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Twin Peaks: The Complete Series Review


Excellent
X-Files, Heroes, Lost? They all owe their very souls to a short-lived TV series that ran for just two seasons from 1990-1992. You might have heard of it: Twin Peaks.

I'll admit now that I wore an "I killed Laura Palmer" t-shirt thoughout my freshman year of college. Am I embarrassed by that now? Yes, but not as much as you'd think. Twin Peaks was a bona-fide phenomenon, the most subversively popular thing of its day and still a brainy-slash-guilty pleasure with few equals.

Continue reading: Twin Peaks: The Complete Series Review

Dune (1984) Review


Very Good
Did you know David Lynch at one time considered directing Return of the Jedi? Legions of George Lucas fans are probably delighted that he never got the shot, because for better or for worse (probably for worse) it might have turned out like the bizarre sci-fi experiment Dune. I've sometimes been accused of defending Lynch even when he's not working at his best. That's clearly the case here, resulting in a compromised megabudget effort where Lynch attempts to indulge his graphic art sensibility and please a mass audience at the same time. It just doesn't fly.

But Lynch fans might find stuff to enjoy in Dune anyhow. After all, there's a floating bug monster that parlays with Jose Ferrer's space emperor in the early going, flanked by legions of somnambulant slaves in black raincoats that probably inspired the villains in Dark City. This is followed by Kenneth MacMillan's puss-faced Baron Harkonnen floating around on wires, plucking out the heart of an angel-faced boy-toy (who was planting Blue Velvet-style pastel flowers only moments earlier), and sharing some homo-erotic blubbering with his nephew Feyd (played by Sting, who can't act but lends the film his charismatic rock star presence). Even when the plot is difficult to follow -- some nonsense involving a trade war over different planets that all made sense in Frank Herbert's original novel -- there's enough giddy comic book theatrics to keep Dune interesting as it meanders along for nearly three hours.

Continue reading: Dune (1984) Review

Eraserhead Review


Essential
It's understandable if at first you feel as though you're not getting enough information about Eraserhead's setting. And the timing is likely to puzzle you, too - not just the pace of conversations (of which there are few), but the sensuous, heavy-lidded rhythms of the entire movie. Then there's the plot... Or is there? At least there's a main character, a pasty, suited man who vibrates with something like extreme anxiety and hurries through the oily puddles of his weirdly industrial neighborhood as though someone were chasing him. The audience would read this character as a freak for a wealth of reasons, but his most conspicuous feature is his hairdo: a shock of frizz that shoots straight up off his head like the Bride of Frankenstein's, but blunt-cut across the top, like the eraser on the end of a pencil. The film gleans its title from this distinctive look: Eraserhead. It's one of the most thrillingly irrational films you'll ever see.

The talent behind Eraserhead is that one truly surrealist presence in mainstream American film, David Lynch. Later Lynch would expose the subterranean evil of Capra-esque America in 1986's Blue Velvet, recast The Wizard of Oz among the riotously criminal milieu of 1990's Wild at Heart, and offer us a circuitous journey down Los Angeles's famed Mulholland Drive in 2001 (although you won't be there to admire the view). And critics and audiences will marvel at the perversity of it all.

Continue reading: Eraserhead Review

Barfly Review


Excellent
Charles Bukowski's "crazy, beer-drinkin' wrestler" comes to life in the inimitable hands of Mickey Rourke, seen here with a nearly unidentifiable Faye Dunaway as his equally rundown muse. They drink, fight, steal corn, and drink some more. And that, director Barbet Schroeder, is life. Or some imitation of it, anyway. Rourke's performance has become the stuff of legend as he appears genuinely trashed throughout shooting, yet manages to blow none of his lines. Impressive.
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