A confession: I came late to the David Lynch party. Which in some cinephile circles is cause for excommunication. Like not praising Wajda. Or Von Sternberg. Or failing to worship at the altar of Bulle Ogier. I came late to Lynch because I never had a film-obsessed companion to insist that my life wasn’t complete until I’d seen Blue Velvet or The Elephant Man, which seems to be how most burgeoning film critics are drawn into his peculiar universe. That is, until a friend and I decided to go see Lost Highway on one unoccupied high school afternoon. (Canada is very liberal about kids watching this kind of thing). Not knowing exactly what to expect, the film made me furious. It came off as a resounding fuck-you to the audience, because it assiduously avoided coherence or identification. (Incidentally my friend loved it, but he also laughed all the way through David Fincher’s Seven—clearly not a kid to be trusted). So began a crusade against Lynch—mere mention of his name prompted untold vitriol. And then came Mulholland Drive and Blue Velvet, chiefly because people I hold in esteem kept insisting on his brilliance; and while I began to warm to some of his sequences (the too-good-to-be-true Technicolor and decayed underbrush reveal to inaugurate Blue Velvet poked more holes in the myth of bucolic suburbia than all of American Beauty), full-on love didn’t follow. Until it came time to see Eraserhead for this blind-spot symposium. I’m finally beginning to get David Lynch’s aesthetic and intentions (or at least I’d like to think so), and I am willing to profess grand affection for this most idiosyncratic of pompadour’d directors.
Read more from James Crawford’s Eraserhead piece from Reverse Shot’s “Fesses Up” issue, and go see the film at New York’s MoMA, where the museum’s new restoration of the film plays starting tonight, January 18, at 8:30, and through Wednesday, January 24.