Started by MacGuffin, May 11, 2005, 04:50:02 PM

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A Matter Of Chance

Quote from: JG on December 08, 2006, 11:01:02 PM
Quote from: A Matter Of Chance on December 08, 2006, 10:52:48 PM
I saw this tonight at the Brattle. A guy gave out samples of David Lynch coffee before and I didn't get any.  :(

In Louis Buñuel's autobiography he said, "Sometimes, watching a film is like being raped." This was that sometimes, and I loved it. Warrents a second viewing like-whoa.

which showing did you go to?  the 430 one was pretty empty, and we didn't get offered any coffee.  but when i left i checked out the line for the 8 oclock show and it looked pretty packed. 

I went to the 8 o'clock, and I was glad I had tickets in advance. Nice to see another greater-boston-area folk 'round these parts.


Screw all this waiting. I'm going to see it in New York next week.


i don't know about film-rape but spelling is definitely getting a good raping up in those first two posts..

Quote from: pozer on December 07, 2006, 03:42:25 PM
nice.  along with p's review, this has fueled my anticipation.
my review fueled my anticipation too! can't wait to actually see it.
under the paving stones.


Source: CHUD

There are certain things that I would love to have listed on my tombstone. A collection of the eccentric moments in my life that I'm - for better or worse - proud of having experienced. And I'm sure by the time Andre Dellamorte III sits on my lap, my story of having coffee and pie with David Lynch will likely involve me saving his life, or telling him a joke that made coffee and/or pie shoot out his nose.

Alas, such is not the case. I did have pie and coffee with David Lynch, and I'm sure I'll be bragging about that for years to come, but it was because I was invited to attend a junket with David Lynch and Laura Dern at a nearby Marie Callenders, where we were served pie and coffee and got a chance to have a roundtable discussion with one of the few artists who managed to make transcendent work in the 80's, and one of the stars of Jurassic Park. Though that's not exactly fair to Dern, who has been one of the best female actresses going for nearly 25 years, with great performances in Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, and Citizen Ruth. INLAND EMPIRE is their latest collaboration. Lynch is a mad gesticulator, his hands were often in motion when answering questions, and not being able to transcribe those movements is something of a loss.

As David sat down with us someone commented that pie and David Lynch go together

David Lynch: It's the Twin Peaks thing, I guess.

Someone chimed in "I'll take Marie Callendar's over Four Seasons any day."

Lynch: You and me both. (This place) is way more of a restaurant than I thought.

Someone asked if he'd tried the pie yet, as a chocolate cream pie was put at the center of our table.

Lynch: Not yet, not yet. I was thinking about Banana Cream Pie. What are you guys gonna have, you've got Apple pie? Nice. But now you want the chocolate cream.

So what's your favorite pie?

Lynch: Well, I like cherry pie, I like blueberry pie, I like banana cream pie, and I like Dutch Apple pie, I guess those would be the top four.

How is Dutch Apple pie different than regular apple pie?

Lynch: Dutch apple pie has something on top. What is it, cheese? It has that crumbly top. Yeah, yeah yeah, that's it, a real crumbly top. Killer pie, beautiful.

Do you have a least favorite?

Lynch: I don't think I'd be wild about rhubarb

And at this point Laura Dern joins us.

Laura Dern: I love Rhubarb!

Lynch: Really?

Dern: Yeah.

Lynch: Wow.

David said he wanted banana cream.

Dern: Oooh, banana cream! Does that mean we get a piece of pie at every table we go to? Oh, this is fantastic. I should get a coffee.

Lynch: I'm getting a coffee, I think. I think so. (To us) Fire away!

How long were you guys in production on INLAND EMPIRE?

Lynch: Well, production is a weird thing, how long over from the beginning to the end was about three years, but we weren't always shooting every day, you know what I mean? A lot of days we weren't shooting.

(To Dern) So he'd just call you up every once in a while and say "I've got a camera, I've got an idea?"

Dern: Pretty much, right?

Lynch: Yeah. (pause, followed by laughter)

It seemed like there were a lot of different styles in this picture in comparison to some of your other work, handheld type of stuff, did you take a different approach to this project?

Lynch: Yes, because I was shooting DV with a small, lightweight camera. It was so beautiful to me, to be able to hold the camera and float around, and you know, let it move according to what I was feeling or seeing. Whereas before you're behind a massive camera, in front of you is an operator and a focus puller, and you've got a kind of barrier, and if you wanted to move, if you felt a thing, it wasn't possible. Like I say, on the next take you might say "can you drift in on this line a little bit like this," but it may not happen the same way on the next take, so it gives you this ability to really be in there and stay in there, because it 40 minute takes, it's very beautiful.

(To Laura) How different was it for you, having worked with David on previous projects?

Dern: You know, again, I'll almost repeat the same idea. The liberty that comes with working with DV, you're liberated as an actor, in the same way David describes you never miss anything because you're right there. You never miss an opportunity of being in the moment, because suddenly now - not just the performance - but the camera is offering that in the moment opportunity, you can catch anything, and he can hear what the actor - seemingly off camera - is doing and want to capture that and just flip around, and because of the luxury of a 40 minute take if you need it - I mean 40 minutes in the camera - that you can shoot an entire scene without ever stopping and he can get all the coverage he wants and we are staying within the moment of acting out this scene, and not cutting and resetting but in fact even while filming talking to me, because of the luxury of the lack of expense as well, to say let's do it again, okay, go back to this line, let's keep going. And you're just, as an actor, it's an incredible feeling to stay true the mood, the feeling that's going at that given time.

David, could you talk about how this film relates to your other work? Because there seem to be similarities with Mulholland Dr, and we actually saw clips from Rabbits in this film. Is this film an extension or how do you view it?

Lynch: It's different but... similarities, because it deals with - as Mulholland Dr. did - the movie industry. But... And it has, you know, a female lead, um (laughs)

Dern: Thank you (more laughs)

Lynch: You know, and then it kind of takes off and becomes different.

It felt a bit like a collage of some of your previous works, was that intentional?

Lynch: No. Ideas come along, and you pick an idea, and sometimes you catch an idea that you fall in love with, and you see the way cinema could do that. It's a beautiful day when that happens, and the idea tells you everything. Now you - because we had our kind of mechanism, we kind of fall in love with certain kinds of things, but every film is different, and it's based on the ideas that come. And they are the things you try and stay completely true to, and all the elements you try to get to be feeling correct before you walk away, and you go.

So, Laura, with this role, there's so many different levels, so many different performances, various different versions of the same person, how was that working for you?

Dern: You know, more than ever, the day's work was at hand, and what I had. Given that we shot in such a way that we would, David would a write and we would film that, and then he'd write another scene and we'd film that and so on, it forced me - very luxuriously - into the moment. I didn't necessarily know what was coming before or what was coming after, and whether one perceives it that I am different people, or that I am aspects of one person, either way you can really only act one way, which is being the person you are in that moment. So in a way, not knowing everything, and trying to somehow get to what would be logically minded as an actor and try and help the audience understand how this relates to that, etc. I was freed from any of that, by David keeping me in the moment with whatever character I was playing, or whichever aspect of the story I was involved in. And that was extremely freeing, and in a way I think allows for more imagination as an actor, because as much as an actor wants to believe this is just for my own experience, that they are not informing the audience. There can be a pitfall of feeling like "because my character is going to do this five scenes from now, maybe I should give them a little taste of that, so they know that it's coming," but as we see, human nature doesn't work that way. Where people cry in the news when we hear "so and so, who seemed like such a nice guy, did this atrocious thing." And so being forced by the director, if you will, to just be this aspect of what I suppose this is for, I think made me get to be braver by default, not intentionally.

Would you only want to approach a movie with this scene-by-scene approach with David? Is he the only one you'd feel comfortable with?

Dern: Well, I'd rather only work with David, period. (laughs)

Lynch: You're working with me now, but watch what happens next time "Oh, I don't even want to work with Robert." (more laughing)

Dern: They know, we've met many times before when you weren't here. (again, this entire exchange is peppered with laughter)

Lynch: Exactly. It's all baloney! (more laughing, as per last sentence)

Dern: Going back from their lunch. "Can you believe it? Poor David Lynch, he doesn't
realize that Laura has said that so many times today." But I think, for myself, I've watched David do this with many other actors on this movie, but I don't know if I could have done this with many other directors, because, and we've been asked if we have a shorthand, in fact we have a remarkable one. And I'm sure he has it with the other actors he works with, but for me, I have the ability from knowing him since I was seventeen, separate from who he is as a director to me, to intuit what he means, and he can intuit what I'm going to express before it happens. So it's not just what the movie's about, or the character I'm playing, but even as an operator, a cinematographer, I felt like David moved his body and camera just into place just as I was thinking of moving that way. You know there's that thing that happens...

Lynch: Laura actually directed this picture.

Dern: Wonderful.

With that scene by scene approach to filming, did you ever consider releasing it as a series of short films?

Lynch: No. (laughs)

Dern: A set of long films.

Lynch: No. After a while, the scene by scene revealed more. And then I wrote a lot of stuff, and then we went and shot more traditionally. We could shoot for several weeks, and have stuff to shoot, and organized like a regular shooting schedule. But it was just in the beginning that it was scene by scene. And those, were, could have ended up just being that, a scene, separate, by itself, for the internet or whatever. But I didn't know what it was going to be, so I'd shoot a scene, and then I'd get an idea for another scene and shoot that scene, and lo and behold, after a bunch of them, a thing came out.

Your working process on this was different

Lynch: A little different.

So, with the freedom of digital video, do you see yourself making movies more in line with this, or this kind of process?

Lynch: Not this process, but with digital video. And I think, maybe, I would, it would be nice to have a script written up front, but it just didn't happen this time.

Dern: But, as he said, there were chunks of the film that surfaced, that you wrote. Towards the end, I mean, we shot for a month.

Lynch: It all starts coming more and more and more.

Dern: But we shot for like, four or five weeks solid at one point, almost like a traditional movie.

So it was all linear?

Lynch: Totally linear. It's a straight ahead linear thing. (laughter) No, it wasn't all linear, but there were a lot of scenes that were there, some could have been back in time, some could have been here, and then a chunk right now, like that.

Laura, when you were shooting the opening sequence with the creepy old woman (played by Grace Zabrinski), was it as creepy to shoot as it was to do it?

Dern: Well she is the nicest, loveliest lady, but having met her on Wild at Heart, I'm just damned terrified of her every time I see her. I can't get over who she has been made out to be by David when I see her. It's the beauty of working with David, is that you are - speaking of being in the moment - you are there in the moment, you may have a sense that something is disturbing, or a sense that something is funny, but when you're in it you're just trying to make it as authentic as it is, and then when you reflect back, or when you see it as an audience something that even seemed straight while you're shooting it to me is just hysterical. I pretty much think he's the best comedy director going, you know other people don't see it that way.

Lynch: Laura is seeing a psychiatrist.

Dern: Hilarious. Her speech is hilarious, but I was doing it she was terrifying, so I don't know why it worked out that way because I wasn't sitting across from her.

The last question call is given

Lynch: Whoa that was quick, how can we possibly get into this?

I have to ask, is Twin Peaks ever going to be released on DVD?

Lynch: For sure it is.

We're still waiting for Season Two.

Lynch: Yeah, it's coming out, I think next spring. I think so.

What about Lost Highway?

Lynch: It's all color corrected, timed, high def masters ready, it's, I think Universal owns it now, and Lost Highway did not make a lot of money at the box office, so they probably have it way low on some list for DVD, I don't know when they'll get to it, I haven't heard a thing. You're going to have to write to Universal.

INLAND EMPIRE is already open in New York and Boston, and opens in LA on Friday the 15th.
"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

Skeleton FilmWorks


I'm seeing it at 1:55 on Saturday. I can't wait.


Quote from: Ghostboy on September 07, 2006, 01:07:25 PM
Modage will hate this.
I will dismiss it, even as I admire parts of it.

So it turns out that I was wrong not just on the first count, but also the second.


hah, i love the anti-reviews so far for this movie.  are you in NYC? 
Christopher Nolan's directive was clear to everyone in the cast and crew: Use CGI only as a last resort.


Yeah, and I think I might be free tomorrow evening. I was gonna send you a PM here in a bit...



arent you back in Cali yet?
Christopher Nolan's directive was clear to everyone in the cast and crew: Use CGI only as a last resort.


if i haven't made this clear yet this movie is so amazing. 



Unlike any other Lynch film.

Quote from: modage on December 02, 2006, 11:55:11 PMit was one of the most incredible theatre experiences of my life on a purely viceral level but as a narrative film it was completely incomprehensible.  i thought anyone who would claim to 'get' the film was completely full of shit.  however on 2nd viewing i realized the first viewing as like taking a puzzle out of the box and spilling it onto the floor.  but the 2nd viewing i started to put the pieces together.  i'm still nowhere near completing it but i have started to make connections.

Kinda with mod. It was like a puzzle with all the pieces laid out, and just because you're paying attention and recognize the pieces and the call-backs to those pieces, you do need another viewing, which I will do, to put 'em together for the whole, and maybe even then...  :yabbse-undecided:  But this was in an entirely different way than, say, Mulholland Drive was a mystery puzzle.

Who knew dancing prostitutes could look so poetic?
"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

Skeleton FilmWorks


Yes, That's David Lynch
The highly regarded director has always been considered eccentric. Now he's getting mad

A cult movie director and a cow wait placidly on a busy Los Angeles street corner on a sunny autumn day. A giant image of Laura Dern's face printed with the words FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION looms beside them. The director delivers an encomium on cheese. The scene is surreal enough to be from a David Lynch movie, and it is, a two-minute film that has been downloaded more than 50,000 times on YouTube since it was posted Nov. 9. The director of Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks didn't direct this one; a couple of guys named Nate and Matt recorded Lynch's street-corner Oscar campaign for Dern's performance in his new film, Inland Empire. But Empire is only marginally less homespun, and although it's not on YouTube, the director is distributing it himself.

Empire, Lynch says, is "about a woman in trouble." But even by the standards applied to Lynch's films, which exist in their own genre of weird, Empire is a doozy. It's three hours long, with no real plot, but rather a Greek chorus of Valley Girls cum crack whores, scenes of rabbits watching TV and Dern playing three different characters. At least three; Dern's not sure. "Once David said there were four, and I was like, Wait a minute--what?" she says.

The Empire endeavor began more than three years ago when Lynch started noodling with a Sony PD150 camera, which costs less than $3,000. "It's little, and they tell me it's bad quality," says Lynch. "I started shooting experiments with it and kind of loved the quality. It reminded me of early 35 mm. When there isn't a lot of information in a frame, it leaves a person room to dream."

Dreams and consciousness streams are the stuff of which Lynch films are made. A script? Not so much. Because he's considered an auteur, Lynch was able to convene a cast, including Jeremy Irons and Harry Dean Stanton, before he wrote Empire. "I'd get an idea for a scene, write the scene, gather people together and shoot that scene," says Lynch. "I didn't know if the second scene would relate to the first or the third." This is where Lynch's decades-long commitment to transcendental meditation--which he documents in a new book, Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity--came in handy. "Since I believe in the unified field, which unites everything, I figured some day I would understand that they do relate," he says.

Lynch may understand it. Audiences may not. That hasn't stopped his earlier films from gaining a following of people who spend an awful lot of time trying. Many critics considered his last movie, 2001's Mulholland Dr., released by Universal Pictures, a huge creative achievement, but it made a forgettable $20 million in theaters. By forgoing a distributor this time, Lynch gets to skip the awkward step where he turns over control of his vision to those linear folks, studio marketers. "People seeing the film together on a big screen in a dark room with really good sound is really important to me," says Lynch, who released his first film, Eraserhead, himself in 1977. "But any film like mine that's not seen as a summer blockbuster is getting harder to get into the theaters. It's so depressing."

It's not that Lynch couldn't get a distributor. "He has a great, twisted psyche that always gets some sort of primal response from people," says Eamonn Bowles, president of Magnolia Pictures, an indie company that "had some interest" in distributing Empire but never made the deal. It's that the do-it-yourself ethic that attracted Lynch to the Sony PD150 seemed suited to an experiment in distribution as well. Self-distribution is "very brave," says Dern. "But it doesn't make it easier. Nothing about this is traditional."

Lynch is embarking on an eight-city promotional road tour of the U.S. later this month. When he first started thinking about the costs of self-distribution, he was told of a $2.8 million Oscar publicity campaign for an actress in another current movie, recalls Dern. "He went insane," she says, beginning to imitate Lynch's clipped Midwestern accent. "'People are starving! That's disgusting. I could go stand on a street corner and talk about my actors!' As soon as I heard 'I could stand on a street corner,' I thought, Oh, no." Perhaps because there aren't actually any cows in Inland Empire, Dern didn't anticipate the bovine prop, however. "The Academy members love show business," explains Lynch. "And this is show business, being out with the cow."


Lunch With Lynch
The director unravels the meaning of his new movie, 'Inland Empire.' Ha ha. Not really.
Source: LA City Beat

"That is such a nice-looking bird ... but I think it only has one eye."

What? I am sitting across an outdoor table from David Lynch, pretending to eat lunch, but really studying my notes furiously, trying to think of my next question. He was just explaining the advantages of serial television as a form, when suddenly ... .

"Right there, Andy," he says, nodding.

I look: A blackish bird has perched on my jacket, which is slung over a nearby chair. I'm facing the side that has an eye: All I perceive is a bird. I crane around to try to see its other side, but I spook it and it flies to another table. Once again, the observer has affected the observed.

"Yeah, only one eye," he continues. "Now it's going over to eat that food. That's Jay's food ... ."

Who's Jay? He must be within view and gesturing, because Lynch continues, "Oh, that's not your food, Jay? Is that bird gonna eat that food? Is that Laura's food? Keep an eye on that bird." He turns back to me. "OK, sorry."

What the hell were we talking about? Oh, yeah, the advantages of working on something continuous, with no planned end.

Welcome to Lunch with Lynch.

This is the third time I've interviewed Lynch, but the first time in person. It's hard to believe that the man once billed as "The Boy Next Door (from Mars)" is 60 and gray, particularly since he still seems, well, boyish. We're sitting outside – the director likes to be able to have a smoke – at a restaurant on Wilshire Boulevard. So we have to pause as fire sirens head west and police sirens head east. It's ... interesting.

It may or may not say something telling about the filmmaker that he focused completely in on something – a one-eyed bird – that my gaze had passed over and automatically filtered out. It may be that he does less mental filtering or simply a different kind of filtering than me ... or most of us. Or maybe it's just that, from my seat, the bird's most striking feature, its missing eye, wasn't visible.

It is, in a crude way, analogous to the issues in viewing his new film, Inland Empire, and to the reason we're there. Early critical reaction to Inland Empire has been strongly divided – lists 53 percent positive, for what it's worth – between those who can't make heads or tails of it and hate it ... and those who can't make heads or tails of it but are swept away enough not to care. Somewhere, on the side, may be a very few who do have a better sense of what's going on and love it. I, by nature, would like to be one of those few.

Some of us see a beautiful one-eyed bird; others, just another bird not worth pausing over. I worry for Inland Empire: It's three hours long, with no clear story, and both times I've seen it, sitting there absorbed, other people walked out partway through. I'm trying to get Lynch to invite us over to his side of the table, if only for a tiny bit, to get a perspective that will make us go, "Wow! A one-eyed bird. How beautiful."

Outlandish 'Inland'

Even those who don't respond to Inland Empire will admit that, for better or worse, it's not like anything else, including Lynch's other movies. Of his nine previous features and his most famous work, the TV series Twin Peaks, three – The Elephant Man, Dune, and The Straight Story – can be considered outliers: They all have recognizably Lynchean moments, but they're from other people's screenplays. When most fans think of Lynch, they think of Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, Wild at Heart, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, Lost Highway, and Mulholland Dr. – as beautiful and baffling and idiosyncratic a film- ography as any in cinema history.

Yet Inland Empire – though unmistakably Lynch in nearly every shot – is unlike all but the first of those, and even Eraserhead was more viewer-friendly in both narrative and length (almost exactly half of Inland Empire's three hours).

The only other movie it even begins to remind me of is Jacques Rivette's wonderful 1974 Celine and Julie Go Boating, which plays similar tricks with reality. Rivette's film is even longer, but it's also more playful and humorous. Lynch movies are always on an edge between horror and comedy, but Inland Empire – like Fire Walk With Me – runs out of humor a third of the way through.

It would be futile to try to describe the "plot" of Inland Empire. The best one can do is to relate the first few images and ? scenes and then a very general notion of the whole.

Big rumbling sound. Projector light cuts through darkness to the main title card. A distorted closeup of what appears to be an old record-cutting device. Scratchy audio: "The longest running radio play in history ... A gray winter day in a Baltic hotel." We hear people speaking Polish; there are English subtitles. Some abstract noise. Two Poles, their faces electronically smudged, as if to protect their identities, have sex.

We see a woman sitting in a dark room, crying while watching TV. Maybe she's been watching the previous scene; maybe it's from a Polish movie. As though it's a tape being fast-forwarded or rewound, the TV she's looking at whips through an image of Lynch regular Grace Zabriskie walking through a park (or something) and then of a show cast entirely with giant rabbits. Then we see the show, which is called Rabbits and appears to be a lapine sitcom written by Samuel Beckett, where the canned laughter responds randomly to things that aren't even vaguely funny.

Papa Rabbit goes out the door into a huge, ornately appointed room, before fading away. Two Polish thugs appear in the room and have a conversation.

OK: We're nine minutes into the film, and we've had Baltic radio, Polish sex, Crying Woman, Everyone Loves Rabbits, and Polish thugs. Now we're ready for the central thread of the "story."

Laura Dern appears to be playing Nikki Grace, an actress hoping for a comeback in a new film with the unlikely title On High in Blue Tomorrows. (Lynch tells me it just "popped into his head." Only later do I wonder if his unconscious was referencing the title Hot Tomorrows, the feature Martin Brest was shooting at AFI at the same time Lynch was there making Eraserhead.)

The film, directed by one Kingsley Stewart (Jeremy Irons), is an adultery melodrama, with Nikki and Devon Berk (Justin Theroux) as the secret lovers, Sue Blue and Billy Side. But, on the first day of rehearsal, Stewart reveals that his assistant/sidekick, Freddie (a wonderful Harry Dean Stanton, providing most of the movie's humor), has learned that the production may be jinxed: It's a remake of a Polish movie that was never completed ... because the two leads were murdered.

Was the sex scene at the very beginning an excerpt from the Polish film? Was it actually a private assignation between the two stars of that film, leading to their deaths? What is or isn't part of a film here? And who the hell is the crying woman?

Pretty soon, Nikki walks into the set for her character's house, then turns around to see the real world outside the house. (Twilight Zone fanatics might dub this maneuver a Reverse Duff, cf. "A World of Difference," March 11, 1960.)

Is Nikki turning into Sue? Are Nikki and Devon reliving the affair of Sue and Billy? Or of the late actors who played them in the first version? Is Nikki real at all? Maybe Sue is simply fantasizing that she's a famous actress playing the part of a working-class housewife. Is Nikki's psyche fracturing? Not unlike, by that point, my own?

Your guess is as good as mine ... even as good as Lynch's, in his estimation. He is famous for refusing to discuss either his intent or his own reading of his films. I remind him that the last time I interviewed him, I managed to get him to at least sign on to the notion that, yes, the first two-thirds of Mulholland Dr. are a dream or fantasy or nightmare.

"I don't know that I ever said that to you, Andy, but – "

"Well, I stated it that way, and you seemed to be OK with that."

"When people come up with something, I always say it's valid, you know, and so, I could have said, 'That's completely valid.'"

"But do you have a specific reading of a film in your mind, even if you don't think it's the only reading?"

"It's like this. At a certain point, you know exactly what it means for you ... . If you don't know what it means, then you have to think about it more to ... put the final pieces together. It's happened to me on lots of films, starting with Eraserhead, I didn't know what this thing meant. I was building it, but I didn't know what it all meant, and I was just going nuts. And I start reading the Bible. And I come upon this line, and I said, 'That is it.' And it described the whole thing to me."

I chuckle to signal that I understand the futility of my next question but that it's my job to ask it anyway: "What line was that?"

"I bet you were gonna ask that," he says.

"Is this a question you decline to answer, or ... ?"

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Because it doesn't matter. It would putrify the experience for other people. You work on a film so hard, to get it to feel correct as a whole ... and then it's done. You don't want to talk about it. It's cinema! Why break it down and try to put it into words? It's the language of cinema. It exists that way, for a reason: there it is. It's on its own. It shouldn't be taken away from or added to."

"OK, but the 'you' there is you, as a filmmaker. Those of us on the outside will inevitably try to figure it out."

"See, that's good! Because ... it's figurable. It's figurable. Everything is figurable, but everyone's interpretation is valid and good. And some people with a gift with words can see something and turn it into words and give that to people."

I try a different tack. I tell him that, when Blue Velvet came out, I thought it was so amazingly layered and woven that he had to have constructed it all with mathematical precision, in a totally intellectual process. He always denies that, and for a long time I didn't believe him – directors are, in general, prone to spinning their own personal mythology – and it took me a while to realize that maybe he isn't joshing us.

"I'm not."

Just about then, the waitress comes with a menu for me – Lynch had a head start on his meal – and, worried about the limited time scheduled for the interview, I try to quickly find something to order.

"Take yer time," Lynch says. "Gotta pick a winner."

Hot Digital!

The interruption turns out to be briefly helpful, because it enables me to remember just what I was trying to get at – that people really needed some kind of hook, an entry point, to approach Inland Empire, in the manner of the 10 clues Lynch prepared for the publicity on Mulholland Dr.; they didn't give anything away, and they didn't lock down a particular reading, but they did ease people's access. And Mulholland Dr. is straight-ahead linear compared to Inland Empire.

When I lay that out, Lynch responds by pulling out a sheet of paper. "I've got to show you something. It's in Italian, but this lady Alessandra gave me this; it was sent to her this morning. This is a flow chart of the film, but it's in Italian. So I don't know what it is. This guy saw it in Venice."

It's beautiful in its clarity and the precision of its layout. It shows four rectangular areas, with neatly drawn lines in the margins, connecting or buffering them. Everything is labeled ... unfortunately in Italian. The four rectangles must represent the four major worlds in the movie – Hollywood, the world within On High in Blue Tomorrows, the world within the Polish version, and the reality of the ill-fated Polish actors. And the lines, they would signify the time scheme ... unless the four rectangles are the four fragments of Nikki's psyche and the lines are ... .

"They did the same thing on Twin Peaks, mapping the flow of it all. Not this same person, I don't think, but some people did. Isn't it beautifully done?"

While I'm admiring it, I try to remember, once again, just what I had been getting at.

Lynch can have that effect. It's like classic stage magic – misdirection.

I bring up a specific interpretive example: In Lost Highway, the protagonist, Fred Madison (Bill Pullman), mysteriously transforms into Pete Dayton (Balthazar Getty). I've always wondered whether the fact that both characters are named after cities was jokingly deliberate or just happened.

Lynch laughs. "That just happened. But there's something to it. One time a group of psychoanalysts each wrote a quite long paper on Blue Velvet. And [protagonist] Jeffrey's last name, Beaumont, was translated and figured into their analysis. But these things just come along. Who knows how? But it's one of those things that ... . Wow, look at that nice grater. Beautiful salad."

Yes: My lunch had arrived.

Lynch shot Inland Empire entirely with a digital video camera, and not a particularly high-end model. He felt so liberated by this shift that he has publicly vowed never to work with celluloid again. I suggest that the means inevitably will affect the aesthetics, which he denies. "Technology played a part for sure, but it doesn't have anything to do with ideas. It has to do with the way the ideas are executed, but only in terms of ease and speed and the ability to stay in a scene longer and get deeper. You can have a smaller crew and not have to go to the lab and wait for a day to see dailies, things like that. It would be the same film, basically, on film."

Even more than usual, this one seems to have developed accidentally. "About three and a half years ago," Laura Dern tells me earlier in the day, "David called me up and said, 'Let's experiment.' He wrote a 15-page monologue, which we shot. That was the first thing we shot. He was playing around with this Sony PD150 camera, and I knew he was very interested in experimenting with digital.

"The process continued organically from that," she adds. "It wasn't really a decision he made. He'd write a scene, and then we'd shoot that, and then write another scene and then we'd shoot that, and we kind of kept going like that through the course of these years together. After maybe the first six times, the movie clicked for him. And then he knew he was making this film. But instead of stopping and writing a screenplay and giving it to me, we just kept shooting as we went along."

That first monologue – 15 single-spaced pages, Lynch later tells me – remains central to the film, broken up into five segments. But some of the material even predates that. The scenes with the rabbits were originally shot for Lynch's pay-website,, without any thought of becoming part of a longer work. "Early in the shooting with Laura," he says, "I knew that it was gonna go in, and so I took the series off the site and just saved it for the film."

It was obviously not a full-time preoccupation for three years. Dern went off to make We Don't Live Here Anymore and some other projects. "I always thought this might turn into a feature, but not for sure," she says. "At the beginning, I didn't know if it would be something for his website or if he was really just experimenting with the camera or if he would find his way to a movie. But, within a couple months I could see the fire lit in David, and I knew he was on the course of a film."

Dern had previously worked with Lynch on Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart, but this was a significantly different process, much looser in some, but not all, ways. "For someone who paints a very abstract picture," Dern says, "he's a very specific director. Improvisation was not really part of it, although he lets you go to the furthest place you can go – just not with the dialogue, which is quite specific. He would give us the scenes the day before, but there was no full script. He keeps creating as he goes. Ideas keep brewing every second. You know, you're doing a seemingly simple scene of you and I sitting here talking, and the next thing you know there's a lumberjack standing behind you, and there's a monkey at the next table, and that's all from a new idea he had 15 minutes ago."

Empirical Analysis

In a sense, Lynch has faith in coincidence or cosmic direction or subconscious wisdom to make things come together. "Before I saw the final product, David asked me to write down what I thought the film was about," Dern says. "Afterwards, he had me read what I had written, and it was very true to the film. What was interesting was that I knew more along the way than I ever realized, just through the feelings. Not from any explicit description."

Still, working without a script and without any overview of where the story is going must be hell for the actors. Lynch had them jump off a roof, performance-wise, with him the only net. Surely they asked, "Come on, can't you give us a little more of a clue where we're going?"

"If I knew, I would probably tell them," Lynch says. "But sometimes I didn't know. We just had this scene, and we had to make it feel correct, make it honest, make it real. And that's what we had to focus on. Sometimes it helped to talk about some things that had gone before. But making this one real is what you're focused on – which is the way it is, even if you have the whole script. The example is: You're Andy today, you're being Andy all day long, and you don't know what tomorrow is. But, whatever it is, you'll be Andy going through it, and if you're true to Andy today, it'll work. There'll be continuity."

I wish I were that sure.

In terms of acting, this is Dern's movie all the way, even more than Mulholland Dr. belonged to Naomi Watts (whose performance, however, remains one of the most amazing in recent years). It occurs to me that this is Lynch's second major project in a row that's really centered on women – not the case in any of his earlier films. I couldn't help but wonder if this reflected some change, some event, in his life.

"No. Not one little bit," he says. "It's like ... OK ... like you're a chef. And you've been serving trout, and suddenly you start serving salmon. It just means that's what you caught, and so you try to cook it and serve it as well as you can, and bring out that flavor. But the only difference is that you caught a salmon this time."

Like several of its predecessors, Inland Empire is its own world. But it's a world either vastly more complex or simply chaotic – two states that are not always easy to distinguish in our real world. If there is a degree of complexity that lies beyond the limits of our mental equipment, it will appear to be chaos.

I still don't know which state better describes Inland Empire. I still don't get it in the way I'd like to: i.e., I can't, let's say, put it together or find a master pattern beneath its many scary and/or baffling scenes. And my lunch with Lynch shined light on everything except the sort of specific guidance I was looking for. Still, maybe little bits of that light will come together and illuminate just a few answers.

I do know that I enjoyed the movie more the second time through – always a good sign. And that I've regretted early dismissals of some Lynch films, most particularly Fire Walk with Me, much as I have with Stanley Kubrick's and Alain Resnais's. Inland Empire is a pretty vast place, and it's hard to fully survey in one, or even two, viewings.
"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

Skeleton FilmWorks


Quote from: modage on December 17, 2006, 07:46:53 PM
arent you back in Cali yet?
nope.  i have to fail a psych exam tomorrow night first.  i leave wednesday.