Twin Peaks

twin peaks

Director: David Lynch

Country: United States

Duration: 47 minutes (per episode)

4/5 

The Twin Peaks (1990-91) series cannot be compared to anything else in the history of television, probably because it is the unique product of the idiosyncratic David Lynch who has developed a highly distinctive directorial style over the course of his career.

His films can only be compared to his other films.

The cult classic Twin Peaks, like the rest of his oeuvre, humorously plays with appearance and reality. Lynch introduces a sinister undercurrent to the picturesque landscape of Twin Peaks, a small town in the Pacific North-West. This manifests in strange, supernatural occurrences and the disconcerting murder of a beautiful high-school student, the now iconic “Laura Palmer”, whose drowned body washes up one morning on the shores of a lake.

The plot centres on the investigation of Laura Palmer’s murder and Kyle MacLachlan is superb as the very unorthodox FBI agent “Dale Cooper” who is sent to cover the case. His police work, like much else in the Twin Peaks microcosm, can only be described as bizarre. Instead of using forensics and interrogation to solve the mystery, Agent Cooper interprets his dreams instead.

Twin Peaks is mostly a parody of mawkish soap operas. The characters display limited depth and range and the dialogue is often simplistic and schmaltzy.

It’s hilarious, but not in a laugh out loud way. It wryly amuses you throughout and occasionally startles too with surreal elements – very much David Lynch’s style.

Twin Peaks is an incredible aesthetic achievement, fusing together many different cinematic genres to create experimental yet accessible art that has proved timeless.

Also see: The Best of 90’s Nostalgia and The Best Television Series on Netflix

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Best of the Classics

classic films netflix

The Graduate (1967) Director: Mike Nichols

“Mrs Robinson, are you trying to seduce me?”

An witty exploration of the confusion of youth, portrayed with comic brilliance by Dustin Hoffman, who plays “Benjamin Braddock” a recent graduate who begins an aimless, wandering existence when he returns home from university to live with his parents.  Anne Bancroft plays the legendary “Mrs Robinson”, a family friend who approaches Benjamin with a very indecent proposal.

The accompanying musical soundtrack by Simon and Garfunkel is a significant work of art in its own right.

 Also see: Best Christmas Films on Netflix

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The Best Television Series on Netflix

best televison series netflix

Twin Peaks (1990)

Created by David Lynch

A surrealist masterpiece from director David Lynch, who has made quite a name for himself with his dreamlike cinematic imaginings.

Kyle Maclachlan stars as FBI special agent Dale Cooper, who is sent to the Washington town of Twin Peaks to investigate the bizarre murder of Laura Palmer, a popular high school student.

In the process, he transgresses all the laws of space and time.

Mad Men (2007)

Created by Matthew Weiner

Another fantastic series on Netflix, that goes some way to proving the claim that the best cinema is, in fact, on television these days.

Executed with sublime visual splendour, Mad Men tracks the rise and fall of charismatic ad man Don Draper, during the turbulent 1960s in America.

Also see: The Best of 90’s Nostalgia

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Mortified Nation

Country: United States

Duration: 105 min

Director: Mike Mayer

 4/5 
It is done with deep self-knowledge, and empathy for the peculiar obsessions of their youth.

Have you ever read your diary from adolescence, and squirmed with embarrassment at your younger self?

Probably the last thing you would consider doing would be to offer up such cringe-worthy content for public consumption.

Some brave souls, however, have done just that.

Mortified Nation documents a live performance evening, which first began in Los Angeles, California, where people read amusing excerpts from the diaries they kept when they were teenagers.  It’s an incredible source of comedy, and tender without becoming mawkish.

David Nadelberg created the evening after he read, to a group of friends, an excruciatingly awkward love letter he’d penned whilst in high school.

His friends found it hilarious.

Nadelberg began to contemplate this youngster that everyone found so funny.

“Who was this boy everyone was laughing at?”

That is an interesting question to pose, because though Nadelberg and that boy are one and the same, there is a significant enough difference between the two of them, for Nadelberg’s teenage self to feel like a different person.

mortified netflix

As it is with all the other performers profiled in the documentary, all of who explore, with remarkable candour and honesty, the confusion of their youth; the frustrations and longing they felt when they were teenagers, trying to figure out exactly who and what they were.

What Mortified Nation captures perfectly, is that, the performers, in reviving that long-dead version of themselves, feel no shame or scorn.

It is done with deep self-knowledge, and empathy for the peculiar obsessions of their youth.

A cheerful eulogy, for a person left behind on the long difficult journey into adulthood, but who lives on in fond memory.

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The Trip

Country: United Kingdom (2010)

Director: Michael Winterbottom

Duration: 107 min

Starring: Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon 

 3/5 
Though both films are suffused with the clever, punchy humour, that comes as naturally to both men as breathing, it also examines the psychology behind such intense wit.

If you’re a fan of the comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, you will enjoy The Trip (2010) and its sequel The Trip to Italy (2014), both on Netflix now.

Directed by the multi-faceted Michael Winterbottom (a friend to both men), the plot to the two films is relatively simple: Coogan and Brydon play slightly fictionalised versions of themselves, as they embark upon a gastronomic tour of Northern England in the first film and the Italian coastline in the second.

 This slightly altered reality which the two characters inhabit for the duration of the films is an interesting method by which to explore the relationship between the two men, and their own sense of identity as ageing comedic actors; competing with one another, as they alternately wrestle with uncertainties about each other, themselves and their careers.

In The Trip, Coogan is the neurotic one, contrasted to great comedic effect with a jocular, self-assured Brydon who constantly aggravates Coogan with his puerile sense of humour.

the trip

In the first film, Coogan is in a shaky phase of his life; he is in an unstable relationship with a much younger woman, prompting a lot of anxious behaviour on his part; and he is also trying to move his career in a more serious direction, plagued as he is with deep fears of artistic inconsequence.

It doesn’t take much for Brydon to wind him up, which he does – relentlessly.

In the Trip to Italy, however, Coogan seems much less fragile, and it is Brydon who appears to be undergoing a difficult time, displayed in strained scenes with his emotionally distant girlfriend.

Though he is still his antagonistic self, the film occasionally dips into private moments where he is upset and uncertain.

The Trip series is complex like that, because, though, both films are suffused with the clever, punchy humour, that comes as naturally to both men as breathing, it also examines the psychology behind such intense wit, the brooding, hyper-competitive nature of it, and how it is often used as a shield to defend against inner insecurities.

There are wonderfully tense scenes between the two men as they duel each other with sharp comedy and abrasive banter.

The beautiful food, wine and scenery in both films are an elegant side dish to this fascinating character study, but it is the whip-smart dialogue, which is the hearty main.

Also see: Four Films about Food on Netflix

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