Inland Empire

DVD Rating: ***1/2

Reviewed by: Chris

Read Max Crawford's film review of Inland Empire
Inland Empire

The 17-minute Guardian interview is with Mark Kermode and makes an interesting contrast to the later 26-minute French interview (‘Masterclass’) in which Lynch obviously feels more at ease. Kermode prods and probes respectfully but doesn’t get much out of Lynch, who is intent on talking about what he wants to talk about rather than submitting to any external agenda. Much of this focusses on transcendental meditation. I was torn between what he was saying and his eccentric finger waggling, which occurs more or less throughout all the interviews. At one point, Kermode gets a rather clever question in, saying that if all this TM stuff is so positive, what about all that darkness in the films? Lynch replies that the artist doesn’t have to suffer to show suffering.

In the six-minute ‘London’ interview, Lynch waxes lyrical on Hollywood (the place rather than the industry), Laura Dern, making a film for a particular audience, unusual marketing and on dreams influencing thoughts.

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In the Conversation with Mike Figgis (19 minutes), he talks about many things but especially the transition from being a painter to working with movies. This is particularly of interest given that the later 14-minute ‘Cartier’ interview is conducted at one of his gallery exhibitions.

The ‘Masterclass’ is the most empathetic of the interviews. Although it initially seems cumbersome - with French translators and subtitles - it seems that he has a greater synergy with French interviewers. They enthuse about his answers and seem to get on a similar wavelength (For all his charm and expertise, it rather makes Mark Kermode look a bit of a smartass by comparison.)

This section includes clips from Inland Empire. Lynch talks about his love of DV, of LA and of Hollywood Boulevard. When he then speaks about light and shade in Poland, we almost start to see things through his eyes. Some of the material is repeated from other interviews, but rather better explored. “Some people find your films rather obscure or difficult to comprehend. What would you say to them?” Lynch enigmatically admits he finds them hard to understand, too. But when he differentiates between the story and the way the story is told, we have to admit that understanding is not everything. “Cinema can say abstractions. It can conjure up things that are difficult to say in words, but we still understand it in some way.” The mention of the Maharishi gets a ripple of laughter from the audience but his insightful comments about Fifties rock-and-roll show that Lynch, for all his other-worldliness, can have his feet firmly on the ground.

The Cartier Foundation interview brings us full circle. Michel Chion, a Frenchman who writes about Lynch, meets the man for the first time. It is fascinating to hear Lynch talk about his paintings as we, too, browse them. Painting is like jazz, with abstract rules. We start to get on his wavelength, seeing his films as ‘paintings that move’.

The interviews on this set do not throw light on the story or, in true Lynch tradition, much about the film beyond interesting technical aspects. They do, however, make us more aware of why he is disinclined to provide commentaries or explanations. A linear storyline, if you can find it, is almost like a decorative flourish he has added rather than the substance. The DVD set adds to the growing body of work on Lynch where he relates TM to his creativity and his concept of film as art. They, like the movie Lynch, are a valuable portrait of the man, but if you were happy solving Mulholland Drive, and looking forward to piecing together Inland Empire, it may just be a little too much information. For troglodytes like this reviewer that actually enjoy the Agatha Christie approach to Lynch’s films, this stuff is light years beyond.

Reviewed on: 06 Sep 2007
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Inland Empire packshot
A married actress falls for her leading man whilst making a film about an illicit affair.
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Product Code: OPTD0961

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.85:1

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Guardian interview at the NFT with David Lynch, an interview in London, a conversation with David Lynch by Mike Figgis, a masterclass with David Lynch, interview at the Cartier Foundation, trailers

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