Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me Review

Preface

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me was originally meant to be part of the David Lynch Collection review. I left it out of the first review since I had not yet finished the Twin Peaks TV series, and since the film takes place before the TV show, it would have spoiled many of the twists that the show set up. After finally plowing through both series, I am here now able to review, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.

Review

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me stars Kyle MacLachlan, Sheryl Lee and Ray Wise and David Lynch as the director. The film is set before the TV show of the same name, and focuses on the last seven days of Laura Palmer’s life, as well as the mysterious Bob coming to Twin Peaks.

To start with, the acting is all sorts of bad. While the acting in the TV show had a sense of the uncanny about it, here it is soap-opera levels of bad. Sheryl Lee is the worst, flipping from laughing manically to screaming and crying; it all feels a little over the top. Kyle MacLachlan as well, doesn’t have any of his trademark quirks from the TV show, coming off as rather bland and boring.

While nearly all of the main cast return, it feels out of place when a recurring character has been recast. The main recast is Moira Kelly who takes over the role of Donna Hayward from Lara Flynn Boyle. While Kelly does a fine job of imitating Flynn Boyle’s character, without the inclusion of all the original characters the film seems to missing integral parts. There is also some odd casting choices for side characters, with musicians Chris Isaak and David Bowie both turning up as FBI agents. When I saw David Bowie, I was instantly pulled out of the film’s narrative because all I could think was “That’s David Bowie”. Apart from a few lines of throwaway dialogue Bowie’s part has no real bearing on the story and could have been cut from the story.

The film is just over two hours long, and the plot seems to meander quite a bit. While the film has to hit all of the certain plot points that were brought up in the TV show, it’s earlier plot points featuring different characters that could have been cut. The first half an hour of the film focuses on a completely different subplot which is tangentially connected to the Laura Palmer story, but this plot thread is never resolved fully and is left hanging throughout the rest of the film.

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me does feature some great Lynchian scares and suspense, with a standout moment being a back and forth set piece involving a picture of a half open door Laura Palmer has on her wall, as well as the disturbing rape and murder of Laura by Bob. These last two scenes are elevated by Frank Silva’s portrayal of Bob, who as always is laughing and snarling at his victims.

In relation to the rape and murder of Laura Palmer, the film pushes its 15 certificate to new heights. With several scenes of violent rape, bloody and vicious murder as well as drug abuse and general sexually explicit scenes, the film goes further than many new films in establishing itself as a dark and mature film. As with most of Lynch’s filmography, this is one film not for younger viewers or those who find the above material upsetting.

In summary, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, while being an important part of the Twin Peaks canon and overall storyline, fails dramatically at being a great standalone film. With the new series of Twin Peaks coming out in 2017, let’s hope that the story can only get better.

Score: 3/10 Only for diehards of the franchise.

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David Lynch Collection Review

Preface

This review has been a while in the making. I first teased this collection on my Twitter feed nearly a full month ago, but I finally thought I should start now, after finishing the last film I wanted to feature on this list. This collection review will work much like my Bruce Lee one, yet this time focussing on the director David Lynch.

I love David Lynch. I believe he is one of the best directors alive today, with his creation of epic-spanning surrealist nightmares and non-linear narratives getting him both lauded and criticised in the film world. The seven films I chose for this review are:

  • Dune
  • Eraserhead
  • Blue Velvet
  • Lost Highway
  • Mulholland Drive
  • Inland Empire
  • Wild At Heart

A brief warning, nearly all of these films contain copious amounts of swearing, violence, nudity, and a few contain some of the most unsettling and foreboding moments in cinema. Watch them at your own discretion.

Dune

Lynch’s first big-budget studio film, Dune is an adaptation of Frank Herbert’s epic science fiction novel of the same name. Featuring Lynch regular Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides, a son of the Duke of Atreides, one of the several warring partners in the empire of space. The film focuses on the struggle over the planet Dune, which is rich in the spice required for interstellar travel. Featuring a vast array of talented actors, Dune also features some impressive miniature work, with Herbert’s giant Sandworm being a standout attraction. Also be on the lookout for Lynch’s cameo and the soundtrack composed by Toto.

Score: 8/10 It’s a bit like Game of Thrones in space.

Eraserhead

Lynch’s first feature film, and one that is made of nightmares. Eraserhead is about a man named Henry (played by another Lynch regular Jack Nance), who after his wife gives birth to a deformed mutant, leaves him and the new baby to fend for themselves in the post-apocalyptic dystopia. Shot in stark black and white, this is the start of Lynch’s surrealist imagery, with stop-motion chicken breasts, gruesome body horror, and a chilling song with the famous Lynch line, “In heaven, everything is fine.” The constant crying of Henry’s child is laced throughout the film, making the film one of the most disturbing of the bunch.

Score: 7/10 Not one to watch before you go to sleep

Blue Velvet

Probably the sanest and easily to follow of the film on this list. Kyle MacLachlan returns again, this time playing Jeffrey Beaumont, who returns home after his father is hospitalised. While on a walk, Jeffrey discovers a severed ear in a field, and starts his own investigation into the mystery, when the police go nowhere with the case. Dennis Hopper’s portrayal of sadistic criminal Frank Booth is one of the most memorable villains within cinema history, while Isabella Rossellini portrayal of his abused plaything Dorothy is unnerving. Video game fans will get a kick out of several scenes within the film that were recreated in Silent Hill 2.

Score 10/10 Lynch’s best film by far.

Lost Highway

A twisting narrative of parallel lives and invasions of privacy, Lost Highway features Bill Pullman as jazz musician Fred, who keeps receiving tapes of him sleeping in is bed. Again featuring an all star cast, with an unnerving performance by Robert Blake as the Mystery Man, Lost Highway has some of the more frightening flashes of Lynch’s filmography, (viscerally similar to the hells scenes from Event Horizon), yet stumbles around the halfway mark with some rather boring story points. In the end it all comes together, but this one you might need to read several internet theories to eventually get.

Score: 5/10 Visceral and unsettling in places, but it’s not one of Lynch’s greatest works.

Mulholland Drive

After an attempted assassination/car crash on the eponymous street, a woman called Rita (Played by Laura Harring) is left with amnesia. She stumbles across aspiring actress Diane (played by Naomi Watts) and together the two set off to find what actually happened to Rita on Mulholland Drive. With several Lynch cast alumni featuring, along with an odd bit of casting in the form of Billy Ray Cyrus, Mulholland Drive is a brainteaser that answers more and more questions with each repeat viewing, with everything drenched in symbolism. With several startling moments and foreboding imagery, it’s a feast for the senses.

Score 10/10 This is one you’ll keep coming back to.

Inland Empire

Lynch’s most recent work and also his longest, at just under three hours. Inland Empire could be considered a very loose adaptation of anime classic Perfect Blue, with Laura Dern playing actress Susan, who while filming her latest film starts to lose her grip on reality. The closest thing to a horror movie that Lynch has created, with several scenes making me jump out of my seat with fright, Inland Empire has many of Lynch’s scariest moments. The three hour run time might be a bit too long for some, along with the meandering story, which feels like it’s about to end before going on for an extra half an hour. Plow through it though and you’ll have some of the most frightening and surreal images ever committed to film burned into your psyche forever. Stick around for the credits and you’ll be treated to nearly all the cast singing and dancing to Nina Simone’s Sinnerman.

Score: 6/10 The run time kicks the legs out from Inland Empire, but it is still a clever and enjoyable (in a horror way) film.

Wild At Heart

A romantic/crime road trip based on the novel of the same name, featuring Nicolas Cage as Sailor and Laura Dern (again) as Lula. While some of the subject matter discussed and shown, including, childhood abuse, murder, shotgun injuries and a ridiculous amount of sex can be off-putting to several audience members, what is left is a darkly funny script about two people who are in love. Nicolas Cage is as crazy as usual, and extra praise should be given to the bad guy Bobby, played by Willem Dafoe, who exudes menace. Throw in a superb rock and roll soundtrack, and you got yourself a pretty good movie.

Score: 9/10 A fun neo-noir thrill ride.