gives you as clear an idea of Lynch as artist, craftsman, and all American quagmire as you're likely to see
Toby Keeler, with his unlimited access to David Lynch- behind the scenes during his films, with friends and family and collaborators, and in his painting process- has a documentary that's essential to get at least a glimpse into a man and his work like this. Lynch's films are abstractions, nightmarish landscapes and what is just around the corner in the seemingly brightest sides of small-town American life, and his art is a reflection not just of his own interpretations of people and places that are usually conventional, but that this interpretation springs out so many ideas that would not be there otherwise without the specific framework he's chosen. One of the most fascinating examples of this method of Lynch's in being a true master of mood is with Eraserhead; he worked five years on the film, and Keeler shows us Lynch and old friends walking around where the original sets were, and with this revealing how after two years of painstakingly filming a movie (a shot a night, nevermind a scene, depending on the lighting), a rhythm developed that was unmistakable. If one of the primary goals of an artist is to transport people to another place that is unconventional, but still grounded in recognizable emotional connections, Lynch is such an artist, as revealed here fully.
Of course, as collaborator Barry Gifford explains at one point, Lynch is very complex. On the outside he's an "all-American" type of guy, affable, well-mannered, coffee drinking and cigarette smoking, into building lots of things aside from his methods of making painting (what could be considered two sides to a coin of enjoying making 'things', we see Lynch using bugs to actually assist in making a painting, and Lynch himself creating many of the furniture pieces used in Lost Highway). But beneath this exterior image is someone who is so in touch with the dark side of human nature that it almost has to come out in the way it does in his films. From looking at clips shown in Pretty as a Picture, be they clips from his early short films like the Grandmother or the Alphabet, or even just little scenes from Lost Highway, one might think that Lynch is loony as a tune (that's how I thought of him early on, just on perceptions from Eraserhead and Blue Velvet). It's something of an assuring, if a little over-stated in adulation, to hear that he's consummate as an artist and professional director, with the one surprisingly the most saying this is the producer of Lost Highway.
For fans, to be sure, there's lots to soak in here, like seeing the little details in the process of scoring the film with Badalamenti (each note carefully considered), or in hearing the Frank DaSilva story regarding his appearance in the Twin Peaks pilot (or, speaking of TP, the soap in the coffee filter story). Seeing him in action filming is fascinating in that, in a way, there's nothing much out of the ordinary how he works, and if anything he almost seems passive, however always in control of every detail (i.e. the death-row set). But Keeler also is wise to make this documentary appealing to people who aren't very aware of Lynch's paintings and the process with them. It might be easy, as spotting someone into surrealism like Lynch, to peg him as such simply for the obsession with the bugs. Yet there's more than just that aspect for Lynch, as there's a sense captured about Lynch of taking everything seriously- especially mistakes- for what it can be worth emotionally not just with the end product but in putting all of it together. And, in a way, looking at a Lynch painting or photo (which one person describes as Lynch trying to get a painting to "move" as it were), one gets a sense of how an artist in general tries to achieve something of merit, if only on a personal level that might not even reach most people.
Pretty as a Picture is at least worthwhile for anyone who's ever been all too long in the world of Lynch- the X family's house, the black lodge, Winkies, the apartment in Blue Velvet- but it's also made to be appealing (as far as Keeler can make it, as he isn't usually a documentary filmmaker) for non-fans as well, to get both a general and a specific sense of what the man can do with the materials he wants to work with. Quite frankly, if he wanted to film a fax machine I'd want to watch it; it's probably not without reason he would film it too, depending on the idea of the moment.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?