Thursday, June 25, 2009

"When this kind of fire starts, it is very hard to put out."

The above is a screen grab from David Lynch's Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. I took it from Club Silencio's piece about the film under the "Defensive Cinema" banner. I've agreed with Adam's take on Noah Baumbach's Margot at the Wedding as well as Roger Avary's The Rules of Attraction (I haven't seen Cronenberg's Crash, unfortunately), but this take on Lynch's much-maligned prequel to his hit TV series Twin Peaks is a marvel.

I love that movie so very very much. It took all the sinister undertones from the series (which occasionally became quite overt) and cranked them up to 11. The entire movie feels like it's on cocaine, much like Laura Palmer, and for that it actually works. It's the version of this town that the townspeople don't want to acknowledge, when in actual fact it is right under their noses. No coffee and cherry pie at the local diner, here. It's more likely coke and bourban at a bar before being taken back and rooted in a train car.

Below is one of the many stunning moments from the film when Laura discovers somebody in her room. It shouldn't be watched by anyone who ever intends to immerse themselves in the Twin Peaks universe since it, basically, gives away the entire mystery of the television series. Terrifying though, isn't it? You can't say Sheryl Lee didn't have an impressive set of lungs on her, that's for sure!


Adam said...

Thanks so much for the link! I'm so happy whenever someone actually likes "Fire Walk With Me." I'm not sure why considering it's so disturbed, but there's this haunting side behind all of its extremes that really gets to me. And agreed on those terrifying scenes with Bob. Denim has rarely been so frightening. I think Maddie's encounter has to be one of the most chilling scenes to air on television, not to mention his appearance behind the sofa. Pure nightmare material.

Adem With An E said...

"Denim has rarely been so frightening." But was almost matched when B*Witched came along, perhaps?

(Great post. Loved the movie, never understood so many peoples dislike for it.)

crossoverman said...

Fire Walk With Me is David Lynch's best film.

Paul Martin said...

I think Lost Highway is easily Lynch's best film but Fire Walk With Me is right up there among his best, no doubt. I cried the first time I saw it. While the TV series opens with Laura wrapped in plastic, the film opens to that glorious Badalamenti tune and we see a very much alive and beautiful young woman walking along the bright green grass.

Aside from all the great mind-bending and dark elements, what I think FWWM did really effectively is subvert audience expectations. We got glimpses of what the film was capable of on the couple of TV episodes that Lynch directed. But anyone who thought it was going to be fluff would have been blown out of the water. It certainly blew my mind.

Paul Martin said...

Isn't Lynch just brilliant with evil? Who would have thought that he could have created someone more fearsome and evil than Frank Booth? There's something really primal, from the deepest recesses of one's fears and nightmares that Bob emerges, a kind of bogie man.

Glenn Dunks said...

Very true. Lynch certainly has a way of choosing actors whose faces just sell exactly what the character is meant to be. Bob in particular. Just looking at him and I get the creeps.

crossoverman said...

I think Lynch's extraordinary accomplishment - beyond subverting expectations with FWWM - was turning Laura Palmer as object into Laura Palmer as subject. That he approached her story of abuse with respect rather than sordidness. And he allowed her many moments of strength - particularly allowing herself to die rather than be a host to Bob.

I find it difficult to compare FWWM with Lost Highway, which is also an extraordinary accomplishment on other levels. But the character-driven narrative of FWWM combined with Lynch's haunting vision of small town America, youth and vulnerability makes it the far grander work in my mind.

Paul Martin said...

Crossoverman, I suppose it gets down to personal impact. As I write in my article on Lost Highway, some kinds of magic can only happen once, and for me that was Lost Highway. Aside from the fact that it was my first experience of Lynch's work, the mind-bending nature of the narrative (combined with other elements) is what did it for me.

There's no argument from me about the greatness of Fire Walk With Me. The blend of violence, sex, drugs and the seedy underworld with an underlying sense of humanity, and a metaphysical element thrown in is nothing short of brilliant.

The impact of the film works in tandem with our knowledge of the TV series. From the opening shot, where we see this lovely girl, we know she's doomed. A more recent film that had a similar effect was The Edge of Heaven, with the opening chapters that announce the death of a woman. The opening of the chapter with the young student also had me crying, for the same reasons that FWWM did.