David Lynch's three-hour DV experiment "Inland Empire," featuring the acclaimed stellar lead performance from Laura Dern, leads the roster of new films arriving in theaters this weekend. Its been popular among many critics, including overwhelming praise from The New York Times' Manohla Dargis, but at the same time other viewers were simply left perplexed. In her review earlier this week, Dargis praised the film as art and wrote, "Inland Empire" isn't a film to love. It is a work to admire, to puzzle through, to wrestle with. Its pleasures are fugitive, even frustrating."
indieWIRE Video link: In an iW Video clip (posted on YouTube), David Lynch and Laura Dern (joined by Justin Theroux) talk about their new film "Inland Empire." Topics include working in digital video, how the project began, and an apparent dispute with those who claim that the film was influenced by the work of Bunuel.
Set primarily in and around a Hollywood movie set (and sometimes within the other movie altogether), "Inland Empire" is quite difficult to summarize, but Laura Dern stars as "Nikki" an actress making a potentially cursed movie with "Devon" (played by Justin Theroux). Jeremy Irons, Harry Dean Stanton, Diane Ladd, and Grace Zabriskie round out the cast. A strangely assembled Studio Canal press packet distributed at this year's New York Film Festival where the movie had its North American debut only describes the film as, "A story of a mystery...a mystery inside worlds within worlds...unfolding around a woman...a woman in love and in trouble."
After shooting clips for his website with a small DV camera (the PD-150), Lynch decided to begin experimenting with a collection of video scenes, starting with Dern's stirring fourteen page monologue that he shot at his own house. "In the beginning, I didn't know how things were going to be related," Lynch explained during an NYFF press conference, "It was awhile before I saw the whole thing kind of emerge."
After, one reporter asked about connections between Lynch's new film and his recent "Mulholland Drive." The filmmaker explained explained, "Cinema is a magic medium and I love Los Angeles and I love the idea -- because I wasn't alive in the Golden Age of cinema -- the whole thing of Hollywood. 'Mulholland Drive' and 'Inland Empire' have something to do with that."
And "Inland Empire," shot with a muddy, pixilated look, perhaps marks a major shift for the filmmaker, who found beauty in the decomposed video look of his new movie. "For me film is completely dead," Lynch emphasized on back at the NYFF. "We love film and the quality is so beautiful...the lure and all that's gone before it is so beautiful," he explained. "[But] film gets dirty and film breaks and scratches and the color drifts, the equipment is very, very large and heavy, it's like swimming through cold molasses." He added, "Digital is the future and its getting better every day."
THE LIST FOR THIS WEEK:
"Days of Glory" (December 6), directed by Rachid Bouchareb. Distributor: The Weinstein Company/IFC Films. Official website
"Off The Black" (December 8), directed by James Ponsoldt. Distributor: ThinkFilm. Official website