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December 19, 2006

More Suppositions On Inland Empire


All the best reviews of Inland Empire have been by people who've seen it twice, so I don't think I'll try to categorize my thoughts at any length at this point. It's a really good film, and I'm pretty sure it's great. I have a few problems with it, but they have nothing to do with ugly DV or haphazard narratives. It certainly isn't lazy (that term being a good distillation of all my worries about the film). Maybe dream logic isn't as easy as Lynch makes it look; if it were, wouldn't someone else have made a film like this before? Or at least, made a film like this that works as well as this one does?

And it does work - even the parts I had problems with. Inland Empire makes sense on some gut level that is incredibly tactile but not quite decipherable. There are scenes I'm having trouble remembering, that remain intangible in my memory; there are others that I've probably already forgotten, and more still that I haven't stopped thinking about; and all that's there and all that isn't fits together. I've only the vaguest idea of what that plot Lynch insists is there might be - I went into the film looking for clues, determined to keep track of everything, trying to figure it out, all to little avail - but it doesn't feel aimless. It all feels just right.

That's probably the key right there, not just to Inland Empire but to its seemingly convoluted predecessors. Lynch keeps talking in interviews about how the film's form was determined by what felt right to him, what he intuitively knew made sense. So it is that, while it may be impenetrable, it never goes over its audience's heads, because it's not a piece of intellectual filmmaking.

So more, later, when it comes to Austin and I see it again. In the meantime, I'm going to go download Nina Simone's Sinner Man. If you've seen the film, you know why.

* * *

Sujewa points to a great interview with Eric Bassett, Lynch's self-distributing partner in crime.

* * *

As mentioned before, Manola Dargis' review of Inland Empire has drawn equal parts praise, condescension and confusion over the same. I personally think that it's a really great piece of florid, fluid writing, deceptively dense with allusions that elevate it above mere reactionary prose. I love how, in the first sentence of the third paragraph, she makes a direct reference to Wild At Heart and an indirect check of Dune without ever naming either title. She knows her stuff.

* * *

I sent Yen a quote from Lynch this morning, about trusting ideas and other intestinal intuitions. We'd been going back and forth over to the last three shots of Ciao, which we both loved but which had drawn a few perplexed reactions. Was it really that difficult an ending? Did we really care what people who didn't get the it thought? Even when one of those people was the film's producer? It was the right ending, we knew, but nonetheless we tore back into it this evening, halfheartedly trying out various compromises. And then, out of the blue, a new idea presented itself. We tried it out, and suddenly we had a brand new ending that felt even more right than the last one. Thank goodness for dissent! And just like that, the picture was locked and the sound files exported for mixing...

Posted by David Lowery at December 19, 2006 10:12 PM


glad you liked it. i still can't shake the feeling that he made the same exact movie much, much better the last time around. and that's after two viewings...

Posted by: tully at December 20, 2006 8:00 AM

i'm ready for a third time. but i could use a break for awhile before i see it again. i LOVE it. have i mentioned this yet?

Posted by: brad at December 20, 2006 10:30 AM

I'm really looking forward to seeing this.
In your entry, you wrote the word 'decipherbale', which I now realize was obviously a typoed 'decipherable', but at first I read it as 'decipherbole' (pronounced de-sI-FUR-bull-E) which I assumed was some new term that meant something like over deciphering a Lynch film.

Posted by: Regularkarate at December 20, 2006 10:45 AM

I know what you mean, Mike. He's definitely fixated on the whole psychogenic fugue motif (to use a term he threw around back in the Lost Highway days), and I wonder if he'll just keep digging deeper into that hole with his next film.

RK, the best thing about it opening in Austin is that I'm pretty sure he'll be there. I'll see you in line opening night, right?

Posted by: Ghostboy at December 20, 2006 1:49 PM

So, this means that you won't go into detail about the film until a second viewing?

Posted by: Karsten at December 20, 2006 3:33 PM

I'm afraid so...unless someone wants to discuss it here in the comments in greater detail. I feel like I could write at great length about it now, but it would be a piece full of disclaimers and caveats, because too much of my memory of the film is (appropriately) hazed. It's hard to remember which character did what from scene to scene, or what order events occur in. The film functions like a dream, and lingers afterwards like a memory of the same, growing increasingly vague in detail. You know how you always want to tell people about the crazy dreams you have, and then when you do, you're unable to find the right words to explain convey how it was so memorable? That's how I feel about this film right now, more or less.

Posted by: Ghostboy at December 20, 2006 5:49 PM

Do you know the date it will be here?
I just know the site says "early January"... either way, I'll be there.

Posted by: Regularkarate at December 21, 2006 1:30 PM

I don't know, but I'm guessing it won't take too long. The engagements elsewhere are lasting for two weeks, which means it'll be leaving LA right at the end of the year and moving on to...

It would be so great if it played at the Alamo downtown.

Posted by: Ghostboy at December 21, 2006 2:53 PM

From the onset I was a little struck by the HD factor. After much contemplation, I think David Lynch is possibly the most unbounded and aberrational director. He seems to have integrity, in that he has surpassed the pretentious indulgence of film for something far greater in what he values as beauty and truth. He uses the video format as a thing in itself, which brings another language and layer to the already indecipherable and overwhelming. My understanding is that if video was infact a distraction, then it serves to inform us of our unconscious or conscious manipulation- for a refined and filtered product. I am brainwashed and didn't even know it!

Posted by: melon at January 9, 2007 5:01 AM