In 1988, the Figaro magazine asked to a few famous directors a series of short movies, to celebrate the 10 years of the revue. The thematic : The French seen by - The movies have been released for the French revolution bicentenary.
Harry Dean Stanton,
A series of 5-minute line animations (drawn in the rough style and with the minimalist plots of David Lynch's The Angriest Dog in the World comic strip) featuring an angry and violent Neanderthal, and his family and neighbors.
An imaginative lad of about ten has a couple of problems: he wets his bed, and his parents are abusive and disgusting. In a spare room, he finds a bag of seeds, which he plants in soil that he's placed in the middle of a single bed. The seed sprouts and grows into a grandmother, who's loving and approving. Life with his parents and with his imagination continues. Is a smiling grandmother enough to get him through?Written by
an exciting, bizarre-bravura turn of pushing-the-boundaries-of cinema
The Grandmother, like other surreal short films (and, of course, like the rest of Lynch's work), is not that concerned with logic, at least in conventional terms. If there is anything at all conventional about the the film is that it has at its core that small statement on youth and innocence that can be interpreted a hundred ways to Sunday- if you're lonely and dejected you'll look for companionship. It's just that in this case the conventional wisdom of finding someone at the playground or at school is bypassed- here the boy, in isolation from his barking, mad parents, plants and grows a grandmother to spend time with. But is it all as it should be? Lynch, much as he did with Eraserhead, leaves so much up to interpretation that on a first viewing it's almost not even necessary to find something coherent in what goes on. But in that sense, of course, many will likely be befuddled, disturbed, and maybe even offended at the lack of typical cohesion from start to finish.
What it does provide, however, is a kind of cinema experience that has to be felt, seen, heard, taken in as cinema on the technical and artistic side of things always goes. Even when I didn't know what was "going on" with the boy and his grandmother and parents, I didn't mind as long as I knew Lynch was doing something with the camera or lighting or editing or music or animation or all of the above to make it a visceral experience. Yes, there are some tedious moments here and there (which, even in being a 35 minute short film, are possibly more so than the ones in Eraserhead), yes the first two to three minutes takes some time to adjust to, and yes there ending is left about as ambiguous as can be. But it shook me up all the same, like the best parts of 90's music videos. Any time, for example, that Lynch used a sort of stop-motion technique during the live action I was thrilled in a way. The animated sequences have a crude quality that could only be matched by Gilliam's Python animations. And the actors (or maybe just pieces) in Lynch's macabre framing and set ups and pay off seem all perfect for the parts.
If you're already a fan coming on to this DVD set of Lynch short films, this may or may not come as the most eccentric, wonderfully outrageous of the lot of them; it could also be for some the most 'huh' of all of the films as it is the longest and with the most density in the surrealism. It is the mark, interested in it or not, of an artist leaving something out for a good look and soak into what it is or could be or is lacking. Grade: A
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