Posts Tagged ‘Rolling Stone’

“Rolling Stone had some great ones”

November 9, 2017

Did I not mention that Kyle MacLachlan read and enjoyed my weekly Twin Peaks reviews for Rolling Stone?

“The Deuce” thoughts, Season One, Episode Eight: “My Name Is Ruby”

November 3, 2017

The Deuce saved its best, and its worst, for last.

The final episode of the show’s first season is called “My Name Is Ruby” – a title that serves as an assertion of humanity, a prophecy of doom and famous last words all at once. Written by series co-creators David Simon and George Pelecanos and directed by Michelle MacLaren, it’s technically about the moment that the selling of sex became part of the American mainstream. But more importantly, it’s about the people left behind as surplus to the transition. As such, it contains two of the show’s most powerful and upsetting scenes.

I reviewed the strong season finale of The Deuce for Rolling Stone. Your basic B-grade prestige drama overall, with hints of greater promise in the final two episodes.

“The Deuce” thoughts, Season One, Episode Nine: “Au Reservoir”

October 23, 2017

Let’s get this out of the way: What we have just witnessed was, hands down, the best episode of The Deuce yet. By a lot. Titled “Au Reservoir,” it’s funny, scary, sad, sexy and entertaining as hell from start to finish. How did this so-so show get so damned good so suddenly?

The answers may lie behind the scenes. This episode was directed by co-star James Franco, who previously helmed one of the series’ better installments. Judging from his two turns in the driver’s seat, he’s got a knack for finding the warmth and humor in the characters and their plights; you can see the kind of actor he is reflected in the work he gets out of others.

Screenwriter Megan Abbott likely deserves the lion’s share of the credit. Along with George Pelecanos, Richard Price and Lisa Lutz, she’s part of the murderers’ row of crime novelists who share the show’s scripting duties. But her writing delivers in ways even the best bits of previous episodes never did.

The Deuce Disliker has logged off and the Deuce Enjoyer has logged on: I reviewed tonight’s terrific episode for Rolling Stone.

Honestly? Watching shows written by the most acclaimed novelists in the crime genre hasn’t done much for me beyond make me wonder what the hell is going on in the crime genre. I guess pretty much the same thing that goes on in every genre. Patrick Rothfuss is well-reviewed, you know? But Abbott’s work on this episode redeems the field as far as I’m concerned.

“The Deuce” thoughts, Season One, Episode Six: “Why Me?”

October 16, 2017

Last week, The Deuce staged a war of words that saw its combatants, Candy and Rodney, criss-cross their stretch of 42nd Street. This week’s episode (“Why Me?”) tries a different but equally effective tactic: From the big-picture meta-plot to the individual storylines, everything seems headed the same way all at once. It’s the first installment of David Simon and George Pelecanos’s period piece that doesn’t feel like bits and pieces stitched together, but a cohesive whole.

I reviewed this week’s episode of The Deuce, basically the first one I enjoyed, for Rolling Stone.

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’: Breaking Down the New Trailer

October 10, 2017

The Last Jedi occupies the equivalent position in this new trilogy of The Empire Strikes Back, one of the most resolutely downbeat blockbusters ever released. Rian Johnson is no stranger to that bleak emotional palette – the man directed Breaking Bad‘s devastating final-season episode “Ozymandias.” When you add these hints at a heel turn from Rey with those grim fourth-wall-breaking shots of Carrie Fisher’s warrior princess on the verge of death, at the hands of her own son no less, the Dark Side is strong with the result.

Still, this is Star Wars Episode IX, not The Godfather Part II. The new AT-ATs, lightsaber, and little furry cute thing are all in keeping with the franchise’s fun side. Meanwhile, the Finn/Phasma fight and the Falcon flight remind us that from A New Hope‘s Death Star attack run to The Phantom Menace‘s “Duel of the Fates” to Rogue One‘s suicide-squad beach battle, this saga has always blended sci-fi/fantasy with rock-solid action filmmaking.

I wrote about the new Star Wars: The Last Jedi trailer for Rolling Stone.

“The Deuce” thoughts, Season One, Episode Five: “What Kind of Bad?”

October 9, 2017

You don’t need to be a perfect show to produce a perfect scene – and tonight episode of The Deuce (titled “What Kind of Bad?”) proved it.

[…]

It’s the kind of scene where you can feel the filmmakers realizing exactly what they can do with the ingredients at their disposal, liked winning Chopped contestants. Take one tablespoon of Maggie Gyllenhaal’s sad-eyed glamour, with a pinch of the unpredictability inherent in her low-key acting style. Add in Method Man’s mellifluous voice, and the way he always looks and sounds like he’s sizing up everyone in the room for strengths and weaknesses. Sprinkle in the unending ebb and flow of people and cars on the street, providing a dynamic background perfect for a clash between two titans.

But by showing how strong this show could be, it serves to highlight how weak it currently is otherwise.

I loved the duel between Maggie Gyllenhaal and Method Man’s characters on this week’s episode of The Deuce, which I reviewed for Rolling Stone. The big question now is whether this is the show finally getting its sea legs (which has happened many, many times in recent history—cf. The Leftovers and Halt and Catch Fire) or if it’s just an anomaly.

‘The Punisher’: Everything You Need to Know About Marvel’s Vigilante Antihero

October 4, 2017

Punisher comics have gotten pretty weird over the years
We know what you’re thinking: Gun-toting combat veteran goes kill-crazy against criminals after they murder his family – this concept is pure meat-and-potatoes street-level stuff, right? But we’re talking about superhero comics, folks. After a few decades of near-continuous publication, pretty much every character gets pushed out of his or her comfort zone, and our the Punisher is no exception.

Among his strangest adventures? The Punisher: Purgatory (1998-99), in which the then-dead vigilante was revived to serve as an angelic demon-slayer. The similarly supernatural FrankenCastle arrived a decade later; this knowingly screwball storyline saw the antihero, who had been killed once again, brought back as a Frankenstein-like monster, fighting alongside horror-tinged characters like Morbius the Living Vampire and Man-Thing. (In a word: No.) In 2012, the character got a sci-fi makeover in Space: Punisher – which featured, yes, the Punisher in space, punishing aliens and whatnot.

Years before his character-defining run on the character, Garth Ennis wrote the one-shot Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe, which pretty much does what it says on the tin. The 1995 special chronicles a short, bloody alternate timeline in which Castle’s family gets killed in the crossfire of an X-Men/Avengers battle, leading him to slaughter every single superhero and supervillain in the company’s catalog. He eventually turns the gun on himself. But for sheer WTF-itude, nothing beats 1994’s Archie Meets the Punisher, a crossover between Marvel’s bloodiest antihero and Betty, Veronica, Jughead and the rest of the Riverdale gang. Sure, it’s just a footnote in Punisherology, but crazy stunts like this are exactly what brought Archie back to pop-culture prominence over two decades later. A crossover between the Netflix Punisher show and Riverdale doesn’t sound completely out of the question now, does it?

In anticipation of the upcoming Netflix/Jon Bernthal series, I wrote a guide to the Punisher’s many multimedia incarnations for Rolling Stone. One thing this reminded me is that the showrunner is Steve Lightfoot, who was the Ed Burns to Bryan Fuller’s David Simon on Hannibal. That bodes well.

“The Deuce” thoughts, Season One, Episode Four: “I See Money”

October 2, 2017

it’s not the story’s bleakness that’s the problem — a show about the desperately impoverished and routinely victimized has every right to be dour. It’s the drab story-telling that rankles here. Every scene lands with a thud, a stepping stone toward the next plot or character beat. You can rattle off descriptions without once needing to dig for layers of meaning: “Paul has dinner with his wealthy lawyer boyfriend, who’s nervous about being outed.” “Darlene shows Abby how to mend a broken shoe, a practical skill the slumming rich girl has never needed to learn.” “The mob beats a construction worker who wasn’t playing ball to keep his coworkers in line.” Quick: Can you think of a single scene in this show that would require more than one sentence to sum up?

I reviewed this week’s episode of The Deuce for Rolling Stone. It suffers from the exact problem the Evil Editor diagnosed in the awful fifth season of The Wire: “If you leave everything in, soon you’ve got nothing.” Basically, it’s juggling so many characters that it has no time to do anything complex with any of them, except maybe Candy, who deserves way more time. The fact that there are two James Francos crammed into this thing says a lot.

“The Deuce” thoughts, Season One, Episode Three: “The Principle Is All”

September 27, 2017

Despite the abundant charms of this episode, problems remain. Why is James Franco playing twins? Like, narratively speaking? It’s easy to understand stunt casting like this when it enables writers to depict two distinct personalities using a single actor, insinuating that they’re two competing aspects of human nature. That’s how Kyle MacLachlan’s Dale Cooper/Dougie Jones/Coop-elganger Twin Peaks trinity worked; it animated Ewan McGregor’s performances in Fargo‘s last season as well.

But Vinnie and Frankie are more like two peas in a pod than two sides of the same coin. They look alike, they sound alike, they groom their facial hair alike. They even work at the same place for the same mobster boss. In theory, Vincent’s way more responsible – working man, business owner, yadda yadda. He’s also more likable, able to get along with pimps, prostitutes, cops, mafiosi, straight waitresses, gay customers and even violent vagrants like this episode’s sinister breakout character Big Mike. But is the way he ran out on his wife and kids to make a new life for himself in Manhattan really any less reckless than his brother racking up gambling debts or busting open jukeboxes to steal their cash? On the flipside, is Frankie’s boyish charm really that different from his more straight-and-narrow brother’s people skills?

I reviewed this weekend’s episode of The Deuce for Rolling Stone. In the words of History of the World Part I, “Nice. Nice. Not thrilling…but nice.”

Harry Dean Stanton: 10 Essential Movies

September 18, 2017

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)

“I’ve already gone places. I just wanna stay where I am.” Stanton’s role as tired-looking trailer-park owner Carl Rodd in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks prequel was as cryptic as everything else in the film, lasting just a few short minutes and some spare lines of dialogue. But he packs decades of world-weariness into his brief screen time; nobody could turn “It’s just more shit I gotta do now” into a punchline that doubled as a declaration of existential despair. Stanton reprised and expanded the role in Peaks’ astonishing third season this year, cracking jokes about defying death one minute, bearing witness to unspeakable tragedy like an earthbound angel the next – a moving, bonus grace note in a long, legendary career. STC

I consider it one of the great privileges of my career as a writer to have written about Alien and Twin Peaks for Rolling Stone’s list of 10 Essential Harry Dean Stanton Movies.

“The Deuce” thoughts, Season One, Episode Two: “Show and Prove”

September 18, 2017

By now, perhaps you can detect the pattern emergingCandy discovering porn, Vincent moving from tending bar to owning one, Lori getting a crash course in street life, Abby choosing la vie Bohème: In case after case, The Deuce isn’t just introducing us to its characters and their world, it’s introducing those characters to their world. And while it may be new to them, the approach is, frankly, getting a little old.

Think of The Deuce as the world’s seediest superhero-team movie – Avengers After Dark, say – but one in which every hero and villain’s origin story is squeezed into a single movie before anyone so much as throws a punch. Or, closer to home, imagine a version of The Wire in which newbies like the young low-level drug dealer Wallace were our entry point into every storyline. Pretend that McNulty’s a rookie cop instead of a seasoned detective; Avon Barksdale and Stringer Bell meet for the first time rather than run the gang together; Tommy Carcetti campaigns for student council president instead of mayor, et cetera. No matter how much you love the Marvel and/or Detective John Munch Cinematic Universe, you can see how same-y and sloggy that would get.

For writers, this approach is awfully convenient. It gives you a semi-organic way to include exposition, since someone has to tell these noobs what’s what. And as your protagonists get an eye-opening view of their new world, learn their new role and discover whether they’re good or bad at it, you can quickly assemble their character arcs like so much Ikea furniture.

But for viewers, it’s rote and repetitive. Despite the presence of master crime novelists George Pelecanos and Richard Price in the writers’ credits, “Show and Prove” leads you by hand through the most basic of plot beats – headstrong young women hugging disapproving mothers goodbye, wide-eyed naifs getting their first look at the dark side of the city, down-on-their-luck dudes deciding that this mafioso is different from all the others, yadda yadda yadda. It all feels as predictable as the nightly visit from the paddy wagon that the women of the Deuce. Can we at least get some Chinese takeout too?

The Deuce is suffering from origin-story overload; I reviewed its second episode for my beloved Rolling Stone.

“The Deuce” thoughts, Season One, Episode One: “Pilot”

September 11, 2017

Set in 1971, David Simon’s sleazier-than-thou new HBO show treats Manhattan like a Magic 8-Ball, where losers from the outer boroughs, uptown or across the country get shaken up; the hope is that they come up with a better future for themselves than “REPLY HAZY, ASK AGAIN LATER.” Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Eileen, an ex-suburbanite better known as “Candy,” one of Times Square’s most in-demand sex workers – she can switch identities simply by removing her blonde explosion of a wig. James Franco stars both as Vinnie, a Brooklyn bartender who slaves away seven nights a week, and his dirtbag twin brother Frankie, whose two most prominent personality traits are wisecracks and gambling debts. The renaissance-man actor eases into both roles simply by growing a period-appropriate mustache – a facial-hair accoutrement that transports you to the age of Richard Nixon and Travis Bickle more effectively than a million music cues. It’s a show about transformation, both onscreen and off.

Co-created by The Wire/Treme impresario and his frequent collaborator/acclaimed crime novelist George Pelecanos, The Deuce boasts an impressive array of talent in the executive producer chairs alone, including Gyllenhaal, Franco, director Michelle MacLaren (Game of Thrones/Breaking Bad), and The Night Of co-creator Richard Price. It also comes hot on the heals of HBO’s other big-budget–era NYC period piece from a pedigreed showrunner: The Sopranos/Boardwalk Empire vet Terrence Winter’s ill-fated music-biz drama Vinyl. The two series’ proximity makes apples-to-apples comparisons both irresistible and instructive. One title conjures up the nostalgic idea of a lost golden age, when music, and by extension life itself, was real, maaaan. The other is just a forgotten and nondescript nickname for 42nd Street. This ain’t no dream factory, kids.

[…]

[But] clocking in at around eighty minutes – nearly the length of many of the movie landmarks set in the era it’s portraying – it features a whole lot of … well, atmosphere is putting it generously. As we slowly get to know the sprawling cast, few if any surprises are on offer: smiling pimps with hidden mean streaks, workaholic husbands with restless spouses, college kids dabbling on the wrong side of the tracks, sex workers who (gasp!) have a family they’ve left behind, yadda yadda yadda. It’s tough to justify the sheer amount of screentime involved for figures who do so little but play their appointed roles.

I’ll be covering The Deuce for Rolling Stone this season, beginning with this review of its series premiere. It’s nothing to write home about yet, but to be fair you coulda said the same thing about The Wire after its pilot, too.

Emmys 2017 Predictions: Who Will Win, Who Should Win

September 11, 2017

Best Actor in a Drama
Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
Anthony Hopkins, Westworld
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Matthew Rhys, The Americans
Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
Milo Ventimiglia, This Is Us

WILL WIN: Here’s a Drama category in which the absence of Game of Thrones actually doesn’t wreak havoc, since HBO nominates everyone from Peter Dinklage to Kit Harington in the Best Supporting Actor slot. Plus, last year’s winner – Mr. Robot‘s Rami Malek – isn’t even nominated this year, so the field is wide open. Our guess is that the mass appeal of This Is Us gives the excellent Sterling K. Brown an edge over the star power of Anthony Hopkins on Westworld, whose show has plenty of other opportunities to take home trophies.

SHOULD WIN: Matthew Rhys and Bob Odenkirk are both plumbing such depths of unhappiness on The Americans and Better Call Saul that their performances should come with an antidepressant prescription; we’d give either of them the gold, particularly over such “well, we’ve got to nominate these guys again, I guess” choices as Schreiber and Spacey. Let’s go with Odenkirk, thanks to his material’s higher degree of difficulty this year.

ROBBED: Rami Malek won the Emmy in 2016 for his indispensable work on Mr. Robot; this year he wasn’t even nominated. The yeoman’s work that Justin Theroux has done on The Leftovers for years deserved recognition. And while we realize the networks decide which actor is submitted for which character, it’s nutty that Jeffrey Wright got tapped for Westworld‘s Best Supporting Actor and Sir Anthony got Best Actor, rather than the other way around. But tops on the list is Michael McKean on Better Call Saul, delivering a performance of such profound misery that you’ll forget Spinal Tap and Laverne & Shirley within minutes.

The tradition continues: I took a stab at predicting the outcome of all the major categories at this coming Sunday’s Emmy Awards for Rolling Stone. I have no truck with awards shows as barometers of quality, but they can be a lot of fun to analyze like a sport.

“It”: Everything You Need to Know About Stephen King’s Killer Clown Story

September 11, 2017

Pennywise is one of modern horror’s greatest monsters
He’s the original killer clown from outer space and the most infamous villain in Stephen King’s bibliography, which is saying something. (All apologies, Randall Flagg.)  Pennywise the Dancing Clown is the form most frequently taken by a malevolent entity that’s been haunting the entire town of Derry, Maine for centuries; it’s lurked beneath the land since it hurtled through the cosmos and crash-landed on Earth from another dimension millennia ago. This shape-shifter can transform into its victims’ worst nightmares, feeding on both their fear and their flesh. Its preferred target: little kids, whose vivid imaginations give it an extensive menu of terrors to choose from. This also explains the monster’s default mode: What kid doesn’t love clowns? (At least before It more or less singlehandedly ruined their image, that is.)

But in addition to being one mean, multifaceted predator, Pennywise has exerted a malign influence on the entire town. He himself – or It Itself – only emerges from hibernation once every 27 years or so for a feeding frenzy that lasts roughly a year to 18 months. But Its presence in the sewers beneath Derry radiates an evil that makes the small town the murder capital of New England … and generates a sort of willful amnesia among the population. Such forgetfulness keeps folks from reflecting on their sleepy burg’s history of atrocities, disasters and mass murders. It also prevents people from connecting the dots when the creature resurfaces and kids start going missing en masse.

Overall, Pennywise combines a killer look and set of powers with one of King’s strongest concepts: a fairy-tale troll that hides out not under a bridge, but an entire city – a ghost that haunts not just one house, but all of them. As our foremost chronicler of small-town American evil, King has a royally good time with the idea.

I wrote a primer on It — the book, the miniseries, the movie, Pennywise, Tim Curry, That Scene, you name it — just in time for the release of the new blockbuster film adaptation for Rolling Stone.

Why ‘Twin Peaks: The Return’ Was the Most Groundbreaking TV Series Ever

September 4, 2017

A side note here: It feels goofy to praise David Lynch for not participating in the usual back-and-forth between showrunner and viewer about the need for answers, closure and a finale that “sticks the landing,” which the conclusions of The Sopranos and Lost have rendered a seemingly permanent part of the TV discourse. (It’s like giving Stanley Kubrick a shoutout for resisting the temptation to create the Kubrick Cinematic Universe.) Still, even if this wasn’t on the filmmaker’s mind, as seems likely, it certainly was on ours. How refreshing to watch a show wholly alien to the debates that consumed the final seasons of even the most truly wonderful dramas, from Mad Men to The Leftovers. And how cool to see a series so gloriously unsuited to the era TV takes, too. After “This is the water and this is the well,” didn’t every article you came across with a title like “Lucy Brennan Proves David Lynch Has a Receptionist Problem” or “Dr. Jacoby’s Spray-Painted Shit Shovels Would Work Much Better Using the Netflix Release Model” feel … a little small? Like, even smaller than usual?

[…]

Twin Peaks: The Return was a dazzling work of filmmaking. But unlike its jittering cameras, flashing lights, billowing smoke and ambient whooshing and whirring, its emotional foundations were rock solid. We may marvel at the cosmos Lynch and Frost created – a universe of vast purple oceans, towering metal fortresses, billowing red curtains and infinite fields of stars. We may spend another 25 years attempting to puzzle out Audrey’s location, the glass box’s bankroller, the true identity of “Judy” and what, exactly, became of the girl with the bug in her mouth. But there’s nothing ethereal or mysterious about abuse, trauma and the irresistible death-march of time. That part of Twin Peaks, the part that counts most, is as clear as your reflection in the mirror.

Twin Peaks is the best television show ever made. I tried to explain why for Rolling Stone.

“Twin Peaks” thoughts, Season Three, Episodes Seventeen and Eighteen

September 4, 2017

So ends the con job that Lynch and Frost telegraphed from the season’s subtitle, The Return, on down. After all, the original Twin Peaks ended in the worst possible way: goodness corrupted, evil triumphant. Fire Walk With Me hinted at a way forward, only to linger on cruelty and suffering. Certainly nothing in Lynch’s intervening filmography indicated that this story would have a happy ending. Why wouldn’t we wind up right back where we started: an unspeakable violation, carving a hole in the moral fabric of the universe that no one, not even the whitest of knights, is capable of making whole?

This is Twin Peaks: The Return, alright. A return to pain that can’t be healed, crimes that can’t be solved, wrongs that can’t be righted. We drank full. We descended. There’s no way up and out again.

I reviewed the final episode of Twin Peaks Season Three for Rolling Stone.

“Twin Peaks” thoughts, Season Three, Episode Sixteen

August 28, 2017

With only one week and two hours remaining, this season/series revival had spent nearly its entire running time chronicling the (mis)adventures of a Coop far from the one we knew and loved all those years ago – and that’s not even counting the evil doppelganger who escaped the Black Lodge into our world. Our beloved federal agent may have finally escaped that zig-zagged hellscape, but he wound up trapped in the life of a Las Vegas insurance agent named Dougie Jones. Episode after episode, “Dougie” was unable to remember not just his past but, like, how to speak in complete sentences. Somehow, this didn’t prevent our hapless hero from surviving multiple assassination attempts, winning both the local mob bosses’ favor and thousands of dollars at the slots (“Hell-oooooooo!”), making sweet love to Naomi Watts and consuming his fair share of damn good coffee and cherry pie. It was as if his innate Coop-ness was still shining through, guiding him through life’s dangers even if he was incapable of figuring out how a door works.

Then, last week, something changed. Hearing the name of his old mentor Gordon Cole in the movie Sunset Boulevard, “Dougie” was somehow triggered into jabbing a fork into an electrical outlet, sending him into a coma. What emerges on the other side in this episode is wonderful even beyond the imagining of people who’ve waited for this moment for two decades and counting.

“You are awake,” says the one-armed man Philip Gerard in a vision.

“One-hundred percent,” says Dale – the real Dale – in response.

Welcome back, Cooper — the do-gooder, go-getter and wrong-righter whose decency shone like a beacon through all of the darkness all those years ago. The music that accompanies his awakening is the Twin Peaks theme itself. He even still loves and cares for Janey-E and Sonny Jim, the family you might have expected him to simply abandon. By the time his insurance-agency boss Battlin’ Bud Bushnell warns him the FBI is looking for him and he turns to the camera and says, “I am the FBI,” it’s hard to believe there was a single Peaks freak on the planet who wasn’t either screaming for joy or a blubbering mess.

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been as moved by an episode of television I was by last night’s Twin Peaks. Just openly sobbing with joy. I reviewed it for Rolling Stone.

“Game of Thrones” Season 7: Who Lived, Who Died, What We Learned

August 28, 2017

Call us crazy, but for a definitive visual for Game of Thrones Season Seven, we’d rewind a few minutes back from the fall of the Wall to Jaime’s departure from his life in King’s Landing. As he rides away from the city, snow begins to fall, soon covering the familiar red roofs and imposing towers of the capital. The weather has proven his wisdom. Jon and Dany, Sansa and Arya, Tyrion and his big brother, even the freaking Hound, who spent most of the entire season bumping into people who once tried to kill him – everyone put aside their differences for the greater good.

There’s no riding out the storm that’s on its way. If you care about your family, your friends, your people and your world, you have to ride right into that storm and face whatever you find there. Only one season and six episodes remain before we discover what’s left when the snow melts and the smoke clears.

I wrote an overview of what happened during Game of Thrones Season Seven and what it means for the story for Rolling Stone.

“Game of Thrones” thoughts, Season Seven, Episode Seven: “The Dragon and the Wolf”

August 28, 2017

Game of Thrones’ penultimate season has rocketed along from place to place, person to person, long-awaited meeting to long-dreaded conflagration for all seven of its episodes. That pace has thrown some viewers off balance. But in these final moments, the purpose becomes clear: This story, this world, has been hurtling toward a point of no return. We’ve now reached that point. The lies, betrayals, power plays, and murders we’ve witnessed for seven years, and which still continue in this episode – they are all a distraction. We’re all in this together, and we’d better realize it ASAP. Is there a more urgent message for all of us to hear at this moment?

I reviewed the finale of Game of Thrones Season Seven, which I enjoyed a great deal, for Vulture.

“Twin Peaks” thoughts, Season Three, Episode Fifteen

August 21, 2017

SPOILER ALERT

But the beating, breaking heart of the episode is undoubtedly the death of Margaret Lanterman, the prophetic Log Lady. During one of her regular phone calls to Deputy Hawk, she tells him, repeatedly, “I’m dying.” She seems to have as positive an outlook on it as possible, saying death is “just a change, not an end.” But this is all coming from the mouth of actor Catherine E. Coulson, who was herself actually dying when the scene was shot. “Hawk, my log is turning gold,” she says, her voice wavering. “The wind is moaning. I’m dying. Goodnight, Hawk.” “Goodnight, Margaret,” he says as they hang up. Then, after she’s gone, he mournfully repeats the phrase: “Goodbye, Margaret.” If you could make it past that point without bawling, you’re made of stronger stuff than most of us.

The Log Lady, Big Ed and Norma, Audrey, Steven and Gersten, the screaming woman at the Roadhouse: They’re all connected not just by geography, but by states of spiritual extremis. They experience enormous, nearly crippling feelings – all of which leave them questioning their place in life. Lynch and Frost still bring the bizarre in this hour. But they also carefully, respectfully depict deep, vulnerable emotional states and trust us to take them seriously. That makes all the difference.

I reviewed last night’s amazing Twin Peaks and wrote about David Lynch and Mark Frost’s abiding respect for people at their most defenseless for Rolling Stone. God did I cry.