Monday, May 20, 2013

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)

A chronicle of the last days in the life of Twin Peaks golden girl Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) before her brutal murder.

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As much as I love a good, satisfying piece of art that is both beautiful and thoughtful, there's another part of me that really appreciates/respects when an artist chooses to be willfully different or provocative. Of course "Transformer" is my favorite Lou Reed album, but a close second is the hour of guitar-feedback that is "Metal Machine Music". This is also why I will always stand by Gus Van Sant's shot-for-shot remake of Psycho as the perfect follow-up to Good Will Hunting. I respect an artist who is able to seize a moment and deliver something absolutely confounding.  This is why I love Fire Walk With Me.

After two seasons of TV-safe surreality, David Lynch decided to jettison everything that attracted middle-America (the Log Lady, Special Agent Dale Cooper, humor, etc) in favor of some truly twisted goings-on. It's the same impulse that lead Vladimir Nabokov to make his Lolita screenplay so different from the novel he'd written. Why tell the same story again in the exact same way? Why not try something a little different? This film literally opens with a television-set getting bashed in with a baseball bat and a woman screaming because she is likely next. How's that for a statement of intent? And by choosing to focus the film on the last week of Laura Palmer's life, Lynch is literally rubbing our face in the fact that at the heart of the the funny little show we were watching each week, was a dead girl who had been the victim of unspeakable abuse. Surely not something you want to watch often, but absolutely powerful cinema.

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