Gateways of perception. From Eraserhead, The Elephant Man, (his bastard son) Dune, Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, Lost Highway, Mulholland Dr., and his television cult series Twin Peaks, to the film prequel Twin Peaks: Firewalk with Me, even his early abstract films, comic strip The Angriest Dog in the World, his internet-only series Rabbits and Dumbland, David Lynch's artistic expressions have always been meditations on life; albeit one through an abstract prism. Life is a continuing convoluted journey through them, ultimately death being the final portal. Or is it? Does ultimate knowledge come with death's release? Or is it one giant cosmic joke? These are just a few of the questions raised in David Lynch's movies.
His latest -- one of his most compelling, provocative and impossibly abstract, INLAND EMPIRE, capital letters intended, (Rhino Entertainment) -- is certainly his most complex and twisted labyrinth yet. This is the Trojan horse of all the abstract art cinema you will ever need. From his hallucinatory opening with the blurred faces of the actors being watched on television by Julia Ormond down to the Rabbit People -- with their unmotivated laugh track -- voiced by Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, and Scott Coffey, this is an "E" ticket ride at Mr. Lynch's Disneyland. It is a bizarre, ominous world where nothing is as it seems, or is it?
Your/our/his world of reality opens briefly into a contemporary Hollywood-scripted narrative logic that doesn't last long, but long enough to get your started on the ride. It is a film within a film (On High in Blue Tomorrow) and Laura Dern, in an Oscar-worthy career-defining effort, plays actress Nikki Grace, hired by director Kingsley Stewart (Jeremy Irons) to star opposite philandering actor Devin Berk (Justin Theroux) in the remake of a Polish movie never completed due to dark and disturbing elements from a curse placed on it -- least of which is the blurring of her reality.
But then, this is Mr. Lynch's grand vision -- a world within a world where all of the philosophical questions of the greatest thinkers can be pondered: "What is reality? And are we all cursed by the suggestion that time ultimately is one giant circle that we must complete again and again?" As well as other uncomfortably thought-provoking questions about life, death, sex, romance, madness, and traveling down/through/around these passageways.
In Mr. Lynch's cinematic world, passageways are the metaphors of life. From long desolate hallways with a macabre tint of retro styling to the simple act of opening a door and walking outside, the journey is the metaphor and reward is the journey.
Go see it and see it again. It is three hours of compelling cinema, even though it took over three years to complete and was shot on three consumer brand Sony PD-150 digital cameras. You will leave with many questions raised; few answered, most left dangling over the precipice of life's cliff. Carve out the time to sit quietly. Empty your mind. Alter your reality and take a journey to the center of your mind. This may be terrifying for some, perhaps comforting for others. YOU WILL BE ENTERTAINED. (It is a movie, albeit nonlinear; movies are vehicles to escape life.) You will laugh, you will cry, you will be terrified, spellbound, even annoyed, but when the movie is finished and the last remnants of Nina Simone's "Sinner Man" blast over the end credits dance sequence, you will have to conjure up your own meaning, different then mine, by traveling inward, into and out of the void, thru this space.
Your life is your own personal reality. Break on through.