Archive for August, 2013


This week marked the end of my David Lynch challenge and the viewing of the most recent feature film he has directed. Inland Empire is an intriguing film and one that truly summarises Lynch’s entire career.

THE PLOT

The narrative of this film is difficult to summarise; in essence it involves a female actress (Laura Dern) who is cast in the lead role of a film. As the film begins production it is discovered it is actually a remake of an older film in which the cast committed suicide. Things then begin to take off as the actress becomes engulfed in her character and begins to lose sense of herself, time and even where she is at. This means that large portions of the film are unsynchronised from the narrative and it a rather confusing film to follow.

THE GOOD

Despite its complicated narrative the film is a good film and each scene is obviously meant to mean something, although it is not always clear exactly what. From the start the film is intense and as expected from a Lynch film throws the audience in at the deep end. Throughout the entire film it is difficult to know which parts are fictional (in the story) and which parts of real as there is very little difference.

Screen shot 2013-08-07 at 12.38.45

The film is also beautiful to watch with each shot crafted with care and lit perfectly; several moments are beautiful and look astounding. There are several set-pieces in the film which are ridiculously creepy and cannot be explained; namely the inclusion of clips from Lynch’s own short film ‘Rabbits’, about several people in rabbit suits living domesticated life.

Screen shot 2013-08-07 at 12.38.27

The entire film is truly bizarre and baffles the mind but the look of the film is pleasing upon the eye and the tension that is created throughout is also consistent. Even when I had no idea what was happening it was difficult to look away.

 

THE BAD

Now I have to be honest and say that for once the narrative was too complex to make the film truly enjoyable. Now I have no problem with non-linear narratives that use imagery to explain what’s going on; as I’ve previously written on this blog I believe Mullholland Drive and Eraserhead to be masterpieces of doing such. The problem with Inland Empire is that it takes this too far; there are too many unrelated characters and stories going on that I struggled to follow anything past the first hour (of which there are three).

 

Around halfway through the film I was forced to turn to Wikipedia in attempt to explain what was happening and even after reading their summary the film was still a mess. It is said that the film was never written as a feature film but was simply several short films made by Lynch stitched together; this theory makes perfect sense when watching the film as characters seemed to constantly change.

 

The film also felt too long, at 3 hours in length, it is the longest film made by Lynch and feels it; particularly as there is no straight narrative to follow. It may look pretty but good looks do not make a good film.

 

The main problem with the film I had however is that there is no common theme within the different sequences, they are truly disconnected. In Eraserhead for (which is probably the closest film in style to this Lynch has made) there is always feeling that each sequence has meaning of some kind and you are left afterwards with thoughts about industrialisation and family. Inland Empire however has no such kind of themes; it is film which doesn’t seem to be about anything and therein lies the problem.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Sadly Inland Empire is a step too far for David Lynch and an overdone film which I don’t see the point of. It is very Lynchian but not in a good sense. The film simply left me with a headache. 2 Lynchs.

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This weeks film is one that I had no previous knowledge of (which is surprising for someone such as me) and therefore it was one of the rare occasions that I could enjoy the film without any expectations. Straight Story is the only feature film which David Lynch directed and did not receive a writers credit; it is also based upon a true story which is a nice thought.

 

THE PLOT

Alvin Strait (Richard Farnsworth) is an old man, barely able to walk and battling several illnesses. However when he discovers his brother with whom he hasn’t spoken for some time has suffered a stroke, he takes his lawnmower and sets on a road trip in which he encounters a range of people.

 

THE GOOD

The story of the film is a very touching one as most road trips movies tend to be. As the old man travels we discover more about him and learn to truly empathise with what he is going through.

The film is exquisitely written with each line of dialogue having clear meaning however it is from the visual side that the story is truly told. The film was apparently shot in sequence which will explain the use of so many long, exquisitely framed takes. There are long periods in which there is no dialogue; however that is not important as the performances and framing tell us so much more about what is happening. There are several shots of the countryside that are truly beautiful.

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The performance of Richard Farnsworth is astounding and I was surprised to see that he didn’t win an Oscar for the performance until I saw that he was against Kevin Spacey’s career best in American Beauty. The stubbornness of Farnsworth’s character to not back down and preservere through all the troubles he encounters is the backbone of the film and makes it an enthralling watch.

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THE BAD

Ok, I really enjoyed this film as a piece of cinema; however I did find myself disappointed because it did not feel anything like a David Lynch film. There was nothing strange about the narrative; the characters generally seemed fairly normal (albeit some of the acting a little over the top) and there wasn’t even a dream sequence!

The film is also by no means fun to watch, it is a hard film to pay attention too as there are many lengthy driving sequences that seem to stretch out endlessly; however it is also captivating by nature and drew me in so that although at times it felt slow, it was never difficult as each scene linked together well and everything seemed purposeful.

FINAL THOUGHTS

So this is a difficult film to rate because it is a great film which I would strongly recommend as an storytelling in a visual sense, but I think that the lack of oddness in story and character means that I cannot give this a high rating on the Lynch scale. Therefore I award Straight Story a begrudgingly meagre 3 Lynch’s.

david-lynch  david-lynch  david-lynch