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inland empire Inland Empire
Directoed by:
David Lynch
Cast: Laura Dern, Jeremy Irons, Justin Theroux

Written by:
Tony Defrancisco

September 6, 2007

The latest from director David Lynch is "Inland Empire." Some will say that he still has it. Some will also say that he may have gone a little cuckoo after "The Straight Story." I say neither, because I haven't seen enough of David Lynch's films to know what he is about, and I haven't seen "The Straight Story." I only did get into David Lynch earlier this year when I first saw "Eraserhead," and then I moved on to "Mulholland Dr.," "Blue Velvet," and the "Twin Peaks" series and film.


To say that I understood every single one of them is a lie, because even though I understood "Twin Peaks" and "Blue Velvet" (and I really need to re-watch them again), I didn't understand squat of "Mulholland Dr.," and I just remember during "Erasherhead" bitching about that annoying baby. Needless to say, "Inland Empire" is easily Lynch's second best that I've seen to date. Most of us won't understand a film like this, but most of us won't need to understand the film. I'm not even sure David Lynch knew what was going on, but that doesn't mean that I won't call him a genius. We've been waiting for his next film since "Mulholland Dr.," and he hasn't disappointed us this time around.

I actually understood what was going on for a good third of the film. So my plot may be a little bit more detailed than others who just tell you that Laura Dern plays an actress in her latest film, and she starts having an affair like her role suggests. But there is a lot more to it, so let me begin by saying Laura Dern plays Nikki, a successful actress with a husband. One day, some elderly lady knocks on her door claiming to be her neighbor, and tells her three things she doesn't know: one, Nikki has the role as the main character in her next film; two, the film is about marriage and murder; and three, her husband has a part in it. It just so happens that the next day, she gets the part for the film. The film, though, just happens to be a “remake” of a Polish film called 47, which was never finished being made due to the murders of the two main characters. While making this film, Nikki stops being Nikki and actually becomes her role in the film, Sue Blue. At times, she doesn’t know what is going on, whether she is quoting lines in the movie, or quoting lines in real-life discussions that just happen to be the same as the movie. It is only until that she realizes that she actually becomes Sue Blue when she confesses her love for her co-worker Devon (or Billy Side), that’s when the plot shifts focus, and Lynch really does start working his magic for us.

For the second third, we are shown complete random scenes that are like the middle third of “Mulholland Dr.” We meet so many different characters, including nine prostitutes who have their own Loco-Motion dance, these rabbits that are trapped in their own sitcom, and a man who has the power to do hypnosis. It is in this half where we actually start to question what is going on. Where the hell did these prostitutes, rabbits, and hypnosis guy come from? Ah, we remember. In the first five or six minutes, David Lynch makes us ask what is going on again when he introduces us to a couple of the prostitutes, the rabbit family, and the guy who does the hypnosis, but he wants to save these characters for later. Something tells us that we will need to know these characters to understand what is going on later on in the movie. I mean, it is only common sense, right? Then how come I forgot about them characters until they appeared on-screen? Hey, David Lynch tries to mess with everyone right?

But it is the final third hour that really wraps up the still much unanswered conclusion to “Inland Empire,” but there are some questions that were answered. I don’t want to give away any of these details, but I’ll give you just a little tiny hint – it’s a David Lynch film. You know you are going to be very surprised, and very confused. You will have to make up your own interpretation of what was going on throughout the movie. Hell, I would like to see what you guys thought during that entire film. Even if you guys aren’t into the reviewing gig, you guys will be juggling your thoughts around like they were balls. Er, and speaking about balls, I know just the guy that has a nice big brass pair of ‘em, and he sports them around and shows them off more than I could show off my awesome fighting ninja skills. Well, maybe not that much, but I think you guys have the point.

David Lynch had some real big cajones to do what he did. He did “Inland Empire” without actually having an actual script. It wasn’t intended to be a feature film anyway, as he would come up with an idea and film it with a DV camcorder. As time progressed, he would film more and more scenes and put them together into “Inland Empire.” The man had the thought, and knew what it was going to be “about,” but he never had a script. So each night after shooting what he had in store for the night before, he would type up a few pages, hand them all out to the cast and crew members and they would later film it. And they would keep doing it until David Lynch had what he wanted, and created what you see (plus one hundred and ninety-two more minutes of what you can find on the second disc of the DVD package. You can give David Lynch the title of a genius, and/or the title of a successor. Either way, they are both correct.

And then, “Inland Empire” comes to what it is said to do. It is not to entertain, but it is to make you think, to make your predictions, to make your thoughts, and to create your theory. We need more films like “Inland Empire.” If we had more films like these, we wouldn’t be as dumb as what most of us act like, or what most of us are. We would know what movies like these are actually telling us. Like Lynch’s previous film “Mulholland Dr.,” “Inland Empire” requires a lot more re-watches in order to fully understand what is going on. I had to watch it twice just to understand what was going on in the second half, but that second watch was exciting. I caught everything that I missed before, and I really did get a feel for the movie. David Lynch tries to tell us something in these three hours. He is trying to tell us that our opinion counts. What this means is that we don’t all have to decide on the same exact opinion. Do you really think that you and your friend are going to have the same exact theory on this film? Naw, you guys will have different opinions. What “Borat” did to critics and film-goers is make us look like what idiots we are when we are on camera, but what “Inland Empire” does is much smarter – it makes us look like idiots when we all have the same exact theory. Now you all know that someone is bullsh!##ing a bullsh!##er, don’t ‘cha?


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