FINAL POLL!!!!!!! Your Reaction to The Return as a Complete Work

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Which option best describes your overall reaction to The Return as a complete work?

Poll ended at Sun Nov 12, 2017 7:09 pm

Like or Love
228
65%
Heavily Mixed, Leaning Towards Like
41
12%
Heavily Mixed, Leaning Towards Dislike
44
12%
Dislike or Hate
40
11%
 
Total votes: 353
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David Locke
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Re: FINAL POLL!!!!!!! Your Reaction to The Return as a Complete Work

Postby David Locke » Wed Sep 06, 2017 1:27 am

Gabriel wrote:
referendum wrote:
It was shit that only pseuds and post-modernists could claim any affection for.


This is the kind of fan-judgement on here which is itself incredibly pretentious and arrogant - the idea that anyone who has a different opinion, or rates things that you don't, or even likes them, is a pseud.

Nope. End of the day, you make a value judgement. I operate off objective reality. Is the show a cohesive piece of work or a dog's dinner? Is it narratively coherent? Does it elevate the spirit when you watch it or grind you into the dirt?

It's a hateful, anti-life dog's breakfast. It's post-modernist in that it's operating on reductionism: is it still art if you consciously try to avoid everything that makes a TV show good? You decide to have a narrative that makes no sense and is 95 per cent irrelevant. You shoot it to look like a videotaped 1990s episode of Eastenders. Rather than edit it properly, you dump the entire take on screen and move on. It's about taking away anything that's uplifting in art and still claiming it's art. It's back to proclaiming a urinal is art. It's postmodern. It's garbage.

One could probably make the argument that Lynch was largely a modernist before a certain point - Inland Empire, perhaps - at which point he turned into a post-modernist. Mulholland Drive is kind of a transition to that but it's still got the beating heart you mention, the genuine spiritual searching, and aesthetically the last half hour could hardly be confused with the work of a film student. With Inland, Lynch stepped firmly into the camp of relativistic "everything is art!" postmodern posturing. This is all anchored by the idea that, even if you get lazy and shoot with cheap digital cameras with no script and amateur-hour technical specs to make a movie that looks like it was shot by a film student, it's still every bit as valid and artistic as a sincere work of art that's truly painstakingly crafted, like The Straight Story or FWWM or basically any of Lynch's celluloid features. (Even the pre-Tarantino PoMo type casual violence of Wild at Heart is balanced by a deeply felt central romance and an ending that elevates everything above the muck instead of wallowing in it like postmodern film usually does).
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Novalis
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Re: FINAL POLL!!!!!!! Your Reaction to The Return as a Complete Work

Postby Novalis » Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:14 am

David Locke wrote:
Gabriel wrote:
referendum wrote:
This is the kind of fan-judgement on here which is itself incredibly pretentious and arrogant - the idea that anyone who has a different opinion, or rates things that you don't, or even likes them, is a pseud.

Nope. End of the day, you make a value judgement. I operate off objective reality. Is the show a cohesive piece of work or a dog's dinner? Is it narratively coherent? Does it elevate the spirit when you watch it or grind you into the dirt?

It's a hateful, anti-life dog's breakfast. It's post-modernist in that it's operating on reductionism: is it still art if you consciously try to avoid everything that makes a TV show good? You decide to have a narrative that makes no sense and is 95 per cent irrelevant. You shoot it to look like a videotaped 1990s episode of Eastenders. Rather than edit it properly, you dump the entire take on screen and move on. It's about taking away anything that's uplifting in art and still claiming it's art. It's back to proclaiming a urinal is art. It's postmodern. It's garbage.

One could probably make the argument that Lynch was largely a modernist before a certain point - Inland Empire, perhaps - at which point he turned into a post-modernist. Mulholland Drive is kind of a transition to that but it's still got the beating heart you mention, the genuine spiritual searching, and aesthetically the last half hour could hardly be confused with the work of a film student. With Inland, Lynch stepped firmly into the camp of relativistic "everything is art!" postmodern posturing. This is all anchored by the idea that, even if you get lazy and shoot with cheap digital cameras with no script and amateur-hour technical specs to make a movie that looks like it was shot by a film student, it's still every bit as valid and artistic as a sincere work of art that's truly painstakingly crafted, like The Straight Story or FWWM or basically any of Lynch's celluloid features. (Even the pre-Tarantino PoMo type casual violence of Wild at Heart is balanced by a deeply felt central romance and an ending that elevates everything above the muck instead of wallowing in it like postmodern film usually does).


So we're defining modernism as good and postmodernism as bad 'anything-goes' here? To me it doesn't look so simple.

The basic parameters of modernism, if we are going to simplify, were an increasing focus on form over content, and the inscription of the means and process of production into the work. This was followed by a period of expansion in the field of art which ended up re-evaluating Dada's anti-art protest and reincorporating it as art (incidentally, Duchamp's 1917 work 'Fountain' is not generally considered postmodern by art historians. The wanton destruction of artistic canon was a Dada anti-art impulse that rose to prominence in the early twentieth century).

The basic parameters of postmodernism were citation of the past, bricolage, nostalgic re-use and re-purposing. The term became popularised in architectural circles during the late 1980s and 1990s when developers starting building shopping centres that used visual elements from Victorian train stations and bath houses. In cinema, Tarantino is regarded as the emperor of postmodernism. Kill Bill vol. I and II and other of his films self-consciously play with the codes of 70s blaxploitation and kung-fu b-movie genres. Postmodernism isn't relativistic 'everything is art' so much as an eclectic celebration and (often ironic) repurposing of recognisable moments from the past. It was considered a break with modernism insofar as it has no progressive or universal ideals but places 'the play of signifiers' at the centre of its focus.

I don't think Lynch's art can be meaningfully called postmodernist. His commitment to a quasi-religious or crypto-religious idea of transcendence, and his emphasis on abstraction places him closer to some hybrid strain of romanticism, expressionism and modernism.
As a matter of fact, 'Chalfont' was the name of the people that rented this space before. Two Chalfonts. Weird, huh?
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Re: FINAL POLL!!!!!!! Your Reaction to The Return as a Complete Work

Postby waferwhitemilk » Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:18 am

I can summarize my reaction to The Return as a Complete Work in two words: it sucked. If i had to elaborate i might add 'big time' to that evaluation.
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Re: FINAL POLL!!!!!!! Your Reaction to The Return as a Complete Work

Postby MoondogJR » Wed Sep 06, 2017 3:39 am

Definitive 'Love' for me!
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Re: FINAL POLL!!!!!!! Your Reaction to The Return as a Complete Work

Postby referendum » Wed Sep 06, 2017 4:11 am

i don't know what i am talking about enough to say whether it is useful or accurate to refer to lynch as postmodernist or not ( and i am not even sure that it matters). I am alert to people using the term as a sort of shorthand for shallow arty self referential ironic-kitschy bullshit. However this 'The basic parameters of postmodernism were citation of the past, bricolage, nostalgic re-use and re-purposing' is obviously characteristic of aspects of TP TR.

I can see what david locke means when he refers to the 'relativistic "everything is art!" postmodern posturing' of inland empire, the film that keeps admitting it is a film, or being about film, or revealing it's own mechanism, all these halls of smoke and mirrors. But the best bits of that film, for me anyway, were the parts that worked on a emotional level as sustained sequences - the hollywood walk of fame bit, or the long dern monologues on the extras dvd, or the nina simone ending.

Of course there was a fair bit of posturing in this TP TR, alot of it involving Lynch in his own movie, which you can fairly label postmodern, if you want to, or the stupid green glove comic book quote. but there was alot more material which was quietly affecting and not particularly dressed up, and alot of stuff which was straightforwardly surreal in a bunuel kind of absurdist way, but for me the main thing that takes it away from what i think of as postmodern, is that most of this series was really great to look at, in a way that inland empire wasn't, the way it was shot and the long takes dragged me into the mood of the thing rather than bored me, but then i like slow things, I like slow music that evolves gradually over time, as well as 3 minute pop songs, so i was really fine with this stately pace, i loved things like the spraying shovels for what they were, a practical demonstration of a piece of home made heath robinson contraption, and then the ' dig yourself out the shit' pay off later - It is a good set up and a good punchline..The pink room sequence in ep 3, the forest sequence in ep 16, the mitchums dinner, the scene with steven and gersten, the arm wrestling, coop in the night with ray, the ' got a light' sequence, the jackpots sequence, there were lots of these 10 / 15 minute vignettes spread about this series, and those are the parts i liked the most, and there were enough of them to keep me going through the crappy actings bits or the bits of clunky exposition that dragged.

And i liked all the repetitions and associations and echoes, both on a script level and on the level of the way it was filmed, I often found myself making random connections a few days after watching. On this kind of sub surface level this series is constructed pretty solidly. That's when i started reading dugpa. And I liked the way the narrative progressed - all these vignettes and anecdotes and mini set pieces and digressions slung in a sort of organic loose way around a very basic central narrative spine. As i have said before on here, this is an old narrative method - Don quixote and Tristram Shandy being the two obvious famous fictional precursors. Yeah, it sagged and lost it's rhythm and got very ' bitty' for extended periods between 9 and 15, seen in hourly chunks, anyway. I liked the sidestep/truncated new start of the part 18 coda.

I will stop there rather than ramble on for pages. I could ( and have elsewhere) also listed what i haven't liked so much about this series but i find, now it is over, that the list of things i do like about it is quite abit longer.

I have enjoyed reading David Locke's and Novalis' comments ( and others of course!!) over the last few weeks, always some food for thought, cheers :)

I am gonna let this thing sink in for a few weeks and rewatch it after i have shrugged off the mood of the last few parts, I think. Fast fowarding through the bands of course :)
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Cipher
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Re: FINAL POLL!!!!!!! Your Reaction to The Return as a Complete Work

Postby Cipher » Wed Sep 06, 2017 4:37 am

Re: Above: It's interesting. I find The Return a lot less engaging, visually, the Inland Empire. The Returns' shots rarely have Empire's perspective, or depth, or sense of point of view. They're painterly, at their best, but in an orderly way. I guess I even miss the rough edges.

But re: the thread as a whole, and continuing to catalogue my response to the ending, I got what I wanted and feared multiple times we'd be denied: an ending I think substantially increases the power of Twin Peaks as a whole. Life and death, yearning and dreaming, love and fear, the cosmic expansion from a singular heart of Laura's narrative of abuse and self-acceptance, and Cooper's relationship to that story as it allows him to explore his own demons, all came to roost in satisfactory ways in the finale. Both Fire Walk With Me and The Return are quite good.

Is it cynical/bleak? I think some viewers are walking away from the end too quickly. Much like the end of Inland Empire (which I don't think is completely comforting, even if it's cathartic), there are shades of both nightmare and hopefulness there, even if the former is on the surface this time. Its world will continue to transform.

The Return is also chock-full of moments of completely earnest joy -- Dougie-Cooper's moments of lucidity as an emergent person, Ed and Norma, etc. A lot of it is presented through as off-kilter a lens as anything, but it's there and struck me as being quite powerful at multiple points. This is not a misantrhope's work (it might be the work of someone with certain blind spots in the presentation of gender, etc., but never remotely a misanthrope). The Return walked the tightrope for long stretches of feeling less empathetic than most of Lynch's catalogue, but in the end I don't think it is. I don't think it even hates its world -- it leaves it with sweeping emotions and the gift of mystery.

Re: Novalis: I also think it does Lynch's work a smaaaaall disservice to call it committed to a quasi-religious philosophy. It makes it sound didactic, rather than simply being the reflection of everyday strangeness (and the emotional states it engenders) I think it is.
Last edited by Cipher on Wed Sep 06, 2017 4:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: FINAL POLL!!!!!!! Your Reaction to The Return as a Complete Work

Postby referendum » Wed Sep 06, 2017 4:45 am

Cipher: The Returns' shots rarely have Empire's ...sense of point of view.

surprised you say that. The shifting POV ( scenes seen through different character's eyes, or the way we see one character through another character's eyes, vs the ' authorial ' eye, the always shifting subjectivity, or ' unreliable' percpetions of some characters, the wish-fulfillment scenes, etc) is one of the things that struck me as particularly pronounced throughout this series.
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Re: FINAL POLL!!!!!!! Your Reaction to The Return as a Complete Work

Postby Cipher » Wed Sep 06, 2017 4:50 am

referendum wrote:
Cipher: The Returns' shots rarely have Empire's ...sense of point of view.

surprised you say that. The shifting POV ( scenes seen through different character's eyes, or the way we see one character through another character's eyes, vs the ' authorial ' eye, the always shifting subjectivity, or ' unreliable' percpetions of some characters, the wish-fulfillment scenes, etc) is one of the things that struck me as particularly pronounced throughout this series.

Really? Maybe I'm already due for a rewatch, but when I think of The Return, I think of carefully arranged characters and static wide shots. When POV shots do creep up suddenly (several of Dougie-Cooper's moments of lucidity or self-expression, Becky's trip, Diane and Laura at moments in part 18), they're incredibly powerful, but part of that struck me as being by way of contrast. A lot of the time our viewpoint feels omniscient. The vast majority of it.

Versus Empire where we're with Nikki Grace pretty much the whole time -- almost aggressively so. When we do move away, we're still in pretty close, off-kilter POV shots (girl with the screwdriver in the police station, our first flashback to the hypnotist, etc).
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Re: FINAL POLL!!!!!!! Your Reaction to The Return as a Complete Work

Postby referendum » Wed Sep 06, 2017 5:10 am

cipher -
i would have to think about it abit, but the obvious example that occurs to me is the ' dougie at the doctor's' bit where Naomi Watts sees dougie shirtless and you get an edited-in very buff trim and hairless torso: she is idealising him as even more ' improved' than he actually is. There were alot of little bits like this as it went along, where it suddenly shifts to one person's POV, at least that was my impression, that you switch or flicker between what you call omniscient and subjective so you never really know where the margins are...
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Re: FINAL POLL!!!!!!! Your Reaction to The Return as a Complete Work

Postby krzhuva » Wed Sep 06, 2017 5:15 am

Cipher wrote:
referendum wrote:
Cipher: The Returns' shots rarely have Empire's ...sense of point of view.

surprised you say that. The shifting POV ( scenes seen through different character's eyes, or the way we see one character through another character's eyes, vs the ' authorial ' eye, the always shifting subjectivity, or ' unreliable' percpetions of some characters, the wish-fulfillment scenes, etc) is one of the things that struck me as particularly pronounced throughout this series.

Really? Maybe I'm already due for a rewatch, but when I think of The Return, I think of carefully arranged characters and static wide shots. When POV shots do creep up suddenly (several of Dougie-Cooper's moments of lucidity or self-expression, Becky's trip, Diane and Laura at moments in part 18), they're incredibly powerful, but part of that struck me as being by way of contrast. A lot of the time our viewpoint feels omniscient. The vast majority of it.

Versus Empire where we're with Nikki Grace pretty much the whole time -- almost aggressively so. When we do move away, we're still in pretty close, off-kilter POV shots (girl with the screwdriver in the police station, our first flashback to the hypnotist, etc).

I agree with this, although the detached impersonal style can be fascinating in it's own way. On a slightly different note, it was lovely to see the good old expressionistic IE style in the battle between Green Glove and Bob-orb!
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Re: FINAL POLL!!!!!!! Your Reaction to The Return as a Complete Work

Postby Cipher » Wed Sep 06, 2017 5:18 am

referendum wrote:cipher -
i would have to think about it abit, but the obvious example that occurs to me is the ' dougie at the doctor's' bit where Naomi Watts sees dougie shirtless and you get an edited-in very buff trim and hairless torso: she is idealising him as even more ' improved' than he actually is. There were alot of little bits like this as it went along, where it suddenly shifts to one person's POV, at least that was my impression, that you switch or flicker between what you call omniscient and subjective so you never really know where the margins are...

Oh, we definitely switch between POVs at points -- but that's enabled, I think, partly because it's so clearly an omniscient work (really singularly so in Lynch's filmography), and accordingly we spend a lot of our time at some distance.

That was also the source of my qualms with a few of its elements during this season's run -- the omniscient and distant POV not always dovetailing with the level of empathy it seemed to request or need. (I think it also had the affect of demystifying the Lodge mythos, which may or may not have been intentional based on how it ended; when they aren't connected to someone's emotional experience, they start to read a little pulpy). When we do get those close moments, though, they work well.

But this was definitely experimental for Lynch in a way I don't think has been given enough due, so maybe some of the seams showing in that navigation are to be expected -- all of his films are close on one, or at a maximum two, characters. (Minus the parts of Mulholland Drive intended for serialization, perhaps.)

Anyway, what we were talking about?
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Re: FINAL POLL!!!!!!! Your Reaction to The Return as a Complete Work

Postby Novalis » Wed Sep 06, 2017 5:26 am

Cipher wrote:Re: Novalis: I also think it does Lynch's work a smaaaaall disservice to call it committed to a quasi-religious philosophy. It makes it sound didactic, rather than simply being the reflection of everyday strangeness (and the emotional states it engenders) I think it is.


I know didacticism or having some kind of agenda is a kind of anathema among many contemporary artists and film-makers but I don't necessarily view it as a bad thing. I'm not recoiling from that at all. If Lynch is trying to show something (and there's an argument that any film is an attempt to show something, irrespective of artistic merit) rather than being a passive mirror (which I will never buy of any artist, ever, in the whole of human history) then that's perfectly fine with me. I don't for one moment feel he is any different in that from a thousand other film-makers, except that he might be a little more consistent and conscious about it.

I'm not overly concerned with doing him a small disservice (he certainly does woman a disservice after all) in characterising him as quasi-religious. The representation of (or creation of a sensorium that can convey) what students of art call 'the abstract sublime' is, after all, a preoccupation historically rooted in religious impulses, if not religion itself. When I'm calling Lynch quasi-religious I'm not coming from a place that is closed to religion or claims all religion is a bad thing.

Let me see if I can explain myself a little better.

The everyday strangeness and the accompanying emotional states you mention do work very well at de-automating 'the marketplace', and here Lynch is very much an inheritor of formalist traditions both cinematic and literary (e.g. Russian Formalists using ostrannenie to defamiliarise and unlinking 'byt': the world of automatic reaction, stimulus-response, etc). The point in modernist formalism was always to transcend this automated, knee-jerk world, to cast it into question so that receivers of art could ask 'why are things this way and not that' about their everyday experiences -- it was a kind of gateway to a vita contemplativa, an 'examined life' as philosophy has it, or we could just say a meditative life. This is all I mean by quasi-religious. I don't mean we are faced with some kind of subliminal ideology, or that Lynch is pushing TM. Not here at least.
As a matter of fact, 'Chalfont' was the name of the people that rented this space before. Two Chalfonts. Weird, huh?
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Re: FINAL POLL!!!!!!! Your Reaction to The Return as a Complete Work

Postby Cipher » Wed Sep 06, 2017 5:31 am

Novalis wrote:The everyday strangeness and the accompanying emotional states you mention do work very well at de-automating 'the marketplace', and here Lynch is very much an inheritor of formalist traditions both cinematic and literary (e.g. Russian Formalists using ostrannenie to defamiliarise the world of 'byt' (automatic reaction). The point in modernist formalism was always to transcend this automated, knee-jerk world, to cast it into question so that receivers of art could ask 'why are things this way and not that' about their everyday experiences -- it was a kind of gateway to a vita contemplativa, an 'examined life' as philosophy has it, or we could just say a meditative life. This is all I mean by quasi-religious.

Don't worry; I don't think we're at all far off from each other, and I might have dug a little too hard at what was basically a fair comment. Lynch brings his world views and philosophies and emotions (and blindspots) to bear on a work just like any other artist. That they may dovetail with what might be classified as his spiritual or even quasi-religious beliefs doesn't mean they're any less widely applicable or honest.

And I like some artists that are absolutely, unabashedly didactic (Godard via Weekend, for example!), without feeling any less honest or urgent for it.

I was more just worried about someone already on the fence about the work interpreting it the way you lay out here:

I don't mean we are faced with some kind of subliminal ideology, or that Lynch is pushing TM. Not here at least.

And deciding it was time to stop giving it a closer look.
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Re: FINAL POLL!!!!!!! Your Reaction to The Return as a Complete Work

Postby Mr. Reindeer » Wed Sep 06, 2017 5:32 am

I think the distancing composition is a logical extension of the fact that this is by its nature an expansive work, almost the antithesis of DKL's prior mission statement that he only likes to do "neighborhood stories." I think the style will grow on me on repeat viewings, just as IE's "messiness" did. I agree that a lot of the shots kept us at arm's length, and I'm not quite sure what to make of that, even while I did find many of the compositions beautiful. But one scene really keyed me in on this: the Steven/Gersten scene is played almost entirely in a tight claustrophobic medium shot of the two of them, then abruptly cuts without warning to one of those patented wide wide shots of the woods, showing us how tiny these two are in the expanse of the woods. That use of the technique was anything but distancing, and I wonder if some of the other wide compositions will similarly resonate with me and others on repeat viewings where we can settle into this work on its own terms without being distracted by concerns about where the story is going.
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Re: FINAL POLL!!!!!!! Your Reaction to The Return as a Complete Work

Postby referendum » Wed Sep 06, 2017 5:37 am

cipher-
yes, i see more what you mean now. Agree with you about the pulpy disengaged bits. But then sometimes these were so stagey and stylised they hardly presented themselves as objective.
One thing i remember noticing all the time early on was how Lynch often films from a fixed point, at eye level, and turns left to right rather than up and down, or zooms in, as if the scene is being seen by a viewer in the room. I am not sure he always does this to the same extent in other films. I noticed it especially in the Dougie storyline. It struck me early on ( around ep 5 or 6 ) as being a ' dream perspective'.

Still, moving on..

( ps, re TM, i have a friend who does TM, who ( if you let her ) witters on about how much she sees in her experience of TM in TP TR. It is something that passes me by, so i don't notice it.

pps - agree with reindeer about regular high wide shots as part of a deliberate rhythm and a function of the ' expansive nature of the work'.
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