Thursday, 12 July 2007

Thoughts: Inland Empire

To the Prince Charles Cinema to catch up with David Lynch’s latest film Inland Empire for the bargain price of £3.50 (not bad for over three hours entertainment).

I’ve always been a fan of Lynch’s work, I particularly loved Mullholland Drive, which Inland Empire was loosely billed as a follow up too. One of the things that makes his previous work so interesting is his wonderfully stylish and beautiful cinematography, unfortunately Inland Empire is shot on digital video not conventional film (digital video being a sketchy and rougher looking medium then old fashioned film). Digital obviously has the advantage of being versatile and much cheaper than film, but I can’t help but feeling very sad at the possible demise of traditional film in the cinema (actually, until digital is as aesthetically pleasing as film, film should be retained for mainstream movie production). Practically though, if digital can help get more less-mainstream and arty films made, I’m prepared to live with it, but nice looking pictures shouldn’t be the preserve of the blockbuster.

Anyway, that gripe aside, Inland Empire is a gripping tale. I can barley understand the plot, so far as there is one, it is certainly more surreal and non linear than anything he has done before, but I can say that Laura Dern plays an actress, and then plays several different characters in several different strands of seemingly/possibly unrelated stories (again story is a strong term for a series of things that happen). Dern is brilliant, she is highly versatile and fascinating to watch. Her scenes as the actress (and acting?) were most interesting for me, crackling with tensions. There are also many other Lynch regulars on hand to prick your memory, which makes the film even more intriguing.

The film deals with many of the standard Lynch motifs, Hollywood, sex (or sexual tension certainly), dreams (possibly), rabbits (a follow up on his web project) and hotels. There is also a thread of Eastern Europe, Poland in particular (I think), running through the film. Once again an actress is in trouble, perhaps her film is jinxed? It is brilliant and I can’t quite say why. I find it fascinating as I’m not looking to be annoyed by open question and unresolved action (I love both in this context), but perhaps 3 hours of plotless scenes is extremely challenging for some people (I’m sure Lynch could tell us what it all means, but he thankfully never has before, and hopefully never will).

Lynch didn’t have a script for Inland Empire, he wrote the lines as he went along. But knowing him, his labyrinth mind had it all worked out in advance. When Inland Empire comes out on DVD I would advise you to go with the flow and not get too uptight about answering all the questions about the plot. If you do this you’re in for a rewarding evening.

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