a seemingly random journey through cinema's heart of darkness. so to speak.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

YouTubing-To-Obscure-Shameless-Self-Promotion Wednesdays: There's a fish...in the percolator!

Having shlepped up to the IFC Center this past weekend to see it (phuck Philly), I'm still trying to wrap my brain around Inland Empire. Or rather, I'm trying to wrap my brain around whether or not trying to make sense of it entirely misses the point -- whether it's best to give one's self up to its narrative, um, felicities and concentrate on what is there: namely, the plethora of themes. (And Laura Dern. I mean, hot damn.)

On the way up, I reread David Foster Wallace's amazingly thorough essay "David Lynch Keeps His Head," originally written for Premiere (and greatly, greatly expanded for his kickass collection, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again) circa production on Lost Highway. In it, Wallace runs down the number of ways Highway could be interpreted, including as "one long hallucination." He then adds that this is "the least interesting possibility," and that "I'd be surprised if anybody at Asymetrical [Lynch's company] will want Lost Highway interpreted as one long psychotic dream." Of course, it's impossible to tell who in Inland Empire would be having this particular psychotic dream (if that's what it is). But simply filing this into the dream folder seems to be woefully missing out on this film's riches, the most lasting (so far) being a love for actresses and women, a feeling that's impossible to miss during the joyous, Nina Simone-backed end credits. Bizzarely enough, Lynch, that legend of the midnight movie circuit, has evolved into one of the finest directors of women. Recent Pedro Almodóvar, beware of Recent David Lynch.

But speaking of a Lynch joint whose image is difficult to parse and is seemingly made up of a series of disjointed episodes, I've been thinking again of his contribution to Lumiere and Company, Sarah Moon's 1995 project wherein 41 of the planet's finest filmatists were asked to shoot a 55-second, synch-sound-less short on the world's first camera, the Cinématographe. (Although much like the upcoming iPhone, it too could also serve as a makeshift projector.) Even in a distinguished group, which ranges from Theo Angelopoulos to Merchant-Ivory to Peter Greenaway to Abbas Kiarostami, Lynch stands head and shoulders, evoking dread not just with the fuzzy/scratched stock, but also half-glimpsed images. (Was that a naked lady in a tank?)

The meat and potatoes after some on-set, megaphone-aided hijinks.

Mon Weekly!! An interview with Repertory fixture, multiregion DVD-peddler and fellow cineaste Joseph A. Gervasi is the main thing this week. Also on tap are an Editor's Pick (third down) of the Nazi art-looting doc The Rape of Europa and, as ever, Rep. The latter is mostly devoted to I-House's Jacques Rivette retro that starts tonight and winds into Sunday, dropping largely unseen early work all over University City. (Including Out 1: Spectre, the 4 1/2-hour cousin to his 12 1/2-hour Out 1.) If you're in Philly and you can stomach elephantine lengths, you have no reason to stay at home. Unless you suck.

Speaking of Rivette, would you like to see every instance of Juliet Berto smoking in Céline and Julie Go Boating stitched together by some YouTubist? I bet you would.

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