Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Lost Epiphany

Upon numerous recommendations I've Netflixed the first season of the apparently acclaimed series Lost - sort of David Lynch does Gilligan's Island. I have to admit - it's well written and entertaining. But why do I get the feeling that all the mysteries have been tossed out to us when the writers have no idea what they're going to do with them? It's been about 5 episodes since they found a polar bear on the tropical island and still no explanation. Do we ever get to know what the main heroine did that she was shackled on the plane (I'm told that she gets tied up a lot in the series). And by the third season have we learned what the tree-eating monster really is?

The series reminded me of another, but I couldn't put my finger on it until last night. It's trying to be Twin Peaks. Not that it would impress me much if it succeeded. Although I watched most of the older series, I never really got into it. Again, all my friends told me how deep it was, and how it was "transgressive and counter-hegemonic." Well, at 42 years old I finally figured out last night why I didn't like the series. It was fucking creepy. Every episode from beginning to end. Over the years of watching David Lynch movies it becomes pretty obvious that he's a one-trick pony, appealing to a very narrow range of emotions in everything he does. I think I watched the series hoping for some kind of dynamic turn that gave it some sort of meaning, but when the network put the kabosh on the series he threw a tantrum and killed off all his characters in one climactic if uninteresting finale.

Well, Lost isn't creepy, no matter how dark the musical score. You don't believe the music after awhile, because it doesn't deliver. It flirts with darkness, then retreats from it - every single episode. The island is evil, then it's good, then it's evil, then good. The characters are bad, but then, deep down, they're all really good. Fate has selected all of them - for a reason as the bald guy who used to be crippled suggests. The rock star kicks his drug habit. The con man is really a wounded child inside a rough exterior. The Barbie doll is actually not as shallow as we are led to believe. The abusive Korean husband really cares for his wife after all. And so on.

And all of the sudden as I'm writing this I realize that after 8 episodes I care for these characters so much that I can't remember any of their names.

I'll probably see the first season out. Maybe it'll grab me by then.

The promo poster is from Wikipedia. I can see that nobody major has died by the third season. Yawn.

Kate's secret past gets revealed in season 2. Then you find out why she was in shackles.

The polar bear was conjured up by Walt's mind. Or at least that was implied. I forget which episodes come in what order in that season. is a great place to look for answers to your questions on the older seasons.
Charlie: rock star with heroin addiction
Shannon: barbie doll
Boone: Barbie doll's step brother
Sawyer: con-man
Jin: abusive Korean Man
Sun: wife of korean man
Jack: doctor
Locke: hunter type that was paralyzed back in real life

does that help at all?
Four of them were present when the con man shot the bear. Walt (is he the bald guy?) wasn't around.
Anon 12:31 - sure. Thanx.
Every episode from beginning to end. Over the years of watching David Lynch movies it becomes pretty obvious that he's a one-trick pony, appealing to a very narrow range of emotions in everything he does.

Not strictly true. What about The Straight Story? I admit, though, that the classical Lynch is hit-and-miss. Mulholland Dr.? One of the best movies ever. Dune, Twin Peaks, even Blue Velvet? Not so much.

It's true that the Lost people are making it up as they go along. It's been very disappointing. But you do find out, in one spectacularly stupid sequence, that the bald guy used to be a Humboldt County dope grower!

He pulls over to pick up a hitchhiker:

"I'm looking to get to Eureka."
"Well, I can take you as far as Bridgeville."

?!? Where is he coming from, then? Hyampom?

And then you're treated to the most unlikely Humboldt County Sheriff's Office undercover sting operation ever imagined. It's only slightly more believable than the tree-eating monster.
Locke is the bald guy, Walt is the little boy.

Hank, they didn't even get the uniforms right for the "Humboldt County Sheriff's Dept." in that episode. You would think they'd research this stuff better.
You mean that part with the Humboldt cops wasn't real???

I need a drink.

I hope they don't run into any more polar bears!
Hank - Well, there you go. I haven't seen either The Straight Story or Mulholland Drive. I have seen Blue Velvet, Dune, Firewalk with Me, and the indulgent not to mention boring Eraserhead.

Haven't seen Elephant Man, nor Crumb.

As for the bald guy, you didn't describe how he went from being a dope grower to a Dungeons and Dragons playing Dilbert. Apparently it's not that interesting.

Obviously Bridgeville made it into the script because of the e-bay headlines.
I should also point out that as a kid I read a comic book in which a bunch of heroes and villains fought a climactic battle in a county north of San Francisco known as "Mendomino." The county looked pretty barren, almost like a desert.

But I'm also the kind of guy who will ruin a movie by pointing out that Dustin Hoffman couldn't be driving to Berkeley on the top level of the Bay Bridge.
Mendomino? What comic was that? I'd love to get my hands on it. Have you heard the Doobie Brothers song "Ukiah"? The worst song by one of the very worst '70s bands -- appropriate, given that they're serenading the North Coast's worst town.

Crumb is a great, great movie, but it isn't Lynch, it's Terry Zwigoff. Mulholland Drive. is a masterpiece. You must see it.

There: I've recommended three movies to you in my life -- Shattered Glass, Crumb and Mulholland Drive. I dare you to tell me that there's a dud in the bunch. (The Shattered Glass director has a new movie out about the Robert Hanssen FBI spy case. Can't wait!)

Also, do yourself a favor by skipping Lost and renting The Wire instead. The Wire is the greatest work of American fiction in the last 20 years, at least, in any genre or medium.
Thanx a lot Hank! You're going to make me reveal the depths of my geekdom, because I remember exactly what comic book it was. It was this DC series entitled The Secret Society of Supervillains. Basically, all these villains were in prison and so they struck a deal with the government to partake in covert operations. Of course, the heroes didn't know they were working for the good guys, so they ended up in fights with them anyway.

There was a superhero named Captain Comet who had, I think, been assigned to the team but had a bout of conscience and went rogue, teamed up with Kid Flash, and tried to defeat the covert ops at every turn (Watergate and Cointelpro were probably fresh in the writers' minds). At one point, the Creeper infiltrated the group and ended up fighting with the bad guys. So the cover has the two groups going at each other and the question "Why is the Creeper fighting with the villains and the Trickster with the heroes (I don't remember why the Trickster turned on the bad guys)?"

Why do I remember all this 30 years later? Don't ask me. This stuff sticks in my brain, along with the entire scripts of television commercials.
You know, my brother still has our old comic collection somewhere away in storage. He may have this one somewhere in the boxes.
Hank - just read a description of The Wire, and it looks interesting. Kind of like a short-lived series in the late 90s called, I think, Easy Streets. Had the main guy from 30 Something as the obsessive cop and Joe Pantaleo as the villain with redeeming characteristics. Lots of stark urban photography with a haunting music score. It lasted about half a season, then went the way of Firefly.

My elitism is creeping in again...
Eric, Hank -- you watch too much t.v. and movies. That's why you two have never really grown up. Your childish, smug little minds are cloned by the corporate mass-media. You think you're independent, but your shallow thinking operates entirely within officially approved boxes.

"This stuff sticks in my brain, along with the entire scripts of television commercials."

Yes, that does explain you.
Well, I suppose we could hole ourselves up in tin-foil lined cabins in the hillside like you. That way we could think independently.

I've heard that civilization collapsed with Y2k, but we're in a time warp and just don't know it.
You even harbor a cartoonish prejudice of what independent thinkers are like.

Eric "comic book" Kirk, that's you.
Speaking of cartoons, what do you get when you cross a Smurf with a Kirk? -- a Smirk
I like that one! I may repeat it on my radio show tonight.
Well I wouldn't boast about it if I was you. It is very naughty of you, Eric, to be copulating with Smurfs.
Didn't you see Slacker? Smurfs are a Hindi plot to acclimate us to blue people for the return of Govinda.
You have to be weird to like David Lynch whereas Lost is great entertainment even for those who are not as twisted as David Lynch's "art."
Why do the self-described "independent thinkers" all think the same things?
Maybe because they're true?

That would tend to lend a certain similarity to their thoughts.

But what "same things" do you think they all think, Hank?
Hank, re David Lynch and his best work, Muholland Drive, you should take a look at director George Hickenlooper's 1996 film, "Persons Unknown". Lynch must have seen this pic and used it in his Muholland Drive movie.

The film is noir, moody and slow. The music is very similar to Bada..whatever his name's score for Muholland Dr.
Naomi Watts is the female lead in P.U.
the main character is Jim Holland
the plot involves money stashed away bizarrely. There's elements in Persons Unknown that show up in Lynch's Muholland Dr.

That Mexican singer, del Rios, in Muholland Dr. gives the best version of Roy Orbison's "Crying" ever done.

Oh, have you ever seen Lynch's straight movie about the guy's lawnmower trip down the highway? Really good and really unlike anything else I've seen of Lynch's.
Thanks for the tip, Steve!

And I agree -- that is the best version of "Crying" ever done. By far. I never saw "The Straight Story," but I'd like to.

Goddamn, Steve -- you ain't half bad sometimes!
Well, thank you, Hank. I don't often get appreciative comments here for some reason. I am a movie addict from way back, after dropping out of anthro major at Berkeley I changed majors hoping to get into UCLA's film dept. I would have become a film-maker accept the Vietnam War changed all that and I opted out of Hollywood career and into radical communalism because the American society that produced Nam was too sick with materialism to add any more culture goodies for more rich people to schmooze over at cocktail parties.

Bad choice..shoulda gone Hollywood, I know..

But I am making up for it by creating my own movie that you all are in. I write the script for what happens on this blog each day and that keeps me busy! Especially when I have to don my marmalaid and prayer shawl and sing "Evertink iss bootifool in it's oy veh before posting as Jewishperson.
"because the American society that produced Nam was too sick with materialism to add any more culture goodies for more rich people to schmooze over at cocktail parties"

Now it's my turn to say "Good one, Steve!" America's demented, media-glutted society doesn't need any more fattening. It needs serious medicine, pronto.
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