10 August 2008

Inland Empire

I'm a big fan of David Lynch - having watched Blue Velvet, Lost Highway, and Mulholland Drive several times over. I bought a copy of Eraserhead only a couple of weeks ago to remind myself where he had come from - and could see several continuities with later works. Not the least of which is a strongly biographical element in his stories - which of course like many other writers and directors he denies. But last night I couldn't make it through to the end of his latest, Inland Empire. Crikey! No wonder distributors were reluctant with this one. I admire him for using the latest technology of video cameras and keep the control of editing, sound, direction, and production in his own hands. But three hours!

I wouldn't mind if he's come up with either more novelties, humour, or light and shade. But I think we get the basic premise of the story quite quickly [blurring distinctions between life and film as art] - and after that it's just one tease after another. Is this Laura Dern as actress or her fictional persona? It's the sort of sleight of hand which only needs to be done once - or maybe twice if you can give it a new twist. But several times! I think not.

Moreover, the emotional mood and intensity is the same in both modes. I got quite fed up of Laura Dern doing drop-jawed anguish in camera close up, scene after scene.

There were also lots of repetitions from his earlier films. His interiors and lighting are great - but I think we've seen the lounge-with-lampshades and the fizzle-pop light bulb expiry moments enough now. The same for the Shoo-Wap-a-Dop singing girl groups, the character transformations, the mysterioso night club scene, and the slightly batty older woman who portends closely to the camera.

I might give it another go at some future date - but I will certainly have to have a lot of time on my hands. I'm willing to give up time to something long - but it also has to be well shaped - and long for a purpose. Maybe the ninety-minute norm of most cinema releases isn't such a bad constraint after all David?

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