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Inland Empire

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Lynch's latest goes into limited release on December 15. No wide release is reported yet that I know of, but I'm guessing "limited release" still means that his campaign for Dern on the corner of Hollywood & La Brea last Thursday could actually be taken seriously.

And yes, that is a live cow he is pictured with in the stunt.

Makes me want to go back and watch Wild at Heart all over again.

-s.

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Laura Dern's performance(s) in Inland Empire is nothing short of amazing, she'd definitely get my vote. She's not only playing two characters ("real life" actress and her character in the film), but also the incarnations of their dreams and anxieties. There's one scene where Jeremy Irons (who plays the director) tells her that her performance was Oscar worthy, so I guess there's a life imitating art imitating life self-reflexivity going on behind Lynch's stunt.

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You've been waiting for it: Movieguide reviews Inland Empire.

INLAND EMPIRE is a virtually incomprehensible, fevered dream of a movie. Trying to decipher this movie is like trying to decipher James Joyce's FINNEGAN'S WAKE, and probably not as interesting. ... Mostly, INLAND EMPIRE seems to be about the plight, joys, dreams, and nightmares of the female species. The scenes are so jumbled up and bizarre, however, and the characters so sketchy, that the premise of the movie is virtually non-existent. The director, David Lynch, seems to be too fascinated by his own obscurity and cleverness. What's even worse, he extends the movie to nearly three hours long.

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Ooh! Ooh! Can I make the blurb from this review?

"Dream of a movie"

--Movieguide

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Looks like I'll be seeing Inland Empire on Friday... and then AGAIN in two weeks at a special event with Lynch himself, followed by a Q&A!!

::w00t::

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Saw it last night on Seattle's biggest, best screen, with Lynch in attendance.

He welcomed us, announced that he was going to "set a mood for us" by introducing cellist Paul Rucker, who performed an improvisational solo that the cello barely survived.

Whew. Boy. I am so glad I don't have any assignments to review this, because I would hardly know where to start. It makes Mulholland Drive's narrative seem as simple as a sitcom's by comparison. Imagine if you watched all of David Lynch's films back-to-back without a break. And ate really spicy food. And then went to bed and had wild, wild dreams starring Laura Dern. Watching this film is like having those dreams.

Highlights: Grace Zabriskie. Harry Dean Stanton. Lynch's own cameo. The end credits sequence. And Dern really gives everything she has to the role(s)(?).

Complaints: Man, it's really, really long. At the two-hour point, I thought we were experiencing the finale, and then I checked my watch. Badalementi's score was as powerful as ever, but at the same time, it just sounded like more of the same dissonances he's brought to the last few Lynch films.

The most annoying part of the evening was the effusive praise for Lynch. Say he's a great filmmaker. You might even say he's one of the greatest filmmakers. But "greatest artists of our time... and yes, even one of the greatest artists in history..." (that from the Lynch scholar and biographer who introduced him). Oh, give me a break.

As new and strange as it is, I'm not really sure there's that much here beyond a surreal trip through all of the themes, shocks, absurdity, and jarring juxtapositions that we've seen in previous Lynch films. At no point did I find myself thinking, "Now that was something he hasn't explored before."

Normally, I can't wait to see a Lynch film again. This time, I'm weighing whether I want to commit to that ordeal again or not. Three hours is a long time to give to a film that is so relentlessly intense and that has so little narrative structure. I'll have to think about it.

The Q & A afterward was a hoot. Every time he answered, he lifted his hand and wiggled his fingers in the air fitfully. And sometimes, his answers were cryptic incomplete sentences. I wonder how so much time in transcendental meditation is affecting him. But he did tell some funny stories, and his sense of humor and childlike enthusiasm are as delightful as ever.

I can't wait to hear what other people on the board make of it. I'm going to chew on it some more before I offer any theories.

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet

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I just mentioned this in another thread so I guess I should bring it up here.

I knew what I was getting into with David Lynch. I've always known. His name is why I go to see the movies he makes. There is no doubt he is one of the most courageous and breath-taking filmmakers of our time.

But I think he needed to A.) Work on a script before he started shooting and B.) Spend some more time in the editing room shaving away a good third of this film.

I like the non-connections in which a metanarrative is nowhere to be found, save in a dozen or so excellent short stories (mostly about how Laura Dern beats up different men). I loved the digital feel. I honestly liked Laura Dern, perhaps for the first time in my life (although there were several times in which I wished she'd just step into a bathroom and clean up her face a bit).

But aside from the end credits, which I think I could watch ten or twenty more times and not get bored, there is nothing new here. Lynch has found his schtick. Make all the characters pause six seconds before uttering their next line. Add some red curtains here and there. Have doorways to portals that are dimensional gateways. Dimensional gateways that only connect in Lynch's mind, or in a dream.

I guess these weren't gimmicks when it was Eraserhead or Wild at Heart, or even in the more recent Mulholland Drive it could be more forgiven because the idea of the souls switching bodies kind of brought on a whole new fun displacement and unrest. And I know he was trying to do that here too. But it was too long, and the explanations never came, and the frustration of having to sit through it was just too recognizable. It was tedious, and it felt like Lynch has fallen too far into himself to make anything relevant, at least to me, anymore.

He still amazes me though. Without any sense of narrative structure he can bring an image that disturbs you, more so than any of the modern films in horror. It is a talent to be able to disturb an audience and have the audience not even fully understand why they are being disturbed. But that's a sick sort of talent, isn't it?

I enjoyed the three hours of feeling but just thought it was all worthless in the end, that this was Lynch and only Lynch, without regard for the audience, trapped in himself and afraid to take on something new.

-s.

Edited by stef

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Saw this last night at our local arthouse theater Cine'. (See my related thread.) It feels so good to finally be able say that instead of my usual "had to wait for this one on DVD". Anyway, a group of us went and all of us saw this purely because of Lynch's name. It's already been pointed out that this is too long and too unfocused, even for a David Lynch film. It was basically Mulholland Drive stretched out to 3 hours, shot on ugly digital video. I say ugly because this is not the high def digital that was used on Apocalypto and Superman Returns. With those films I hardly noticed. I think I get what Lynch was going for with the look but I suspect it allowed him to shoot as much as he wanted and gave him an excuse to make the running time so long. We actually had a few walk outs on our row. Anyway, alot of his usual themes are here. Morality, the exploitation of women, dreams, identity, etc. Like Stef mentioned, nobody does disturbing like David Lynch. There were moments that scared the crap out of me.

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It was tedious, and it felt like Lynch has fallen too far into himself to make anything relevant, at least to me, anymore.

Seconded. I just watched this on DVD tonight and I have no hesitation in naming it turkey of the year. Lynch's misogynistic sicko fantasies are looking decidedly passe these days.

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