Keep It on the D.L.


Nicole M. Campbell is a KFI editrix. She once had a bumper sticker that read, "Jesus saves! Gretzky gets the rebound and scores," which made a lot of drivers laugh but didn't make her parents too happy. This week, the Girl on Film gives us her review of a new documentary on director David Lynch.

Perhaps my proudest achievement as an avid moviegoer was the time I went to a midnight screening of "Eraserhead" and convincingly explained to my confused friend what the plot was really about. Or at least my interpretation of what it was really about. 

Because David Lynch - who directed the 1977 cult classic - doesn't do linear. He does Lynchear. 

That means dark detours into the creatively grotesque. What Lynch presents on screen may be inexplicable but it's never unimaginable - not to him. He's an Artist with a capital A. 

Which is why the new documentary on his life is so refreshing. Lynch tells the story of his life simply, in chronological order, starting with his birth and stopping just short of his big-time success with the movies "Blue Velvet" and "Wild at Heart" and the T.V. show "Twin Peaks." 

Lynch is the only voice we hear in the film. He sits at an old microphone and just goes, taking us on a journey through the Pacific Northwest – he would set his famously quirky T.V. show there - to Virginia, where he graduated high school, to Boston to Philadelphia, cities where his art school education dovetailed with his first forays into filmmaking. 

For those of us who have soaked up Lynch's twisted tales, it's a shock to find out he had a relatively normal childhood. Mom, Dad, brother, sister. Boy Scouts. Camping. Playing outside with friends until their parents called them in for dinner. Americana as we've all come to understand it in the post-World War II era. But a bohemian was blooming within. And Lynch was able to channel it into some of the most fantastical stories the screen has ever seen. 

Lynch isn't all backward-talking little men and fever dream states. He has a good sense of humor. Just check out his portrayal of FBI boss Gordon Cole on "Twin Peaks." His hearing is about as good as a cherry pie left out for days and his comically loud call-and-responses are an amusing, much-needed respite from all the supernatural shenanigans going on in the forest hamlet. 

Visually, the documentary on Lynch's life is still Lynch-ian. As his voiceover plays, we see the director doing what he does best - creating. He is a talented artist, often using other elements - putty-covered wire, for example - to make the art pop. The imagery is slightly disturbing, which in another context might be unsettling. But in this case, it's reassuring. When Lynch goes vanilla, you know you're living in a bizarro parallel universe. 

The singular focus of "David Lynch: The Art Life," works wonderfully well, giving a grand yet intimate look into the experiences that have shaped one of our most brilliantly creative artistic minds. And, if you'll indulge my shallow obsession, Lynch has one of the greatest heads of hair on top of that think machine.

With a "Twin Peaks" reboot coming up on Showtime next month, there's no better time to acquaint or reacquaint yourself with Lynch's vision of broken beauty. And don't worry, I didn't get "Mulholland Drive" either.

 

“David Lynch: The Art Life” and other Lynch goodies playing through the end of the month at the Cinefamily on Fairfax Ave. in L.A.

 


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