Twin Peaks (2017) Review: Episodes 1-2

     “I’ll see you in 25 years”– Laura Palmer. 

     That line. Jesus. I’m still reeling from this premiere. The short of it is that this is pure David Lynch: its not what I expected, while at the same time being exactly what I expected. 

     If that doesn’t describe what David Lynch is (or co creater Mark Frost), I don’t know what does.

     To attempt to keep the spoilers to a minimum, I’ll just rundown some bare bones elements. Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) is still in the Black Lodge as predicted by Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) 25 years ago. Now it appears that there is an opportunity to escape. Meanwhile, there’s a new mystery that seems to have popped up with a high school principal played by Matthew Lillard embroiled in a murder plot involving his possible mistress. I don’t know, I don’t trust anything laid out in front of me. 

     So getting that out of the way, David Lynch wasn’t fucking around when he said that he wanted each episode to be a movie in its own right. It pretty much is though. 

     What really gets me to be honest, is that all of the events in the Black Lodge feel like continuations of the original series, while the new storylines, as it were, have a wholly different feel from before. Lynch was wise enough to see that the soap opera satire that helped to define the original, was no longer relevant in today’s era. 

     With network restrictions a thing of the past, this series goes into the surrealistic imagery with an abundance of reckless abandon. Nothing seems to be held back, well, for the moment at least. As soon as I heard the eerie talk from the Other Place, I knew we were back home. 

     I have always attempted to make the point that it isn’t coherency that makes David Lynch projects special, but the emotions evoked from the incoherent images. There is an epicness in scope; with Twin Peaks itself getting a little short changed at the mement in these two episodes. 

     In all purity, the emotions that this series got me to explore was fascination and fear. Lynch was never one to shy away from horror, and he makes me feel uneasy. I was truly sad though that Sheriff Truman wasn’t there, and that the Log Lady was so frail (The actress would pass away after filming her scenes). But more than anything I was sad about Coop. He never deserved to end up there. 

     As melancholic as I may make this sound, I am already in love with this Twin Peaks. The murder mystery set up feels right out of Lost Highway. Hell, the cinematography feels like a cross between Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire. The sound design is pure Lynch, it felt like being right at home. And as always the choice of music is just sublime, with an 80s aesthetic, commonly used, even though it was a Lynchian trope dating back to Blue Velvet. 

     I can only truly recommend these episodes to fans of David Lynch, not just Twin Peaks. The show is much different now, a more unhinged beast of not giving a fuck. I have no god damn clue what the fuck is going on, or even where it’s going, and that is exactly what I wanted out of this revival. Mr. Lynch, Mr Frost, wecome back. 

     

Power Rangers (2017) Review

     Ah, another property being relaunched as a potential film franchise. The nostalgia kick is too strong to ignore. Growing up, I wasn’t a fan of Power Rangers television show. I knew who everyone was, it was too cheesy for me even in elementary school. 

     Well, we’ve come now to the inevitable film reboot, and I got to say… 

     That it ain’t bad…

     The plot is pretty much what you’d expect from a Power Rangers movie: Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) wakes up from her deep slumber, and starts causing some shit, meanwhile a group of misfit teens acquire some gems and superhuman powers. Lead by Zordon (Bryan Cranston), the Rangers have to work together to defeat Rita, and find themselves in the process. 

     I genuinely feel that this will quite possibly be the best movie that will ever be made with this material. I mean that as high praise. The acting, writing, and even the directing is a lot better than this movie deserves. Let’s not kid ourselves here; its a giant monster/robot movie. Who the fuck is going to see this to get a thoughtful high school drama in the vein of John Hughes? I sure as shit didn’t. 

     Where the movie broke through was the respect that was given to actually develop and respect the characters. Yes, I’m even including the genetic clone of Zac Efron as the Red Ranger (shut up, he is). My God, even Rita Repulsa was given an intriguing backstory as a fallen ranger (a shiny nickel for those that guess what color she was). Even Alpha-5 (Bill Hader) was actually funny, and didn’t make me want to throw a beverage at the screen. I want a Zordon/Alpha-5 spin off where they just bitch to each other for 90 minutes. Just take my money. 

     Like any good pasta dish, Power Rangers does have it’s fair amount of cheese, especially when they fight the monster, because of course it does. Its a god damn Power Rangers movie!! I don’t give a shit how many Oscars the movie might have won in the future, if there wasn’t those cheesy mecha battles, the film would’ve been a complete failure. I even had a joyous grin on my face when the theme song played. 
     Bear in mind, I never thought the series in all of it’s incarnations was really any good. Just wasn’t a fan. It was too cheap and low budget even for my unrefined tastes as a child. But if the show had been anything like this movie, I would’ve been that guy that wouldn’t shut up about the show. 

     Never have a been happier to be proven wrong about the quality of a film. I never thought I would say that I liked a Power Rangers movie. Never. 

The Ridiculous Joys of Mystery Science Theater 3000

On April 14, 2017 something happened. After 18 years, Mystery Science Theater 3000 returned to effectively grace our screens, simultaneously enhancing and ruining the moviegoing experience for all. 

     The series has always followed some poor dude up in space being forced to watch shitty movies, usually of the horror and sci-fi genre, by some crazy scientist in the name of… well science. Said dude is joined by robots Gypsy, Tom Servo, and Croooow. (Its just Crow). The opening song literally sings to you the whole premise of the show, so I don’t know why I just did that. 

     Anyhoo, this show is the definition of cult series, because not everyone will like. Most don’t, but once you experience it and embrace it, so much fun can be had. 

     I had written before about the sheer joy and lunacy of the Midnight Movie, and it’s now available on Netflix. This show, along with Monstervision, were the Midnight Movie shows for me (they never aired at midnight). 

     Watching the first episode of the new season of Mystery Science Theater 3000, I was hit with the realization that my love of unbelievably shitty films steams from this series. With the ungodly amount of bad films I’ve seen over the years, the show gave me a tool that has endured me to survive: the gift of laughter. 

     I had never seen a show where characters talked back to the screen, making witty asides that would make Oscar Wilde green with envy. Nothing can top a well delivered joke in line with the films being watched. There was never a show like this before, and I’ll be damned if there was ever a show like it since. It’s truly a unique creature, built from television and cinema. 

     Even with the show’s move to Netflix, its the same thing as before! Believe me this is such a great thing. Mystery Science Theater 3000 changed the way an entire generation watched and experienced films, the unsightly horrors from the voids of space. I’m just giddy. 

     I’m hoping a new generation will now pick up the series and have its imagination fucked with, much like mine was. And while I’ve been lamenting this whole “Reboot” fever, I’m not gonna say a bad word about this trend. Reboot All in the Family, I don’t give a fuck, I got Mystery Science Theater 3000. 

     The world isn’t such a bad place after all. 

Ash vs. Evil Dead Season 1 Review 

     The Evil Dead trilogy was something I grew up on since I was in my early teens. You’d think it was Army of Darkness that got me into the mad adventures of Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell), but it actually Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (the video store by my house didn’t have part one because reasons). I eventually saw part one and loved it, but I kept hoping for part 4 to come out. But after 21 years in my case, and the remake having come out, I gave up on seeing my favorite idiotic hero fight the Deadites once more. 

     Until now…

     Ash vs Evil Dead is that batshit crazy sequel that fans had all hoped for. Now, Ash is joined by coworkers Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) after Ash’s stupid ass read from the Necronomicon and unleashes the Deadites. Again. 

     I didn’t have much trepidation going into this as I do with many other revivals; it has Bruce Campbell (yay), Sam and Ivan Rami involved (yay, yay). After the first couple of episodes I did start to worry, as they didn’t strictly adhere to the formula that the films established, which is the one location thing. 
     The show was fun, but it wasn’t quite the Evil Dead that I know and love, but (spoilers) once they the cabin, holy fuck did the series get fun. Jesus, that energy did not let up. And there were some revelations about the Necronomicon (Ermahgerd)!

     Speaking as a fan boy, and as I lover of Army of Darkness, is that Bruce Campbell still has the comedic chops and charms to play someone so egotistically stupid. I may be alone in this, but the reason I didn’t enjoy the 2013 Evil Dead, was because it was so fucking serious. Yeah, I’m all for unrelenting bloodshed, but Jesus lighten the fuck up a bit. Break the tension, have some fun. My main criticism of the movie was, “Needs more Ash”.

     Now, we got him folks. Season 2 just started, and what better way to start the Halloween season but with your old pal Ash. And always remember folks: Shop smart. Shop S-Mart. 

Stranger Things Season One Review 

     There is no greater joy for a film and television lover when you discover something that is exactly what you’ve been looking for; like finally being able to scratch that itch that’s been fucking with you for months. Netflix’s new series, Stranger Things is that scratcher that renewed my faith in just compelling storytelling. 

     Will Byers (Noah Schnapps) has gone missing. The last people to see him were his friends Mike (Finn Woodhard), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) while his mother Joyce (Winona Rider) frantically starts to look for him with the help of the local sheriff  (David Harbour). But with the sudden appearance of a mysterious girl (Millie Bobby Brown), there seem to be stranger things happening. 

     The whole show is like a clusterfuck of nostalgia for someone who grew up watching 80s movies and tv shows. As soon as the first episode started I immediately thought E.T., but when the opening credits started I could have fucking swore that this show was created in the 80s. The care and thought that was put into recreating that retro feel is nothing short of astonishing. 

     But all that means jackshit if the show fucking sucked, but it doesn’t. The mystery of the show is too good of a set up, and the entire cast just fucking excel at bringing a real feeling of depth to their characters. All of the characters, especially the sheriff, have a lot of shit that they’re trying to come to terms with. And like any good story should be able to do, pays off in devastating ways. 

     We live in an age where Hollywood studios are trying their best to monetize our need for nostalgic fare with big budget reboots of old films and tv shows, here is a series that manages to get the feel of an 80s story with, hold on for this shit, with an original fucking story. Shit, Stranger Things is better than any movie playing in theaters now. Didn’t even have to leave the damn house. 

      

How The Final Episode of “Angel” Saved My Life

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     I know the title of this post is a bit overdramatic, but hear me out though. We all have that one movie, show, game or book that gave us the hope for a better future in our lives. For me it was Angel, a show about vampire with a soul trying to atone for all the horrific shit he did in the past. As today is the 12th anniversary of the finale, entitled appropriately Not Fade Away, I want to express how the ending of the show became the beginning of my life.
     I have always been a shy, lonely, insecure person. That’s putting it very mildly. When it came to my love life, I didn’t have one. I tried, but it just always ended in embarrassment and shame. I had this unyielding need to be validated through the love of a woman.
     In 2003-2004, I thought I finally found her.
     This girl was perfect for me in every conceivable way. I know this because my best friend at the time told me so.
     So to get on with the whole point, this girl said she liked my best friend, but that at one point liked me as well. Maybe it was out of pity, maybe it was sincere, maybe she owes me for my therapy bills, I’ll never know. So, my best friend told me he liked her and, of course, I gave my blessing because they both deserved to be happy; even if that meant that I would get tossed like a parking ticket.
     How can doing something noble, the right thing as it were, and have it feel like I lost the only shot at happiness?
     This is where Not Fade Away comes in.
     The show was already cancelled at this point, so I waited with anticipated dread that this was the last I would see of my favorite show. Never did I think that it would stay with me for this long.
     So how could a show teach me the true value of “The Good Fight”?  From the beginning that’s what the show has always been about. But right out of the gate, the writers did something that shook me to my core: The prophecy that would have given Angel his redemption, was voided by Angel himself. He had to, in order to gain the trust of Hell’s representation on Earth. He will never become human; he will never be able to atone for his sins. He gave it up.
     The Circle of the Black Thorn, Hell’s representation to be clear, have their hands in everything from politics to… well that’s bad enough. They are so powerful, that you could maybe fuck up their day, but you cannot beat them. But to quote Angel himself:
     They’re not there to be beaten. They’re there to be fought.
     The remaining members of his crew, Wesley, Spike, Lorne, Gunn, and Illyria know that this could be the end of their lives. They know they’re not going to win. But they have to try.
     Imagine emotional pain, and turmoil in the guise of a single episode of your stories, and you’re nowhere near the devastation that Not Fade Away inflicts upon you. When you see one of the biggest pain in the ass characters to ever exist in any medium, archenemy Lindsay, get gunned down by the comic relief of the show… it changes you. Especially when Lindsay gasps that Angel is supposed to kill him…
     Wesley. Fuck. I’ll try to get through this. Wesley got shit on a lot, and that’s an understatement. He recently lost the love of his life because some asshole had to bring back an old god. Winifred, or Fred, was hollowed out from the inside and her soul was destroyed. She doesn’t exist anymore. The god, Illyria, is trying to become human, but Wesley begrudgingly helps her, even if she resembles Fred. Illyria was trying to be nice in taking Fred’s form so Wesley can have one last perfect day, but he said that would be a lie.
     So as the entire gang is all tasked with taking out the head members of The Black Thorn, Wesley is knifed, and lays dying when Illyria appears, because she was worried about him. She then says the saddest fucking line in the history of lines:

    Would you like for me to lie to you now?

     What follows is just the most tear jerking scene you can ever fucking endure. I can’t describe it because I’m in a public place and I don’t want people to see me cry.
     I’m back. And composed. 
     To get further along to the point, and move pass some overwhelming details, the last scene takes place in an alley with no way out. As the remaining characters meet up, this being Spike and Angel, Gunn appears exhausted. Then he realizes that he’s bleeding out. Illyria appears mourning Wesley; wishing to do more violence. As these four characters look on they see the armies of Hell coming towards them (complete with dragon). Its at this moment that the line that sums up the show is uttered after Illyria says to Gunn that he’s fading and will last only ten minutes at best:
   
     Then let’s make them memorable.

     The screen cuts to black as they begin to fight.
     Comic Book continuations be damned, we never did find out what happened to them. On some days I like to think that they made it out no problem. On others, I think they perished in the battle. And I like that ending in my mind. They never gave up. They all knew that what they were fighting was going to get them killed, and they didn’t care. They fucked up Hell’s day. Or hour. Doesn’t matter, what does matter is that they did the right thing, and goddam it they went out in a blaze of glory.
     So how did this save my life? Remember I mentioned that Angel gave up his redemption to gain the trust of the Black Thorn? That’s what did it. Angel realized, like I did, that you don’t do the right thing to get a reward; you do the right thing, because it’s the right thing to do. My best friend at that time deserved to be happy, and so did the object of my affections. When I stood as Best Man at their wedding, I knew that I did the right thing, even though I had nothing to show for it.
     If Joss Whedon, Jeffrey Bell or anyone from the show were to read this, fucking thank you so much. The show made me strive to be a better man, a more hopeful man especially in times of despair. I owe them a Coke.

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                Angel 1999-2004

Why The Netflix Marvel Shows Are Already The R Rated Marvel Films

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     Recently, I heard the head of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige comment on whether the company will ever release an R rated (17 & over) film. This came about from reports that Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice had a longer R rated cut; Feige said in a diplomatic way, that they weren’t going to do that, that the movies were meant for the whole family. This makes sense since Marvel is owned by fucking Disney.
     What I found hilarious about this question, besides that it’s a blatant attempt at fanning the Marvel/DC rivalry, was that Marvel Studios is already doing dark, R rated fare. What they’re doing on Netflix with their properties is enough to quench the vulgarity thirst that apparently a lot of comic book fans have.
     Having just finished the second season of Daredevil, I was amazed at how much more rewarding the characterizations, and storytelling were compared to what the Marvel Studios films have been offering. Sure, Daredevil dropped the ball a smidge towards the end, but its a fuck load better than all of Age of Ultron.
     In the first season, Wilson Fisk was just a hell of an antagonist. A villain that you could sympathize, and understand his motives. This time around that character is somebody who casual fans labelled a hero and that’s Frank Castle, also known as the Punisher.
     The Punisher should be exhibit A in the case of why Marvel should own the rights to all of their characters. With three failed movie attempts, and not one of those being a sequel, the show demonstrates easier what went wrong with the other versions: they portrayed him as a hero.
     Trust me, he’s not.
     The first few episodes terrified me of the Punisher, as you should have always been. Yes, he has a tragic, and heartbreaking backstory, but the man is fucking deranged. No person can be labeled a hero when you’re that unhinged.
  

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   I also feel compelled to bring up the other Marvel Netflix show, Jessica Jones. You mother fuckers want dark R rated stuff? Well its right here. Yeah, on the surface its a cool superhero riff on Raymond Chandler. And if you know Raymond Chandler, then you know shit is going to fucked up real quick.
     The entire show is a metaphor on sexual assault, namely the assholes who force themselves onto women against their will, and boy does this get real ugly, awkward, and uncomfortable real fast.
     And this is a great thing.
     It’s hard some people to empathise with such an ugly subject, and Jessica Jones pulls no fucking punches. Especially when the abuser, Killgrave, is played by beloved Sci Fi icon David Tennant.
     And he’s so fucking charming!
     This character is so god damn vile and despicable, yet so likeable that I wanted to take a long shower. When I said this shit got dark, I wasn’t exaggerating here. Comic book and science fiction works are always better when they’re metaphorical. It makes that horrible, bitter pill that much easier to swallow.
     I get that there’s a lot more you can do with a comic book property on t.v. vs a film, but also Netflix shows that you can do some deep, fucked up storytelling that is ultimately more rewarding for an adult audience. It’s cool that Marvel wants to make the films for the whole family. I can’t show my six year old niece Jessica Jones, or my nine year old nephew Daredevil (well, not yet anyway). We have to remember that superhero movies are for kids, first and foremost. Then you add shit for the adults. Shit, who do you think is taking the kids?

Entourage Review

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     I was dreading writing this review. Nothing on the quality of the movie, but whenever I’m giving an opinion on a film that follows a TV series I get asked the same fucking thing over and over:
     “Do I have to watch the series before I see the movie?”
     There’s two ways to honestly answer this. One is to say, “Why don’t you watch some of the series to gage if you’d like the movie?” The second is, “The fuck should I know, this show is seeped into my DNA, why didn’t you watch it when it was on??!!” Yes, I saw all 8 seasons of Entourage and no I can’t say if you need to see it or not when I saw the whole thing. That and it’s a follow up, so maybe there’s a wee bit of a hint there.
     I will say that it is more of the same when it comes to the plot of the movie as Vinnie Chase (Adrian Grenier) is making his directorial debut, E (Kevin Connolly) dealing with impending fatherhood, Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) living it up as a self made man, and Drama (Kevin Dillon) being Drama, and Ari (Jeremy Piven) now a studio head with his job on the line because of Vinnie going over budget. It’s basically a 2 hour episode of the show, and that’s not really a bad thing.
     Speaking as a fan of the show, this movie has everything you could want. The humor is very referential, and it does manage to catch you up to speed quickly, then it moves onto the main story. The great thing about the movie is that it feels like you’re catching up with old friends, and as a continuation film, that was pretty much the one thing it had to get right. Fuck that up, and you leave the fans with a wasted opportunity, and you have sunk before you swam.
     Because I’m not a bullshitter, there was a problem I had with the movie, and it’s the same one I’ve had on the show, and that’s concerning E and Sloane. This will they or won’t they horseshit needs to fucking stop. This is some Ross and Rachel shit, and if I wanted that, I’d have a bottle of Jack, a tub of Rocky Road, singing “I’ll Be There For You” and wondering where the fuck I went wrong in my life. I don’t want that in my Entourage; either let them be happy, or just end it. It holds this back from being the true joy that this film needs to be.
     The film really works when it’s about the core five guys, and what their friendship and brotherhood really means to them. When those moments shine through, you remember that that’s why you watched the show in the first place, and what could make converts of the uninitiated. This is one hundred percent a comfort film that puts you in the peace of mind that you have your friends by your side and that’s all that matters. Except those guys have supermodels and blow, but hey nothing is perfect.

What I Expect From The New Twin Peaks (Part III)

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     I had to gives this a lot of thought. Anyone who’s familiar with the works of David Lynch knows that you can expect the unexpected. I can’t help but have expectations for what’s in store of this continuation, so giving some broad thoughts on the matter I have just a short list of things that I want to see. Even if it doesn’t give me all that I want, I’ll be alright with that, because at least we’ll see new episodes for roughly 18 weeks. Better than nothing right?
     Let’s get the big motherfucker out of the way: what the fuck has happened to Dale over the past 25 years? When we last saw him he was in the Black Lodge with Bob having escaped. I can’t begin to fathom what Dale has been going through all this time. Does he get out? If he does, then how? The possibilities are endless, and knowing Lynch’s style, we’re not going to get an answer if they’re going to go that route. For now, it’s fun to wonder and get some some semblance of an answer soon.
     Another crucial one is what has been happen in Twin Peaks for the past 25 years? I’ve read reports that this is going to be a major factor in the episodes to come, and that there will be a book written by co-creator Mark Frost that details the 25 year history of the town. Think about it, what has Harry been up to? Shelly? Did Audrey survive?! Most could say that casting announcements spoil who lived and died in the finale, but this is David Lynch, dreams and visions play a huge role in his storytelling. How would Twin Peaks even manage as a town in the 21st century? It’s a small rural town, do they even have a Starbucks?
     Believe it or not, that’s pretty much it for me. I’m trying not have unrealistic expectations, and with the scare last month that Lynch wasn’t returning to direct, my enthusiasm had waned, and my mind is still trying to process that he’s back with 18 episodes instead of the original 9 that had been previously announced. I guess now it’s time to wait on a trailer to see if they’re recapturing the look of the first series or if this is going to be some new kind of monster. It’s going to be the latter. Now, go have yourself a damn fine cup of coffee and a slice of apple pie. Coop would.

In Defense Of: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (Part II)

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     As much of a fan you are of Twin Peaks, there’s a chance you saw this and exclaimed, “Fuck you, David Lynch!” And you’d be right to. Imagine that you just saw that jaw dropping final episode, wondering the hell just happened and they announce a movie after the cancelation. It is a cause to rejoice, until you realize that it’s not going to tackle what happened after. You’re going to find out happened to Laura Palmer in the week leading up to her murder. But you don’t want to know that, you want to know what happened to Dale and the Black Lodge goddamit!!!
     I get it, believe me, I fucking get it. But now it’s been 23 years, it’s time to actually look at the movie. And most of the stuff that fans hate about the movie, are the reasons that I love it. The tone of the movie is almost the exact opposite of the show. The show was quirky, a bit strange with that silly sense of humor. The movie is a damn horror story. For a lot of people, this tonal difference was enough to shrug off the film. I just see it as this is Twin Peaks through Laura’s eyes. She’s seeing the town as this evil, soulless place where nobody can hear her cries for help. She is losing her mind (much like Lynch’s characters in Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive) and she acts out in promiscuous ways because of what’s happening at home. As anyone who’s seen the show knows that this movie is tackling issues that are uncomfortable to see on screen, and that’s putting it mildly.
     Here’s one I get. The limited role that Dale plays in the story. While this takes place before Dale ever set foot in Twin Peaks, it does cover the Teresa Banks murder that Dale had a part in, but with Agent Desmond on the case. I’m not going to get into the behind the scenes stuff, but sometimes shit happens and you got to make due. What’s interesting though, is that because Dale makes sporadic appearances, along with Annie, it does answer what really happened at the end of the finale. It’s an answer that sucks ass, but it’s there and makes us want more.
     I guess the thing that really made the movie resonate with me is the performance of Sheryl Lee as Laura. If you just focus on the surrealism of the piece, it’s easy to miss how incredible her performance is. As I pointed out earlier, this character is losing her mind, and Lynch is much more interested in her psychology rather than the mythology of the show, and in some way, I totally respect that. If the movie were the final say in this tale of Twin Peaks, then it tries to end on a note of peace coming from death, that she’s truly among the angels. It isn’t conventional, but when have you ever seen a conventional David Lynch story? (Except The Straight Story, that one freaked me out because it’s normal.)
     After I first saw Fire Walk With Me, I just sat there in stunned, heartbroken silence for a good minute. I didn’t realize that this story needed to be told, and with all its crazy shit, it’s far too real and devastating to watch. That I can understand people not liking the movie, because it’s a subject that no one wants to be confronted with. In looking at it from that limited perspective, this is Lynch’s most fearless work, without the interference of a network, or standards and practices. Ironically, removing it from your mind as apart of Twin Peaks, causes one to see it on its own merits of a poor girl losing her mind, crying for help and no one listened.