Rating: The Good – 95.5 Genre: Mystery, Thriller Duration: 180 mins Director: David Lynch Stars: Kyle MacLachlan, Dennis Hopper, Isabella Rossellini
David Lynch’s unhinged masterpiece follows the fresh faced Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle Maclachlan) into the dark underbelly of a seemingly idyllic all-American town where he encounters cinema’s most disturbing psycho Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper). It all begins with the discovery of a severed ear against the backdrop of Jeffrey’s white-picket fenced suburbia. Where the investigation of that ear takes the curious young Jeffrey is almost impossible to explain for this is a uniquely skewed and powerful analysis of a world that exists just beyond our comfort zone in our subjective unconscious. In telling Jeffrey’s story, Lynch traverses a number of genres from film-noir to romance to outright fantasy but it’s the romance that shines through the strongest in his trademark “eye-of-the-duck” scene. On the technical front, the film represents nothing less than the perfect blend of image and sound with Lynch giving life to the latter like no other film before it or since. Machlachlan is truly outstanding in a role that is admittedly tailor made for him. Laura Dern is equally terrific as Jeffrey’s girl of interest while Dennis Hopper simply redefines the concept of madness on film. Raw cinematic power.
Rating: The Good – 90.1 Genre: Mystery Duration: 147mins Director: David Lynch Stars: Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Justin Theroux
Easily one of the most awe-inspiring feats of film-making to come out of America in recent decades, David Lynch’s Mulholland Dr. is the culmination of an approach he had been tinkering with for years. This is nothing short of the most subjective horror film you’re ever likely to see, the horror of the subjective if you will. A car-crash on the winding roads of Mulholland Drive leaves Rita (Laura Harring) without any memory but circumstance or something else pairs her with an aspiring young actress (Naomi Watts) and, together, they attempt to discover the clues to the woman’s identity.
Although, Mulholland Dr. represents one of the more extreme examples of Lynch’s surrealism, there is a definite tangible link to the real world here and that is what’s so damn frightening about the whole thing. Lynch manipulates us for long periods and then, almost without warning, holds a mirror to our faces and chills us to the core. One moment in particular (that won’t be flagged here) stands above the rest and must surely count as one of the most disturbing scenes in the history of the medium. Watts is terrific in the lead and her and Harring work so well together that much of the film’s success should be put down to their willingness and ability to understand and buy into what Lynch was doing. Mulholland Dr. is not as accessible as Blue Velvet and so the rewards are not as conventional but it is perhaps the closest thing to a no-foolin vision quest as cinema has given us.
Rating: The Good – 77.1 Genre: Science Fiction Duration: 137 mins Director: David Lynch Stars: Kyle MacLachlan, Virginia Madsen, Francesca Annis
David Lynch’s much maligned adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal novel has been criticised by lovers of the book (which, let’s face it, were always going to be difficult to please), those desperately hung up on Alejandro Jodorowsky’s doomed adaptation (which, let’s face it, was mouth-watering in its potential), and those who seem to have a mind about as open as the vault door at Fort Knox. However, no matter what your bias or leaning, there’s no denying that Lynch brought a level of abstraction to this version that was startling and in its own way defining. The epic story is one of political intrigue 8,000 years in the future between powerful houses fighting over a planet which holds the key to the most valuable natural resource in the known universe. Kyle MacLachlan plays the prince of one of these houses who must realise his destiny on this strange planet and he is surrounded by a host of quirky characters played by equally quirky performers. This film is probably unlike anything you will have ever seen and the sheer breadth of its unfamiliarity will leave you disorientated and at times deeply uncomfortable. And of course, for a film set so far in the future that’s exactly the point! The one major criticism that is not levelled often enough against sci-fi films is their failure to give the viewer the impression that what they’re looking at is alien. Dune is a raging triumph of alienation and disorientation. Once you acclimatise to it, however, the film becomes a rather fascinating experience and while cheesy in places (often due to MacLachlan’s bright eyed naivety being dialed a tad high) for the most part it plays out as extremely sophisticated science fiction. Not for the feint willed, but if you’re a student of sci-fi in particular and film in general, Lynch’s Dune is a must see.
Rating: The Good – 77.7 Genre: Crime, Romance Duration: 125 mins Director: David Lynch Stars: Nicolas Cage, Laura Dern, Harry Dean Stanton, Willem Dafoe
David Lynch’s ‘Wizard of Odd’ tale of young love in an ugly and dangerous world is arguably a more visceral experience than his magnum opus Blue Velvet – though not on that same level of brilliance. Laura Dern plays a new age Dorothy named Lula who together with her recently paroled boyfriend, Sailor Ripley, heads out west and down their own yellow brick road where the madness and depravity of the adult world (powerfully embodied in her mother’s obsession with them) threatens to engulf them at every turn. Dern is sensationally good as the bright-eyed yet wounded heroine while Nicolas Cage is electric as the dualistic Sailor. Diane Ladd turns in an extraordinary Wicked Witch performance as Lula’s mother and Harry Dean Stanton is the usual safe pair of hands as her devoted servant.
Wild at Heart is very much about duality. It’s complex yet simple, pessimistic yet optimistic, disturbing yet elating. The characters themselves are all either teetering on the brink of the two worlds or firmly implanted in one (usually the darker). As is typical for Lynch’s films, there is a host of weird and terrifying characters on show, keeping everything off-kilter and played with relish by a host of scene-stealers. Willem Dafoe’s repulsive Bobby Peru is most certainly the standout example of such and his performance – messed up teeth and all – will stay with you for a long time. Lynch’s direction is searing as he streamlines all the instinct behind Blue Velvet into the soul of this film leaving you with a tornado of imagery and sound.