Remember my preview of the new Twin Peaks for The Spectator? That article stuck a fork into the wonderful, multilayered cake of nostalgia that was the original series, but I hadn’t yet seen the new stuff. Now I have – or at least the first two episodes. All my usual bedtime rules were broken so that I could tune in at 0200 on 22 May on Sky Atlantic, and then write a review for The Spectator‘s arts blog. That review concludes:

As one character put it, ‘Is it future or is it past?’ The third series of Twin Peaks is a juxtaposition of new and old – and perhaps that’s the point. Can the latter survive the former? Can a mountain town isolate itself from whatever came out of that box in New York? Can the next 16 episodes maintain the brilliant standard of the first two? My coffee pot and I are in it for the long haul.

Anyway, you can read the whole thing here.

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It is, the adverts tell me, happening again – and I couldn’t be more pleased. The return of Twin Peaks isn’t just the return of one of my favourite teevee shows, not just a major work by one of the major film artists, but also what the culture needs right now. Why so? As I explain in a feature for this week’s issue of The Spectator, there’s a lot of lazy nostalgia for the 1990s around at the moment:

‘Take Jurassic World. This wasn’t just a jacked-up repeat of Jurassic Park (1993); it also toyed with our memories of the earlier film. At one point, its obligatory nerd character explains why he’s wearing a T-shirt with the original park’s logo on the front. ‘I got it on eBay,’ he says. ‘That first park was legit.’ For viewers who were children when the first film was released, and who might have owned similar T-shirts back then, it was like being force-fed Proust’s madeleines until you were sick.’

But Twin Peaks, although it originated in the 1990s, is anything but lazy nostalgia. In fact, it was a full-blown study of nostalgia, its good and its bad sides:

Twin Peaks was more than just cherry pies and cherry-red lipstick. It realised that there was sadness in nostalgia itself — what Svetlana Boym describes, in her 2001 book The Future of Nostalgia, as ‘a sentiment of loss and displacement’.

That’s why the relationship between Catherine and Pete Martell, which plays like a subplot, is more important than it first appears. ‘Somewhere under all that scar tissue, there’s the faintest flicker of what we used to feel for each other,’ she tells him during the final episode of the first series. ‘I’m asking you to feel it now.’ But she’s only asking it to take advantage of the poor guy. Those good times you used to have? They’re lost.

You can read the whole article here.

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What do you get if you mix my favourite comics publication with one of London’s loveliest, slightly tucked-away galleries? The answers are contained within my Spectator review of the Cartoon Museum’s Future Shock: 40 Years of 2000AD exhibition, although I’ll give you the short version here: the whole thing is a delight, even if don’t know your Absalom from your Kano. As I say in my review:

Some of the exhibition’s finest moments are almost accidental. Most of the artworks have speech bubbles, captions and corrections literally pasted on to them — because that is how comics are made. But only one has a crisps logo (KP Griddles) glued to its top, along with the promise of a free packet for those who follow the instructions later in the issue. It’s a reminder that 2000AD is a publishing operation. This is art for newsstand sales’ sake.

Ch-check it out.

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All the hubbub about whether Matt Damon is – y’know – too white to play the lead in a film set in medieval China has obscured an important fact about The Great Wall: it’s part of a massive cultural change. Over recent years, we’ve grown used to seeing Hollywood producers trying to wring money out of the increasingly open Chinese market. But now, as The Great Wall demonstrates, Chinese producers are trying to wring money out of Hollywood and the rest of the world. It’s a change that raises some pretty big questions about the business of cinema, as I write in the latest issue of The Spectator:

Above it all hangs the question of whether the two film industries are cooperating for mutual gain or for competitive advantage. Last year, Chinese box-office takings ($6.6 billion) were second only — albeit by some distance — to America’s ($11.4 billion). Is Hollywood piggybacking on China to maintain its privileged ranking? Or is China piggybacking on Hollywood in order to surpass it? The implications in either case are not just financial. Cinema, even when it’s not twisted into propaganda, is a medium through which people see the world. What will we see through it in the decades to come?

For the full story – or as full as 1,100 words will allow – you can read my article here.

Oh, and I also blogged some of the numbers here.

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Film lists are always a tricky business, particularly when you start putting words like ‘alternative’ in front of them. Alternative for whom? The man on the Clapham omnibus? Or the long-gone, sweating film junkie who mainlines a half-dozen movies a day?

Nevertheless, I think I’ve done an okay job of picking out some alternative Christmas movies for the latest issue of The Spectator. There’s light (The Man Who Came to Dinner). There’s dark (Christmas Holiday). There’s in-between (8 Women). And there’s a John Ford western (3 Godfathers) because there should always be a John Ford western.

There aren’t many more movies on the list, but I still won’t reveal them all here. After all, I want you to read the actual article. And, naturally, you want to read it too.

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