“Twin Peaks” thoughts, Season Three, Episode Twelve

As played by Grace Zabriskie, who is still utterly mesmerizing in the role, Sarah Palmer looks and acts like her daughter Laura’s murder incinerated her spirit and sanity for good. Staggering through the supermarket to pick up vodka and cigarettes, she has a panic attack at the checkout line, triggered by new items behind the counter. Her dialogue, reminiscent of the screaming driver from last week’s episode, is a crescendo of terror. “The room seems different. And men are coming. I am trying to tell you that you have to watch out! Things can happen! Something happened to me! I don’t feel good. I don’t feel good!” By the time Deputy Hawk checks in on Sarah later that day, she’s no longer agitated, but her flat affect is even harder to behold.

We’ve all got stories, yes. But in Twin Peaks, as in life, some of those stories end long before the lives of their main characters, leaving a lifetime of blank pages to turn, one after another, before the book closes.

I reviewed last night’s Twin Peaks for Rolling Stone. I focused mostly on Audrey Horne’s unusual return and what such scenes say about the unseen stories of everyone’s life, but I wanted to share this concluding passage about Sarah Palmer.

The Boiled Leather Audio Moment #8!

Moment 08 | Our POV Preferences

This month’s subscriber-only mini-podcast question, or questions plural, courtesy of the folks at DalyPlanetFilms: Who are our favorite POV characters, and which minor POV characters would we like to see more from in the final two volumes of A Song of Ice and Fire? As you might expect when the topic is “tell us stuff you like,” this was a fun BLAM to record. Thanks to the DPF guys, and thanks to everyone who subscribes to our Patreon at the $2 level to hear these Boiled Leather Audio Moments, at the $5 level to ask a question we’ll answer in an episode, and at the $10 level to ensure your question goes to the front of the queue!

(Click here to purchase this episode’s theme music.)

Game of Thrones’ Nathalie Emmanuel on Missandei and Grey Worm’s Sex Scene: ‘It Was So Much More Than Just Two People Making Love’

Grey Worm was reluctant to take off his clothes, but Missandei insisted, saying, “I want to see you.” It reminded me of a line from one of the show’s other most romantic scenes, when Jon Snow and Ygritte are in the cave in season three and she tells him, “I want you to see me.” They both demonstrate that when you take your clothes off in front of someone you care about, it’s not just about turning them on. It’s vulnerable.

It is. In fact, it’s a trust thing too: I want to see you, and I want you to see me in my most vulnerable state. I’m scared, but I’m here. It’s the most vulnerable place you can put yourself, essentially. And I think this is a unique thing. Everyone knows that intimacy can be so scary when it’s someone you care about, but it’s especially so for Grey Worm, because he’s in a unique situation with his mutilation. His letting her take his clothes off is such a huge deal, because he probably never considered himself able to be intimate or a lover for any woman. The fact that he loves her is huge for her. It just shows how true their connection is. It’s a really beautiful thing.

A lot of people just focus on the mechanical nature of consummating their love. I think people have to stop and consider what consummating their love entails for these two characters, because of the fact that Grey Worm has that injury. People consider the anatomy of it and the mechanical nature of it, so they forget the emotional weight of it for these two characters — to be that vulnerable with each other, considering where they came from. Grey Worm has the obvious situation of having been castrated. And Missandei touching a man out of love and care, and with intimacy … no doubt, from where she’s come from, any sexual contact she’s had has been forced upon her. So for them, this is a huge moment. Almost like they’re essentially doing it for the first time, like they’re virgins exploring each other’s bodies. It’s a huge thing.

It’s not to say that what they do physically is unimportant, but the real consummation of their love is, as you say, seeing each other.

It’s almost not physical, which is so lovely about it.

I was very happy to speak with Nathalie Emmanuel about Missandei and Grey Worm’s love scene in the most recent episode of Game of Thrones for Vulture.

Nine Inch Nails: Add Violence [EP]

The EP’s final track is both the strongest and strangest. “The Background World” appears to be a slinky electronic groove that might conclude a big-budget Hollywood thriller, serving the same function as Moby’s “Extreme Ways” in the Bourne movies, or Reznor and Ross’ cover of Bryan Ferry’s “Is Your Love Strong Enough?” with their frequent collaborator (and Reznor’s wife) Mariqueen Maandig in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Yet the lyrics are bluntly bereft of sequel-ready optimism: “There is no moving past/There is no better place/There is no future point in time/We will not get away.” Reznor’s detractors tend to mock this sort of sentiment, but in the year of our Lord 2017, who’s laughing now?

The song’s formal moments are even more intimidating. It repeats the same awkwardly edited instrumental snippet—a brief empty hiccup separating each iteration—over fifty times. Seven minutes and thirty-nine seconds of the song’s eleven minute, forty-four-second runtime are eaten up as the segment plays out over and over, each new version a degraded facsimile of the last, until only static remains of the original riff and rhythm. Like an image run through a Xerox machine until it’s no longer recognizable, this makes Reznor’s Hesitation Marks–era worry that he’s just “a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a” legitimate entity real and audible. Its audaciousness would make David Lynch himself proud. As Reznor promises additional work to come in the near future, it gives his listeners reason to hope, no matter how hopeless he himself becomes.

I reviewed the new Nine Inch Nails record for Pitchfork. Proud to be covering this band for this site in this way.

“Twin Peaks” thoughts, Season Three, Episode Eleven

It’s simply impossible to predict where this thing will go within any given scene, much less from one to the next. This wild blend of moods and styles draws you intothe resulting drama rather than pushing you out of it. It leaves you desperate to see what these black magicians will do next.

Take the extended sequence at the Double R Diner, featuring Deputy Bobby Briggs, his ex-wife Shelly and their wayward daughter Becky Burnett. It begins as a touching, gutting scene of family drama, in which the estranged couple try, gently but desperately, to help their girl escape her no-good husband Steven. His latest affair sent her rushing to the apartment of the other woman (Alicia Witt, reprising her brief role in the original series as Donna Hayward’s kid sister), guns blazing. It also left Shelly sprawled on the lawn of Carl Rodd‘s trailer park, when her attempt to stop the young woman by clinging to the hood of her own stolen car ended in failure.

The resulting performances are as sumptuous as one of Norma Jennings‘ cherry pies. In Bobby’s frustration with his shitheel son-in-law, actor Dana Ashbrook brings out flashes of the angry young man the character once was. As Becky, Amanda Seyfried is saucer-eyed wonder; her denial that her spouse beats her is as transparent as her parents’ need to believe it is heartbreaking – after all, Shelly herself was once in an abusive marriage. Mädchen Amick radiates the character’s older-but-wiser experience throughout the scene. Eventually, the trio reach an unspoken decision to pretend they’ve gotten somewhere and end the argument – a sensation familiar to anyone who’s repeatedly faced down the same interpersonal issue with no real results.

Suddenly, a familiar face appears in the window, rapidly approaching the diner: Red, the magic-wielding druglord whose taunting of Richard Horne sent the young sociopath on his fatal ride a few weeks ago. He’s also the former Mrs. Briggs’s new boyfriend, and she rushes out to neck with him like a teenager in love – leaving her actual one-time teenage lover Bobby looking like a sad puppy. Like her daughter, Shelly remains drawn to bad boys, even though it seems she has no idea how bad the boy really is.

No sooner does she sit back down than our false sense of security is shattered by gunshots. Rushing outside to confront the shooter, Bobby discovers neither hit men nor homicidal maniacs, but a furious mother in the middle of a traffic jam, berating her gun-nut husband for leaving a loaded weapon in the family car. Bobby stares at the kid who fired the shots – the boy’s “fuck you” demeanor is a miniature replica of his father’s – and winces at the cycle of macho idiocy already at work.

Meanwhile, the car behind the young gunman’s vehicle honks and honks. An older woman is furious about the traffic jam preventing her from getting home for dinner – and it’s clear something is wrong here. As her demeanor reaches white-hot panic, the woman bellows, “Her uncle is joining us! She hasn’t seen him in a very long while!” Wait – whose uncle? “We’re late! We’ve got miles to go! Please, we have to get home! She’s sick!” Then the horror begins: As the driver shrieks and shrieks, a girl rises up from the shadows of the passenger seat, arms outstretched like a zombie, green vomit leaking from her mouth. Then the sequence ends, its final moments chillingly unexplained.

I reviewed last night’s utterly marvelous Twin Peaks for Rolling Stone. I could have written four times as much about this diner sequence alone, but really any given scene from the episode could sustain a full review’s worth of analysis. The show is that good.

“Game of Thrones” thoughts, Season Seven, Episode Two: “Stormborn”

Back in the Citadel, Sam is continuing to break the rules that stand in the way of doing the right thing, this time by conducting a risky, and extremely disgusting, operation on Ser Jorah Mormont in an attempt to cure his greyscale infection. While Sam’s dad is off playing power politics with Cersei and Jaime, the son he rejected is risking his own life to save a stranger. “The lone wolf dies, but the pack survives” is a Stark saying, but this maester-in-training would no doubt recognize its wisdom.

So would Theon Greyjoy, but the tragedy is he can’t act on it. Sailing south to Dorne with his sister and the Sand Snakes in order to rally their army, he finds himself in the middle of a gruesome, fiery battle with his uncle Euron’s fleet. And when Yara falls into the pirate king’s clutches, his nephew flees rather than fight. It wasn’t long ago that she risked her life in an attempt to rescue him from a different sadistic captor; when the moment comes to return the favor, Theon leaps into the ocean instead. The sadness of it all is written on both siblings’ faces. There’s no neat redemption arc, no valiant sacrifice, no blaze of glory – just a broken man, drifting among the flotsam and jetsam as Euron’s victorious fleet sails away, one more piece of human wreckage. When Tyrion warned Daenerys’s allies against turning the Seven Kingdoms into a slaughterhouse, this is the kind of carnage he had in mind.

I reviewed last night’s surprisingly moving Game of Thrones for Rolling Stone. Theon and Yara, Missandei and Grey Worm, Arya and Hot Pie, Arya and Nymeria — beautiful work.

Mirror Mirror II @ 2dcloud.com

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Our anthology Mirror Mirror II, edited by Julia Gfrörer and myself, is now officially for sale from our publisher, 2dcloud. Click here to order, and see an extensive preview.

Contributors include Lala Albert, Clive Barker, Heather Benjamin, Apolo Cacho, Sean Christensen, Nicole Claveloux, Sean T. Collins, Al Columbia, Dame Darcy, Gretchen Alice Felker-Martin, Noel Freibert, Renee French, Meaghan Garvey, Julia Gfrörer, Simon Hanselmann, Aidan Koch, Laura Lannes, Céline Loup, Uno Moralez, Mou, Jonny Negron, Claude Paradin, Chloe Piene, Josh Simmons, Carol Swain, and Trungles.

Our contributors come from Australia, Brazil, England, France, Mexico, Russia, Wales, and the United States. The youngest is 24. The oldest is 77. The majority are women. They are trans and cis, straight and queer. They make comics, zines, fine art, music, film, literature, and journalism. For our book they made work basted around horror, pornography, the gothic, and the abject. They made dark, vulnerable work that reflects the dark, vulnerable world, in hopes that confronting it moves us toward empathy.

Here’s what people are saying about it:

Mirror Mirror II is troubling and challenging, but it is also rewarding and stunning—a thrilling experience that readers won’t soon forget.” —Shea Hennum, The A.V. Club, “The A.V. Club’s Favorite Comics of 2017 So Far”

“It awakens the long-underused [horror] genre and pushes your fear buttons in ways you could never have anticipated. It’s hard to pick the most memorably mind-devouring portion.” —Abraham Riesman, Vulture, “8 Comics You Need to Read This June”

“Reading this is like dreaming — though whether you’re immersed in a nightmare or a wet dream is unclear….This book is like a porn stash you’d find in the cupboard of a medieval demon.” —Dan Schindel, Hyperallergic

Mirror Mirror II is at once a frivolous memento mori and an outright challenge to your own personal space.” —Austin Lanari, Comics Bulletin

“High quality smut.” —Will Menaker, Chapo Trap House

“This is a book that provokes, that pushes and pulls, that strips down to the bone and re-clothes in different flesh any notions you might have about horror, pornography, and abjection. It’s wonderful….I haven’t had a book challenge me this much in a long time.” —Sarah Miller, Sequentialist

“A thought-provoking, richly entertaining collection from some of the most exciting comic artists working today. A must read for fans of the horrific and perverse.” —Bryan Cogman, Game of Thrones

“An impressive collection of beautiful depictions of grotesque things and grotesque depictions of beautiful things.” —Alan Resnick, Unedited Footage of a Bear / This House Has People in It

“Editors Sean T. Collins and Julia Gfrörer have assembled an exquisitely creepy and seductive new collection of comics with Mirror Mirror II. From Uno Moralez’s pixelated noirs to Dame Darcy’s ornate Gothic ghost stories, the wide range of horror here is fantastic, as characters creep and fuck in the shadows of unimaginable darkness throughout. It’s certainly the perfect, freaky anthology for you, your lover, and all the demons in your mind.” —Hazel Cills, MTV News / Jezebel

Mirror Mirror II invites the most innovative creators working in the form today and proves just how expansive the pornographic and gothic can be, encapsulating the pop cultural, fantastical, and realistic in one fell swoop.” —Rachel Davis, Rookie / The Comics Journal

I am so proud of this book and hope you enjoy it. 

Game of Thrones’ John Bradley Reveals What Was Actually Inside Those Bedpans: ‘Soaking-Wet Fruitcake’

Before we tackle the big issues, I’ve got to ask: What was in those bedpans?

Well, if you want to re-create human feces onscreen, the best thing to do is to use soaking-wet fruitcake and mold it into the shape of turds. The thing about wet fruitcake is, when you see it for the first time at 6:30 in the morning, it’s fresh. But when you get to 5 in the afternoon and you’ve been shooting all day, and the wet fruitcake has been in the water and under the hot lights all day, it starts to become only slightly less unpleasant than the real thing.

I recently found out, because our producer Bryan Cogman reminded me on Twitter, that while I was shooting that sequence on my own over five days, the rest of the cast were at the Emmys! They were on the red carpet in L.A. while I was on my own in Belfast, dry-heaving and pretending to scrape shit out of the bedpan. The balance is a little bit off here.

You’re like Sam, sacrificing for the greater good.

Yeah, though I was even less happy about it than Sam seemed to be. I totally forgot they were even there! I think they tried to make me forget, and not notice this kind of injustice writ large. [Laughs.]

But no, I needed to be able to shoot that sequence. It was so fragmented in those little five-second shots, so I didn’t get a sense of the overall shape until I saw it all edited together, but I knew it was going to be something special. It’s something that was never quite done on Game of Thrones. We’d never done an edited montage like that. It’s a comic set piece with such a different kind of flavor that it took people by surprise. I love the fact that we are able to take risks, because we do abandon the formula and introduce new elements and styles to it.

I think that’s why people keep coming back. Even after six seasons and 60 hours of TV, you never know quite what to expect. That could be a character dying or a pivotal plot development, or just a funny little montage they weren’t expecting. There’s so much scope to surprise people, and it’s something that Game of Thrones mines very thoroughly, and always has.

I interviewed John Bradley about Samwell Tarly, bravery, morality, and fake poop for Vulture. It’s been a while since I’ve interviewed someone from the show, but my streak of discovering that every single cast member has put a great deal of thought into their character, their performance, and the world they inhabit remains unbroken here.  Anyway, I’m psyched to be speaking to the cast and crew of the show for Vulture throughout the season, just like I did for Rolling Stone back in the day.

‘It’ Star Sophia Lillis on ‘Shocking’ First Encounter With Pennywise, Remake Details

This September, Lillis stars in director Andrés Muschietti’s highly anticipated adaptation of horror master Stephen King’s signature work, It. She plays Beverly Marsh, the sole female member of a close-knit gang of teen outcasts called the Loser’s Club. During one long, nightmarish summer, the Losers find themselves face to face with the child-murdering, shape-shifting entity that’s haunted their small town for centuries – a creature that most frequently takes the form of a sinister clown called Pennywise, played by Bill Skarsgård.

“We actually weren’t allowed to see him until our scenes, because we wanted the horror to be real,” Lillis recalls. “Everyone had different reactions, but all of us were like, ‘Wow, what did we get ourselves into?’ One look at him, and… you know, he’s a really scary clown that wants to kill us. I was a little bit shocked,” she laughs. “But then he went up to me afterwards and was like, ‘Hi, how’s things?’ He’s really nice, but I didn’t know how to react.”

Lillis had no such trouble connecting with her fellow Losers, who include Jaeden Lieberher as ringleader Bill Denbrough and Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard as class clown Richie Tozier. “I spent all my summer with them, so we got really close. We still keep in touch, send messages to each other.” That closeness helped Lillis connect with her own character. “I relate to Beverly – the way she deals with her emotions, and the way she was around the Losers. I felt that way around the actual actors.”

I wrote a little profile of Sophia Lillis, aka Beverly in the new IT movie, for Rolling Stone.

“Twin Peaks” thoughts, Season Three, Episode Ten

If all this reboot did was alternate ridiculous scenes with horrifying ones, it would still be relatively easy to get a handle on: You’d just hold your breath each time the show cut to a new location until you figured out what you were in for, and that would be that. But this series isn’t just a coin that its co-creators repeatedly flip – it’s something more multidimensional and a lot messier. Consider the scene in which Rodney Mitchum, the intimidating co-owner of the Silver Mustang Casino, gets accidentally whacked in the forehead with a remote control by his daft showgirl girlfriend Candy, who’s so intent on killing a pesky housefly that its human landing site failed to register. The emotional cacophony that follows – Candy screaming and sobbing in horror, Rodney howling in pain, his brother Bradley (Jim Belushi!) rushing in to see what’s wrong – makes you laugh. And then you cringe. And then you get genuinely worried for all involved.

This goes double for the trio’s subsequent scenes. The brothers watch a news report on Ike the Spike‘s arrest after his attempted murder of Dougie while poor Candy wonders aloud if her beau can ever love her again. Later, Mr. Jones’ sleazy coworker Anthony Sinclair (Tom Sizemore) shows up at the Silver Mustang on the orders of the Mitchums’ rival – and the evil Cooper doppelganger’s minion – Duncan Todd to pin the blame for a costly insurance loss on Dougie. He hopes that the bros will finish the job the Spike started. But Sinclair is waylaid by the increasingly unhinged-seeming showgirl, who spends an inordinate amount of time explaining the benefits of air conditioning instead of simply showing him into their office.

Both scenes dance back and forth across the boundaries between funny, creepy and skin-crawlingly uncomfortable – a shuffling boogie not unlike the one our beloved Man from Another Place used to dance across the Red Room. So, for that matter, does the whole damn show. Thanks to canny policework by Albert and Tammy, as well as supernatural interventions by the Log Lady and the spirit of Laura Palmer, lawmen like Gordon Cole and Deputy Hawk are closer than ever to cracking the mystery of Coop’s disappearance and duplication. But the creative riddle of Twin Peaks still maddeningly, gloriously unsolvable.

I wrote about the horror of Richard Horne, the comedy of Dougie Jones, and the who-knows-what of Candy in my review of last night’s Twin Peaks for Rolling Stone.

“Game of Thrones” thoughts, Season Seven, Episode One: “Dragonstone”

“Shall we begin?”

Seven hells, yes! After a longer-than-ever wait between seasons (for a smaller than ever run of episodes) Game of Thrones has returned – and so, for that matter, has. Daenerys Targaryen, heir to Aegon the Conqueror and rightful ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. The Mother of Dragons has finally touched down on her ancestral soil to reclaim what was once hers. The premiere of the show’s more-anxiously-anticipated-than-ever seventh season, entitled “Dragonstone,” concludes with a five-and-a-half minute wordless sequence depicting her arrival at the island fortress that gives the episode its title. When Dany utters those three words and the show smash-cuts to the closing credits, the message is clear: The game is on at last.

Not that the waiting for winter to come was ever boring. If it’s a neatly summarized story you want, one that proceeds neatly from beginning to end with no detours or delays, read a wikipedia article. The fact is that without the preceding six seasons’ many twists and turns, few of this premiere’s many beats would have an iota of their impact.

[…]

Yet despite the cast of dozens (seriously, we haven’t even touched Samwell Tarly‘s bedpan-and-broth montage, or Bran Stark‘s arrival at the Wall), the real protagonist of this episode is the audience. From the very first season’s inuagural scene, we’ve known the White Walkers were coming – and from that season’s parting shot, we knew dragons had been born. For over half a decade we’ve simply waited for the pieces to come together, while countless characters fought and died in ignorance of the big picture. How fitting, then, for this episode to feature not one but two gigantic maps – the boards on which the game of thrones is played. We’re getting closer and closer to the moment when the major players see the whole thing for what it really is.

Indeed, like the small-scale replicas of the Seven Kingdoms studied by Dany and Cersei, “Dragonstone” was the Season One model in miniature. After Arya’s lethal prologue, the main action began with the march of the Night King and his army of zombies, and ended with the arrival of the Mother of Dragons and her reptilian children. The show has essentially scripted our anticipation of this grand convergence from day one – a huge difference from basically every single other great show of the era, which kept audiences guessing at the endgame. Game of Thrones is designed to make us the greatest players of all. We’re finally beginning to reap the rewards.

I reviewed the premiere of Game of Thrones Season Seven for Rolling Stone. 

The 25 Best ‘Game of Thrones’ Episodes – Updated

2. “Hardhome” (Season 5, Episode 8)

Bran Stark’s plunge, Ned Stark’s death, the Red Viper’s skull-crushing, Jon Snow’s assassination – all of them take a back seat to this episodewhen it comes to shocking the entire Game of Thrones audience. With no precedent in George R.R. Martin’s novels, which merely allude to a cataclysm at the titular village without giving us a clue what happened, “Hardhome” stunned book-readers and TV-viewers alike. After an ominous buildup, the armies of the dead descended on Night’s Watch and wildling forces alike in a literal avalanche of walking corpses, guided by the demonic Night King. As Jon Snow sailed away from a legion of zombified humans, the true menace of the White Walkers was made unbearably clear.

I re-ranked the 25 best episodes of Game of Thrones for Rolling Stone.

The 40 Best ‘Game of Thrones’ Characters — Ranked and Updated

37. Wun-Wun

He was a giant among men. Literally. Wun-Wun was the only member of his ancient, towering race to survive the wildlings’ battles against White Walkers, Night’s Watchmen and Stannis Baratheon alike – as well as the only one to cross south to supposed safety beyond the Wall. He wound up battling fiercely for the cause of his one-time enemy Jon Snow, giving his life to defeat Ramsay Bolton and defend the North against its many enemies. He may not have been human, but he was one hell of a guy.

I ranked the 40 Best Game of Thrones characters for Rolling Stone. It’s a very different list than it was when I first wrote one of these a few years ago!

Return to ‘Oz’: 20 years ago, HBO released a seedy prison drama that changed the rules of TV forever

Twenty years ago today, HBO went to prison and changed the course of television history. Oz, the network’s first foray into hourlong scripted drama, was the opening shot in a cultural revolution. Created by Tom Fontana, whose Homicide: Life on the Street was one of the pre-“prestige TV” era’s finest shows, and set in New York’s fictional Oswald State Penitentiary, the series utilized its “anything goes” cable setting to push the boundaries of sex, violence, subject matter and sheer scope beyond anything that had come before. Sex and the City would follow in 1998, and the almighty Sopranos arrived in 1999, but Oz is where it all began.

If you imagine a world where The Sopranos never happened and Ozbecame not just the prototype for ambitious cable dramas but also the template itself, the TV landscape would look different indeed. While not a stupid show by any means, Oz is far less cerebral in its pacing and approach than the shows for which it served as proof of concept.

Its six-season plot involves dozens of characters in multiple warring factions whose conflicts rocket along at a breakneck pace. It tackles the big issues with the bluntness of an after-school special rather than the therapist’s-couch thoughtfulness of The Sopranos or Mad Men — or, for that matter, the socio-political agitprop of The Wire (created by David Simon, whose reportage Fontana adapted into Homicide) or Orange Is the New Black (Jenji Kohan’s even more popular and acclaimed prison drama), the major series with which Oz arguably has the most in common. Twenty years later, Oz is a glimpse at a TV world that might have been.

On the occasion of its 20th anniversary (!!!), I wrote about Oz and its very different brand of pre-prestige TV for Mic. The result is of a piece with the essay I wrote for Thrillist using The Godfather to lampoon complaints about showrunners saying “it’s a 73-hour movie” and suchlike. There’s no one right way to do TV narrative, any more than there’s one right way to do film narrative, and I’m dismayed when people act as if there obviously is.

“Twin Peaks” thoughts, Season Three, Episode Nine

Last time we visited, Twin Peaks unleashed the fires of the atom and the demons of the Black Lodge. For the follow-up, the show wants to talk about … love. Why not? If director David Lynch and co-writer/co-creator Mark Frost have proven anything in this inventive, powerful relaunch of their supernatural soap opera, it’s that they can do pretty much anything they damn well please. A show that spends minutes on end inside a nuclear explosion one week can depict lovable goofballs Deputy Andy and Lucy Brennan ordering living-room furniture the next.

I reviewed this week’s Twin Peaks and talked about its attention to emotional detail for Rolling Stone.

The 100 Greatest Movies of the Nineties

49. Heavenly Creatures (1994) 

Before Peter Jackson took us all to Middle-earth, he brought moviegoers to the mad world of two troubled teenagers – a fictional universe every bit as engrossing as J.R.R. Tolkien’s, but far more romantic and lethal. Based on a true-crime story, the film depicts pre-stardom Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey as Pauline Parker and Juliet Hume, two New Zealand teenagers whose BFF-ship blossoms first into love, then madness and ultimately murder. Jackson’s kinetic camera captures the rapturous swirl of teenage dreams before plunging us into its brutal, bloody endpoint. It’s a beautiful dark twisted fantasy. STC

I wrote about Natural Born Killers, Heavenly Creatures, and The Blair Witch Project for Rolling Stone’s list of The 100 Greatest Movies of the ’90s. My editor David Fear assembled an absolute murderers’ row of writers for this thing — it’s a real treat.

‘Game of Thrones’: Everything You Need to Know for Season 7

When you play the game of thrones, you learn to expect the unexpected. But even so, the previous season of Game of Thrones did something totally unprecedented in the history of HBO’s blockbuster show: It got less complicated from start to finish, not more.

Yes, we are nearing the endgame, which means a whole lot of major players got knocked off the board last year. Now the unholy trinity of King in the North Jon Snow, Queen of the Seven Kingdoms Cersei Lannister and Mother of Dragons Daenerys Targaryen are in undisputed charge of their respective realms. Meanwhile, north of the Wall, the menace of the White Walkers and their eternal winter draws ever closer. This is the real war that all these minor squabbles between rival human factions have done nothing but enable.

And if the true enemy is about to reveal itself, you won’t wanna go into battle without good intel, right? That’s where we come in. Below you’ll find a region-by-region rundown of where everyone and everything stands prior to the start of the new season on Sunday, July 16th. The royals and their retinues, the human and the superhuman, the living and the dead – you’ll find all the info you need, and then some, before winter falls for good.

The annual tradition continues: I wrote a cheat sheet for Game of Thrones Season 7 for Rolling Stone.

Thought Leader

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I really couldn’t ask for a more delightful criticism of my Game of Thrones Evil Rankings than Ross Douthat defending the High Sparrow

The A.V. Club’s favorite comics of 2017 so far

Mirror Mirror II (2dcloud), anthology

As with any anthology, Mirror Mirror II features some entries that will leave more of an impression than others, but the totality of the work presented is both haunting and astounding. Collecting comics, prose, and illustrative work from such luminaries as Clive Barker and Al Columbia, as well as work by younger authors like Céline Loup and Trungles, editors Sean T. Collins and Julia Gfrörer have curated quite the book. The theme unifying all of these pieces is the convergence of the erotic and the macabre—some works being more explicit than others—but that may be the only commonality between them. Each one offers a striking aesthetic vision. And though some will resonate more deeply than others—which works stand out will most certainly depend on the reader—they accumulate to form an impressive volume. An enormity of spectacle is brought to bear on exploring the commingling of the pleasurable with the painful, the fantastic with the nightmarish, and the result is a series of truly shocking and often deeply moving images. Mirror Mirror II is troubling and challenging, but it is also rewarding and stunning—a thrilling experience that readers won’t soon forget. [Shea Hennum]

I’m proud to say that the AV Club selected Mirror Mirror II as one of its favorite comics of the year so far.  The reviews for this book have been just wonderful.

The Boiled Leather Audio Hour Episode 64!

Children of Men (A Patreon Production)

The Boiled Leather Audio Hour goes dystopian this month! By the special request of our Patreon supporter Jason, who earned the right to choose a topic for the podcast by subscribing at the $50 level, Sean & Stefan are taking a deep dive into the world of Children of Men, director Alfonso Cuarón’s gripping 2006 political science-fiction film. Starring Clive Owen and Julianne Moore and set in a near future where the world has been rocked by an infertility epidemic that has completely ended all childbirths for 18 years and counting, the movie is striking both for its technical virtuosity, particularly during its white-knuckle action sequences, and its emphasis on very human cruelty and empathy. How does its technical prowess affect its message? Where does the storytelling and imagery succeed, and where does it falter? What does its bleak yet ultimately optimistic vision of the future portend for our own grim present? We’ll do our best to answer those questions. Needless to say, spoilers abound!

DOWNLOAD EPISODE 64

Additional links:

Abraham Riesman’s article on the making of the film for Vulture.

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