Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Twin Peaks

Online coincidence.

Jonathan Rosenbaum just published on his blog his 1990 review of Twin Peaks as I was finalising the translation the notes Serge Daney took on his computer when the series was broadcast on French television a year later.

Both reviewers see something in Lynch's young characters. But where Rosenbaum admits being "bored stiff by most of the teenagers in Twin Peaks" and prefers "the adolescent eye trained on the other characters", Daney feels an "intense curiosity for the way young and seducing beings, boys and girls, seem to succeed under our very eyes at the passage from the fashion catwalk to the psychological TV series."

And where Rosenbaum refers to Peter Greenaway, Daney mentions Hitchcock and Tourneur.

Anyway, I let you make the connections. For more by Daney on David Lynch, see his review of The Elephant Man.
25 May 1991 - Lynch. I saw, a bit by chance, with S.P., an episode of Twin Peaks on TV. I had already seen one and had been intrigued (in a good way). Same feeling yesterday. Same pleasure to let myself into the "chain" of the film, once I am (vaguely) related to the plot and once I am in the passage, always stimulating, from a scene (a shot) to another. Ah! Here's some cinema, one notices. It constantly articulates something.

It makes me doubt (a bit) about certain of my dictates. A certain number of things suddenly seem viable, a bit like movement is proven by walking. For example there's a possible use of advertising beauty in a story, outside the short scripts of advertising. I saw "advertising" to avoid saying "artificial". My old hate of the American-style artificial star (from Lana Turner to Dallas) is here transformed in an intense curiosity for the way young and seducing beings, boys and girls, seem to succeed under our very eyes at the passage from the fashion catwalk to the psychological TV series.

What is singular in them, is that their "look" stays the course, as we say a makeup or a lifting "holds on". It's the "perseverance in their appearance" which becomes the essence of these characters and it's maybe the liberty of the open TV series (and of a script that we lose sight of after so many de-multiplications) which allows to make us accept this.

I find two traditions behind these "looks". The tradition of Hitchcock and of a certain cloning specific to the B series (Tourneur). I've been thinking for some time that David Lynch seems to be a very serious heir to Hitchcock. The common points are obvious: same sexual obsession between bawdiness and phobia, same fluctuations between the unsavoury organic and the glaze of a smooth surface, same co-existence of dry logic and irrationality (which will remain so), same taste for the audience wherever it is (in front of the television), same talent of a visual artist generously releasing formal - or formalist - "ideas", same fashion designer's culture, same - sometimes zany - irony embedded in the form itself (it's the form that makes itself ironic - via a small excess, a minimal exhibition, just before it gets uneasy - and not the spectator that creates irony - from outside - with its cultural knowledge). The cop has the same acting rhythm as Gary Grant and I like a lot the way his caustic lines are lost to almost everyone. I like the French version of this (there's no particular desire to listen to it in English).

From B series, the film takes the Dana Andrews aspect of the same character (mineral, ultra-combed) and a certain cloning of the bodies. As if everything was seen through the star models of a unique catwalk, up to them to invent time, duration, acting that makes them last. This duration is subject to the blackmail of a suspense that mustn't be too diluted. But, for example, I like a lot the status of the flashbacks which come less to explain things than to play the role of footnotes or brackets in the middle of the text which, thanks to electronics, emerge and recede like attempts at Eisenstein or Vertov editing.

We enter Mannerism when we take (from inside) and we leave Mannerism when we animate (from outside). Mannerism is a game because it's very close to the pleasure of a child who plays at disemboweling his dolls or at dismantling his toys. Mannerism is therefore destined to a certain disappointment (no knowing how to put back together what has been broken). It's the moment when, from an aquarium - this cultural breeding ground and catalogue of existing effects - we pull out a few fishes and make them last a bit more, the time to watch them do a few movements outside their natural element. The proof is: what usually doesn't convince me in Lynch's films is precisely what I like in Twin Peaks. The spectacle of time is perhaps better "at home", where people waste their time in front of the TV.

These movements are very particular: convulsive, made as parody, self-generated and eventually deadly. Where the movement stops, it's enough to instill some from outside by treating them like inert toys, puppets, freeze-images (and that's perhaps what Pompier art is).

Two examples come to my mind. What I've written about Kurosawa's Ran: the energy stored in the bodies is made visible in their chaotic agony (the malefic-technical energy stored in the planet threatens this one). What I've written about Rumble Fish, a mannerist film, precisely with the two fishes taken out of their aquarium, the red and the blue.
L'exercice a été profitable, Monsieur, pp. 332-5, POL, 1993, my translation

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