Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Episode 40 - "Inland Empire" has been released!


Matt, Mel, Brad, Caitlin, Graeme and Jacob try their hardest to review the mess/masterpiece (depending on who you ask) that is David Lynch's most recent film, Inland Empire. BTW, beware of any random gypsy curses.
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  1. Just finished listening & enjoyed this episode quite a bit. Oddly enough, I may like the movie even more after hearing everybody tear it down (even Jake, assigned to the defense, didn't seem very enamored)!

    I kind of agree with Caitlin's interpretation that the curse leads Nikki to confuse her life with her character's (and maybe the characters from the original gypsy tale as well). As she dissociates from her own personality, losing sense of self, time, and place, the viewer is forced to share her sense of disorientation. (It's also been said that the Polish girl is watching Nikki's movie on TV & takes comfort in her performance.)

    That said, there's stuff that will never fit into any theory (especially considering the way Lynch created Inland Empire - basically stating from the get-go that any logical structure to the film will be accidental). I find this both invigorating and frustrating. On the one hand I love non-narrative avant-garde art. BUT with all the loose connections Lynch sprinkles throughout the film he's encouraging us to make sense of it, instead of just embracing the flow of material and getting lost in the madness. This was what most irritated me about the film on first viewing: I felt like it couldn't decide if it wanted to be narrative or non-narrative and so it was hard to appreciate it as either. Maybe this time I knew what to expect.

    Much more than Mulholland Drive - on which the dream explanation was imposed after the fact - this movie actually unfolds a lot like a real dream (or nightmare): I know in my dreams at least, a place will look very different than it does in real life but I'll still know it's the same; likewise, people overlap or switch places in my mind.

    One reason I enjoyed this episode was hearing everyone's different approaches to art in general - from those who want the unique scenes attached to a logical structure to those who love the feeling of challenge and confusion and working their way through it (or those who, like Brad, can accept nonlinear experimentation but think Inland Empire fails on those terms).

    Experimental films, to my mind, are often more analogous to music than to other, more narrative films. They are more about creating a mood and disappearing into a moment than moving through a logical space. I'm actually not sure I'd call Inland Empire 100% experimental because it does incorporate a story and seems to have an enigmatic narrative structure, even if Lynch invented it in the editing room, but it definitely has a lot of the virtues of experimental films.

    Finally, the look of the movie...I get why people think this film is ugly. It IS kind of ugly but to my mind it's ugly in the way some really abrasive avant-garde music can sound cacophonous yet have beauty buried in it the more one listens, disguised by all the noise. Although I usually don't like excessive close-ups, grungy lighting and handheld camerawork (which increasingly dominate both blockbusters and indies), I'm drawn to Inland Empire's visuals.

    Maybe because - unlike more mainstream films that use these tools to signify a phony "realism" - there's a sense of mystery and discovery to Inland Empire's images. It uses the freedom of the home movie camera to really explore the world onscreen: the limits of classical filmmaking, which can be magical but also enclosed, are completely demolished; Laura Dern wanders off the reservation, so to speak. That's the direction I want to see 21st-century movies go in, although it doesn't have to be as raw-looking or audience-alienating as Inland Empire.

    Sorry for the long comment, but at least it wasn't as long as the film haha...

    Oh, and the Laura Dern face above is terrifying. Re-watching the film I had somehow forgotten when it occurs, so when it appeared onscreen I involuntarily shouted at the top of my lungs. I've got to love any movie that can do that to this usually desensitized viewer!

  2. Wow, again thanks so much for the response. I kind of hope you have a facebook account so you can repost it in our group:


    It'd be a shame to leave it here for only me to see. (I don't think out blog gets much traffic, whereas there are hundreds of listeners in our facebook discussion group)