Watching: Inland Empire

I've been a fan of David Lynch ever since I stumbled across a late night screening of The Elephant Man back in the mid 80s and I've followed his career with fascination ever since.

After starting out with the magnificently trippy and disturbing Eraserhead in the mid-70s, Lynch made a series of films with relatively conventional story structures - all peopled by freaks, oddballs and outsiders but nonetheless all fairly recognisable as stories and easy to follow. (Dune, Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me).

As he's progressed though, he's returned more to his experimental roots and the stories have gradually become more obtuse and confusing - playing with ideas of time, space and identity and shifting the entire reality of the story as it goes (Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive notably). This worked for me when I realised that it didn't have to be about a direct linear story but could just as well be more like a dream, with a series of sensations and disconnected but always amazing looking and sounding experiences.

It's part freak show, part oil painting and part sound installation for me.

Inland Empire, his most recent film, takes this further than he ever has before. It's nominally the story of a woman with a lead role in a remake of a cursed, unfinished film based on an old Polish legend but it's really much more like the mindblowing weird dream that you'd have after overindulging on some kind of curry pizza.

Characters, locations, everything essentially changes from moment to moment - events recur, reality shifts from something happening to it being a scene in the movie, to being a particularly freaking looking single room set sitcom featuring people in rabbit costumes - it truly is impossible to describe. Suffice to say, it has to be watched as an art video rather than anything else.

Unfortunately, clocking in at around 3 hours, you simply can't be sitting on uncomfortable seats to watch this (as I was) - I remember thinking on about a dozen occasions during the film how much I wished I could be watching it in one of those fancy gold-class cinemas with the recliner chairs and whatnot - which kind of detracts from the experience. As much as I'm a fan, I couldn't really recommend this to anyone who isn't also a fan, lover of tripped out art cinema and possessing a comfy comfy chair.