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January 20 & 21: Happy Birthday Jill Eikenberry and DeForest Kelley


Today’s headliners both had long and diverse careers, but each is known best for one major television role.

Jill Eikenberry, who celebrates her 71st birthday today, graduated from the Yale School of Drama in 1970 and spent a lot of time working on stage in the subsequent decade.  She made her Broadway debut in Michael Weller’s Moonchildren in 1972 and appeared in several Broadway productions during the 1970s.  She has also had an extensive off-Broadway career that includes winning an Obie Award for a production of Lanford Wilson’s Lemon Sky and receiving a Drama Desk Award nomination for the musical The Kid.

Eikenberry has worked periodically in film, and in the 1980s had prominent roles in Hide in Plain Sight, Arthur, and The Manhattan Project.  She began working in television in the early 1970s.  She made a number of TV movies, but her best known role by far was as Ann Kelsey on L.A. Law.  She received five Emmy and four Golden Globe nominations for the role, winning one of the latter.  She has been retired from screen work since about 2011; one of her final appearances was as a guest star on NUMB3RS.

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Twin Peaks: The Return – Parts 3 and 4

If David Lynch was going to return to Twin Peaks, one thing was clear, it was going to be on his terms.  Lynch nearly walked away from the project early on when Showtime didn’t approve his budget.  But ultimately the eccentric auteur got his way and for better or worse, the new season of Twin Peaks reflects Lynch’s singular vision.  Showtime gave David Lynch a pile of money and complete creative control.  If nothing else, it will be interesting to see what he did with it.

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Movies that were supposed to launch franchises (but didn’t): Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

It’s happening again.  That show I like is coming back in style.  I am of course referring to the cult sensation, Twin Peaks, which after twenty-five years has been revived for a third season on Showtime.  But this isn’t the first time Twin Peaks was given a second chance.  In 1992, just one year after the show’s cancellation, director David Lynch brought his creation to the big screen.

Showtime’s revival has been met with joyous celebration, but Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me opened to booing at the Cannes Film Festival, jeers from critics and ambivalence from audiences.  Even the show’s few remaining fans didn’t seem to know what to make of the big screen version of Twin Peaks.   A quarter century later, the movie, like the show, has enjoyed a critical reappraisal with many now viewing Fire Walk With Me as an under-appreciated gem.  That may be true, but as an attempt to extend the life of Twin Peaks mania, it was a critical and commercial failure.

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January 20: Happy Birthday David Lynch and George Burns


David Lynch, often considered to be America’s leading surrealist filmmaker, is turning 71 today.  After many years of making short films, Lynch first came to people’s notice with the horror film Eraserhead, which became a popular midnight movie during the late 1970s.  He followed up with the highly acclaimed The Elephant Man, and went on to explore various genres through the years—epic science fiction (Dune), contemporary noir (Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive), road movies (Wild at Heart), and more.  Three of his films—The Elephant Man, Blue Velvet, and Mulholland Drive—have brought him Best Director nominations.

Lynch has at various times sampled being a singer-songwriter and a painter and photographer.  However, his other big venture has been the Twin Peaks project, which has so far consisted of the 1990-91 TV series, a 1992 prequel feature film, and the upcoming revival miniseries on Showtime.  The original series has often been ranked among the greatest TV programs of all time.

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Something Really Wild

cage - wild at heart

David Lynch has never had mainstream sensibilities.  His movies have a dreamlike quality which often veers into the territory of nightmares.  In 1990, against all odds, Lynch found commercial success however briefly with the offbeat television show, Twin Peaks.  Just as the show was reaching its saturation point, Lynch released his follow-up to the critically acclaimed 1996 drama, Blue Velvet.  While audiences at the Cannes Film Festival went crazy for Wild at Heart, critics were more muted in their praise.  Many were put off by the film’s graphic violence.

In the September 1990 issue of Movieline, co-editor Virginia Campbell took a very pro-Lynch stance in an article that heaps more praise on Wild at Heart than it probably deserves.

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Movies of 1986 Bracket Game!: Aliens vs Blue Velvet

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We are now deep into our bracket and there are just four movies remaining. No more voting on two movies in the same basic genre. Now you’ve got a nostalgia piece vs a comedy about young people. What makes a great movie? Well, we’ve covered some of it. Just look at a movie’s trailer (as you could have for our contending flicks in the first round) and you may get an idea of whether the story or tone will appeal to you. A great supporting cast certainly helps, and we investigated one cast member from each movie in our last round. What else? How about a fantastic soundtrack? That’s what we’re going to look at for each of our final four movies. After all, when films were silent theaters still felt like they needed to hire an organist to play along with the pictures. Also, the first big movie with sound, Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer, was a movie with a lot of music in it.

You’re still voting on the best movie, but feel free to consider the soundtrack as a part of that equation.
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Movies of 1986 Bracket Game!: Blue Velvet vs Big Trouble in Little China

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Just take a look at these two pictures I found for our contest today. For a pair of films that are as individually idiosyncratic as Blue Velvet and Big Trouble in Little China, these shots sure seem to have a lot in common. Is it because both movies, in their own ways, are critical of the places men and women are given in film and in society as a whole? Is it because they’re actually part of the problem? Or maybe it’s just that there are no truly new ideas under the sun. Don’t worry, I’m not going to inflict a sociology term paper on you, but if it’s a topic of interest, please fell free to continue discussing it in the comments section…after you place your vote of course.
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“Twixt” Review

Twixt (2012)
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Starring: Val Kilmer, Elle Fanning, Bruce Dern, Ben Chaplin, Joanne Whaley

Rating: A

This is Coppola cum David Lynch. In fact, if this were directed by Lynch it would be hailed as a return to form from the master of the surreal, however Coppola can’t seem to catch a break. I’ve been a big fan of his revitalized arthouse film making, admiring Youth Without Youth, and really loving Tetro. Here he continues the trend with a surreal film right up the Twin Peaks alley.

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Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

Shortly after Twin Peaks was cancelled by ABC, a Twin Peals movie was announced.  For the dedicated fans who watched the TV show to the bitter end, the announcement was great news.  The show ended with  maddening cliff hanger.  It stood to reason that the movie would offer some closure.

But that’s not what happened.  Instead, auteur David Lynch made a movie that was too tied to the mythology of the TV show to be appreciated by casual viewers and yet so different in tone from the TV show that it alienated fans.

In short, it satisfied almost no one.

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What the Hell Happened to Sean Young?

sean young 2013

In the 80’s, Sean Young was a rising star.  She co-starred with Harrison Ford, Bill Murray, Kevin Costner and James Woods.  She worked with directors Ridley Scott, David Lynch and Oliver Stone.  She was cast in the star-making role of Vicki Vale in the 1989 Batman.  And then, she became a cautionary tale of career implosion.

What the hell happened?

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