Nobody seems to talk about Lynch’s Inland Empire (including The Rabbits sequence). I’ve only watched once, and liked it. -All about Laura Dern’s creeping insanity as she investigates the murders surrounding an old Polish film.
The second half, or last third, of Wild at Heart doesn’t live up to the expectations created in the beginning of the movie. In that case I have the feeling that Lynch indeed did not know how to finish the good ideas. There are at least two great novelists who were often accused of not knowing how to finish great ideas: Gogol and Kafka: they both wrote novels (and short stories) that have a fascinating premise, but seem to lack a continuation and a conclusion and therefore eventually go nowhere at all. The Dead Souls (Gogol) and The Metamorphosis (Kafka) are two of the best examples. Most fans of these authors (I like both, but Gogol more than Kafka) like to discuss the ‘meaning’ (or possible meanings) of the tales: discussing them has become more important than reading them, and while discussing them new meanings are not found, but created. I have the idea that Lynch was influenced by both authors (but possibly more by Kafka): discussing his movies has become more important than watching them. I have no problems with that, Wild at Heart has enough to offer for me and I don’t care at all about what it’s supposed to mean, but what bothers me in some of his other movies, especially the later ones, is that (I’ve written this before) I often have the feeling that he changes the rules of the game halfway through, deliberately creating the confusion his fans seem to like.
Although Lynch has claimed that certain films were stream of consciousness in nature, with no explicit meaning intended, they seem to be deeply rooted in certain occult and gnostic concepts. For example, in the original Twin Peaks there are constant references to this material, even in very small details such as pictures on the walls as well as more obvious ones. While the original was very much held back, the newest season is off the charts with some very obscure ideas related to inter-dimensional portals being opened up by the detonation of the atom bomb… if Lynch is drawing from this material, which it certainly seems he is or else its a very strange coincidence, I can imagine its hard for anyone to make any sense out of this stuff without also being heavily into said topics.
Tonight’s viewing was Kurosawa’s One Wonderful Sunday (Subarashiki Nichiyōbi / 1947) - hitting awfully close to home, quite touching to see such sentiments stretching across all these decades. The ending almost lost me as it was feeling a bit too forced until the 4th wall break, at which point I was all in. May have to follow this one up with Ikiru.
There’s a not that known Lynch film that I really like The straight Story a great and original on the road story.
I liked Eraserhad
The Straight Story was pretty good and one of his few “normal” films.
Some latest outside spagvemberfest films.
Garrone: Gomorra 8/10
Godard: Masculine feminine (cinema) 5/10
Boyle: Trainspotting 9/10
Jarmusch: Gimme Danger (doc) 8/10
Zierra: Filmworker (doc) 8/10
I don’t really like rating documentaries but whatever…
There have been many, and long discussions about this, epecially in relation to one author I mentioned above, Gogol. Nabokov wrote about Gogols habit to sprinkle all kinds of irrelevant details over his stories. In Nabokov’s eyes these irrelevant details make Gogols work unique: no other writer deliberately used as many of them in his stories. But this leads of course to the question: if these irrelevant details make his stories unique, they are (or at least seem to be) not irrelevant, but quite essential, but if they are essential, and not irrelevant, what do they mean, what is, in other words, their precise function?
Lynch’s films work very well for me, even if I often can’t explain for sure several parts of the plot, but I have the feeling while watching them, that everything must be exactly so as it is.
Lynch films are often fascinating experiences, and I need not to explain why they are so immensely entertaining.
It’s interesting you endeavor to make sense of works by Kafka or Lynch on a fragmentary level. I would say that their implementation of abstract concepts and rather abstruse narrative devices doesn’t perforce need to be clarified for its viewer, since it would prove intrinsically counterproductive. That is not to say that they do not have any underlying function and I am of the opinion that their primary role basically boils down to tapping into one’s subconsciousness.
I remember having read somewhere that Kafka regarded all great art as inherently ‘devastating’; his works might not have one conspicuous meaning and may sometimes smack of conceptual incompletion, but I would posit that the principally parabolic nature of his writing demands that kind of radical attitude in order to portray the most basic, almost primitive existential fears. His protagonists function as a portal into the most primal parts of the human subconscious and essentially, the most primordial fears of persecution, isolation, loneliness and the feeling of helplessness in the face of powers that be. His opuses can all be construed in a multitude of ways, nevertheless the gist of his meditation with regard to existential desolation stays roughly the same. You could almost think of his prose as ‘the poetry of horror’: these odd diegetic apparatuses are implemented in order to elicit a specific emotional response rather than constitute intrinsically meaningful storytelling contrivances. Kafka’s texts are intended to portray certain frames of mind applicable to all people in one way or another instead of striving to delineate a de facto set of circumstances in realist terms which in turn would call for a particular place and setting, completely obliterating the universalist purpose of the writing. I am not sure about Gogol though.
Surrealist artists (I hate this word, but I’ll use it for the sake of my argument here) simply do not abide by rules stemming from the literary realism: Lynch or Kafka are not preoccupied with the material reality or the perfect representation of the exterior world and opt for something more abstract, an alternative reality or a heightened state of mind if you will. This different approach allows the storyteller to expressively unearth the irrational part of human psyche that is essential to the way we perceive the world and ultimately slightly tinges our every observation whether we realize it or not. Realism and rationality is most definitely a significant part of our lives: we would be unable to cope with most of our problems without having recourse to it on a regular basis, but it is likewise often employed to subdue our fear of chaos, to tame our demons so to speak, thereby irrationally applying reason where there is none. Consequently, surrealist art is not about what life appears to be, but rather what experiencing it feels like which means it needs to be absorbed like poetry in order to be fully appreciated. It’s never about some empirically verifiable meaning, it’s always about stripping the medium of its realist pretenses to arrive at a certain form of experience. I feel surrealist works need to be approached holistically in order to be genuinely cherished (not understood, but cherished). Surrealist efforts are never about bestowing some specific kind of knowledge (although they may employ or incorporate some concrete, systematized imagery) other than that people are essentially irrational: surrealist works are ultimately intended to probe these subconscious nooks and crannies of our psyche. Surrealism treats of dreams, feelings and the experiential nature of life more than anything else.
Cinema is a lot more abstract than literature, therefore it lends itself to experimentation and surreal deliberations pertaining to the life experience and the unexplored areas of human psyche. Some aspects of life such as feelings, dreams or the perception of time are simply not empirically quantifiable or representable in realist terms. Dreams (especially lucid dreams) comprise a huge part of that irrational grey area and some lucid dreams I’ve had actually felt a lot like Lynchian narratives. It’s hard to verbalize the feeling and this odd sentiment isn’t really reserved to Lynch’s films or Kafka’s prose, I sense it in all kinds of situations. I suppose you could call it ‘awe’, but that doesn’t really cut it: I guess you could say it has a rather timeless, transcendental quality to it or whatever, but that’s just me explaining this specific state of mind and what I’m looking for in those films. Here is Michael Mann talking about the whole dream reality (1:30 - 2:23):
Surrealism and the dream reality is ultimately about expressing or visualizing raw urges, ‘awe’ and all kinds of feelings which are then distilled into all kinds of diegetic devices and incorporated into the narrative. They do not make sense from the realist standpoint, but they simply cannot because they are too abstract for externalized, empirically verifiable observation. I feel realism solely encompasses actions motivated by these urges in lieu of accurately delineating raw, primal feelings as well as the pure subconscious. If it does embrace pure sentiments, then it is in a purely perfunctorily manner, for some states of mind cannot be adequately concretized because they often do not have any names or are too vague and ambiguous to be precisely categorized as one specific thing. Endeavoring to understand disparate narrative components rather than looking at the surrealist work as a whole seems like flogging a dead horse to me. All in all, these movies either work for you, or they don’t.
I hope I don’t sound deranged and at least some of it makes sense. It’s really fucking hard to explain this. Well, I did my best I suppose.
Also, I like my Lynch movies really dense and really weird, so I like Inland Empire best.
It just didn’t work for me. I liked the first 15 minutes or so, but then the movie deteriorated quite considerably for me. It’s visually very nondescript for me and made me realize how much of a great stylist Refn is when it comes to making his kind of cinema. In Mandy, everything is saturated in red insofar as it all begins to look incredibly samey and vapid, there are no contrasting colors, which could constitute a counterpoint to the primary palette, most camera angles are unremarkable and sometimes just look downright sloppy vis-a-vis Refn for instance. If you loved it, then nothing else in the world matters really. I just didn’t and I’m kinda sad about it because it’s my kind of movie. There is something about Cosmatos’s manner of directing that just rubs me the wrong way. His daddy was seemingly a superior director. I hope his next movie is going to be more up my alley.
I totally get what you’re saying and I think its valid criticism regarding Cosmatos. I agree with everything you’ve said in regards to Beyond The Black Rainbow, and your points about Refn in comparison are very well made. Refn does incredible work, IMO and I even place Neon Demon quite high in regards to this kind of style, although it seemed to be widely panned as crap.
I think Mandy worked so well for me because of certain elements which I very much related to, such as the nod to underground metal culture, in addition to the great electronic soundtrack, and it just tapped into the dark psychedelic occult vibe much better than his previous attempt.
The Trial (1962) Orson Welles - good, but not quite as good as expected. Perhaps it had something to do with Anthony Perkins, who I just found a bit obnoxious as the lead for some reason. Still, some quite excellent scenes including the first encounter with Welles as the Advocate and some of the surreal sequences.
Black Rainbow (1989) Mike Hodges - excellent thriller from Hodges starring Rosanna Arquette as a psychic medium who performs in churches channeling the dead. Lots of subtle commentary on religion, but the true enjoyment in this film comes from how well its put together, along with the great performances.
Last week or so outside of SpagvemberFest:
City of the Living Dead (Fulci, 1980)
The Beyond (Fulci, 1981)
Overlord (Avery, 2018)
Dunkirk (Nolan, 2017)
Scream Blacula Scream (Kelljan, 1973)
The Crow (Proyas, 1994)
Catfight (Tukel, 2017)
Silent Running (Trumbull, 1972)
4 stars for Silent Running?
I tried to watch this film a few months back and couldn’t make it more than 30min…
Happens to more movies, or at least to the people trying to watch them
I should (try to) watch it again, if i’m not mistaken, I saw it in cinema (probably not on its initial release, in the 80s maybe) and thought it was boring
Silent Running is good on first viewing, but it doesn’t have a high re-watchability factor. Maybe once every 10-years.
I couldn’t stand the extremely over the top messaging about ecology… it was to the point where the film just came across as embarrassingly bad writing, to me… which is a strange thing for me to have issue with, but there is bad writing and then there is bad writing
I like it. I like the aesthetic, the tone… I see how some (most, probably) could see it as a bit preachy but it doesn’t feel like that to me.
Same here, I really liked it myself. It’s one of my favorite old Sci-Fi flicks.