Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Frank Review of "The Short Films of David Lynch"

NOT SAFE FOR WORK, including brief full-frontal nudity on "Lumiere"

When I was in my early teens, "Twin Peaks" drew me into the world of David Lynch. It was an odd place with a quirky vibe, but most importantly, I was the type of shit who got off on figuring out things most people don't "get." Well, I got Twin Peaks, and I think I fared well enough with other Lynch oddities like "Eraserhead" and "Wild at Heart." The problem was, with age and increased exposure, I came to realize the emperor had no clothes, and was doing something really weird with that Pez dispenser. Really, all Lynch does is take fairly basic stories, and makes them abstract to near incomprehensibility. Sometimes, the result is intriguing; usually at least a bit frustrating; and it's not uncommon to find wrenching catastrophy. There's some of each present in this collection of works spanning decades.

"Six Men Getting Sick (Six Times,)" Lynch's first film, is like a parody of avant garde cinema from a sketch comedy show. Four minutes of an air raid siren and crude animation, seemingly intended to involve C.I.A. brainwashing or demands to touch Dieter's monkey.

"The Alphabet" is a vast improvement. Nightmarish, yet still with a left-of-center innocence, hallmarks of Lynch's best efforts.

"The Grandmother" starts strong, with Pythonesque animation and German Impressionist creepiness. Also like many a silent era film, it overstays its welcome by miles of tedium.

"The Amputee" is Lynch at his most willfully obtuse, and a waste of time.

"The Cowboy and the Frenchman" is really very silly, as intended, but I do love to see Harry Dean Stanton and Jack Nance again. The goodwill runs out, though. Oh, yeah.

"Lumiere" is like the essence of Lynch's most sucessful productions distilled into 55 seconds.

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