Monday, August 4, 2014

Review: “Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery” Blu-Ray: Part 1


After months of anticipation for "Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery" —and years of anticipation for the mythic deleted scenes from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me— I finally own my very own solution to the many mysteries bubbling up from the darkest little town on Earth. While delving into the jam-packed blu-ray set is nothing short of a thrill for the Peaks Freak, it’s a challenge for the reviewer and downright frustrating for the Peaks Freak/reviewer because there’s just so damn much of it. So I am going to try something a little different here, and instead of trying to sum up all it entails in a single post, I’m going to give this home entertainment event the attention it deserves by beginning a series of reviews each focusing on a small patch of “The Entire Mystery”. This may take some time, especially since I really want to savor the HD-restored series. Sorry, but no binge watching for me. Plus, “Twin Peaks” is an autumnal show and I absolutely refuse to watch it during the hot, sticky summer, so I won’t even get started with that until September. The extras, however, are fair game.

We begin with the two most ballyhooed extras on “The Entire Mystery”: “Between Two Worlds” and “The Missing Pieces”. Beware: major spoilers abound.




Between Two Worlds

How the press release describes it:

“A new featurette with Lynch and the actors who portrayed the Palmer family which includes a mesmerizing return to the lives of their characters today”

What it is:

Well, considering that two of the three Palmers are dead, they can’t be up to that much, leaving the most substantial catch-up with survivor Sarah Palmer. For this black and white sit-down with David Lynch (apparently not in-character as Gordon Cole), Grace Zabriskie is at her intense and unsettling best as the Palmer matriarch. She discusses how she continues to keep up appearances after all these years but remains crushed over the tragic end to her nuclear family (her extended family—i.e.: niece Maddie Ferguson—doesn’t get a mention). The dead Palmers are more impressionistic: Leland full of regret and insisting it was not him who raped and killed his own daughter and Laura tantalizingly mentioning the strange beings she encounters in the nether world.

Then the color flushes back into the picture after a ten-minute tease I wish went on five-times longer, and it’s basically a Palmer-version of the old “A Slice of Lynch” featurette (more on that in a future post). There aren’t many revelations in this Lynch-meditated conversation over pie with Zabriskie, Ray Wise, and Sheryl Lee, but Grace once again fascinates with a succinct and grounded explanation of why David Lynch is a director like no other.

Missing Pieces: Deleted/Alternate Scenes

How the press release describes it:

Nearly an hour-and-a-half of deleted/alternate scenes from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me – often referred to as the ‘holy grail’ of Twin Peaks fandom. This feature-length experience has been directed and edited by Lynch exclusively for this release. Capping off more than 30 deleted/alternate scenes is an epilogue providing a fascinating glimpse beyond the cliffhanger finale of the TV series.”

What it is:

Holy grail, indeed. I remember first learning about all of the extra scenes Lynch wrote and filmed for Fire Walk with Me nearly twenty years ago while doing Internet research in my college’s computer lab (I was years away from having a computer of my own). I then bought a photocopy of the script from super fan Bruce Phillips’s “Twin Peaks” mail order catalogue. A campaign to get those filmed scenes released was hatched in the DVD age, and after years of hopeful rumors and negotiations between Lynch and MK2, the French film company that owned the footage, it’s finally here on “The Entire Mystery”…if not quite all here.

Here’s where the spoilers really go wild, because I’m going to discuss each scene. Extended scenes are marked with an asterisk.



We begin with a brief opening titles sequence. This was a great decision since it makes watching the “Missing Pieces” more like watching a proper movie. It eases us until the experience.

1. Desmond's M.O. *: Agents Desmond and Stanley complete the autopsy on Teresa Banks and decide to get a bite to eat. There isn’t much here that isn’t in the film aside from Stanley identifying Desmond’s modus operandi, but it’s a good introduction to the characters and a fine opening scene.

2. Say Hello to Jack *: The old guy at Hap’s Diner gets some more screen time as Desmond and Stanley ask him about Teresa Banks. Nothing revelatory in that bit, but there is an eerie introduction in which we see the exterior of Hap’s, which features a half-burnt-out neon sign depicting a clown’s face. As is his way, Lynch takes an ordinary—even cheerful—object and makes it creepy. The half-clown face is also a neat little symbol for all the light/dark duality in this film.

3. Good Morning Irene: Desmond and Stanley leave Hap’s at daylight as a crescent moon still hangs in the sky and Irene, the ornery waitress, leaves work. Here we see Stanley reading a bit too much into Desmond’s crypticness. The final cut of Fire Walk with Me didn’t necessarily lose anything by losing this scene, but it’s still a nice one.

4. This One's Coming from J. Edgar: Tensions between Desmond and Deer Meadow’s Sheriff Cable come to a head with an impromptu boxing match. An interesting scene though one that would have done a disservice to the film. It seems out of character for Desmond to get dragged down to the sheriff’s violent level, and it’s extra weird for him to essentially challenge the sheriff’s giggling secretary to a fight after the k.o. Biggest revelation: for a guy who can bend steal with his bare hands, Sheriff Cable has some scrawny shoulders.

5. Cooper and Diane: Very short scene in which Agent Dale Cooper does his morning constitutional in Diane’s doorway while telling her how great she looks. It’s basically a confirmation that we’ll never see Diane even if she’s just a few feet away. Might have been a neat introduction to Cooper though. I like the way he pops up from the bottom of the screen.

6. Stanley's Apartment: Agent Stanley shows his laboratory to a short-tempered Coop. This comedic little scene illustrates why Cooper told Diane he’d rather work with Agent Albert Rosenfield than Stanley in the pilot episode of the TV series.

7. Buenos Aires / Above the Convenience Store: Possibly the best deleted scene in the bunch, and one of the longest. We spend more time with David Bowie’s Agent Phillip Jeffries, who’s been bouncing around between the temporal worlds of Buenos Aires and Philadelphia and the wackadoo ones of the Black/White Lodges and MIKE and BOB’s convenience store hangout (where we get a better look at the late Calvin Lockhart, who played Reggie in Wild at Heart). Contains shots treated for more disorienting effect in the final edit. Once again, Lynch is a master of making powerful—and tremendously creepy—stand-alone scenes.

8. Mike Is the Man * / Sharing a Cigarette: Extended version of our all too brief glimpse of meathead Mike “Snake” Nelson in the final cut. This would have worked in the final cut since his and Bobby’s discussion of the football drug deal introduces the idea of high school dealers and because his cameo is so brief in the final cut that it is nearly pointless. The brevity of a lot of the TV series’ characters’ scenes is something that always bugged me about the final cut. Either give them something to do or remove them completely, I says! One thing I really like about this scene is Lynch’s decision to not just show us an extended version of the take used in the final cut but to use an alternative one. This is something Lynch often does in “The Missing Pieces” and it keeps everything freshly squeezed. I never feel like he’s wasting our time with too much familiar material.

9. School Books: Laura lies to mom and mom finds out. This is the only time we see Sarah get angry at Laura, and it shows that she cares about what her daughter is doing, yet isn’t willing to question her too much lest she find out something she really doesn’t want to know. Sarah’s trying to be a good mom, but her fear gets in the way, which may contribute to the tragedy just ahead.

10. The Palmers: A scene that reads as an isolated happy moment between the Palmers in the script plays out bizarrely on screen. Leland tellingly enters by pretending he’s a monstrous giant looking for his axe, and the entire family shares an insane cackle after he teaches them a phrase in Norwegian. This was Grace Zabriskie’s favorite deleted scene, and we see its participants enjoying it on Lynch’s laptop in “Between Two Worlds”.

11. Laura's Party: Laura hitches a ride from a trucker and fucks him as fare. I’m glad this was cut from the film. It would have been just one too many “Hey, look! Laura’s a slut!” scenes.

12. 2x4: Now we start checking in with denizens of Twin Peaks who have nothing to do with the events of Fire Walk with Me. But who can complain when those denizens are Pete Martell, Josie Packard, and old Dell Mibbler? Dell complains that the 2x4s he bought from the Packard saw mill aren’t really 2x4s, and Pete explains why. It’s a completely extraneous scene, but a fun one. I’ve seen a bit of moaning on the Internet about how the synching is off in this scene to the extent that people have said they were considering not buying “The Complete Mystery” because of it. I can dig that it’s an expensive set, but if you don’t buy it because a two-minute deleted-scene is a microsecond out of synch, you have a screw loose.

13. Kind of Quiet *: This is a major extended scene because we get to see more of the barely-there Norma Jennings and a bit of Big Ed and Nadine Hurley. Even in “The Missing Pieces”, Nadine gets almost no screen time, but it’s still good to see her. This scene sets up a subplot about the Norma/Ed affair that’s all of two scenes in “The Missing Pieces”, so it certainly would not have been substantial enough to include in the final cut. Nice to see it here though, even though I’ve always hated the fact that Lynch didn’t make Peggy Lipton wear a wig in the film. Seeing her with hair drastically shorter than it would be in events taking place a week later is really distracting.

14. Best Friends *: Very brief exchange between Donna and Laura at the door of the Hayward house. Donna puts too clear of an underline under the fact that she’s “uptight.” Yeah, we can figure that out without having it spelled out for us, thanks.

15. I'm the Muffin / The Ring *: Distraught Laura spends some time with the Hayward family. This is a charming yet sad scene as we see how Doc Hayward gives Laura the warmth and compassion her own father can’t. Her chatter with Donna also makes (a little) sense of her later declaration that she’s “the Muffin,” which seems pointlessly random in the final cut.  It’s a shame the film lost this scene.

16. Bob Speaks Through Laura * / Blue Sweater: I knew there’d be one scene that would make me regret watching “The Missing Pieces” while I’m all alone at home with the lights completely out. It’s this one. We see on Laura’s face what BOB threatens, and it is very frightening indeed.

17. Sunday at the Johnson's *: Extended and alternative take of Leo Johnson cleaning the kitchen floor while being an asshole to Shelley. No revelations here.

18. Smash Up: The other Big Ed and Norma scene is again irrelevant to the demise of Laura Palmer, but it is a lovely little scene. On the show, we don’t get to see them being happy together much. Here they’re buzzed on booze and cuddling in Ed’s car without a care in the world. It’s romantic and moody. Too dreamy.  

19. The Power and the Glory: Laura, Donna, and a couple of moronic shit kickers drive across the border to a Canadian sex bar. I totally think Lynch used the music that plays over this scene in another one of his movies, but I can’t remember if it’s Wild at Heart, Lost Highway, Mulholland Dr., or INLAND EMPIRE. Someone help me out here. It would be neat if it was Mulholland Dr., since that movie was originally conceived as a “Twin Peaks” spin off.

20. Fire Walk with Me: Short but eerie scene in which MIKE sits shirtless around a circle of candles and says “Fire Walk with Me” in Black Lodge backwards talk.

21. Party Girl: Leland gets Teresa Banks’s name out of Flesh World and makes an appointment for partying. Teresa hatches a blackmail plot, calls Jacques Renault to find out the names of Laura and Ronette Polaski’s fathers, and joins lingerie-clad Laura and Ronette for a suggestive pow-wow in their motel room. It’s nice to see more of Teresa, but this scene doesn’t really tell us anything the final cut doesn’t.

22. Don't Forget / Laura's Secret Stash: Leland reminds Laura that she must attend Johnny Horne’s birthday bash today. Laura decides to do some coke instead. This is a frustrating scene because it refers to a substantial deleted scene of Johnny’sbirthday party—featuring Ben, Jerry, Johnny, and Sylvia Horne—not included amongst “The Missing Pieces”. I’d find it hard to believe that Lynch filmed other scenes that refer to this one but not the scene itself. I guess it’s lost for good.

23. Bernie the Mule: Hello, Deputy Hawk! Hello, Deputy Andy! Hello, Sheriff Truman! Glad you guys could finally make it to the Fire Walk with Me party, though as much as I hate to say it, this scene in which they discuss drug-muling Bernie Renault and Andy and Harry enjoy an uncomfortable silence kind of wastes their time, especially since it has way more to do with the TV series than the movie for which it was filmed. Great to see the Sheriff and his crew again, though.

24. I Killed Someone: Bobby and Laura basically replay their freaky exchange from the drug-deal-gone-wrong at his school locker. Not a necessary scene, but it’s sort of unsettling/maddening to see that Laura is still fucking with Bobby the following day.

25. Baby Laxative: Bobby freaks out when he realizes he killed a man over baby laxative and flings the white substance all over himself. Might have been a more interesting scene if he subsequently pooped his pants.

26. Send Me a Kiss: While doing coke in bed, Laura chats on the phone with Dr. Jacoby, who wants her to make another one of those seductive cassettes where she talks about how her life is shit. Dr. Jacoby’s presence is definitely missing from the final cut, so this would have been a nice inclusion in it even if introducing yet another character who has less than a minute of screen time this late in the film would have been a problem.

27. Asparagus: Laura hates asparagus. A minor yet humanizing incident Coop reads in Laura’s diary in the TV series plays out on screen. Kind of a nice touch.

28. Bobby and Laura in the Basement *: Before Laura visits Bobby in his basement, she must pass through the Briggs living room where Major Briggs is reading some horrifying stuff from the Book of Revelations aloud while Betty looks on as if her husband is reciting “T’was the Night Before Christmas”. The basement scene is not very different except for Bobby making it clear he wants to make the two-back beast with Laura on the sofa. The bits with his parents are chilling stuff that imply BOB’s demonic final showdown is nearing, and it’s too bad they didn’t make the final cut.

29. Goodnight Lucy: Yay, Lucy! Everyone’s favorite verbose receptionist shows up in a sequence funny only because of her confoundingly extreme reaction to seeing Sheriff Truman come up from the interrogation room faster than she’d expected.

30. Waiting for James *: A minor scene in which Laura spies her dad coming in from the night while waiting for James becomes essential because of an absolutely mesmerizing establishing shot of her street. I’d hang that image on my wall.

31. Distant Screams: While Laura screams her death throes in the distance, the Log Lady cradles her log and weeps to the moon. This would have given her fleeting appearance earlier in the film more meaning and allowed Catherine Coulson’s face to actually appear in the movie.

32. Lonesome Foghorn Blows: Brief but spine-tingling shot of Laura’s body wrapped in plastic floating in the water outside the Blue Pine Lodge.

33. Epilogue: Here’s the “epilogue providing a fascinating glimpse beyond the cliffhanger finale of the TV series” trumpeted in the press material. If only it were more fascinating. Annie is taken to the hospital where a nurse steals the owl ring worn by BOB’s victims. Evil Coop is back in the Great Northern bathroom where he pretends he slipped into the mirror instead of deliberately smashing his face into it. It’s all fairly unsatisfying, especially since the implication is that some random nurse will be BOB’s next victim instead of Annie. However, our brief glimpse of the good Coop in the red room is heartening. He’s the Coop we want to remember.

Closing credits play over a spoonful of garmonbozia.
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