Staff Picks: The Evolution of the Arm, ‘I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House,’ More


Need a great book to read, album to listen to, or TV show to get hooked on? The Flavorwire team is here to help: in this weekly feature, our editorial staffers recommend the cultural object or experience they’ve enjoyed most in the past seven days. Scroll through for our picks below.

The Evolution of the Arm

In the new season of Twin Peaks, we spend a lot more time in the Black Lodge than ever before; the space with inexplicably terror inducing interior decorating now comes with a light remodeling: a brand new house plant. That house plant happens to be the “evolution of the Arm” — aka the Man From Another Place, aka the character/metaphysical severed limb of the spirit MIKE. This character has evolved from apparent arm to creamed corn-nibbling man to electric-tree-with-head-like-blob. The blob still talks kind of like the Man From Another Place, and in fact, little has changed, but for that now, as mentioned, he’s an electric tree with a head-like blob. And I know Twin Peaks is returning on a premium channel at “peak weird TV” or whatever, but nonetheless, I’m still finding myself internally exclaiming, “I can’t believe this shit is on TV!” every 10 or so minutes.

One of David Lynch’s greatest strengths is his ability to imbue innocuous objects with a sense of indescribable meaning — from those Twin Peaks rings to that blue Mulholland Drive box; this season of Twin Peaks is even more stillness-oriented than the original, with shots lingering on empty hallways and cameras and glass boxes. And oddly, this moving, talking tree is one of the more vociferous, mobile nightmare inducers we’ve encountered. Who knew I’d one day say, “I’m really glad the electric-tree-with-head-like-blob is there to ground the narrative?” — Moze Halperin, Senior Editor

I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House

I’m shamefully late to the party on Osgood Perkins, the exciting new director of tone poem/horror films (and, yes, the son of horror icon Anthony Perkins, whom he dedicates this film to). I Am The Pretty Thing is his second movie, though released first, last fall on Netflix (his debut, the excellent Blackcoat’s Daughter, finally hit theaters earlier this year). It’s an unhurried and unsettling creaky-old-house movie, working in a slow-burn retro style closer to Rosemary’s Baby than Don’t Breathe. In fact, it’s so light on traditional “scares” that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s so disturbing about it; the best I’ve can do is attribute it to Perkins’s distressing visual style, in which camera movements are frightening and even the compositions are slightly off, in a deliberate and upsetting way. I realize I’m not exactly selling it, but what the hell, it’s a short movie and it’s on Netflix – give it a chance. I think we’re witnessing the birth of a master stylist. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

The new Twin Peaks, generally

Moze has already discussed the evolution of the arm above, so I’m going to say the new Twin Peaks in general. I recapped the first couple of episodes here and will probably do the next two tomorrow, so I’ll keep my comments fairly non-specific: this feels like a distillation of everything Lynch has learned and created over the years, rendered in a way that is unabashedly and unrelentingly Lynchian. Anyone who thought he might tone down the weirdness for television like he did the first time around will be quickly disabused of such notions with a viewing of the first four episodes of the new Twin Peaks: the third episode, in particular, is weird as hell, makes pretty much no sense, and revels in both these things. The fourth episode is… well, it’s pretty much the complete opposite. It’s fascinating to see Lynch’s work at its most unconstrained: not everything sticks, and I’m sure people skeptical of his work in general will hate it, but Lynch apparently couldn’t care less. Good for him. — Tom Hawking, Editor-in-Chief