Second movie I watched this week where the lead girl is told at the end to not look back. Some obvious parallels with other Ghibli movies – the romantic lead boy who transforms into a flying creature to work for/against wickedness (Howl’s Moving Castle), living dust sprites (My Neighbor Totoro), the lead girl nervous because she’s moving to a new house in the country, kooky/friendly old folks, villains who are maybe not so evil really, and fantastical beasts galore – like a Ghibli’s Greatest Hits thrown into a giant bathhouse. The greatest.

I was so disappointed… instead of the tough, capable Weaver or Rapace, we get a bunch of panicky crew members who make very bad decisions, leading to all of their deaths and leaving evil android David in charge of thousands of frozen would-be colonists. These people have no capacity for fighting, thinking clearly in an emergency situation, or prioritizing… and for some reason everyone in the crew is a married couple, so when their partner dies they become useless. More importantly, it’s no fun watching them walk into traps that we Alien-movie vets easily see coming and just die unceremoniously. Each movie brought something new to the table until this one, which only rehashes things we’ve seen before.

But then I was pondering on the way home – maybe this bunch of useless, easily dispatched characters was assembled on purpose. David says something about humans being a failed species on the evidence that they need a space colonization program in the first place, that it’s worth letting them die, and he’s going to make sure it happens. Maybe this is the opinion of Ridley and the umpteen writers, and they prove their point by having humanity’s most vital mission entrusted to these bozos. The Alien series stories always featured individuals fiercely triumphing over adversity, over external forces and internal human greed, and now Ridley has given his corporate lords another space-massacre movie to sell, but he no longer sees a society worth saving.

Captain Billy Crudup is a Christian, which is mentioned every time he’s on screen to diminished effect from the Prometheus origin-story wonderings. He lasts a good while, is finally replaced by the Carey Mulligan-looking Katherine Waterston (Queen of Earth, Inherent Vice) down on the planet and Cowboy Danny McBride (of mostly James Franco movies) in the ship. The star, of course, is Michael Fassbender as both drama queen David and buttoned-up Walter. They are identical-ish, and in the finale they switch places and you totally can’t tell except that you’ve been expecting it the entire movie, then you know they’ve switched places and you’re waiting for the rest of the characters to discover it and it’s exasperating, then finally it’s too late and you think “good, to hell with humanity.”

Ehrlich called it “majestically shot” and Matt Lynch said “gorgeous,” hmmm, maybe I was sitting too close? Also, come to think of it, David also genocides an entire planet of those bald guys from Prometheus, so maybe it’s less anti-humanity than anti-life.

Stop-motion Quay Bros. hair-braid title card, then opening shot of a toilet with blood in it, and already I’m conflicted. There’s more bleeding and vomiting and bathrooms than seems strictly necessary (M. D’Angelo: “in many ways this is a film about the effect of passion on the gastrointestinal tract, which to my knowledge is a subject previously unexplored”), and I’m always a fan of injecting stop-motion and monsters into a movie, but somehow it didn’t work here. But the vast bulk of the runtime is a fucking lovely story about two girls, the actresses giving perfect performances, and I want to buy the movie’s poster and stare at it forever. And I don’t usually wish for sequels, but I’d like to see this movie’s Before Sunset. Good opening night pick for LNKarno.

Jack and Diane meet, make out, seem really good for each other, but Diane is going off to London in a week, so neither knows how to handle this. Each girl is kinda a mess in her own way… Jack (Riley Keough, the boss in American Honey, also this year’s The Discovery and Logan Lucky and It Comes at Night… and Elvis’s granddaughter) is mourning her late brother, gets hit by a cab and spends most of the movie with a scraped-up face, is mean to almost everybody. I don’t know what’s going with Diane (Juno Temple of Killer Joe, Kaboom) at the beginning, with no phone or ID, throwing up and bleeding. They do seem more collected when together, though Diane manages to transfer her nosebleed to Jack.

Diane’s poor Aunt Linda (Cara Seymour of The Knick, An Education, Gangs of New York) gets daily abuse. Kylie Minogue (same year as Holy Motors) plays a Jack ex-lover. Amazing character detail: Jack, wearing a Ministry t-shirt, says sushi is “good with ketchup.” Good texture to the movie thanks to the Múm score, the soundtrack (first time I’ve heard Shellac in a movie?), bursts of Quay visuals, richly colored cinematography. First I’ve seen by either Gray or his collaborator So Yong Kim.

Mike again:

Another thing I cherished: Has there ever been a movie that introduced an identical twin and then deliberately made so little of it? The scene in which Karen calls Jack pretending to be Diane, while terrific for its own sake, seems to exist primarily to raise the possibility that it’s actually Diane in the porn video, using her sister’s name in an unfamiliar situation. Karen is otherwise never seen; one might fairly conclude that she’s never seen at all. Indeed, if not for the fact that Diane’s aunt mentions her, it would be easy to conclude that Karen doesn’t really exist, so blatantly symbolic is her function. (See also: Jack’s dead brother, Jack’s facial bruise.) Like the monster metaphor, this would threaten to capsize the movie were it not so unemphatic; unlike the monster metaphor, its import is so glancing (there’s no overt suggestion that Jack suspects anything, and the subject never comes up again) that it doesn’t seem superfluous.

Rewatching this series for obvious reasons, after recently reviewing the prequel film. I remember season two becoming tedious, so I’m only watching the late episodes directed by Lynch and/or written by Frost, which will leave some major plot holes I can cover with synopses from wikipedia or wherever. So many characters to keep track of, and so many actors I haven’t seen since the show ended in 1991, and some I have.

Agent Dale Cooper – loves Tibet, doughnuts, clean air and good coffee. I’ve seen Kyle MacLachlan in Northfork, Portlandia, and that version of Kafka’s The Trial which I don’t remember at all but IMDB says I gave it a 7/10.

Lucy is the police receptionist who has feelings for Andy. Kimmy Robertson did voices in some Disney movies and The Tick.

Deputy Andy is dumb as hell. Harry Goaz worked with director David Lowery before his Ain’t Them Bodies Saints breakout.

Sheriff Harry Truman is a good lawman, secretly (everything in the show is “secretly”) dating Josie Packard. Michael Ontkean costarred in a Disney movie with four monkeys and Wilford Brimley, and was apparently in The Descendants.

Deputy Hawk is a good, quiet cop. Michael Horse was in Passenger 57 and a movie directed by John Travolta’s older brother.

Agent Albert Rosenfield works with Cooper, expresses contempt for the locals. Miguel Ferrer died the week I started season two, also starred in On The Air.

James Hurley is sweet but so dumb, per an audiotape of Laura’s. He runs around with Donna playing detective. James Marshall was one of the murderous privates on trial in A Few Good Men.

Maddy is Laura’s identical twin cousin, who appears in the show immediately after the show-within-the-show (soap opera Invitation to Love) introduces its own identical-twin plot. Sheryl Lee played twins again in the great Mother Night, also costarred in the unfortunate John Carpenter’s Vampires.

Donna Hayward is Laura’s innocent friend who ends up with James after Laura’s death. Lara Flynn Boyle was Ally Sheedy’s predecessor in Happiness, also starred in Threesome and the show The Practice.

Leland Palmer, Laura’s dad and killer and the town lawyer… is complicated. Ray Wise is incredible and prolific but I’ve seen him in too few things (Good Night and Good Luck, Bob Roberts).

Sarah Palmer is Laura’s traumatized mom with freaky hair. Grace Zabriskie got to look freaky again in Inland Empire and My Son My Son What Have Ye Done, was a regular on Big Love.

Will Hayward is the town doctor who ends up discussing dead and comatose bodies with Agent Cooper. He’s Donna’s dad of course, with a wife in a wheelchair and at least one other daughter. Warren Frost, Mark’s dad, did some Matlock, died just last week.

Ben Horne runs the town’s hotel, department store, and a brothel called One Eyed Jack’s over the Canadian border, is always trying to do business deals with rowdy groups of foreigners who get frightened off by murderous town rumors. Richard Beymer was in Angelina Jolie movie Foxfire, earlier Bachelor Flat and West Side Story.

Jerry Horne is Ben’s excitable little brother who loves exotic food, business deals and the local brothel. David Patrick Kelly was the military guy who Lysistrata ties up in Chi-Raq, also in the John Wick movies and played the president in Flags of Our Fathers.

Dr. Jacoby was Laura’s wacky psychiatrist and had an unhealthy romantic interest in her. I don’t think we see any other locals going to his office except Bobby one time, so he’s got enough free time to chase ghosts. Russ Tamblyn, Ben Horne’s best friend in West Side Story, had roles in Drive, Django Unchained and Cabin Boy, and played a “Dr. Jacoby” on General Hospital.

Audrey Horne is Ben’s daughter who has to avoid a horrifying meeting with him at One Eyed Jack’s while she’s retracing Laura’s steps. Sherilyn Fenn starred in Boxing Helena, which I have yet to find a decent copy of.

Major Briggs doesn’t know how to deal with his wayward son Bobby, leaks mysterious military intel to Cooper. “The owls are not what they seem.” Don Davis was a regular on the Stargate TV series, which ran for more seasons that I realized.

Bobby Briggs is excitable boyfriend of Laura Palmer and Shelly, sullen son of Major Briggs, rival of James Hurley, drug dealer friend of Mike (“Mike and Bobby” mirroring the evil Black Lodge “Mike and Bob”) and associate of Leo and Jacques. Dana Ashbrook was in the L.A. Crash TV series and the latest Bill Plympton feature.

Leo Johnson is a drug dealer, spouse abuser and murderer, is in a coma at the start of s2. Eric DaRe appeared with good company (Brad Dourif, Angela Bassett) in Critters 4.

Big Ed Hurley, James’s dad, married to Nadine but thinking about leaving her for Norma. Runs a gas station. Everett McGill was the villain(?) in The People Under The Stairs and appeared in The Straight Story.

Nadine Hurley, James’s mom though we never see them interact, wears an eyepatch and is obsessed with creating silent drape runners. Later she gets amnesia and super strength and falls for Bobby’s friend Mike. Wendy Robie was in Corbin Bernsen horror The Dentist 2.

Shelly Johnson is Leo’s abused wife, working at the diner, dating Bobby and conspiring to frame her husband for Laura Palmer’s death. Lynch’s character, Cooper’s boss, is sweet on her in season two. Mädchen Amick has been on every TV show at least once, plus the terrible Stephen King movie Sleepwalkers.

Josie Packard runs the sawmill, has a suspicious past, and I think was supposed to be a bigger deal but got left behind by the writers. Joan Chen was a movie star from The Last Emperor but wouldn’t fare as well in Hollywood, appearing in garbage action flicks Wedlock, On Deadly Ground and Judge Dredd.

Peter Martell helps Josie run the mill, isn’t as dumb as he looks. Jack Nance’s final film was Lost Highway.

Catherine Martell is married to Pete, resents Josie for owning the mill, which used to belong to Catherine’s brother/Josie’s late husband Andrew, who of course turns out not to be dead. Piper Laurie played Carrie‘s crazy mom, later in The Crossing Guard and The Dead Girl.

Norma Jennings is dating Big Ed, runs the diner, unhappily married to Hank. Peggy Lipton is Rashida Jones’s mom, appeared in modern classic The Postman.

Hank Jennings is a criminal in cahoots with Leo and Jacques. He thinks he killed Josie’s husband, gets out of prison halfway through s1. Chris Mulkey acts in a ton of movies, recently Whiplash and Cloverfield.

Margaret has a log that sometimes sees things. Catherine Coulson starred in early Lynch short The Amputee, died before the reboot filmed but not before appearing as “Wood Woman” in a Psych episode.

Julee Cruise, house musician at the Roadhouse. I have her album The Voice of Love, produced by Lynch and Badalamenti.

The Giant appears to Cooper in dreams and visions, dropping cryptic clues. Carel Struycken played Lurch in the Addams Family movies and appeared in Men In Black.

The Waiter might be an alternate form of The Giant. Only Cooper can see the two of them. Hank Worden did nothing after Twin Peaks but plenty beforehand as a Westerns regular (marshall in Forty Guns, drunk in The Big Sky).

The Man From Another Place is maybe Bob’s boss or partner, speaks in reverse, is somehow connected to One-Armed Mike. Michael J. Anderson played a similarly mysterious fellow in a curtained room in Mulholland Dr., was a regular on Carvivàle.


Season two, Cooper recovers from a gunshot wound. I think Josie ended up being the shooter, but skipped enough episodes that I’m not sure why.

“You’d better bring Agent Cooper up to date.”
“Leo Johnson was shot. Jacques Renault was strangled. The mill burned. Shelley and Pete got smoke inhalation. Catherine and Josie are missing. Nadine is in a coma from taking sleeping pills.”

A bunch of new characters show up… I missed most of their intros, but got to see a few of them die. Sadly I missed cross-dressing David Duchovny completely, and I saw Billy Zane but don’t remember what his deal is.

Annie is Norma’s younger sister, starts dating Cooper then gets kidnapped by Earle. Coop’s searching for Annie when he ends up in the Black Lodge. I haven’t seen Heather Graham lately but it seems she was everywhere in the late 1990’s: Swingers, Austin Powers, Scream, etc., and most notably Boogie Nights.

Dick Tremayne was Lucy’s classy lover while on break from Andy. When she gets pregnant and isn’t sure which is the father, Dick and Andy get competitive. Ian Buchanan starred in On The Air and did a million soap opera episodes.

Windom Earle is Agent Cooper’s rival, who gets tangled up in the crimes and horrors before having his soul sucked out by Bob in the final episode. Kenneth Welsh, seen here about to murder Ted Raimi, seems to be tenth-billed in bunches of horror/action movies.

Andrew Packard returns from the “dead” in season two only to be blown up in the finale, along with poor Pete and probably Audrey who was chained to the vault door at the time. Dan O’Herlihy, Bunuel’s Robinson Crusoe, was also in The Dead, Fail-Safe, Imitation of Life and Odd Man Out.


I was surprised that nothing supernatural happens until the end of episode 3, four hours into the series. Really a top-notch melodrama with excellent casting, at least for a while. Here’s hoping the reboot is great.

Surprisingly violent mother-son(s) horror, like The Babadook meets Fight Club, since early on we guess (correctly) that one of the twin brothers is in the imagination of the other. There’s even a proper Fight Club moment where they take turns hitting each other, but no postscript flashback showing an objective view of one kid hitting himself. It all seemed well-made but not interesting – besides the shock moments, wondering how the kid was going to continue tormenting his mom, and the slow creeping sense that the family has long been seriously disturbed (the kid sinks a dead cat in a fishtank full of water – or is it gasoline? – and mom lets it remain in the living room), I would’ve considered turning it off if I’d been watching at home. Ultimately not bad, giving viewers nasty nightmares of dental torture, superglue-as-weapon, and burns both small and large.

So the twin brother died in a car crash, and I think mom was injured (she starts out the movie with her face bandaged). Dad’s out of the picture. They’re wealthy in a secluded house even though it seems like her job (now on hiatus) was calling out lotto numbers on local TV. Movie was actually called I See, I See in its native Austria, where one of the two directors, Veronika Franz, is an Ulrich Seidl collaborator.

The Wandering Image (1920)

Released seven years before Lang was a star with Metropolis, and I know those years represented some major developments in filmmaking, but I notice this wasn’t very Metropolis-like. It’s not letting the image tell the story, but seems like a string of wordy intertitles with brief motion images between them. I guess this is partly because half the film has been lost and some of these were explanation title cards added during the restoration, but I didn’t pay attention which were the originals and which were summaries.

The plot is convoluted, justifying all those title cards. Wil Brand is trying to claim the inheritance of his deceased cousin George, is about the sue the cousin’s wife Irmgard, though he has never met either of them (a weird way to introduce the characters, methinks) when he unexpectedly meets the wife on a train and offers to help her, as she’s desperately trying to escape John, her late husband’s brother, who is stalking her by telegram. It’s immediately impressive that this 1920 movie seems to be shot on moving trains and boats and in the woods and the mountains, not at a film studio.

Irmgard says farewell to helpful Wil Brand:

John maliciously tells strangers that Irmgard is his mentally unstable wife so they’ll help him locate her, so Wil sends her into the wilderness. She looks totally miserable, passes a hermit shepherd who decides not to help her, then goes off into the mountains where John catches up and steals some dynamite, getting serious with the death threats now. The hermit comes to her rescue and buried in rubble together, he admits he’s her husband George who faked his own death.

Death tolls a bell for the avalanche victims:

Flashback! She married George after becoming his secretary as he wrote books about free love. He could never marry lest he be seen as a hypocrite by his fascinated readers, since he’s about the only man in 1920 willing to live by his late-1960’s ideals. So John helped them marry in secret, but now that George is “dead”, John threatens to expose the whole sham and prove she’s legally married to him in order to claim the inheritance.

Hans Marr as John:

Hans Marr as George:

Anyway, back in the avalanche, John is atop a mountain cavorting like a madman, tossing rocks at the heads of would-be rescuers, when Wil Brand helps the couple escape. Later, a massive extended contrivance involving the virgin Mary convinces George to return to civilization, but he only stays long enough to retrieve his wife, and take her to live by his side in the mountains, leaving Wil with his promised inheritance – a happy ending, I suppose, given how the Germans used to worship mountains.

Seems like Wil Brand would barely need to have been part of the story, but then Irmgard would’ve had to be stronger and more self-sufficient in the early scenes (she still does pretty well). He was Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Thea von Harbou’s wife at the time, who also had a part in Four Around a Woman and would become Lang’s Dr. Mabuse. George and John are both played by Hans Marr, which probably seemed like some awesome cinematographic trick in 1920. Irmgard was Mia May, Joe May’s wife, who starred in his film of Lang and von Harbou’s Indian Tomb/Tiger of Eschnapur the following year.


Four Around a Woman (1921)
I watched this the next day. Watched it for real, paid it my full attention, not just screwing around on the computer while it was playing. But then how come I couldn’t make any sense of it, or keep track of any characters? Perhaps I’d had too much wine.

Harry Yquem:

Harry Yquem (Ludwig Hartau of Lubitsch’s Anna Boleyn) has the most beautiful wife you could imagine, someone tells us, but then we see the wife and I could imagine better. She is Florence (Carola Toelle), who later tells a friend that “a beautiful woman need not necessarily be true to her husband.” There’s an exchange of fake jewels, rendezvous at an underground tavern, somebody’s long lost brother, a murder and a police investigation. Anton Edthofer (also of Murnau’s Phantom) either plays twins (like in The Wandering Image) or plays one guy who pretends to have a brother, I never figured which. Charles Meunier (Robert Forster-Larrinaga of Dr. Mabuse, The Gambler) is after Florence for a while, and she’s friends with someone else named Werner, and I think it turns out she was a spy and has actually remained true to Harry. Based on a play by Rolf Vanloo, who was also adapted by Joe May for Asphalt.

Florence and one of the twins, I believe:

Opens with a tracking shot around a gambling table – hello, Dr. Mabuse. If the movie wasn’t such a lo-res gray blur, and ironically if there were more intertitles, I might know what is happening. There was zero music on my copy so I played “The World of Shigeru Umebayashi,” which I loved but probably didn’t help my attention level since it wasn’t meant for this kind of film. The only parts I got really excited about were when I saw a 1920 Boston Terrier, some film leader and a test pattern between the first two acts, a man with a monocle, a couple of neat shadowy camera shots, and when this happened:

The premiere title of my personally-curated Obscure Movie Sundays monthly film screening programme was well-attended (five persons), the viewers anxious to view what my own invitation tantalizingly called “a 1977 surreal sci-fi comedy from Czechoslovakia. Set in the futuristic 1990’s, the plot involves identical twins and nazis with time machines. An obscure cult classic!” The movie lives up to the letter of that description, but wasn’t as wacky-enjoyable as it would sound. Still an affable, somewhat cheap-looking light comedy with a really good ending.

Rocket scientist Jan has an evil rocket scientist twin brother, who chokes to death on a roll at the start of the film. Jan is hot for his brother’s fiancee (an attractive girl from a family of circus performers), so Jan pretends to be his brother (barely mourned at all, so you’d think he’s a pretty crappy brother even though the two lived together) and goes to work – not knowing that this was the day the deceased brother was to participate in an evil plot to travel back in time to 1944, the turning point of WWII, and deliver a briefcase-sized atomic bomb to Adolf Hitler so the nazis would win the war. Things get fouled up royally, both in the 1990’s “present” and in 1941 (where they accidentally end up, right after Pearl Harbor, instead of ’44 like they’d planned) but finally Jan straightens everything out (easy to do when you’ve got a time machine at your disposal) and has the baddies imprisoned before they can meddle in the past. How to solve the problem of his dead brother? Jan travels back to moments after the brother’s choking accident, incinerates the body and inserts himself in its place. Result: two happy Jans are living together, one of them engaged to the evil twin’s attractive fiancee.

The bunch of baddies (right) in ’41:
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I thought it was a funny movie, but I was the only one laughing – the others found it a little tedious. Too bad. Delightful inventions of the “future”: time travel exists but is only used for tourism, dishwashing detergent dissolves the dishes instead of bothering to clean them, and a stun-ray gun turns people to green statues (they’ll recover just fine in a few minutes, unless someone tries to move them and accidentally breaks off a limb or two). Also, the A-bomb has been miniaturized to fit in a light briefcase and the military has stopped using such weaponry, so it can only be found in museums. That’s a pretty short time window (from 1977 to 1990) from weapon advancement and miniaturization to obsolescence and declassification. Or you’d think they’d disarm the bomb they put in the museum.

My Two Jans:
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The movie’s writer (I Killed Einstein, Gentlemen and What Would You Say To Some Spinach?), the composer (Three Nuts For Cinderella) and the director (no other movies with funny titles) all died in the last decade. Three of this film’s lead actors also appeared in What Would You Say To Some Spinach?, which came out two weeks before I was born – will have to seek that one out. The actor who played Hitler died in ’84.
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First movie of my Rivette Fest, to get acquainted with his work before seeing Out 1 in March. But Sam just told me that his late movies, like this one, have little in common with the early batch. So maybe my efforts are misdirected, but whatever the case, I enjoyed this one.

Lab rat Sandrine Bonnaire (Rivette’s Joan of Arc, also starred in Vagabond, East/West, Intimate Strangers, and Chabrol’s The Ceremony) hears from her brother Paul (Grégoire Colin, young star of The Intruder and Dreamlife of Angels) that old family friend Walser (Jerzy Radziwilowicz: Rivette’s Julien, Godard’s director in Passion, star of Man of Iron and Man of Marble) may have killed their father.

it all starts with a photo:
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angry brother:
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Rounding out a star-studded cast is their mom Francoise Fabian (of 5×2, Belle de Jour, and the title role in My Night at Maud’s) and Walser’s girlfriend Laure Marsac (of nothing in particular).

Sandrine confronts Walser and accidentally kills the girlfriend. Later, the gf’s twin sister (also Laure Marsac) shows up. Everyone is sleeping with Walser except for the brother, who’s still all hopping mad. Eventually the twin sister accidentally kills Sandrine (both deaths were caused by someone jumping in front of Walser).

dig the mobile:
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dig the sexy girl:
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Movie is usually captivating, but every time Sandrine rides the train in the first half, it shows us the entire train ride. Goes beyond “setting the mood” and starts to get boring. Much improved in the second half (unlike most movies). A twisty little mystery movie… liked it.

a long train ride:
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final shot:
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