Author Topic: INLAND EMPIRE  (Read 80098 times)

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MacGuffin

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Re: INLAND EMPIRE
« Reply #285 on: August 27, 2007, 11:42:51 AM »
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The Super Fun of It
David Lynch’s Inland Empire comes out on DVD this week. Nathan Lee chats with the director about digital video, putrefied experiences, and tapioca.
Source: Village Voice
 
In the fall of 2006, David Lynch published a book called Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity. "Ideas are like fish," he begins, and the book is his guide to their natural habitat (the unconscious); the best way to hook them (transcendental meditation); and the most effective kinds of bait (desire, intuition).

Along the way, Lynch shares the ingredients of his best-known recipes (Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet), as well as some of the more exotic ideas he’s managed to catch (“I don’t necessarily love rotting bodies, but . . . the textures are wonderful”). Midway between chapters devoted to “Kubrick” and “Common Sense,” a whale emerges from the depths. “I’m through with film as a medium,” Lynch declares. “For me, film is dead.”

Lynch made good on this promise—or bad, depending on your point of view—with last year’s release of Inland Empire, a movie shot with the Sony PD-150, a low-grade digital-video camera considered obsolete for serious feature filmmaking. Like his previous film, Mulholland Drive, Inland Empire tells the story of a woman lost in the labyrinth of self. Laura Dern plays Nikki Grace, a Hollywood actress in the grip of a violent identity crisis, the nature of which is reflected in the elusive, dreamlike shape of the movie. But where the glamorous look of Mulholland Drive referenced the Hollywood past (westerns, musicals, film noir), the rough textures, weak colors, fuzzy depth of field, and structural volatility of Inland Empire resembled nothing so much as YouTube having an epic nightmare.

Audiences expect the unexpected from Lynch, but many critics were appalled by this new direction. In thrall to the vanishing art of 35mm cinema, they failed to appreciate the extraordinary variety and visual richness of Inland Empire, with its encyclopedic investigation into the spatial and textural possibilities of video as video, not a low-rent replacement for film: the distortion of objects looming in the foreground and evocative ambiguity of background shadows; the unique beauty of a video dissolve and the dissolution of forms in “overexposed” light. To dismiss the medium of Inland Empire is to miss the message. Just as Mulholland Drive can be read as a cautionary tale about the effect of movies on consciousness, Inland Empire speaks to the isolation and fragmentation of the post-cinema psyche, the splintering of self in the matrix of the Internet. As such, it may be the first movie masterpiece that doesn’t properly belong in movie theaters.

“Digital makes it what it is,” says Lynch on the phone from his house in the Hollywood Hills. Back in L.A. from the Polish premiere of Inland Empire, the director spoke to me about digital filmmaking, cooking quinoa, and the beauty of the “thing.”

“With traditional shooting on film, the equipment is so big and so heavy you need a large crew,” he says. “And the setup between shots takes a long time—sometimes a very long time. With digital, you have much less downtime—sometimes just moments. So what happens is, you stay in the scene, and there are less things around to break that scene. You’re in it-—you’re in it!” But what precisely are we getting into with Inland Empire? The only explanation Lynch has offered to date is that it’s about "a woman in trouble." What kind of trouble? “Well, you know,” replies Lynch, “I just say it’s about a woman in trouble.” That’s it? “That’s it. I can’t really say, because it putrefies the experience. You see a thing, and that thing has been worked on for a long time until it feels correct as a whole. And then it needs to go out without any additional words. It doesn’t do any good for the director to say this or that—it doesn’t really change people’s opinion. They might come up with something far more interesting out of it.”

Lynch’s reticence to comment on the meaning of Inland Empire extends to the double-disc DVD package. The first simply contains the film as shown in the theaters, without a commentary track. The other disc is made up of nearly three hours of extras and features, including a 70-minute collection called “More Things That Happened.” Incorporated into the body of Inland Empire, this additional material would push the total running time to over four and half hours, but Lynch insists that they be considered apart from the main attraction.

“There are things that don’t go in a film that you can still love,” he says, “but the film’s got to stand on its own. It’s got its own feel, and you don’t want to fiddle with that. Anything else should be separate. So the film is the film, the other things have a bearing on film, but they’re just . . . ”— ha!—“more things that happened.”

And what about “Ballerina,” a study of a woman dancing to a piece of music composed by Lynch? “It’s another thing—it’s just a thing—but to me, it’s a very beautiful thing.” Indeed—whatever else “Ballerina” might be, it makes for a definitive rebuke to anyone who claims video incapable of rivaling the beauty of film. Composited from two different shots, sheathed in a smoke-like emanation, the movements of the dancer are as hypnotic as the infernal close-ups of Wild at Heart or the interstellar oddities of Eraserhead. “Ballerina” might be viewed as a preparatory sketch for the vast canvas of Inland Empire, the trace of an artist refining his technique. A painter before he was a filmmaker, Lynch devotes as much attention to the production design and set decoration of his movies as he does to the performances or cinematography, as can be seen in the montage of behind-the-scenes footage on disc two called “Lynch 2.” “That seems to me the joy of it,” he says of this artisanal care for details. “I mean, the super fun of it!”

As for “Quinoa,” which begins with the filmmaker preparing a recipe based on the hearty grain, then morphs into a beguiling lesson on how to cook up a story, Lynch merely notes: “Well, you know, there’s all these cooking shows. But I don’t cook. I know how to make tapioca from when I was little, and rigatoni because I learned how to make rigatoni. But now I know how to make quinoa. So I did kind of a cooking thing.

“The chef does not make the fish,” Lynch continues. “The chef can prepare that fish and really make it a great meal—a beautiful, you know, thing—but the chef doesn’t make the fish. It’s like you are going along down the street and you get an idea, and it’s a thrilling thing, it’s the whole thing, and it might be a fragment, but that fragment is complete. So you go into this process where more ideas hook onto it, and the more ideas you have, the quicker the rest come to join it. They become like bait, and you just stay true to those ideas. And where intuition comes in is, you’re translating this idea to film and it’s not quite right. Like on a violin note—if you lean a little bit harder on that note, it feels correct, and if you back off a little bit, it doesn’t feel correct. And if you follow this thing, staying true to idea, intuition is your friend. You walk away when it feels correct.”

 
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David Lynch Goes Digital
Why Inland Empire is better on your TV than it was on the big screen.
Source: Slate.com

In recent years, David Lynch has emerged as a tireless proselytizer—of organic coffee, transcendental meditation, and, perhaps most surprising for a onetime celluloid fetishist, digital video. While other veteran filmmakers (Jean-Luc Godard, Spike Lee, Steven Soderbergh) have dipped their toes in the chilly electronic murk of DV, Lynch has jumped right in. "Film is like a dinosaur in a tar pit," he told me when I interviewed him last fall.

Lynch's latest feature, Inland Empire, is his 10th, and his first to be shot in digital video. The movie was an overwhelming experience on the big screen, a three-hour waking nightmare that derives both its form and its content from the splintering psyche of a troubled Hollywood actress, played by Laura Dern. But the natural home for this shape-shifting epic may in fact be the small screen. Watch Inland Empire on the DVD that came out last week and you sense that this lurid, grubby fantasy springs from deep within the bowels of YouTube as much as from inside its heroine's muddy unconscious. The DV that Lynch has come to cherish is the medium of home movies, viral video, and pornography—the everyday media detritus we associate more with television and computer monitors than movie theaters, more with intimate or private viewing experiences than communal ones.

And not only does Inland Empire often look like it belongs on the Internet, it also progresses with the darting, associative logic of hyperlinks. Indeed, parts of the movie originated on Lynch's Web site, davidlynch.com, itself a labyrinth of wormholes and worlds within worlds. The rare major filmmaker who caught on early to the potential of streaming video, Lynch has been creating short films specifically for an online audience since 2001. One of his more popular Web series, Rabbits, in which a rabbit-headed family recites Beckettian non sequiturs (to the sound of canned sitcom laughter), actually made its way into Inland Empire.

The practice of shooting feature films on video only goes back a decade or so, to the introduction of the cheap, compact MiniDV format. The Dogme '95 movement, led by Danish troublemaker Lars von Trier, kicked off the digital revolution, and before long, DV was the default mode for indie filmmaking the world over. Broadly speaking, the first wave of MiniDV films can be grouped into two categories: those that treat video as a language in itself, with its own expressive potential (the first Dogme film, The Celebration, for instance, or even The Blair Witch Project), and those that attempt to disguise or neglect to accommodate the video-ness of video and use it simply as an affordable substitute for film.

High-definition video, which now often closely approximates film, has become an increasingly common format for studio productions (David Fincher's Zodiac being a recent example). But Lynch is not interested in simulating celluloid with a state-of-the-art video camera. He shot Inland Empire with the relatively primitive Sony PD-150, a consumer-grade model that was introduced in 2001 (eons ago in techie years) at a retail price of less than $4,000. Lynch's love of video has much to do with the freedom it grants. Shooting with a camcorder removes the strictures of a traditional film production, allowing for a smaller crew, less setup time, and no accountability to money men. The lightweight camera, along with the low cost and high capacity of videotape, generally means more and longer takes. Video permits Lynch to indulge fully his taste for improvisation—to make things up as he goes along. Inland Empire was written a scene at a time and shot piecemeal over a period of three years.

But Lynch being Lynch, aesthetic concerns presumably outweighed practical ones. Compared with film, video typically looks harsh and almost hyperreal, with a narrower range of colors and weaker contrast, but it's precisely those qualities that Lynch revels in. While a lower-resolution film stock, like Super 8, has a grainy, romantic allure, lower-resolution video, characterized by fewer pixels per inch, merely looks fuzzy. For Lynch, who has likened low-res video to film stock before the emulsion process was perfected, the murkier the image, the more "room to dream," as he puts it. It's no wonder this master of the enigmatic would prize video for its literal lack of information.

The deeper you get into Inland Empire, the more logical the video aesthetic seems. The bleeding colors and the unstable image are a perfect fit for the fugue state that the movie gradually sinks into. Simply put, Inland Empire is the story of a grave identity crisis. The trouble begins when actress Nikki Grace (Dern) lands a part in a hokey melodrama called On High in Blue Tomorrows. As actor merges with character, and film and reality violently intersect, space and time also begin to fissure. One minute we're in sunny Southern California, the next in snowy, old-world Poland.

Inland Empire shares with Lynch's previous feature, Mulholland Drive (2001), a morbid fascination with the destructive machinery of Hollywood. Both regard acting as a threat to the stability of the self. The earlier film, ingeniously reconstructed from an aborted TV pilot, was a poisoned valentine, ruefully enthralled by the promise and magic of old Hollywood. Inland Empire strips off the patina of glamour. In every respect—from its experimental ethos to its unconventional economics (it was partly self-financed and eventually self-distributed)—the film is Lynch's defiant rebuke to the industry that has never fully embraced him. At one point, one of Dern's characters (she seems to be playing three or four) is stabbed in the gut and staggers along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, leaving a trail of blood.

Video, as Lynch uses it here, is the language of the subconscious, somehow more and less real than plain old filmic reality. DV looks more lifelike than film (its frame rate, the frequency at which successive images are captured, is higher than film's and closer to how the human eye operates), but it also seems unnaturally heightened, since it's not what celluloid-trained eyes are used to.

Lynch started his career as a painter—earlier this year the Fondation Cartier in Paris mounted a show of his photographs, digitally tweaked erotica, and massive, crude, roughly textured oil canvases—and he uses video with the curiosity and resourcefulness of an innate visual artist. He pays attention to its flickers, its shadows, its susceptibility to distortion from under- or overexposure. In this remarkable scene, for instance, he achieves a multitude of textures with an amusingly low-tech flashlight-in-the-dark method.

Bodies and faces, meanwhile, are repeatedly abstracted with an unforgiving lens or light source. Dern fearlessly offers herself up to one disfiguring wide-angle shot after another. The extreme close-up is a Lynch trademark, and here, using his DV camera like a new toy, he peers even more intently than usual, as if he's stumbled on an entirely different way of looking.

Whether or not Lynch intended it to, Inland Empire in the end conveys a techno-existential insight worthy of William Gibson. Film is a physical process, dependent on the interaction of light and chemistry. Video is by definition more remote, more spectral, a cluster of data in the electronic ether. And while mortality is a defining trait of film, a medium that degrades and disintegrates over time, video—quickly and endlessly reproducible—conjures a spooky sense of the infinite. In Inland Empire, truly a horror movie for the digital age, it's not that the ghost is in the machine. The ghost is the machine.
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


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Re: INLAND EMPIRE
« Reply #286 on: August 28, 2007, 01:47:04 AM »
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Bought the last copy @ the Best Buy on Santa Monica and La Brea ( what a nightmare... the power went out from 3:30pm until 6pm. @ 8 the main computers were still FUBAR.) before 9pm I managed to get out of there with my copy of IE.

I watched it.

Why don't i care about it?

I love Lynch. Why don't I care about this film?

It was beautiful, yes. Did i think it came from a pd150, sometimes, yes, but that didn't bother me... The post work was amazing.

I know, I know, I know... I need to watch it again, but shit...

I came out of his other films seeing life differently. And this time i came out trying to justify Lynch's film... very different.

I need a walk.




ya i feel the same way, the techniques he used in this film are played out.  sure, some jaw dropping scenes.  i like the bit with the two people sitting on the street talking the most, and there are some classic approaches to scenarios.   however, i can't help but think i'd seen it all before in his other films.  It's also too long, cuz it's not like lynch has to worry about plot, so why make it as long as it is? i understand it's the artists vision, but as the viewer it seemed indulgent.

lynch very much redefined horror techniques and his use of sound and wind in all his films are amazing, but i wanted to see something new.  i think people got so caught up that it was lynch, and that he's mr. independant now, and bully for him, he's doing the shit he wants to, but they've overlooked the movie going experience.

i hope his next one is better
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Reinhold

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Re: INLAND EMPIRE
« Reply #287 on: August 28, 2007, 10:49:40 AM »
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saying that something you recognize as good is bad because it isn't new is totally illegitimate criticism in my opinion.
Obviously what you are doing right now is called (in my upcoming book of psychology at least) validation. I think it's a normal thing to do. People will reply, say anything, and then you're gonna do what you were subconsciently thinking of doing all along.

Gold Trumpet

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Re: INLAND EMPIRE
« Reply #288 on: August 28, 2007, 12:17:00 PM »
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Yea, but they did say something to criticize it. You and some others (not everyone) have said absolutely nothing but yet claimed Inland Empire to be the best thing out there. Or in your case, the best film since Eyes Wide Shut. So you can't really talk because you've said a lot less than them.

MacGuffin

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Re: INLAND EMPIRE
« Reply #289 on: August 28, 2007, 12:40:35 PM »
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Easter Egg on the R1 disk.


From the dugpa board:

Quote
Weird, I think I might be the first to have found this (I did search first but sorry in advance if I'm repeating something known).

There is an Easter Egg on the R1 IE DVD. It's on disc 1. If you're playing the disc on a computer, navigate to the Languages and Sound menu and hover the mouse over the bright blast emanating from the gun and you'll see a rabbit symbol. Click on that.

If you're using a DVD player, there doesn't seem to be a way to get to the rabbit symbol (I tried every direction with every option selected). But you can still get to the scene. It's Title 2 on the disc so just start the feature and then navigate to title 2 with your remote (this will work a bit differently with different DVD players -- on mine you hit search and then you can pick the title number -- YMMV).

If you want to be surprised, don't read further...










SPOILER






It's another scene from the Monologue, lasting about 2 and half minutes. Here she tells a story of a one-legged young girl who violently escapes a juvenile detention facility. As usual, an impressive and nuanced performance from Dern.
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


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bonanzataz

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Re: INLAND EMPIRE
« Reply #290 on: August 28, 2007, 03:53:03 PM »
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saying that something you recognize as good is bad because it isn't new is totally illegitimate criticism in my opinion.

stop challenging his two sentences of "illegitimate criticism" then and start challenging the points that i've made! it's like nobody wants to acknowledge the fact that this is not a very good film!
The corpses all hang headless and limp bodies with no surprises and the blood drains down like devil’s rain we’ll bathe tonight I want your skulls I need your skulls I want your skulls I need your skulls Demon I am and face I peel to see your skin turned inside out, ’cause gotta have you on my wall gotta have you on my wall, ’cause I want your skulls I need your skulls I want your skulls I need your skulls collect the heads of little girls and put ’em on my wall hack the heads off little girls and put ’em on my wall I want your skulls I need your skulls I want your skulls I need your skulls

NEON MERCURY

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Re: INLAND EMPIRE
« Reply #291 on: August 28, 2007, 04:03:06 PM »
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saying that something you recognize as good is bad because it isn't new is totally illegitimate criticism in my opinion.

stop challenging his two sentences of "illegitimate criticism" then and start challenging the points that i've made! it's like nobody wants to acknowledge the fact that this is not a very good film!

i promise you i'll challenge you!!!  :yabbse-grin:

i've seen it twice....i still think it is the best film ever made...and kubricks 2001 beign right behind it...

i still need to see it two more times to get my head around it...its very complex, very beautiful, and interesting....you could write essays about each scene almost..its just so damn much to process ....its lynch on overdrive and i am trying to keep up w/him....but damn, it is so fuckign beautiful.......if anyone hasn't  seen it yet, just watch it for fucks sake!

tpfkabi

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Re: INLAND EMPIRE
« Reply #292 on: August 29, 2007, 02:01:32 AM »
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i agree with the statement that it feels like actors acting like they know they're in a Lynch film. the dv is very off putting at times. one example - when the Lynch regular who plays the neighbor visits Dern - look at how nice the picture looks when it shows Dern - it pretty much looks like film - then you switch to the absurd overacting shot of the neighbor and it looks hideous. is it the outside light that makes it look bad? i'm really wondering if the two actors parts were shot at totally different times. other times it looks really great - i can think of instances where Dern is in darkened hallways or the repeated red lamp shot.
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davidchili

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Re: INLAND EMPIRE
« Reply #293 on: August 29, 2007, 11:34:04 AM »
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i still can not say it's the best lynch film ever, but it's definately the scariest film ever to me...
one thing prevent me from watching this film over and over is that it's too scarey, it SCARED THE SHIT OUT OF ME!
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MacGuffin

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Re: INLAND EMPIRE
« Reply #294 on: August 29, 2007, 04:43:14 PM »
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“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


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brockly

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Re: INLAND EMPIRE
« Reply #295 on: August 29, 2007, 08:55:40 PM »
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this was fucking incredible! lynch's vision of the world is amazing. i love the experiance of watching his films. love the visuals, the sounds, the performances and the atmosphere thats created from them. ive seen this 3 times since the dvd arrived last week and i think its my new favourite lynch film. edit: spoiler it was nice to see lynch's first optimistic ending since fwwm (not counting straight story which he didnt write). end spoiler and like all his other movies, its extremely moving even when ur struggling to comprehend what the hells going on. and laura dern was just as powerful as watts in mulholland. mulholland drive is the most incredible viewing experiance of my life simply because it was my first lynch, but this is definately the second.

davidchili

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Re: INLAND EMPIRE
« Reply #296 on: August 29, 2007, 09:00:09 PM »
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spoiler ahead unconsciously

it was nice to see lynch's first optimistic ending since fwwm (not counting straight story which he didnt write).

yea, i didn't notice that untill you mentioned it.
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brockly

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Re: INLAND EMPIRE
« Reply #297 on: August 29, 2007, 09:31:29 PM »
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yeh i think u should add a spoiler warning tho in case some people still havent seen it. my bad it slipped my mind :doh:

MacGuffin

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Re: INLAND EMPIRE
« Reply #298 on: September 04, 2007, 12:32:16 AM »
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INLAND EMPIRE Soundtrack Available September 11th
Amazon.com has the new INLAND EMPIRE Soundtrack now available for Pre-Order. Below is a track listing:

01 David Lynch "Ghost of Love" 5:30
02 David Lynch "Rabbits Theme" 0:59
03 Mantovani "Colours of My Life" 3:50
04 David Lynch "Woods Variation" 12:19
05 Dave Brubeck "Three To Get Ready" 5:22
06 Boguslaw Schaeffer "Klavier Konzert" 5:26
07 Kroke "The Secrets of Life Tree" 3:27
08 Little Eva "The Locomotion" 2:24
09 David Lynch "BBQ Theme" 2:58
10 Krzysztof Penderecki "Als Jakob Erwachte" 7:27
11 Witold Lutoslawski "Novelette Conclusion" (excerpt) /Joey Altruda "Lisa" (edit) 3:42
12 Beck "Black Tambourine" (film version) 2:47
13 David Lynch "Mansion Theme" 2:18
14 David Lynch "Walkin' on the Sky" 4:04
15 David Lynch / Marek Zebrowski "Polish Night Music No. 1" 4:18
16 David Lynch / Chrysta Bell "Polish Poem" 5:55
17 Nina Simone "Sinnerman" (edit) 6:40
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


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grand theft sparrow

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Re: INLAND EMPIRE
« Reply #299 on: September 04, 2007, 09:00:52 AM »
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OK, I saw this the week it came out on DVD and I haven't been able to articulate how I feel about it, largely because I've only seen it once.  As it stands, Blue Velvet was the only Lynch that I loved after only one viewing (not counting Dune, which I first saw when I was 8 and I thought the giant worms and Sting were cool).  But after INLAND EMPIRE, I was left completely numb.  It wasn't that I couldn't give a shit one way or the other; it was that I didn't (and still don't) know how to express how I felt about it.

In a lot of scenes, I agree with taz that it felt like everyone knew they were in a David Lynch movie and once or twice, I felt like it was a Lynch imitator instead of the man himself.  But I think most of that has to do with the DV thing.  I know a lot of people have expressed distaste in Lynch leaving film for DV when his film work looks so much better but I think that's precisely the point of him switching.  Lynch enjoys making his audience feel uncomfortable.  He knows he has legions of fans that are with him no matter what; so how can he unsettle even a few of them?  By stripping the beauty from the image itself.  He's filmed ugly things in pretty ways and made pretty things look ugly before filming them in a pretty way but with IE, he's filming ugly things and pretty things made to look ugly in an ugly way. 

So DV is ideal for what it seems like he wants to accomplish and after this one viewing of IE, I'm of the opinion that the best way to judge the film is not on how we felt about it so much as how Lynch accomplished what he set out to do.  Obviously, we can't know for sure if he did or not but he's one of the few directors alive (the only?) that I imagine manages to get closest to putting images on screen exactly as he sees them.  If that's the case, then his having total freedom on this film leads me to believe that everything in the film is exactly what he wanted and therefore would make this his masterpiece.  For the first time, I've seen a film wherein it seems right that the personal feelings of the viewer are completely irrelevant.

Maybe deep down, I don't like the film and I'm giving Lynch a pass.  I don't know.  I doubt it, though.  All I know is, more than any of his other films, I'm eager to get to a second viewing as soon as possible despite (or maybe because of) having such unresolved feelings about it. 

 

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