Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Films of David Lynch: Shorts and Curiosities 2010-2013

David Lynch has continued to direct shorts and other things in the past few years. Here, I’ll go over one short/commercial, three music videos, a short that played at the Vienna film festival as an introduction and one last short. Again, there are some gems here, and some that are, well, not gems.
Lady Blue Shanghai (2010)
Directed by: David Lynch.
Written by: David Lynch.
Starring: Marion Cotillard, Gong Tao, Emily Stofle, Cheng Hong, Lu Yong, Nie Fei.

There are few things that David Lynch has directed that I have covered so far that I disliked more than a perfume commercial he directed for Yves Saint Laurent back in 1995. Well, dislike, is perhaps the wrong word – bored would be better, since it’s basically like any other commercial. So, I wasn’t sure what to think of Lady Blue Shanghai – which is essentially a 15 minute commercial for Dior – when I heard about it. But watching it, I can say confidently it’s one of the better things Lynch has directed since his feature career stopped. Yes, it’s a commercial – there’s no getting around that, and the many loving shots of a Dior handbag, which figures greatly in the plot, are there to justify Dior giving Lynch the money to make this. But aside from that, this is an odd little film – starring the always great Marion Cottilard as a French woman in Shanghai, who finds a handbag in hotel room, and has no idea where it came from – calling hotel security, and then having a fever dream that explains it. No, it’s not quite as fucked up as prime Lynch – but it’s certainly a surreal little film, that works very well, and is actually very well made. The past 15 years or so, more and more companies have given great filmmakers a little money to make shorts/commercials, and although we should probably hate this, as a sign of selling out, if more of them were like this (or Scorsese’s Key to Reserva), I wouldn’t complain.

I Touch a Red Button – Interpol (2011)
Directed by: David Lynch.

Lynch’s style is uniquely suited for music videos – where things can be strange and surreal, and are more about visuals and sound that any sort of coherence. Yet, often his videos haven’t always been good – either being too weird or too normal. His video for I Touch a Red Button for Interpol works – up to a point – and actually reminded me of Lynch’s first film – Six Figures Getting Sick (Six Times) – which he called a “motion painting”. That’s because I Touch a Red Button is crudely animated – much like that film, in an unmistakedly Lynch-ian style. But the longer you watch the video, the more you realize it’s basically on a loop – a ugly, creepy figure, with a distorted face, repeating touching a red button. The camera zooms in a out, concentrates on different points at different times, but basically it’s on a loop. This works for the video – and it’s nice to see Lynch playing with a style he did decades ago.

The Three Rs (2011)
Directed by: David Lynch.
Written by: David Lynch.
Starring: Mindy Ramaker

At times, watching these Lynch shorts can make you feel kind of dumb – as was the case with The Three Rs – a “trailer” made for the 2011 Vienna Film Festival by Lynch, which when I watch the 52 second film, I see more of Lynch goofing around – making some memorable images – including a disturbing finale – but without much of a point. The Vienna Film Festival website sees things differently of course – but for me, The Three Rs is just another curiosity piece – and not much else.

Crazy Clown Time – David Lynch (2012)
Directed by: David Lynch.
Starring: Emily Elicia Low (Scarlett Soles), Chris Pounders (Mohawked fire starter), Pandie Suicide (Demented lipsyncher).

I can imagine Lynch’s song “Crazy Clown Time” fitting in very well in the course of one of his movies. It’s on odd song – to say the least – with repetitive notes, and Lynch singing as if he just sucked in a lot of helium. But as a song unto itself, it really isn’t very good. And the video – a bizarre backyard party – isn’t either. And it drags on for 7 minutes.

Came Back Haunted – Nine Inch Nails (2013)
Directed by: David Lynch.

Of all the Lynch directed music videos I have covered for this series, I think the one he directed for Nine Inch Nails Came Back Haunted is the best – perhaps that;s just because of all the acts he has worked with, Nine Inch Nails is far and away my favorite, but I don’t think so. The video – which opens with a well earned epilepsy trigger warning – is a very odd video, but one that is perfectly fitting with the song and the band. To a certain extent, there is some of what Lynch did for Interpol here – but there’s more going on this time – flashing not just on a main image – but on Trent Reznor himself, or other disturbing images. Music videos don’t need to make sense – and Came Back Haunted doesn’t – but damn it, it’s good.

Idem Paris (2013)
Directed by: David Lynch.

It’s no surprise that Lynch – who seems like an old school guy in many ways (accept for his embracing of digital) would be drawn to the “master print makers” in Paris, he films doing their job here. It is interesting – it’s in way – to see them going about their business without a word. It’s also repetitive, and a little slow. I prefer watching Lynch make a lamp to this.

So that’s it. All of the work by Lynch I have seen. Coming up tomorrow, a conclusion and a ranking!

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