Almost as if it was one person

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Red White and Blue Velvet

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A still from the opening of David Lynch’s film Blue Velvet. Frederick Elmes was the film’s cinematographer.

Slavoj Žižek on David Lynch’s Blue Velvet

Polish Posters of David Lynch Films

Polish Poster

Polish Poster

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Polish Poster

Polish Poster

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Bonus Czech poster:

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Japanese Posters of David Lynch Films

Continue reading “Japanese Posters of David Lynch Films”

David Foster Wallace Explains How David Lynch Filmed That Hellacious Forced Joyride in Blue Velvet

From David Foster Wallace’s essay “David Lynch Keeps His Head,” collected in A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again:

TIDBIT: HOW LYNCH AND HIS CINEMATOGRAPHER FOR BV FILMED THAT HELLACIOUS FORCED “JOYRIDE” IN FRANK BOOTH’S CAR, THE SCENE WHERE FRANK AND JACK NANCE AND BRAD DOURIF HAVE KIDNAPPED JEFFREY BEAUMONT AND ARE MENACING HIM INSIDE THE CAR WHILE THEY’RE GOING WHAT LOOKS LIKE 100+ DOWN A DISMAL RURAL TWO-LANER: The reason it looks like the car’s going so fast is that lights outside the car are going by so fast. In fact the car wasn’t even moving. A burly grip was bouncing madly up and down on the back bumper to make the car jiggle and roll, and other crewpeople with hand-held lamps were sprinting back and forth outside the car to make it look like the car was whizzing past streetlights. The whole scene’s got a claustrophobia-in-motion feel that they never could have gotten if the car’d actually been moving (the production’s insurance wouldn’t have allowed that kind of speed in a real take), and the whole thing was done for about $8.95.

David Lynch’s 10 Clues to Unlocking Mulholland Drive

From an insert in the 2002 DVD release of David Lynch’s Mullholland Drive:

David Lynch’s 10 Clues to Unlocking This Thriller
1. Pay particular attention in the beginning of the film: at least two clues are revealed before the credits.
2. Notice appearances of the red lampshade.
3. Can you hear the title of the film that Adam Kesher is auditioning actresses for? Is it mentioned again?
4. An accident is a terrible event… notice the location of the accident.
5. Who gives a key, and why?
6. Notice the robe, the ashtray, the coffee cup.
7. What is felt, realized and gathered at the club Silencio?
8. Did talent alone help Camilla?
9. Note the occurrences surrounding the man behind Winkies.
10. Where is Aunt Ruth?

Roger Ebert’s Negative Review of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986)

“Imagine You’re a Hyper-Educated Avant Gardist” — David Foster Wallace on David Lynch (Video)

Begins at 4:oo. (Transcript).

“It Was this Truly Epiphantic Experience” — David Foster Wallace Describes the First Time He Saw Blue Velvet

From his 1997 interview with Charlie Rose (which Jesus yeah I know you’ve seen before, but hey, it’s worth reading this anecdote from the transcript), David Foster Wallace describes seeing David Lynch’s Blue Velvet

The screen gets all fuzzy now as the viewer’s invited to imagine this. Coming out of an avant garde tradition, I get to this grad school and at the grad school, turns out all the teachers are realists. They’re not at all interested in post-modern avant garde stuff. Now, there’s an interesting delusion going on here — so they don’t like my stuff. I believe that it’s not because my stuff isn’t good, but because they just don’t happen to like this kind of esthetic.

In fact, known to them but unknown to me, the stuff was bad, was indeed bad. So in the middle of all this, hating the teachers, but hating them for exactly the wrong reason — this was spring of 1986 — I remember — I remember who I went to see the movie with — “Blue Velvet” comes out. “Blue Velvet” comes out.

“Blue Velvet” is a type of surrealism — it may have some — it may have debts. There’s a debt to Hitchcock somewhere. But it is an entirely new and original kind of surrealism. It no more comes out of a previous tradition or the post-modern thing. It is completely David Lynch. And I don’t know how well you or your viewers would remember the film, but there are some very odd — there’s a moment when a guy named “the yellow man” is shot in an apartment and then Jeffrey, the main character, runs into the apartment and the guy’s dead, but he’s still standing there. And there’s no explanation. You know, he’s just standing there. And it is — it’s almost classically French — Francophilistically surreal, and yet it seems absolutely true and absolutely appropriate.

And there was this — I know I’m taking a long time to answer your question. There was this way in which I all of a sudden realized that the point of being post-modern or being avant garde or whatever wasn’t to follow in a certain kind of tradition, that all that stuff is B.S. imposed by critics and camp followers afterwards, that what the really great artists do — and it sounds very trite to say it out loud, but what the really great artists do is they’re entirely themselves. They’re entirely themselves. They’ve got their own vision, their own way of fracturing reality, and that if it’s authentic and true, you will feel it in your nerve endings. And this is what “Blue Velvet” did for me.

I’m not suggesting it would do it for any other viewer, but I — Lynch very much helped snap me out of a kind of adolescent delusion that I was in about what sort of avant garde art could be. And it’s very odd because film and books are very different media. But I remember — I remember going with two poets and one other student fiction writer to go see this and then all of us going to the coffee shop afterwards and just, you know, slapping ourselves on the forehead. And it was this truly epiphantic experience.

David Foster Wallace on Book Tour Sex, Blue Velvet, and Bandanas

Flavorwire has compiled a fantastic collection of David Foster Wallace quotes from David Lipsky’s new book, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself. A few excerpts:

On book tour sex:
“I didn’t get laid on this tour. The thing about fame is interesting, although I would have liked to get laid on the tour and I did not….People come up, they kind of slither up during readings or whatever. But it seems like, what I want is not to have to take any action. I don’t want to have to say, ‘Would you like to come back to the hotel?’ I want them to say, ‘I am coming back to the hotel. Where is your hotel?’ None of ‘em do that….I just can’t stand to look like I’m actively trading on this sexually. Even though of course that’s—I would be happy to do that.”

On Blue Velvet:
“I remember going to see Blue Velvet. . . . It absolutely made me shake. And I went back and saw it again the next day. And there was somethin’ about…it was my first hint that being a surrealist, or being a weird writer, didn’t exempt you from certain responsibilities. But it in fact upped them. . . . David Lynch, Blue Velvet coming out when it did, I think saved me from droppin’ out of school. And saved me maybe even from quittin’ as a writer. ‘Cause I’d always—if I could have made a movie, right at that time? That would have been it. I mean, I vibrated on every frequency.”

On the origin of the trademark bandana:
“I started wearing bandannas in Tucson because it was a hundred degrees all the time. When it’s really hot, I would perspire so much that I would drip on the page. Actually, I started wearing it that year, and then it became a big help in Yaddo in ’87 because I would drip into the typewriter, and I was worried that I would get a shock. And then I discovered that I felt better with them on. And then I dated a woman who…said there were these various chakras, and one of the big ones was what she called the spout hole, at the very top of your cranium. And in a lot of cultures, it was considered better to keep your head covered. And then I began thinking about the phrase, Keeping your head together, you know? …. It’s a security blanket for me. . . . It makes me…feel kind of creepy that people view it as an affectation or trademark or something. It’s more just a foible, it’s the recognition of a weakness, which is that I’m just kind of worried my head’s going to explode.”


INLAND EMPIRE–David Lynch

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There’s so much going on in David Lynch’s INLAND EMPIRE that I’ll give you the quick review up front: if you like David Lynch films (I do), you’ll love this film (I did)–it’s arguably his most ambitious to date and belongs in the canon of great Lynch films along with Blue Velvet and Mulholland Dr. Get a hold of it and watch it right away. If you don’t like David Lynch films, you won’t like INLAND EMPIRE–but you already knew that, didn’t you?

Contrary to some of the internet rumors and poorly conceived reviews out there, INLAND EMPIRE actually does have a plot, complete with an honest-to-goodness resolution full of redemption and love. However, the fragmentary and elliptical nature of the film will no doubt confound anyone who tries to actively resist it: like Mulholland Dr. before it, this is one you need to just let happen to you. Attempts to impose your own system of narrative logic will probably result in headaches and frustration. You see, INLAND EMPIRE is really a time-travel movie, and time-travel movies–the good ones–are always resistant to narrative logic (see the Grandfather Paradox, etc.).

The story begins with a gypsy-witch’s curse: she visits actress Nikki Grace (played by Laura Dern who appears in almost every scene of the movie, and is truly fantastic) and warns her about the coveted film role she’s about to land. It turns out that the film, On High in Blue Tomorrows, is a remake of a Polish film called 49 that was never finished because the two leads were murdered. “If it was tomorrow,” the gypsy croaks, pointing across the room, “you would be sitting over there. Do you see?” And Nikki does see: the rest of the film may or may not be a vision prompted by the gypsy. However, my phrase “The story begins” at the beginning of this paragraph was not entirely accurate: before we even meet Dern’s character, we see a light projection and a phonograph needle, a weeping woman trapped in a room watching a chilling sitcom starring bunny people (INLAND EMPIRE thus gets to go on a special list of movies featuring scary rabbits, including favorites Donny Darko and Sexy Beast), and a strange scene with a Polish prostitute.

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So there are plenty of frames to this frame-tale, and the narrative only continues inland as the movie progresses, exploring a multiplicity of spaces and times. Dern’s Nikki morphs into new and different characters–housewives and hookers–even as she passively stands on the wall, a frightened voyeur robbed of all agency. And in many ways this is the major theme of the movie: how to find agency and self-determination in a world where time and place–context–are the main components and constituents of identity. INLAND EMPIRE breaks down the lines between actors and prostitutes and really any other job, suggesting that perhaps we all have some identity as a whore, an identity thrust on us by location and time, an identity that we are always struggling against.

But this is really just one of many themes in the movie. The usual Lynch tropes are here: pop nostalgia with a sinister tinge, stilted dialog, lush red curtains, characters that seem of vital importance who never show up again, cryptic symbols that may or may not be symbols at all, etc. etc. etc. Despite its three hour running time, INLAND EMPIRE never lags or sags, in large part because so much weird stuff is going on, but also because in many ways this movie is a distillation of every other Lynch film: we get the murder mystery of Twin Peaks, the abuse-of-women theme inherent in Blue Velvet, the Wizard of Oz riffing from Wild at Heart, the voyeur-terror of Lost Highway, the Haunted Hollywood and doppelganger mindfuck of Mulholland Dr., and the general creepy weirdness that’s underscored every Lynch film since Eraserhead.

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INLAND EMPIRE is shot entirely on digital video, a format that Lynch swears is the future of cinema. I’m not sure about that–although his movie is a beautiful masterpiece of textured light and composition, not all directors are painters like Lynch; in someone else’s less-gifted hands this movie could’ve been, visually speaking, a muddled mess. Still, it seems for now Lynch is determined to continue shooting on DV.

A couple of days before I saw INLAND EMPIRE, I heard most of an interview with Lynch on NPR’s Talk of the Nation. Neil Conan asked him what the last great movie he saw in the theaters was, and, to my surprise, he said that it was The Bourne Ultimatum, a movie he touted as being “excellent” or “perfect” or something like that. At first this struck me as odd–Lynch going to see a pretty straightforward–albeit smart–action movie? But on further reflection there’s nothing odd about this. I think that Lynch sees his films not as outsider films or art films per se, but as something more akin to the Hollywood tradition–I’m sure he’s not deceived that his films are as accessible as the Bourne films, but I do believe that he is a pop artist (or Pop Artist, if you prefer)–he had a huge hit television show, didn’t he? And INLAND EMPIRE not only fits in with Lynch’s growing pop art legacy, it could be the masterpiece of his oeuvre. Let’s hope that that legacy continues to grow; INLAND EMPIRE suggests an artist in his prime who will continue making great films.