Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lost Empire

I saw David Lynch’s Inland Empire yesterday…or was it tomorrow? Whenever it was, I wish to hell I hadn’t.
Now I happen to be a big David Lynch fan. Who could forget Dennis Hopper’s priceless "don't fucking look at me" scene and the "In Dreams” lip synch in Blue Velvet? I enjoyed Mulholland Drive no end--and not just for the smoking hot girl-on-girl scene, you dirty-minded buggers.

Back in the Nineties, when I was living in Pennsylvania, I couldn't get enough of Twin Peaks. I even attended a Peaks party at a bar in Easton.

So I was pretty psyched when I ripped open the Netflix envelope and slid the Inland Empire disc into my DVD player. After a hard day at work, I was looking forward to some inspired weirdness.

The trouble started as soon as I hit the “Play” button and heard my DVD player rumbling like a station wagon stuck in the mud. I tried cleaning the disc but it still wouldn’t play.

Talk about a sign from God. It couldn’t have been any plainer if it had been a burning bush: stay the hell away from this movie. Unfortunately, I didn’t take the divine hint.

Disappointed, I went through the list of movies I had recorded on my DVR and to my surprise I found that I had actually recorded Inland Empire a few weeks ago and forgotten all about it. What luck!

Yes, what luck, indeed. Only it turned out to be all bad. For nearly three hours I stared at my TV in stunned disbelief as Laura Dern stumbled through this cinematic nightmare vainly searching for anything resembling a plot.

I would tell you what the film was about, but I have no idea. It had something to do with an actress remaking an old movie where the two lead performers had been murdered. After that, you’re on your own.

Lynch has said in interviews that he had initially planned to shoot a series of unrelated scenes, but then he saw that the stories were connected. I’m certainly glad he saw some connection because all I saw was a pile of drivel.

There are people singing and screaming and dancing and talking, talking, talking. There’s a scene on a stage someplace with people wearing rabbit heads, yes, rabbit heads. It just goes on and on. It was like being trapped in a Salvador Dali painting.

“You dyin', lady,” a street person tells a fallen Laura Dern at one point. Me, too!

If this had been somebody else, I’d say he was being a pretentious imbecile and leave it at that. But I strongly suspect that Lynch actually believes in what he’s doing, and that’s pretty scary in its own right.

It feels like he unscrewed the top of his head, pointed a camera into his brain, recorded whatever was going on in there and threw it all on the screen.

I’m all in favor of directors taking risks. God knows we need that with all the crap we have in theaters today. But there is an important difference between genius and gibberish.

I couldn’t wait to delete this movie from my DVR and I was in such an awful mood that I switched to the boxing matches on Telemundo. I didn't understand a word the commentators were saying, but it still made more sense than the movie.

I have to say that I am in the distinct minority in my dislike for this movie. Inland Empirewas chosen by "Les Cahiers du cinéma" as one of the 10 best pictures of 2007 and the posts on the IMDB message boards run heavily in favor of this movie as a ground-breaking masterpiece.

One poster said that anyone who didn’t like this movie “should go back to reality TV.” I don’t watch reality TV shows, but I’ll even give Jersey Shore a try before revisiting to this dumpster fire.

I checked my Netflix queue and saw that I had also ordered Inland Empire: Bonus Material, which promises 190 freaking minutes of “deleted scenes, a behind the scenes look at Lynch, interviews with Lynch and Laura Dern and more.”

Deleted scenes? The whole movie should have been deleted. And I wish I could have conducted that interview with David Lynch. My first question would have been “what the hell is wrong with you?”

I scratched this DVD from my queue, but I haven't given up on Lynch. I believe he is an important filmmaker and I will continue to watch his movies--as long as its not fight night on Telemundo.

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