Reviews

Smooth sailing (Twin Peaks, Episode 7)


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Finally, the story is finding its’ bearings. This time around, the pacing works perfectly in balance with getting the old story loose ends tied together, while progressing the main story. Most interestingly, Laura Palmer’s diary’s torn pages come back, almost like they were always written to be found 25 years later from Twin Peaks sheriff department’s toilet. The feeling of connectivity is beautiful and unlike in so many cases – be it films or TV – when revisiting old stuff, we try to re-create those moments. Twin Peaks: The Return brings its’ own story, and it’s a well-thought, well-written and truly beautifully acted.

And casted! Whoever thought of getting Laura Dern to play Diane must be a true genius. Her performance is strong as ever – she is one of my all-time favorite female actors, right there with Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron – and she’s pulling a full five star performance. Her looks and intensity also work perfectly with Lynch‘s world, like we remember from Wild At Heart.

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Seventh episode is easily the most accessible of the new Twin Peaks, and had I not seen episode 8, I’d say Lynch is letting us go easy with the rest of the show.

Ha-fucking-ha-ha.

Wait for the bomb to go off.

Reviews

Slowly, but surely… (Twin Peaks, Episode 6)


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The new Twin Peaks needs two viewings to be appreciated fully. It’s completely different in pacing, storytelling and plot-wise than anything else on TV or in theatres at this moment, so sitting back on the couch and watching an episode after consuming a week full of today’s entertainment in every possible form just isn’t good enough.

The first time I saw the sixth episode, I thought it’s more like a parody of Twin Peaks than Twin Peaks itself. Everything felt so very slow, obscure to the point of being silly and mostly unconnected. But then, the second viewing was completely a different experience. Grabbing a drink and putting on big earphones like Dr. Jacoby when listening to Laura’s tapes in the original run, the episode unfolded completely in a different tone, vibe and feeling.

Having said that, the episode did feel slightly a bottle episode-ish, with plot taking only very careful stride forward – yes, we met Diane for the first time! – and the pacing was slightly predictable. But there were important characters and locations re-visited, my favorite being Harry Dean Stanton‘s Carl Rodd and his trailer park (and the ominous utility pole). There was a traumatic death of a young kid, a magic show of two coins and of course, slow but steady progression with Dougie – this time, he connected with a policeman’s badge and with boxers’ fighting stance, and did some actual work.

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Although mostly everyone in the show is doing pristine job, Naomi Watts‘ character Janey-E gets on my nerves. It’s not really her acting, although that feels rather superficial, too, but mostly the single note performance she’s giving – basically, barking every line at everyone, everywhere, all the time. This takes away layers from the character and leaves her a cardboard figure of a “angry housewife”, when usually Lynch’s characters have much more depth and history, even though they are just some background actors.

We also meet a strange new character, weirdly Vin Diesel -looking person of short stature, a contract killer who goes on a bloody murder spree, and apparently his next target is none other than poor Dougie.

Episode 6 is not necessarily the best of the lot, but not the worst, either. It does the job, and stays safely in a familiar territory, being pretty close to what today’s TV-shows appear to be – but, like I said in the beginning, with a completely different, Twin Peaks: The Return -type of vibe, pacing and atmosphere. Lynch takes his time, and that I would love to see more everywhere.

★★★½

Reviews

Is that David Bowie? – Twin Peaks, Episode 5


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Story recap: The Good Dale Cooper, who had been stuck in the lodge for 25 years has been replaced by the Bad Dale Cooper to a decoy-Cooper, Dougie, who now roams the Earth as an amoeba-brained shell of a man. The Bad Dale Cooper has evaded being recalled back to the Lodge, but was caught by the police and is using his special BOB powers to conduct a mission  which is still to reveal its’ true nature. Many old Twin Peaks characters make reappearance but don’t seem to be connected at this point – save Twin Peaks Sheriff Department’s native American Hawk, who has reopened the case of Laura Palmer, to look for something that’s gone missing – only, he has no idea what it is that’s missing.

Yeah, there’s the red room, the dwarf-turned-to-tree, weird glass box, messages to strange boxes that suddenly disappear, huge floating heads in space and so forth, but if you look past all that – or, more like if you take it in just as a textures of dreams, the story itself is pretty clear.

It’s been five very, very different episodes, and I’d loved to know how many saw the first two episodes and jumpseated the hell out of Lynchland, but those who stuck around are probably happy they did.

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BOWIE’S SHADOW

Agent Phillip Jeffries, played by the past legend David Bowie, has definitely been planned to have a much bigger role in Twin Peaks, but due to his illness it’s apparent he hasn’t been able to make an appearance. In Lynchian style, he’s still present despite not being able to make it physically – he’s definitely one of the driving forces behind the main plotline of Mr. C., but Lynch found a way to slip him in the show even though he’s not there – his statue stands in front of Dougie’s workplace. Dressed in cowboy clothes and toting a gun, his facial features are clearly recognizeable, although never shown directly in a frontal shot. (Having said that, another angle of the statue taken by someone on the set doesn’t really look Bowie-esque, so it may be a wrong interpretation…)

SEX AND DRUGS AND ROCK AND ROLL

It’s great to see after the stumbling of the third episode that the story really starts to take off and find its’ pace with Episode 5. Characters are revisited and their stories are being pushed forward, carefully, yes, and without too much explanations. It’s great to see Lynch working with elements he’s the strongest at: drugs, mundane city life, sexual violence and tragic comedy, sprinkled with mysterious elements. Also, Angelo Badalamenti‘s beautiful score starts to kick in with more frequent appearances, which definitely helps to float the overall atmosphere forward.

The biggest discussion around Twin Peaks is the Dougie storyline. Lynch is giving small, tiny hints that there might be a way for Cooper to wake up as an agent – his coffee obsession, staring at the gun of the “Bowie statue”, him repeating words he should know (agent, case file etc.), but he’s not hurrying with it, and that seems to be an issue to some. So far, I’m enjoying Dougie’s stumbling around, but I must say, there’s a certain threshold after which it’s bound to become tiresome – let’s hope Lynch finds a new gear to Dougie pretty soon.

All in all, the fifth episode is closest to what brought so many people to Twin Peaks original run with its’ mixture of mystery, comedy and small town drama, and the pace is just wonderful. The fifth episode receives full five Blackstars!

★★★★★

 

Reviews

Back In Shape (Episode 4, Twin Peaks)


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Once you accept the fact that you’re not watching the latest House of Cards season, Twin Peaks charms you slowly. Yeah, it’s definitely weirdly off, but the charm sets in slowly also for the “real world” sequences. It’s really the combination of interesting (note: not always good, but almost every time interesting) cast and slowly unfolding bigger story behind it all.

Cooper stumbles around the casino, winning 29 mega jackpots, still completely without ability to think, speak or even take a leak when needed. He returns back to his – well, Dougie’s – home, where his wife is pissed off at him – until she discovers the piles of cash he’s carrying. There’s a moment of connection with the Black Lodge, where MIKE tells Cooper that he was fooled, and that now one of the two needs to die.

We revisit some old characters – there’s more on Andy and Lucy and their son, the strange but pretty fun Michael Cera, who plays Wally Brando, a kid living the life of Marlon Brando from The Wild One. We meet Sheriff Truman now for the first time really, only he’s not THE Sheriff Truman, who was played by Michael Ontkean, but rather his brother, now portrayed by wonderful Robert Forster.

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All in all, the episode stays together much better than the earlier one, relying on the strengths of the strange characters, weird setups and hints of supernatural mystery. It’s great to see Lynch in full action also on screen as Gordon Cole, and a reminder that he’s actually not a half bad actor himself at all – at least in this role. The only thing that’s a bit sad, maybe echo of what was to follow, is to see Albert Rosenfield, portrayed by Miguel Ferrer, looking not well at all. At this point his cancer (he died of throat cancer early this year) must’ve spread quite widely, and maybe that’s the reason he feels very like the life has been kicked out of him. Long gone are the days of witty Rosenfield, now he’s just rather sad and sick looking, but big props for him nevertheless returning to the role and wanting to once more do one of the most loved Twin Peaks character, even though it may have been hard for him.

Reviews

Lynch’s first fumble (Episode 3, Twin Peaks)


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I had a discussion on the bad VFX yesterday on Reddit. My original question was this:

Having watched a lot of Lynch films lately, one of the things I’ve always appreciated is his attention to details. Somehow, this attention doesn’t seem to reach the visual effects of the new Twin Peaks – I wonder, why. Is it because he’s not used to using a lot of VFX – computer-generated visual effects, that is – or is there such a serious budget issue that even simple problems haven’t been fixed. Especially when married with extremely beautiful cinematography, this makes me wonder which one dropped the ball, BUF (the VFX house) or Lynch?

Those who have missed the most apparent ones, you might want to re-watch – for example, the body with severed woman’s head and man’s body just seems fake. Same goes with the head wound of the woman Mr. C shot in the head, the one whose husband got jailed for the murder of the librarian.

Later on, obviously episode 3 has loads of issues with the rooftop floating in space and several other shots in that scene. Later on, Coopers return to Earth also looks rather cheesy – but these effects are more in line with Lynch’s earlier work, maybe that’s meant to be a bit funny/double-exposure/old-school-TV-visuals -style? Also, Episode 2 has few easily-fixable issues like cameraman on the mirror, and Mr. C’s hand when he’s caressing the inner tights of the woman next door to where he shot the other woman in the head, you can clearly see his hand never reaches his private parts, although dialogue suggests it does.

Given today’s VFX standards, the fact that Showtime put all the required resources in the series, as well as gave all the creative freedom to Lynch, and knowing Lynch’s attention to details — these glitches and bad VFX shots are a bit of a turnoff, am I right?

 

Unsurprisingly, the fanboys voted the question down, but there was already some discussion happening there, and some pretty good points were made. It seems most of the people don’t find the what I call “bad VFX” bothering them so much, and even more, one pretty good answer came along, from user /u/hellsfoxes

I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently walking around modern art museums here in London, where they also have a lot of experimental video on display.

It really reminded me that this is Lynch’s wheelhouse and indicative of the approach he takes. Realism or even believability isn’t a goal for him in the same sense as almost every other filmmaker out there. Bad effects are as much a part of the tapestry and texture as say Michael Cera’s pretty ridiculous performance.

It all adds to the surrealism and absurdity at the heart of his approach. Every moment of bad CG and unbelievable corny dialogue juxtaposed somewhere else with frighteningly realistic horror or deeply subtle emotion. Lynch will absolutely sacrifice realism for a meaningful contrast of tones.

It’s certainly offputting in certain aspects but it’s absolutely part of the experimental video culture.

So, the closest relative to the VFX of Twin Peaks is not Game of Thrones, but rather a MoMA exhibition. Looking it from this perspective, it makes more sense. But having said that…

…There are still serious problems. Some of the effects even most of the redditors didn’t really buy, like the fake/CGI corpses and the terrible Disappearance of Doug -scene in episode 3. Which brings me neatly to today’s topic – Episode 3, the first time Lynch fumbles.

There’s so much that’s wrong with Episode 3, that I’d like to start with what’s actually good in it.

The episode begins beautifully from Nonexistence with an eerie scene in a room with a woman (credited American Girl), played by the same actress who played Ronette Pulaski in the original run. Cooper, who was tricked into nonexistence, finds what he believes to be the exit back to real world, and manages to leave the world of the Lodges – leaving his shoes behind.

Shoes have been a repeating element in Lynch’s Twin Peaks. We may remember MIKE inhabited the body of shoe salesman Phillip Gerard, and Leo, after being shot, became obsessed with his shoe. Now, Cooper leaves the Nonexistence, leaving his shoes behind – and reappearing as a tabula rasa of a human being on the other side. This all makes sense, if you think that shoes in Lynch’s mind represent personality, the real ‘you’ inside the shell. “Take a walk in my shoes”, as they say.

What’s probably the most shocking revelation of the new Twin Peaks is that we meet a new character – the third version of Cooper, “Dougie”. He’s a middle-aged real estate salesman in Rancho Rosa (Red Ranch) who uses his estates as a hideout to have sex with prostitutes. The question is: what he is? Why suddenly third Cooper, in addition to Mr. C and Cooper?

The answer is: he’s a decoy, created by Mr. C, to fool the Lodge Dwellers to pull him back into their world, instead of Mr. C – and he succeeds in it. Dougie disappears, and we’re left with the two – Mr. C, still alive and kicking in the real world, and Cooper, who reappeared to replace Dougie instead of Mr. C, and lost his shoes – personality – in the same. All that’s left is a mindless shell of a human who can barely speak, trotting around like a penguin in his spanking suit.

The setup, in simple terms, is interesting: BOB stole MIKE’s food, and escaped. MIKE sends Cooper back to Earth to get him back, but instead of exchanging Cooper to Bob, they mistake him for the decoy-Cooper, Dougie. So now, roaming the Earth are two different Coopers, and things are getting weird.

But like I said, there’s a lot I didn’t like in this episode. To start off with the visuals, although they are more like modern art than modern VFX, it still makes me wonder if it’s Lynch’s inexperience with VFX and inability to communicate it with BUF the VFX house that made so many things look so cheesy, in a wrong way. The worst truly is the disappearance of Dougie -scene, where Dougie’s head turns into black smoke and a badly composed golden ball bearing eats his existence.

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The other thing is the actress of the prostitute. She has fairly big role, but she can’t act. Usually bad actors work in Lynch’s work, because they somehow are just rendered weird and otherworldly, but this character just seems amateurish. Same is repeated later with the female agent, Chrysta Bell, a singer and Lynch’s musical collaborator – and definitely not an actor. It’s rare to see bad performances in such large scale in Lynch’s work, so it’s a bit surprising.

And last, but not least – the comedy of the scenes is weirdly off. We have very similar sequences as we did in the original run of Twin Peaks, goofy and fun and crazy, and we even have the same editor Duwayne Dunham (Wild at Heart, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Twin Peaks pilot and Blue Velvet), but somehow, the fun doesn’t connect. The scenes become firstly strange and abstract, and later on, a bit awkward. It’s hard to say why so, maybe it’s because we’re lacking the suggestive music that used to be a trademark of Twin Peaks whenever something lighthearted was going on, or maybe it’s Lynch’s original intention – whatever it is, it feels strange.

But maybe that’s the whole attraction of the show: everything is a little bit off from what we’ve used to, and we just have to accept it and enjoy the show, because Lynch is taking us for the second ride, so let’s just enjoy it.

★★★

Reviews

The Evolution Of The Arm (Twin Peaks, Episode 2)


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Everyone who has watched TV during the last quarter of a decade remembers two things from Twin Peaks – even if you didn’t watch the show – the Log Lady, and the dancing dwarf. The dancing dwarf, unforgettably portrayed by Michael J. Anderson, who didn’t return to the show due to payment dispute with Showtime. He played a a character called The Arm, who is actually the chopped-off arm of MIKE, the one-armed man.

One of the things I love about David Lynch‘s work is when an apparent, crippling limitation hits you – like the most important actor not accepting the paycheck and dropping from the show – you take it as an opportunity, not a hinderance.

Instead of writing the character out, you “evolve” it. So, The Arm is back, but he has evolved into what appears to be an electric tree with a lump of a talking brain on top. The new creation is both thought-provoking, mildly nauseating and somehow seems to be fitting the world of Lynch perfectly.

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What’s revealed early on in the episode is that everyone – MIKE and The Arm – are looking for BOB, because he stole something called garmonbozia, the pain and sorrow, fuel of the Lodge-dwellers.

This all may seem confusing, but think it in different terms: BOB stole MIKE’s lunch and disappeared. MIKE is worried as he’s getting hungry, and sends Cooper to get it back.

But then, things turn weird for Cooper. Just as he’s ogling the road to freedom for the first time in 25 years, the evil doppelgänger of The Arm appears, attacks Cooper and throws him into something called Nonexistence.

The careful balance of the Lodges has been altered, and someone is about to get hurt.

In the real world, Mr. C – BOB-infested Cooper – goes on a killing spree. Kyle Maclachlan dives deeper into the murky black waters of evil, and plays his role more intensively than I’ve seen anyone do in a long time: he’s a man on a run, driven by a strong survival instinct, and no-one’s gonna stop him. He’s heartless, cold and scary as hell. Lynch builds his character up carefully, giving ample amount of time to his scenes – and that’s the whole beauty of the new Twin Peaks, you never feel rushed, you never feel Lynch wants to throw you out of the scene and you’re always able to take in all the carefully planted details of each scene.

Promisingly, also, David Bowie‘s character is back – at least, in the dialogue level. It becomes apparent quickly that Mr. C has teamed up with the “long lost agent Philip Jeffries”, whom we met in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, played by Bowie. It’s yet to be seen what comes of this, since when Mr. C tries to call Jeffries, someone else answers.

There’s one thing that’s slightly worrying with the new Twin Peaks – the visual effects. Produced by BUF in France, the visual effects facility is indeed a high-end player, having worked with films like Independence Day: Resurgence and Blade Runner 2049, but Lynch is not used doing a lot of modern VFX, so maybe he’s letting BUF go a bit easy – many visuals are more like from the early 90’s TV than what one is expecting from today’s shows – double exposure style, jumpy disappearance effects and so on. It’s also possible many of the apparent bad visuals are intentionally bad, reminiscent from the Lynch heydays of Wild at Heart and original Twin Peaks run,  but when it comes to wounds and such “realistic” effects – like the body in the first episode, and the head wound in the second – it’s plain bad VFX.

The second episode walks towards the darkening skyline peacefully. It is, yet again, absolutely thrilling to see Lynch taking his time with the scenes, building the little weird moments between characters, and creating the threatening atmosphere with sounds, cuts in dialogue when nothing is said or even done, while sprinkling hints of the bigger plot.

★★★★★

Reviews

I’m Back (Twin Peaks, Episode 1)


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It’s easy to get fooled by David Lynch. Things that appear extremely dadaistic, confusing and dream-like – Lynchian, as one might call them – are usually pretty clear in the end, if you’re willing to step into the world which Lynch has created for us, with laws you agree with. The world, where BOB roams the Earth, the dwarves dance and people talk backwards is no different from say Tolkien‘s world of elves, dwarves and hobbits fight the dragons. Once you accept these creatures exist,  it’s a world of magic where certain things can happen that don’t in our world, but simultaneously, certain laws are there to protect us – the viewer – from ridiculousness, disbelief and abandonment.

But where as Lynch’s magical universe of Twin Peaks is not unlike the one of the masters of fantasy literature, one gets easily betrayed by the “normal” world, the characters who, on the first glance, appear to be just the regular janes and joes. The locations, which are nothing more than just a typical hotel, an old guy getting a delivery of spades or an innocent conversation between a two people, may hold much more to be interpreted in them than would appear.

Twin Peaks begins calmly, from one of the Lodges – the extradimensional spaces where the spirits live. The Giant – now known as ?????? – tells now 25 years older Cooper to listen to the sounds from a gramophone. We hear crackling noises. Then, few mysterious tips – and Cooper disappears.

What follows is a tightly-written and extremely well-crafted ambience of threat that’s looming over several creepy settings – a dire looking concrete room in a skyscraper in New York, with a glass box in it, a colourful residential building in Buckhorn, South Dakota with a body in one of the rooms, and of course several well-known places such as The Great Northern Hotel, Twin Peaks Police Department and so on.

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And we meet already a hefty set of characters, all of which are dauntingly interesting and life-like, despite being somehow very stiff and strangely behaving. There’s the student who has been hired to observe the glass box in New York, and his girlfriend. There’s the resident who acts somewhat scared in the presence of the police, and almost seems to recognize one of them. There’s the head principal of Buckhorn, who gets accused of a double-homicide. We meet deputy Hawk, Andy and Lucy, Ben Horne and his brother Jerry and Dr. Jacoby, too. And, of course, most interestingly, we meet the long-lost agent Cooper, who goes now by the name of Mr. C.

And that’s where the story really gets going – and that’s why we’re here, sitting on the edges of our couches all across the world. We want to know what happened to Cooper, the well-behaving, coffee-loving, sharp-dressing agent who – as we remember from the end of the first run of Twin Peaks – got inhabited by the spirit BOB.

Arriving with spanking new Mercedes-Benz down a dusty road, Cooper is now boasting a Nick Cave -type of a hairdo, raven-black, long and combed down behind his ears. He’s in great shape, only his face betrays the 25 years that have passed. Well, his eyes are full black, so there’s that, and Cooper’s old suit is gone – now he’s wearing a black leather coat and jeans.

From what we can learn in the first episode is that he’s been missing. We don’t know exactly yet what he’s been up to, but one thing is for sure – it’s nothing nice. He’s dealing with rather dubious folk, and he’s looking for something. Simultaneously, we learn that a spirit of some kind gets loose from the world of the Lodges. The glass box the student has been observing breaks up, and kills the loving couple. And then there’s a new serial killer on the loose – the body found from Buckhorn is a severed head of a woman, and a body of a man. And the Log Lady gives Hawk an important clue – something is missing.

Lynch meticulously lays down the basic setting, but does it in a way only a true artist does: enjoying the wickedness of his own imagination. He’s more precise than ever, he’s headstrong to tell the story exactly the way he wants to, and offers no apologies for those looking for a revival of what they remembered as a slightly weird teen comedy from the early 90’s.

In the first episode Lynch says it clearly: I’m Back. So, we better be prepared.

★★★★★

Reviews

Return to Twin Peaks.


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You guys have no idea how much, how long and how eagerly I’ve awaited for the new Twin Peaks to arrive. In the last 25 years, I’ve seen the original Twin Peaks -run three to four times and watched my Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me -movie at least six-seven times. I’ve read Laura Palmer’s journal twice, I’ve spent countless hours discussing the inner logic of Twin Peaks with my like-minded friends. I’ve decided to become a filmmaker because David Lynch has shown me the light, although I’ve done my best not to try to imitate his work, only carry on his ethos of filmmaking.

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I am the arm, and I look like this.

I’ve tattooed his face on my left arm, though I do hope I don’t have to chop the whole hand off like MIKE in Twin Peaks had had to. So, it’s reasonable to say I’m a Twin Peaks fan, definitely not the most hardcore one, but a fan nevertheless.

There’s few things to be said of the original series, before going to the 2017 Twin Peaks. I fell in love with the series like the rest of you back when it aired – I think it actually was the second airing in Finland when I really found it – but living in Finland, I had never seen the actual second season, the first 8 episodes I think, because the rest was never really aired in Finland until later, until I was much older and got a hold of it. Luckily so, it might’ve diluted my interest.

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The first 8 episodes are pure magic. The following episodes are still dope, but around episode 14, the season goes sour. Lynch and Frost depart from the original show and the magic portal to the world of Lodges collapses. The episodes focus on making Twin Peaks to an outpatient care village rather than a real, believable, grieving community and the mystery elements are poorly handled. As Lynch returned for the last episodes, the show had the long-awaited shapening-up, but it was too late. Both the producers and the channel decided, rightly, to wrap the show in plastic and send it downstream right into our subconsciousness.

There, it stayed until finally beaching, 25 years later.

The Return. 

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During the following weeks, I’ll break down my thoughts of every episode, separately.

 

Oscars

We lost, by the way, you know…


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Well, the one thing everyone will remember from the Oscars is that… Moment.

So, as expected, La La Land gets the best picture Oscar… almost. Then, things turn weird. There’s a bit of a commotion on the stage as the producers are giving the final thank you -speeches, red envelopes are flicked back and forth, then the reality hits everyone: those giving their acceptance speech actually were not the rightful winners. It was not La La Land, but Moonlight that had won. They had given the announcers Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway the wrong envelope.

Suddenly, the whole stage is full of confused people holding Oscars, Warren Beatty giving a staggering explanation, host Jimmy Kimmel sort of hanging on the edge of things and the producers of La La Land taking charge of, and handling the extremely awkward situation with as much grace as possible, saving what’s left to be saved.

Americans sure know how to entertain.

But, really looking back at the Oscars, the award ceremony was actually a pretty damn good one. The true winners were the African-Americans, gays and the muslims. From Mahershala Ali‘s win as the first muslim to pick the prestigious golden statue for best Supporting Actor to Viola Davis‘ best Supporting Actress award, from White Helmets’ winning the best short documentary (the cinematographer not being allowed into the country) and absent Asghar Farhadi‘s win for best Foreign Picture with The Salesman, and finally Moonlight picking best script and -picture statues – the picks of the Academy were this time surprisingly heavy topics.

This means the Oscars are becoming a better representation of actually good movies. The fact that Moonlight, a film made with under two million USD on a topic that’s rarely even discussed about – gays in black community – won already speaks books about the search for the best film, not just the most enamouring one. Also, the diversity is becoming a norm, not just in theory but in actuality. The days of all-white winners, subjects and stories are in the past, and will be for quite some time.

Now, it’s time for the film community to stand up against what Trump is trying to make the new normal – the racism and the fear.

All in all, the ceremony was great fun, mainly thanks to Jimmy Kimmel’s extraordinarily cool handling of the whole show. While Justin Timberlake’s performance in the beginning was a bit dull, the Hollywood Tour Bus stunt was good fun. The speeches were nice – Viola Davis was strong and gripping, while Casey Affleck was relatively lame (in the fashion of the characters he likes to play). Trump and his politics had a full load of all kind of shit dumped on them, and while Kimmel and the winners were preaching to the choir, I’m sure the word got out: fuck you, Trump.

For me, the best moment was Kimmel’s note about Sweden, after La La Land’s cinematographer Linus Sandgren walked off stage with an Oscar. He said he was sorry to hear what was going on in Sweden just last week, hoping Sandgren’s family and friends are OK, in reference to Trump’s ridiculous statement “look at what’s going on in Sweden”. The bickering between Matt Damon and Jimmy Kimmel was also fun to watch, although I had no idea what it all was about and why.

Obviously, the biggest winner was La La Land, with 6 Oscars, but the real, true winner of the evening was Moonlight, of course because of the Best Picture Oscar, but also because of the cock-up. But the way La La Land’s producers handled the situation was really cool, so big props to them, too. And of course to Damien Chazelle, who, at 32, became the youngest ever Oscar-winning director.

Well, it surely wasn’t a dull show, and mostly great films won the awards – save Suicide Squad, which I think was a dumb film and a shit call from the Academy.

Here are my predictions and what I got right and wrong. Next year better, I guess!

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Oscars

The 2017 Oscar Winners Are…


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Well, La La Land – it goes without saying – is going to win everything. I honestly think, though, that the film sucks. It’s a film about white people and nothing in particular. It’s a soothing, numbing experience that takes us away from the world’s horrors for a moment and gives us a chance to dance into the galaxy like there’s nothing to worry about in the world. Like there wasn’t a war in Syria, a Nazi regime in America shaping up, immigrants drowning trying to get to Europe and inequality and racism becoming a norm again everywhere in the world. To top that, it’s also a musical. Some people love them, but not me.

But let’s, for  just a short, passing minute think that Oscar voters wouldn’t be so obsessed with the good old days of Hollywood, and would actually be interested in contemporary films that have the balls to discuss the current topics, have great, unforgettable performances in them, directed by daring directors who fear not go where directors haven’t gone before, written by writers who care about the world around them and dare to speak their mind, and films that look, sound and feel like nothing you’ve ever seen, felt or heard before.

I know, this is not what Oscars are for, but if it was, the list of winners would be quite different.

The best picture would probably go to Moonlight, a film that discusses homosexuality in black communities. Casey Affleck would grab the best male performance from his extremely precise work on Manchester By Sea, and Emma Stone‘s amazing audition scene in La La Land would stand above all when choosing the best female performance.

Supporting roles would go to Jeff Bridges at Hell or High Water – or even, if the Academy was really daring, to Michael Shannon from Nocturnal Animals – and Viola Davis for her fucking amazing work in Fences.

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Barry Jenkins would grab the best director’s golden statue, and writing Oscars would go to Moonlight and Manchester By The Sea.

But, like I said, it won’t go down like this, unfortunately. La La Land will grab all the important ones it’s being nominated for, save maybe Ryan Gosling, who is merely a thin shadow of what Casey Affleck is a master in – you know, staring and doing nothing. Let’s not even get started with the craft Oscars, all going to La La for sure.

The actual competition this year will most likely be in Foreign Language film, to see whether The Academy fell in love with the German comedy Toni Erdmann more than with the Iranian drama The Salesman, and Documentary Feature, where they either go for the black history at 13th, or shed some tears to the poor souls of Fire At Sea, trying to escape the Middle-Eastern and African horrors to Europe.

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Nevertheless, because Oscars are not about who should get it, but a game of trying to guess what The Academy prefers – here’s my gritty Oscar ballot, left here with a unsatisfied frown on my face. (Note 24.2.2017 – I’m still about to watch few of the contenders, so this might change, but I’ll update latest when the actual broadcast begins.)

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Oh – and if you ask me, the best picture of 2017 was Manchester By The Sea, and the best actor and actress were Casey Affleck and Emma Stone.