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I saw the David Lynch short film, the Cowboy and the Frenchman, not with this mini-series, but on a DVD featuring some of his other recent and early short film work. While this wasn't necessarily the most 'Lynchian' of the bunch on the disc (check out the Amputee or Alphabet for that), it happens to contain more laughs per minute than any of Lynch's other films. Often his work contains dark, almost next-to-death like black comedy that almost comes out by accident from the terror and drama that is laid into his surrealism (and, of course as Bunuel has shown, without humor surrealism is quite boring). But this time the surrealism is kept to a low-key as Lynch puts more humor into the blatant, uncomfortable differences between American cowboys and an aloof Frenchman who's stumbled upon the ranch. The cowboys, one of them played by the great Lynch regular Harry Dean Stanton, can't understand a word he says, searches through his luggage to find every piece of 'French' kind of wares around, and are just generally perplexed. Oh, and there's also a Native American to boot, adding a little more un-ease to the situation. It's the kind of comedy that would usually be found in a Jarmusch film, where cultural differences add some humanistic amusement to characters who are trying to relate on common ground. But the minimalism of it helps keep the laughs coming, and then here and there little touches come in to definitely remind us that the director has his stamp on the material (like the singing ladies matted into the sky like in Wild at Heart or Eraserhead). Great art? Maybe not, but it reaches a peak of (light) satire that Lynch has only sometimes reached since.
David Lynch is one of my all time favourite directors. I have always wondered how a comedy made by him would look like. Would it be funny, would it be as disturbing as some of his other work, would I laugh? When I got the "Short films of David Lynch" DVD, the first one I watched was "The Cowboy and the Frenchman". And I laughed allright. This film is one of the funniest I have ever seen, Lynch's approach to the genre is just pure genius. I can't really describe why it's so funny, you just have to watch it for yourself. Fans of Lynch will not be disappointed, it still feels just as deep and twisted as his other work but at the same time light and cheerful.
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