Excision


Viewed – 06 January 2013  Blu-ray

This was freaky.  A disturbed young woman, Pauline dreams of some day being a surgeon, whilst at the same time struggles to cope with school, bitchy class mates and an over bearing mother.  Yet her life is fairly all American conventional, it’s just her that doesn’t seem to fit in.  She also happens to have a younger sister, who is favored by their mother but suffers from cystic fibrosis.

excision-movie

From the off this is one of those arty horrors disguised as a teen movie, and is not for the squeamish. Pauline has various surreal dreams of performing operations on naked women, with copious amounts of blood and bodily organs.  It’s pretty disgusting, but shot with a macabre erotic-beauty that I couldn’t help but admire, sort of like a renaissance painting.  Directed in a quiet, cold tone by Richard Bates Jr and with a solid, creepy performance from Annalynne McCord, I found this fascinating but ultimately unfulfilling.   Just why Pauline is the way she is, was not explored, there was no background to the character and the movie reached its conclusion leaving this viewer wanting to know more – I half expected an epilogue which never came.  Acting wise its all fairly well delivered, with enjoyable appearances from the likes of Malcolm McDowell  Traci Lords and most notably genre director John Waters (Pink Flamingos) – showing exactly the kind of audience this one was aiming for.

So a strangely amusing, twisted take on teen movie conventions, and if like me you enjoy weird, gory movies you should still get some entertainment from this.  Yet despite aspirations, it’s no future cult classic.

Verdict:  2.5 /5

Twin Peaks: Fire, Walk With Me


Viewed – 13 December 2011  DVD

Of all movies in the career of surrealist auteur David Lynch, the movie version of the acclaimed if short-lived television series Twin Peaks, is possibly the most misunderstood.  Fans of the show turned against it in their droves, and critics just didn’t get it.  Yet some, including British critic Mark Kermode consider the movie possibly the true masterpiece of the director’s career.

This explores the last seven days of tragic high school sweetheart Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), lifting the curtain on her squeaky clean persona to reveal a life of drug taking, promiscuity and nightly rapes at the hands of a creepy man known only as Bob.  Lynch’s expose of the final days of a character whose story was at one time the most talked about on tv, is an unsettling, unhinged nightmare behind a mask of American small town innocence.  Sheryl Lee, a much underrated actress in my opinion, may deliver a performance that boarders on crazy, but beneath the hysterics there breathes real emotion.  The movie itself is confusing at times and like much of Lynch’s work, offers few answers, even if you’re a fan of the TV show, yet the atmosphere, the startlingly disturbing imagery and haunting soundtrack creates a truly mesmerizing, and often quite hypnotic cocktail.

This is a movie you feel and experience above anything else.  It’s scary, somewhat perverse and will linger in your head, but above all else it’s classic Lynch, and although not as brilliantly crafted as some of his other movies, and suffers from a lack of restraint almost from the off … it is still well worth your time.

Verdict:  3.5 /5

A few thoughts on Twin Peaks


Well, I have been checking out this show recently after having purchased the definitive gold box set, containing the complete seasons 1 & 2.  To the under-initiated, this is the story of high school sweetheart Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) who is found dead, washed up on the riverside, wrapped in plastic.  It’s an event that shocks the small community of Twin Peaks, a seemingly normal town that hides many dark secrets and a wealth of characters with plenty to hide.  Step in F.B.I. agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) whose goal is to uncover the seedy goings on and find the killer.

As this show is twenty years old, I was very much expecting it to look dated, and was pleasantly surprised to find it holds up quite well.  The characters are imaginative and unique and some of the casting is spot on, with a brilliantly dead-pan Kyle Maclachlan as well as worthy turns from the likes of Ray Wise, Lara Flynn Boyle and Madchen Amick, not to mention a seriously sexy Sherilyn Fenn.

Created by oddball surrealist David Lynch collaborating with Mark Frost, this at times bizarre show was a huge hit in the 1990’s, sparking an international cult following that exists to this day.  Re-watching it now, I feel that in between the ‘Lynch’ moments of surreal oddness, the show can feel somewhat melodrama and overly emotional, and the acting can feel very forced and camp – but perhaps that was intentional.  Angelo Badalamenti’s timeless score though still has a wondrously moving power to it that has lost none of its appeal over the years, and the moments of dream-sequences, freaky behaviour and the disturbing character of Bob remain very chilling – possibly more than any show before or since.  I feel somewhat surprised that this took off at all though, as Lynch is an acquired taste at times and some of his imagery can be very upsetting  – but then again, with the quality of the script and the effectiveness of the inital premise – perhaps it’s not quite so hard to understand why the show struck a cord.  Sadly though I also feel that the dwindling viewing figures for season two, leading to the shows cancellation had more to do with the limited appeal of David Lynch’s surreal style than any real failing with the show as a whole.

But if like me you ‘get’ Lynch, then this is a treat, as it has enough broad appeal to suck you in, and is bonkers enough to satisfy if you’ve seen the likes of Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway.  Just a shame the show didn’t continue for a few more seasons.

For more information on David Lynch and some recommendations of his work, check out my write up I did on him a while back, which amongst other things, has links to other sites that cover his career as a whole…

David Lynch: a retrospective