May 5, 2008

Rediscovering Lynch

I recently stumbled upon a copy of David Lynch's The Elephant Man (1980). I have actually never seen this film before in its entirety. As a teenager, I got into the works of Lynch for the first time and was a huge fan. As I grew older and became more filmically educated/enlightened, I realized that I wasn't really into his cinema and felt I had grown out of it [with the exceptions of Blue Velvet (1986) and Wild at Heart (1990)].
***I was not aware of it until recent years, but Lynch usually does his own sound design, which is EXTREMELY rare amongst directors. He takes great care in the sound recordings, mixing, ADR, music, and score; which goes perfectly well with [and enhances] the images/effect [the sound scape to Mulholland Dr. (2001) is quite astonishing from what I remember].***

I was deeply moved by The Elephant Man; though delicate, subtle, and amazing, it is a truly depressing film which lacks the usual Lynchian humor. Regardless, it is one of the most humane films I have ever seen. It combines elements of his earlier, darkly surreal shorts as well as the "studio" sensibility and conventional [as close as Lynch can get] narrative form. Upon watching this, I was compelled to watch, and re-watch the rest of his oeuvre in chronological order [with the exception of his Sci-Fi debacle, Dune (1984), which I do not have much interest in seeing at all, and Eraserhead (1977), which I'll see asap].

After watching [and weeping like a schoolgirl to] The Elephant Man, I purchased and re-watched Blue Velvet, which I think is an American masterpiece. It is the best showcase of Lynch's talent, themes, and universe. I then purchased and re-watched Wild at Heart which is a surreal, high paced, perverse modern day Romeo&Juliet, chase/road movie; it is HILARIOUS. He shot the latter during the production of the second season of his series, Twin Peaks (1990-91).

A friend who works at a record store gave me the new version of the Twin Peaks set; The Definitive Gold Box Set Edition. Years ago, I bought the first season, but gave up on it due to the fact that it took forever for the second season to be released [I think because of distribution issues]. Lynch stated: " I think this is a great definitive Twin Peaks Gold Set..."
I finished the entire 29 episode series last night and it is absolutely amazing. [Lynch personally approved the audio&video transfers]. I never really understood Lynch's humor before. He has an incredible talent for blending terror and hilarity. I love his imagery, whether it makes sense or not, and his subversion of narrative form and Americana; his unique portrait of a disturbing, absurd, and hilarious perverse Americana. He shows us typical American places/towns and through his "typical" and also insanely eccentric characters [and his camera of course], strips the veneer of a healthy neighborhood/society away, digging deep beneath the surface, revealing the sickness beneath and within that lurks everywhere; a sort of ubiquitous surreal absurdity that is tied up with or even contained in/stems from, dreams/dreamworlds [for lack of a better term or expression].

Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, and Mulholland Dr. are the best examples I have seen of this.
I have just finished watching Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), which is the feature film prequel to the series. DO NOT watch it if you haven't seen the series [also, do not watch the International Pilot either, for it includes an extra 10 minutes and spoilers not included in the US Pilot]. Fire Walk with Me is certainly one of his darkest, surreal, and most disturbing films. I still am not sure how I feel about it after watching it for the first time since I was 15. The DVD transfer looks really nice though. It is a film filled with drug use, teenage promiscuity, deception, sex, rape, incest, murder, and dreams. If your into any of that, than you'll love Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.

I am now going to re-watch Lost Highway (1997) which I have always felt is a horrible film [maybe my mind will change now], and onto his latest feature, Inland Empire (2006). If you have the chance, take the next week or so off, and buy, or rent, the entire series of Twin Peaks. You won't be disappointed. It is the greatest soap opera ever made and it's a shame how the network ruined it [details possibly later]. I have always been haunted by the images of Twin Peaks from when watching it as an 8 year old child. I would convince my mom to let me stay up extra late every week when it was on, so I could watch it with her, my step-dad, aunt and uncle, trying to be a "sophisticated adult", only to go running into my room whenever Bob came on screen. One scene in particular has been burnt into my mind ever since.
David Lynch Feature Filmography:

The Elephant Man (1980)
Dune (1984)
Blue Velvet (1986)
Wild at Heart (1990)
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992)
Lost Highway (1997)
The Straight Story (1999)
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
Inland Empire (2006)

......More info next week on the latest film by Swedish director, Roy Andersson...
...and a video clip of David Lynch when I learn how to upload YouTube clips...

Posted by J. Diaz


Jaguarman said...

Awesome first post Jay! David Lynch is great. My parents had the Elephant Man on BETA years and years and years ago. I only saw snippets of it and I was too young so I definately have to rent it soon.

J. Diaz said...

Do they still have the BETA copy? You HAVE to get it! Don't know why I ever stopped liking his stuff..."It's daddy you shithead, now where's my bourbon?"

dan said...

frank booth is my favorite movie character.

great post by the way!