Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Short Films Of David Lynch (1967-1995)

A still from his first short film. Wait, wait, he's gonna be sick, keep watching. Seriously. No wait!

Genre: Experimental Documentary Horror Shorts

Starring: Catherine E. Coulson ("Twin Peaks"), Harry Dean Stanton (Wild At Heart; Repo Man)

Directed By: David Lynch (Mulholland Drive; Eraserhead)

Overview: A collection of experimental short films that David Lynch shot at the beginning of his career, as well as some done well after he became established.

Acting: Surreal. The shorts that where only pantomime looked a little rough given that they were the earlier, lower-budget career works, but the actors were appropriately creepy. As for the speaking roles, though nothing special, were just right. My favorite acting was in The Cowboy And The Frenchman, which is just the most out-there study of 'The Stereotype' ever.
Rating: 8

Cinematography: Four of the films were low-budget but appropriately bleak, perfectly Lynch, really. The use of animation in two of the films seemed really amateurish to tell you the truth, but Lynch uses stop-motion effectively and his Lumière piece, using old-school filming technology, was a strange and interesting fusion of modern ideas with Silent Era film stock. That alone was mind-blowing.
Rating: 8

Script: Lynch either makes his script mean very little on purpose, or he makes it mean too much. You'd have to see Lost Highway to understand his scriptwriting genius, but what I'm getting at is this is not for everyone, since the dialogue is more internal, spoken merely to convey emotion, or as unimportant background, like in The Amputee. It doesn't matter what's said, it's how. On the other hand, The Cowboy And The Frenchman, was hilarious. The Frenchman yelling "Yippe-Kai-Ai-Ay" while the cowboy replied "Ooh-La-La", is stereotype heaven, and the whole 24 minutes of that episode is like that throughout.
Rating: 8

Plot: The stories are as follows: a montage art piece called Six Men Getting Sick (one of my favorites, this is basically just a moving painting). The Alphabet, a low-budget film about a nightmare, The Grandmother, about an alienated boy who grows a grandmother from a seedpod for love and companionship. This is by far the longest one at 34 minutes. After this we have The Cowboy And The Frenchman, a satirical look at stereotypes that he did for TV, then an odd scene featuring The Amputee as she writes a letter. Finally, there's a haunting single-minute tale for the Lumière project, using the original cameras and emulsions used 100 years ago during the dawn of film. This was astounding. No, these tales aren't about plot, but together these shorts are quite intriguing, especially with Lynch's narrated introductions.
Rating: 8

Mood: There is no director who can pull experimental with understanding like Lynch. Maybe I'm just smart enough (or more likely, just in tune with Lynch enough) to touch the surface of what he means while still being confused enough that my imagination fires sparks to fill the gaps. What I love about this kind of art is that the mind attempts to create caulking for the holes left behind, and that my friend, is a wonderful exercise for your left-brain. If you don't like thinking about the artistic... well you hate experimental film anyways so you'd never watch this in the first place. If you like Lynch, though, go out of your way to see this.
Rating: 9

There he is the Lynch Man himself. Wait, wait, he's gonna be sick, keep watching.

Overall Rating: 82% (Short But Sweet)

Aftertaste: Man even the menus are haunting and interactive. Somehow having a TV calibration test with faint wind sounds not only enhances the overall experience, but makes me think that Lynch cares about fixing my TV so it doesn't burn out early. How can a man pull off something like that?! Surreal! When you pop this in for the first time, just sit there, cause something's gonna happen at the minute mark that's just neat enough to wait for.