Film critic Dominic Corry celebrates, clarifies and justifies his love for all things movie.

Twin Peaks revisited: Meeting the enigma that is David Lynch

Dominic Corry fulfills a lifelong dream when he meets the enigma that is David Lynch.

There's meeting your heroes, then there's meeting David Lynch. A storyteller wrapped inside a mystery wrapped inside an enigma, his work displays an appreciation for the filmed arts that is unrivalled in both cinema and television.

The writer/director behind iconic movies such as Eraserhead (1977), Blue Velvet (1986) and Mulholland Dr. (2001) is still best known for Twin Peaks (1990-91), the groundbreaking television series he co-created with writer Mark Frost.

With its cinematic production values, unique characters and dark undertones, there's a direct line from Twin Peaks to the golden age of quality television we've recently experienced. Despite that connection, Twin Peaks remains a peerless achievement thanks to the singularity of Lynch's vision and aesthetic. And it's back.

In a time when seemingly every cultural artefact under the sun is being revisited and rebooted, no stones are left unturned.

Still, few people could ever have predicted that, in 2017, we would be returning to the deceptively sleepy little town of Twin Peaks, Washington.

Madchen Amick and Peggy Lipton in Twin Peaks. Photo / Suzanne Tenner
Madchen Amick and Peggy Lipton in Twin Peaks. Photo / Suzanne Tenner

Yet on May 22, the first two of 18 new "parts" (don't call them episodes) will unfurl on SoHo. Kyle MacLachlan is back as FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, alongside almost every cast member from the original series, as well as some notable new additions, among which is musician Finn Andrews from Kiwi rock band The Veils.

Beyond MacLachlan, the production isn't saying what roles any of the cast members are playing. They won't even confirm if the returning actors are playing the same characters they did in the original.

Indeed, there's very little tangible information at all about the new Twin Peaks, which is standard practice for Lynch, a famously inscrutable creative force who still commands a large populist audience.

That legendary inscrutability lends no small amount of nervous tension to TimeOut's exclusive sit-down with Lynch to "discuss" the new Twin Peaks. The interview is occurring in an all-too-appropriate location: the penthouse suite of the Chateau Marmont, arguably the most historically significant hotel in Hollywood.

David Lynch and Miguel Ferrer in Twin Peaks. Photo / Suzanne Tenner
David Lynch and Miguel Ferrer in Twin Peaks. Photo / Suzanne Tenner

As can be discerned in his works, it's a town that Lynch still finds romantic.

"Super romantic," he confirms to TimeOut. "It's got a feeling, this place. I always say when the night-blooming Jasmine comes out you can go to some places in LA and feel the golden age of Hollywood still."

The experience of talking to David Lynch is not unlike watching one of his movies (or an episode of Twin Peaks for that matter): he's entirely unguarded and answers every question directly and declaratively, yet imparts very little in the way of solid information. A mood is definitely evoked, some enlightenment is achieved, but you couldn't exactly describe either.

"I love mysteries," Lynch says. "And I think every human being does. We live in life not knowing a lot of things. Where we were before? What's the purpose? What's going on? And we get caught up in the small details, but there's a lot of things to wonder about. I always say that people are like detectives. Now there's so much noise. But when you are in bed lying there before you go to sleep sometimes you think about these things and you wonder. It's a mysterious thing we are all involved with."

See what I mean?

Kyle MacLachlan as FBI agent Dale Cooper in the original Twin Peaks. Photo / Getty
Kyle MacLachlan as FBI agent Dale Cooper in the original Twin Peaks. Photo / Getty

The original Twin Peaks hung sensationally on the mystery surrounding the murder of high schooler Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), a character whose fate is inextricably tied to the town. In the final episode of the show, which aired about 25 years ago, Palmer said the following line: "I'll see you in 25 years."

TimeOut asks if Lynch ever stopped thinking about Palmer in the intervening two and a half decades.

"Not really, but you don't think about her all day," he answers with a chuckle.

Lynch was famously forced to solve Palmer's murder in Twin Peaks' divisive second season, something he says detracted from the series. Does he think mysteries are better left unsolved?

"It depends. I always say that some things can be solved, but there should be some more room to dream. A lot of times when the mystery is solved there is a tremendous letdown. But I think there are mysteries when solved there'd be tremendous upliftment."

David Duchovny returns as Denise Bryson in Twin Peaks. Photo / Patrick Wymore
David Duchovny returns as Denise Bryson in Twin Peaks. Photo / Patrick Wymore

The logic and feeling of dreams play a huge part in Lynch's work, and Twin Peaks' dream sequences/interludes went a long way towards making the show what it is. Has Lynch ever taken direct inspiration from his own dreams?

"No. Waking dreams. I like to daydream. But I have rarely got anything from a sleeping dream."

So how does he go about accessing such daydreams?

"I cultivate them by sitting in a chair and closing my eyes and letting the mind wander. And sometimes that can get an idea. But you can also get an idea from just walking around. You don't know when they'll come in. There's not anything you can do, but one thing you can do is desire an idea. If you are a writer for instance and you desire ideas to come in, that desire is a focus and it will over time, maybe fast or slow, something will come in. Just by desiring."

Lynch says there is no message to Twin Peaks - just a feeling that he wants to channel.

"They say if you want to send a message, go to Western Union. It's ideas that come. It's not trying to say anything about anything. It's falling in love with ideas and translating them."

Jake Wardle, James Marshall and David Lynch behind the scenes of Twin Peaks. Photo / Suzanne Tenner
Jake Wardle, James Marshall and David Lynch behind the scenes of Twin Peaks. Photo / Suzanne Tenner

One of Lynch's main vehicles for those ideas is Kyle MacLachlan, who debuted in Lynch's 1984 film Dune and went on to become the director's principal onscreen muse. He was as surprised as anybody that Twin Peaks returned, and was convinced Dale Cooper's story had finished.

"It was left at the end of season two," MacLachlan tells TimeOut. "And that was where I left it and never expected it to return. I don't think anybody did."

He's clearly relishing the chance to revisit his most iconic performance.

"In terms of the return, I slipped back into it pretty easily. It's sort of a cliche but if you're doing comedy you try and find where the drama is and vice versa because you want the two sides to exist at the same time. And so that's Cooper: he's a yin-yang symbol, it's that mix and it's about finding the balance."

MacLachlan has enjoyed a respectable acting career outside his collaborations with Lynch, but he says nothing comes close to their singular connection.

"We just have a shorthand, for lack of a better word, in terms of when he wanted me to think of something or try something different and they were words or qualities or thoughts - it didn't matter - that put me in a different frame of mind. And I somehow related to it. It was a feeling more than anything else. I don't have that with any other director. So I consider him special and I'm so grateful to be able to have that actor/director relationship again."

Who: Director David Lynch
What: The return of Twin Peaks
When: Monday, 8.30pm
Where: Screening on SoHo and available to stream on Neon

- NZ Herald

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