Sunday, January 27, 2008

a double dose of Lynch

A trip down to L.A. to celebrate my brother's birthday was the occasion that led to my finding myself watching "Lynch", the documentary about film maker, in the LACMA auditorium. The documentary was oddly entertaining, which is to say at times annoying, but I nevertheless left it with a better understanding and appreciation of David Lynch than I had when I walked in. There were multiple references to "Inland Empire", his most recent film, which I didn't even know existed. Naturally after seeing the documentary I was curious to see it.

On balance, I am a Lynch fan. His approach to film making is unquestionably creative, adventurous and original. There are times, however, when his work crosses the line and one wonders if it's not actually a stinking pile of fraudulent horse shit. But rather than dwell on how bad it might be, I prefer to reminisce fondly on the demented humor of "Blue Velvet" and "Wild at Heart", or the unexpected wholesomeness of "The Straight Story". When "Mulholland Drive" came out a few years back, I was pleasantly blown away. It appeared that Lynch had matured and finally balanced his unapologetic weirdness with enough structure or anti-structure to raise his art to a new level.

After reading some positive reviews for "Inland Empire" I decided to take the plunge. Sadly, I think Lynch is backsliding with this one. There are a few good ideas here -- I like the rabbit people, the actors (Laura Dern, Jeremy Irons), and the whole Polish thing -- but the results are sort of half-baked, and the thing goes on for nearly three hours. The length alone is already a problem, but along with the slow, repetitive, meandering, structureless-ness of the barely existing plot, plus all the bad acting and non-acting, one wonders if Lynch doesn't take some sadistic pleasure -- consciously or unconsciously -- in subjecting his audience to this kind of thing.

I have faith that some of his future endeavors will build on the success of "Mulholland Drive", his best film to date.


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