Friday, July 11, 2014

David Lynch Then v Now Part 2: Eraserhead + Inland Empire

Review 1: Eraserhead

Version I Watched: Widescreen Japanese laserdisc.

History: Technically Lynch's first film not counting the shorts he made years prior. But before this one Lynch had some other intentions.
Originally Lynch wrote a script called 'Gardenback' based on his own painting that is of a man literally with a garden on his back. This short film about adultery would have been approximately 45 minutes. It never worked out. This is where Eraserhead came in, a script based on a daydream Lynch had and influenced Franz Kafka's novella The Metamorphosis and Nikolai Gogol's short story The Nose.
Despite being a feature length film the script was only 20 pages. It's easy to see how it could be so short once one sees how little dialogue is in it. But because of the short script Lynch had trouble getting financial support. So much trouble that the movie literally took years to finish. The movie began filming in 1971 but shows up on IMDB as a 1977 film. Not that it was FILMING the whole time. But in an extreme example there is one transition where when Henry 'Eraserhead' Spencer opens a door. The next shot inside the room a whole year and a half had past in reality.
The film has received mixed reviews over the years. When it first came out some considered it distasteful and unwatchable. But there were just as many that loved it for many reasons. Mostly as a midnight movie offering thrills but not necessarily seen much deeper than that. What's great is many credible filmmakers adore the film claiming it as one of their favorites. My favorite being Stanley Kubrick's adoration for it. He would have his cast and crew watch it among other horror films to get in the mood for making The Shining.
This film is legendary today. A quintessential David Lynch film that has offered lots of mystery and intrigue. I could write an entire post about the history and the theories on this film but those are technically all as obtuse as my opinion. Because David Lynch intentionally doesn't talk about what the movie means so the audience can decide for themselves. That and in an interview he once said no one has ever truly figured out what it all means. At least what Lynch was intending for it to mean.

Personal History: Since this is essential Lynch one would think I've seen this a million times. Hardly the case. This was my second viewing and the last time I saw it was a few years ago.

Review: I must have typed this intro from at least five or more different angles to get the ball rolling. All of which were unsuccessful. All because I don't know where to begin in talking about this classic experimental horror film. At less than ninety minutes you'd think it'd be pretty easy to talk about as opposed to my second feature in this double feature, Inland Empire, with double the length at three hours. But Eraserhead is such a mystery from the beginning it's hard to think where to begin. Not to mention I feel dang near everything I'll say will add nothing to the thirty seven (THIRTY SEVEN?!... sorry) years it's been in the wild, examined by everyone. At least this review will be my perspective. At least I've got that. May not be too different from other (for all I know) but since it's something interpretive it's unique regardless of what I say.

Disclaimer, this movie gets weird. Intentionally weird. No David Lynch isn't being weird for weird sake. He always has a reason for presenting his stories the way he does. Like Kubrick he has a method to his madness. This is something to keep in mind right from the start since the opening is unashamed of showing it's true colors without wait. Something I applaud it for. While Lynch could have gone the safer route by making his first feature something easy to sell, he went for something that said who he was. That's ballsy, especially when the budget was so tight it literally took years to complete. I mean there's the Kevin Smith route of tight budget but this goes way beyond that. Smith may have slept at the convenience store from time to time while shooting. Whereas Lynch at one point had to live in the apartment and slept in the bed used in this movie for about a year when filming was in limbo.

To get things rolling I I'd like to talk about the genre first. I find it odd this is considered a horror movie. It doesn't exactly have a traditional horror plot, at least on the surface. There's no vengeful spirit or evil monster. There's no haunted house. There's no real obvious sense of horror in the movie outside the horrific themes and events that happen. Obviously a horror movie is meant to scare or unsettle the viewer. Well there's plenty of that in here. But I've seen a lot of movies with similar unsettling moments or themes and I wouldn't consider them horror. Some are drama, sci-fi, animated. Not strictly classified as not horror. Seems like calling it a horror movie gives a false impression of what the viewer will see... well, actually... it will? It won't?
If you watched it I think you'd understand why I'm having trouble placing the genre. Heck, I think it transcends genre where it doesn't have a clear picture of what it really is. And I think the horror label was put there to give it a reference point. I would say it's more of an experimental film but good luck selling that to the public. People don't like knowing their movie is going to be weird. The masses like safe things. Not necessarily the same stuff, just safe stuff. Which is likely why your college friends liked Tree of Life but your parents didn't. Not like I'm speaking from personal experience or anything... am I?
Another thing to keep in mind is this is David Lynch. A man who definitely doesn't care what the public thinks of his work. He should count his lucky stars he's had such mass appeal. Not many artists of his style can do that. Say what you will about him. He's a brilliant artist and his features started here with this beauty. Despite that it still blows my mind how this made it into the mainstreams and put Lynch on the map like it did. Mostly because I know how most are with their movies and it certainly isn't this. Good thing all the credible names saw his talent. Cause this movie is truly one of a kind.

How about the most obvious aspect. The visual style. For a movie made forty years ago on such a tight budget and over such a long period of time... this movie looks fucking amazing. I don't know if black and white was intentional (B&W film is cheaper) but I wouldn't have it any other way. For the same reasons I watch The Shining ONLY on VHS. The visuals that come from the setbacks of limited technology make it a better experience. It also helped that on my most recent viewing I watched it on laserdisc instead of a pristine DVD or Blu-Ray. In the long run I know I won't treat this movie the same as The Shining in viewing for two reasons. First, I have seen it on DVD and it's still engrossing (of course) I just like the worn, old look more. And second, my laserdisc is Japanese so I had to watch around Japanese subtitles I can't turn off (still a good collector's item). Not that I was staring at Japanese the whole movie. This is not a dialogue heavy flick.
And that is something I love in movies! When a story can carry itself without having to literally tell us what's going on. It relies on the viewers intelligence to figure it out instead of Eraserhead repeating or over-explaining lines over and over. The whole story is intentionally abstract. Maybe I'm just used to how Lynch tells his stories but for the most part I can tell what's going on. No I don't know what it all means in Lynch's head but I know what's going on.
Another thing I loved visually speaking were the special effects. It's hard to believe they can look this good while being done so cheap. David Lynch has this knack of making things look other-worldly and this is seen right from the start in the abstract opening sequence. That and the effect used to create the baby were top notch. And best of all for me was the theatre. Cause it doesn't look like any old theatre they dressed up. No, this looks like a theatre from another dimension with little to no elements of unintentional cheapness. It looks the way I feel Lynch wanted it to look. Very few filmmakers can achieve such a presence and aura on such a small budget. In a way the visuals and visual effects remind me a lot of his short, The Grandmother, which I talked about in part 1 of this retrospective.

There's really very little I don't like about this film. In part because I don't like being too critical of independent pieces like this because I know they were restricted. So for me to look at a filmmakers early work with an overly critical eye when there were things they couldn't control, whether it was budget, timing, whatever, it's like looking at the crayon drawing a four year old did and telling them how much they suck. When in fact they still have a lot to learn and they're just doing their best with the talents they have.
With that said there were issues here. Very few... but yeah they're there.
For one there's some things Lynch does in a lot of his 'Lynch'iest of movies. A couple of which are dragging things out or bringing up totally irrelevant material in the middle of a scene. While this isn't as heavy here as it is in others it is still definitely present. Some scenes will just drag on and on for no real reason, leaving you begging for more progression quicker, and for reasons I can't seem to understand. Granted that's what helps make this movie a feature. If everything went faster paced then it would likely be a short film. But even at 89 minutes there's slight wiggle room to cut something here, cut something there. In the end there are scenes and moments that make this shorter length feature feel longer than it really is.
Ironically I don't mind long sequences that show 'Eraserhead' walking through the streets or doing meaningless tasks. It's more like sequences at the dinner table early on when they're all sitting, staring at each other or sharing small talk that bugs me. Hard to explain.
The other complaint I have is also ironic. That it is maybe a little too abstract. I get the artistic approach. I get wanting to tell the story the way you want it to be told. But was it his intention for no one to ever figure it out? If so then he succeeded. There are parts that are so abstract and out there that it is frustrating. Things that are so natural in Lynch's head only. No one else's. Something I find a bit disappointing. Even though I'm a fan of keeping things unique and artsy I am not a fan of making things sooooooo abstract that literally no one can figure it out. Heck, if all you ever watched was Eraserhead and none of Lynch's other works, or never knew anything about Lynch's personality or characteristics then it'd be even tougher than it already is.

But those complaints are also the reason why this isn't for everyone. If that's all I took away from this movie without complaint of how nonsensical it is generally speaking (just the most abstract sections), or how it's really dark and even quite disgusting at many points, then that says a lot about my tastes.
Still this is without a doubt one of Lynch's best films. On one hand it's a shame he partially blew his load on his first crack at a feature. On the other if you know how good some of his other movies are then you'll know the level this one reaches without even seeing it. It's bizarre, daring, intelligent, and a lot of other words that describe some of the best and most controversial films ever made.

But what does it all mean?... (Safe to say there will be spoilers.)

Asking that question is asking a lot. This is what I took from it.
One of the most obvious aspects presented in this film is a common one by Lynch. Something he used as early as his previously mentioned short, The Grandmother, and would be used again in many of his films like Blue Velvet. Lynch has this fascination with exposing what really goes on behind the picket fences of a seemingly normal neighborhood.
Granted this world doesn't have such a pretty outer surface but it still approaches 'life at home.' This comes into play with 'Eraserhead' and his girlfriend. Early in the film we're treated to a bizarre home visit with time at the dinner table and everything. Then his girlfriend freaks out, takes him aside and reveals that she's pregnant and they have to get married. With the worst poker face imaginable he accepts. Something that quickly shows it's true colors when the baby is born.
The baby is one of the biggest themes of the story. A metaphor used in the writing and in the visuals. At least it's definitely a metaphor when two normal-ish looking people birth something that looks like this...

Between the intense ugliness of the baby and his wife's clear hatred of their situation I'd say this is one of the more obvious themes. The theme that either Lynch hates the idea of, or is trying to commentate on the difficulties of parenthood and marriage. How babies are usually seen as beautiful creatures. But at home they're far more difficult to deal with. They no longer are seen as beautiful because of the stress they cause your life. Same with marriage. Usually seen as beautiful. Once it gets down to the nitty gritty it isn't so beautiful. At least that's how I interpret it.
And really the entire movie is about the grass being greener on the other side. 'Eraserhead' while married with a child has an affair with the woman across the hall from him. A woman way out of his league so I don't know how that happened. Then he's constantly fantasizing about this woman singing in a theatre. Why she has gigantic cheeks I'm yet to figure out. Still the way she's presented is like some ironic image of beauty or something.

The movie ends with him winding up with this girl. Which is weird because she essentially lives in the radiator. So overall for a movie presented so unlike anything else it has a common theme. A strange sort of perception of love and desire. Again it's hard to say if that's even close since Lynch won't talk about it. Also I thought of these things naturally without doing any research about the meaning. I didn't want to be thrown by other people's thoughts. I wanted my own that came organically.
I also only touched the surface. If I talked about everything then it'd take all day. Especially the one scene that makes reference to 'Eraserhead' having an eraser for a head. A sequence where his decapitated head is found in an alley and stolen by a young boy. That boy takes the head to a pencil factory. In there a piece of his skull is removes and put into a machine. A machine that produces erasers. What the hell that means I still don't know since I've only seen this movie twice. Something I may be able to figure out in multiple viewings.
I really wish I had more to say. Especially since the next review goes a lot longer. But since I've only seen this a couple times I just haven't spent as much time thinking about it, getting more of an idea of what it all means. Maybe eventually I'll do a retrospective. What with Criterion finally announcing their re-release of this in September I can't think of a better way to revisit again and again and again. In the end I have more history and more to say of Inland Empire. So sit back and enjoy that.
But first I'll leave you with Brad Pitt dressed up as Eraserhead.

Review 2: Inland Empire

Version I Watched: Widescreen DVD.

History: Not originally conceived as a feature film. It started out as a series of shorts David Lynch was shooting that weren't meant to be connected in any way. As he kept filming them he realized there was a connection between them and started formulating a full length feature around the original concepts he made in said shorts. So while there are rumors Lynch started shooting without a script, that's just a misunderstanding. He had different intentions, and those intentions became something bigger. However he did start production with this bigger concept without a completed script. So there is some truth to the rumor.
The film took two and a half years to complete. In this time Lynch was going through some major changes. It was his first feature since Mulholland Dr in 2001. Instead of using traditional methods he shot this movie entirely on standard definition digital video using a Sony DSR-PD150. A camera that would have only costs a couple thousand bucks (estimate) when it first came out, making this movie done with a unique vision and low budget. This also established in his mind he won't use traditional film ever again. That it's all digital video now.
The film was released in limited markets and made way through many film festivals. It didn't make a lot in box office money but it didn't need to. I couldn't locate a budget or total cost overall but looking at it anyone can tell it was done on the cheap. Besides it's an art film so Lynch would have made it even if it didn't make any money. Thankfully the critics saw his vision as worthy. He received very high praise for his work. He even won a few awards at festivals as did the star of the film, Laura Dern.

Personal History: I have quite the history with this one. This movie is number one in my book for movies I traveled the furthest to see. I was on summer vacation following my freshman year of college. Mere months earlier I was seeing many Lynch movies for the first time. At the time Inland Empire was touring seemingly independently to theatres. Sadly I missed it when it hit my home from college home but it was playing in Chicago for one night only. So I called up a friend who would be down with this kind of movie. He brought his roommate and we strolled down the 3 hour drive to Chicago. We saw it in a screening room organized by a film club at the University of Chicago. So not only was it the furthest traveled for any one movie, but it was a unique experience since it wasn't in a normal theatre. Since then I've seen this one more than most, if not being my most watched Lynch film. More repeats than Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, or Eraserhead, the movie I just gushed about a few paragraphs ago.

Review: Inland Empire is strangely a bit easier for me to talk about than Eraserhead. For one I've seen it more, and for another I think it's easier to understand as a whole despite being filled mostly with mind-fuck sequences where you're not sure what's going on the first time through. Lastly, at a whopping three hours it's got a lot more to talk about than speculating on a few key scenes. Maybe I should get that out of the way first. The length.

I mentioned in the last review that Eraserhead was Lynch unbound. He wasn't being told what to do by a studio or feeling pressure to please a certain audience like most filmmakers. Also it was independent so he was able to do whatever he wanted within the restraints of the movie's budget. It paid off really well. Especially since the movie is still being speculated on almost four decades later. Inland Empire has a similar feel. It feels very independent of anyone's rules except for Lynch's. He's saying what he needs to say in the way he wants to say it. In this case he clearly has a lot to say because the three hours he gives us is filled to the brim with material. So much is going on all at once you won't even know how to process it all. But since so much is going on it keeps you excited if you're finding yourself interested in what he's giving you.
With that said this is a love it or hate it movie. It's so out there I doubt there's anyone who will say, "meh, it was okay." Instead it'll be considered a masterpiece or a waste of time. Like post-modern art you either get it or don't get it. And while I'd like to think I get it, it's hard to get entirely. It has a level of abstract dang near as high as Eraserhead. If not higher in some spots.

When I first heard about this I was reminded of another Lynch movie. Mulholland Dr. They both deal with Hollywood actresses losing their sanity. But the big difference here is Mulholland Dr started as a TV show that quickly became a movie when the show didn't work out. Matter of fact, you can easily tell when it stops being a show and becomes hardcore Lynch. It's right around the time everything goes dream-like and reminiscent of the weirder episodes of Twin Peaks. The reason I say THAT is the big difference is because of the approach taken right from the start.
Since Mulholland Dr had a TV approach at first there needed to be a setup to many episodes with lots of material. If it was a crazy mind-fuck like the last third then that's asking for trouble as no TV station would pick it up. So most of it plays it safe (for a Lynch movie) while the last third goes balls to the wall crazy cause this will be the only story these characters tell so things have to wrap up quickly. The polar opposite is true for Inland Empire. Yet strangely it wasn't meant to be a feature from the start. Lynch was making a bunch of shorts using the modern invention of cheap digital video (more on the visual style in a couple paragraphs) but he started to notice how these seemingly unrelated scenes were connected. So he made it into a feature... little piece of trivia in case you didn't read the history section.
Still it's funny to think how the first two acts of Mulholland Dr make mainstream, coherent sense (for the most part) whereas only the first third or so of Inland Empire has that. Then again the first few scenes give a preview of what's to come.

Like this.

This is where one of my favorite scenes comes in (which is revisited throughout and briefly at the end) and was based on Lynch's own web-series. The scene is set like the image above. A dark sitcom set is occupied by three rabbits wearing people clothes and acting like people. There is laughter from the "studio audience" making an obvious joke/satire to TV sitcoms. It's kinda funny (if not a cheap, overdone joke) but also bizarre. As the movie's ominous score is reverberating beneath the satire. A score that is... and I think this is the best way I can describe it to the mainstream readers... is like the booming bass from the score for Inception but darker, quieter, and done before Inception. If you want to watch an example of this you can see it on youtube.
That's one of the first of many moments where symbolism takes place of literal actions and traditional storytelling. It's because of scenes like this that the movie can be seen as very confusing. As the movie plays out and with repeat viewings there are moments where it's easy to see how scenes fit with the others. Only it's hard to tell what's real, what isn't, what's the present, the past, the future maybe?... and so forth. Sometimes it'll change while staying in the same scene. Just when you thought you knew what was going on it'll jump to something completely different. Giving a twist to the scene.
Like a scene when Laura Dern's character thinks she's talking one on one with Justin Theroux's character. She comments how it sounds like a scene from the movie they're making. Then we hear Jeremy Irons yell "Cut!" Making it an early example of her losing sight of what's real and what isn't.

There is something I'm afraid I have to admit about this movie. The first couple times I couldn't quite figure out what was going on. Even on my second or third viewing I was enjoying it, but not fully understanding it. One example of this is when it jumps from the first to the second act. The transition is jarring as it feels like our lead (Laura Dern) is transported from one life to another. One second she's famous, working on a new movie. She's got a beautiful home complete with a servant and everything. Suddenly she's in a run down home on what looks like the wrong side of L.A. married to some loser.
Within these scenes there's no clear, direct reference to the movie or nothing. Which makes a person wonder if it's part of the movie within the movie or something else. That doesn't entirely make sense because it's got a different vibe than the scenes earlier of the movie within the movie. Still there's a slight hint that maybe that's the case. I guess that's why there's repeat viewings for movies like this.
More on that later. Matter of fact A LOT more on that stuff later. I think not seeing this movie for a while gave me new insight on it's purpose and what it's all about.

One of the purposes of this 'Then v Now' retrospective was to see how much Lynch has changed and experimented over the years. This comparison is definitely a better comparison than part 1 since these are both very hardcore Lynch but in different ways. With that said let's talk visuals.

As I (think I) mentioned in part 1 this was a major, transitional period for Lynch. After discovering how much ass digital video can kick (not to mention easier to use, cheaper, blah blah blah) Lynch converted completely to the other side. Telling the world he'll only ever use digital. Going to far as to say "Film is dead." So like I mentioned in the history section Lynch used a whole new type of camera for his work. A cheaper, smaller, standard definition digital camera for this movie. Even if you're not a film nut like I am you will definitely notice the difference.
I hate to say it like this but the movie definitely has a 'cheaper' look to it. Like the production quality was much lower. Technically it was but that's more so because it was independent and not for lack of effort. Still I can't decide if I like the way this movie looks. Having used cameras like this one I know how easy and convenient they are for shooting. They also can have an unsatisfactory look to them. Sometimes feeling more like home videos than a full blown movie. Something especially seen when using it steadicam style.
Many times the image will look blurred or unclear. If he's moving the camera around following someone or a situation, depending on the lighting it may leave a slight blur of a shadow behind them. Again things you may notice in a home video but shouldn't notice in a feature. Also when there's focus on someone/something in the distance it can feel like a person who wears glasses dropped their glasses.
Of course these complaints are petty as we don't need to have everything be the pristine beauties that modern cinema tries to deliver over and over. In a way I like the visual style because it's unique (but that may be it.) If anything it's ballsy to make not just a feature but a whopping 3 hour arthouse film using this method. One thing to have a bizarre script. Adding this visual style could easily alienate even more people. Or inspire since Lynch used what is technically an affordable camera.

That's where the beauty of the visuals come in. Once again Lynch takes something cheap and makes it look incredible. When he's not too busy doing EXTREEEEEEME closeups of the actors (seriously, and this kind of camera picks up sweat really easily, can be gross to look at) he's using simple camera tricks to do things one would think is impossible with this kind of camera.
Some scenes just look absolutely fantastic right from the start of the movie. Heck one of the first shots is one of my favorites. It's a closeup of a needle on a record player in black and white with a flashing light flickering, then focusing in. Very artistic and done in a simple way. Lynch used flashlights (of all things) in multiple scenes and it works shockingly well. Another shot is something I can hardly explain. Has to be seen to be understood. Just watch the trailer here and I think you'll catch on to what I'm referencing.
Going beyond shots in the trailer the whole movie definitely looks better as it goes. You know you have a problem when one of your transitional shots reminds you of something anyone can put together in iMovie on a Mac. Thankfully that only happens once or twice. Everything else you grow used to with few major reminders of the 'cheapness' of the movie. That's because the immersion into the story is top notch if you're into this sort of thing.

I'm hesitant to say "Spoiler Alert." Seeing as the narrative is in many ways even more all over the place than Eraserhead I don't feel I'll be spoiling much unless I flat out tell you everything that happens and how it plays out in the end. But if I do feel I'm coming across a twist or turn in the story that I feel is worth experiencing on your own, I'll warn you.

I don't know about you. I think movies about making movies can be hard to make when it comes to widespread appeal. Sure we all love seeing how the magic is made. It's just that I've seen way too many movies about making movies where they're so engrossed in the business itself you'd almost have to be in the business to get it. Take the DeNiro movie What Just Happened. I watched it after hearing lots of great reviews. What I got was essentially something I could boil down to rich white producer with problems. It had little for me to connect with or enjoy. Even the plot elements of dealing with censors and how a movie should end, something one would think I'd be all over, was more annoying than anything else.
So when a movie about making a movie can do something engaging I'm all over it. I like the magic of movie making. Going behind the scenes can be fun! Obviously with this being an independent Lynch film I knew it wouldn't go the traditional or 'you have to be one of us to get it' perspectives. If anything Lynch approached a common theme with a unique perspective. Also it's more about living inside the head of a woman going crazy, or living another life, or something else.........
And that's my cue to get into the meat and potatoes of the story.

I know I said it's tough to spoil this movie. But if you want to see it raw and interpret it yourself you may want to look away for a little bit. I'm gonna dive deep into select sections, trying to interpret some of the things that happen.


So it goes a little something like this. Aspiring actress lands a role in a big movie. The director is a big deal and her co-star is known for fucking. As production starts the stars find out from the director the movie is cursed. The last time anyone tried to make it, there was murder and it never finished (not revisited as much as you'd hope but it is present.) As production continues Laura Dern's character finds herself deeply immersed in the story, her character, and in bed with her co-star. Fiction and reality start to blur, and this is where things get weird.
As things get worse and worse she gets more and more tense and afraid (and that's a lot of 'ands.') In this escape from her situation she seems to find herself transported to another world and another life. At least that's how I was interpreting it.

Explaining how it got to this moment contextually is tough so I'll summarize. There's a scene where Dern is running through the movie's studio set eventually running through the front door of what looks like the front of a house. Suddenly as she's looking out the front window it fades from a dark studio to a front yard in the middle of the day. And this is what I was referring to when I said it plain and clearly changes from the first to second act.

Without going scene by scene I'm gonna try to interpret how the rest of the movie plays out.

I have a few ideas that would be obvious:
1. This is part of the movie within the movie but she doesn't realize it.
2. Many of the remaining scenes are flashbacks to before she got rich and acted.
3. All in her head. Everything.
4. She's still in some bizarre version of the present.
5. All of the above.

First and foremost it's possible it's all still part of the movie within the movie.
Easy to see since she was 'transported' when she ran into a particular set piece. Explain how this happens is about as difficult to explain as the physical transformations that happen in Lost Highway. All you need to know is that by the second act she is in what feels like a totally different world. A world where she finds herself with another man as if that's just how life is. No attention brought to it which would show it's part of the movie world. Then of course there's the scene much later on when she runs into Justin Theroux's character's home asking if he loves her. Of course while his... 'wife'... is there to hear it causing trouble, wherein he tells her to leave. Of course suggesting it's the movie because of the way he carries himself. That and he's married whereas in the real world he's not (as far as we can tell.) Also since Dern is technically involved in an affair of some kind in both the real and movie world it makes sense when she's in a room of slutty women all asking her what her experiences with 'him' were like.
These also are some of the reasons why it's possible this is all in her head or even in the real world. Since Theroux's character is of higher class and status in the movie within the movie it's possible seeing herself in such a low place with such a loser husband is her way of perceiving her own character. Someone who desperately wants something better than what she has. And this could easily translate in her real life. Her actual husband has little to no screen time. The screen time he does have isn't exactly the most flattering either. Lastly, of course, those slutty girls could be (most likely) talking about Theroux's real life within the movie character. Seeing as he sleeps around anyway.
Lastly there's the idea a lot of these scenes take place somewhere, somehow in the past. At least some of the scenes. Got this mostly from the scenes with her husband in the dumpy house. The piece of crap I imagined could have been a man she was married to before finding fame in Hollywood. A life she left behind with a violent path. Especially since throughout the second half of the movie it cuts to her telling stories to a mysterious man about these violent acts she did out of anger and/or self-defense.
All in all it's easily a combination of all those ideas I feel. Seeing as one theory is shot down by another's equally reasonable reasoning. And there's no way it could be just one. If anything I'd say the least likely scenario is that a lot of these scenes take place in the past. The 'all in your head' or 'it's really part of the movie' is the most present. Especially towards the end when Dern is stabbed in the stomach on the streets of Hollywood. She stumbles, vomits blood, and dies right there on the street. Camera pulls back and it reveals a crew with cameras, making it obvious that scene was part of the movie (so she's not dead.) But how does it fit in? What about the other scenes? It's all very confusing but equally engaging, even fun to try and figure all this out.

Because there are so many directions of interpretation this piece can go I won't talk about it further. If I do it'll fall down a deeeeeeeep rabbit hold that will take a long time to get out of. Like with Eraserhead I've only really touched the surface of what this movie is all about. Remember this is a whopping three hours long. Long for what is essentially a modern experimental film. So with that...


It should come at no surprise to you that this is my favorite Lynch movie. It has everything Lynch has to offer. All his unique perspectives and styles he brings to film. His innovative ideas. Even his hit and miss sense of humor (one of the few downsides of this movie.) Since I've already gone on longer than when I was talking about Eraserhead I'll put a plug to it soon.
But ultimately how does this 'Now' compare to the 'Then?' Something I have yet to really touch on in this review? Well... I think this is leaps and bounds better than Eraserhead. Don't get me wrong, I still think Eraserhead is a classic and a fine example of how even the youngest and most ignorant filmmakers can make brilliant pieces of work. But Inland Empire is like Lynch's Swan Song. It's accumulative of everything he's made up til now. I really can't think of a better film to go out on. Seeing as this is the last feature film he's made with no sign of another coming for all we know this is his final film. If that's the case... I'm satisfied. Between Eraserhead, jump ahead to Blue Velvet, catch some Twin Peaks, and so forth, ending here, it's good. No, more than that. It's brilliant. It's a masterpiece of post-modern art-like film that I will continue to watch again and again as long as I have a working disc.
Do I recommend it? You bet I do. I don't even need the additional disclaimer of 'this isn't for everyone.' If you've come this far you know that by now.
Sorry if I didn't dive deep enough into the film itself. I know my review danced around it a little bit. But just trust me on this one. Go see it yourself and you'll understand why it was so hard for me to find a good way to talk about it without going on forever. It's a beautiful, haunting piece that has to be seen to be believed.

And now take a listen to the best song from the soundtrack. Polish Poem, sung by Chrysta Bell.

Cat unrelated

No comments:

Post a Comment