Monday, June 5, 2017

Inland Empire (2006)


On a recent rewatch of Mulholland Drive, I was observing how many scene transitions were simply a hard cut. One minute we are with one set of characters and the next we are with a whole new group of characters. We have no clue if they are connected but we go along with it. In-between those two scenes is where the cinema of David Lynch resides. We are shown one image and then another and it is up to us to make or find the connections and divine meaning.

Having been filmed in pieces over years, Inland Empire stretches that premise nearly to the breaking point. Lynch himself didn't even know he was making a feature until well into production. He'd come up with an idea for a scene and film it, then a few days or weeks later he'd have a new idea and film that. There was no finished script, the actors had no context of what came before or after. There's even an additional  90 minutes of unused footage are available as DVD bonus material.

Unlike Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway I have yet to hear anyone give a coherent "reading" of this film and I don't think it's really even possible to give one. It's an immense collage of pain and sorrow (garmonbozia?) peppered with the occasional dance number. It's not a Disneyland ride with a narrative throughline. Inland Empire is one of those carnival spook-houses where shit just pops out at you. You don't wonder how the Creature from the Black Lagoon got to Transylvania, you just go along for the ride and have an experience.

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