I’m a devoted fan of David Lynch, particularly of Twin Peaks and Mulholland Drive, so when his three-hour-long movie INLAND EMPIRE opened at the Loft I hurried out to see it.
This film has received considerable critical acclaim and a mind-boggling amount of discussion on blogs, fanzines, and the official Lynch web site. Don’t believe me? Google “David Lynch+Inland Empire” and drop down the rabbit hole.
Why all the fan buzz? I suspect it is because we love puzzles. We are particularly attracted to puzzles that are in some way essentially flawed so that they may not, in principle, ever be correctly solved.
I think we can expect even of an absurdist or surrealist work that it’s elements exhibit a certain coherence in virtue of which it is a work of art. It can be puzzling, it can be ambiguous, it can challenge us with a variety of interpretations… but in the end it must be a whole.
I’m not sure I can fully explain what I mean by “an artistic whole” except to say that if anything were left out it would collapse into fragments. My complaint about INLAND EMPIRE is that you could chop out random scenes here or there and it wouldn’t matter. What’s annoying about this film is that it a collection of fragments, although some of the fragments are brilliant.
I suspect the critical acclaim may, in some part, be due to the fact that there is a natural tendency on the part of critics to fight shy of suggesting that the emperor is, if not naked, at least not completely clothed.
Now how about this for absurdity? Here’s a picture of Republican Presidential candidates. All about the same size, all dressed exactly alike, all old white guys, and all sanctimoniously asserting that they are “more conservative than thou.” Aren't there any young, exciting Republicans the party would like to push? Women? Hispanics? African-Americans? Someone, say, forty years old?