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399 out of 517 people found the following review useful:
The film Lynch has been working towards all his career, 10 October 2006
Author: Greg from New York
I just saw this film at the New York Film Festival followed by a Q & A
session with David Lynch, Laura Dern, and Justin Theroux. I will try my
best to recount my thoughts while they are fresh, and incorporate what
the film maker and actors had to say.
"I can't tell if it's yesterday or tomorrow and it's a real mind f---"
This single quote from Laura Dern sums the movie up fairly well. It is also one of the self- referential moments of the film that explores the audiences very thoughts while providing some comic relief.
Lynch's new film, INLAND EMPIRE, is similar to his other work, but unlike anything he's ever done, or I've ever seen before. As one reviewer aptly put it, it is a double reference to Hollywood and the inner workings of the human brain. Before I discuss the substance of the film I will briefly review the technical aspects.
First of all, the movie is not unwatchable (because of clarity purposes) as some critics had said, although I did see it at the Lincoln Center which has a beautiful theater and top quality facilities. The digital camera works well for this film. It lose some of the cinematic flourish of film, but also brings a more realistic, gritty feel to it that is appropriate for the theme. The lighting and production were top quality as usual for a Lynch film and the score sets every scene brilliantly. Often times we can't tell if the sound is diegetic or non-diegetic, but it makes no difference.
Lynch said that he used the digital camera to give him freedom. You can see much more movement in this film than his others, giving an almost voyeuristic feel. He also uses many close shots, and as always, obscure framing allowing ambiguity and confusion. Lynch really explores the freedom of movement and editing that is available with digital, and you can feel his energy and zest in the new medium. The moments of suspense and terror are so well done - there are several scenes that will literally make you jump - that I found a Hitcockian brilliance of using subtlety, indirectness, and sound to convey emotion rather than expensive special effects. Of course, there are other scenes that would qualify as downright freaky.
The movie is completely carried by Laura Dern, and not because she is in 90-95% of the scenes. Her character(s) morph and change so often in identity and time that it is hard to believe it is her in every role. Her range and ability to work consistently over so many years and under the conditions of this film is mind blowing. It is one of the finest performances I've seen by an actress or actor.
The film itself is hard to summarize. Most of you know the basic plot, but this really means nothing about the film. It has no type of linear story line and the converging and diverging plot lines are connected by only the most simple threads, time, location, memory ("Do I look familiar? Have you seen me before?") identity, and people who are good with animals. It would be a disservice to this film to try to find meaning or symbolism as I see some people already are. It is not a mystery to be solved, as Mulholland Dr. was (though that film never will be solved either). It is a movie that plays off of ideas, color, mood, it presents intangible emotions that we feel and internalize rather than think about and solve. Film doesn't need a solution to make sense, but it is typical for us to want solve things, to have closure. This film is better if you just let it wash over you and surrender the urge to find meaning.
The three hour running time makes no difference because the movie moves in and out of itself with no regard for time. Using so many scenes allows time to effect the viewer much as the characters themselves. As the characters question time and reality, the audience does too. As the scenes slowly build up, giving us reference, we start to wonder where we saw that character, who said that line before, what location fits into what part of the sequence and how, leading up to the Laura Dern quote I used before. It doesn't ask us to think, but to feel, and it does this better than any film I've seen. It plays on our emotions with intense sound and cinematography, grasping fragments from dreams, sliding in and out of reality, exploring nightmares, and asking us what time and reality really are. The film is also very self-conscious as I said before, and also makes many subtle (and not so) pokes at the audience. It also has some truly surreal moments of Lynch humor.
Explaining all this doesn't really matter because you will have to see it and take your own idea from it. I would recommend that you see it in a theater though, as it could never have the same impact anywhere else. I was skeptical going into this movie after what I had read, thinking Lynch had gone off the deep end. However, I realized nothing you read about it will make a difference once you see it, and that Lynch is in better form than ever. Ebert said that Mulholland Dr. was the one experiment where Lynch didn't break the test-tube. With INLAND EMPIRE he throws the lab equipment out the window. His freedom in making this movie, both with medium and artistic control, is unparalleled in anything he's done. He finally made a movie for himself and his vision, without any kind of apology or pretense.
288 out of 397 people found the following review useful:
Mulholland Drive on Acid, 12 October 2006
Author: illuminousgurkin from Wales
I saw INLAND EMPIRE at the Venice Film Festival world premiere last
month. I want to keep this review short due to the fact that writing in
great detail about this film is useless. INLAND EMPIRE is an
experience. An experience not to be written about but to be FELT. It is
David Lynch's definitive work. It's everything he has ever wanted to
put into a film and it's completely free from anyone else's taming
influence. The film is suffocating, dark and endless yet paradoxically
contains some of the director's funniest and lightest scenes. I was
frightened, uneasy, overwhelmed and moved. My emotions were thrown into
disarray several times during which I lost all sense of appropriate
reaction. Do not expect the mystery of this film to be solved, but
expect it to be finished. Do not expect your head to understand the
resolution but expect that your heart and intuition will.
If you cannot decide whether to see this film or not, I implore you to get up and go. Whether or not you enjoy it, you will never see a film like this again. I also implore you to see it IN THE CINEMA. Do not wait to see it on DVD because the experience won't be half as extraordinary.
238 out of 298 people found the following review useful:
I would like a red plumb floating in perfume served in a gentleman's hat., 8 December 2006
Author: manythings711 from NYC
Much can be said about David Lynch but I think the mistake most people
make is to think that he is trying to create a coherent and straight
forward narrative structure. He is working on a subconscious level in
his mind. The idea comes before the reason behind the idea. In many
ways this is how art should be created because any other way will feel
forced and pretentious.
David Lynch is not just trying to f*k with you. Its not meaningless and its not pretentious. If you've ever seen his interviews he is one of the most humble and soft spoken directors I've ever seen. Justin Theroux did a Q & A after my screening of Inland Empire and he described working with lynch as light hearted and fun. The complete opposite of what its like to watch some of his films which are often dark, terrifying, and disturbing.
Inland Empire is a sister film to Mulholland Dr. As my wife put it, "Watching Mulholland Dr. helped me to understand Inland Empire." They are two sides of the same coin. Lynch still seems to want to take a stab at the evils of Hollywood. His concern for the well being of actors is strong but this time instead of a new comer (Naomi Watts) he deals with one older actresses come back role and like Mulholland Dr. their are the evil producers behind the scenes and even the added possibility of a cursed set.
I am a huge Lynch fan. I don't find his films hard to understand. I am not a very intellectual person but Lynch's themes are so simple. The visuals are to be enjoyed on their own terms especially when they seem not to fit with the rest of the film. A lot of lynch's trademarks return, the dual personalities, time folding in on itself, gratuitous nudity, and another tragic murder mystery.
While this film does feel like a retread of Mulholland Dr. it also stands on its own especially since it contains a much more upbeat ending and perhaps four layers of storytelling,good luck figuring out which is which. He also continues to experiment with sound and even sings the vocals to a song in the film.
I got exactly what I wanted from Inland Empire. The downside to this is that Lynch is sort of repeating himself and I hope that doesn't mean he's out of ideas or perhaps Mulholland Dr. did not yet exercise his disdain for the studio system. The film is part murder mystery and part lucid dream. It has dream logic and has a lot of fun with some of its bizarre dialog and incredible visuals. This film also has much in common with Eraserhead in that he's completely free to explore his ideas. No one is telling him to shorten the film, cut out scenes, or that it doesn't make sense. Its uncompromising and truly art without boundaries.
My only other criticism is that the digital video is just ugly at times. When the shot is static the amount of detail in the picture can be incredible but when its hand held and moving around its grainy and looks pretty terrible. I miss the polished look of his older films but I guess that is going to be another thing that sets this movie apart from the others. I highly recommend this film to the Lynch enthusiast and to no one else. If you aren't in on the joke then I cannot imagine you leaving the theater happy after three hours of pure, free from concentrate, unpasteurized lynch. I went to see this with my wife and my best friend needless to say only I loved it. Take that as you will.
171 out of 251 people found the following review useful:
A nightmare to remember: Lynch back on the edge, 7 October 2006
Author: Chris Knipp from Berkeley, California
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Inland Empire: it means Los Angeles, the place of Lynch's inspiration,
but also the inward realm of the mind and of dreams, the surreal world
of Lynch's imagination that uniquely inspires his visual poems. This
new work, three hours long but unified by a savage and harrowing
performance by Laura Dern channeling three or four or more overlapping
personalities growing out of a lengthy free-standing monologue that was
the film's starting point, is proof that the man isn't playing; hasn't
lost his touch; still produces work unlike any other, work to be
DL explores a universe reachable only by going past the rational mind. It is a realm where a character, in the present case particularly the characters played by Dern (the press cliché is 'career-defining performance'), turns into other characters and turns again. It's a realm where there's another world behind the sound stage and that other world is another life, another identity, another set of terrors. And we go there; we come back; and we go there again.
After becoming the desperate monologist, Dern also became "Nikki," a movie star chosen with "Devon" (Justin Theroux) to star in a film, 'On High in Blue Tomorrows', directed by "Kingsley" (Jeremy Irons). And "Kingsley" works with "Freddie" (Harry Dean Stanton) a co-director who cadges money from stagehands and actors and apologizes saying, "I used to carry my own weight." On High in Blue Tomorrows turns out to be a remake of a doomed film, '4/7', never finished because both stars were murdered, and based on a Polish gypsy folktale. In the film Nikki, as "Sue," is cheating on her husband, and during the shoot Nikki's "real life"husband warns her not to do it for real. But of course she does: the film relationship parallels "real life," and the stars find they're confusing themselves with their film characters, just as it happens in Michele Piccioni's recent film, La vita che vorrei.
That expletive-strewn 14-page ("single-spaced") ur-monologue that anchors the film was shot in the back of DL's house with a Sony PD-150 digital video camera he'd started to use in connection with his website, www.davidlynch.com, "a common midrange model" that sells now for $2,724. The monologue became the ground of being and the Sony became the simple visual tool that gave 'Inland Empire' its content and its visual style. Lynch has switched to DV for good, saying a sad farewell to the glorious beauties and cumbersome complexities of celluloid, and for this film embraced DV's limitations. He does not try to make it look like film. DL admits people say the quality is "not so good." "but it's a different quality. It reminds me," he says, "of early 35- millimeter film. You see different things. It talks to you differently" (NYTimes, Dennis Lim).
This reversion, if you will, to a cruder visual medium (but one that's in many ways more fluid, both for the actors who can work through without pauses and the editor who has handy software and the crew who can be fewer, and work lighter), has stirred up the director's creative juices, brought him back in a way to the raw energies and immediacy of Eraserhead. Thus it's a return to youthful beginnings and yet something completely new. It's burning the bridges and rediscovering roots at the same time., which basically is what any artist to stay alive needs to do.
Dern anchors the film, but it has many elements that need anchoring. There is the disreputable husband of the disreputable monologist, who joins a Baltic circus.There's a woman played by Julia Ormond, who's first seen in a sleazy backyard with a screwdriver in her stomach, and later reappears as Billy's wife. And there's a Polish thread which grew out of Baltic connections DL has forged and in the structure of ideas may trace back to the origins of the film of Devon and Sue (be the ur-'4/7'). There's a weeping Polish prostitute, watching a TV monitor on which appears a sitcom shot on a stage with people wearing rabbit heads; a laugh track creates a disquieting effect because the laughs come at "meaningless" points, giving the lines a sinister ring. Later the screen shows Sue. Slant magazine's Ed Gonzales smartly refers to the monitor as one of various "portals" through which characters merge into other worlds (go through the looking-glass; fall through rabbit-holes). Clearly it's all in the editing, and those who feel DL's creations are chaotic and portentously meaningless overlook his canny sense of structure.
There's a group of pretty prostitutes in a motel room, who talk to Laura Dern's character and sing and dance, "Do the Locomotion," and then at the end lipsynch Nina Simone's "Sinner Man" behind the closing credits -- one of the great closing credits of recent decades, a rollicking, gorgeous episode, which cheers you up but still contains flashes (Laura's face) that haunt you with memories of the strangeness and terror that's passed.
These are some of the interlocking boxes of 'Inland Empire'. DL mocks the idea of the "real" while using the concept to slide in between worlds.
All this is gloriously cinematic.
The film "technically" has no US distributor, though it has many European ones and the French Studio Canal signed on early at the stage when DL said he was using DV and didn't know what he was doing.
The whole of 'Inland Empire' perhaps "resembles the cosmic free fall of the mind-warping final act in Mulholland Drive" (Lim), but on the other hand it has someone to "identify" with (if you can stand the ride) in Laura Dern, who dominates the film and threads it together. Her full-ranged performance is sure to gain much mention at year's end.
After fifteen years of disappointment with and doubt about DL, it is possible to love his work again.
172 out of 267 people found the following review useful:
Lynch's Best Film, Hardest to Watch, Yet Most Rewarding... A Masterpiece., 18 December 2006
Author: surenm from Los Angeles, CA
Inland Empire is the Man with a Movie Camera of the 21st Century. It is
the most experimental, surreal, and technically brilliant film I may
have ever seen. Lynch proves that all he needs is a simple DV camera to
show the world the entire range of human emotions and the human
experience from the happiest to the darkest moments we must go through
to achieve salvation and cleansing of the soul. This film is not so
much about a particular story or narrative as it is about analyzing,
exploring, and creating a visual palette for ideas about traveling to
and from the past, present, and future as it relates to our constant
journey back and forth into our own psyches and our collective
unconscious. Each of Lynch's films explores the mind in terms of
Jungian philosophy, focusing particularly on The Shadow; however,
Inland Empire goes further in this direction than any film previous to
it. If Mulholland Drive was 25% a dark and surreal suspense thriller
ghost story and journey into the nether regions of the mind and 75%
classical, yet not necessarily structural or connected narrative,
Inland Empire is 10% straight narrative and 90% raw psychological
horror ghost story.
The journey is long and hard but at the end you will be rewarded with the kind of peace and serenity that can only come from a meditation this long, deep, and powerful. I was filled with only inner bliss as I left the theatre and slept like a baby, completely at peace. This is David Lynch's most powerful film and speaks volumes on the many unexplored topics of how this medium can communicate, terrify, and heal in ways we have not yet even begun to understand.
210 out of 348 people found the following review useful:
wow!, 8 September 2006
Author: ponghia from Venice, Italy
I saw INLAND EMPIRE at the Venice Film Festival and I think it's incredible... surely the most strange Lynch's film. A terrible nightmare of about 3 hours! I love Lynch's films and I think that INLAND EMPIRE resumes his whole filmography! And I want to underline also the interpretation of Laura Dern. She's absolutely fantastic! You can't pretend to understand completely the story (it's more confused than Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive...) but you'll be captured by the sounds, the lights, the changes of rhythm... David has written the screenplay day by day and also the actors couldn't understand what they were doing... I think you should see this wonderful film of one of the best contemporary director.
122 out of 176 people found the following review useful:
Kieslowski Films Joyce, 11 May 2007
Author: tedg (tedg@FilmsFolded.com) from Virginia Beach
I saw this during a period of extreme emotional stress, probably the
best possible mode. It was also surrounded by my listening to "Big
Fish," Lynch's book, read by himself. The contrast is astonishing:
Lynch's banal aphorisms in the book with rich, multilayered cinematic
literacy in the film. Yet another lesson in relative articulation and
the notion that an artist often is the worst authority on himself.
Let's have no mistake: this film is important. I place it on my list as one of the two films of 2006 that you must see.
There's a lot to say about this. I think I'll let others comment on Dern's attunements, and the general notion of the story having to do with guilt and sexual desire.
I'll comment only on two aspects which struck me. The first was how Polish this movie is. Its Polish within the story of course: a good half of the action involves Poles. The plot device is a Polish curse that somehow bends time and causality. And there are some Polish locations as well.
But the thing is shot using Kieslowski's mannerisms. Its a peculiar style that to my knowledge no one else has used. It focuses on two motions: that of the environment as space which governs and changes. And that of the characters in motion, but situated in the spaces. With Kieslowski, he literally splits these in the writer's mind by having his writing partner handle the noir bits, the controlling fate, and he handling the independently sprouting human seeds within. Lynch handles both sides by imposing schizophrenia.
But its Polish in other ways too. The actor as Golem. The environment as interleaved worlds, each creating the others by being. Its a Kabbalistic concept. Both are characteristically Polish, usually associated with Polish Jews, but more deeply Polish. You can see how Lynch understands this because he quotes "The Saragossa Manuscript," a Polish film about interweaving of kabbalistic worlds and the causal confusion that it brings.
The second thing is how he exploits this merger of folded narrative -- where actors write new worlds; layered emanations where worlds spawn others -- not parallel but linked in generative fate; geometric cosmology in which each act creates symmetries we encounter elsewhere.
He does all this by elaborating on the symmetries of cause. Ordinarily something causes something else, never backwards. Here it IS backwards, forwards, sideways -- all the eight dimensions that an advanced student of the Maharishi knows... causal symmetries that have a geometry that doesn't quite merge with the geometry of causality. Oddly, the story does make sense if you simply relax the causality a bit -- its much more accessible than the "Twin Peaks" meander.
I guess I should say that this is after the manner of the structure of "Finnegans Wake." Its not as elaborate of course. It didn't take 17 years and the deliberate intent of conflating all metaphors. But it is placed in a dream logic, a softening of the walls and hinges of what we make up as the logic of real life. Its Joycean through and through and not -- as some would say -- "surreal" as if anything not real is bent reality.
I know of a few filmmakers who can work with these notions: Medem, Greenaway, Madden, Ruiz. This is the most delicate and focused I've seen in a long, long while. You really must spend time with it. You must.
Here's a serious piece of advice though. See Lynch's "Rabbits" episodes first, separately, ideally a week or so ahead. Take them in as a standalone piece, a remarkable piece of film. Some of it is in this film, excerpted, extended, reshot and literally entered by all the Dern characters. But you'd be better having that anchor before starting this tempestvoyage.
Ted's Evaluation -- 4 of 3: Every cineliterate person should experience this.
104 out of 153 people found the following review useful:
One of the few films to actually scare me - a wild, beautiful trip, 3 December 2006
Author: SweeneySkip from Texas
I just saw the NY premier of Inland Empire, and it was so refreshing to
once again be transported in a way only David Lynch can transport
somebody. Inland Empire is Lynch at his best - funny, thoughtful,
eerie, beautiful, dark, deeply disturbing, and terrifying in a way that
few horror films have ever affected me. The film is a slow burn, taking
its time (about 3 hours), leaping through realities and bizarre
encounters, continually keeping the audience asking themselves what
reality they are experiencing, and what that reality means.
Laura Dern gives an outstanding performance as the tagline's "girl in trouble." She goes to places I don't ever remember seeing her go, from the naive to the terrifying, truly exposed. I've heard Lynch is campaigning for an Oscar nod for Ms. Dern, so maybe this is the one. She really blew me away.
This film - like all of Lynch's endeavors - is certainly not for everyone. It's vague, bizarre, jumps all over the place, and at times is deeply frightening (one of the few films in a long time to actually give me nightmares), but in my opinion it's also truly beautiful, almost serene. If you like a linear, clear-cut story, then don't see this film. If you appreciate non-linear, surreal drama/horror, however, then by all means go see it. Lynch is independently producing this, so I know he's banking on a lot of word of mouth for Inland Empire to be successful. Help him out. It's a fantastic film.
124 out of 193 people found the following review useful:
Art (Not really possible to write a spoiler, but there is an interpretation here), 7 January 2007
Author: mstomaso from Vulcan
Lynch has very high artistic integrity.
Lynch will never tell us what any of his films are about - if indeed he knows or would ever admit that a film might be about something in particular. There can be no evaluation of any specific interpretive approach. There must be such an approach, whether conscious or not. Lynch would likely disagree. He's right - and some of the disappointed reviews expressed here by his fans are nice examples of why this is so. I am sure he would also understand and agree with my rebuttal - "Who cares, it's fun"
When fans either gush about the brilliance of a piece of work or resort to name-calling ("pretentious hipsters??"), the film is, like most works of art, not going to allow much of a middle-ground.
A lot of smart and well-written reviews here on IMDb treat the technical aspects of the film. This review is not about HOW the film was done, but rather WHAT the film does.
If you haven't seen the film, try this review on. If it doesn't fit, then I can't recommend seeing Inland Empire. If you do keep reading, get it into your head that there is no spoiler here, really. The interpretation offered below is not even an opinion -it is simply a facile, creative construct I use heuristically for talking about the film after my first viewing.
If you have seen this film, you will probably view the interpretation below as too simplistic - that is, if you got it. That's fine. I do not care, but feel free to send me a note if you want to discuss it. Keep in mind - as I stated above - I am simply using this interpretation as a means for discussion. Don't take it too seriously, I really don't care to defend this.
Laura Dern should win two academy awards for Inland Empire - for Best Actress as Nikki and for best supporting actress as Nikki's role of a lifetime - Susan. But she won't get nominated because this film will be systematically ignored by the mainstream.
Why bring up acting talent so early in the review? Because this inherently non-linear film (though it is more linear and plot driven than Eraserhead, Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway) offers one of many possible (possibly an infinite number of) linear interpretations - the film is/could be about acting and losing one's identity in a role. It could all be going on in Dern/Nikki/Susan's head as she comes to grips with what she is doing in the three levels of "reality" portrayed.
If this particular interpretation were chosen, the free association between the roles played by the Polish actress/victim/perpetrator of the film "47" and that played by Dern's actress/victim/perpetrator in "Blue Skies" create a meta-text which, though unseen and unexplicated throughout the film, nevertheless identifies its subject as the disassociation and power of performance and creativity in the production of fiction/reality/drama.
This interpretation is suggested by all of the many seemingly out of place and jarring details in the film - the usual red herrings Lynch throws at us to suggest that there may be some linear subtext in all of the sensual experience offered by his sumptuous, immersive films.
- scenes from the Polish film
- reenactment of the film by Susan - possibly in her dreams or fantasies
- The placement of the Polish actress into a couple seemingly disparate and unconnected roles (which, in fact make the creation of "Blue Skies" and the folklore surrounding its predecessor "47" unite at a different interpretative level)
-The rabbit people performing within the television with an incoherent but suggestive script and an absurd laugh track
- and especially their audience (key to this interpretation because of its chronological placement in the narrative and the identity of the viewer).
-Nikki's opening and closing scenes and Grace Zabriskie's foreshadow which identify closure for the meta-plot.
- The seemingly anachronistic white noise and record-cutting scenes and sound-cues, which occur at crucial transitions between the alternative realities inhabited by Nikki's disassociated personalities.
If any of you find this interpretation compelling and would like to hear more about it, feel free to send a note. It is, in my opinion, just as worthless as any other interpretation of art - probably better left unexpressed and unexplained. But if having something linear to talk about helps you, you are welcome to further pursue it. Do not mistake this interpretation as an opinion. I have no opinion concerning the plot of this film.
For my part, I completely understand the film through and/or without the interpretation above.
Which pathway to the palace (is it Alan Smithee's House on the set?) I might chose, whether through the back alley or the front entrance to the studio (as the interpretation above offers) - I get it - just as I always "get" Lynch more than most directors.
For fellow admirers of Lynch: IMO, This is a more coherent film than Eraserhead, a more upbeat and enjoyable film than Lost Highway, a less commercial film than Mulholland Drive (though it does bear some thematic resemblances largely because both films are overt self-referential interpretations of American media culture). You might talk about it for hours afterward, but this discussion will mostly only help you to know the people you attended it with better. Let it pour through your mind and soul.
No profitable comparison to Lynch's more linear films can be made, although, on a second viewing of IE I may wish to spend some time thinking about the connection between the exploitation themes in Elephant Man and this film.
Of course, the directing, camera work, and especially the sound design are flawless. Goes without saying.
84 out of 116 people found the following review useful:
Well..... here goes...., 10 October 2006
Author: Mr Parker (email@example.com) from New York City
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw this movie this past Monday morning at the NYFF (New York Film
Festival but I'm sure you probably knew that already) and I have to
tell you, I'm at a loss at how to even begin writing this review. I
gave it a little time to sink in and I'll just try my best to give you
For one, as you probably already know, the movie is three hours long. It's one of those three hour movies where you really start to feel it about an hour and a half in. Now, I'm all for a movie of that length and sometimes even longer than that but really now, this movie should get cut down at least by a half hour. It's something that Lynch should consider but it doesn't sound like it's going to happen at the time of this writing. I don't mind watching a film where the director refuses to hold my hand and lets me work the details out for myself but watching this and trying to make any sense of it at all was like walking around in a dark forest with a blindfold on. After three hours of watching something like this, it does get tedious I'm sorry to say.
I read a review somewhere describing the film as "impenetrable". I can't think of a better word to describe it myself. If you were to ask me what this movie was about, I really wouldn't be able to tell you. Now, that's to be expected from a Lynch movie usually but this movie is probably the most abstract thing he's done, Eraserhead notwithstanding. The movie seems to be more about the feeling itself you get from watching it, rather than having any kind of real story to speak of. This feels very experimental, especially considering the fact that it was shot on DV.
I personally hope that Lynch doesn't give up on film completely because I think that while DV proved as an interesting choice in making this film, I think that very few people can give you beauty on film like Lynch does.
The movie is loaded with those signature Lynch moments of menace that seem to treasure slowly approaching the corners of long hallways where something horrible may be waiting. Lots of tense, dark scenes with eerie music that suddenly becomes an assault on the senses. If you think of the diner scene near the beginning of Mulholland Drive, you'll know what I'm getting at. Now that I think about it, the film reminded me of Mulholland Drive in that it seemed to have it in for the falsity of Hollywood at times. I got that out of it, at least.
The acting was superb. Laura Dern plays what feels like four or five different roles and her range is simply astounding. I've grown to appreciate Justin Theroux over the years and his character in this film is somewhat similar to the one he played in Mulholland, the cocky ladies man type but I really liked him in this. Also, this movie contains many of Lynch's old cast members and it was always fun to see who would pop out next.
What I really liked about the film was the soundtrack. It's full of Angelo Badalamenti's dark work and there's a couple of great songs in there as well. I downloaded Beck's "Black Tambourine" after hearing it played in the film. I will definitely pick up the soundtrack for this one if it is ever released.
There were surreal, beautiful moments that I should at least mention. There was a scene near the end involving a lighter that was really moving for some reason. There was also a kind of spiral, time warp, loop thing similar to when Bill Pullman answered himself on his house intercom (in Lost Highway). You'll see what I mean when you watch the film but it was definitely one of the better moments.
I love David Lynch, I love just about everything he's done but in all honesty, this isn't a movie I'm necessarily dying to see again. I really want to tell you that I loved the film but I honestly can't. I do appreciate the effort. This is a film unlike anything I've ever seen before, that much can be said. It's just as weird as anything else he's done and if you're looking for a good dose of Lynchian madness, believe me when I say that you don't need to look any further. There are many of those strange moments where characters say strange things or act strange in general and wouldn't you know it, even a musical number or two sneaks its way in. I appreciate the man and I appreciate the fact that he makes daring, original work. But this was borderline frustration.
I guess all I can say is that I liked a lot of it but at the same time, I really felt like I was wading through mental molasses trying to grasp what unfolded before me. There really is no sense in trying to make sense of this film but there's obviously some sort of story or message that Lynch is trying to get across that I couldn't get to and I think that's why I'm slightly put off. I didn't mind letting it engulf me in its strange universe but I think the length of it made it a little tough to appreciate fully.
I didn't even mention the family of bunny rabbits. Or the random visits to Poland. Or the Locomotion dance number. Or the screwdrivers. But you can see all of that for yourself and make of it what you will.
RATING: *** out of *****.
PS I really tried to write an honest review of the film. I sincerely hope that at the very least, I was able to give you an idea of what to expect.
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