Sunday, March 11, 2007
David Lynch: hideously weird...
"A woman in trouble" (tagline to Inland Empire)
When I watch a David Lynch film it always sends me into a semi-hypnotic state combined with that whacked out hallucinatory head trippy feeling. I like David Lynch and have done so since I watched that disturbing oddity Blue Velvet back in 1988.
It is of consequence that the two favourite painters of this cult indie film director are Francis Bacon and Edward Hopper . Hopper with his cityscapes and landscapes that smack of utter loneliness’ and alienation. People in his paintings never seem to connect or show any physical closeness. Lynch creates Hopperesque townsvilles that reflect a kind of edgy normality but dig deeper and you will see the influence of Bacon with the seedy underbelly of life which represents distress, violence, raw anger, and emotion. Towards the end of Inland Empire there is a scene strongly reminiscent of Bacon’s Head.
Inland Empire, rather like Lynch’s previous film Mulholland Drive, has the Hollywood theme throughout. Hollywood, the place where “stars make dreams and dreams make stars. Or conversely where dreams are tarnished and destroyed. Where the character played by Laura Dern is seen staggering along Hollywood Walk of Fame puking up blood after being stabbed.
The story revolves around an actress played by Laura Dern (a Lynch favourite) who is visited in her gloomy and creepy Louis XIV house by a “neighbour” (Grace Zabriskie… another Lynch favourite who played Laura Palmer’s mum in Twin Peaks). The scene is unnerving as the camera close-ups lingers on the expressive faces. The neighbour tells Nikki that she will land a part based on a Polish story, an old tale “about marriage” that will end in a “brutal fucking murder” and that if “tomorrow is today you will be sitting over there”…...
If you are looking for linear narrative then you will be disappointed as Lynch creates his films out of ideas. A kind of stream of consciousness with visual flair. Nikki the actress gets a part in a film where she finds out it was made before by a Polish film company but something dreadful happened to the leads. The viewer is pushed head first rather like Alice in Wonderland down into the trippy labryrinth of the story. Nikki the actress becomes Susan Blue (the character she plays in the film).
Another device of Lynch is changing identities or to be technical, photogenic fugue. It is a familiar device as Lynch used it in Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway. Is Nikki really Susan or is Susan really Nikki? Is this a film within a film? Who are the women who appear with Susan/Nikki and lip synch and dance along to the song “Locomotion”?
There is also parallel story about the two Polish leads in the original doomed production. What is real and not real? The Lynchian devices are apparent such as eerie low level noise/music, demons, time travel, low level orange/red lighting, warnings of eminent danger, blood red curtains, theatres, endless doors with Axx nn written on them (incidentally Axxon N. was a murder mystery story which never got off the ground for Lynch), time portals, fuzzy and disjointed camera shots. The only difference I found is that Lynch uses close-ups much more.
The film is a little under 3 hours but hey, I forgive Lynch as I was rooted to the chair. It absolutely makes no plot sense and I have given up trying to understand the meaning of Lynch. I just go with the flow. I remember spending days trying to figure out Mulholland Drive. That is what I like about Lynch there is no beginning, middle or end and no straightforward story. You can see the influences Lynch has on, whether consciously or not, other writers and directors (The film Donnie Darko and telly drama Desperate Housewives are just two examples… well, even more so since Lynch favourite Kyle “Agent Cooper” MacLachlan joined Desperate Housewives..)
Rather like Inland Empire, you never truly get it but it is 3 hours of spectacular Lynchian invention with no denouement except more weird and whacky dance routines at the end.
I don’t have a clue at what the rabbits set in a 1950s telly “comedy” (including canned laughter) represent…….