"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"dark and troubling things"

i watched Eraserhead with ben this weekend. i was intrigued after reading K's tumblr post about it.

David Lynch's films have always puzzled me, mostly because i know so many people – people whose opinions and tastes in literature, music, and film i respect and usually concur with – who swear a Lynch film is a good time (Mulholland Drive, Inland Empire, Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet).

i remain mystified, and unconvinced.

i have tried on several occasions to endure a Lynch film, and find myself 5 out of the 6 times willfully putting myself to sleep. after the first half hour (the precise time it takes for the nuance and strangeness of the sound and imagery to wear off), i tend to find myself thinking about the film in a meta "why am i watching this again?" kind of way, more than i am actually engaging with the film i'm attempting to watch and enjoy.

which is why i will never understand the cult-like appeal of David Lynch's films to what seems like a hefty number of my friends and, admittedly, the great majority of average people. what am i missing? when i watch things like Eraserhead, i find myself in utter denial of the fact that anyone actually likes this movie. how can Eraserhead have a "cult" following, when there is so little tangible substance to hold onto?

i find that when it comes to most things, but film in particular, i am extremely unforgiving of an aimless use of time. when i commit time to something, i expect a reward (who doesn't?) and come to resent the task if i come to suspect that i'm not going to be compensated for my time. and lo, the story of every David Lynch film i have ever watched: a long wait for little reward. thus my history of resentment.

the more i think about it, the more i begin to wonder if everyone is just lying to themselves about liking David Lynch's films, so as not to seem unwise. or, perhaps it is just one of those things White people like...



K. said...

Will is probably a good person to talk to about David Lynch films. I remember once he told me to watch Inland Empire and Laura interrupted him and shouted, "DON'T! Watching that movie is like being fucked in the eye with a screwdriver!"

I have mixed feelings about Lynch's films -- each one usually has one or two standout scenes for me that are either funny or touching, but they're always accompanied by material that is oftentimes incredibly painful for me to watch (Blue Velvet is probably a good example of this -- for every sweet offbeat moment with Jack Nance or Kyle Maclachlan, there's something that's almost impossible for me to stomach.) A couple of summers ago, my boyfriend and I watched all of Twin Peaks & then set about watching all of Lynch's films. It was a rough summer.

I am a big fan of Twin Peaks, though. I don't know if you've seen the series in its entirety (or if you would even be interested in doing so), but I really enjoyed it and it was a very different viewing experience for me than almost all of Lynch's films. There's also a good book of essays, Full of Secrets: Critical Approaches to Twin Peaks (it's sort of hit or miss, but there are a few gems.)

Have you seen The Straight Story? My freshman year at Miami someone somehow, for some unknown reason, purchased me a copy of this and had it shipped to my parents' house. I still don't know who it was. My mom, lifelong Lynch hater, freaked out. It was a very eerie thing to have happen... Anyway, I watched the film for the first time with my dad this past summer and probably enjoyed it more than any other Lynch movie I've seen.

Bottom line: I think I find Lynch more "intereting" than I do enjoyable.

K. said...

p.s. My dad quotes Eraserhead all the time. His favorite is, "It's a little premature, but the doctors think it's human."

When I saw Eraserhead for the first time, I fell asleep during the pivotal dream sequence that showed Henry's head being made into erasers. Talk about bad timing.

stephan!e lee said...

hahaha! K, i fell asleep during that scene too! i woke up, miffed; it had taken all the energy i could muster to stay awake thru the rest of the movie but i couldn't make it last long enough for that one scene.