David Lynch

<3 <3 <3

Fair enough. That’s a good critical analysis. We can just disagree about his worth as a filmmaker.

Good enough for me.

He’s heavily into transcendental meditation, too, which apparently has a big impact on his creative process.

My favorite story about his approach is about how he was on the set of Twin Peaks, shooting a scene involving one of the actresses sitting on a couch, and he noticed a carpenter working on part of the set off-camera. Impulsively, he stopped the shooting and asked the carpenter to come over and crouch down at the end of the couch, and then shot some footage of him looking into the camera. He thanked the guy and asked him his name. The guy said, “Bob.” Lynch didn’t even know at that point how he was going to use that footage, but it ended up being probably one of the most terrifying images ever seen on broadcast TV.


Actually this is not quite the story, the guy’s name was Frank Silva, he was a set dresser/carpenter. Lynch had no use for him until he was forced to do the stupid european ending to the pilot, where he came up with the whole red room concept. Then the Bob idea emerged partly from a shot when Silva was (accidentely, if I remember correctly) in the frame.

I’m really sorry, Twin Peaks nerd here.

You contradict yourself in this statement. “A story, no matter how abstract” is the broadest possible description of narrative. How would you choose to define “story?” Something you can figure out and clearly summarize in a one-paragraph imdb entry?
Sure, why not? There’s a difference between a story and a plot.

Because Lynch’s films are all stories. Just not the kind of stories you like. Where you like logic and clue-driven puzzles (nourishment for the conscious mind) Lynch prefers to explore things less easily understood (nourishment for the unconscious), but no less valuable as subjects of exploration. Probably more valuable these days, since those realms of experience and expression seem to diminish with each passing year.
My teeth are falling out and drifts of hair pool around my feet. Stars, though millions of times brighter than our sun are dimished in thier luminence throughout the withering of my days. Petals rot, grass grows brown, the molten core does it harden. Blackness begets the blackness evermore. If but a point, a single flaming point in a vast universe of darkles would tinct for me, might one but quench the thirst. Oceans a plenty, drink none.

We tussle over a kiwi in a pool of Kool Aid.

Well, that’s your problem right there. Art shouldn’t have to have to function like a car or submarine, but the three-act Hollywood formula and has conditioned us expect certain things from a film or book, and to feel disappointed when those specific things are no delivered, so we expect a story to work like a toaster or a bicycle – to satisfy a very specific need. But that need has been beaten into us by the film industry. It’s not innate. It’s the same kind of consumer conditioning that leads people to say, for instance, that Tolkien’s work isn’t worth reading any more because books are so much better written today.

Luckily, you don’t have that same expectation of music, but film is just another medium – it’s just light and sound manipulated over time. Why are you holding it to a different standard? I know why, I’m just asking you to reflect on that some more.
Because I don’t want all my thinking to be for nothing. But that is apparently the problem, some of these films aren’t about thinking – they are about feeling. I’m not sure I’ll get over that any time soon.

When a film challenges my thinking I tend to accept it as a mental challenge. I tend to use music for feeling, and rely heavily on it to set or enhance my mood. Movies, not so much.

Lovely discussion about Lynch - I’m going to have to get a copy of the DFW book that contains an expanded version of the article linked above.

I remain deeply impressed by Lynch as a film maker. As Jason (and others) have mentioned, he works beautifully well in the unconscious. Early on, I was pretty frustrated by Lynch because many of his movies seem like puzzles - as if I was only able to make enough connections, the whole thing would fall into place. It engaged the same curiousity that I get when reading Gene Wolfe, or Borges. The first season of Twin Peaks, was an exception, as you could more or less ‘puzzle it out’. This is more, I think, because it was a collaborative TVwork, and not ‘pure’ Lynch. Once I realized Lynch’s pallete was the unconscious, and the movie didn’t have to make complete narrative sense, I’ve become much more enthusiastic.

Marged’s comments about Lynch on TV seemed true at the time, but I think he’s grown beyond that over time. Twin Peaks had to work within TV constraints, and gave us the scariest scene Lynch ever produced (the ‘climax’ of Twin Peaks’ first season), whereas Wild At Heart was gorier, but not as effective. His later work, starting with Lost Highway through Mulholland Drive doesn’t have the TV restrictions, but still works as well as anything he’s done.

One thing missing in our discussion is how much attention Lynch pays to sound in his movies. I know he did the mix for Lost Highway, and I think he’s done that for many of his other films as well.

Ah yes. Good ole Bob.

Man, I miss Twin Peaks. I loved that show so much.

He did it for every movie. I don’t know how many months they spent doing sound design and mixing for Eraserhad, which was basically an art house student film shot over a 5 year period. Every second of his movies are incredibly rich and well thought, sound-wise. Even in Dune, his less personal film, you can hear the pulsating machines, the booming of the planets, etc, in harmless dialog scenes.

Yes, I think that’s the think that keeps Lynch’s films from working for you. Which is fine, but if you’re unable to turn off that “looking for an answer” part of your brain, there’s no wonder you can’t enjoy his films.

That’s a great story. It also kind of illustrates one of Lynch’s weaknesses. He’s great at setting up fantasies, but he doesn’t really do pay-off. He was pretty clearly just making up Twin Peaks as he went along, with no idea of how he was going to wrap it up. Hence the sort-of confusing Season Two.

Stephen King does this. He writes some of the the worst endings to some of the best stories I’ve read. He blatantly admits he’s completely making it all up as he goes along with few exceptions (Insomnia, Dead Zone), and generally is as surprised to find out where the story ends up as the rest of us. To me it seems to help many of his stories seem less predictable than those of other, plot-heavy authors, but the trade-off is a notorious string of WTF endings compared to some real screw-turners of his contemporaries.

The pay off’s just aren’t there alot of the time. But he is literally a ‘come for the ride, not the destination’ kind of guy.

Ah, this is where we differ. I think that only some of his movies are lacking in that respect.

The bad ones - Wild At Heart, Lost Highway, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me - really are style over substance. Or, more specifically, what little substance there is to them doesn’t seem enough to carry the overheated visuals. (I should hasten to add that, at the very least, all of Lynch’s films look fantastic. Lost Highway works pretty nicely as eye candy with the sound off.)

But the good ones - Blue Velvet, Mulholland Dr. (which you should really see, by the way), The Straight Story, Elephant Man - are very much about something. And in the case of Mulholland Dr., if you’re interested in piecing together a cinematic puzzle, it works perfectly well in that regard too.

Thinking that Lynch is purely just a superficial, visual director does him a great disservice. Take Mulholland Dr., which works as a pastiche of L.A.-centric film noir, or as a psychological study of a woman’s mental breakdown, or as a “puzzle” movie, or as a work of Bunuelian surrealism. Or you can look at it more pragmatically as Lynch resurrecting a failed pilot by slapping on a twenty minute coda. All of those work.

Actually, he was not there for most of season 2, he was away shooting Wild at Heart. He did a few episodes in the first half of the season, did the traumatizing Maddy killing then basically went away. He lost control over the show (and I think Frost did too) which gave us those god awful subplots and horrible episodes of the second half of season 2. Then he came back for the finale, that he rewrote totally before shooting.

But in his traditionnal way of thinking he did saw Twin Peaks as a canvas for his ideas and a vehicle for tons of scenes and different stories. They never wanted to reveal the identity of Laura’s killer, ever. They wanted to add tons of subplots, mysteries, all tied to Laura’s killing. Whether it would have been good or boring in the long run we’ll never know since ABC talked him into revealing Bob’s identity, and Twin Peaks went downhill from there.

I think he actully had some idea about how it would wrap up but he never had the chance to expand the show into what he and Frost really wanted. Maybe it’s for the best…

BTW, madkevin, Twin Peaks FWWM is probably my favorite Lynch movie. I think it has tons of susbtance.

I was thinking more about Twin Peaks the series than the movie. The movie helps tie up the story a lot, but the series was better.

I only saw it on it’s release, and I was not impressed at the time. Perhaps I’ll revisit it.

I really hate Fire Walk With Me.

Mulholland Dr, though, is right up there in my top three films of all time. There’s a pretty conventional narrative rope through the heart of it, and the bits that don’t seem to fit on first watch (or tenth - hell if I know what the cowboy scene is about) are universally compelling enough to make the film incredibly watchable. I usually find my attention wandering in movies of that length, but I’ve never been anything less than captivated by Mulholland Dr.

I haven’t seen Inland Empire, weirdly, despite owning the DVD pretty much since it came out. I’ll try to watch it this week.

Vonnegut skirts that territory pretty often.

That being said, I can respect what Lynch does… but I just can’t get into it. He is more about using the medium of film as an art. Being more on the acting side of things I really like strong character pieces and acting… most of Lynch’s films are more about the overall experience and less about the individual acting. It makes it hard for me to get into them.

Yeah, and that’s a pretty key factor in understanding Twin Peaks and how it evolved over time – it’s pretty clear looking back that Lynch was just never that interested in the central mystery, and unfortunately that was the part that brought in so many of his viewers. It would have been interesting to see how long he could pull off the tease, but the end result probably would have been the same; the show bled viewers steadily over its second season.

I agree with the general consensus on Fire Walk with Me – I didn’t care for it a bit. It was really an ugly episode, I feel that during the series Lynch and the other writers were able to obliquely reference the horror that Laura’s life was becoming and I really didn’t need to see that detailed out for me. But as with his other films I don’t really care for, I can admire certain aspects. I liked Chris Isaak and David Bowie as FBI agents.

I’ve only seen Straight Story (very good) and Mulholland Drive. Watching MD was kind of crazy, neither the wife or i knew what we getting into, lots of confusion and “wtf’s?” during the first part of the movie. About halfway through, though, I realized that I was enjoying the hell out of it (the wife disliked the whole thing). I agree with Ebert and the others who liken that movie to a dream, with the disjointed “scenes” that are really cool in a weird way. Anytime I read the name “Mulholland Drive” I immediately think of the scene in the club where someone sings a (spanish?) version of a Roy Orbison song. I don’t remember what that scene was about and I’m probably misremembering the song, but the images and feelings from that scene are burned into my brain…so awesome.

A lot of people expected to get the tone of the series back, and Fire walk with me is dark and depressing as hell. Maybe that’s why it was so badly received.

On the other hand it’s totally out there, even for a Lynch movie, and sometimes too operatic for its own good (the end, obviously). So you may still not like it even with a second viewing, but I really love this movie even if the series is way better, of course.

Jon_Danger > I find Lynch to amazing at directing actors.

No hay banda! There is no band. It is all an illusion.