May 26, 2017

Twin Peaks, Sofia Coppola, and Rear Window...

May 25, 2017

Sometimes I start to feel like an adult and then I forget to defrost the chicken for dinner. It's such a simple task, yet somehow I forget to do it at least twice a month. In the grand scheme of things, I recognize how minor this issue actually is, but every time it happens I feel like such an idiot. I have very distinct memories of the few times my mom forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer when I was in middle and high school. I can remember the look on her face and the little gasp she would let out when she opened the freezer after getting home from work to see the chicken still frozen solid. At the time, this made my night! I thought it was the best thing. It meant she would succumb to making hot dogs, mac & cheese or pizza. In hindsight, I realize how frustrating this must have been for her. My mom put together full, nutritious meals seven nights a week, so to be thwarted by something so simple must have driven her crazy. (It certainly drives me crazy.) Anyway, I forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer today and it made me think of my mom. 

Twin Peaks/Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. Over twenty-five years since Twin Peaks went off the air, the series returned to TV this week. On Monday, I got to see the show's prequel film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, in theaters. Despite the fact that the series aired before I was even born, I've known about it since I was in high school; Twin Peaks long ago cemented itself as a cult favorite and watching it come back to TV this week was a real delight. It made me think a lot about David Lynch as a storyteller. Anyone familiar with his movies - Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, Eraserhead, etc. - know that he is, in no uncertain terms, weird. He's an experimental filmmaker that pushes the boundaries of storytelling. The revival of Twin Peaks is no exception. That reason alone makes him difficult for me to recommend to anyone. That said, as a viewer I trust him and allow myself to be taken down his rabbit hole. Perhaps the worst way to watch a Lynch movie is to attempt to piece it together into a coherent narrative, a simple metaphor, or a clear message. His works are much more effective as raw emotional landscapes that draw on subconscious impulses. All of this can be really difficult to orient yourself to - I struggled with it this week watching the season premiere. It made me really think about how a name, a career, or persona inform how I understand a piece of art. Would I enjoy Twin Peaks as much as I do if I didn't know it came from Lynch? I'm not sure. But I think it's really interesting to interrogate how our relationship with a piece of art is affected by how it's framed in our minds. I trust Lynch, therefore I'm inherently more open to his work. There's a deeper lesson here about the subjectivity and objectivity in art, but I won't get into that. I'll leave you with this: If you're interested in getting into a story that is sometimes frustrating, often bizarre, but always unmistakably original, I recommend Twin Peaks. Don't blame me if you hate it, though. 

Sofia Coppola movies. Sofia Coppola's new movie The Beguiled premiered at Cannes this week. Her movie is a remake of the 1971 movie directed by Don Siegel that follows a wounded Union soldier as he's taken in by an all-girls boarding school in rural Mississippi. The original is a solid movie, but its depiction of women leaves a lot to be desired. I was thrilled to hear Sofia Coppola was making her own version. After the movie opened to rave reviews this week, I've been thinking nonstop about her other incredible movies. I hate nepotism as much as the next guy, but Sofia Coppola's career might be the best thing nepotism has ever given us. I don't think it's hyperbolic to call Sofia a visionary. She's created movies with distinct attitudes and themes that tell stories in ways that male directors have not. Her approach to telling stories about women and girls is one of a kind. I often think about her direction in the 2013 movie The Bling Ring. The movie is based on the real story of a group of kids in L.A. who broke into celebrity's homes and stole clothes, shoes, jewelry, and more. Her direction in that movie is remarkably controlled. In most scenes, she positions the camera in the corner of the room and keeps it stationary the entire time, watching the characters move within the space rather than let the camera move at all. In this way, she makes the audience complicit in the actions of these kids but never endorses or glamorizes them. It's a really fine line to walk, but she does it with such ease. Contrast this against her work in Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette where she's conveys an entirely different energy - one that is sympathetic to the characters and the isolation they feel. Whereas The Bling Ring puts the audience on the outside looking in, much of her other work positions the audience on the interior of a single character's isolation. I'm so excited to see her take on the The Beguiled. You've probably heard of Lost in Translation, for which she won an Oscar, but I definitely recommend checking out any and all of her other films if you haven't already: The Bling Ring, Somewhere, Marie Antoinette, and The Virgin Suicides.

Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window. Last Sunday, I caught a screening of Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window in theaters. I've always loved this movie, but watching it with a crowd gave it a new life for me. What I love about Hitchcock films in general, but particularly Rear Window, is how he's able to so easily capture the audience's attention. There isn't a minute of Rear Window when I don't feel like I'm inside Jimmy Stewart's apartment participating in the events as they unfold. Rear Window is the kind of movie that perfectly captures tension without any on screen violence. The way the film itself reflects our own innate desire to spy on the people around us is still resonant today, even if the outlets for that spying have changed a bit. If nothing else, this movie reminds you to close the curtains at night. Side note: Grace Kelly is so good in this!!!
...and with that: Have a happy Memorial Day weekend!  I hope the weather is good where you are.