Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Notes On Literally Or Metaphorically Punching David Lynch In The Face

my promise
by greg

I have promised to many different people that I will, should I ever meet him in public, punch David Lynch in the face, if only for making the movie Mulholland Drive available for people to see.

9:14 AM Wed January 24, 2007


We have something in common!
by syzygy

I like to punch strangers in the face too!
Where will you be tonight around 6:30?

10:06 AM Wed January 24, 2007


pithy comeback
by greg

In bed with yo' mama.
(oh no, he didn't)

11:27 AM Wed January 24, 2007

by Corey

Oh yes you did! LOL

11:36 AM Wed January 24, 2007

by syzygy

My mom died from cancer...

12:09 PM Wed January 24, 2007

by the jace

um... how 'bout them Bears?...

12:34 PM Wed January 24, 2007

Why is it any of your business...
by Scott Jones

that David Lynch made Mulholland Drive available for people to see?

12:54 PM Wed January 24, 2007

by pj

This is the best you morons can do when presented with a David Lynch interview. C'mon, why is everyone so gosh darn stupid.
I mean, golly gee...

12:56 PM Wed January 24, 2007

No shit.
by Negative

I would expect this crap at AintItCool, but come on. Punching artists because you don't like their work? That's pretty fuckin' caveman, dude. "I'm afraid of the scary ideas, I'll punch them and make them go away." I would suggest you try some of that meditation to calm your violent ass down but that would be like asking a squirrel to Cha Cha.

1:10 PM Wed January 24, 2007

and then...
by lynch her I hardly know her

my mom who died from cancer punched syzygy's mom who died from cancer in the face.

1:27 PM Wed January 24, 2007

I don't think I'll do interviews anymore
by David Lynch

This is really upsetting me.

1:31 PM Wed January 24, 2007

but then
by the arm

my cancer died from all your moms.

1:34 PM Wed January 24, 2007

Existential Surrealism
by Bolo Savage

I think. Therefore I am, I think.

1:58 PM Wed January 24, 2007

You are all banned
by Keith Phipps

This is what we get for making commenting easier?

2:17 PM Wed January 24, 2007

the Lynch interview
by Evan

In regards to Mulholland drive, I have absolutely know idea what happened in that movie. Several people have offered to sit down with me and explain it to me, but that has yet to happen. I just recently saw Wild at Heart and I really enjoyed it. There was this old time sappiness about it that I loved, complete with the usual Lynch creepiness and a brilliant performance from Willem Dafoe. Plus it reminded me that Nicolas Cage can be a good actor when he is not making unbearably crappy movies. I have yet to see Eraserhead. Something about a nightmare on film makes me hesitant. I don't think that I have any observations on Blue Velvet that haven't already been said and analyzed thousands of times before.

The main thing that I got out of this interview was a sense of wonder at the workings of Lynch's mind. He seems like a true proponent of meditation and a pretty positive and down to earth guy. Yet he continues to come up with some of the darkest images ever put on film. A truly singular artist.

2:45 PM Wed January 24, 2007

Liked Mulholland Drive Explained
by John

Don't punch David Lynch! While Mulholland Drive may seem confusing at first, it is actually laid out quite logically. Look at the puzzle pieces carefully enough and it all makes sense.

Dianne moves to Hollywood hoping to make it big. She meets Laura and falls in love. Dianne isn't very talented but doesn't know it. When she doesn't get a part she auditioned for she figures that the other girl had some kind of inside connections since Dianne imagines that she was clearly better for the part. Meanwhile her girlfriend who is moving up the Hollywood ladder breaks up with her. Feeling betrayed by Hollywood and now her best friend she hires a hit man to kill her. Upon receiving proof (the blue key) that the murder is completed, she freaks out and blows her brains out.

It is at this point that the movie begins. Dianne and Lara meet again as ghosts but don't remember their past together. Going by the names Betty and Rita, the two ghosts share a kind of dream alternate reality together which is mostly shaped by Dianne's unfulfilled desires. Instead of being Laura's murderer, she makes herself Rita's savior in this fantasy alternate reality. The two fall in love again but something isn't right. Going to a bizarre late night performance they probably shared together in real life, Rita starts to feel a connection to her past. The box with the strange key is symbolic of course of the key the hit man left Dianne. When Rita inserts the key into the box she disappears because at this moment she understands that she is dead and is able to move on to the afterlife. Betty is now left alone to finish putting the pieces of her past together. The final part of the movie shows Dianne's memories of reality returning to her. She then vanishes in a puff of smoke, symbolic of her destination in the afterlife, hell.

If you watch the film carefully you will find that most if not all of its stranger aspects are simply elements of Dianne's disappointing experiences in Hollywood, distorted by her fantasies and desires into a dream world. Many of her real experiences are never revealed directly but you can surmise what happened to her based on her fantasy world. I've obviously skipped over a lot of material but I believe this is a fairly solid outline of what this movie reveals if you stick with it long enough to pick through the puzzle pieces.

3:07 PM Wed January 24, 2007

by greg

I've started quite a discussion here.

Let me try to clear things up:

First, to Mr. Lynch, if you're reading this, I apologize for my earlier comment. Obviously, I have no real intent of violently assaulting anyone, and I made my threat in jest. I assumed that was fairly obvious. However, seeing how uncomfortable it made many of you, I sincerly regret writing the comment.

I'm sure Mr. Lynch is a perfectly nice, down to earth person in real life, and I don't wish him any harm. However, that doesn't mean I have to have any respect for him professionally nor for his work.

Thank you Evan, for taking the words out of my mouth in Re: Mulholland Drive. And let me be clear that my hatred of his movies and their creator have nothing to do with their "dark" subject matter. My beef with Lynch is that he makes incomprehensibly mind-numbing garbage that pretentious assholes pretend to like and understand because they think it makes them seem cool and unique.

He and his ilk discredit independent filmmaking by helping to make all independents seem like artsy-fartsy, pointless crap, causing many genuinely good and well though out films to be overlooked by the mainstream.

I love the Onion AV Club, which is why I was so very upset to find this "artist" to be the subject of two page interview. Any acknowlegement at all is too much.

That's all I have to say on the subject.

3:14 PM Wed January 24, 2007

Please, do not stop
by Kurt

giving interviews Mr. David Lynch. I may have problems with your films but they (films) stay with me forever. I do not, however, have problems with you and I find you more fascinating by every word I read....

3:40 PM Wed January 24, 2007

your sandwich comes with chips (on your shoulder)
by bobby

"He and his ilk discredit independent filmmaking by helping to make all independents seem like artsy-fartsy, pointless crap, causing many genuinely good and well though out films to be overlooked by the mainstream. "

Sorry, but this just sounds like someone trying to blame someone else for something unrelated. Within the independent world there is room for all kinds of art. The fact that David is willing to make these complicated films and see them through is testament to him really succeeding at being independent. The US is far more receptive to independent films and ideas than it was 30 years ago. Look at all of the film festivals that are around now. Look at independent films actually being up for major awards. For God's sake, semi-basic cable has IFC and Sundance channels. I don't think one film by one director is going to affect the next great independent filmmaker from making a splash. If anything, David Lynch's films help strengthen and diversify the independent community.

3:50 PM Wed January 24, 2007

Mulholland Drive is a Ghost Story
by John

I researched Mulholland Drive before about three years ago and I researched it again today and it's simply astonishing to me that nobody who's posted on the net seems to fully understand this movie. Therefore I want to reiterate, this is a ghost story folks. I've read some brilliant and extremely in depth analyses that still botched this basic point. The classic idea regarding ghosts is that they don't know they are dead. To a limited degree they are able to interact with and see the real world but not to the degree that the real world could impose upon them the reality that they are dead. This is the situation Betty and Rita are in. When Betty and Rita find Dianne/Betty's dead body they are perceiving the real world as ghosts. Betty is looking at her own dead body so naturally she is particularly shaken by this event. When Rita disappears and drops the blue box, the lady of the house comes in and sees nothing. She was disturbed by the sound of a ghost who had just departed for the land of the dead. If you just didn't get it before, do yourself a favor and watch it again. The ghost hypothesis cleans up EVERYTHING. There's no reason for the world to be in the dark about this movie. I just wonder why Lynch never stepped in to clear this up. Maybe he's been waiting to see if anyone would ever pass the Mulholland Drive I.Q. test.

3:56 PM Wed January 24, 2007

I second Kurt's motion
by jesusjonesjamiroquai

I also request that Mr. Lynch not stop giving interviews. Any light that can be shed on such complex and involved works by their creator during his lifetime is invaluable. Whether or not you enjoy Mr. Lynch's work, one should at least be able to appreciate the vision & commitment it takes to make films of his ilk.

On a personal note, I enjoy Mr. Lynch's work due to the fact that (in my humble opinion) their reality bending twists and turns reflect the quixotic nature of reality itself, which I rarely comprehend. Eraserhead shows the triumph of a director's scope of vision early in his career. Also, Dennis Hopper's performance in Blue Velvet is stupefying for lack of a better word. Additionally, Twin Peaks took the medium of serial television show to extents of entertaining bizarre-ness that had never and have not since been seen.

I sincerely hope that people restrict their idiocy in commenting on artist interviews in the future.

4:02 PM Wed January 24, 2007

greg's take
by Sean

I have to say that for a long time I've felt very much like Greg does about Lynch's films. I've often said that Lynch only wishes he was half as weird as David Cronenberg. To me this interview only reinforces the notion that he is simply flinging up things he thinks are weird to see what sticks.

That said though, I'm willing to concede that maybe I just don't get it or it isn't my taste/doesn't resonate with me. I also think that he certainly doesn't owe anyone an apology for his work being over-praised by clueless posers if that's the case. If he's a hack but he's enjoying himself and people like his stuff, so be it. There is always going to be some crap at the art house. Being able to tell the difference yourself even when Pauline Kael can't is part of the fun.

4:28 PM Wed January 24, 2007

response to Sean
by Kurt

Well said Sean.
I would only comment that what I hear Lynch saying is that he has these weird "scenes" play out in his head and then he proactively produces them on, let's say, a storyboard level. I think he then takes a step back and tries to see how these individual scnes all add up to a bigger picture (no pun).

4:48 PM Wed January 24, 2007

Greg and John
by sailor

I think to a certain extent both are right. I couldn't agree more with Greg about people pretending to like and understand Lynch's work (Mulholland Drive in particular) in order to appear cool and unique is absolutely DEAD ON, and can actually be extended to include all kinds of different areas from fashion to music to political leanings to just about everything, really. At the same time, John's explanation makes pretty good sense and I'll have to have another look at this film. I saw it once, when it first came out, and pretty much resolved the same thing as Greg, when he kicked off this thread. Funny how none of the posers who pretended to like it pointed out that possibility.

6:00 PM Wed January 24, 2007

How dare you...
by The Third Man

tell anyone that they are pretending to like any piece of art in order to appear 'cool'? I am pretty fucking far from cool, but I know what I like and I know what I love, and I love David Lynch's work.

Just because you don't like something doesn't mean that all those who claim to are being disingenuous. Such an arrogant notion.

David Lynch is one of the few American directors left with actual vision; we should be thankful.

6:25 PM Wed January 24, 2007

See what you made me do?
by The Third Man

Great interview- I should have said.

6:32 PM Wed January 24, 2007

Artist vs "Artist"
by MonkeyFred

IMHO, David Lynch makes films because he feels compelled to, seemingly without a care in the world as to whether or not anyone likes them. This makes him an artist. Luckily, he happens to be an artist whose totally f**ked up views of the world fascinate and delight some of us. Those of you who don't like his work are completely entitled to hate it, but to write Lynch off as a poseur "artist" shows a shallowness in understanding that rivals any of these supposed "I only like Lynch cause it's weird" elitists.

6:39 PM Wed January 24, 2007

Lynch's earlier work
by Jimmy Choo

Out of curiosity, does anyone know why Lynch's "Lost Highway" remains unavailable to American consumers? I have a special place in my heart for that film, as it was my first Lynch. I could buy the 2 disc European import, but I'd rather have something that's not PAL. Also, what's the deal with Twin Peaks? Any hope for a comprehensive DVD release?

8:09 PM Wed January 24, 2007

another explanation
by greg1

Now I realize as I'm writing this that there's no real way to say this without sounding pompous, but I'm personally very good at figuring out movies (I had most of The Prestige figured out before it was half over), and people are frequently asking me to explain complecated plots to them.

Now, I know that there are people smarter than me who can understand things that I can't. But there is no way in hell that there are enough people who can understand Mulholland Drive while I can't to make it be considered the work of genius that it is.

The thing is, the "clues" and plot devices throughout the story are so vague and scattershot, that you could have ten different people explain it to you and you'd get ten different explanations. And all of them would probably be equally vaild. And in case anyone wants to tell me that this is some part of his genius, let me remind you that an inkblot isn't very hard to make.

The whole point of being a filmmaker is to, through dialouge and visual, to fully and satisfactoraly tell a story. If your movie takes extensive reasearch and painstakingly careful study just to understand what the hell is going on, then you are the opposite of a good filmmaker.

8:53 PM Wed January 24, 2007

by greg1

But what struck me the most about Mulholland Drive was how fucking boring it was. Scenes went on way too long (wasn't there a part where they just showed someone walking down the street for like five minutes?), I had no reason to care about any of the characters, and I could barely muster any interest in what would happen next.

Even if there was any sort of complex secret point to that movie, there's honest to God no reason to want to dig so deep.

I suppose there's no accounting for taste. But, in my book, incomprehensible + unentertaining = unwatchable.

Basically, David Lynch is my Zach Braff.

And here's someone who agrees with me, and states the point far more eloquently than I ever could:

9:03 PM Wed January 24, 2007

by greg1

I have to be greg1 now. I'm so terribly sorry the AV club doesn't share my point of view.

9:04 PM Wed January 24, 2007

to greg, or greg1, or whoever
by australopithecus

Why are you so literal-minded?

10:01 PM Wed January 24, 2007

by it's a pity

it mainly sounds to me like you really want to punch yourself in the face.

10:17 PM Wed January 24, 2007

Greg is not entirely wrong, but...
by Pikemann Urge

Greg, your reasoning as it is seems fine but you seem intent on insisting that good works of art need to be justified in some sort of academic way.

To find a director's films fascinating, gripping, immersive or whatever is a personal thing. I don't like posers any more than you do but why is it difficult to accept that lots of people love Lynch's work?

I don't separate entertainment from substance - usually something has to have substance to be entertaining (but not always). But more to the point that you're making: your formula is almost the reverse of mine which would be (if I absolutely had to give one)

non-immersive + uncompelling = unentertaining

Of course then I almost fall into the trap of being academic. And I won't make that mistake.

Your inkblot analogy is not valid, either. Some interpretations of MD are not really compelling enough - so not all are equally valid in the eyes of the individual who sees it. And you don't have to write a thesis about it either - if you like it you like it. I loved it even though I didn't know what was going on (but I was certainly interested to hear people's opinions).

Oh, and John, I like the ghost story interpretation - I've never heard that before. But please don't be so adamant that it's the only or the best one.

10:26 PM Wed January 24, 2007

lost highway
by nairda1

Lost Highway is available in discount bins all across Canada for $2.99. Go North, young Jimmy Choo! I remember going south to see Wild at Heart the night of its US opening, so it's only fair....

11:09 PM Wed January 24, 2007

by Tontobeefy

That dude compared Braff with Lynch...what a douche.

11:10 PM Wed January 24, 2007

by L.

Maybe you guys should see the new movie and try to pry it apart before you get your panties in a knot over Mulholland Drive. It's amazing. Also, how lame is it to get on an internet message board and bash an internationally acclaimed director whose art has reached millions? Have fun in your dark offices, IT guys.

11:28 PM Wed January 24, 2007

Dumb guys like Lynch movies, too!
by Sascha

Some folks are implying that you have to be some nasal, PhD-wielding windbag to enjoy Lynch's movies. I don't think that's true.

I'm just some guy; I went to college and now I work a job I don't really care for. Maybe I don't understand every nook and cranny of Mulholland Drive, but I still think it's a damn good film -- entertaining and mysterious, and pretty friggin hot when those two skirts hit the hay together.

Don't let yourself believe that Lynch and his "ilk" are making elitist or exclusionary movies. It's still popcorn, mainstream stuff that shows up in the multiplex for everyone to see and enjoy (or not). Superman Returns bored audiences just as much as anything Lynch has ever done.

11:43 PM Wed January 24, 2007

Fruitful Confusion
by Andy Battaglia - AV Club

One of the things I like most about Mulholland Dr. is the way it seems to move, formally and structurally, toward a familiar sense of narrative resolution precisely when it starts to shoot the narrative itself into otherworldly orbit. During the last third of that film, I feel very much grounded in a "story"--in terms of the kind of pacing, editing, build, etc. that I've come to know by way of watching movies--and that sense grows strangely more firm as the ground starts to disappear. That's what I think Lynch is really good at. He's too rigorous a filmmaker to write off as merely thrilled by nonsense; his nonsense is too suggestive to be called "nonsense" and left at that.

Whether he's willing or able to articulate what exactly he's after is immaterial, anyway--at least as regards his work. It makes for an interesting facet of the stories we tell ourselves about it, but just a facet. Talking about David Lynch and talking about David Lynch's movies are two very different things. That the nature of a movie canĂ¢€™t be easily articulated (or articulated at all) is no more an indictment against it than a tidy explanation of another is the mark of greatness. There's something to be said for universal stories communicated clearly. But there's also something to be said for stories that leave us dumbfounded, silenced, confused--and very much wanting to figure out how to reconcile the power they wield for reasons we can't precisely chart. (I don't know that I'm any closer to reconciling that than I ever have been, but that's another story.)

Anyway, that's what I like about Lynch's best work. Ink blots might or might not be easy to make, but that doesn't change the way they look when you start to stare.

1:08 AM Thurs January 25, 2007

This is what we get for making commenting easier?
by petro1

yes, keith, this is what you get: the vice online version of the av club. oh well.

6:18 AM Thurs January 25, 2007

by the man in the planet

It continues to amaze me that some people think Lynch's movies are the last word in obscurity. I guess they've never heard of Bunuel or Fellini or Godard or any of those, you know, furriners. These must be the same people who thought it made them look like bad-ass iconoclasts to hang around after English class talking about how Faulkner sucks. I would urge such people to watch Blue Velvet, which 1) has a plot so simple even Michael Bay could understand it, 2) is an awesomely strange movie in the grand Hitchcock tradition, and 3) kicks your ass and your dad's ass too.

7:16 AM Thurs January 25, 2007

The circle of life is complete...
by syzygy1

I'm still baffled that greg wants to punch somebody for making a movie he doesn't understand. What are you? A caveman?

9:39 AM Thurs January 25, 2007

One last thing...
by syzygy1

I admit the first couple of comments were childish, to say the least, but look at the debate that was sparked...I think it was worth it.

9:41 AM Thurs January 25, 2007

They're not ghosts
by babatuferguson

John has it almost entirely right -- except they're not ghosts in the first 2/3 of the movie, that entire segment is Diane's fever dream after she's hired a hitman to off her ex-lover. Hence the POV shot at the begnning of someone waking up, stirring momentarily, looking at a pillow, then falling back asleep. As that entire first 2/3 dream sequence ends, there's a shot of the cowboy calling her to wake her up. Then we're back in waking "reality".

And really, this isn't that tough to figure out. I had it down the first time I watched it, and was gratified to find later that Salon essentially shared my own interpretation:

9:56 AM Thurs January 25, 2007

by burrowing owl

Thank you, David Lynch.
Best wishes in all future projects.

10:15 AM Thurs January 25, 2007

I'm pretty sure that greg is a caveman
by get a sense of humor

That's why he wants to punch David Lynch.

11:12 AM Thurs January 25, 2007

by Campion

Actually, I like Lynch's work because it gives me something to think about when the film is over, and a reason to go back and watch it again. Puzzles to solve, some of which aren't really solvable. His work grants me the credit for having a brain and wishing to use it, and allows me to be an active viewer instead of a passive one.

That's what I thought, anyway, until Greg explained that I'm just a pseudo-intellectual poseur who likes feeling superior by claiming interests that I don't really understand. See, I didn't know before that Lynch's films were incomprehensible and had no meanings... Thanks for the heads-up, Greg, I'm forever indebted.

12:12 PM Thurs January 25, 2007

while we're on the subject....
by Churlish Pygmalion

lynch is definitely interesting, but whether he's "good" or "important" is completely relative to anyone's ideas of what films ought to be/do/represent.

and no one's necessarily right.

jeepers! subjectivity is krrrazy!

12:52 PM Thurs January 25, 2007

by pj1

I'm currently rereading Moby-Dick, another great work of art underappreciated/misunderstood in its time. I think one of the ideas Melville is getting at in the novel is relevant here: beware of expecting or even demanding absolute meaning. There are many dark mysteries in life that we will never figure out; layers upon layers. This is what I love about some of Lynch's work- the ambiguity. Those who expect a black and white existence, who expect to be spoonfed some message should stick to the 90% crap that Hollywood churns out on a regular basis. Those who accept the complexities and confusion of this world would do well to spend some time with Lynch's films.

1:30 PM Thurs January 25, 2007

by Gintleman

I'm down with the subjectivity thing, but it only goes so far. Some stubborn part of me insists that, while it's impossible to define the objective standard of filmic goodness, one actually does exist and it can be stated as fact that, say, Blue Velvet is better than Blue Lagoon. If that's really not the case, then I want out of this universe, blue box-style.

1:57 PM Thurs January 25, 2007

greggy boy & other schtuff
by jesusjonesjamiroquai

A caveman that cites maddox as a source of eloquence, no less...

I forgot to mention that lost highway has one of the best soundtracks of all time.

Yes other directors are awesomely weird and entertaining as well, but Cronenberg, Felini (sp?), Godard et al aren't being interviewed here.

John, your ghost story interpretation is indeed an excellent one; that being said please do not enforce it as THE GOSPEL TRUTH ACCORDING TO JOHN. One of the principle tenets of making art IMO is that it is entirely subjective, with the exception that it must be interpret AS art to BE art.

3:18 PM Thurs January 25, 2007

This is why Lynch is vital.
by Negative

Nobody debates any other director this much. Now that's influence.

5:55 PM Thurs January 25, 2007

by GregIn2007

You can like what you like, sure. But I can't blame Greg a bit for hating MD.

If you have a brain and follow a story, you like an ending that wraps all these lose ends into a satisfying whole.

Thus, the end of MD is unsatisfying for most: it's difficult to accept shooting yourself in the mouth in response to an elderly laugh-attack can as anything more than a incredible tactical blunder.

Cue smoking bed. Roll credits. Cue half the audience screaming "I paid money and hours of my life for that?!" while the other half tries to finish the movie themselves by imposing some kind of template to make sense of the trainwreck.

Dreams? Ghost Stories? Alien Invaders? Take your pick. It's all equally accurate.

Lynch's strength is not in completing the whole tapestry, but in making wonderful patches of quilt: the cowboy, movie producer, all that. Good stuff. Communicating a coherent plot that provides insight to the viewer's own existance. Not so much.

In my opinion, of course. So I'm voting for Greg.

6:47 PM Thurs January 25, 2007

by branan

The last posters comment got me to thinking. "If you have a brain and follow a story, you like an ending that wraps all these lose ends into a satisfying whole". This is demonstrably untrue.

There is an interesting term used by psychologists called "Plasticity", it has something to with an individual's need for closure. Some people have a high tolerance for a lack of closure and some do not. Example, it bothers some people when two parallel lines almost connect but never do, they find it frustrating. Other's feel a kind of exciting tension. The principle is frequently explored in abstract paintings. I clearly have a brain but HATE it when an ending wraps everything into a satisfying whole - I feel cheated, like it's all over, like the artist took the fun out of it. And when it's David Lynch good I do not want it to be over - I want to be on the verge of sense because it is a compelling an exciting place to be . That which makes too much sense lacks sensible appeal.

But I have a high tolerance for lack of closure. Greg does not. and that seems to be the bulk of what is going on here.

7:58 PM Thurs January 25, 2007

other movies
by davej

on a personal note, I'd be interested in knowing what sort of movies/directors, the people who think David Lynch is a prat actually do think are genius. I mean, I love Lynch's stuff; mainly because I can't work out some of the plots and some of the movies do seem to remain unfinished. He's unafraid of hatred and that, in these appalling times, can't be a bad thing.

10:08 PM Thurs January 25, 2007

Strange as this sounds
by Ed

As of ten minutes ago I would have been a self-described Lynch-hater--I honestly jumped to the comments to grumble about any praise--but after reading this thread, I'm actually interested in queuing up a movie or two and giving him another shot.

I've only seen Mulholland Dr, which is definitely the problem--I don't necessarily need neat narratives and a well-defined sense of meaning from the art I like, but I do have a huge problem with work that doesn't seem to have any objective means of analysis. After reading these explanations of ghosts and stuff, sure.. I guess that sounds like it fits the facts. But the facts themselves are so hidden and slippery I didn't feel like I had any ability to piece them together, and that did (and still does) offend me as a viewer.

But I was letting my frustration obscure the fact Lynch is clearly a unique, uncompromising talent--and even if I hate the product, I still respect the hell out of an artist like that. So I'm going to give Blue Velvet a look and see what happens. I doubt it'll change my mind on Mulholland Dr, but maybe it will give me a new perspective on Lynch.

Not entirely sure how this bizarre discussion made me rescind my prior judgment, only that it did.

11:13 PM Thurs January 25, 2007

I wish I were you, Ed
by Scott Tobias

Wow, you haven't seen BLUE VELVET, Ed? That's one of those movies that I wish I could watch for the first time again. Suggestion: If you watch it on DVD, make sure the room is pitch-black. The film makes extensive use of blacks and dark blues, so any light on the screen would fuck up the program. Suggestion ----------
2: If you're not properly blown away by this movie, I guess you and Lynch should part ways, after all. For my money, BV may be the best movie of the '80s.

12:35 AM Fri January 26, 2007

this whole confusion about understanding
by Big Poser

Part of what was so illuminating for me about this interview was hearing Mr. Lynch talk about the importance of his meditation practice. I think he might be mistaken when he says that knowing about the artist is completely unrelated to appreciating the work. In this case I think a better understanding of some basic concepts of meditation and awakening in certain strands of Eastern philosophy/religion could be helpful.

I can't really speak for Transcendental Meditation in particular, and I know there has been some controversy over Maharishi and his schools. But I know this: In many meditation practices, one comes to the realization that the everyday concepts and symbols we employ in an attempt to apprehend reality are nothing more (or less) than human creations. They do not bring us into unmediated contact with the truth of ourselves or the universe. True understanding comes when we give up the constant grasping for coherent meaning and a stable sense of identity, and realize that we make our meaning. Perhaps letting go of the desparate attempt to bring coherence to Lynch's films, and not fretting about who "gets" it or who is a poser, would do a body good. Just sit. And watch his movies if you want to.

1:28 AM Fri January 26, 2007

Yeah, switch you places
by Ed

Thanks for the suggestions, Scott. We'll see how it goes. Worst case scenario, it gives me more ammo against Mulholland Dr., cue internet smiley-face.

4:46 AM Fri January 26, 2007

RE: Lynch and Movies
by TAJ

Mr. Lynch's movies have always spoken to me. But Mulholland Drive made me mad. Mad in a good way. "What the fuck is going on?" I was utterly intrigued. It was a great, strong reaction. This is the mark of a real piece of art. It affects you, whether you comprehend it or not.

It's truly pathetic when people use their personal views on art to vindicate themselves and damn others. Egocentric morons.

I admire Mr. Lynch for following his heart and suffering until his vision took off. He nurtures his uniqueness through meditation and is a whole artistic being.

I recently saw him speak in-person and all I saw was a peaceful guy. And it wasn't because he's got money or influence... there was a band onstage and when they played he gave his whole attention to them. He wasn't annoyed, amused or waiting for his turn. He was just there, turned in his seat, listening and watching.

I'll bet that comment from "Mr. Lynch" above was 100% genuine. And I bet he was upset. And I'm certain he'll never know that Greg apologized and why should he? He's smart enough to stay out of places where people were out to hurt him.

It's high time for people who like to "joke about" lashing out at others to learn rule ----------
1 about human interaction: DON'T FUCK WITH PEOPLE YOU DON'T KNOW.

Anyhow, I can't wait to see "Inland Empire." Whether or not it leaks like a sieve.

4:56 AM Fri January 26, 2007

PS: Lynch on Continuity
by TAJ

And for those who don't think Lynch capable of crafting a linear motion picture 100% "hi-falutin' art-house poser weirdness" free, check out "The Straight Story." I defy you to remain unmoved by the simple clarity of the narrative.

Then go soak yer heads.
5:16 AM Fri January 26, 2007

by crunchpump

personally I think that plot isnt one of the most important factors in a film. I would rather get an emotional response to any artform than an intelectual one and David Lynch is one of the many directors I know who I get this from.

5:39 AM Fri January 26, 2007

John Explained Mulholland Drive Well
by Shit Yea Pour the fucking Beer

that was awesome, thanks, Lost highway seems to follow the same logic mixed in with some alien abduction symbolism which is alluded to in the Melies short film from 95 which was when he was probably writing Lost Highway, you'll notice, that there are scenes in most lynch films involving Electric Blue, it seems this colour represents a conscious understanding of another "dimension" in Fire walk with me and Lost Highway, Laura asks who are you, to the ceiling, then the lights happen, uhm, don't even remember his name, what is it, Fred, bill pullman's character, he looks up while in jail before the swap occurs, not completely sure, but i feel i'm right. additional oddness, the mib in lost highway was in a movie called Electra glide in blue (goofy dj in the morning voice) NOW HOWS THAT FOR FUCKED UP?!

7:20 AM Fri January 26, 2007

Plot Shmot
by pj1

It just seems to me that coherence is overrated. Gravity's Rainbow. Ulyssess. "Kubla Khan". Despite their lack of coherent plot, these works are generally recognized as great art (though admittedly not for everyone). To bring film in how about: Waking Life, El Topo, 2001, and Hour of the Wolf. None of these books or films can be said to have a traditional plot. Does that make them bad? Does that make their creators hacks? I don't think so. I agree with crunchpump that emotional impact is essential, yet I also believe plot is important too. However, plot isn't always the most important element. Sometimes a film works strongly on an emotional level while leaving behind the intellect, the rational. Could we agree that sometimes confusion may be part of what the artist wants us to feel? If you don't want to feel that way, if confusion, uncertaintity, and anxiety are feelings you'd rather not explore then by all means don't subject yourself to works of art that conjure these feelings. To slam Lynch as an artist, to make it personal seems immature. I don't like raisins. This does not mean raisins are bad or that people who like raisin are wrongheaded. My dislike for raisins is about me, not the raisins. And those who want to say Lynch can't tell a story may I add to TAJ's comment: Elephant Man, Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, Wild at Heart. These are very traditional in their structure. (Just for the record- I didn't think Lost Highway or Mulholland Dr. were too terribly hard to figure out; or should I say to impose my understanding upon)An artist should worry if everyone will understand. That's not the resposibility of an artist. Art should challenge us, disturb us, piss us off, make us think in a new way. I would say Lynch has done his job.

7:48 AM Fri January 26, 2007

by petro1

I mean, I know that he sorta disowned Dune, but uh... that movie kinda kicks ass. Just thought I'd bring that up.

9:36 AM Fri January 26, 2007

by TAJ

Geez, how could I have forgotten "The Elephant Man?" That's almost a metaphor for this discussion. On the surface, it's freakish; incomprehensible. Underneath, perfectly human: understandable.

Lynch knows what he's doing and what he's not doing. Like Picasso, and others who could churn out perfectly realistic work, but choose not to in deference to a willingness to innovate and explore, Mr. Lynch is a modern-day pioneer.

May we all find the courage to discover and then stick to that thing that we do best, even if our message isn't what everyone wants to hear.

9:38 AM Fri January 26, 2007

by Henrik

"The whole point of being a filmmaker is to, through dialouge and visual, to fully and satisfactoraly tell a story. "

Its entertaining that some people "know" what is the point of being a filmmaker. I guess you also "know" that the point of being a painter is to as realistically as possible portay an object, and that the point of being a musician etc etc.

I also find it entertaining that you feel such anger. I dont think its hard to understand Mullholland Drive, sure I had to think about it a little but thats whats so great. And just becouse it doesnt apeal to your kind of intellect to think about something you dont imediatly understand (" had most of The Prestige figured out before it was half over") it doesnt have to be that its equallyfrustrating to everyone. Get over it. You dont have to feel inferior.

9:39 AM Fri January 26, 2007

by Lee

I think Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive, and INLAND EMPIRE all spring from the same impulse: the mysteries of the human mind and the lengths it will go to (fantasies, dreams, delusions) in order to distance itself from an unacceptable reality.

9:41 AM Fri January 26, 2007

Lynch - brilliant but deeply flawed
by strategic_hamlet

For me Lynch's ability with the camera turns his films from borderline unbearable to highly watchable. (Blue Velvet excluded, that's a good film front to back). His raw visual ability can not be praised enough, I just wish he'd occationally hire a screenwriter. I'm sure that if one watches Lost Highway a bunch of times some sense might fall out, but the first two times didn't convince me that it would be worth the effort when/if it did. I get the feeling watching his films that his life's dream is to make 2001 only set in LA. It's his talent, he can waste it if he wants to.

10:13 AM Fri January 26, 2007

re: the availability of Lost Highway on DVD
by derek

Lost Highway is readily available on non-PAL DVD...I bought a copy for less than ten bucks at this hip indie film store called Best Buy.

10:30 AM Fri January 26, 2007

All I can say is...
by so over it

I'm with Greg. Raj, he has no intention of actually punching David Lynch. And I really like the fact that everyone wants to point out how easy M.D. is to follow and yet there's been all these conflicting interpretations. I understand that a film can be interpreted in more than one way, but please don't give me 10 different explanations of how to understand a movie then tell me it's easy to follow. This is the most annoying thread I've ever seen- the only part of it I liked was Greg's first two comments, not because I want violence visited upon David Lynch's head (and, has Greg has made abundantly clear, neither does he) but because it was FUNNY. This seems to be a concept lost on most of you.

11:13 AM Fri January 26, 2007

What greg really meant
by GregIn2007

Greg didn't really want to punch David Lynch in the face. By "punch in the face" he meant:

open a discarded decaying chinese food carry-out box, releasing two diminutive octogenarians who dance their way to David Lynch's residence. The ederly couple's small stature allows them to crawl under the front door, where they encouter David contemplating the bricks on his fireplace. They immediately expand to normal human size, and burst into uproarious laughter. The only rational response for David at this point, clearly, is to punch himself in the face. Oh, SNAP!

And somewhere in the distance, an owl speaks in a child's voice under a pink-tinged full moon.

11:29 AM Fri January 26, 2007

severe dearth of social life
by Shit Yea Pour the fucking Beer

the sub discussion here is dumb, from dumb, to dumb, not funny, maybe funny to the edgiest guy who owned a mac til intel starting making chips. just keep your nepotism cycle going and for the pen paper "drawers" who have macs, you guys are the true mac nerds.

12:40 PM Fri January 26, 2007

Vampires on Film
by pj1

Wow. Some of you just want (need?) to keep sucking all the life out of art. By imposing absolute meaning on everything you are nailing jello to the wall- sure a little will stick, but most ends up on the floor. And then you have no dessert.

Part of me thinks- jesus, these are just movies, get over it people. But then maybe it isn't just movies. Maybe this is about the need to be right. If people agree with me then I'm right. If I'm right I've discovered a truth. If I've discovered a truth I can impose order on a chaotic universe. "This much is true." Hold onto it. Pray for guidence. And everyone who doesn't agree with me is a rat bastard.

Yet the mystery persists. Some embrace it, some reject it. Some even whine about it- "Mulholland Dr. doesn't make any sense", stomp foot. The mystery endures. It doesn't care. Lynch's films (though some are confused and personalize it by naming Lynch himself) are the pasteboard mask. Strike through the mask and uncover reality. Good luck. We all find something different. Some of us find nothing. We get angry. We threaten violence (and later claim it a joke- ha ha). The mystery doesn't give a shit. Not much comfort in that but hey, at least it keeps the mind busy.

1:54 PM Fri January 26, 2007

by Kurt


2:07 PM Fri January 26, 2007

one saliva bubble
by Gintleman

Can't...stop...beating dead horse...

Maybe the universe appears chaotic because we're only seeing a tiny corner of it through a pinhole. If you stand right in front of a giant painting and all you see is a meaningless smudge, it's still possible that if you step back far enough it's the Sistine Chapel ceiling (or a Thomas Kinkade, or a Ziggy comic, or something, but the point holds). The fact that some people annoy (or kill) us because they think they have the handle on Absolute Truth is not an argument against the existence of Absolute Truth.

3:08 PM Fri January 26, 2007

by Byro

I thought Mulholland was a cop flick w/ nick nolte!

3:36 PM Fri January 26, 2007

just a suggestion
by PL

hey avclub, i'm a big fan and always appreciate your insightful interviews. i just wish you might include some questions that refer more specifically to an artit's work, instead of more general ones. example: rather than "how does the look of DV compare to film" you could ask "do you feel it is the use of lighting that connects the rather disparate scenes of Inland Empire?" or "what's with the bunny sitcom?"

wow. even typing that felt nerdy. it's time to start drinking isn't it? ah well, just some food for thought!

3:19 PM Sat January 27, 2007

greg is an utter fool
by erik

His arguments aren't even slightly compelling, and his angry reactionary tone undermines everything he says.

However, the violence of his reaction proves at least the striking nature of Lynch's art. Nobody feels that strongly about a bad film.

In terms of theme and plot, several of Lynch's films, unlike many other films, but very much like many other types of art, are more open-ended, and can be read on several different levels. This is not proof of their pretentiousness, nor does it make them mind-numbing. It makes them satisfying to those who enjoy complex, multi-layered art. You're not obligated to enjoy them, but to argue their worth based on their lack of a linear, simply-understood narrative is nonsensical.

4:17 PM Sat January 27, 2007

Come on in, the water's fine!
by Winkie

I'm no film critic, and nothing I can say would likely change the mind of anyone not already impressed by Lynch's work, but I would echo everything Andy said in his comment above. I will never forget the way I felt in the theater watching Mulholland Drive, or later that evening, standing with friends on a windy sidewalk--"dumbfounded, silenced, confused". Lynch's works have a way of sticking with you for a long, long time. The sense of familiarity and dread, the odd colors that stand out (the pink paint on the jewelry, the nauseating aiport-aqua railings outside Winkie's Diner), and then the falsely calming banal sequences of dialogue to rein things in until you fall in more deeply.

But maybe M.H. isn't for everyone--if not, start with Blue Velvet, or Wild at Heart, which was my first Lynch film. I've loved Willem DeFoe in many films, but his creepy role as Bobby "Just like the country" Peru is jaw-dropping. And the images of South Texas wind, Lula's mother with a face completely covered in lipstick, Harry Dean Stanton barking like a dog and driving to New Orleans in the pitch black (I once went for a jog on Halloween night in L.A. and ran right by him on a street corner, thought he was a homeless guy, but that's another story..), just burned in my brain.

And then, at the very least, you need to see Twin Peaks. Be prepared: it will at first glance appear painfully dated (late '80's fashions), but you will be hooked by the second episode. The slightly off quality of each character, the patient building of tension, the tight dialogue, the clean pie and coffee. It should also be noted that in the early '90's there was NOTHING like Twin Peaks on television, cable or otherwise, and they somehow got this on ABC! Imagine watching Peyton's Place and then entering the surreal world of David Lynch--it would be like having Friends followed by a Fellini film (not quite, but you get the picture).

In short, uh, let's go watch some more Lynch!

1:19 AM Sun January 28, 2007

IE vs MD
by lemmy

INLAND EMPIRE makes Mulholland Drive look like a run-of-the-mill tv-movie by comparison, in terms of narrative development and overall coherence. I discovered this by watching MD again right after seeing IE, and whereas I used to regard MD as completely baffling and inscrutable, it now seemed like an average , easy-to-follow melodrama. There aren't many people to whom I'd recommend seeing INLAND EMPIRE, but personally I was floored by it. And seeing it a second time made it an even more remarkable experience.

Whatever people think of Lynch's work, the guy's a true original, which is more than I can say for most of the bland, posing, third-rate rubbish that currently feeds the pop-culture hype machine (98% of "indie rock," for example). It's inspiring to see an American pop artist continue to be that uncompromising, especially in this horrible cultural economy. And I'm happy that I finally stopped trying to "understand" his later movies and just let them do their thing.

12:21 AM Mon January 29, 2007

to each their own ...
by stuffed animal

or something like that. But I'm not a bitter, contol-freak buffoon. If I was, maybe I'd feel differently.

5:22 AM Mon January 29, 2007

Play nice, children....
by Wade

When working within a narrative construct, (even the slimmest thread of one, like The Straight Story) Lynch's work is haunting, brilliant, singular. However, when he abandons narrative entirely, like Lost Highway or the last third of Mulholland Drive, the result to me is like listening to someone else describe their dreams to you. At best it may be intriguing, but how can you make an emotional investment in randomness? I'm reminded of the sequence in Lost Highway with Bill Pullman wandering through dark hallways. It looks cool and creepy, and I'm sure someone could make a superficially convincing argument about how it "means" something, but I was left cold, because it seemed to exist outside of any consequential context. I don't need movies to simulate the dreamscape, because I already have dreams, and they tend to kick ass.

A lot of people like to go on about how "they don't make 'em like they used to," contending that the restrictions of the times on what was permissable to explicitly display made the filmmakers come up with clever ways to get around the censors to make their points and tell their stories. And while I have no problem with explicit material (when it comes to sex, they more explicit the better, I say) there is something to the argument that applies here. Because I find that when Lynch has to work within the restrictions of a defined, consistent narrative like Blue Velvet and The Straight Story, that's when he does his best work.

Don't be hatin'!

9:23 AM Mon January 29, 2007

I don't go to film festivals
by Obee

. . . so how can I get my hands on a copy of this movie?

10:35 AM Mon January 29, 2007

where a sponge meets intellect
by chris1

Lynch is close to genius. kudos to him for exploring so many mediums. I'd be skeptical if he only made films. he stretches the bounds of creativity, times ten.

12:26 PM Mon January 29, 2007

by syzygy1

I laugh at Lynch's sourpuss face every time I come here to read the new comments. Brilliant!

3:38 PM Mon January 29, 2007

on criticism of Lynch
by pico1

I think the critical debate's been mostly mired in two narrow areas: narrative cohesion (or linearity) and "mystery". So far, a lot of the comments have divided along these lines, equating them with loving or hating Lynch. That's fine, but only part of the story.

I'm with those who believe that film is under no obligation to be linear or comprehensible, but I still can't get into some of Lynch's work, because there are other things at stake, as well. Mulholland Drive worked best in its moments of really transcendent beauty: the concert scene, for example. But its failings (in my mind) had to do with issues of unevenness: the variable acting, the frantically forced ending, and least explainable, the feeling of dissatisfaction when I left the theatre. Is that tied to incoherent narrative? Not really - I could list off other "incoherent" films that I absolutely love. But they fulfill that lack of superficial cohesion with some other, extra-narrative anchors that allow the experience to be fulfilling. Lynch does, too - but I don't think he always succeeds.

My alarm bells go off when he discusses "intuition" in his interview. Intuition's a fine starting point for ideas, but it needs craft to make it translatable. Despite his formidable imagination, I don't always feel Lynch succeeds in the translation.

My two cents.

4:34 PM Mon January 29, 2007

ghost stories and things
by michelle

it's really surprising to me how many people here (and elsewhere) claim that they have "figured out" Mulholland Dr.

Lynch has stated many times that the reason he doesn't explain in detail the plot to his films is that they are open to interpretation. there is no "solving" Mulholland Dr, Lost Highway, INLAND EMPIRE, etc. there is how Lynch interprets them, how i do, how you do. there is are no "answers."

"It maikes me uncomfortable to talk about meanings and things. It's better not to know so much about what things mean. Because the meaning, it's a very personal thing and the meaning for me is different than the meaning for somebody else."

8:40 PM Mon January 29, 2007

Lynch Mob
by whalleywhat

I'm a huge fan of the argument where you don't like something, so you make up a group of people who are only able to appreciate culture for the impression it will make on others. I think it says a lot about the arguer. Arguing person. "Noone could possibly glean actual enjoyment from this, they are pretending to in order to seem edgy or obscure."

People seem to be arguing about Lynch without reading the interview. He's saying he stays open to ideas throughout the process. The guy who played Bob in Twin Peaks was a member of the crew who accidentally ended up in a couple of shots, and the coincidence spoke to Lynh in some way. While I can see how this approach would endlessly frustrate people and give them ammo for calling him a hack, I think the results speak for themselves. Lynch's openness to seeming coincidence resulted in one of the most indelible and intense characters in TV history.

This process can manifest itself in a number of ways. I think he talked about ideas coming to him and gradually revealing a whole over time. I think this is how Mulholland Drive came together, the more visceral aspects coming to him before he twisted up the narrative at the end. I really liked the comment about how it's when things most feel like they're coming towards some sort of resolution that the rug is pulled out from underneath the viewer. And all of these theories (and that's what they are) about the structure of the film are interesting to me, but do little to effect my appreciation of the film. Without some elaborate explanation, the ending strikes me pretty easily as the laughing grandparents representing how far Naomi Watts' character has fallen since arriving in Hollywood. Seeing her once supportive grandparents cackle at her represents her loss of innocence. But that's just my interpretation.

That being said, the film that MD gets most grouped with, Lost Highway, doesn't do anything for me. There are parts that grab me in a similar way, but the whole isn't something that draws me back. Not something I could readily explain.

I think Lynch catches a lot of heat because he's 1) American and 2) has worked within the Hollywood system up until Inland Empire. So his work is exposed to a lot of people who expect what they get from Hollywood films. Even people who like him think he is the be all and end all of surreal film. This isn't a criticism, his films were my jump off point into the works of Werner Herzog, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Harmony Korine, Takashi Miike, Dario Argento, Shinya Tsukamoto, and so on. Kudos to him for exposing his art to people who could hate him for it. If people don't know that certain artforms exist, it's hard for them to want to find out about them. And if you want to call me pretentious, I could say I enjoy John Carpenter and Francis Ford Coppola as much as any of these directors, but it hardly matters. I like what I like, cause it's weird for the sake of it and I want people to think I'm cool.

Speaking of Herzog, I think his idea of "ecstatic truth" applies somewhat to Lynch. There's the standard, textbook, black and white truth, what Herzog calls "accountant's truth," and there's something beyond, something that disregards the standards of sense and reality that we've created to help filter our experience, and strives to capture something more actual, or at least more exciting, the ecstatic truth. Cinematic poetry, riddles for riddlers. Plus it's friggin hot when those two chicks get it on.

10:47 PM Mon January 29, 2007


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