David Lynch Collection Review

Preface

This review has been a while in the making. I first teased this collection on my Twitter feed nearly a full month ago, but I finally thought I should start now, after finishing the last film I wanted to feature on this list. This collection review will work much like my Bruce Lee one, yet this time focussing on the director David Lynch.

I love David Lynch. I believe he is one of the best directors alive today, with his creation of epic-spanning surrealist nightmares and non-linear narratives getting him both lauded and criticised in the film world. The seven films I chose for this review are:

  • Dune
  • Eraserhead
  • Blue Velvet
  • Lost Highway
  • Mulholland Drive
  • Inland Empire
  • Wild At Heart

A brief warning, nearly all of these films contain copious amounts of swearing, violence, nudity, and a few contain some of the most unsettling and foreboding moments in cinema. Watch them at your own discretion.

Dune

Lynch’s first big-budget studio film, Dune is an adaptation of Frank Herbert’s epic science fiction novel of the same name. Featuring Lynch regular Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides, a son of the Duke of Atreides, one of the several warring partners in the empire of space. The film focuses on the struggle over the planet Dune, which is rich in the spice required for interstellar travel. Featuring a vast array of talented actors, Dune also features some impressive miniature work, with Herbert’s giant Sandworm being a standout attraction. Also be on the lookout for Lynch’s cameo and the soundtrack composed by Toto.

Score: 8/10 It’s a bit like Game of Thrones in space.

Eraserhead

Lynch’s first feature film, and one that is made of nightmares. Eraserhead is about a man named Henry (played by another Lynch regular Jack Nance), who after his wife gives birth to a deformed mutant, leaves him and the new baby to fend for themselves in the post-apocalyptic dystopia. Shot in stark black and white, this is the start of Lynch’s surrealist imagery, with stop-motion chicken breasts, gruesome body horror, and a chilling song with the famous Lynch line, “In heaven, everything is fine.” The constant crying of Henry’s child is laced throughout the film, making the film one of the most disturbing of the bunch.

Score: 7/10 Not one to watch before you go to sleep

Blue Velvet

Probably the sanest and easily to follow of the film on this list. Kyle MacLachlan returns again, this time playing Jeffrey Beaumont, who returns home after his father is hospitalised. While on a walk, Jeffrey discovers a severed ear in a field, and starts his own investigation into the mystery, when the police go nowhere with the case. Dennis Hopper’s portrayal of sadistic criminal Frank Booth is one of the most memorable villains within cinema history, while Isabella Rossellini portrayal of his abused plaything Dorothy is unnerving. Video game fans will get a kick out of several scenes within the film that were recreated in Silent Hill 2.

Score 10/10 Lynch’s best film by far.

Lost Highway

A twisting narrative of parallel lives and invasions of privacy, Lost Highway features Bill Pullman as jazz musician Fred, who keeps receiving tapes of him sleeping in is bed. Again featuring an all star cast, with an unnerving performance by Robert Blake as the Mystery Man, Lost Highway has some of the more frightening flashes of Lynch’s filmography, (viscerally similar to the hells scenes from Event Horizon), yet stumbles around the halfway mark with some rather boring story points. In the end it all comes together, but this one you might need to read several internet theories to eventually get.

Score: 5/10 Visceral and unsettling in places, but it’s not one of Lynch’s greatest works.

Mulholland Drive

After an attempted assassination/car crash on the eponymous street, a woman called Rita (Played by Laura Harring) is left with amnesia. She stumbles across aspiring actress Diane (played by Naomi Watts) and together the two set off to find what actually happened to Rita on Mulholland Drive. With several Lynch cast alumni featuring, along with an odd bit of casting in the form of Billy Ray Cyrus, Mulholland Drive is a brainteaser that answers more and more questions with each repeat viewing, with everything drenched in symbolism. With several startling moments and foreboding imagery, it’s a feast for the senses.

Score 10/10 This is one you’ll keep coming back to.

Inland Empire

Lynch’s most recent work and also his longest, at just under three hours. Inland Empire could be considered a very loose adaptation of anime classic Perfect Blue, with Laura Dern playing actress Susan, who while filming her latest film starts to lose her grip on reality. The closest thing to a horror movie that Lynch has created, with several scenes making me jump out of my seat with fright, Inland Empire has many of Lynch’s scariest moments. The three hour run time might be a bit too long for some, along with the meandering story, which feels like it’s about to end before going on for an extra half an hour. Plow through it though and you’ll have some of the most frightening and surreal images ever committed to film burned into your psyche forever. Stick around for the credits and you’ll be treated to nearly all the cast singing and dancing to Nina Simone’s Sinnerman.

Score: 6/10 The run time kicks the legs out from Inland Empire, but it is still a clever and enjoyable (in a horror way) film.

Wild At Heart

A romantic/crime road trip based on the novel of the same name, featuring Nicolas Cage as Sailor and Laura Dern (again) as Lula. While some of the subject matter discussed and shown, including, childhood abuse, murder, shotgun injuries and a ridiculous amount of sex can be off-putting to several audience members, what is left is a darkly funny script about two people who are in love. Nicolas Cage is as crazy as usual, and extra praise should be given to the bad guy Bobby, played by Willem Dafoe, who exudes menace. Throw in a superb rock and roll soundtrack, and you got yourself a pretty good movie.

Score: 9/10 A fun neo-noir thrill ride.

The Spectacular Now Review

Preface

Well, this review has been a long time coming; it could almost be considered a retro review. The Spectacular Now originally came out in August 2013 on a limited run (only four theatres showed the film) but after that initial viewing the number of theatres was upped dramatically for a nationwide release. In America. I remember seeing the trailer for The Spectacular Now on YouTube when it first came out and I was intrigued, yet I could not find a movie theatre or a DVD copy when it was released in early 2014. Yet due to the wonders of the Internet, I finally found a copy so here is my review of The Spectacular Now.

Review

The Spectacular Now is about a high school student named Sutter Keely (played by Miles Teller) who after being dumped by his girlfriend goes on a apocalyptic style alcohol-binge only to be woken up the next day by Amiee Finecky (played by Shailene Woodley) on a neighbour’s lawn. After this meeting the two strike up a friendship which soon turns into a relationship, where they help each other overcome obstacles in their lives.

Let me say this right off the bat; I had high expectations going into this film. Maybe it was the two years of waiting to finally see it; maybe it was that the writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H Weber were responsible for the script of (500) Days of Summer, one of mine and many other people favourite romantic comedies of all time. Whatever the multitude of reasons, my expectations were high. And wow, were they met.

The Spectacular Now is not a “dumb, mindless action movie”, this is a story/dialogue focussed film, in the vein of Quentin Tarantino (when he’s doing the colourful dialogue and not coating everything with blood). The dialogue between our two leads feels very fluid and natural, to the point where many people have speculated that most of the script was ab libbed by Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley. I tried to find evidence for either but I couldn’t find anything concrete, but if you do know then please comment below. The film feels as if you are just watching two friends having a natural conversation, which is still a problem some mainstream Hollywood films can’t recreate.

The love making scene in the film (lauded by Woodley herself for being her favourite scene in the film) has been touted as the most “realistic” sex scene in film history. It’s awkward, both for our leads and us, the viewers but also adorably cute, something which Blue Is The Warmest Colour, another contender for 2013’s most realistic sex scene failed at, to the point where it became a bit crass.

The casting of Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley is superb, as two teenagers coming from broken families and finding solace within each other. While Miles Teller at the time of filming had been known for the “Comedy Character” (see Footloose, 21 and Over and Project X, and then That Awkward Moment afterwards) its here for me that we finally get to see a broad range of acting ability, with the final twenty minutes seeing an outpouring of emotion that is brilliantly contrasting with his earlier carefree attitude. Shailene Woodley as well is performing in what I consider to be one of her best roles, duly earning the awards that she collected for this film. The rest of the cast are good in their roles, with special mention going to Andre Royo and Saul Goodman…oh I mean Bob Odenkirk as Andrew’s teacher and boss respectively, who give lectures to our main character about growing up without turning into mawkish clichéd conversations.

In conclusion, The Spectacular Now was one of the best romantic comedies of recent history, even if we are a couple of years late to the party. Go watch in now on Netflix, or if you are able to, get a DVD copy.

Score: 9/10, Deserved all the praise it got from Sundance.