Thursday, 21 July 2011

The owls are not what they seem

What is it about Twin Peaks that makes it seem like one long dream? First there's the bits that really are dreams, with giants and red rooms and backwards talking. But then the reality is just as strange. The town is 'a long way from everything else', surrounded by woods and mountains. It's as if, far away from the loud city, something else takes over. Where the Log Lady isn't entirely mad, and psychic visions can be held as evidence in a murder investigation. It's a surreal place, trapped in its own bubble of wrong. The music makes up half the effect. You can listen to this while you're doing anything to turn yourself Lynchian. The almost constant music can change an ordinary scene. It becomes hypnotic. And even without the beat it has a good variety of ominous humming. Everywhere is horrible and sinister with the right humming. This is what Lynch does so well - turn ordinary things deeply odd. The Sheriff says that there's a 'darkness' in Twin Peaks, 'something very, very strange in these old woods.' The back-end of the dream is the nightmare, and that's where Lynch comes in. You can spot the episodes that he directed. The ones that build to a crescendo of surreal horror. Broken records and lots of screaming.

By way of explaining what we're about to do, I am first going to tell you a little bit about the country called Tibet.

Twin Peaks becomes a necessity. The sort of story where it's always 'one more episode'. It was probably too strange to live. There's no easy way to describe it. It doesn't fit with anything else on television. I've never seen anything else that can mix casual drama with all this darkness and insanity. It tries everything at once. It's remarkable. And really, Agent Cooper could investigate anything and I'd watch it. 

Wednesday, 13 July 2011


Recently I've been reading a lot of books that I think I should read but don't actually want to. Important, difficult books. Reading The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett becomes an act of will. Sammy B (as he was never called by anyone in his entire life) was tearing things to pieces. The book is a long monologue by someone who isn't sure he exists. Interesting philosophy? Yes. Entertaining book? No. Then there's The Castle by Franz Kafka. There's definitely a story here - a man is trying to get a job from the mysterious authorities in the Castle, but he's not even allowed to talk to them. In Kafka's case, because of the sheer genius of the man, he got away with dieing before he even finished his books. Which means that no-one had the heart to edit them and take out all the irrelevant bits. It's powerful, but a big investment for something that doesn't even end.

And now, after some time away I realise that it's better to read the books that just tell a good story. Something absorbing that you physically don't want to put down. Where you aren't glancing at the page numbers every five minutes. Thankfully, Murakami can supply this. Kafka on the Shore is a story with characters and everything else you'd expect. No intellectual exercise, no struggle, just a story. And in his own charmingly surreal way. So I'll be reading more of this and less of that. If anyone has any suggestions for some good wordy pages, let me know. I'll need some more to read.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The monsters in the woods

I like stories about monsters. I especially like stories about monsters in the woods. The Village has these things. It's almost entirely about these things. The people in this village are afraid of 'those they do not speak of'' in the forest. It's one of those films about the fear of the unknown. I would gladly sit through hours of mystery before anything is revealed. Like I did with Lost. In The Village you only get glimpses of the monsters - big things in red cloaks with long claws. Your imagination fills in the rest. These people have enough childlike innocence to believe the monsters are real. They run away and hide in the basement and do a lot of cowering. It's a film that sets itself up for easy criticism, especially towards the end. 'Well that wouldn't happen,' says eighty percent of its audience. Give your story a big twist and that's all anyone will have an opinion on. I prefer the first two acts, with all their myths and tension. Even though I sort of already knew the twist, I was taken in by it. We become like the characters - afraid of what's in the woods and looking forwards to the scary bits. And we're eventually let down like them.

Nobody's winning any awards here, but it's tense and fun. If you aren't too cynical you might just be taken in by it. Having said that, I'd still like to see the other film. The one that ends differently. There's an interesting world to be seen in something like this. Like the the piles of pebbles in Blair Witch, or even the nasty things that live beyond 'The Wall' in Game of Thrones. It's the unknown that makes people debate and argue and analyse freeze frames, not neat twists. The Village could have been a lot more.