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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Drama > Surrealism > Hollywood > Filmmaking > David Lynch’s Inland Empire (DVD-Video Set)

David Lynch’s Inland Empire (DVD-Video Set)


Picture: C+     Sound: B-     Extras: C+     Film: C+



The camcorder, low def or high def, has not produced a Scorsese, Spielberg, Altman or Lynch.  For all the hype and overrated praise for video over film, film is still the gold standard by far for those who take narrative seriously.  Even those who have switched to HD or other video started with film.  After early video experiments and applications by Jean-Luc Godard and Andy Warhol, followed by the Music Video explosion in the early 1980s, so much for video creating the next great storyteller, but now its David Lynch’s turn and with low definition DV, he has made an epic in Inland Empire.


Having created many challenging films, TV shows (Twin Peaks) and films originally intended as TV shows (Mulholland Dr.), here he is taking a format that was never good enough for analog TV and pushing it to the limit.  Continuing his pursuit of the study of the female losing perception and reality much like Robert Altman had in his own way, it is surprising how well this 179 minutes plays smoothly.  If you get into it, it is never boring and has its moments as yet another actress (Laura Dern) tries to make it to stardom and finds some kind of private hell.  It is her mental state, reality or even hers?


The main problem is that Lunch has done this kind of thing before and except for creating a new world for it by using this format before it is too late to do so, with the additional twist that this production is Polish.  Subtitles and foreign languages are nothing new in Lynch works either.  However, his knack for extreme close-ups as auteur matches up well with DV, as it is so small a camcorder that this is the simplest thing to do.  Most owners have never tried anything like this though.


The film also stars Diane Ladd, Jeremy Irons, Justin Theroux, Grace Zabriskie, Harry Dean Stanton, William H. Macy, Julia Ormond, Nastassja Kinski and Naomi Watts.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image originated on low definition DV (Digital Video) as noted and it shows in the usual depth, detail and color limits, but Lynch’s stylizing lifts it above the usual documentary use of the format.  He was his own cameraman and the results in that respect are fine, if lacking the range and effectiveness of some of his best film collaborators.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is available in “near field” and “far field” mixes that are worth experimenting with, while a simple Dolby 2.0 Stereo mix is also here for simpler playback.  The 5.1 mixes match the image well and make for another unique Lynch experience.


Extras include 90 minutes of Deleted Scenes, the short film "Ballerina", Lynch 2 (behind the scenes of the film with Lynch), talks with Lynch & Dern, More Things That Happened (Additional Character Experiences), three theatrical trailers (3), an Easter Egg (try the gun barrel in the menu), 73 stills and David Lynch cooks Quinoa.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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