so, people liked this movie? i'm sorry, but this film was just not very good. this film was a self-indulgent, three hour student film that seems to have been made by a lynch imitator rather than the man himself.
now, before people go knocking me and saying i didn't "get it," i would like to acknowledge the fact that before this film, i absolutely adored lynch. everything he did was magic for me. after i saw nearly every one of his films on home video, i would rewind it and watch it again immediately afterwards. this was not entirely because i didn't understand what was going on. i'm familiar with lynch's style and the language he uses in order to convey emotion/story/character/time/place etc. i would watch those films again because i couldn't believe the direction they went in. i couldn't believe that any film could effectively show such raw power and emotion. i couldn't believe that despite the twists and turns his films would take, no matter how far he asked his audience to go, i was always there with him every step of the way. and i was never bored.
then he says he's going dv. with a tiny bit of skepticism, i say the man must know what he's doing to make such a bold jump. he says he loves the freedom he's been given with the format. well, with this film, lynch shows us what a man can do with no restrictions whatsoever, and that's to make a three hour, self-indulgent film that is truly a test of endurance for its audience. nobody else in my audience could see that by the time the third hour began, the audience was fidgeting, coughing, going to the bathroom, being really uncomfortably silent? that was one of the most uncomfortable (and NOT in a good way) audiences i have ever seen. people left the theater! including laura dern and justin theroux! where the hell was his editor? even if you were completely lost during lost highway or mulholland dr, you could NEVER call either of those boring films. every person i talked to on the street told me how bored they were by the whole thing. i never looked at my watch once, and i kept thinking that THIS would be the end, then realizing i had a long long ways to go. after the film, there was a brief q&a in which he states that the whole movie, he would write a scene and then shoot it the next day. neither he nor the actors knew where the hell they were going with the film or what the hell they were doing and it showed. whereas all of his other films lead up to an emotional, frightening, and beautiful conclusion, this movie just seems to wander all over the place, meandering towards an unsatisfying end that so desperately aims to reach those goals. the movie, especially towards the end, seems intent to explain to you that it is brilliant, when it is anything but. it never wants to end, because it assumes its audience wants more. the scene that plays over the end credits of the movie is a scene that seems to revel in everything that has come before it. it is a celebratory dance, honoring the strange and macabre world that it has introduced to its audience. it's a wonderful moment, but the movie it is celebrating doesn't deserve it.
and then there are parts that are so inspired that i feel bad to be knocking this movie so hard. laura dern gives the performance of her career. considering the conditions she was working under, it's amazing what she brings to her role(s). theroux and irons are good as well, but they're not given too much to work with. harry dean stanton, in his (barely) ten minutes of screen time is hilarious, as are william h macy and diane ladd, but if you blink, you'll miss them. i was happy to see grace zabriskie back in lynchland, but her scene was too long and shot really awkwardly (lynch continually uses the same shooting style as he did in his internet short darkened room). certain scenes are written and handled with such poignancy and care, it's such a shame that the rest of the movie bogs these moments down. i'd say that in the three hours runtime, there's about 30-45 minutes that are simply amazing, but they're so few and far between it's hard to care. what i love about lynch films are his fabulous and carefully constructed set pieces. most of this film seems so slapdash and hurriedly thought up and put together. his use of music and sound (usually a strong point for him) is also piss poor. there's one scene that utilizes beck's "black tambourine" that's so out of place it's not even funny. it's sloppy, lazy, and too self-involved to care, and over the years, i've come to expect more from lynch.
as for the dv. half the time, the dv images are ugly. images are overexposed, characters blend into the background, and there is horrible pixellation, edge enhancement, and interlacing. the other half of the movie gets so much out of the format, it's mind-boggling to think that these images are part of the same whole. you can almost see lynch and the rest of his crew getting accustomed to the format (or perhaps the image looked good on the days that peter deming showed up to do some "additional lighting" as the credits stated). several shots are taken straight from the "rabbit" shorts while there are repeated references to axxon n. when somebody asked about this during the q&a, lynch (as he is wont to do) gave a very evasive answer. i'm going to assume that much of "inland empire" was meant to be "axxon n," but canal plus stepped in and said, "hey, why don't you make a feature out of this." perhaps that explains why sometimes the footage looks very amateurish while sometimes it looks very polished and professional (i found it remarkable how some of the darker stuff looked, as, anyone who's shot on dv can tell you, shooting in low light can kill your image).
whatever the reason, it further adds to my opinion that this is less a movie and more an artist's masturbation piece. its a unique experience to see pure, unfiltered lynch, but the movie simply has no ground. there was no time for any idea to fully marinate and as a result, most of the movie is dreadfully dull. with the freedom he was given, the man has run wild and lost all sense of control. i suppose some of you might take that as a good thing, but it was too much for me. maybe i was missing something and i desperately need a second viewing, but i couldn't see myself sitting through this again. there just wasn't anybody/anything that i could connect to and no emotional/spiritual resonance/core that could make me care.
i hope somebody out there can persuade me otherwise, but i highly doubt it.
EDIT: like, fuck, an hour after i wrote that, i went online to look at other reviews and i want to see it again. was it REALLY that bad? no matter what, because of the way the movie was shot, it will always be amateurish and disjointed, but all of the positive reviewers seem to have found that emotional core that i was looking for and couldn't find. i suppose i'm gonna have to see it again. if only for the fact that i can't turn my back on lynch that quickly. THERE NEEDS TO BE SOMETHING THERE AND I'M SO TERRIFIED THAT IT JUST ISN'T!!!
i expect a lot of reviews like this when the film opens domestically.