This is all sad, but not surprising. The movie industry has changed radically over the past decade, and while we nerds rejoice at the amount of big budget comic book, fantasy, and sci-fi blockbusters with brand recognition getting released that we love, the very risk averse Hollywood studios are pretty much only making those kinds of movies, unless you happen to be a Christopher Nolan or a Steven Spielberg who has the clout to get the studios to spend serious money on making something different.
Of course, quirkier indie fare does still get made, but it’s usually made for peanuts. The mid-range budget art house film, which since the ’80s has been the bread and butter of directors like Lynch and John Waters, has all but vanished. Waters is another example of a quirk-filled indie writer/director whose last film was made a decade ago, and who has become an author/lecturer because no one will give him money for a film. Like Lynch, he doesn’t want to make a movie for $1 or $2 million dollars at this point in his career. You can hardly blame them.
The silver lining to this bummer news is that while movie studios only seem to want “four quadrant” branded content for the big screen, television — specifically, cable television and streaming — are eager for more challenging material. Recent water cooler shows like 13 Reasons Why and Feud would probably never get greenlit as movies in today’s environment. But they flourish in long format TV. The paradigm has shifted, and Lynch has shifted with it. So while we can be sad that a new, two hour Lynch production might never see a movie house again, it is very likely that the new Twin Peaks heralds a new age of the auteur’s vision on cable television.
- Eric Diaz for Nerdist, May 5, 2017
The Return has made a habit of unpredictability, eschewing fan service for the exurban wilds of Las Vegas and adding mournful meditations on aging and the passage of time. “Part 8,” however, takes that departure to another level entirely, immersing us more fully than ever before in the nightmarish unreality of the Black Lodge’s alternate dimension. The result is almost purely sensory storytelling; there’s a reason the credits give Lynch attribution for the sound design. The Return is no longer just unrecognizable as an iteration of Twin Peaks. It’s unrecognizable as TV, a fact as thrilling as the series itself is confounding . . .
. . . Lynch has returned to the aesthetic signatures he established with his first film: monochrome stillness undercut by an omnipresent rumble; an obsession with industry and modernity desecrating a lost idyll; and above all, a conviction that intuition is a more-than-adequate substitute for explanation. That last part especially seems tailor-made to upend a medium as notoriously plot-dependent as television, which is why no one but Lynch has had the temerity to even try.
. . . It’s unlikely that a director of Lynch’s sheer eccentricity will ever rise to such prominence in Hollywood again, let alone make a network TV series, let alone see that series gain enough of a second life on streaming to accrue demand for its unfiltered revival. Let’s treasure the convergence while it lasts, knowing that it won’t soon come again.
- Alison Herman for The Ringer, June 26, 2017
Rather, what Lynch shows us is a confluence. The evil that men do is at once spiritual and technological, and in the melding of the two emerges a rift allowing the forces of one to infect the other. The creation—or the seeding?—of BOB occurs in a fit of light and shadow and color, in a convenience store, in space, but not outer space, some other space, flung at us in the burning storm of an atomic explosion.
. . . "Part 8" brought to television screens a work of art that escapes narrative confines. Where other shows—and films, too—have used the weird and surreal as window dressing for straightforward storytelling, The Return brings the true avant-garde to bear on a story where clarity is beside the point, and perhaps impossible.
The reality of suffering is circular, feeding on itself, inevitable.
- Cory Atad for Esquire, June 26, 2017 (bolding mine)
But it’s the second half where “Part 8” claims its place as the most mind-expansive hour of TV this season. In a wordless interlude that evokes Kubrick’s “2001,” the repetition of Werner Herzog’s “Fata Morgana,” the piercing and chilling sounds of Penderecki and Hiroshima, Lynch dates the start of modern man’s doom to July 16, 1945: the date of the Trinity Test, the first detonation of a nuclear weapon near Socorro, N.M. The “2001” stargate sequence, with the psycho-colors and undulating choir, is the obvious point of comparison, but it’s a dissatisfying one. Kubrick’s stargate had a harmonic, digital wonder to it, 30 years before computers were what they are now; in 2017, thanks to the Internet and social media, Lynch’s Revelation montage reveals an abstracted disgust with where humans have gone.
In 30 minutes, Lynch gives us a testament of man’s ignorance — his blundering fall into disgrace, and how he has corrupted moral folk . . . It’s so sickening, and its suggestion so shocking, your mind is left numb in pain at life’s pain and sorrow.
- Carlos Valladares for SF Gate, July 6, 2017