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8/10
Stands on its own as a great, surreal and dark, short.
Ben_Cheshire22 April 2004
One of the most disturbing things i've ever seen. The actors in this film, David Lynch's third film technically, but his first narrative film, were never in any other movies - one of them, Father, died a few years ago - it is as if they exist only in the frightening nightmare world of this boy's life, which consists of two dog-like parents who only bark at him with unintelligible sounds, and beat him and rub his face in the urine when he wets the bed, like a puppy. The subject of the film (and if i don't tell you this, it'll make so little sense to you, because its never properly explained in the film) is the boy has no love from his parents, and no grandmother to give him respite from them and comfort him, so he grows one in the attic.

It is a horrifying, brilliant film, which creates an imaginative world very successfully - albeit one you desparately want to escape from as soon as possible, but it does this well at least.

The Lynchian oeuvre is almost fully formed here, right from the start. Little dialogue, atmospheric soundtrack of constant sound effects which you find in Eraserhead, Elephant Man, Lost Highway and Mulholland Dr; impressionistic approach to performance and makeup/costume and sets; the quality of estrangement in the direction, and most importantly there is the union of terrible, twisted darkness and optimistic naivety (developed to the full in Blue Velvet and Mulholland Dr).

For Lynch fans, this is a thing to see. Unlike Six Men Getting Sick or The Amputee, this is not just an experiment or an early film of a Director that ruins your impression of them, it stands on its own, irrespective of Lynch's subsequent work (though it also sets the tone for his subsequent narrative work) as a great surrealist/impressionist narrative short.
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Interesting forerunner to Eraserhead
Michael_Cronin19 October 2003
Long-time Lynch collaborator Jack Nance once said that watching The Grandmother was like spending half an hour in the electric chair. Mixing live action (both colour and black & white) with animation, along with a dark & unsettling soundscape created by Alan Splet (still Lynch's sound designer today, three decades later), the film is an intensely disturbing experience.

The Grandmother deals with the story of a boy, abused by his brutal, animal-like parents, who grows himself a kindly grandmother in the attic.

Although it does suffer from a certain 'student film' feeling, this half-hour short is a must-see for all fans of David Lynch, particularly those who admire the stark & surreal world of Eraserhead. One can definitely see the genesis of Lynch's next film within it.
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A Powerful and real look of childhood
gordon_cole31 May 2001
No matter how cynical you make think this film is, it is very realistic in what our world looks like as children. Dysfunctional families are all around us and we experience neglect very often. A child's point of view of course, is always exaggerated. I can relate to some of what is shown in "The Grandmother." Throughout my childhood my grandmother was the only person i could turn to. My parents talk, and their life during my childhood was very blurred to me. And the horrifying things that happen are more horrifying than they really are as a child. Lynch may have imaged this film out of nowhere, but it still speaks. The use of sound, and animation is powerfully effective. This is a must for Lynch fans!
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POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD: One of the greatest short films in existence
Avant-garde_Addict29 July 2004
Warning: Spoilers
David Lynch's The Grandmother is a 34-minute-long experimental nightmare. The absurdly dark, ominous visuals suggest the film is set inside a madman's nightmare, though it actually refers to the nuclear American family gone horribly wrong. Dialogue-free except for primal grunting and barking, The Grandmother is carried solely through dramatic acting and striking visuals. The soundtrack is cramped with white noise such as discordant grating, creaking and droning that compliments the already disturbing atmosphere. Lynch mixes hand-drawn animation with live-action in an effort to create a world as disturbing as it is surreal.

The film's four characters remain nameless, appearing to be generic symbols.

The Boy, whom the narrative centers on, is neglected and abused by his parents who treat him like an unwanted nuisance. They literally bark, growl, and crawl on all fours, symbolizing their distance from being human. All of the actors are caked with white powder makeup that causes their skin to glow brightly amidst the ultra-high contrast photography. The Boy's only attire is a black tuxedo with a bow tie, which combined with his solemn, pain-stricken face suggests he is attending an eternal funeral. Perhaps the Boy is dressed for his own funeral, because his life appears to be 'dead' on a symbolic level. The Father always wears a stained, moth-eaten white undershirt with equally dreadful boxer shorts. The photography is so high contrast that you often only see the Boy's stark white face and hands 'floating' around the pitch black background. On the opposite spectrum, the Father's bright clothes appear to jump out of the darkness, making his presence dominant and obvious.

Despite the abstractness of The Grandmother, several themes appear evident. The Boy expresses the loneliness and pain that accompanies a household with abusive and neglectful parents. The Grandmother character, who the Boy secretly grows from a plant-like seed in the attic, symbolizes warmth and comfort. The Boy both figuratively and literally 'grows' a parental figure, comparing the growth of love to that of a plant. The Boy's actions suggest that love should be treated like growing a plant: you first plant the seed, then nurture it until it matures into something full and complete.

After much attention and care, the Boy's plant grows into a massive, pulsating cocoon out of which the Grandmother crawls from, fully clothed and aged. The Boy and Grandmother immediately embrace and offer each other much-needed comfort. His world seems brighter for the time being, but his living nightmare is far from over. Ultimately, nothing lasts forever, as this film appears to suggest.

The Grandmother is highly recommended for fans of the avant-garde, or anyone looking for something different. If you thought Eraserhead was Lynch's darkest and weirdest film, wait until you see this small miracle.
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10/10
Like waking up from a strange nightmare!
NateManD12 August 2005
"The Grandmother" has got to be one of the strangest works of David Lynch next to "Eraserhead". In order to get the film made, Lynch got a grant from the American Film Institute. Too bad AFI doesn't fund amazing films like this anymore. In some aspects the film looks like it had a huge influence on "Begotten" (1991), except "The Grandmother" is only about 34 minutes and never wears out it's welcome. The story concerns a boy, who has very mean and abusive parents. They act like animals and only talk in barks. The little boy is very pale and Gothic looking, and almost all the film's sets are painted pitch black in darkness. This causes images to pop right out. The boy plants seeds in his bed, a huge abstract stump like object grows and gives birth to an old lady. The old lady seems to give the boy peace of mind, like a grandmother would. It's really hard to tell the exact story, since the film feels like a surreal nightmare that leaves the viewer disoriented. The music and experimental sound mix sounded way ahead of 1970. This only added more impact to it's disturbing imagery. Not to mention, it had some weird animated scenes too. From all the movies I've seen, I'd have to say the best examples of surrealism in film have to be Bunuel and Dali's "Un Chien Andalou", Jodorowsky's "The Holy Mountain" (1973) and David Lynch's "The Grandmother". All three of these films have images that will probably haunt you for the rest of your life.
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Brilliant neo-surrealism
chase_spivey20 December 2002
This film is a must-see for anyone interested in the world of surreal cinema. Combines fascinating visual metaphor with rich, vivid animation to create a disturbing ambience that draws the viewer in, like a fish caught on a hook. The music (provided by a collective of music engineers known as "Tractor") is like a grey canopy that wraps itself over your mind as you find that time and space and your life outside of a cold, flickering living room seem to fade into this backdrop of radioactive multimedia. Make no mistake about it, Lynch is an artist of the highest calibur, and in this gripping work he uses everything in the film as a medium to transmit his imagination to the outside world.

P.S. - If you like Lynch's style, I suggest looking into the films of Alejandro Jodorowsky, Luis Bunuel & Jean Cocteau. All of them brilliant artists in their medium.
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10/10
Another nightmare from David Lynch
preppy-315 September 2006
Sick, disturbing and surreal short from David Lynch. A man and a woman get married and have a son who they don't really want. The child grows up being horribly abused by his parents. Then, in a dark sinister room, he plants a seed who sprouts into a grandmother. She, in a way, shows him the affection his parents never gave him. There's more but I won't spoil it.

The film mixes live actors with animation seamlessly. It has sound but no dialogue--the actors just make sounds somewhat like human speech. It's in washed-out color which certainly fits the subject matter. Also you see Lynch using odd noises on the soundtrack which he perfected years later with "Eraserhead". I'm giving this film a 10 but it is VERY disturbing. It's definitely not for everybody. The abuse scenes are horrible to watch and the nonstop morbidness did start to wear on me, but I couldn't stop watching. It all leads to a very sad ending. Sick, troubling and (at times) horrifying movie but just incredible. A 10 but only for those who can stand extreme subject matter.
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10/10
Cinematography all the way
kyra-615 November 2003
This film is a lesson. A lesson on how you can, with minor means,

create a work which explores all ways of cinematography. And this

without any dialogue. In my idea films are not there to tell a story

(they can be used as such tough) and this movie goes straight

back to the time where films were shown at carnivals and gave you

a glimpse of new worlds to be explored. Don't worry too much about the (lack of) narritive story. Just sit back

and enjoy the huge amount of emotions that will come to you.

Fear, hatred, love and desire for a better world.
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9/10
an exciting, bizarre-bravura turn of pushing-the-boundaries-of cinema
MisterWhiplash12 June 2006
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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Um...right...
DocEmmettBrown26 June 2001
This is a very odd, and rather disturbing short. If you're not into Lynch then give it a wide birth, even if you are, then approach with caution. The story concerns itself with an unhappy boy who grows a grandmother. Well, that's all I could work out anyway. The rest of the film is filled with bed wetting, barking parents, and bizarre animations. Everything is in disturbingly garish colours (generally deep blue), and there isn't a single line of dialogue. See this if you're a die-hard Lynch fan or if you're a budding experimental film maker. If, however, you found Eraserhead too weird then steer well clear.
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4/10
Definitely improved, but still not that good
Horst_In_Translation4 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Let me start by saying that I'm certainly not the greatest David Lynch fan under the sun, especially not when it comes to his very early short films, so my expectations weren't too high to begin with. In the end, it was pretty much what I expected. As weird and surreal as always, with a couple good scenes, but as a whole rather underwhelming. It's Lynch's third film and definitely far superior at least to his first about several men getting sick. The story has some heart when a boy who gets abused verbally and physically by his parents plants a seed that grows into a caring grandmother, who smiles at the little one and gives him the emotional security he's been looking for.

Occasionally it's an interesting mix of live action and animation and I liked the contrast between the B&W-scenes and the several shades of red, mostly related to blood. It started dragging a bit near the 25-minute mark, so I'm not sure the quite long running time was justified for the script, but I can't deny that some factors made it interesting again by adding general weirdness like the decent make-up work or the music, especially the song "You are my best friend." Nonetheless, while it's probably a feast for Lynch lovers, for me it was okay at best and certainly not eye-opening to his work.
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5/10
embryonic David Lynch
mjneu5924 November 2010
Before directing his breakthrough cult classic 'Eraserhead' David Lynch made this thirty-minute art school oddity, sketching on a smaller canvas the same nightmares that would later haunt his feature films. Using a raw, experimental style combining exaggerated live action with naive animation, Lynch flaunts his preoccupation with psychosexual imagery and symbolism, showing all the creative freedom (and many of the pretensions) of an artist discovering his true medium. Yes, the film does have a plot, but it's not really about a boy and his grandmother, any more than 'Eraserhead' was about a man and his baby. Shown on the same program (when I saw it, at the Red Vic Theatre on Haight Street in San Francisco) was the eight-minute animated 'Alphabet', another early Lynch project, and definitely not the sort of pre-school primer taught on Sesame Street. Viewers familiar with his more recent work will know exactly what to expect.
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7/10
I honestly don't know quite what to think of this one, truthfully...
Polaris_DiB10 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Okay. Basically I have only one major thematic element I can really comment on.

In this short, Lynch seems to be particularly keen on dehumanizing humanity in every sense of the word. First, they characters are grown as plants, and they germinate (?) children rather than birth them. Then they're animals, both in personality and actions. Beyond just barking and snuffling and whining like dogs (Matt! Matt! Matt!), the way they treat each other is very abusive and inhuman.

So then what's this whole thing about the grandmother? Is she supposed to be more human because of the love she shares with Matt? That's the reading that's readily apparent, but it doesn't really work out like that. If she was human, why is she a teakettle? Why does she birth, literally, from a tree? The short goes to levels that are hard to really comprehend.

Which is fine. Fully comprehending a Lynch film isn't really the point.

However, I would like to mention that this short has some of the strongest imagery, in a sense, of Lynch's career. The shots especially of the staircase just scream art even though they really aren't that particularly stylistic as compared to a lot of what else he's done. This is a much more aesthetically intriguing world, this short.

--PolarisDiB
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9/10
A cracking 'film'
info-647914 November 2005
I saw this very late one night when I was about 12 years old...I couldn't sleep so I watched this and it was so creepy I still couldn't sleep once it had finished! They say the boy is Lynch and his childhood experiences. To me, his Grandmother represented the love and security he craved and needed. Although she comforts him, her comfort is at times suffocating. I particularly remember that her huge chest smothers him and part of him hates her and fears her. He secretly hopes for her death and keeps putting mirrors over her face whilst she sleeps to check if she is still breathing. I'd recommend this to all Lynch fans and anyone who wants to see a sinister film which has little if no dialogue, no colour, no pure narrative, just mood, art and plenty of Lynch genius. I can't recall how it ends but having not seen the film for over 16 years I think that's fair enough. I would like to see it again though, if anyone knows how I can get hold of it..?
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10/10
An amazing (and disturbing) masterpiece
Zarathustras_Crown10 December 2000
Just recently saw this film along with "The Alphabet"...One of the most disconcerting Lynch films I've ever seen...but incredibly brilliant...the portrayal of the animalistic sides of the human psyche, and the "touching of the grandmother" scenes are quite unique...overall, I highly recommend this short film for anyone interested in film as an art. Extra kudo's to those who see the psychological metaphors throughout the film.
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7/10
For Lynch fans only
Andyp-41 April 1999
A short film well worth seeing for those interested in the Lynch oevre. The Grandmother is set in an eerily silent world, reminiscent of Eraserhead, which is punctuated by violent screaming. The stark contrasts throughout the film make for an unsettling experience. Recommended only for those hoping to uncover some secrets about David Lynch (whether you will find them or not is highly questionable!)
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6/10
And?
dbborroughs26 September 2004
I don't know if I was bored by this film because it isn't very good or because the images were stolen by later films. This film reminds me of other films like Forbidden Zone, Begotten and Lynch's own Eraserhead, all of which play better than this story of a boy who grows a Grandmother.

How do you really critique the film? I've seen it before isn't fair especially when this might be the source of what I saw before. It would be like disliking Citizen Kane because it isn't revolutionary in modern eyes.

Try it. It can't hurt. The only thing you really have to lose is 34 minutes of your life, certainly seeing this is better than watching yet another Seinfeld episode.
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10/10
Lynch's point of definition
dankeene54930 September 2005
I first saw this on the "Short Films of David Lynch" DVD a while back, and I was just as fascinated with this early effort as I was with his later work. In fact, I think this was the point that David Lynch's style became more defined in the direction of dark surrealism that only he can devise. Others may try the same kind of style, and some do very well indeed, but this film is indeed a signature that would leave a mark on the rest of his career. The imagery and atmosphere in the setting has a kind of nightmarish ambiance about it; not the kind of "scary" that makes you jump, but more like a domesticated hell. And the animated sequences just might pop up in your memory as you try to go to sleep for the night. Of course I realize that David Lynch might be an acquired taste, but anyone who has a knack for "getting that weird feeling" from watching a movie, then I suggest this short classic (classic in my book anyway).
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Creepy imagery
jbels28 January 2003
The Grandmother is a good companion piece to Eraserhead (I remember when they used to show this on a double bill with Alphabet). Robert Chadwick as the dog/father looks much younger than his actual age. The boundaries broken with the boy in this film are very disturbing. And it is heartbreaking to see a child have to "grow" a comforting parental figure. Great film.
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5/10
Weirdest movie I've ever seen
kuuipo82916 September 2006
My college roommate and I were flipping through channels last night, and were suddenly startled by the image of a pale boy in a suit with seemingly bloodied teeth, looking through a bag to find a seed that was whistling to him. Yeah, we were so flabbergasted by the whole thing that we were in one of those situations where you want to look away, but you can't! We watched it until the "thing" began growing out of his bed and then had to change it because we were getting too freaked out. I really don't understand this movie, but I'm totally curious to see the rest of it! Does anyone who's seen it think it'll give us nightmares tonight, because I think it might. My suggestion: definitely worth checking out! But be prepared to lie awake at night contemplating it.
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Well, this is hard to describe...
Movieman-1575 November 1999
This was the first film I've ever seen from David Lynch, and it's oddly good! A kid, who seems to be abused by his parents, plants a seed on a bed upstairs (?). Soon, it grows into a gross-looking plant from which an old lady climbs out (??). Extremely bizarre and definately not for every taste, but it's oddly entertaining for those that can take it.
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5/10
Annoyingly self important early David Lynch short is still interesting
a_chinn26 November 2017
When setting my DVR for the week and seeing what was playing on TCM Underground, the description for this film, that a boy plants a seed to grow a grandmother, sounded so bizarre I HAD to record it. Watching the film, it's was even stranger than I expected, with a wordless story (the characters do grunt and vocalize), where all the characters in white face paint, filmed on sparsely decorated sets against a black background, and set to an unsettling score made up of what seems to be industrial noises (by a band named Tractor). While watching "The Grandmother," my impression was this seems like a bad version of "Eraserhead," but when the credits rolled I saw that this was in fact written and directed by David Lynch! This short film predates "Eraserhead" and if very amateurish in comparison. I'm a huge David Lynch fan, but "The Grandmother" felt more like a pretentious film major final project than a polished piece of filmmaking, instead brimming with self important, heavy-handed symbolism, amateurish acting, and poor photography. However, even in this primitive state, the visuals are unmistakably Lynchian, filling mundane settings with the surreal, a penchant for the grotesque (the boy stroking the growing grandmother is quite off-putting), and a very precise color palette. You can also sense Lynch's dark humor, although, like many of his earlier films, it's purposefully challenging and hard to watch. So to be sure, this is probably the worst David Lynch film I'd seen (until I watched "The Amputee" right after), but it's still interesting, if at the same time is annoyingly self important.
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8/10
A strange film about a boy who grows a grandmother
Red-Barracuda24 January 2012
After the promise shown in The Alphabet, David Lynch directed this half-hour feature which expanded upon the tones and aesthetics found in that short film. In many ways The Grandmother is a precursor to Eraserhead. Like the latter it's a surrealistic nightmare about dysfunctional people. A young boy is terrorised by his parents. They abuse him for his chronic bed-wetting. So he plants a seed in a pile of dirt in a room upstairs in his house. This in turn grows into a huge plant that gives birth to an older woman; the grandmother. She forms a loving bond with the boy, giving him the companionship he craves.

The film combines live action with animation as did The Alphabet. Except now the live action is more predominant. The content of the film is unashamedly and consistently surreal and is an early showcase for Lynch's bizarre ideas. Both visually and aurally the film is very off-kilter. All the characters have white-painted faces, which stand out in a disconcerting way due to the high-contrast photography and black backgrounds. The strange imagery is complimented by an odd soundtrack where the characters talk in animal-like noises. The parents are so alien to the boy that they literally bark at him.

Like Lynch's other work this is a film that combines the disturbing with the beautiful. Often at the same time. The story isn't really the point here. This is all about mood and atmosphere. It's an essential see for David Lynch fans and an excellent short film.
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8/10
Long Before Eraserhead, There Was...
druid333-226 February 2010
David Lynch,who started out as a painter,moved into conceptual art,then moved into film,first with a piece that involved six animated heads vomiting something like six times (Six Figures Getting Sick). He then moved on to his first short film,'Alphabet',some time later. In 1970,he directed his second short film,'The Grandmother'. To call this film short surreal would be like calling the Grand Canyon vast. 'Grandmother' told the tale of a young boy (played by Richard White,who is just credited as "The boy"),who has to deal with two of the most dysfunctional parents (Virginia Maitland & Robert Chadwick),who crawl around on all fours,bark & whine like a pair of dogs,and make the boy's existence sheer hell. The boy figures there must be something better out there,and from a seed found in a bag marked "seeds" plants the biggest one,from which a kind of spiny vegetation sprouts. When the vegetation/plant gives birth to a full term,adult grandmother (Dorthy McGinnis),the boy now has some kind of link to parental love. David Lynch,in addition to writing & directing this bizarre,dreamy (and occasionally nightmarish),surreal film,also photographs,edits,creates stop motion animation & has a hand in the sound design (with Alan Splet,who also worked with Lynch on Eraserhead). Not widely screened,but well worth seeking out for fans of experimental/avant garde/midnight cult films (it was shot in 16mm,which would somewhat limit it's distribution to cinemas that are equipped for films of that nature). Not rated by the MPAA,but does have some rather unsettling,if not outright disturbing sequences that would give some young 'uns some screwed up nightmares.
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10/10
Wonderful
Scars_Remain12 August 2008
The best David Lynch short I've seen so far is definitely The Grandmother and I am blown away. Each one I see gets better and I still have a few to go. Hopefully that pattern continues. The Grandmother is so extremely well done and so beautiful and it was with a grant and an 8 page script. It's things like this that really makes me think that I might be able to make a real film someday. The feel of this movie is so unique and creepy. I love how Lynch lets us know exactly who his characters are without them saying a single word. This film is definitely a great example of that and of how anyone can do what they set out to do. See this right now if you like David Lynch!
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