Saturday, January 27, 2007

A Boy in Trouble

There is nothing clever, euphemistic, or hyperbolic about this admission: I have never been so scared in any movie as I was during the last half-hour or so of INLAND EMPIRE. The rough, scraping atmosphere of dread that permeates the whole film—alleviated but also somehow intensified by the elusive plot and the surreal cutaways to talking rabbits and Locomotion enthusiasts—culminates in a devastating thirty minutes, comprising a terrible death unfolding against an absurd, indifferent conversation between two strangers, and then a vaporizing of the reality/illusion boundary even as the movie purports to reinstate it, and then a preeminently Lynchian prowl around dirty corners in underlit hallways, at the end of which Laura Dern's "character" has a horrific encounter with a grotesque distortion of herself. I was just terrified, by the ambience and psychic logic of these scenes even more than by the action they depicted. Then I walked for ten minutes in the semi-dark, boarded a city bus, and cried most of the way home with my eyes wide open. INLAND EMPIRE made me insane, and intensely bereft. I'm barely more coherent or less bereft as I write this.

I'll have much to say about INLAND EMPIRE in the coming days, weeks, months, but to begin with the most frivolous and inconsequential frame of reference, I sure am glad I waited: the Best of 2006 feature will require some serious reshuffling to accommodate this film. Meanwhile, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu suddenly has a potent rival for its previously uncontested claim as the best movie of the year. A dying man and a woman dismantled now emerge as the king and queen of a morbid, frustrating, but finally surprising year at the movies. Stay tuned...

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Blogger David S. said...

Ah yes! I concur! This wins the award for most terrifying movie ever! I'm so glad you loved it and were so deeply affected by it. I look forward to your article!

11:53 AM, January 27, 2007  
Anonymous goatdog said...

I loved so much of it (in an "oh god help me I'm not sure I can take this" sort of way), but there was a significant portion during the middle (come on, come on, do the locomotion time) when I might have walked out angrily under different circumstances, like if the makeup of my viewing party had been different--but I'm really glad it wasn't, because that ending was so great (in that same "oh god" etc. way). Certainly a film to think about, and think about, and think about.

And only an F for Alpha Dog? Don't you have an F-minus on your scale?

5:13 PM, January 27, 2007  
Blogger Ali said...

I've given up hope that Lynch will ever release it here.

Here's hoping for a speedy DVD release.

11:22 PM, January 27, 2007  
Blogger tim r said...

Hoorah! I knew you wouldn't let the side down... ;)

7:26 AM, January 28, 2007  
Blogger tim r said...

I notice you're spelling the film's title in capitals. Is this Lynch's latest bid to confound us a la Mulholland Dr./Drive?

7:55 AM, January 28, 2007  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

@David: ...and I look forward to your article! You are deeply missed!

@Goatdog: We're definitely going to have to take that headtrip again, sometime very soon. I think I still have the bends from rising too quickly from the crevasse of Alpha Dog to the highest heights of INLAND EMPIRE with only 24 hours of insulation between.

@Ali: The release date I've heard for INLAND EMPIRE is June 8. Not quite speedy, unfortunately.

@Tim: Yep, apparently the capitals are a direct edict, even though I feel RIDICULOUS like I am SCREAMING whenever I write it. Can you imagine David Lynch seeking to make us uncomfortable? (I never did come around on the "Dr.", though, so I wonder why I'm being so suddenly scrupulous about this.)

10:00 AM, January 28, 2007  
Blogger David S. said...

Well, I'm working on it. I made a new page ( but I've yet to post anything substantial. Every time I attempt to write something I can't seem to actually finish. It will happen sooner or later, though. Maybe a top ten list will do for now! :)

12:28 PM, January 28, 2007  
Blogger J.J. said...

Ooh baby, let's see that review. In my mind, someone needs to seriously defend this movie. (But I've been in the minority on virtually every film that's come out this year.)

10:26 AM, January 29, 2007  
Blogger J.J. said...

My first-viewing thoughts here:

10:30 AM, January 29, 2007  
Blogger JavierAG said...

Oh God. This has singlehandedly restored my faith in this film.

Can dream logic get any deeper than "Mulholland Drive"??

1:39 PM, February 03, 2007  

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