Thirty Thousand Streets

Friday, March 09, 2007

Inland Empire

I just went and saw Inland Empire by David Lynch, which was weird with a capital Y. I won't try to synopsise it fully, (practically impossible, really) though it starts off quite odd, before moving into a vaguely comprehensible narrative with Laura Dern playing an actress returning to the screen, as filming starts on a project overseen by a director acted by Jeremy Irons. This lasts for about half an hour. Then it gets really bizarre. And stays that way. For the next two and a half hours.

Overall the film is mesmerising: by turns both terrifying and hilarious, though at the two and a half hour mark I was flagging somewhat. I (and I suspect not a few of the audience) kept trying to make some sense of what was going on, as there are the outlines of several linked storylines, to be glimpsed dimly through the doors of Lynch's stream of conciousness. Doors feature heavily in the film as a kind of figurative shorthand for the films dense intertextuality, which is at the same time very obtuse. I could never quite work out who the all the people were in the adjacent plotlines, and though more viewings might be edifying, I'm not sure it really matters.

Its texture is fascinating too, as it all seems to have been shot on digital, complete with all the format's coarseness. Without the sumptuos gloss of film, it seems curiosly predestined for somewhere else other than a cinema, and quite aside from its tropes of perspective looks oddly reminiscent of a video installation in bits.

In fact, one thing it really reminded me of in bits was Chris Cunningham's work - especially in one scene where a character's face morphs into a nightmare composite of Laura Dern's, replete with trails of blood/smoke oozing from its lips. The oppressive heavily ambient soundtrack seems to further qualify this, as it was very reminiscent I thought of Ambient Works 2 era Aphex Twin (and I did check to see if it wasn't on the end credits).

In fact, the only fault I could really find with the soundtrack was at the end where he used that Nina Simone tune that's been ransacked recently for that annoying Renault Clio ad, featuring the 'Nicole and Papa' of the naughties: "Fwance" girl and "Britain" lad (himself number seven in Charlie Brooker's Ten Biggest Cocks in Advertising).

When it had finally finished, we trooped out the Ritzy in Brixton where we'd gone to see it, feeling somewhat dazed by the ordeal. We set off our seperate ways. Brixton was being as weird and on-top as it usually is at that time of night: a couple of skunk dealers getting busted outside McDonalds, a couple of guys rolling round in the street half fighting half not. I caught the first 35 I could home.

While walking along Camberwell Church Street I passed three 'Street Pastors', who go around talking to the wayward youth in an attempt in 'increase the peace'. Apparently a lot of West Indian and African kids have a 'cultural respect' for religious leaders, so are less likely to go busting off shots while they're around. I probably read that in the Guardian though so it's anyone's guess really.

It did remind me however of a film we were ocassionally plonked in front on the last day of term at school, called "The Cross and the Switchblade" which is basically about the church attempting to reach disaffected youth on the mean streets of 1970s New York. It got mocked mercilessly by all and sundry, but in later years I encountered a copy of the soundtrack in Manchester's Vinyl Exchange, which had it labelled as a rare obscurity and priced accordingly. Apparently it's a bit of a crate diggers trophy piece, featuring rare funk breaks. Fancy that.

Not sure what I'm up to tomorrow. Was umming and ahing about a walk in the countryside with Ed and Vic, but I'm going to try and get some other bits done.


Anonymous said...

R.I.P. BIGGIE. 09/03/97.

The Eyechild said...


Is that you Dan?

Anonymous said...

you knows it clart!!