Festival Reviews

David Lynch’s Festival of Disruption 2017: The 10 Best Moments

on October 16, 2017, 3:00pm

Island Empress 

Laura Marling

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“I hope we meet again,” Laura Marling sang alone on Saturday night, sending shivers down the necks of those who finished Twin Peaks: The Return. Without spoiling too much, that line is the last thing Special Agent Dale Cooper says to his friends near the end of “Part 17”. Of course, it’s just a mere coincidence, seeing how Marling wrote the as-yet-titled composition for Robert Icke’s play, Mary Stuart. But hey, coincidences are a beautiful thing, and this was one gem out of many in the career-spanning set the English singer-songwriter unpacked. After swimming through three tracks off this year’s Semper Femina — specifically, “Wild Fire”, “The Valley”, and “Next Time” — Marling dialed back the clock with favorites from 2013’s Once I Was an Eagle and 2010’s I Speak Because I Can. All were quite emotional, but “Breathe” was something special, especially the way Marling stretched the song way past its five-minute mark. Even so, the reception was rapturous, to which Marling appeared grateful of: “Thank you. It’s a long song.” Fortunately for her she was surrounded by Lynch scholars, who all know a thing or two about patience.


Revisiting The Return

Twin Peaks Collaborators

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At last year’s inaugural festivities, everyone was chomping at the bit for information surrounding Showtime’s Twin Peaks revival. And while there were a couple of vague teasers, all of which you could find online, Lynch kept the mystery up in the air. That’s where he likes it to be, though, so nobody was too surprised when they shuffled out of the Ace at the end of that weekend without the faintest clue how things would turn up in 2017. (Hell, at the time, we still didn’t even know when the series would drop.) This year, however, was a total 180, as the cat was out of the proverbial bag, which is why host Kristine McKenna was able to pluck the many strings that made this puppet show a reality, speaking to producer Sabrina S. Sutherland, special effects supervisor Gary D’Amico, cinematographer Peter Deming, editor Duwayne Dunham, and sound mixer and music supervisor Dean Hurley. Sadly, casting director Johanna Ray had to back out last minute, but it’s hard to imagine they would have had much time to talk to her anyhow.

Like a pro, McKenna came prepared with a litany of questions to warrant resourceful dialogue. Sutherland went over the complicated scripting process behind The Return and how it confused Showtime, who were expecting episodic television. “We didn’t know how long it’d be,” she admitted, explaining that once it came time to actually roll, the production went on for 140 nonstop days, which broke down to six workdays with one left for planning the following week. She also extrapolated on Lynch’s process, and how some things were left ambiguous on paper until it came time to execute, referencing the atomic bomb sequence of “Part 8”, which went back and forth from being 16 or eight minutes. “He wants to experiment,” she added, “If an idea comes, he wants to be able to shoot it.” Sutherland also reminisced about her time on-screen as Brett Gelman’s Las Vegas assistant, insisting that “David was kind of getting back at me,” for not wanting to play a role by constantly changing the total sum of Mr. Jackpot’s winnings.

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Both D’Amico and Deming, longtime collaborators of Lynch’s, had some fun going over the technical aspects of the filmmaker’s work, dissecting a few of the more complicated shots and sequences from over the years. You know, stuff like destroying that cabin at the end of Lost Highway or demolishing that car at the beginning of Mulholland Drive, to which McKenna humorously asked, “Why do you guys like to blow things up?” One fun fact was learning how the latter crash actually cut a hole in the road near Griffith Park, which surprised even D’Amico. With regards to The Return, a couple of the more arduous tasks for the two were trying to visualize the Fireman’s “house by the sea,” as it was described on the script, to which Deming added, “of course, it’s not a house and it’s not by the sea,” and all the driving sequences of “Part 18” with Cooper and Laura, all of which weren’t through towing but strictly free-hand. Still, they would do it again in a heartbeat, as Deming said what every fan has been thinking, “Nobody really wanted it to end.”

McKenna really had some fun with the final two collaborators, Hurley and Dunham, who waxed nostalgic on their long, winding road with Lynch. Hurley, who’s been his go-to music guy since the days leading up to 2006’s Inland Empire, shared a number of fascinating anecdotes. One such revelation was how Lynch instantly knew to slow down the Muddy Magnolias’ cover of “American Woman”, to which Hurley added, “It’s all about twisting it to get he wants it to do.” He also brushed on his time in the studio with Lynch and how it really boils down to “two guys jammin and dicking around” with an “ecosystem of possibilities.” You can tell his mind is just as mathematical as Lynch’s. On the other hand, Dunham has been working with Lynch since 1986’s Blue Velvet, a project he was initially hesitant about upon reading the script (“I’m kind of a Disney guy”), but one he clearly appreciates. He went into the specifics of everything from this past season’s complicated opening credits to his days on the original pilot, which he calls “liquid gold.”

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As Major Briggs once said, “Achievement is its own reward, pride obscures it.” Rest assured, each and every one of Lynch’s collaborators has a right to be prideful.


Let’s Rock!

The Kills

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It’s kind of crazy how much The Kills sound like they belong on the Lost Highway soundtrack. We know, we know, singer Alison Mosshart and guitarist Jamie Hince didn’t actually meet and form the rock outfit until four years after Bill Pullman turned into Balthazar Getty. But seriously, there was no mistaking the parallels on Sunday night as the two tore down the Ace’s stage. Christ, even titles of the songs they played look like they were written by Lynch around that era: “Heart of a Dog”, “Kissy Kissy”, “Black Balloon”, “Doing It to Death”, “Baby Says”, and “Tape Song”. Whatever the case, the Kills were in good company for over an hour, as their legion of fans, many of them wearing their limited edition shirts being sold in the lobby, stood up and shouted fore more, more, and more. Mosshart, like a claustrophobic cheetah in a public zoo, prowled about the stage, going around in manic circles as if she were scoping out her prey. It was intimidating, but it was also pretty wicked, and that spooky demeanor gave them quite an edge. By the time she started beating the shit out of the percussion on “Pots and Pans”, she looked ready to rip someone’s head off, proving that mechanical excellence and one-thousand four-hundred horsepower pays off. Then again, I like to remember things my own way.


Laura is the One

Sheryl Lee

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When it comes to Twin Peaks, there will always be Laura Palmer. She’s the raison d’être of the iconic series, which says a lot given how expansive Lynch and Mark Frost’s world is following this past summer’s The Return. Even though the Showtime revival was promoted with Kyle MacLachlan’s dashing mug plastered across billboards and online ads, it was Sheryl Lee you saw in the beginning of the 18-episode rollercoaster and it was Sheryl Lee you heard at the very end of the ride. So, it only seemed natural that she would be a part of this year’s festivities, seeing how her journey as Laura has ostensibly come to a close, and, like one might have written at the end of Laura’s yearbook, what a long and strange trip it’s been. That feeling, as everyone learned on Sunday afternoon, isn’t lost on Lee, who has lived with the role for decades and had some sobering sentiments to share.

Following the special viewing of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, which swapped in for Lost Highway after Bill Pullman’s last-minute cancellation, host Kristine McKenna asked Lee what she had been feeling back in the early ’90s once work had come to a finish on the movie. After all, it’s a very dark and tough role to play, one that requires Lee to be brutally abused, both mentally and physically, on-screen. “I was so immersed in Laura’s world,” she recalled. “I remember a few weeks after we wrapped, standing in a grocery store, and I had thought — and then I realized … I actually had that thought, that was my thoughts again. I had so been in Laura’s thoughts and Laura’s world and Laura’s energy that it was two weeks before I went, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s space for me again.'” McKenna then detailed the ungodly physicality of the role, something that immediately struck Lee.

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“The hardest part about playing that character is that this happens to our youngsters everywhere all over the world in real life all the time,” Lee said without pause. “That character is a character in a story in a film in a TV show, but knowing that this goes on every day, everywhere, at such alarming statistics … that’s the hardest part.” From there, the conversation shifted to several nuances of the show (yes, that was her scream in “Part 18”) and her relationship with Lynch (she has fond memories of his smile), only to come full circle again when McKenna revisited the same question with regards to her performance on The Return. “The part, again, that’s hard is now, as a 50-year-old woman going, ‘Wow, here we are, this is still Laura’s story, and the real-life statistics are still as high if not higher than they were for victims of sexual abuse,” she digressed. “That’s the hard part for me. I still see Laura’s story, now as a 50-year-old woman and mother, and think, ‘Wow, all these decades have gone by … what do we need to do to heal this? What can we do?”

That question wasn’t exactly rhetorical as McKenna asked her if she had any ideas herself. “I think talking about it is the beginning,” Lee added, “and it starts everywhere.” Again, it was a very sobering moment of the weekend, and a bold reminder that, yes, this series does have its roots in a very real and very terrifying situation that has sadly become a crisis in our society. Hearing Lee talk about this was somewhat of a revelation, adding weight to a role that’s often relegated to simple iconography, that familiar prom photo that smiles now from posters, shirts, canteens, and FunkoPop figures. Ironically enough, Lee would immediately appear next to those very things following this interview, signing merchandise and speaking to fans at the pop-up shop outside the theater. Watching her interactions, you could see how she clearly touched so many people who came to listen (wouldn’t be the first time in her career), and in a weekend filled with leaders and influencers and teachers, it was nice seeing another one stand up.

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Perhaps this isn’t the end of Laura Palmer, after all.


I’ll See You in One Year

Rebekah Del Rio

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It’s hard to say goodbye. But when the person who’s waving farewell sounds like Rebekah Del Rio, eh, walking away doesn’t hurt as much. Or, maybe it does, depending on how spiritually tied you are to Twin Peaks. For this writer, The Return was nothing short of life-changing, a welcome escape from reality and a reaffirmation that pop culture can aspire to be great and actually be great. When we heard Laura Palmer scream and shatter that world on the evening of September 3rd, it was riveting and yet overwhelming, too, not only because it was so moving but because it was so emotionally draining.

Just like that, it was all gone, as if the proverbial doors to that escape had simply vanished, no different than the entrance at Glastonbury Grove, those curtains fading into oblivion. But, the lead up to Festival of Disruption had maintained that lack of presence, creating this illusion that the escape wasn’t gone and that the energy surrounding Twin Peaks was still alive. So, when Del Rio emerged shortly after The Kills to perform her all-too-fitting Roadhouse ballad “No Stars” — in front of red curtains, no less — it truly felt like we were slowly being awakened, as she sang, “Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid.”

In this world, who can’t be?

Keep going, there’s plenty more to see…