Room To Dream- Book Review

Biographies are often too prescriptive and by the numbers, telling you facts that you could pick up online and through cursory looks online. On the other hand, autobiographies often miss out key events or facts to cast the subject in a better light, both often have that rose tinted glow of nostalgia without a deeper critique. History is reality distilled after all.

Room to Dream

It's for these reasons Louise Brooks, 1920s/ 30s silent movie star, said she wouldn't write her memoirs, she could not write the sexual truth about herself that would make her life worth reading, due to her inability to "unbuckle the Bible belt" and overcome her Midwestern upbringing.

With Room To Dream by Kristine McKenna and David Lynch, they have tried to get around this issue by creating an approach to life writing that combines biography with memoir. The result is an interesting combination of the facts, dates etc but with the added bonus of Lynch reflecting upon those times. Whilst not perfect, it does get around a lot of the issues mentioned before. Don't go into this expecting an insight into David Lynch's creative process or for explanations about his work, that all remains hidden and private, but what you do get is an interesting dialogue and snippets from the horses mouth of those reflections.

The biography/ memoir starts off by explaining Lynch's early life, an idealistic upbringing across many different states, due to his father's job working for the Department of Agriculture. We learn that Lynch enjoyed being part of the Boy Scouts of America and reached the highest rank of Eagle Scout. We also learn that he felt most at home in Boise, Idaho where he had many wonderful summers blowing things up and listening to Elvis Presley, who he greatly admired.

We are told how Lynch was a dreamer who saw darkness in the mundane and art was his way to present these to the world. Lynch emerges as an inherently curious child who needed to spread his wings and explore the seamier parts of life to truly live the 'art life.' We find that he was constantly chasing the next big idea or love interest. So far so normal for a biography but there are hints at the more complex character, one who had anger management issues until discovering transcendental meditation.

Room To Dream is an intriguing way to present a biography, however it does have an inherent problem in that McKenna cannot be as critical or as insightful about Lynch as she would otherwise have been. As she is co-authoring the book with the subject on hand I found that it feels very woolly and basic, with the chapter enhanced by Lynch's personal recollections. The book is well worth a read but be aware that it is a glowing account of the auteurs life and you are only seeing what he wants you to see.

LINK- Lulu In Hollywood (Louise Brooks’ essays) Book Review

Reflections on Twin Peaks: The Return

It's been a year since Twin Peak: The Return was on television and I have been reflecting on the series recently as we come up to its first anniversary. Last year the series lit up the screens and the fandom was reinvigorated and excited to see the saga unfold with Agent Dale Cooper lost in the Black Lodge and Bob possessing the body of Cooper and repeating "How's Annie?"
There was a high level of expectation and hype surrounding the series after the 25 year wait. However the new series defied expectation and forged its own path, free from most of the shackles of its past and as a result, was the finest mixture of art and television I have ever seen.

Twin Peaks: The Return was a sublime limited series. Each episode was like a mini movie with gorgeously framed shots and haunting imagery that stayed with you long after the episode had ended. The story meanwhile moved at a deliberate, some would say glacial pace, especially for those who didn't like the Dougie Jones portions of the story, yet the story was multilayered and open to interpretation. Even now I am still working through theories and ideas in my head and, through Facebook groups, building and developing my understanding of the world Lynch and Frost created.

Episode 8 of the series was the high watermark in my opinion and one of the finest hours of television I've ever experienced.

A year on the series still haunts my dreams and I hope that this mercurial series is remembered for the masterpiece it truly is. In the meantime I'll try to get to sleep without the echoes of Carrie Page's scream reverberating in my ear.

LINK- Twin Peaks Retrospective

LINK- Twin Peaks: The Return Series Review

LINK- Secret History of Twin Peaks: Book Review

LINK- Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier Book Review

Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier - Book Review (No Spoilers)

Twin Peaks: The Return premiered in May of 2017, and consisted of 18 episodes. David Lynch described the work as an 18 hour movie and for fans of the director that's exactly what they got, a confounding and occasionally frustratingly long movie with his usual level of abstraction, ambiguity and strangeness.
Many questions that were left unanswered since season 2 were left unanswered at the close of this new season and the fate of certain characters and the time line of events meant that much was open to interpretation. Added to that were the myriad of new questions that arose from the latest season and the interest on online forums and message boards reached fever pitch as people tried to figure out exactly what was going on.

When co- creator Mark Frost, announced a new book that would help to fill in the gaps and answer the many many loose ends fans were excited. Last year, with The Secret History of Twin Peaks, Frost provided fans of the show with the rich storied lore of the town and its people. It was written in a creative and unique style with archival images, newspaper clippings, FBI reports and annotations by the 'Archivist.' It added much to the series and enhanced the viewing experience for many, me included.

The Final Dossier answers almost all of the main questions, or at least gives the reader enough information from which to draw their own conclusions. Written from the point of view of FBI Agent Tammy Preston, who was ably played by Chrysta Bell in the show, we get extra background information on many of the unique residents.

A beautiful looking book but for me the contents was underwhelming.

For those left miffed at Audrey's minimal time on the show and shocking reveal you are provided with information on her background if not her fate as shown in the programme. We learn who funded the observation and operation of the mysterious glass box and what exactly happened to Major Briggs.
Also for those seeking a resolution to the season 2 cliffhanger, we finally find out what happened to Annie!
The information contained in this book is important and explosive for fans but also feels strangely underwhelming. It's hard to explain but it's like reading the Cliff Notes of a Shakespeare play or seeing the Mona Lisa for the first time as a low resolution jpeg. When  taken alongside the stunning limited television event, groundbreaking original series, operatic Fire Walk With Me film or even Frost's The Secret History of Twin Peaks, this book, although essential, seem like a lesser piece of work.

Not only are there no entries for the Palmer, Deputy Hawk, Dale Cooper or Diane but the writing style is lacking the verve and sheer excitement of Frost' s other book. I know that as an FBI dossier it is supposed to read as matter of fact but for the reader it is difficult to get excited about what amounts to little more than a brief outline of what happened to each character.

This is a difficult book to evaluate as it contains essential information for any Twin Peaks fan but is also quite dry. Also, as is often the case with revealing too much, the mystique is lost. For example the monsters that were Hannibal Lector, the vampire Lestat or Darth Vader were better before their origins reveal. Did anyone walk away feeling better after knowing Darth Vader was a petulant teen named Anakin who took the death of his wife Natalie Portman so badly that he had to slaughter many Jedi children and turn to the dark side? No, no-one gained from that reveal, it was underwhelming and poorly executed. This is not as grievous as that wrong but I do feel that the heart of something beautiful has been lost with this book.
This book then is a must read for those seeking closure on many of Twin Peaks questions but it comes at the price of revealing too much in my opinion.

LINK- Twin Peaks: The Return- Complete Series Review

LINK- The Secret History of Twin Peaks- Book Review

Twin Peaks: The Return- Soundtrack Review

I thoroughly enjoyed the return to Twin Peaks recently and a huge part of that was due to the extraordinary soundtrack. There are few composers as gifted as Angelo Badalamenti, who can create stunning unearthly sonic soundscapes that swell, ebb and flow whilst running the gamut of emotions from euphoria to earth-shattering sadness. His music is a key component of the series and at it's best enhances the visuals and what is seen on the screen.

David Lynch, who was the Director and Sound Designer for Twin Peaks: The Return, has said that “cinema is sound and picture, flowing together in time,” and this soundtrack conveys that sentiment well. This album is the companion to a separate collection of the music from the series that features guest stars who appeared at the Road House, usually at the end of an episode. This CD features mainly the instrumental music that Twin Peaks fans of old will be familiar with and some new ones thrown in for good measure.

  1. Twin Peaks Theme (Falling) – Angelo Badalamenti
  2. American Woman (David Lynch Remix) – Muddy Magnolias
  3. Laura Palmer’s Theme (Love Theme From Twin Peaks) – Angelo Badalamenti
  4. Accident / Farewell Theme – Angelo Badalamenti
  5. Grady Groove (feat. Grady Tate) – Angelo Badalamenti
  6. Windswept (Reprise) – Johnny Jewel
  7. Dark Mood Woods / The Red Room – Angelo Badalamenti
  8. The Chair – Angelo Badalamenti
  9. Deer Meadow Shuffle – Angelo Badalamenti
  10. Threnody For The Victims Of Hiroshima (with Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra) – Witold Rowicki/Krzysztof Penderecki
  11. Slow 30’s Room – David Lynch & Dean Hurley
  12. The Fireman – Angelo Badalamenti
  13. Saturday (Instrumental) – Chromatics
  14. Headless Chicken – Thought Gang (Angelo Badalamenti & David Lynch)
  15. Night – Angelo Badalamenti
  16. Heartbreaking – Angelo Badalamenti
  17. Audrey’s Dance – Angelo Badalamenti
  18. Dark Space Low – Angelo Badalamenti

Badalamenti revisits old classics like the Twin Peaks theme, “Falling,” and “Audrey’s Dance” but also has six new compositions which are specific to scenes from the series. There are many other tracks on the album create by other composers and individuals and they are all great. Special mention must be made of Witold Rowicki’s “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima," which is performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra Warsaw. This piece is shown in the avant-garde nuclear tests in episode eight and is an assault on the senses that suits the abstract imagery of the creation of a death bringer and evil, in this case BOB.  Another track I particularly like is Johnny Jewel's Windswept, a relaxed jazzy number that recalls Badalamenti's style yet adds its own modern sheen. I checked out Jewel's Windswept LP and can say that it is a great album and well worth a listen in its own right.

As for the six Badalamenti pieces, they are stunning and worth a further look individually.

“The Chair” is from episode nine where Bobby Briggs is given a secret scroll of information by his mother from his father Garland. The chair has been in the Briggs’ living room since his father’s mysterious passing yet held the secret for 25 years. The track itself is suitably melancholic and has an air of sadness yet still has that trademark speck of hope.

“The Fireman” comes from the experimental arthouse episode eight, where we see The Giant create the golden globe containing the essence of Laura Palmer to combat the evilness of BOB who is released after the nuclear bomb tests in New Mexico. This is my favourite new composition from Badalamenti as it is a sombre, emotional piece which has a lot of power.

"Dark Mood Woods/ The Red Room" plays when Agent Cooper is in the Red Room and is trying to escape but gets confused in the mazelike space and also in the casino Mr Jackpots scene. It is otherworldy track with a deep brooding vibrating soundscape which slowly moved to and fro but later is interspersed with sharp jingles.

"Dark Space Low" comes at the end of the series as we are dealt the suckerpunch when Agent Dale Cooper, with Laura Palmer in tow, asks, "What year is this?" This piece has a kind of empty but longing feeling, like waking from a nightmare to find that you are in a worse situation.

"Night"plays after the scene when the Log Lady phones Hawk to say that she is dying. It is a heartrending scene, especially as the actress playing the Log Lady, Catherine Coulson, actually died of cancer four days after filming this scene) The track is somber and deeply sad yet beautiful in its melancholy. This track is the perfect eulogy to this wonderful charcater and actress.

"Heartbreaking" plays at the end credits of episode 11 and also when the homeless lady who won big at the casino, thanks to a fugue state Agent Dale Cooper, sees him again and tells her how he changed her life for the better. It is a heartwarming scene and even the 'badguy' Michum Brothers see good in the world and seem changed as a result. This is a beautiful piano piece which is full of hope and yearning.

"Accident/ Farewell Theme" plays in episode six when Richard Horne runs over a young boy crossing the road and Carl (Harry Dean Stanton) sees the boy's spirit leave the body as he comforts the mother. This track is ethereal ambience at its best, starting off full of sadness and despair but calming later, reflecting the shock and grief of the scene and the letting go.

Overall the Twin Peaks: The Return soundtrack is a triumph. It suited the mood of the series well and fit in when it was needed yet is still listenable in its own right. The soundtrack is an extremely atmospheric album and is worth a listen.

LINK- Twin Peaks: The Return- The Series So Far Review

LINK- The Secret History of Twin Peaks- Book Review

LINK- Xiu Xiu Cover the Twin Peaks Soundtrack

LINK- Twin Peaks Soundtrack Vinyl Re-release

LINK- Twin Peaks: The Return- Complete Series Review

Twin Peaks: The Return- Complete Series Review

I have loved the new series of Twin Peaks. Like a lot of David Lynch's work The Return infuriated and frustrated but boy when it came together it really came together.

Every week I looked forward to the next episode to snatch a little more information and develop more of an understanding of the mythos and world that had been created. I hadn't become aware of how complacent a lot of TV shows or even my viewing habits had become; I often multitask and do other things whilst watching most TV shows and some movies but not so with Twin Peaks. The nature of the show demanded your attention, a mere second could reveal so much that you had to watch things carefully, including the credits to work out who the large cast of characters were.

The first 7 episodes had me frustrated as I wanted to know where Annie was and what had happened to Agent Dale Cooper. But I liked the flow and mystery of the show and so continued to watch, hoping that Lynch and Frost would finally provide me with the closure I needed to THAT 25 year old cliffhanger.

Things got weird at episode 8; the most avant garde piece of television film making I've seen for a long time. It started off as a normal, well as 'normal' as Twin Peaks gets but then after a protracted night drive sequence and a raw performance from Nine Inch Nails the whole feel of the episode changes and we are presented with a flashback, presented in black and white, of the Giant. The episode gets even stranger with an atomic bomb test exploding in New Mexico and what I believe to be the birth or origins of Bob into this world. We see Laura as 'The One' with a glowing orb of her face, the one we are all familiar with of her homecoming photo... But this is the 1950s so is Laura Palmer prophesied to be the force for good nearly 40 years before her existence? Who knows?

After the craziness of episode 8 the series took a 2 week hiatus, as if knowing people would need the time to collect themselves and process what they had just seen. I know many shows have mid-season breaks for a while to ramp up the excitement but I've not really seen a show decide to take a week off to let it's viewers digest that specific episode.

From then on the seemingly disparate elements seemed to come together thick and fast.

Agent Cooper had spent the episodes is a fugue state as Dougie Jones, a doppelganger created by Evil Coop (another doppelganger who is possessed by Bob). These Dougie Jones segments were charming but seemed to drag early on. Like most I was hungry to see the Agent Dale Cooper we all know and love but as time went on and the Jones world was revealed to be a part of the larger Twin Peaks tapestry I fell in love with the affable lug, just like his wife Janey E, played wonderfully by Naomi Watts. It is the most unconventional love story but Dougie/ Agent Cooper and Janey E have a cute story arc where she falls in live with her former wastrel of a husband.

Episode 15 was a standout episode as 2 characters who have been in love for a long time but been unable to be together for various reasons finally got together. I fist pumped and whooped for joy at this scene, which was beautiful scored with Otis Reddings 'I've Been Loving You Too Long'. This episode also features the final appearance of the Log Lady who gives a clue to Hawk and says her goodbyes in the most heartrending scene.

Episode 16 gave the fans what they have waited for and I'll not spoil it here but will say that it was worth the wait. Several despicable people got their comeuppance whilst a pivotal moment was marked by whoops of joy in my household. There were still mysteries abound surrounding Audrey and Diane but with the two part finale coming up it was all building up to be spectacular.

The final two episodes answered many questions but in typical Lynch fashion left many more open to interpretation or just plain unanswered. Episode 17 gave us the background on Judy but more importantly it gave us the meeting of Evil Coop and Agent Dale Cooper. It went a little comic booky here but delivered with things kicking off at the Sheriff's Station. Freddie finally came into his own and we found out who Naido was. Cooper got to meet his FBI colleagues and reunited with the Sheriff's Department staff in a heart warming moment.

We then got a lengthy reintroduction of Fire Walk With Me with many scenes from the film shown from different angles but this time with Cooper in them, Cooper in the woods hiding whilst Laura and James shared an intense moment. The fact that Cooper went to Laura and tried to save her by walking through the woods with her only for her to vanish was shocking and made me uncomfortable... it seemed like Cooper was so close but had been outdone by Judy again!

Then it went a little surreal as Cooper tried to go to the past to alter the timeline and save Laura Palmer, who was in the alternate timeline/ dimension was Carrie Page, a middle aged maybe-Laura Palmer who worked as a waitress at Judy's Cafe. Cooper took her back to her house in Twin Peaks and when he knocked on the door there was no Sarah Palmer but rather the mysterious lady who bought the house from a Mrs Chalfont. Agent Dale Cooper was confused and asks,"What year is this?" and then we hear Laura Palmer/ Carrie Page scream... and the screen fades to black.

What does this all mean? Well I don't quite know but it could be that there are no happy endings and the battle between good and evil will continue infinitely. Evil will triumph but as long as there are good men like Cooper fighting the good fight there is always hope. Lynch and Frost have created a masterful ending which is open to interpretation and already I have seen hundreds of posts online with theories, claims and counter-claims about what the ending represents but is there an answer? Lynch works best when creating a mood and like author Haruki Murakami, the work defies logic but seems to have a narrative that would be easy to decipher, if only you had the Rosetta Stone.

Overall Twin Peaks: The Return was one of the finest series I have ever seen. The levels of violence against women was uncomfortable at times but when looking at the whole piece of work, necessary to bring to the fore the issues that we have in the real world of misogyny and abuse. After all Twin Peaks was the story of a young girl being sexually abused by her father by the will of an evil spirit and largely ignored by her aloof mother. It is a challenging watch but often the finest works are, there are no easy answers and for a work of this magnitude there shouldn't be. Lynch and Frost make us uncomfortable and question the status quo and for that they should be applauded.

The way the writing pair have woven a story after 25 years with some of the cast and crew either passing away or not being available to film is remarkable, the fact that it all flowed and made sense is astonishing. Nothing in Twin Peaks is weird or surreal for just its sake, there is a deep lore here and it underlies everything.

The Return was amazing and answered most of the questions I had from the first two series but it wasn't always an easy watch early on. For those with patience and a spare 18 hours available Twin Peaks is an essential watch, it challenges what TV in this day and age can do and requires you to pay attention and watch closely, something I know I have become complacent at through binge watching.

A special mention must be made of the performances of the large ensemble cast. Kyle MacLachlan did some excellent work in his three roles, playing the menacing Mr C with cold-hearted detachment, but also giving us the lovable Dougie Jones, a character you grow to love as he makes the world better by his subtle features and occasionally repeated words. As Agent Cooper he embodies the goodness that made the character so beloved and admired.

Grace Zabriskie, who plays Sarah Palmer, gave a stunning tour de force performance of a parent who had suffered so much and is in anguish at losing her loved ones.

The Log Lady, Margaret Lanterman, played by a dying Catherine Coulson, was phenomenal. Knowing she was dying in real life of cancer, her turn as the Log Lady dying on the show is heart-breaking. Her final call to Deputy Hawk on the night she knows that she is going to die (episode 15) is heart-rending, you can feel the connection between these two actors who have worked on something as profound as Twin Peaks. The new melancholy score by Angelo Badalamenti underscored this. When Hawk tells the rest of the Sheriff's department Lynch lingers on the scene to give it gravitas but also as a memorial to arguably the most iconic Twin Peaks character.

I was pleased to see Philip Jeffries return but not as we expected, due to David Bowie's death the role was played by a giant bell/ kettle. Why? Because Lynch.

If you haven't had a chance to see this masterpeice you owe it to yourself, you really won't be disappointed.

Twin Peaks: The Return (Series so far review)

Wonderfully quirky yet full of menace, Twin Peaks: The Return is nothing like I expected yet everything I didn't know I needed. I watched the first two episodes on the night of their premiere and even though Episodes 3 and 4 were made available for streaming on Sky Atlantic here in Britain on the same day, I held off to fully appreciate the first two episodes and reflect on what I had just seen.  Watching those first two episodes, I once again became entranced by the world of Twin Peaks. I had no idea what was going on and still have no clue to be honest but Lynch and Frost's work has sunk its hooks into me and I want to find out more, I need closure!

 I don't know what future episodes will bring, but the series has so far subverted my expectations by being deliberately slow paced and oblique at times- counter to the current binge watching state of most series. It requires patience and thought; people hoping for a quick resolution to 'Where's Annie?' and what has happened to Dale/ doppeldale are going to have to wait and see. 

 The new episodes (6 at the time of writing) are not artificially structured to allow for adverts and so we have some extremely long scenes which last several minutes, this allows the show to present its dream logic in an uninterrupted way. This could go disastrously wrong, and there are a few scenes where I believe it does, but for the most part Twin Peaks: The Return is essential viewing.  

 Moving on to episode 3 and 4 we finally get to spend more time Dale Cooper but not as we once knew him. Out from the Black Lodge after 25 years he spends his timeacclimatising to life back on this plane and it is slow going. There are scenes that will make you laugh and some have led to memes galore, HelloOOOoo Mr Jackpot, but as a whole the deliberate slow world building has enraptured fans of Lynch's work whilst turning off some viewers who do not like the more Fire Walk With Me direction that The Return persues.

 From episodes 5 things seem to ratchet up. In episode 5 but particularly 6, there is swearing, nudity and violence but it is all indicative of Lynch's auteur style. In episode 6 there is an incredibly brutal stabbing yet in typical Lynch fashion the scene has an absurdist humoured take on violence. Later on in the same episode there is an incredibly moving scene of a mother mourning the death of her son as he is run over whilst crossing a road. The scene is shocking and Lynch lingers on the mother's anguished face, yet there is lightness as a passerby sees the soul of the young boy ascend to the heavens and comforts the mourning mother. This is also where the first real new score by composer Angelo Badalamenti comes in, which heightens the emotions of whole scene further. 

 So how is the return of Twin Peaks? Well, the new episodes are like a fever dream, things don't make sense and for every moment of wonder and joy there are two for dark and disturbing. Some of the cast return but for the most part we are introduced to new characters, it has been over 25 years after all. It is starting to come together, I'm not sure where it will lead but I'm sure that it will be a journey that is both wonderful and strange, and I for one am going to enjoy the ride.  

Twin Peaks Retrospective

We are mere hours away from the return of Twin Peaks. After nearly 25 years, and that cliffhanger, the show is returning with many of the original cast as well as a veritable smörgåsbord of new characters and actors. 

I've been binge watching the original 29 episode run of series 1 and 2 on DVD over the past few weeks and recently read the Mark Frost book Secret History of Twin Peaks. I have loved immersing myself in the haunting world of Twin Peaks once again. 

Whilst doing the rewatch of the show certain images were as clear and vivid as I remembered them from 20 years ago when I first watched the show. David Lynch's visuals are very haunting without the sound but when you lay in Angelo Badalamenti's unforgettable score and the sound effect mix something magical, almost operatic happens. The sound and images truly complement one another, so much so that several images have been seared into my consciousness; the swinging traffic lights, the dark trees swaying in the breeze, the beautiful waterfall and the hues of brown that permeate the show. There is a poetry and synergy between the images and music that I haven't seen in any other TV series since.

The show itself moved at a leisurely pace, especially when compared to many modern shows, but it was never a slow show, there was always a sense of something lurking just beneath the surface; it could be something terrible, exciting or indeed magical - whatever it was it was never something boring... There was a wonderful dream-logic reality which meant that anything could happen at any point of the show. You want a backwards talking dwarf? Check. You want a unicorn? Check. You want a mysterious giant? Check. How many other shows could do that yet still make a sort of sense?

This unnerving other-worldliness of the series was hinted at in the pilot with the red room shown briefly, but it was really cemented in episode 2 when we meet the sinister backwards talking dwarf in a room of red curtains and chevron flooring.... All this added to the unnerving peculiarity of what could have become just another also-ran police procedural. However after the scene with the empty bottle in the forest and Buddhist philosophising you know you are watching something that is unique and special, how many other shows features FBI Agents trying to work out a murder's identity by trying to break a bottle with a stone?

Throughout the course of the entire show light and dark contrasted heavily, often within one episode, for example the cliffhanger of season 1 when Cooper is shot and the oldest waiter in the world serves him (slowly) whilst he is bleeding to death on the floor, Cooper waits patiently and politely for the waiter's return.

This weirdness continues with the introduction of the giant, a figure famous across nearly all cultures. The duality between the giant and the dwarf makes you consider dualities further and adds to the light / dark dynamic... Are humans just the playthings of creatures and being from another realm? 

When the killer is revealed in episode 14 the question of personal responsibility and whether we are responsible for our own actions Is asked. Is our life predetermined? Are we merely puppets in a greater play or do we have to accept personal responsibility for our actions, even when we may have no control over them?

The series does undoubtedly dip after the reveal of the murderer of Laura Palmer, with the introduction of the pine weasel and Benjamin Horne's spiritual epiphany, but after a few episodes it found its feet again with the introduction of antagonist Windom Earle,  further lore reveals with the Black and White lodge and a look at Agent Dale Cooper's past.

The series reaches a crescendo with episode 29, when David Lynch returned to helm the arthouse horror final episode which ended with the possession of Agent Cooper. Since then fan theories and video essays have abound as to what happened next but with the release of The Secret History of Twin Peaks by Mark Frost, we have a small insight as to what happened to most of the characters of the show as well as the history of the area.

I cannot wait for the new series and hope that it takes me to a place both magical and strange. After 25 years I hope the wait was worth it, I have a firm belief that it will be. 

Virginia - Video Game Review

Virginia is an interesting new piece of work by 505 Games. The story places you as a young female FBI Agent, a new recruit who is partnered with Agent Halperin to solve a missing persons case in the beautiful and sleepy town of Kingdom, Virginia. The story is deeply involving as your agent is tasked with monitoring her partner as well as dealing with the missing persons case.

As a video game this premise is an intriguing one and the game itself is difficult to categorise, as it is a walking simulator but not in a way that many gamers see as negative, it creates a compelling narrative without a word being uttered and moves at a cracking pace. There isn't the usual traipsing from place to place slowly, don't get me wrong there is a lot of walking but the game designers were intelligent enough to edit the work so that quick cuts happen often and are cinematic and effective, thus you may find yourself walking down a flight of stairs one moment and in the next you are in a car on the way to Kingdom. As a result the game comes off more as a fast-paced police procedural as you try to figure out what just happened.

Over the course of the two or so hours you follow clues and enter mysterious red doors which act almost like portals to another place, a place out of time. It would be lazy to mention Twin Peaks but the fact is that it is an obvious influence, as is The X Files and many modern cop shows with fast edits and quick pacing.
The game is visually beautiful and the art style is evocative of Thirty Flights of Loving by Brendon Chung of Blendo Games, who the creators of Virginia cite as an influence. There are moments of stark beauty and emotive moments that are scored wonderfully by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. For a piece of work with no words said there are moments that will stay with you for a long time.

The visual style and the lack of dialogue make for a really surreal and unsettling atmosphere. I was legitimately enthralled and surprised by the story and once the game was over I sat for a while contemplating what it all meant. The Writers Guild of Great Britain has announced the nominations for its annual Writers' Guild Awards, and one of the three games nominated with a chance of winning an award for Best Writing in a Video Game in Virginia. This is high praise indeed and hopefully will propel Virginia into the limelight so it gets the attention it so deserves. Do yourself a favour and play it... you won't regret it!

The Secret History of Twin Peaks- Book Review (No Spoilers)

Mark Frost, co-creator and executive producer (alongside David Lynch) of the legendary series Twin Peaks, has been teasing the book The Secret History of Twin Peaks for a while now. When it was first announced a few months ago I, like many Twin Peaks fans I'm sure, promptly per-ordered it to find out the fate of the characters and delve deeper into the world. Well I waited with bated breath to receive my copy and it was delivered a week ago. I read it between my other commitments and I finally finished reading it yesterday and these are my thoughts. I won't spoil it for you so please be aware that this is spoiler free territory.

First of all I should state that rather than a novel this is a beautifully produced dossier of faux historical documents, newspaper clippings and articles, revealing a series of historical events and conspiracies about the town of Twin Peaks and the Washington area over a period of over 200 years. For those expecting a more linear narrative this may prove to be disappointing as I know fans are looking for detailed account of what happened to the characters after the events of the cliffhanger in season 2. However what this dossier does provide is immersive and rich resources which are clearly designed to show how paranormal activity has been surrounding Twin Peaks for hundreds of years; this deepens and broadens the scope of the series and gives the events of the series much more context.

The book starts off with a letter from FBI Deputy Director Gordon Cole, who was played by Lynch in the original TV series, asking an agent to go over the contents of a box found at a crime scene that “appears to have a relationship to an investigation conducted in northwest Washington State many moons ago.”

The mysterious Archivist, who produced the dossier contained inside the box, has been carrying out research on strange phenomena and the history of Twin Peaks. The dossier starts with the taking of the land that would become Twin Peaks from the indigenous Indians and moves over to prospector gold rush times to the rise of the logging mills at the turn of the 20th century. It then moves into X-Files territory with reports throughout concerning Roswell, UFOs, Nixon, the Freemasons, the Illuminati, Project Blue Book, the Majestic 12, Alistair Crowley, L. Ron Hubbard, Jack Parsons... and Jackie Gleeson (of Honeymooners fame). All pretty heavy stuff full of intrigue and mystery but probably not what fans of the series were expecting when they purchased this novel.

The dossier provides the history of a few of the prominent families and individuals and it does reveal the fates of a few of Twin Peaks character's from the cliffhanger in season 2 but the majority of this patchwork dossier focuses on the relatively obscure character of Mayor Milford's brother Douglas, who emerges as the closest thing to a 'lead'. This proves to be a little disorientating but I have found it incredibly enthralling and have been carrying out research on the prospectors of the time, D.B. Cooper and Project Blue Book. The last time a TV series made me do this was Lost or even Evangelion, so that is high praise indeed! The book is similar in style to House Of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, not in content or style but the feelings it evokes... A sense of mystery and unease, very much like the show itself.

The book doesn't initially seem to give too much away about the mysteries of Twin Peaks as I'm sure they're leaving that up to the upcoming season 3 but I think that the book merits repeat readings as I feel that throughout there were hidden meanings and secrets waiting to be discovered. The plethora of diagrams, photographs and sketches draw you in and make the whole dossier feel 'real'.

Overall I'd say the book was not what I expected but it took me on a journey that was both strange and wonderful. There are a lot of profound truths about the human condition contained within and there were moments of revelation that left me questioning our place in this world.

Well worth a read with a cup of coffee and a piece of cherry pie!

The Secret History of Twin Peaks is a beautifully presented book ©Macmillan/ Mark Frost

Xiu Xiu Cover the Twin Peaks Soundtrack

First of all a disclaimer. I am not proficient in the use of musical jargon and phrasing so I apologise. However I really enjoyed this album and wanted to share my opinions of this album with you.

I've already spoken at length here about my love for Twin Peaks and there are many more eloquent articles and video essays on why Twin Peaks was such a ground-breaking genre-blurring show than I could ever hope to surpass with my own ramblings here. The show was the first attempt to bring art-house vision to the American mainstream. However despite what it meant and what it did one of the aspects that raised it above the norm was its amazingly eclectic soundtrack by Angelo Badalamenti.

Xiu Xiu have made a very interesting album, respecting Badalamenti's work whilst also giving it a thoruoughly modern twist.

Xiu Xiu, an American experimental noise pop band (hey, it's what it says on Wikipedia, I didn't just make that up) with aback catalogue of varying success and ardent fan-base, took up the mantle to reinterpret the iconic score for the Australian Gallery of Modern Arts for their David Lynch: Between Two Worlds exhibition. I didn't know about Xiu Xiu and only heard about them through the release of this album but whilst researching them I can see why they were chosen to reinterpret the Twin Peaks score, the founding member Jamie Stewart is a bit of a maverick and is truly experiental, sometimes his music works out and sometimes it doesn't but he is a true musical pioneer in a way that David Lynch is with film and Angelo Badalamenti with music. So against this backdrop how does the music fare?

Well Xiu Xiu succeed in creating a solid album which captures the eerily spirit of original tracks whilst adding their own twist on it.
The album sounds like a live recording which gives it a real sense of presence.

They open with an instrumental version of Laura's Theme rather than the expected Falling, so they set their stall out early on that this is not just going to ride the the wave of nostalgia but be something more, something interesting and different. Laura's Theme is a great opener and portentious of what is about to come. It has a light metronymic sound which carries the pulse of the track forward, but all the while it is undercut with this sense of dread. It doesn't sound like it should work from my description but it really does, the grand blending in with the lighter moments of the piano motif. 

Into The Night is suitably dreamy and whilst Julee Cruise's voice is hard to too their interpretation is similarly haunting and will stick with you for a long time. It I the beat track on the album in my opinion.

Audrey's Dance is still suitably jazzy with a cacophony of sounds blending in and out regular instruments include theharmonica but more unusual sounds are there including some that sound distinctly industrial.

Track four, Packard's Vibration is a powerful with a driving base underlying the squealing guitar sounds and some more spacy sound effects courtesy of synths.

Nightsea Wind starts like a soundscape with gentle sounds slowly giving way to crunchier synth sounds and squeals.

Blue Frank/ Pink Room is a bluesy number pushed forward by a powerful electric guitar sound. The bass and the backing beat stay true to the original track but what comes on top is totally different.

Sycamore Tree starts of with a fast flurry of piano notes and then the vocals come in, raspy and powerful without sounding contrived or fake. The song is a welcome calm respite in a sea of powerful noise and crunches.

Harold's Theme is beautiful, one of my favourites. It starts of with a gentle piano and synth distortion that brings to mind the works of Haim Saban and Shuki Levy's score for The Mysterious Cities of Gold and Ulysses 31 or Decoder Ring unfamilair with the animated series stated. The track has a gentle piano motif playing through and the synths emerge gently and disappear. Just beautiful.

Dance of the Dream Man starts off like a classical piece of music with deep heavy piano notes that give way to lighter piano but then the electric guitar and synths kick in and there are moments of jazz and quiet, the cymbals gently being brushed to give it a shimmering otherworldly feel.

Track 10 is the stunning Falling, the vocals are good and powerful but never soaring like Julee Cruise. They lyrics and the power of the song carry this along, and when the chorus hits it is stunning... Not Julee Cruise but stunning nonetheless with the beautiful vibrato adding more gravitas.

The eleventh track, Love Theme/ Farewell is elegant and beautiful as always but it seems to have been played with a distorted kids mini Casio keyboard. Not a bad thing but just... different.

The final track, Josie's Past, is a bit of a strange unsettling track. It features several minutes of spoken dialogue from 'The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer' spoken in stilted English accent, broken by a short burst of Mairzy Doats by Stewart. I didn't take to it and it is the stuff that you will hear in the darkest night in your nightmares but at least it is daring and tells you about the abuse and exploitation she suffers at the hand of Bob.

Overall the album is a beautiful unsettling pleasure. It evokes the best of Badalamenti's music and the unsettling soundscapes of Xiu Xiu's sound to create a modern rough sheen to what is truly one of the best soundtracks of all time. Now I'm off to listen to more of Xiu Xiu's back catalogue to see if I've discovered a new band for me to follow.

Gravity Fall Complete Series Review- No Spoilers

Gravity Falls is a special place—a town that feels like it's just a stones throw from Twin Peaks and a hop skip and a jump from the island in Lost. In this land oddities including rainbow vomiting gnomes, mermen and ghosts roam free. The series involves twins Dipper and Mable, who are sent to stay for the duration of the summer holidays, with their Uncle Stan (Grunkle Stan) at the Mystery Shack, a ramshackle building housing fake phenomena. There's no Log Lady but there are a stereotypical miner Old Man McGucket, Lazy Susan and manchild Soos; a colourful range of characters that give Gravity Falls a wonderful eclectic cast that brings the place alive.

The series is 39 episodes long and is similar to The X-Files in structure in that there is a story arc, as well as a monster of the week. The central mystery is where the monsters are coming from and who is the author of the 3 tomes that Dipper discovers which describes the phenomena in the town in great detail? Over the course of the 39 episodes many questions and mysteries arise. The cliffhanger at the end of series one was reminiscent of the end of series one cliffhanger in Lost but this one had the writing chops to pull it through to the second series and continue wonderfully through the second series to a satisfying conclusion.

Gravity Falls is a Disney production, surprisingly so, as it does feel like it would feel more at home on the Cartoon Network alongside Adventure Time, Over the Garden Wall or Stephen Universe. It feels edgy and on the nose, especially when you consider the age of its target audience but there is a definite heart and maturity to it that has led to a larger adult and maturer teen fanbase who enjoy the cryptography and codes that litter the episodes, but without excluding the younger viewers. During the course of the show over 3 years, thousands of fan theories abound, each week after each show discussion boards would be ablaze dissecting the details in intricate and exacting detail. The last time I saw this kind of clamouring around a series was with Lost when it was at its prime and in gaming when Bioshock Infinite wowed/ confused us with it's ending.

The final episode of Gravity Falls was on earlier this week and I won't spoil it here but I will say that the ending was a wonderful way to tie up the series and had a huge emotional punch. The character arc is beautifully realised here and unlike Lost, the ending was worth the many years of waiting and delivered. The pure wonderful weirdness of the final arc, the 3 part Weirdmegeddon, truly encapsulated what made Gravity Falls such a pleasure for its fans. The stakes were high and it didn't patronise its audience, there was real danger and real cost and true character development, something a lot of animation has lost today.

There are very few series that are as well conceived, written and executed as Gravity Falls and when an animated series leaves you thinking about parallel dimensions, alternate universes and man's place in the cosmos then you know there's something special. There are few shows that quote or are influences by Satre, H.P. Lovecraft or Danielkewski.

Gravity Falls is the perfect example of what other kid shows should strive to achieve. If you haven't watched Gravity Falls yet, look it up. You'll be glad you did.