stro wrote:The all digital, all bright, even lighting makes it look cheap and sterile. The few flashbacks to FWWM or the original series highlight how much warmer and lived in the world of Twin Peaks seemed. It all feels like a set in The Return. Of course the dodgy green screening, intentional or not (and I have a hard time believing how bad the phones/tv screens chroma keying was was intentional, or how bad either chroma keying or projection in nearly all the driving scenes wasn't a time/budget issue) draws attention to this, and due to the equipment and lighting, there are many scenes that LOOK like cheap green screen but actually were real.
But ultimately I think it's lacking the humanity that made people fall in love with TP, and that's because most of that came from Frost, who seems to be overshadowed and overruled on all things TP when it comes to the Frost/Lynch partnership. All the quirky warmness is replaced with misery and grossness or weirdness that goes unexplained. The quote from Frost about something like "we can't just keep throwing weird mysteries and not solve them" implies to me that Lynch doesn't care about the mysteries or where they lead or how/if they can be solved, but how they make the viewer feel. I think this can be seeing going back to FWWM where Lynch pretty significantly changes the characterization of various characters and events that don't really line up with the show, because it made for a better feel in that particular story he was telling even if it didn't add up perfectly. So then we get The Return and it's a bunch of mystery boxes that I don't think there's an intention to be solved from Lynch, but Frost feels there has to be something concrete and so writes the books that Lynch isn't involved with and won't read or comment on.
I guess what I'm trying to say is The Return FEELS like it's really missing Frost's voice and characterization that defines the original run (to me) and instead it doubles down on Lynchian coldness and disorienting dreamy mysteries that you can't solve because there is no answer to them to begin with. And just a general misanthropic vibe. It's like the entire vibe was flipped upside down, where what used to be a show about a quirky small town with darkness under the surface is now a dark miserable cesspool with a handful of bright spots if you dig deep enough. Which is just...never going to be satisfying for me.
I appreciate the way you worded a lot of this. That it "FEELS" it's missing Frost's voice and characterization, for example. That some scenes "LOOK" like cheap green screen, etc. I'm a big fan of the way the season looks and feels, but you describe it correctly.
Where I differ, beyond seeing greater artistic value in some things, is in some of my interpretations.
1. I think whether fully intentional or not, or the result of budget or time constraints, the green screen and whatever else became part of the piece, and it very much fits with the way it seems to be embrace certain meta-approaches that highlight Twin Peaks as an evolving work of fiction while also serving to highlight another layer of multiple realities (town of Twin Peaks, lodge world, the real-real world in which the series was made, Lynch as the director of the FBI and of the series, etc.). I really appreciated how you pointed out that some of this looks like a set when it isn't and vice versa, because I think that's all part of the destabilizing function of the piece. I think he very much wanted to depict the reality of the town, while at other times we see things that are noticeably fake, challenging the notion of why special effects are almost always used in service of the real.
2. I see the misanthropy on display as part of the realism of the piece, just as you do, but beyond accepting it as the correct move, where I differ is that I also see even more humanity here and on a much realer level than in the original series. It is true that there is a general sense of decay, but Lynch/Frost are continuously attempting to show you that decency and kindness still exist, in just about every scene with Carl Rodd (including the scene with the guy who donates his blood), with Andy and Lucy, with Big Ed and Norma, the Log Lady (even so near to death, her performance is pure humanity in my eyes), Miriam the pie-loving school teacher at the diner, etc.
3. It may feel like it's missing Frost's voice and characterization, but I don't think that it is. I see a lot of stuff in there that is noticeably Frost, as much as Lynch. And I also think the idea that Frost wasn't on board with Lynch's way of doing things are likely false, not only because Frost had time to grapple with mistakes they made in the past as well as the expectation of Lynch deploying his post-Peaks style, but because Frost had said that he felt it was time to throw their hat in the ring and see if they could once again be revolutionary in the current TV landscape. I believe this implies that Frost was very much on board with Lynch's style of dreamlike narratives and unsolved mysteries, as well as the season's numerous storylines that pop up only to be never resolved as those are a few of the things that set this work apart as something that is indeed revolutionary.
4. In response to your later post, I can also observe how the narrative is muddled and how one might think there are pacing issues due to the way it approaches its story, but again I feel this loose yet rigidly structured form is part of what sets it apart. I too sometimes think of what a tighter 9-hour version might have looked like, but I don't think there ever was going to be a version that short, as many believe that the negotiations were over a misunderstanding regarding the length of the piece in the first place. Regardless, one of the things the season did for me is make me ask the question: Why do we need a tighter narrative? Why is that a constraint we place on narrative filmmaking, especially when its an experimental work? I know why its a beneficial thing that we constrain MOST stories with, but why is it a rule that must apply to all stories? A big element of The Return is how it enabled so many seemingly random scenes, giving the illusion of stories taking place beyond the frame, which not only allows for Lynch's vision of a story that is more lifelike, but also creates space for so many wonderful scenes that we wouldn't have gotten otherwise, whether it's Lynch and Diane smoking outside the police station, or a woman doing a reverse strip tease, or a man lost in the woods, or a man sweeping a floor. All of those scenes liven the unpredictability of the piece, fit with the in media res approach to the narrative, and are as valuable to me as the plot-driven scenes, but they also serve a central thematic purpose: to stretch out the narrative, to further the feeling of the passage of time. So to me there aren't pacing issues, so much as a narrative that is unshackled and something else altogether.