who gives him some information that includes information on BOB and Major Briggs. Hawk investigates the entrance to the Black Lodge. Coop has a confrontation with ‘the arm’, an evolved version of Mike’s arm and also a different form of the man from another place, who also has an evil arm doppelgänger, and Laura Palmer whose face opens and screams. The floor goes all wonky, Coop falls through, and pops up in the box in the skyscraper.

This episode was confounding, exciting, and engaging. In this one, we finally felt like we were entering the story and ready to continue with some linear pieces. The complete deconstruction of what was once some solid conceptual characters and set pieces was exciting and bizarre – not just an indicator of the difference in this series as compared to everything that has come before it, but what we learn later is symbolically relevant to the entirety of the series. The disorienting elements present in this piece sets a tone for the remainder of the series – expect for the reality of this universe to be torn apart beneath your feet.

MUSIC – Chromatics “Shadow” – excellent, modern synth-indie sound. Gorgeous.

EPISODE 3

Coopers, Coopers, Coopers. A strange series of events leads Cooper to leave the plane of existence he is on, chased away by a variety of weird threats and protections. We see Evil Coop apprehended by the police after a car accident. Good Coop is transformed into Dougie Jones, who has his own problems once he is shot back into reality. He is being chased by a variety of bad guys he owes money to, while at the same time he comes to be known as “Mr. Jackpots” because of his ability to see a window to the red room above winning slot machines. At the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s department, Andy, Lucy, and Hawk are looking into things while Gordon Cole is brought in to South Dakota once he hears word that Coop has been found.

Our reaction to this one is a little strange. We felt like the pacing was off as if the characters were trying to be revived through actors that didn’t really seem to know what their jobs were. The exception being McLaughlin and his performance of the Coops, which made up for everything that was weird in terms of timing. Dougie Jones is a weird character and felt like there was a lot to ask of him as he wandered through this world without knowing what the hell was going on. That said, we wanted to keep watching, finally. We are seeing some familiar faces, and we love seeing them.

MUSIC – The Cactus Blossoms “Mississippi” – a great little tune at home in any lazy late-night honky-tonk dive bar. Sullen, delicious country.

EPISODE 4

Dougie is confronted by the casino for all of his winnings, and we are learning that Coop’s embodiment of Dougie is affecting his cognition to an almost ridiculous level. He goes home to meet his wife and his son, and everyone is surprised that he has won all of the money – money needed to pull him out of his debts. Mike appears and tells him one of the Coops need to die. Bobby is a cop now, and he is pulled in for a discussion about his dad. Andy and Lucy’s son pops up, Wally Brando, for a bizarre and artificial performance. Gordon travels with Albert and a new agent Tammy to meet the evil Cooper.

Wow, Brando and Tammy, huh? We never see Brando again, and there was an online discussion that explores the idea that Andy and Lucy never actually had a son and that this man is someone that Sheriff Truman hires to placate them so they can continue to live in their fantasy world. That string never pays off except for Michael Cera delivers such a bizarrely poor performance that it can only be considered brilliant in the hands of Lynch. He knows whats going on, so we have to trust the silly, poorly timed, bizarre thing happening on screen. Tammy on the other hand, we can tell, will have a lasting impact on everything that is happening. She is Cole’s protege, and it becomes apparent that she will be important as the series moves on. An okay episode, but still lacking some payoffs as more and more is introduced without context.

MUSIC – Au Revoir Simone “Lark” – This is the first of two beautiful performances by the synth-only trio. Both are electric, golden, savoury.

EPISODE 5

The people who set out to kill Dougie activate a box in Buenos Aires. Dougie’s wedding band is in the stomach of the corpse found with the librarian’s head. Evil Cooper is looking in the mirror and a strange morphing shows that Bob is still inside him. Dougie has a little piece inside of him that activates after seeing a statue of a cowboy/sheriff, and he can tell if someone is lying with little symbols and lights that show up in his vision – something that comes in handy at an insurance company. In Twin Peaks, Shelly’s daughter is in trouble with a boy addicted to drugs. Jacoby is making internet conspiracy theory videos under the name Dr. Amp. At the Pentagon, we learn that the body from the librarian’s apartment is Briggs, but that makes no sense in terms of the timeline of the show. Evil Coop makes a phone call that messes up the prison and freaks everyone out.

This was a satisfying episode for us. While there are many new things happening, we are already starting to see many familiar faces, and the new mysteries that are coming are captivating and raw. The momentum is finally picking up.

MUSIC – Trouble “Snake Eyes” – Hot noise blues that punches you in the damn mouth. Featuring Riley Lynch, David’s son.

EPISODE 6

Dougie’s wife Janey-e gets involved in settling his debts, while Dougie manages to indicate to his boss using a bunch of symbols that one of his coworkers is participating in insurance fraud. From Vegas, Duncan Todd orders this guy Spike (because of his favorite instrument) to kill Dougie and Lorraine. He kills Lorraine, but ruins his spike. We meet Diane at a bar when Albert finds her, but she looks off because of a strange, Halloween costume-like white wig. We witness a drug deal gone bad with Richard Horne, who kills a little boy as he speeds away. There is a strange spiritual scene that ensues. Using a screwdriver, Hawk finds some of Laura Palmer’s diary pages inside the door to a toilet stall at the Twin Peaks police station.

Amazing stuff here, and oh my gosh we finally get to see who Diane is. Brilliant performances abound in this episode, except for the fact that Jenn absolutely abhorred the gratuitous violence and emotion evoked by the scene where the little boy is struck and killed. It seemed to not need to be in the show, and we already know what kind of person Richard Horne is. In fact, in hindsight after watching the whole program, there are many other opportunities for us to realize and recognize this – how many felonies does a guy need to commit for us to want him to get what’s coming to him? Anyway, it seems like this scene was more about Harry Dean Stanton’s character Carl Rodd and the character Miriam Sullivan’s connection to Horne. Regardless, Jenn practically refused to watch more, while I gave her a verbal lashing about how it isn’t any more gratuitous either violence-wise or emotionally than any number of Grey’s Anatomy episodes. She never forgives me when I use that argument.

MUSIC – Sharon Van Etten “Tarifa” – Gorgeous guitar and vocals bring us down a sullen river of sadness and longing similar to Neko Case and Patti Smith. Etten is a Roadhouse staple.

EPISODE 7

The diary pages explain a dream where Annie tells Laura that Cooper is trapped in the Black Lodge. Diane interviews evil Cooper and reports that it isn’t him. Evil Cooper blackmails the warden to let him out or will get killed because of some indiscretions (he does later on, anyway). The police interview Dougie at work, and when he and Janey are leaving, Spike attacks them. Dougie outsmarts him when ordered by the arm to rip his hand off.

A cool episode with great storylines that all seem to be in line with what’s happening. No new characters, and already we are starting to see some conclusions to the many, many plot lines in the show. Satisfied, we push on.

EPISODE 8

This episode, just before the halfway mark in the series, opens up a whole new dimension in filmmaking for television. In many ways, it opens up a whole new dimension in film. Episode 8 was a truly remarkable piece of work that seemed to be the one episode that Lynch put most of his creative efforts into – the opening of the white lodge and the genesis of BOB and LAURA as binary opposites in a new terrifying world. The music, the power and energy, the postmodern choices, the bending of time and space, the color and any number of absolutely thrilling choices make this one of the greatest things that have ever happened on the small screen. Sound is particularly important in this episode, as the musical guests do not show up at the end, rather Nine Inch Nails shows up in the middle and highlights a score that runs between silence, light noise, whooshing, explosions, and Threnodic symphony. Oh, and how about freakin’ Nine Inch Nails.

Garrett absolutely loved this episode and watched it several times over the week of its release, while Jenn did not. It is an extremely visually and aurally complicated piece of work, dancing between the symbolic and the absurd. It is heavily tied to the Secret History of Twin Peaks and culminates in an incredible opening of so many avenues in the show (the convenience store, the supernatural characters) and as many avenues in the history of humanity (the detonation of the first atomic bomb, which will never be undone). It ends with a vision of a simpler time. In many ways, it is not. Everything in Lynch’s world is horrifying and disturbing under the surface guise of a kind, forgiving, and predictable reality. Not only a spectacular episode of Twin Peaks but a spectacular moment in filmmaking as a whole.

MUSIC – (The) Nine Inch Nails “She’s Gone Away” – a spectacular new track from Nine Inch Nails. And what more can be said when Reznor collaborates with Lynch?

EPISODE 9

Evil Coop orders the warden killed, and we learn that he also has some connections to Diane through a text. He is also checking in with Duncan Todd. Meanwhile, the police are investigating who Dougie is after his heroism, and only get dead ends. Spike is arrested. Bobby, Frank, and Hawk visit Bobby’s mother, who informs them she has a secret she’s kept for a long time. They are given a little puzzle box cylinder thing that has some cryptic information on it that includes Coop’s name twice.

Cool. We’re moving forward. Great episode, not the least of which includes a moment with Bobby and Baldamenti;’s score. This is where we begin to see some real magic in terms of Lynch playing with the sensibilities of his audience. He knows what we’re waiting for – we want our Baldamenti. We want our Cherry Pie. He is going to give it to us when he is damn well ready, but not without stringing us along his twisted path and understanding that his responsibility to his story is just as important as our responsibility to his style of storytelling.

MUSIC – Au Revoir Simone “A Violent Yet Flammable World” – Another great song by this talented, dreamy group

Hudson Mohawke “Human” – an indie electronic import from Glasgow graced this episode as well!

EPISODE 10

Richard Horne confronts the woman who was the only knowing witness to the hit and run of the little boy. He tries to kill her after he learns she tipped the police off in a letter. That letter is intercepted by a crooked police officer, Chad. The Mitchum Brothers, members of the casino’s security force, recognize Dougie in a news story about Spike’s attack. Janey gets excited by her husband and they…consummate their…new…marriage. Richard attacks his grandmother and steals everything he can at the house, and then she, in turn, calls Ben and demands money he owes her. It turns out the Mitchum are interested in Dougie because he cost them $300 million when he uncovered and denied an insurance claim for arson after Duncan Todd became involved in framing him. A lot of people want Dougie dead. Albert/Tammy/Gordon are on to Diane and bad Cooper’s relationship and learn about bad Coop’s connection to the box in New York. The Log Lady tells Hawk that Laura is the one.

Great episode; we are totally engaged and everything is finally coming together.

MUSIC – Rebekah Del Rio, Moby “No Stars” – Beautiful Ballad from another Lynch regular, No Stars is the return for the Mulholland Drive soloist… Joined by Moby of all people.

EPISODE 11

Miriam, the witness to Richard’s hit and run, has survived. Shelly’s daughter flips out when she learns her man Steven is cheating on her, and she has a family meeting at the RR with Shelly and Bobby. There is a commotion outside when a little boy shoots a gun through the restaurant by accident after finding it under the seat in the minivan he is in. The FBI travels to a location where they find the librarian’s headless body, and there are coordinates written on her arm. Albert saves Gordon from falling up into a vortex that opens above them, and while they are distracted, one of the shadowy woodsmen kill the principal in the car in a gruesome surprise attack before disappearing. Back in Twin Peaks, Hawk and Frank make a connection between the diary pages, the codes found in the vial, and an ancient changing Native American map. The Mitchums go to get Dougie and bring him to the middle of the desert to kill him, but one of the Mitchums recount a dream where it turns out he is an ally. Before deciding to kill him, they check if the dream is the same as reality, and it is. He has a check for them, and from then on they are at Dougie’s feet and treat him to some Cherry Pie and Coffee… Which still doesn’t snap him out of it.

Cherry Pie?! Coffee?!? OK! Yes. At this episode, Jenn basically says “this is my favorite episode” every episode from here on out. I agree with her. These get better and better and more and more connected to the books and the original series, while at the same time telling our new story so well that we’re on board for all of it.

EPISODE 12

This episode was relatively exposition-heavy. Some elements of the plot featured some dangling plot lines being snatched up, but then that was contrasted with what was probably the biggest series of new character names of any episode of the new series so far. We decided that this was likely unnecessary, but it is difficult to not care when the manner in which offstage characters are being so stressfully introduced… But in this episode we finally got Audrey (and more character names), an exciting “Let’s Rock,” and an absolutely beautiful moment between Gordon Cole and Albert Rosenfeld. It is clear that Lynch was playing with time, names, and the space between words in this episode – a nod to how little we know about what is going on in a character’s interiority when we watch from the audience in the third person. While the episode did little to further plot in the overall story arc aside from a few small moments (aside from definitively and energetically pulling us back to Twin Peaks), it was a gorgeous study in silence.

EPISODE 13

Dougie’s coworker wants to kill him for ruining his life, but it turns into a strange double back when he feels bad for even thinking of it. He confesses to their boss. There is a weird scene with Evil Cooper entering a gang after winning an arm wrestling competition, and he is really only there to get some information from Ray who has coordinates he needs. He kills Ray and disposes of him the red room while Richard Horne watches on CCTV with the rest of the gang. Back in Twin Peaks, Ed and Bobby eat together, and Ed is heartbroken as he watches Norma having a business meeting with a man she is clearly interested in. Nadine has a scene with Dr. Amp / Jacoby, who she had been watching on the internet all season, and Sarah Palmer isn’t quite Sarah Palmer – she is in a strange alcoholic / supernatural time loop. Fantastic and engaging, and now we have even more to root for in the Nadine and Ed storyline that remains from the original series. We hope everyone gets back together finally, but reality seems different, especially when we consider the implications of how time and universe is behaving in Twin Peaks.

MUSIC –

EPISODE 14

Diane tells us that she is Janey’s half-sister, and the FBI order a search for Dougie and Janey’s family. Chad’s meddling and destruction of evidence is uncovered and he is arrested and thrown in jail across from this weird guy who could be anything from drunk to a zombie repeating whatever he hears. Using the information gleaned from the map and Briggs, Bobby, Hawk, Andy, and Frank head into the woods where multiple versions of them finding where they are supposed to go are overlayed with one another. Andy is pulled into the white lodge where he is shown a bunch of relevant visions, likely in a visual language he understands. When he returns, the woman from space that Coop interacted with earlier in the show is naked on the ground, and Andy takes charge and gets her back to a jail cell to keep her safe, and now she is Chad and the zombie guy’s neighbor. James talks with a fellow Great Northern security guard Freddy about work and moving to the US who immigrated here as his calling. He has a special, powerful glove that can smash anything. Sarah leaves the house and goes to a bar, and a guy at the bar starts getting a little too handsy and suggestive. She attacks him. The episode ends with a story about a missing guy we hear about here and there, Billy, bleeding everywhere in a kitchen and freaking out before disappearing again.

Who is Billy?! But really, we are so there for this episode. An excellent episode, where oral history and time are clearly overlapping. If Lynch hit us over the head with this concept of multiple timelines and multiple histories any harder, we’d end up a victim of the woodsmen ourselves. A great episode. Andy taking charge was a treat, and James finally gets a scene as he deserves… well, of course, other than the obvious what came from James eventually… with a guitar… and some backup singers…

MUSIC – Lissie “Wild West” – A big fat indie ballad with some amazing moments. The only thing we couldn’t stand was that the overdub didn’t work with the performance on screen. A great song, though.

EPISODE 15

Phillip Jeffires returns, but like everyone else, in a starkly different form. This was one of the sadder moments for us as we were sincerely hoping that Bowie would make a return in the series as an actor or musical guest. Unfortunately, he was already too sick to participate. Rumor had it that he gave the production and the voice actor his blessing, but still, it was bittersweet not seeing him in his amazing and disorienting role from Fire Walk With Me. Jeffries gives evil Coop coordinates and tells him that is where he will find Judy, but he is skeptical. Richard attacks Evil Coop, and Coop has a plan in store for him. Cooper hears Cole’s name in Sunset Boulevard on TV and zaps himself with the electrical socket (so much electricity in this show!). Normal gives up the franchise, and Ed and she finally get together and it is magnificent. In the woods, one of the minor characters presumably kills himself in front of Mark Frost walking his dog. The log lady gives Hawk a final message and dies a tragic and beautiful death. Audrey is back and is arguing with Charlie about leaving to find Billy at the Roadhouse, but it still feels weird and artificial. Freddie and James get into a barfight, and the magic glove comes into play when they end the fight violently but effectively. Chantal kills Duncan Todd and another guy working in the office in Vegas. Finally, crawling across the floor, Carlyne Yi screams in a strange and disorienting moment.

From this episode through to the end, Jenn began earnestly reporting “this episode was my favorite episode. Period.” And with good reason. From here on out, with perhaps the exception of the final episode, every episode pulled together many of the loose strands we had been curious about. Dangling plot lines leading all the way back to the beginning, as well as in Fire Walk With Me, Season 2, and even the books, all seem to converge in the remaining episodes so beautifully and satisfyingly. It was a treat to see Norma and Ed have such a beautiful ending, here.

MUSIC – The Veils “Axolotl” – a dark, brooding, strong indie piece.

EPISODE 16

Evil Coop brings Richard to the coordinates. Here we learn what is up and why Evil coop doesn’t trust any of it. We learn (and granted it became a little obvious earlier with deductive reasoning) that Richard is Evil Coop and Audrey’s son. Richard is blown to bits by this bright electricity out of nowhere, and while we knew something like this would happen, it was still disappointing to keep watching evil Coop win so often. Meanwhile, Dougie is in the hospital in a coma, and scoping out his house separately are the FBI, the Mitchums, and the assassins Chantal and Hutch. There is a random act of intense violence when Chantal and Hutch are killed by a wacko random American dude with a gun and some rage. This beautifully Tarantino scene includes the Mitchums delivering one of the best lines in the series, “people are under a lot of stress.” The real Coop wakes up in an amazing moment, tears out the machines and the wires, gives some of his hair to Mike and asks him to make another Dougie, gets the owl ring from Dougie’s boss and tells him to contact the authorities, and in yet another amazing line delivers “I am the FBI.” Then heads to Spokane, oh man! Then, Diane is cornered by Albert, Tammy, and Cole and drilled for info where she has a strange monologue – an excellent performance – and describes being raped by Coop, but then says she isn’t herself, and pulls a gun out but is killed by Albert. Yet another great line when Albert tells Cole “you’re getting soft in your old age,” to which Cole replies, “not where it counts.” Diane ends up in the black lodge and shrivels into a seed, revealing that she is a tulpa like the other seeds and other doubles throughout. Audrey finally gets to the roadhouse where she dances, and with some amazing choreography and that of the rest of the roadhouse, it is beautiful. Then a fight breaks out and she gets scared, demands to be brought home, and wakes in a bright white room totally confused.

We both agreed that the payoffs – all of them – in this episode easily made it one of the best and certainly worth the journey to get here. Amazing performances, amazing moments, nostalgia and new discovery, beauty, danger, violence, humor. This episode is truly the kind of thing that makes Twin Peaks Twin Peaks. Amazing from beginning to end.

MUSIC – Edward Louis Severson III “Out of Sand” – a direct reference to time, love, and dimension, this song by a very Pearl Jammy guy with a guitar going by a completely different name was awesome, especially considering I can’t remember a time in recent memory where he gave us something new. Along with the Nine Inch Nails track, a gift for our nostalgia.

EPISODE 17/18

Now, for the two-part finale. Between the two of us, we had mixed feelings. Garrett loved both of these episodes, and saw the ending as Episode 17 and an Epilogue as Episode 18 – almost like, this story thread ended on 17 and an explanatory venture into where reality is now was what was happening in 18. Jenn agreed to an extent, but only as far as to say that the show should have ended on 17 and felt that the disorienting nature of 18 was unnecessary.

In Episode 17, everyone descends on Twin Peaks for what can only be described as the most obvious showdown and culminating conflict of the series. Cooper gets there by transport with the Mitchums. Evil Coop gets there after finding his way into the white lodge and the fireman spits him out at the Twin Peaks police station instead of the Palmer House which was all queued up (while Major Briggs’ head looks on). Albert, Cole, and Tammy show up separately to track down ‘Judy’. And of course, the rest of the cast is already at the police station as police officers or in jail. There is a huge fight where Evil Cooper is killed several times and BOB emerges. Coop gets the owl ring on him and he goes to the black lodge where he is perpetually on fire. Naido transforms into red-haired Diane who accompanies Coop to the Great Northern, then to a special transport to the weird staircase that leads to the motel where Jeffries’ machine is. Then Coop is transported and prevents Laura’s murder over, and over, and over again, but like Orpheus, loses her at the last moment of freedom and redemption every time. Sarah Palmer is having a breakdown and smashing Laura’s picture at the end of the episode.

MUSIC – Julee Cruise “The World Spins” – she’s back, and she appropriately rounds the series off with another haunting vocal powerhouse.

A new Dougie tulpa reunites with Janey-e and Sonny Jim. Then, Coop travels through the black lodge, fully aware of his navigation through it, and emerges driving through the desert with Diane. They stop at the point of no return near some electrical wires, noting there was no way to turn back from here. They pass through, are compelled to stay at a strange motel, compelled to have sex, compelled to sleep. When Coop awakens, it is a different motel. Diane is gone and there is a note to Richard from Linda (a strange callback to an early episode). Coop is compelled to visit a diner looking for a Carrie, and stops some men from bothering the waitress by shooting them and deep-frying their guns. The waitress is not Carrie, but gives Coop the address in return for saving the day. Coop goes to the house to find…Carrie. Carrie looks like Laura (is played by Sheryl Lee), but knows nothing. Has Coop succeeded in changing history for Laura? There is a dead body in her living room. Something is really wrong with her life. He drives all night with her and brings her to the Palmer house. They approach, but a different family lives there (in really great breaking the fourth wall fashion, it is the actual real-life family that lives there that answer the door). Coop brings Carrie to the street. In a magical, truly spectacular moment, Coop stumbles, confused and disoriented. He asks Carrie, “what year is it?” Carrie, confused, looks back to the house. The Fire Walk With Me/Season 1 slow motion Sarah scream shouts ‘Laura’, something from another dimension finally reaches Carrie, she screams, and the electricity pops to end the series.

A spectacular finale to the show that was a perfect representation of the multi-dimensional, multi-timeline, multi-faceted world of Twin Peaks. It wasn’t just spiritual, it wasn’t just technological, it wasn’t just paranormal, but seemingly all of these things all at once.

OKAY, WE ARE TOTALLY DONE WITH ANY POSSIBLE SPOILERS NOW!

What we gained from the third season of what is simply one of the greatest television programs of all time is another window into some of our favorite characters placed in new circumstances. These circumstances reflect the gritty, terrible mirror of the David Lynch of today using the freedom of Showtime to tell the story he wants to tell using all available freedoms of technology, funding, lack of verbal and sexual censorship by a non-cable network at prime time, and a freedom of expression that wasn’t tied to box office receipts or a public boycott. The platform and execution invite you to come and enjoy the show – as terribly bizarre, convoluted, and confusing as it is. Most of the people viewing it, as far as I can tell, are likely a lot like us. Longtime fans who have also seen and enjoyed Fire Walk With Me, Mulholland Drive, and Lost Highway, and can appreciate that he brought this new postmodern style to the show he truly wanted to make to begin with. The result is that we get the tongue-in-cheek and kitsch aspects of the program, but when they take the dark, horrific turns that Lynch is known for, the turns are stark, brutal, shocking, and somehow fantastic and hyperreal at the same time.

We loved it, though. We literally got to see our favorite characters in a much more Lynch-appropriate world, and we got to experience this as a literal eighteen-hour-long film. This show is likely not for those not willing to think as you watch, analyze the characters and their situations, and spend hours discussing it after each episode. We don’t think you’re an idiot if you don’t fall into this category, however, it is important to note that it would be pretty easy to understand how someone expecting a passive-audience experience would find the show confusing and tell everyone they hate it. In season three, the training wheels are off, and Lynch leaves a lot to think about with character, setting, plot, symbolic furnishings, postmodern choices, sound (oh, baby, sound), music, gestures, dialogue, visual design, and so much more, and he literally gives us none of it. Who knew a Cherry Pie could be such a blessing to come across, and such a let down when the director manipulates you into thinking you know what matters and what doesn’t.

Overall, absolutely pleased. Looked forward to it every week. Felt every emotion, just as we were supposed to. If you do it right, Twin Peaks and all of its universes, platforms, books, films, and episodes are well worth the effort. As a result, we can attest season three certainly was.

Now, one final note. This show was really complicated and even with all of the media (and prior knowledge) we came in with, we still rewatched some episodes and also looked to some friends for some weekly help. The videos we found to be the most interesting were Gamespot Universe’s rundowns from Greg and Ryan (hey guys) that came a few days after the episode aired. In them, they do a recap, a light analysis that made the deep connections to the books, Seasons 1 and 2, and Fire Walk With Me, as well as the interactions they were having with us fans on Twitter and their YouTube Channel. The result is a great crowd-contextualization. Check out the complete playlist here:

Additionally, the REDDIT TWIN PEAKS group, FB TWIN PEAKS XPOSTING (the x changes),  FB Twin Peaks, FB Twin Peaks DiaLOG, FB Twin Peaks Worldwide, and Welcome to Twin Peaks are absolute essential resources for great discussions, funny memes, and an excellent like-minded community of us obsessives. Check them out if you jump on the train.

That’s about it. Thanks for taking the time to read this, our longest post on BeforeWeDieFilms yet… Let’s Rock.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twin_Peaks_(2017_TV_series)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twin_Peaks

#797 Moonstruck (1987)

Moonstruck is a romantic comedy from 1987 that seems to have defined the genre itself. The film follows the magical misadventures of a lonely widow trying to find her place in love as she wanders around her small Italian community. Cher and Nicholas Cage’s performances are captivating as they bring warmth and heart to this well-paced script. It is a classic, uplifting cultural family comedy steeped in long traditions of love and marriage while playing with the mystical unknowns of the heart.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moonstruck

Garrett

I remember seeing this film when I was young and not entirely understanding all the eye-rolling and hubbub of adults in love. Now that I am an adult, I look back at my young self and I understand love and relationships in a different way, but still found myself asking, seriously guys, what is it about this movie?

This piece is a middle of the road romantic comedy with performances that I could frankly swap out with any number of other actors in any number of other romantic comedies. The script is ironclad, however, and I sincerely felt as though the great writing carried the performances. I think that this is one of the first films that we look at when we think of the genre itself, so it carries the weight of all of the romantic comedies that have come after it that rely on its structure, pacing, themes, motifs, and tropes. So essentially, I know I can’t go back and watch this film as an adult in 1987, but today with my experience I felt like it was only an okay film based on the many others I have seen. If one considers it the modern vanguard for the entire genre, then I can easily accept that it deserves some of the praise it received.

Roger Ebert ironically referred to other reviewers of the film as downplaying it as a “madcap ethnic comedy.” He then examines the piece in terms of its great qualities of being a simple, well-executed romance. Truthfully, I think that watching it in hindsight and not in the context of the year it came out takes a lot away from the film. In 2017, is it funny? I didn’t find myself laughing out loud at it and much of the funny bits seemed dated or strangely ethno-family-centric in the context of the film in a way that I have absolutely no familiarity with. In 2017, was it romantic? A little… but I wasn’t always convinced. The script is strong, but the execution seems like the piece remains in a fantasy 1987 rather than a relatable reality. Sure, that’s the job of a movie, but I wonder if I would have been convinced better if we hadn’t been reminded so often and so blatantly by the writers and director that this love was so magical and mystical. Don’t tell me, make me believe it. Sure, I sat through it and enjoyed its sparkle, but it still felt pretty dated and flat to me. Maybe I’m just cynical… Strike that, I’m pretty darn cynical.

Jennifer

I’m not really sure what the hype is about, either. Worth the watch, if only for a baby-faced Nicholas Cage wearing next to nothing in the hot, sweaty bakery…. makin’ the bread. My favorite part of the movie were the scenes with Cher’s extended family, her parents, her aunts, uncles, and grandparents. There is some sharp dialogue with great timing there. I also enjoyed the great appearances of our favorite eighties hair and costumes. Cher’s makeover scene before they go to see Carmen is worth the price of admission alone. It’s a cute movie, and I would tell my friends to see it if they haven’t… But I wouldn’t buy a copy and sit down and watch it again like I would with similar comedies like Groundhog Day or You’ve Got Mail. It’s simply a little too dated and doesn’t hold up like many other movies that are even many more decades old. I felt like this one fell into too narrow of a niche, and unlike My Big Fat Greek Wedding that was heavily steeped in the use of family, romance, and comedy, this one’s specificity seemed to detract from its staying power.

Poelvoorde, Belvaux, Bonzel Man Bites Dog BeforeWeDieFilms.com

#885 Man Bites Dog (C’est arrivé près de chez vous / It Happened in Your Neighborhood) (1992)

With a $33,000 budget (or as the creators in the Criterion interviews indicate, zero budget that they supplemented by asking friends and family for money in between shoots every three weeks), Man Bites Dog is an edgy genre-busting film from three Belgian filmmakers shot while they were still in college studying the craft. The first film on our list officially rated NC-17 and banned in several nations, this movie is violent, misogynistic, racist, degrading, gruesome, explicit,…..and absolutely hilarious. This black comedy balances two worlds – the world of funny upbeat satire in the style of Spinal Tap and completely shocking “bleak criticism of our desire to watch everyday live tilt out of balance” (Mathijs). The self-awareness of the piece blurs the line between fiction and reality so well that their metafictive narrative’s characters carry their names, they refer to borrowing the money to make the film in character, and at one point their murders reach to the bizarre level of our protagonists murdering a new documentary team documenting their documentary team documenting their murders while other murderers are fighting over victims with them during a shootout in a dim and dilapidated building. The result is something unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Not for the weak-stomached or anyone who can’t recognize postmodern humor and satire when they see it.

We watched Man Bites Dog on Criterion DVD #165.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man_Bites_Dog_(film)

Garrett

I absolutely loved this film from beginning to end. I didn’t know what to expect going into it, and only read internet material and the liner notes from the box prior to Mathjis’ essay in Schneider. Was it a horror film? A mockumentary? A comedy? A political and artistic statement about film? About our consumer culture as a whole? What was this film?

Honestly, it is all of the above, and more.

I loved this film. I laughed (almost) the entire way through. With a lively energy, the three creators of this film have made something unlike anything else in cinema – a self-reflective mockumentary that dances between horror and black comedy like nothing else. Where many films attempt this in a manner that is approachable by audiences in a way that is bankable, the three independent filmmakers responsible for this movie have taken a literal budget of no money and outlined and cobbled together a script and a film that not only tells an interesting and engaging story with characters and performances that are believable and fun (not to mention breaking the fourth wall and production standards the entire time in their use of the crew, their own names, and a variety of other tricks throughout), but makes a heavy and effective statement on cinema  and audience itself. The people watching the very film we are watching as we watch it are just as important to their story and thesis as their product. This culminates in amazingly well-executed hilarious, but black moments such as the birthday dinner party, and hilarious setups that turn into terrifying and disgusting black moments, such as the rape and murder sequence. No taboo is off limits in this film, from rape to infanticide, and perhaps what is most intriguing about this film is how it was made in such expert hands when the filmmakers were so poor and so new to the craft.

This film can certainly get into the ring with the works of Christopher Guest and Quentin Tarentino and hold its own – even more so considering its execution of cinéma vérité , satire, humor, violence, horror, and politics are not only effective approaches to the early years of a genre but that it almost does it better than most of the films I have seen of its kind.

Final note… I did a little research afterward and totally remember downloading a video of Bill Gates being hit in the face with a cream pie when I was a freshman in college. I remember reading that it was the work of a subversive filmmaker, and thinking it was a hilarious statement against capitalism and absolute power. Since then, Gates has retired and dedicated his life to giving his money away to great causes… Within ten years of this event, that man, Rémy Nicolas Lucien Belvaux, committed suicide at the age of thirty-nine. It is just now that I am seeing something he has created for the first time, and find myself mourning in retrospect for a young artist who sincerely had a sense of humor in wanting to bring light to changing the world for good. Today, nearing thirty-nine, I appreciate what he was able to accomplish in this lifetime and wish I could have experienced more of his work – no matter how hilariously disgusting and shocking it was. Sometimes this is precisely the kind of subversive message our world needs; Belvaux’s work is precisely the kind of art that excites me.

Jennifer

Well. This takes a page out of the “Weekend” playbook.  At first, it seems almost like a comedy about a sadistic killer and the hapless film crew making a documentary on his actions. As the film progresses, the crew gets more and more involved in the “dirty work.” To me, this movie seems like a commentary on media, violence, and the viewer. What level of horrifying violence is too much? Where is the line between entertainment and horror? To me, this film’s  commentary on violence in mass media and our apathy towards it is about as strong as you can get.

I won’t say I enjoyed watching this movie and I will not watch it again. I can, however, appreciate the contribution that this film has made.

#4 Les Vampires (1915)

Les Vampires is a ten-part French serial that, clocking in at 440 minutes total, took us about 20 nights to watch in little spurts between February 4 and March 20. January and February were some slow months because of Louis Feuillade’s serial film, but for some reason, we felt relaxed, calm, and familiar when we watched this super long work in these little digestible chunks.

We watched the complete Change Before Going’s edition of Les Vampires on YouTube as it is in the public domain. The only complaint we had was the lack of soundtrack in this edition, and it is curious to wonder what the program is usually presented with. Of course, we were spoiled by Air’s scoring of Voyage Dans La Lune. So, we tossed Pandora on and listen to some of my favorite Frech music, namely my Coeur De Pirate station – sure, it was probably terribly inauthentic, but it was something.

Les Vampires is an interesting film, “much like the detective story and the haunted house thriller (and) creates a sturdy-looking world of bourgeois order while also undermining it…porous with trap doors, secret panels, (and) massive fireplaces that serve as thoroughfares for assassins and thieves” (Rubin). While you can’t expect any actual Vampires in this flick, the seedy criminal underbelly of Paris crawling with thieves, murderers, crooked cops and judges, and ne’er a face to trust, traveling through this world with Phillipe Guerande and his bumbling protean fellow Mazamette is a lot of fun. The attractive mastermind behind all of this, Musidora’s Irma Vep, easily holds the entirety of this series together just beyond the grasp of the law. Les Vampires is a little silent story in a crooked funhouse world, perfect before bedtime.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Vampires

Jennifer

This was an interesting introduction to the very beginnings of cinema.  Like A Trip to the Moon, this film is a funny little mixture of theater and motion pictures.  The characters were well developed, and during several scenes, Garrett and I were shocked or delighted with the twists and turns of the plot.

The series is long.  Like, not just “boy, this is a long movie” – long, like, we watched it over weeks. It’s a silent film so most of the storytelling is through character’s nuances and actions. Also, I may have thought there were real vampires in this movie for way too long and wondered when they were going to show up…

Very happy we watched this!  If you can’t commit to the whole series, even one “chapter” is worth a view.

Garrett

I loved this movie. It was huge, long, spooky, silly, and at times a little hard to follow what they were trying to do. But by the end, it was a familiar comfort to turn it back on and venture back into this crooked, spooky little piece. I enjoyed brewing some tea, getting some biscuits ready, and sitting down for a new installment. Of course, Les Vampires has nothing on today’s sitting down and bingeing on a series by a long shot, but the silence requires an attentive patience and appreciation of stage theater and pantomime to get through. Once you get beyond that, waiting for someone new to pop out of a cabinet or a fireplace becomes an enjoyable and exciting prospect. There were so many criminals swimming around everywhere. Allegiances to characters you can trust shift from scene to scene until a few gestures become recognizable under a shifting costume (I can’t express how many times I found myself saying, “ohhhhhh, here’s Mazamette again, trying to pay his kids’ tuition, the poor guy,” so of course, he’s who I channel in the photo – in typical terrible Mazamette disguise).

A fun film that definitely laid the groundwork for film storytelling in many future films. I was really curious about how this was rolled out in theaters. I think I would be the first in line to see the newest installment and watch the week’s cartoons and newsreels alongside it. The sets, theatrics, and pantomime performances are quite revolutionary for the time, and I enjoyed every night I spent with Les Vampires. With clear influences on Hitchcock, Lang, Brecht, and films like M, The Threepenny Opera, and a host of others, this piece defined the thriller for legions of directors and audiences for at least the next hundred years.

LobsterFantastic mashup Graphic BeforeWeDieFilms.com

The Lobster and Captain Fantastic (2016)

We’ve watched two films over the past month that we felt were some serious contenders for the next edition of Schneider’s book. Even if they aren’t, we thought they were worth giving a little recognition for their stellar quality and storytelling.

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC

Captain Fantastic is an independent film written and directed by Matt Ross and stars Virgo Mortensen, Frank Langella, Kathryn Hahn, and Steve Zahn in a story about a large, extreme left-wing family living off the land in the middle of the woods. We learn that Ben’s (Mortensen’s) wife Leslie, often hospitalized for bipolar disorder and impulsive behavior, has been living away from the family in normal society. A series of unfortunate circumstances surrounding her illness forces the family to follow, and learn the many ways in which their choices have adversely affected their family’s ability to function in the real world regardless of the fact that the children have significantly more knowledge and insight than their normal American peers. They have to face some tough realities about their future if they intend to survive.

This film actually came as a recommendation. After attending an amazing lecture by Noam Chomsky, one of my (Garrett’s) colleagues suggested we see it for a great gag about the prolific intellectual. What we ended up getting was a film that was as entertaining as it was touching. It covers a wide swath of themes that highlight how complicated modern life is when trying to do the most good for the world and our children. Modern living with any kind of independent philosophy and intellect is difficult, especially when our desires and interests for our children and the world clash with a society largely content with loafing. Still, compromises must be made to do the most good and be a part of a family. This film features some great writing and excellent performances, most notably Viggo Mortensen’s Oscar-nominated performance as a father who must make some major sacrifices in order to bring closure and progress to his children.

Definitely worth seeing, if only to make sure you remember to mark December 7th on the calendar every year so you don’t forget to decorate the yurt.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captain_Fantastic_(film)

THE LOBSTER

The Lobster is one of those amazing international collaboration films where some brilliant minds come together and make a piece unlike any other. Premiering at Cannes in 2015 (winning the Jury Prize), this black comedy by Efthimis Filippou and Yorgos Lathimos stars Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Ben Winshaw, and John C. Reilly in a film about modern relationships. Farrell enters a world where people must go to a special hotel if they’re single. He has forty-five days to find a partner. If he doesn’t, he will be transformed into an animal of his choosing (a lobster) where he’s free to find a lobster mate. The clock is set in the opening minutes, and the ensuing violence and turbulent relationships carry Farrell into a world of apprehension, emotional turmoil, existential confusion, and social intrigue.

In many ways, this film is unclassifiable. It’s hilarious, it’s terrifying, it’s sad, it’s exciting, and it is sincerely something that we are absolutely thirsty for in a cinematic experience. This film says so very much about our modern lives and asks a lot of deeply troubling questions. Who do we spend our time with? Why does our society dictate that our lives need to be completely fulfilled by one other human being? Why must the rest of the world be shut out? Why is this the apex? We found ourselves thinking about the implications of the story long after watching it. Something completely necessary in a film like this (is it a science fiction? Horror?) with rules of its own little universe, is that it requires a rock solid script and perfect execution of performance and writing for the audience to believe it. The lobster’s stellar writing and excellent ensemble cast have it, and it was an incredible experience. It is certainly a horror film, but instead of the bloody variety, it turns the mirror on us and lampoons modern love, the promises never delivered, the boredom, and the terrifying knowledge that perhaps the only option besides being a crustacean at the bottom of the cold sea is the ‘red intercourse.’ We’ll let you figure out what that means when you watch it.

An excellent, excellent film.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lobster

 

 

Bergman Through A Glass Darkly BeforeWeDieFilms.com

#393 Through A Glass Darkly (Såsom i en spegel) (1961)

Cracks in a family gathering emerge over the span of twenty-four hours in Bergman’s Through A Glass Darkly. A family descends on an island for a vacation. Unwanted gifts are unwrapped, and a father leaves a picnic to break down in an isolated room. This relatively simple tale examines the desperation surrounding the effects of mental illness on a family. An “immaculately wrought drama…allows nothing to dilute the force of its emotional and philosophical thrust” in a film that is simple, stark, striking, and even terrifying at times (Andrew). A masterpiece of existential confusion.

We watched Through A Glass Darkly on Criterion DVD (#209).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Through_a_Glass_Darkly_(film)

Jennifer

A surprisingly small cast and sparse setting deliver an emotionally powerful and honest portrayal of mental illness. For me, this film reminded me a great deal of Splendor In The Grass, even though this film predates it. Both of these films capture a unique brand of hysteria and its effects on the day to day lives of family and friends who love the victim. Even though the film was shot entirely in black and white with English subtitles, this did not detract from the universal experience of loving someone who is suffering.

Garrett

An absolutely beautiful film that would work just as effectively on a stage as it does on the screen. Having a lot of firsthand experience helplessly witnessing loved ones suffering from the effects of mental illness as it transforms their persona in terrifying swings, I found a lot of beautiful accuracy of the pain and frustration that this film portrays. This helplessness is incredibly and beautifully rendered in both the literal and figurative aspects of this film, from the simple script to the striking sets around the island. As the terrifying reveal approaches to present the extent of Karin’s illness (impressively captured in Harriet Andersson’s performance), we feel as drained and exhausted as the men in her life who care about her. This film was hard to watch at times, but certainly captures the “silence of God” that Bergman set out to bring to the screen in his story (Andrew).