Saturday, December 16, 2006

Inland Empire

Golden Globes nominations are out and not surprisingly David Lynch's Inland Empire is nowhere to be see, which is not really surprising to be honest. Lynch's film feels more like a video installation art rather than a full length feature film. Lynch surely won't win any new fans with it but his loyal devotees will not be disappointed. He is on the same track, it is just that he has taken a few steps forward, or deeper towards the "inland". All the familiar Lynchian tropes are there and one of the thing about watching it is identifying them, so you see red curtains, flickering bulbs, omnipresent buzz on soundtrack and hints about something mysterious and monstrous lurking in every nook and corner and then you nod in approval!

Perhaps the most written and talked about aspect of the film is that it was shot in digital video using a consumer grade camera. So the sensuousness and the texture of Blue Velvet or Mulholland Dr. is missing. Instead we get Lars von Trier like grainy look with seemingly adhoc compositions. It is jarring initially but you get used to it as the film goes on. There are though too many facial closeups throughout the film. I think he could have avoided it, somehow it didn't feel right, it just looked ugly.

I didn't say anything about what the film is actually about. Hmmm. That's tough, but let me try. There is this actress played by Laura Dern (the innocent blonde from Blue Velvet) who is acting in a movie based on a polish folk tale. There was earlier a german movie planned but the cast and the crew were mysteriously murdered. So anyway, the shooting starts and soon the reality and illusion, outside and inside start to merge and become inseparable. Lynch isn't interested in the familiar gotcha (hey, it was only a movie!) scenes familiar to so many film-within-a-film genre just like he isn't interested in hey-it-was-only-a-dream moments in his other narratives. He is interested in character's fractured subjectivity and its representation through innovative narratives. And yes, I forgot there is a family of people with talking rabbit heads who talk in non-sequiturs, there are a bunch of polish prostitutes and I think I saw a few monsters too, I am not sure, may be I was just dreaming!

Reviews by sharper and more intelligent people won't help either but you can try Rotten Tomatoes. Not surprisingly it has got lots of thumbs down. Though I was surprised to see the turnout at the ifc center where the film is currently running. I think only one person walked out before the end. Rest of them stayed through the end credit sequence too which features a wonderful song with some surprise guest appearances. The film is not getting a wide release. Besides New York, there are only a few cities and even there you won't find it anywhere near those ugly and monstrous multiplexes. (Full theatrical schedule here.)

A nice long interview of Lynch on Youtube. It is old and an hour long, other parts are on the right sidebar. He is a really goofy fellow (he says he gets his ideas from the "ether" where they float).


Antonia said...

:) Confession: really I never understood Lynch's films. They always were nicely scary and I liked thbat but always needed someone to explain the plot to me...then once I read a review on Blue Velvet that ther are indeed in general problems with the plot...but I forgive myself or Lynch for he is so good at making scary atmospheres, I know no regisseur who can scare me within 2 minutes and Twin Peaks was great.

Alok said...

Yes, he is as far away from cause and effect kind of conventional narrative as possible. It takes some time and effort to get into his mode of stoytelling. After that it starts making sense. Though even by his standards this new film is even more extreme. And I love Twin Peaks too. Agent Cooper is my favourite detective of all time!

Hmmm. "Regisseur" is a nice word to use, or did you forget to translate? :))

Antonia said...

yes cooper is great fun.
oh yes of course I forgot to confusing,those languages...always charming little mistakes :)

Alok said...

I have seen enough titles of french and german films. I could guess the meaning :)

i didnt know that it is there in the english dictionary too