INLAND EMPIRE is really great. As good as BLUE VELVET, ERASERHEAD or WILD AT HEART. TWIN PEAKS (tv show) was glorious for the first season, and tailed off considerably after that.
For me, the perfect example of “lynchian” movie is Eraserhead, although i like Blue Velvet way more.
There was a rough stretch after the Laura Palmer mystery was solved, I admit, but at its best Season 2 was at least as good as Season 1, and the final episode may have been the finest of them all or, at the very worst, second to the pilot.
I seem to be alone in considering “Blue Velvet” overrated, and slightly less alone in considering “Lost Highway” underrated. Any love or hate for “Fire Walk With Me”? It is a departure from “Twin Peaks”, to say the least (I used the word betrayal when I first saw it) but I have rarely seen such an abrasive film with such a palpable sense of underlying menace. I would say, overall, I appreciate it more than not and would love to see the rumored 4+ hour original cut.
Am I the only one who thinks “Blue Velvet” is a little bit empty under the surface? I honestly struggle to find much meaning in it beyond the somewhat trite “evil that lies beneath pretty suburbia” angle, and feel that “Mulholland Drive” works on the same essential elements but is a far denser, more layered and rewarding film. I still like “Blue Velvet” but it feels paltry in comparison to “Mulholland Drive.”
@Ben and Thearshman
I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to understand an explanation, in large part because I can’t remember many details of the film. I guess my main point is that LH doesn’t balance “Eraserhead” with “Blue Velvet” as well as MD does. That’s my feeling anyway. (I do appreciate your effort to explain the film, and if I see LH again, I’ll try to come back and respond.)
OK. So I watched The Alphabet and The Amputee. Some comments:
1. The Alphabet seems like Lynch’s attempt to get on Sesame Street. :) Seriously though.
2. I must say that I’m not sure what to make of the The Amputee, but I’m not that motivated to figure it out. It does seem like a “puzzle film” and it reminds me of something like MD or LH.
Do you feel like these the ideas and filmmaking of these shorts are outside of films like Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, etc.? They seem related to me. (I’m might not have guessed that Lynch made The Amputee, but had I not known that Lynch directed The Alphabet, I would have described it as a Lynchian Sesame Street short.)
“Do you feel like these the ideas and filmmaking of these shorts are outside of films like Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, etc.?”
I think they are clear precusors of some of the things you see in his later work, but I don’t think what he actually is trying to do in his later features really starts to come together in earnest until The Grandmother.
^^Which is why everyone should immediately watch The Grandmother.
Why not Inland Empire?
Lester Burnham, I think that Blue Velvet is actually what Lynch will always be known for. It’s probably his most famous work. I do think it’s his best work too, his magnum opus.
It’s also nowhere near hollow, the film has many layers and many meanings beyond the ‘evil lurks beneath the surface’ approach.
I think Blue Velvet will always be known as his definitive work. It’s what people think of when they hear the words “David Lynch film”.
I’m not really qualified to answer, but based on what I’ve seen Blue Velvet is still Lynch’s best. I do think, however, that Mulholland Drive will eventually rise in stature and become his most acclaimed work.
Reading through the posts, it seems to me as always, people pick their particular favourite by way of how they might have found Lynch. For me, it was the only showing of Muholland Drive in Glasgow, Scotland at the Cineworld at that time it was the UGC. I remember it was screen 18 which was the very top remote of the screens. I had always known about Lynch from my father, who talked about Twin Peaks. When I heard his new film was coming out and after watching his strange but funny interview on Jay Leno. I wanted to check this film out. The screening of the film while always be remembered for being a perfect showing of what I think is Lynch’s definitive film. I think Muholland Drive incorporates all of Lynch’s ideas and all his films into one narrative.
I’m still in the Mulholland Drive camp. Since it’s subject basically is Hollywood in all of its plastic beauty, it really seems to incorporate all of the things that Lynch loves the most. Plus, it has the best sense of humor, always a plus.
Reading through the posts, it seems to me as always, people pick their particular favourite by way of how they might have found Lynch.
Actually, Blue Velvet was the first Lynch film I saw and, like I said, while it was often very good and sometimes great I found it uneven overall and less than the sum of its parts. I’ve since watched most of his oeuvre (I haven’t seen Inland Empire yet and not for lack of trying) and still stand by Twin Peaks as his definitive work (which is not to say I don’t love Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway just as much).
Most of the films after 1986-Lost Highway,Mulholland Drive,Inland Empire take elements of Blue Velvet and crank them up to 11.
I’d say they refine elements of Blue Velvet rather than crank them up to 11.
For the most part they lack the obvious cheap shots at suburbia that I felt hamstrung Blue Velvet. Lynch obviously loves Smalltown, USA but he didn’t seem too comfortable expressing it at that point without giving himself a potential out. In Twin Peaks (whether it was Mark Frost’s influence or simply Lynch’s evolution) wears its love of small town life on its sleeve even as it satirizes and subverts it. I’d also say Mulholland Drive and, even Lost Highway up to a point, are genuinely emotional experiences. Blue Velvet, which I haven’t seen in a very long time I admit, is certainly visceral (and haunting, and hypnotic) but not particularly emotional.
I have to say no. Blue Velvet is a classic, though not on my own terms, but I have to say that his definitive, but not best, work is Wild at Heart. It’s basically Lynch as his most overblown, selfish, impulsive best, traits that we still consider Lynch to be today. Blue Velvet feels clean and machinic in comparison to that movie.
And I like Wild at Heart better than Blue Velvet. Ha-ha!
Wild at Heart is Lynch, but very Barry Gifford Lynch.
Do you think mass audiences would have had a different reaction to the performances in DUNE if Lynch had already at the time achieved his current reputation depicting the odd and extreme behavior of humans? Plenty of the contemporary complaints I seemed to notice about DUNE were more criticisms of a defining Lynch style that just hadn’t been soaked in by culture yet (granted, that can never explain away the insanely incomplete structure, the music, or a few of the performances. And alongside ELEPHANT MAN I’d consider these characters to be his most devoid of humor).
Happy to see this debate continue. Like all great filmmakers it sorta boils down to four or five films of which to choose just one that defines him most. There is a sheer simplicity to Blue Velvet that to me makes it timeless. If I was to ever introduce someone to his body of work I would always start here. It really comes down to choosing either
-Wild at Heart
I love Elephant Man but I almost see that as a grey zone. Its a work for hire that has signature but its a film that many Lynch haters like.
Ben you do bring up an interesting point. I really think that Dune would have gotten much more of free pass with the performances if it was released after Twin Peaks or even ten years ago. Speaking of Dune its said that the latest attempt of making a new version failed. Sure the director of Taken was an odd choice (even weirder was Peter Berg being attached before him) but I still think third times the charm with this material. I like elements of both Lynch’s Dune and TV Miniseries but imagine if someone like Ridley Scott had his hands on it….
I know, Scott or, sheesh, Jodorowsky would have really been something.
It’s his most accessible (and disturbing) film which makes it easier to recommend. It is his best film in terms of straight up filmmaking and storytelling.
btw, I friggin hate Wild At Heart!!!
I hate to pick a definitive film when I haven’t seen all of his work. I will say that I recently watched “Inland Empire” for the first time and also re-watched “Mulholland Drive”. I liked “Inland Empire” better (though like most contemporary movies it was way too long, is there a director out there who really knows how to end a film?). “Mulholland Drive” felt cheap and fake. It just didn’t connect. I would maybe put it in lower-tier Lynch. But still my favorite is “Blue Velvet”. It’s got that magic touch. Perhaps “Lost Highway” comes next, which I think is underrated and really good.
Why’d you think MD felt “cheap and fake?” I haven’t seen Inland Empire, but MD feels like the perfect synthesis and expression of everything Lynch seemed interested in. It’s his masterpiece, imo. (To me, BV—>LH—>MD show the process of refinement and progression towards the apotheosis of his vision.)
It just didn’t age well for me. I remembered a better film when I saw it in the theater. I think it’s far from his masterpiece. “Lost Highway” is more mysterious, sexier, darker, and more experimental. I enjoy his play with doubling and circular narrative much more in “Lost Highway”. “Mulholland Drive” had a lot of bad comedy. I think the closing credit sequence in “Inland Empire” is more humorous than the entire film “Mulholland Drive”. And ironically enough, given its title, “Inland Empire” does a better job of exposing the Hollywood machine.
I’m with Bobby in re: MULHOLLAND DR, although I detested it from my first viewing, the first Lynch film I actively loathed. A couple of repeat viewings have done nothing to mitigate that dislike. The narrative gimmicks and doubling and circling and “is it real or a DREAM?” bullshit pissed me off no end, and INLAND EMPIRE didn’t do much to make up for it.
I used to be a big Lynch fan, even of DUNE and LOST HIGHWAY and WILD AT HEART, but at some point I started to find the work a little forced. I remember being significantly underwhelmed at a screening of BLUE VELVET, which I had been a great admirer of for a long time. Hard to say what happened, it just stopped working, the storytelling clumsy and the point of view confused somehow. Maybe I should see it again.
But ERASERHEAD is the one film of Lynch’s that I see with undiluted admiration, it never gets stale and still gets under my skin the way his other work used to. THE Authentic American Mindfuck.
Not really a big Lynch fan here, but a question: does there really need to be just one definitive movie for any director? I think this question becomes more pertinent as a director makes more movies. It’s really difficult for me to think of someone like Ford, Scorsese, Bergman, Kurosawa, or Allen (all directors who’ve amassed fairly large bodies of work over a long period of time). There can be so much diversity that the question becomes unfair.
Matt got at this idea earlier in the thread, but I’d like to pose it not only for Lynch (who does display a lot of variety) but for just about any other director. At some point you recognize that no one film encompasses everything in all the other films.
No, I’d say there doesn’t need to be one definitive movie for anyone, certainly not for artists of the calibre of Kurosawa Ford Fellini Hitchcock etc. My preference for ERASERHEAD is based on my growing lack of interest in his other films, the suspicion that there’s less there than had met my eye before.
@Roscoe and Bobby
Roscoe said The narrative gimmicks and doubling and circling and “is it real or a DREAM?” bullshit pissed me off no end,..
OK, but fwiw it’s not a gimmick, imo. The film isn’t hip simply because it plays games with you. Instead, it’s impressive because for the way it braids together a dream and an actual narrative into a coherent whole—i.e., BV+LH (and LH isn’t coherent, imo). That is no small feat, imo, and I find it satisfying.
(I think we’ve talked about this before.)
There doesn’t need to be one definitive movie, but many great directors (or some) have recurring themes/issues and a personal style and vision, and I think some directors use each film to get at perfect realization of their vision—many don’t quite succeed, but often one really comes close to perfection and we recognize that film as a masterpiece—i.e., the definitive film of the director.
Now some directors may not have a singular vision or concern, but a variety of issues and maybe different styles. In that case, limiting them to one film would be unfair and inappropriate, but we could solve that by not limiting ourselves to one film.
For directors who don’t seem to have a singular vision or recurring concerns (I’m thinking of directors who bounce from one style or type of movie to another), then it might not be fair or appropriate for looking for any definitive film.
“OK, but fwiw it’s not a gimmick, imo. The film isn’t hip simply because it plays games with you. Instead, it’s impressive because for the way it braids together a dream and an actual narrative into a coherent whole—i.e., BV+LH (and LH isn’t coherent, imo). That is no small feat, imo, and I find it satisfying.”
One person’s impressive coherence is another person’s bullshit boring batch of gimmicks. I found nothing impressive about the dream/reality gamesmanship, at all.
How is LOST HIGHWAY not coherent, as opposed to MULHOLLAND DR?