Sunday, December 10, 2006
First, an admission, and I don't think too many people who aren't married to me know this: I was a total Twin Peaks geek. I don't just mean your average "love the show, bummed when it got cancelled" fan... there are no small amount of those. No, in 1991 I wasn't just a card-carrying member of "C.O.O.P." (Citizens Opposed to the Offing of Peaks)... I was, in fact, the Vermont chapter president. Seriously. I actually sat in a hallway of UVM's Billings Student Center and collected signatures, bundling them up to send to David Lynch's production company, who would send them on to the network. Go ahead, picture it and laugh a little inside, as if you aren't already.
Now, keep in mind, this was back in the early 'net days, when fans communed through Usenet and email discussion lists, when we sat in front of monochrome monitors and sent amber-texted messages through what may have been an actual series of tubes. When Twin Peaks was put on hiatus and in danger of disappearing during its second season, C.O.O.P. chapters started popping up all over the country, with members petitioning, spreading the word, organizing fan-events and letter-writing campaigns. I ended up, by default, becoming my state's lead representative, and I wasn't alone... my fellow volunteers might even be out there reading this. Don't worry, I won't out any of you... you can do that yourself in the comments (I'm looking at you, Mr. Vice President).
Weird thing was, all that effort actually paid off, at least for a little while. ABC listened and brought the show back for six more episodes, just enough to finish off that shaky second season, but no more. The follow-up-that-wasn't of a film, "Fire Walk With Me", answered none of the hanging questions from the series, most importantly: "How's Annie?!".
Later that year, long after the final episode of Twin Peaks came and went, I received an unexpected envelope in my mailbox from the production company. Inside was a personalized thank-you note, written and signed by David Lynch himself, along with a crisp one dollar bill, as he said, "to buy yourself a damn fine cup of coffee." As a hardcore Lynch fan, one who started watching Twin Peaks thanks to a love of "Blue Velvet", and counted the more-recent "Wild at Heart" among his favorite films ever, there couldn't have been anything cooler. (not cool: watching as that framed letter went up in fast-spreading flames just a few months later. An almost Lynchian image, but that's another story).
While his output has varied a bit in the years since, I've never missed seeing his films as soon as they hit theaters, for Lynch succeeds far more often than he fails. With all his work, even if I think he comes up short creatively, the ideas and images still resonate for days afterwards. It had been five long years since his last theatrical release, the excellent "Mulholland Dr.", so when I found out that his newest film was coming to Cambridge's Brattle Theatre, I knew I'd be in line.
What I didn't know was that tickets for the very first showing last Sunday, December 3rd, which would include a Q&A with the director himself, would sell out before I had a chance to get them. Even Craigslist searches proved fruitless, with far more fans looking for tickets than those with extras to offer. I'd given up long before Ashley dropped me an email a few hours before the screening to say she had two extras. Aces.
It'll come as no surprise to David Lynch fans that "Inland Empire" is a hypnotic, twistedly confusing time-bender of a film. At three hours, it's pure, unfiltered Lynch, full of disturbing, dream-like imagery, role-switching, life-sized rabbits (one supposedly played by a masked Naomi Watts), and almost indecipherable symbolism. And as lengthy as it was, there wasn't a single moment that had my mind wandering, and it was tough deciding when to break for the Brattle bathroom. He mines his dependable stock of previous actors (Harry Dean Stanton, Justin Theroux, Diane Ladd, Grace Zabriskie), and adds some new ones (Jeremy Irons, a William H. Macy cameo), but it's Laura Dern's film. We haven't seen enough of her on screen lately, and she's just amazing in this. After we left the theater, we were trying to figure out what a marketing team's plot summary would possibly say, and Lynch's own tagline of "a woman in trouble" is really the only thing that works. And while Dern is easily the female lead, it's hard to say she's actually the woman in question.
Here's David Lynch's question & answer session with the Brattle audience after the credits rolled, as well as a pre-film intro that included some improvisational viola and a bit of poetry...
David Lynch @ the Brattle Theatre
for a screening of "Inland Empire"
Sunday, December 3rd, 2006
Officially declared "David Lynch Day"
in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Mp3: "Inland Empire" Introduction
Mp3: Audience Q&A Session
Y'know, I still can't listen to Lynch speak without thinking of Gordon Cole.
In response to a question about the long-awaited DVD release of the second season of Twin Peaks, he answered with a fairly definitive "spring" (update: April 10th! Season 2 set artwork here). Finally, just a few cold months away. And as unoriginal and unanswerable a question it would have been, I was seriously tempted to ask "Sooo... how's Annie?"...
A few related links...
If I still had that dollar bill that he sent me 15 years ago, it'd be fitting if I spent it on some of "David Lynch Signature Cup" brand coffee. Yes, the director has his own new line of organic brews, including espresso, house roast, and decaf french roast. He made it available for free at our screening, along with "Inland Empire" t-shirts and coasters. The DL coffee line's motto? "It's all in the beans... and I'm just full of beans." Sounds like something one of his characters might say, doesn't it?...
live in cambridge, ma
on november 14th, 2008
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