The Best Of DavidLynch.com
Review by John
= Highest Rating
the release of 2001's Mulholland
Dr., David Lynch achieved both critical and financial success
with arguably his most high profile movie since Blue
Velvet. (It was also the first time since that masterpiece
that he was nominated for an Academy Award for directing). Most
filmmakers would take advantage of this situation to ensure
studio funding for their dream project, but then again Lynch
is not exactly like most filmmakers.
While Mulholland Dr.
brought Lynch back into the spotlight, the project actually
had troubled beginnings. The film was initially a television
pilot that was outright rejected by ABC and Lynch was only able
to complete it with the help of French financiers. It is through
these events that we begin to understand why Lynch decided to
go the self-financed, low budget route. Then again, maybe it
shouldn't be so surprising for a filmmaker who began his career
with the highly personal Eraserhead
and whose biggest studio project, the ambitious yet undeniably
flawed Dune, was all but disowned
by its creator after its release.
DYNAMIC:01 collects seven of Lynch's
short films that were previously available to subscribers of
his official website. This is the director returning to his
roots, working on a nonexistent budget and casting aside conventional
narrative. Being that these are entirely self-financed, Lynch
has opted to shoot these shorts on the still controversial format
of digital video. It must be said that there isn't much here
that really compares to his early art film shorts (all of which
are collected on the highly recommended Short
Films of David Lynch DVD). The veteran filmmaker is essentially
toying with a new format, and not all of these experiments work.
The Darkened Room: A weird extended
prologue with a Japanese woman talking some nonsense about bananas
serves as a seemingly unrelated introduction to an eerie scene
involving two pretty ladies in the titular room. As can be expected
with Lynch, strange things are going on, and we are not given
much explanation as to why. This is a pure mood piece, one that
is superficially related to Mulholland
Drive (a blonde and a brunette engaged in an intense
emotional relationship) and that seems to serve as evidence
that Lynch's distinctly visual style can indeed translate well
to digital video.
Boat: A clever concept (a boat that
can apparently navigate between dark and light) that doesn't
quite work as a short film, at least not in this form. An anonymous
woman narrates the piece, Lynch himself pilots the boat, and
it concludes with a series of day and nighttime waves shot at
high speeds. Some interesting images towards the end, but the
problem is that the short feels long even at just over seven
minutes, with a buildup that needlessly drags.
Lamp: David Lynch spends half an hour
building a lamp... While it's amusing to see Lynch take one
of his legendary coffee breaks, this short is very dull and
not really worth your time. I can understand the reasoning behind
watching Lynch creating a work of art, but why a lamp? The talented
director has also dabbled in painting and sculpture, something
that arguably would have proved much more interesting. I guess
this is Lynch's offbeat humor showing through again, although
whether or not this is funny to anyone else aside from him is
Out Yonder - Neighbor Boy: After a
questionable entry, Lynch delivers what I believe to be the
masterpiece of this collection. Two elderly Southern men (one
of them played by the director) sit around talking about the
neighbor boy and his fondness for milk. They speak in weird
high-pitched voices and start every sentence with some variation
of the words be or bein'. Some computer-generated
special effects and sound experiments really enhance the experience.
It's about as strange as it sounds, and the humor certainly
isn't for all tastes, but this is a real treat for fans of Lynch’s
theater of the absurd.
Industrial Soundscape: Aside from
being a talented filmmaker, Lynch has also proved to be equally
gifted in scoring his films. Although most of the memorable
themes and orchestrations are handled by his numerous collaborations
with composer Angelo Badalamenti, Lynch's work on a lot of the
more subtle atmospheric tracks are arguably just as strong.
This ten minute piece is very much in the vein of his work from
Eraserhead, and in fact the short
utilizes a picture from those sessions that the filmmaker slightly
alters over the course of the running time with digital effects.
Not really much happens visually, but if you're a fan of Lynch's
soundscapes, the result is a darkly hypnotic gem, one that reveals
the filmmaker's obsession with industry and machinery.
Bug Crawls: Another somewhat failed
experiment, this is a simplistic five minute short in which
a small bug crawls over the silhouette of a house, falls and
lands on its back. The only real points of interest are the
creepy sound effects and the final shot, which shows the door
of the house slowly opening to reveal a ominous white light
with some unseen mechanical workings buzzing inside.
Intervalometer Experiments: The final
short on this collection is a series of time-lapse photography
experiments that deal with unpopulated areas and the change
of light and shade over the course of time. Some interesting
imagery, but little else.
It's very hard to rate such a collection
of shorts and even harder to recommend them to anyone. As a
diehard fan of Lynch's work over the years, I have to admit
that I'm slightly disappointed with some of the content on this
collection, with only three of the seven shorts really displaying
any real replay value. While most of these shorts are uneventful
experiments that show a director testing the waters of a new
medium, Darkened Room, Out Yonder and Industrial
Soundscapes are all worth the price of admission and have
the filmmaker revisiting familiar themes. I suspect that those
that are not as enthusiastic about Lynch's work will be even
less kind that I am. Fans will want to check out some of this
material for the occasional flashes of brilliance but it's not
recommended for anyone other than Lynch completists.
2006 by Absurda and distributed by Subversive Cinema, DYNAMIC:01
is a fairly barebones affair. First off, being that all of these
shorts are filmed on digital video and that the oldest only dates
back about four years, this collection is very consistent visually.
One of Lynch's most notable characteristics as a filmmaker has
been his eye for arresting imagery, and while this collection
sometimes displays the limitations of the digital medium, things
look very good for the most part. The audio is presented in Dolby
Digital 2.0 stereo and free of any noticeable defects. The main
extra is an all-too brief feature where Lynch fields some general
questions that members of his website have posed to him — fairly
worth seeing, although those interested into the inner workings
of this artist are advised to seek out the excellent interview
book Lynch On Lynch for a more comprehensive study. The
other real extra this collection has to offer is far more engaging...
All of the seven shorts are preceded by a brief introduction by
their creator. While it may not add up to much in content, the
notoriously distant Lynch has often avoided giving any real explanation
to some of his more cryptic work. These now familiar introductions
(also present on The Short Films of David
Lynch disc) are perhaps the closest to a proper DVD commentary
that we will get from the man.