This week’s episode of Twin Peaks: The Return uses Mark Frost and David Lynch’s abiding preoccupation with doppelgangers and mirror imagery as an often subtle structural device. Take Hawk’s (Michael Horse) fleeting mention of Jacques Renault (played in the original series by Walter Olkewicz) during his conversation with Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster) about the handwritten pages he found in the bathroom stall door. This brief reference is later echoed by our introduction to Jean Michel Renault (also Olkewicz), the French-Canadian clan’s next generation of sleazy bartender-cum-pimp. Lynch uses a couple of classic rock instrumentals to link scenes set in the wee hours of the night: Booker T. & the M.G.’s “Green Onions” incongruously accompanies the image of a man (reduced almost to a silhouette) sweeping the floor of the Bang Bang Bar, a shot Lynch holds until it becomes strangely hilarious. Set to Santo & Johnny’s aptly titled “Sleep Walk,” the end credits scroll over the late-night patrons of the Double R Diner, only the second time the new series hasn’t concluded with an on-stage performance.
Automatic Moving Co.
Old-world statues and paintings seem no match for VR headsets in Common Carrier, James N. Kienitz Wilkins’s dizzying experimental essay on what the everyday life of an artist looks like in the 21st century. In much the same way in which the omnipresent radio soundtrack shifts seamlessly between news, hip-hop, and ads, Wilkins’s film skips back and forth between different artists apparently plucked from real life and layers images on top of one another, creating a cannily cacophonous atmosphere which suggests that the true challenge to imagination is maintaining the necessary focus. ISP strikes, custody battles, delivery problems, YouTube tutorials, or just the pervasiveness of screens—it doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to create or just trying to get by, the potential for distraction is limitless.
John P. Johnson
The Pied Piper team’s slow-boiling crisis of faith in Richard’s (Thomas Middleditch) leadership, which has been coming to a head throughout Silicon Valley’s fourth season, heats up several degrees in tonight’s episode, “Hooli-Con.” The push-pull between their respect for his brilliance as a coder and their doubts about his talent as a CEO puts the rest of the team in an awkward, can’t-live-with-him, can’t-live-without-him position.
After leaving Richard in the season premiere, “Success Failure,” his team members returned as soon as he came up with another potentially brilliant idea—well, all but Bachman (T.J. Miller), who was finally forced to come to terms with the fact that he has no role to play except as host, though he would never admit it. Even after their reunion, the others’ skepticism about their fearful leader has never been far from the surface. In various episodes this season they’ve called him crazy, said he was cursed, and griped, openly and often, about his uncanny knack for letting success slip through his fingers every time it’s within his reach. But not until “Hooli-Con” does even Jared (Zach Woods) start to doubt Richard’s ability to lead a successful launch.
“Come to Jesus” ends the first season of American Gods on an awkward and anticlimactic note. Creators and co-screenwriters Bryan Fuller and Michael Green seem to be aware of their own perversity, cracking a joke about it early in the episode. Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) and Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) are at the office of Mr. Nancy (Orlando Jones), the present incarnation of the god Anansi, who’s tailoring suits for the next leg of their journey. For a moment, it seems that we’ve dodged the obligation of sitting through a deity origin tale that typically opens each episode, until Mr. Nancy announces that he has a story, which Wednesday greets with comic frustration while nursing a tall whiskey. Wednesday is clearly speaking for the audience here, who may be understandably weary of yet another damn flashback.
Well, on the plus side, anyone who still misses the old Untucked format has now had their edges officially snatched, and has also finally landed on their favorite episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race season nine. In a twist from virtually any prior seasons, the season’s queens are all invited back prior to the show finale for a reunion special the likes of which the show hasn’t really done since season three, when the Heathers and the Boogers sort of called a truce. Of course, when Ru used to close out with audience-free reunion episodes, it happened after the winner had already been crowned. This time around, all of the season’s contestants are dragged into a holding place before one of four queens find out next week which one of them gets named, for the 11th time, America’s next drag superstar. Does that stop them from reading the house down? You’d think so, but that’s not the way this counter-intuitively scheduled cookie crumbles. As it quickly becomes evident that Ru intends to flit from controversy to controversy without any real structure, here’s a match-by-match rundown of all the beef.
In 1989, near the start of what has since become a long and successful career of writing for stage, film, and television, Rona Munro penned what turned out to be the very last episodes of Doctor Who’s original 26-year run. With this week’s episode, “The Eaters of Light,” she becomes the first classic series writer to contribute to the show’s 21st-century incarnation. The episode establishes an ominous atmosphere right from the start of the present-day framing sequence, with a couple of children playing among ancient standing stones on a windswept Scottish hillside, from which “ghosts” can be heard playing strange music. After the opening titles, we see the same hillside, with the markings on the stones now fresh and new as the Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Bill (Pearl Mackie), and Nardole (Matt Lucas) arrive in 120 A.D.
The current draft of film history states that the DayGlo abomination that is Batman & Robin is directly responsible for not just putting Batman on film into an eight-year coma, but poisoning the idea of comic-book film adaptations altogether, to the point where the X-Men movie that followed three years later felt like a cowed, fearful gamble. Time, distance, and no small amount of insider stories have since provided some measure of vindication. Batman & Robin was simply a life-threatening complication stemming from a malignant fear struck into the hearts of Warner Bros. execs by letting a completely unshackled Tim Burton make Batman Returns.
Let’s not fool ourselves: There’s only one truly great film with a killer shark at its center. And that’s not likely to change anytime soon, or until we see a film about Katy Perry’s Super Bowl XLIX halftime performance, or one about those mysterious sharks that live inside that active underwater volcano in the Solomon Islands (and that are being investigated by robots!). This week marks the release of 47 Meters Down, the story of two sisters (played by Mandy Moore and Claire Holt) who get into a shark cage off the coast of a Mexican beach and subsequently find themselves having to contemplate if swimming toward a limited-edition vinyl copy of Radiohead’s The Bends is worth it if it means avoiding being eaten alive by a school of sharks. [Editor’s Note: The bends, also known as divers’ disease, is a condition that occurs in scuba divers or at high altitude when dissolved gasses come out of solution in bubbles and can affect any body area, including the heart and brain. Also, Radiohead’s album is pretty great.] Before catching up with the adventures of these two white girls who put way too much trust in two hot Mexican dudes and shark-watcher extraordinaire Matthew Modine, join us in revisiting some of the more impressive appearances in cinematic history. Alexa Camp
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Heavy on training montages and intergenerational torch passing, Cars 3 is an old-fashioned sports film at heart. Swap out the talking cars for boxers or baseball pitchers and Pixar’s latest would sit comfortably next to such films as Rocky Balboa and Trouble with the Curve, twilit dramas about a fading athlete struggling with age-old conundrums: how to know when to retire and how to do it with dignity. It’s the sort of counterintuitively mature theme that’s marked Pixar’s best output, but while Cars 3 may be the least objectionable entry in this series to date, it never hits the bittersweet emotional highs of films like Up and Toy Story 3. On the occasion of the film’s release, join us in revisiting the Pixar canon, ranked from worst to best.
Many of the events in the latest episode of Twin Peaks: The Return seem to depend on the toss of a coin, inviting speculation about the balance between chance and necessity in the lives of the characters. When Richard Horne (Eamon Farren) buys a load of a drug called “sparkle” from Red (Balthazar Getty), the latter bewilders Richard with a surreal coin trick. The coin impossibly hangs in the air for some time, before then manifesting in Richard’s mouth. Except it hasn’t, because it’s back in Red’s palm. Red tells Richard: “Heads I win. Tails you lose.” Chance obviously isn’t a factor in their deal. The game is rigged, as the house always wins—and it’s an encounter that sets in motion a series of events that reverberates throughout the episode.