Lost in Lynch – A Week-long David Lynch Retrospective

 

  Much like his body of work, David Lynch often defied tidy description. As a filmmaker it was possibly more instructive to refer to him as a surrealist artist working in the medium of film, rather than a traditional movie director and writer. From his debut feature Eraserhead (1978), it was clear that Lynch held a deep fascination with the utterly grotesque residing just below the surface of the everyday. He would use that fascination to his advantage with his second film, the hugely successful The Elephant Man (1980), only to be dealt a bitter blow by the disastrous, costly experience of “Dune” (1984). However, with the quasi-autobiographical thriller Blue Velvet (1986), Lynch would establish a thematic aesthetic – dubbed “Lynchian” – that he would continue to evolve throughout his career. Join us for a retrospective of five of his best films.

Eraserhead

Henry (John Nance) resides alone in a bleak apartment surrounded by industrial gloom. When he discovers that an earlier fling with Mary X (Charlotte Stewart) left her pregnant, he marries the expectant mother and has her move in with him. Things take a decidedly strange turn when the couple’s baby turns out to be a bizarre lizard-like creature that won’t stop wailing. Other characters, including a disfigured lady who lives inside a radiator, inhabit the building and add to Henry’s troubles. (1977, 1h 30m)

“David Lynch’s remarkable first film, made in 1977, still looks like a minor masterpiece, mixing Gothic horror, surrealism and darkly expressionist mise-en-scène.” – Derek Malcolm, London Evening Standard

Blue Velvet

College student Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) returns home after his father has a stroke. When he discovers a severed ear in an abandoned field, Beaumont teams up with detective’s daughter Sandy Williams (Laura Dern) to solve the mystery. They believe beautiful lounge singer Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) may be connected with the case, and Beaumont finds himself becoming drawn into her dark, twisted world, where he encounters sexually depraved psychopath Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper). If audiences walk away from this subversive, surreal shocker not fully understanding the story, they might also walk away with a deeper perception of the potential of film storytelling. (1986, R, 120m)

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Wild at Heart

After serving prison time for a self-defense killing, Sailor Ripley (Nicolas Cage) reunites with girlfriend Lula Fortune (Laura Dern). Lula’s mother, Marietta (Diane Ladd), desperate to keep them apart, hires a hit man to kill Sailor. But he finds a whole new set of troubles when he and Bobby Peru (Willem Dafoe), an old buddy who’s also out to get Sailor, try to rob a store. When Sailor lands in jail yet again, the young lovers appear further than ever from the shared life they covet. (1990, R, 2h 5m)

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Lost Highway

From this inventory of imagery, Lynch fashions two separate but intersecting stories, one about a jazz musician (Bill Pullman), tortured by the notion that his wife is having an affair, who suddenly finds himself accused of her murder. The other is a young mechanic (Balthazar Getty) drawn into a web of deceit by a temptress who is cheating on her gangster boyfriend. These two tales are linked by the fact that the women in both are played by the same actress (Patricia Arquette). (1997, R, 2h 15m)

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Mulholland Drive

A dark-haired woman (Laura Elena Harring) is left amnesiac after a car crash. She wanders the streets of Los Angeles in a daze before taking refuge in an apartment. There she is discovered by Betty (Naomi Watts), a wholesome Midwestern blonde who has come to the City of Angels seeking fame as an actress. Together, the two attempt to solve the mystery of Rita’s true identity. The story is set in a dream-like Los Angeles, spoilt neither by traffic jams nor smog. David Lynch’s dreamlike and mysterious Mulholland Drive is a twisty neo-noir with an unconventional structure that features a mesmerizing performance from Naomi Watts as a woman on the dark fringes of Hollywood. (2001, R, 2h 26m)

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