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Twin Peaks: The Return Recap Parts 17 & 18

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Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Parts 17 & 18

Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Parts 17 & 18

The two-part finale of Twin Peaks: The Return puts us at long last in a position where we can assess the various layers of sense, nonsense, and pure irony contained in the show’s very title. We’ve always assumed that, at the narrative level, Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) would finally return to the town of Twin Peaks. And the finale certainly delivered on that promise, albeit in an extremely offhand and attenuated fashion, exemplified perfectly by the fleeting glimpse of the iconic “Welcome to Twin Peaks” sign we catch during Cooper’s limo ride into town. Series creators Mark Frost and David Lynch pointedly frontload “Part 17,” paying off several major storylines in the first half hour, only to spend the next 90 minutes spiraling into a terrifying Moebius strip of time loops and alternate realities that effectively undercuts everything we thought we knew about Twin Peaks.

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap Part 12

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Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 12

Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 12

Tinkering with the basic building blocks of serialized television has always been a key component of David Lynch’s approach to Twin Peaks, particularly when it concerns tone and timing. The protracted opening segment of “May the Giant Be With You,” for example, demonstrates Lynch’s longstanding penchant for deliberately confounding viewer expectations. And you’d doubtless be in the triple digits by now if you were keeping a running count of the scenes sprinkled throughout the new series that linger lovingly over seemingly inconsequential details. But last night’s installment of Twin Peaks: The Return takes the concept of delayed gratification to whole new levels of perversity—and even apologists for deep-seated perversity are going to have a tough time justifying long stretches of this one.

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap Part 11

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Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 11

Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 11

Where last week’s episode of Twin Peaks: The Return brought intimations of encroaching darkness on a tide of unflinching violence and male brutality, last night’s installment divides its time pretty evenly between domestic drama, furthering the show’s overarching mythology, and an extended set piece of seriocomic pop surrealism. In a tidy structural parallel, “Part 11” opens with a pair of scenes that extend (and complicate) events from last week. The first reveals that eyewitness Miriam Sullivan (Sarah Jean Long) somehow survived Richard Horne’s assault and attempted assassination via makeshift gas-oven-and-candle explosive. It’s safe to say that Horne’s misdeeds will now see the light of day, setting up an inevitable showdown with the authorities that seems likely to end in a hail of bullets.

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap Part 9

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Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 9

Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 9

Showtime gave viewers of Twin Peaks: The Return two weeks to process the epically unsettling excursion into cosmic tone poetry and splattery monochrome horror that constituted much of “Part 8.” It seems likely that, given the show’s fondness for delaying the connection of its many plot points, those events will only bear their strange fruit a few episodes further down the line. And so last night’s installment resolutely picked up where the previous episode’s present-day first act left off, with the miraculously resurrected but still blood-soaked Bad Dale (Kyle MacLachlan) hoofing it along a dusty country road, until a blood-red bandana shows him where to turn off.

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap Part 7

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Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 7

Showtime

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 7

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.

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap Part 4

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Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 4

Showtime

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 4

Watching the first four episodes of Twin Peaks: The Return has been tantamount to participating in an exceptionally gnomic guessing game. Most of the lingering questions that have been raised thus far center on matters of significance—and in both senses of the word. What does this mean? But also, how important is this particular thread to the overall warp and woof of the tapestry that David Lynch and Mark Frost are weaving? “Part 3” offered a seemingly out-of-leftfield scene that lingered over Dr. Jacoby spraying shovels with gold paint, and after “Part 4,” we’re no closer to finding out why.

Film Comment Selects 2015: Electric Boogalo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films

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Film Comment Selects 2015: <em>Electric Boogalo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films</em>
Film Comment Selects 2015: <em>Electric Boogalo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films</em>

Schlock films tend to have a certain sort of free-associative, on-the-fly intensity, even if they’re ultimately unwatchable. Their indifference to standard measures of quality can sometimes scan as weirdly honorable, as the films are beholden openly to the hunger for profit, rather than to conventional taste-making or high-art posturing. Most of the movies released by Cannon Films in their 1980s heyday are dreadful, but they’ve earned considerable affection. There are probably many Gen-X nerds who can recall the Cannon logo appearing in front of a film they watched several times as a kid over pizza and a half-dozen sodas, such as The Delta Force, Masters of the Universe, Breakin’, American Ninja, and Cyborg. These movies rip off so many things so desperately and interchangeably that they resemble an act of one-stop-shop channel surfing, which is ideal for an unformed cinephile determined to spend a Saturday in front of the TV.

Oscar 2012 Nomination Predictions: Supporting Actor

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Oscar 2012 Nomination Predictions: Supporting Actor
Oscar 2012 Nomination Predictions: Supporting Actor

Long before he delivered an über-classy acceptance speech at last night’s Golden Globes, a speech that Oscarcast producers are surely hoping he has the wherewithal to repeat, Christopher Plummer had the Supporting Actor race all sewn up. For his tender turn as Ewan McGregor’s late-blooming gay father in Beginners, the 82-year-old has been racking up the precursors, climbing toward a Kodak Theater standing O that’s been in the cards since his movie dropped last June. If he were to lose, by the freak chance that voters were cool with slighting one of cinema’s most beloved Oscar-less veterans, Plummer’s trophy would go to Albert Brooks, who went way against type in Drive, playing a calculating Hollywood shitbag who cuts throats (Producers Branch? Check.). The third lock in this category is Kenneth Branagh, who hammed it up royally as Sir Laurence Olivier in My Week with Marilyn (a knee-jerk candidate since his gig was announced, Branagh owes much to the casting director, whose thespian-as-thespian stunt exceeds the actual work).

Oscar Prospects: The Descendants

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Oscar Prospects: The Descendants
Oscar Prospects: The Descendants

If George Clooney were someone other than George Clooney, his films’ perpetual good standing with Oscar voters, critics, and just about everyone else might very well seem like a contrivance, a tactical, trophy-minded effort to churn out dependably palatable, largely sophisticated, buzzworthy work. Surely Clooney has a certain awareness of the probable endpoints of his star vehicles (decidedly adult dramas and dramedies that no other leading man can match), but it almost never feels that way, as he unfailingly suggests that he’s intrinsically interested in rich content and sensitive, upscale directorial vision. In short, he’s just that classy. Barring the Coen Brothers, who help fulfill Clooney’s more playful (but no less respectable) side, Alexander Payne proves to be Clooney’s greatest behind-the-camera match to date, ably fitting the superstar’s bill and affording him acres of dramatic, endearing and emotional ground on which to run and stretch. Indefatigable, and in blissful disregard of a film writer’s desire to take notes, the duo’s partnership, The Descendants, is unassumingly superb, and it’s sure to clinch a whole lot of Oscar nominations. Indeed, it’s a Clooney.

New York Film Festival 2011: The Descendants

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New York Film Festival 2011: <em>The Descendants</em>
New York Film Festival 2011: <em>The Descendants</em>

Part Coen brothers and part James L. Brooks, Alexander Payne makes comedies about serious stuff like abortion and midlife crises. His characters may verge on caricature and his scripts on contrivance, but nuanced acting and lingering close-ups make their emotions feel vividly, even painfully real.

His best film since Election, aside from the segment he directed for Paris Je T’aime, The Descendants is based on a novel written by a young woman, Kaui Hart Hemmings, which may explain why the two girls in the story feel so well-rounded. But then, Payne has always gravitated toward interestingly prickly female characters, from the glue-sniffing title character of Citizen Ruth to Election’s endlessly ambitious Tracy Flick and the impetuous biker played by Sandra Oh in Sideways.

The main women in this story are Matt King’s (George Clooney) wife, Elizabeth (Patricia Hastie), and the couple’s two daughters, 10-year-old Scottie (Amara Miller) and 17-year-old Alex (Shailene Woodley), both of whom are acting out like crazy as the story begins. Elizabeth never speaks a word (we see her first as a gigantic face filling the screen with delight as she rides in a speeding motorboat, then as a comatose husk of a body in a hospital bed), but we get a pretty good sense of her through the things other people say about her—and to her as she lies there, a pale slate for other people to scrawl their emotions on.