Note that there are other Disney movies that begin with the company's name over a starfield (The Black Hole, Toy Story 2), but given Lynch's history of paying tribute to The Wizard of Oz, these two seemed less of a coincidence.
****/**** starring Laura Dern, Jeremy Irons, Justin Theroux, Grace Zabriskie written and directed by David Lynch
by Walter Chaw Nikki (Laura Dern) is an actress landing her dream role opposite Devon (Justin Theroux) in a film directed by the great Kingsley Stewart (Jeremy Irons). Alas the project, "On High in Blue Tomorrows", has a history in which a previous, doomed production ended as reality seeped into its fiction and the film's onscreen/offscreen lovers were killed. For a moment, it seems as though David Lynch's Inland Empire might be as straightforward as a haunted Hollywood genre exercise--but time slips, it's suddenly the next day, and as one character says to another, you're sitting over there. Displaced, distracted, the picture is a masterpiece that, for the patient, the active, and the curious, may be the most literal definition of "dread" captured on film. That feeling you get when Henry Spencer contemplates his feral baby in Eraserhead is the same species of disgusted, familiar fascination that infects this film like a murder of maggots.
**½/**** Image A+ Sound A Extras B starring Nicolas Cage, Laura Dern, Willem Dafoe, Crispin Glover screenplay by David Lynch, based on the novel by Barry Gifford directed by David Lynch
by Travis Mackenzie Hoover Back when I ran my website DAYS OF THUNDER, I identified the problem with David Lynch in general (and with Mulholland Drive in specific) as that of a man who didn't want to know: his films tend to revolve around bland milquetoast heroes and heroines who open Pandora's Box and then either become destroyed or must stuff horrible people back inside. But when I wrote that, I had repressed the memory of Wild at Heart, which chucks Velveeta America entirely and imagines a world run by Frank Booth and his ilk. Indeed, Wild at Heart wallows in the kinds of kinky horrors that are viewed in Lynch's other films from a distance, and it's not a pretty sight. Here is the fallen Eden, Lynch-style, where everyone has eaten from the Tree of Knowledge and been cast out of paradise to fuck, shoot, and act unnaturally before meeting untimely, gory ends.
****/**** Image A Sound A Extras A starring Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Allen Joseph, Jeanne Bates written and directed by David Lynch
by Walter ChawDavid Lynch makes documentaries of the human subconscious. He captures--in a deadpan, almost scientifically-objective way--the processes through which we assimilate and interpret machine-fed data, replicating in that sense the sort of Pop aesthetic of Warhol's ilk without the snarky sense of milk-fed superiority. Take the cultural cues in his work: the Rockwellian Americana he essays in Blue Velvet; the Bauhaus by way of Antoni Gaudi of Dune; or the late-Hitchcock identity puzzles he rejiggers in Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive--both commonly seen as satires of what they represent but more accurately described, perhaps, as simple, uncommented-upon representations of what a lower layer of consciousness might consider to be unadorned gospel. Call the best moments of his best films Expressionism of the Id. (Mulholland Drive could be Vertigo shot by Hitch's bile and libido, unchained and unembarrassed.) Lynch's pictures are the very opposite of pretentious: they're unguarded images projected directly from a place of null intentionality. If the aim of art is to touch the sublime, to strum the thread of the collective unconscious that binds us each to each, as it were, then Lynch becomes a figure like Rainer Maria Rilke or William Blake or Beethoven--or in filmic terms, like Luis Buñuel or Carl Theodor Dreyer or moments of Sergio Leone.
THE SHORT FILMS OF DAVID LYNCH Image A Sound A Extras B-
DUMBLAND Image B Sound A-
by Bill Chambers One is tempted to appropriate Jean-Luc Godard's oft-misquoted "The cinema is Nicholas Ray" in discussing the origins of David Lynch, whose blossoming sophistication unwittingly paralleled that of film itself. From the magic lantern-style innovation of his sculpture installation Six Men Getting Sick to the fixed camera placements of The Alphabet to the rudimentary narrative of The Grandmother (whose heavy's freakishly accentuated jawline transforms his countenance into that of a snarling villain in the "Perils of Pauline" mode) to, finally, the total aesthetic compromise of the shot-on-video The Amputee, the first few entries contained on "The Short Films of David Lynch" imply that there is only one destiny for the medium, whether its evolution is spread out over a century or concentrated in the time it takes for an artist to develop a conscience. If most film students go through a similar rite of passage, there's often an attendant, ineffable impatience with primitive techniques in undergrad films that's absent in Lynch's early work.
RYAN'S DAUGHTER ***/**** Image A+ Sound A Extras A- starring Robert Mitchum, Trevor Howard, Christopher Jones, Sarah Miles screenplay by Robert Bolt directed by David Lean
DUNE ***½/**** Image B Sound B+ Extras B starring Francesca Annis, Leonardo Cimino, Brad Dourif, José Ferrer screenplay by David Lynch, based on the novel by Frank Herbert directed by David Lynch
DUNE (Extended Edition) *½/**** Image B Sound B+ Extras B starring Francesca Annis, Leonardo Cimino, Brad Dourif, José Ferrer screenplay by Judas Booth, based on the novel by Frank Herbert directed by Alan Smithee
by Bill Chambers The common charge levelled at Ryan's Daughter when it was released in 1970 was that it seemed anachronistic within contemporary film culture. Indeed, what so infuriated the New York critics, in particular, was not just that Lean had strayed from his roots (thematically, Ryan's Daughter in fact represents a throwback for the Brief Encounter director), but that he had lost all trace of humility in the bargain. One might say the English were finally getting a taste of their own medicine, as Lean had essentially become a Hollywood imperialist, intruding on cinema's evolution towards minimalism by treating a rather insular love triangle--catnip to the infidelity-obsessed British realists--like a theme-park attraction, subjecting it to both hyperbole and an incongruous perfectionism.1 ("In general the only way for artists to work in the medium is frugality," wrote Pauline Kael, thereby consigning Lean to the realm of not-artists.) This violation of an unspoken Prime Directive resonates in the current trend of giving A-list makeovers to grindhouse fare.
Mulholland Dr. ****/**** Image A- Sound A starring Justin Theroux, Naomi Watts, Laura Elena Harring, Ann Miller written and directed by David Lynch
by Walter Chaw
Was it a vision, or a waking dream? Fled is that music -- Do I wake or sleep? - John Keats, Ode to a Nightingale
David Lynch's Mulholland Drive contends that the answer to the eternal struggle between what is real and what is fantasy comes in the form of a Keatsian confusion--it's the difference between Adam's dream and Eve rendered flesh, blurred in the mind of the creator and his audience.A film is a dream of the director made tangible, a conceit familiar from the fourth wall-breaking in Ingmar Bergman's Persona (banishing any mystery there might have been regarding the visual references to that film in Lynch's piece), and a movie's characters therefore become projections of its maker's sublimated longing (clarifying too the auteur's use of wardrobe and colour schemes from Hitchcock's meditation on objectification, Vertigo, as well as those of his first collaboration with inamorata Tippi Hedren, The Birds).