Friday, August 7, 2015

The Films of David Lynch: Shorts and Curiousities: 1993-1995

Yves Saint Laurent's Opium Parfum commercial (1993)
Longing - X Japan (1995)
Lumière and Company - Premonition Following An Evil Deed (1995)

I am glad that of the three short pieces David Lynch directed after Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992) and before Lost Highway (1997) that one of them is brilliant. That’s because the other two just are not very interesting at all, and I find I have very little to say about them. That’s what happens sometimes. (I should say that apparently there is a music video for A Real Indication for Angelo Badalamenti from Fire Walk With Me – but I cannot find it).

Included in the documentary, The King of the Ads is a commercial that David Lynch directed for Yves Saint Laurent’s Opium perfume. If you are curious as to what a David Lynch perfume commercial looks like, the answer is just like every other perfume commercial you see on TV. Beautiful, mysterious woman in a fancy dress, lots of shots of the bottle, the commercial, like all commercials, is designed to make your life feel incomplete if you do not have this perfume, which they are selling as high class. As far as perfume commercials go, it’s hardly an embarrassment. It’s just a commercial. Makes you wonder why they hired Lynch – but hey, if he cleared some money for it, well for him.

 The music video for Longing, a song by the band X Japan is, in fact, an embarrassment – unless the whole thing, the video and the song are meant to be one big joke. That’s because everything about it is so achingly, annoyingly sincere that I almost feel like they have to be making fun of something. The “song” is really a spoken word poem, overly sappy music – the type of music you would hear in some sort of hippie spa, but without the words. Losing the words probably would have helped, as the poem, written by a woman to a woman who has left him, is quite simply awful. The video, directed by Lynch, is the perfect visual combination for the song – lots of fog, smoke, flames, and at one point a giant flower, in which the poem reader’s head is superimposed on top of it, as they fade and blend together. This video was 5 minutes that is pure torture.

However, just when you want give up on these experiments, you get to 52 seconds of Lynch brilliance in his segment for the film Lumiere & Company. The rules were simple – each filmmaker had to shoot a movie using the original Lumiere brothers invented Cinematographe, the movie could not be more than 52 seconds, there could be no more than 3 set-ups, and no synchronized sound was allowed.

What does Lynch do with his 52 seconds? He creates haunting masterpiece – or as much as one can be in less than a minute. A dead woman’s body is found by the police, a concerned woman gets off of a couch, fog clouds the screens, we are in some sort of laboratory, with a naked woman floating in a tube and space aliens, more fog, and the police are knocking at the door of that woman from the couch. What is Lynch doing here? He is mixing genres, creating haunting images and disturbing implications. I would love to see Lynch do a Guy Maddin style silent movie in this style. He clearly knows how to do this – and for a director whose films are often so dependent on sound, here it works without it. I know it won’t happen, just that I would be so happy if Lynch did.

There isn’t much else to say about the film – other than, like the best of the Lynch filmography – it haunts you for days afterwards. I keep going back to YouTube and watching it again, and then I’m watching it again and again. It’s a masterful use of 52 seconds and a hundred year old camera – and a must for any Lynch fan.

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