Dec 14, 2008

On DVD: Inland Empire

I'm not a fan of David Lynch, but I admire some of the ways in which he is talented.
Whether one likes his films or not, the guy has created a very influential visual style that is uniquely his own. He is our arty purveyor of American Gothic. I can't think of another filmmaker who is capable of filming the imagery of dreams and nightmares as uncannily and realistically as Lynch. His movies are like dreamscapes and some of his imagery is extremely powerful, almost totemic, and deeply disturbing, as it does not come from a rational, logical place, but from primitive, scary places in the soul. The downside of this unique vision is that his movies are almost parodies of themselves, and none so much and so infuriatingly as Inland Empire.
I loathe video. Video looks like shit, I don't care what anybody says. For video not to look like shit, you need a genius DoP and lots of lighting.
Lynch shot Inland Empire on video and it looks like crap. He claims to love it, no doubt because it gave him economic freedom; it's much less unwieldy than film. Some of his most disturbing images also benefit from the crappiness of video. However, if you want to watch this film at home, you better have a good TV. The movie is dark, horribly lit, everyone looks flat.
Gone are the gorgeous palettes of films like Blue Velvet or Twin Peaks. Alas.
I saw this movie over the course of four nights. I would fall asleep, wake up, rewind to the last point I remembered and fall asleep again in the same place. The movie follows no lineal chronology or temporal logic that I could surmise. It is basically like Alice (Laura Dern, a fearless actress) falling down the rabbit hole for mentally disturbed grown ups. It also seems to have something to do with acting and with Hollywood, but beats me trying to figure it out. This topic is not as approachable as in Mulholland Drive, a movie I really like.
I totally respect Lynch's commitment to experimentation. Yet I don't understand why this film needs to last three hours. Why are people speaking in Polish? Who are the young girls? Why are people wearing Rabbit heads? Why are the actors so wooden? Why ask why?
I loved some of the weird imagery. Lynch is a master of the bizarre, disturbing atmosphere. Plus anything that boasts of Harry Dean Stanton, who delivers the speech of a Hollywood schnorrer that should make the hair on your neck stand up, is worth seeing in my book. But the movie seems pointless, longwinded, boring, pretentious and gratuitous. As always there is violence and vulgarity and perverted sex (although you don't really see it, it's there).
My mom would say that Lynch is "enfermo de talento". Sick with talent. And even though I strive to be more charitable and openminded, in this case, I think she'd be right on.

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