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52 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lynch's alien planet... Hollywood., August 15, 2007
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This review is from: Inland Empire (DVD)
With Inland Empire, (and I must add Mulholland Drive too), David Lynch, I suspect, has begun to turn inward, most likely mirroring the bizarre twisted view he has of Hollywood. He shows the Hollywood sign almost right away. I am sure to some extent he sees this word on a day to day basis, meeting big phony types, muscle with money, burnt out old stars, pretty boys, nymphs, foreigners, empty sound stages, lame lunch meetings, half baked projects, empty mansions with nothing going on, and all the horrid, strange people met and absorbed on that filthy rich littered landscape. Take all this, and twist it up, pull it, heat it, and mirror it upon itself, upside down and backwards through the Lynch mind and you have Inland Empire.

To say it was either good or bad would be doing the film an injustice. David Lynch's films have become so enigmatic, this one in particular, that to give a yay or nay nod to the film would be to feign some sort of rudimentary understanding of it. I suspect Lynch himself knows no more what he is doing than any of us do, say, when we are asleep, deep in dreams, floating in the abyss of our minds collective soup. This is not a bad thing it's just become surrealism, pure and simple. This is a surrealist film. It cannot be judged as most films are. It stands, pretty much, outside the scope of what I mostly see. I enjoy the change I assure you. Yet the film does not register with me as most films do. This film floats.

One part even seems culled from an old Abbot & Costello routine with Irons telling Bucky to move it down while Bucky comically moves it up.

Other parts, with actors from his other films seem almost as if they have spilled right out of those Lynch movies as real/imagined actors moving on to appear in Inland Empire, as fictional versions of themselves. The recognizable faces such as Dern & Irons only help to remind me I am watching a made up film. I found it hard to lose myself in this. This is often the case with recognizable talent where little or nothing is done to make their People Magazine, normal, every day faces look different. I suspect this was intentional. Still anyone's guess is as good as mine. Lynch has just become so esoteric that reviewing this film on acid would probably get one better results.

It's worth seeing, and more than once for sure. Is it worth loving? For me, the verdict is still out. Sometimes films need a few decades to cook in my mind before they gel into something my unconscious starts to desire all on its own.
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Showing 1-10 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 29, 2007 11:37:36 AM PDT
Mark Twain says:
So your argument is that if the viewer doesn't understand the movie, the viewer cannot proclaim it GOOD or BAD? I'm sorry. I disagree. If a movie confuses me, THAT'S a bad movie. Don't get me wrong, I like David Lynch. But I'm the first to admit that I don't understand all of his films. But the Lynch fan who blindly proclaims Lynch's farts as GENIUS annoys the hell out of me. This movie is pretentious, long, and confusing. I'm going to do it. I'm going to say it. This is a BAD movie.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 29, 2007 12:35:45 PM PDT
Well I would argue that if something confuses you the problem might be you. This is not a bad thing. I'm not trying to insult you. Perhaps you have never seen surrealist films and because of that you expected something more linear with more exposition. Not all films are like that. You are free to not like this and think it's bad. I'm fine with that. Still you may weant to see a few more non linear films. MTV videos tend to be like this. Small vignettes with no real story. Just a visual barrage.

I do agree with you that Lynch is no genius and no where do I state he is. I think his fans tend to be sycophantic and his movies are enigmatic and esoteric almost to a fault. Lynch loves this I suspect, and I have a hunch that in his mind he buys into it all and even believes he is a genius. Being odd, and weird does not make one a genius. Lynch has made a name for himself being odd. He likes doing odd things like mixing cereal with ants or some such nonsense and expecting we will all somehow find it to be profound. I do not. I can still find it interesting though. Some of his films are powerful and evocative and I enjoy them for that alone. He is also working, I suspect, with many automatic surrealist techniques. The kind of free flowing, no thinking, quick instinctual creative stuff that can some times produce gems. Anyone can do this. It's no trick really if you know what to do and what frame of mind to be in to accomplish it.

I can see not liking this film. I just think that this film, for me, needs more time. Not everything I love did I love right away, or even like. I did not hate it so for now I am not sure. He is no genius though, just a guy who got famous for being odd. Like I sad, Eraserhead is, to me, his best. It's the purest form of what he does, and he did it before he knew he was being watched by the masses. Knowing that what you do will be seen by people changes things in an artists mind. It can make one too self conscious to work freely. Over time I believe he has become too self conscious and does not let the juices flow the way he did with Blue Velvet, & WAH.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 5, 2007 4:48:40 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 5, 2007 4:55:32 PM PDT
Suzanne says:
"Well I would argue that if something confuses you the problem might be you."

Shakespeare confuses me, but I wouldn't be stupid enough to proclaim Shakespeare is bad.

On your review: Most of Lynch's film work in dream logic. Once one understands the structure of Mulholland Drive, it is not longer an impenetrable orgy or surrealism. In fact, it all makes so much sense that one truly begins to notice and appreciate Lynch's meticulous construction. It just takes a bit of patience, a knack for dodging mis-direction, and a keen mind that's able to rewind events in order to put Lynch's dream mosaics together. Once you do, everything tends to make perfect sense. Most don't ever try, and never really understand what's going on.

MD especially is one of my absolute favorite films. It's a work that just demands repeat viewings and careful study. Once one understands it, it doesn't ruin the experience but rather enhances it. I saw it for the 5th time recently and I still cried at Club Silencio and I still got chills during the finale. To me, it's as powerful as film as any other, and is Lynch's masterpiece.

I've yet to see Inland Empire, but I'm looking forward to the experience.

I don't know if Lynch is a genius or not. For my money, he's one of the absolute best, most adept, and challenging directors working today. In fact, I can think of none other immediately that bests him. However, Lynch is not as boldly original as some say. His films are a logical progression from Luis Bunuel - who WAS a genius.

If nothing else, Lynch is a breathe of fresh air in a day in age where films are getting more and more homogenized and processed to the point of having no originality or freshness left. Every franchise is wrung until the last drop is out of it, and then wrung some more. Amidst all of this Hollywood commercialism Lynch dares to go way against the grain and create films that never pander to the audience, but instead challenges them to step outside their comfort zones and to think and examine things differently than they normally would.

In that way, he reminds me of the late, great Stanley Kubrick - and that's as high a compliment as I could give him. It's funny because I never considered myself a "Lynch fan" per say, but as time as gone on I've found myself praising him more than almost any other modern director...

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 22, 2007 2:44:38 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 22, 2007 10:43:43 AM PDT
If you need to hit the web, buy books, or talk to your film professor in order to understand a film I would say the film was confusing. Now be that as it may, this film was a non linear film. That is my impression of it. I have not dredged the web to find out answers about it or to have it explained to me. Same thing goes for MD too. Also, I don't care to understand it beyond my initial reaction. My response to a film is the one that is most important to me. Some one else's take on it could open things up a bit sometimes but for the most part, my gut tends to be my guide.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 6, 2007 6:39:57 AM PDT
Suzanne says:
"Also, I don't care to understand it beyond my initial reaction."

Ouch. What a horrible statement. I hope you don't approach everything in life like that. Initial reaction is born mostly from animalistic instincts rather than from any kind of intellectual one. And our instincts are programmed to reject that which we don't initially understand. This creates problems in all facets of life, far beyond film.

That said, great art is meant to be discussed. Great art is not that which people immediately digest, understand, and move on to something else. Great art is timeless specifically because each generation can witness it and discover new things. The very thing that makes great art is its ability to stand up to conversation long after the experience is over.

In that sense I appreciate Lynch's films. They're works of art in which anyone can lend insight. They're works that someone can make an observation and make you see something in a whole new light. That's the power of great art in that it takes all kinds to approach it and lend their unique perspective to help understand the whole.

I guess I understand people's aversion to that which confuses them. But you'll miss out on a whole lot in life if you stick with same ol' familiar.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 8, 2007 5:34:55 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 8, 2007 5:40:29 AM PDT
Regarding the whole initial reaction thing.....It's more of a guideline than a rule. I often revisit films and see more in them down the road. Anyway this Lynch film would need nothing but secondary explanations to fully explain. If you read my initial post you will see I do have a rather simple theory about what Lynch was doing here. I still find the film confusing, esoteric, and enigmatic. This makes Eraserhead look like a simple episode of sit com TV.

And as far as my life goes, I am very open minded sometimes to a fault. It would be impossible to list every film, artist, book, TV show, and interest I have here. You would actually have to spend time with me to see just how wrong you are about me based on my simple response about this wildly nutty film. I also never said I hated the film. I just found it a bit off the deep end. And Lynch is no genius.

And great art, as you put it, is in the eye of the beholder. Art is subjective. There are many people out there who would like you to think otherwise. Usually they work for The NY Times or they have some vested interest in what is considered "Great Art." These people will be slinging hash at you for decades to come. Artists are people and most of them never get into the Modern, Whitney, or Guggenheim. The real artists are out there making art with no desire for fame or money. My advice is make up your own mind about what is great and what is not. And always remember an artist is a person, not a god.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2007 5:06:15 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 14, 2007 5:08:11 AM PST
Suzanne says:
I'm not treating Lynch like a god, but he is a great artist, and great artists never had to be geniuses to be great artists. Great artists just often possess a keener insight into the unconscious and those areas that the rest of us ignore. Those areas where imagination and ingenuity comes from. That said, Lynch is a master at his craft, and this shows up in nearly all of his films. But those like Dune, Lost Highway, and Wild at Heart prove that he is quite capable of making utter crap.

Art is subjective, but it is not so subjective to make quality impossible to perceive on any kind of objective level. I always use this, but if art is nothing but subjectiveness, then Citizen Kane is on the same level as From Justin to Kelly. There is a line between extreme relativism and complete objectiveness. And films have levels to them - some which can be critiqued more objectively than others. Though, it should be said, that on perhaps the most important level - and that's the emotional - films are subjective. How a film affects is unique to the viewer. But I also don't think this element is impossible to understand. I mean, I consider something like Titanic quite maudlin, but how many people (well, mostly women) came out of the theaters sobbing like babies? I came out wowed by the visuals but disgusted by the "romance".

Conversely, much from Lynch DOES effect me on an emotional level. And it's not an emotional level I can define. I've cried at his films so often, and it's usually not even out of sadness. That's a powerful feeling, and one I realize most don't have. But I also think that it sometimes comes down to people not letting go. If you refuse to depart from the tangible, conscious reality, Lynch's films will annoy more than affect.

Anyway, while I tend to trust my initial reaction too, I've also come to realize how easily it can deceive and lie. That which I immediately like sometimes contains little substance or replay value, and that which is immediately off-putting sticks with me long after the initial viewing. Read my review of a recent film I saw called Distant for a good illustration of that idea.

Anyway, I don't think Lynch is a genius, but I do think he's a masterful film-maker and a great artist in the most traditional sense of the word. Take that for what you will.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2007 4:18:21 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 15, 2007 6:13:59 PM PST
Dune and Wild at Heart I consider decent lynch films. Dune is also a great myth film despite it not adhering to the book. I also love Blue Velvet and thing Eraserhead it his best. I agree he is an artist and a good one at that. I am actually not sure what the problem here is. I found the film decent enough and will re-visit it again at some point. Relax a bit.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 18, 2007 2:17:38 AM PST
Suzanne says:
There's really no problem, I just thought this might be an interesting discussion. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 18, 2007 2:39:37 AM PST
There is no problem. I think more often than not, here on Amazon, a defensive stance becomes the norm. I have theories about it but i think it mostly stems from the nature of this anonymous posting where we do not see one another and try and assert ourselves while making snap judgments about other posters. I am as guilty as anyone else.
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