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Posts Tagged ‘David Lynch’

It does sound like common sense, and yet, when you’ve got a certain temperament, you need to re-remind yourself of this “common sense” once in a while.

I’ve tried meditating a few times before, and when I did, I always felt much better afterward. Alas, I lacked the discipline to make it a habit. Recently I got a tender, loving kick in the ass that told me maybe I should try harder to find that discipline. So I’m really trying meditation now. Still too early to tell how much this might change my life, but I like what I feel so far.

Today I re-read David Lynch’s Catching The Big Fish, which I originally read during one of my fizzled attempts at meditation. The book was even more inspiring the second time, and it reminded me that I should always try to be more Lynchian. I want to give it 4 stars, but first I need to see if this meditation actually pays off as much as Mr. Lynch says it should…

It’s good for the artist to understand conflict and stress. Those things can give you ideas. But I guarantee you, if you have enough stress, you won’t be able to create.  And if you have enough conflict, it will just get in the way of your creativity. You can understand conflict, but you don’t have to live in it.

In stories, in the worlds that we can go into, there’s suffering, confusion, darkness, tension, and anger. There are murders; there’s all kinds of stuff. But the filmmaker doesn’t have to be suffering to show suffering… Let your characters do the suffering.

It’s common sense: The more the artist is suffering, the less creative he is going to be. It’s less likely that he is going to enjoy his work and less likely that he will be able to do really good work.

Right here people might bring up Vincent van Gogh as an example of a painter who did great work in spite of– or because of– his suffering. I like to think that van Gogh would have been even more prolific and even greater if he wasn’t so restricted by by the things tormenting him. I don’t think it was pain that made him so great– I think his painting brought him whatever happiness he had.

Some artists believe that anger, depression, or these negative things give them an edge. They think they need to hold on to that anger and fear so they can put it in their work. And they don’t like the idea of getting happy– it makes them want to puke. They think it would make them lose their edge of their power.

But you will not lose your edge if you meditate. You will not lose your creativity. And you will not lose your power. In fact, the more you meditate and transcend, the more those things will grow, and you’ll know it. You will gain far more understanding of all aspects of life when you dive within. In that way, understanding grows, appreciation grows, the bigger picture forms, and the human condition becomes more and more visible.

If you’re an artist, you’ve got to know about anger without being restricted by it. In order to create, you’ve got to have energy; you’ve got to have clarity. You’ve got to be able to catch ideas. You’ve got to be strong enough to fight unbelievable pressure and stress in this world. So it just makes sense to nurture the place where that strength and clarity and energy come from– to dive in and enliven that. It’s a strange thing, but it’s true in my experience. Bliss is like a flak jacket. It’s a protecting thing. If you have enough bliss, it’s invincibility. And when those negative things start lifting, you can catch more ideas and see them with greater understanding. You can get fired up more easily. You’ve got more energy, more clarity. Then you can really go to work and translate those ideas into one medium or another.

David Lynch, Catching The Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity

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(A Brief Intermission In An Ongoing Series)

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Jane Aubrey (Kelly Preston): What if… I were totally disfigured, if my face were all scraped away, I had no arms, no legs, no brainwaves, and I was being kept alive on a heart/ lung machine– would you love me? 

Billy Chapel (Kevin Costner): No… but we could still be friends, though.

Like fellow mad genius David Lynch, Sam Raimi made a 1999 movie you wouldn’t have expected him to make in 1999. Unlike Lynch, Raimi didn’t make a mainstream-friendly film that still twitched with traces of his twisted brilliance; he made a pedestrian snooze-fest bloated with the lamest hallmarks of Hollywood sports and romance.

After years of frolicking in grisly, comic-book mayhem (the Evil Dead trilogy, Darkman), Raimi’s 1998 adaptation of A Simple Plan proved he could cook up pulpy thrills in more realistic and subdued territory. Unfortunately, when he stepped even further out of his comfort zone with 1999’s For Love Of The Game, he neglected to bring even one of his talents.

The love story between aging Hall-of-Fame-bound pitcher Billy Chapel (Kevin Costner) and fashion writer Jane Aubrey (Kelly Preston) is about as intoxicating as a cardboard perfume sampler from a five-year-old Cosmo. Costner ambles through his beige role, coasting on his past baseball triumphs; he drifts between Bull Durham‘s crackling Crash Davis and Field Of Dreams‘ endearingly sentimental Ray Kinsella, yet never quite grasps those characters’ charms. As for Preston’s Jane, at one point she literally says, “the real me is plain and uninteresting,” and she’s not just being modest. Nor is she setting up a character arc where she eventually learns to be not “plain and uninteresting.” She’s simply telling the audience that she won’t help make the film’s running time feel any less interminable.

Their on-again/ off-again love affair unfolds in excruciatingly ponderous flashbacks as Billy pitches his last game, which just happens to be a perfect game. By default, the sports-movie half is more entertaining than the romance-movie half, but just barely. So many of the game’s Big Plays are so blatantly telegraphed, I often felt like I was stealing the movie’s signs. Will the outfielder who blew an earlier game with a Jose Canseco-sized error redeem himself with a game-saving, home-run-robbing catch? As Vin Scully might say, No fucking doy!

Even worse, Raimi hardly tries to make the overly-predictable game more exciting to watch. It’s one thing if he wanted to continue shying away from the hyper-kinetic camera-work of Evil Dead, but he deprives this movie of anything remotely resembling cinematic style. There’s one visually interesting sequence illustrating how Billy tunes out the heckling yahoos in Yankee Stadium, and that’s about it. The gap between what the potentially dazzling Raimi could have done with the game of baseball and what he actually delivers is mind-bogglingly vast.

As I said a few months back in the post on Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday, the aim of Sick Desperation In Your Laugh is to spotlight the best, most 1999-y movies rather than dump on that year’s bad or generic stuff. Yet before I get into the homestretch of this series, I had to mention For Love Of The Game because its level of mediocrity is, in a way, a noteworthy achievement. In theory, Sam Raimi should’ve made one of the 1999iest films ever, but what he gave us instead was so un-1999 it might as well have come from 1992. In fact, the more I think about For Love Of The Game, the more I wonder if it’s an elaborate prank, an impish filmmaker’s attempt to create a paragon of vanilla cinema and not let anyone in on the joke– except maybe John C. Reilly.

And if that’s the case, that is insanely 1999.

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We were a lot of things in 2012, but deep down, in the sewers of our souls, weren’t we all just Louis CK, flailing like goofs, desperately trying to amuse a not-easily-impressed David Lynch?

From last year: 2011 Was Walter White’s Mad Cackle

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(Part 5 of an ongoing series)

You don’t think about getting old when you’re young.  You shouldn’t.

Alvin Straight (Richard Farnsworth)

If you knew nothing about The Straight Story except that it was a 1999 movie directed by David Lynch, of course you’d assume it was the 1999-iest, David-Lynch-iest movie ever.  But spoiler alert, you’d assume wrong.

As we’ve already mentioned in Sick Desperation, and will mention at least several times more, most 1999 protagonists were 18-49 year-old white males in existential crises.  Now, there’s nothing inherently absurd about 18-49 year-old white males in existential crises.  Just because there’s such a thing as “white male privilege” doesn’t mean we can’t have sympathetic problems that aren’t life-or-death, so screw any casual racist-sexist snark you may have been planning to fling at us.  Just because we have a few certain privileges, does that mean we’re incapable of bleeding, you casual racist-sexist pricks?

Pardon me- maybe I could use some perspective…which The Straight Story offers in shovelfuls.  1999 movies like Fight Club were all about us bitching how we didn’t have any wars to fight, and our lives were glossy IKEA catalogs, but The Straight Story is about this kind-hearted 70-something dude who did see some shit, and his life’s a 1952 John Deere catalog, and the whole time he’s telling mortality to suck his shriveled old sack.

And at first, when you see it’s directed by David Lynch, you start feeling uneasy.  There’s the good-old Americana with the slightly-eerie Angelo Badalamenti score, and you’re just waiting for the horrific surrealism to kick in.  But nothing really horrific ever happens, and on a scale of 1-10, the surrealism barely hits 2.5.  In a way, The Straight Story is only David Lynch-ian if you’re already familiar with David Lynch and know little else about the movie itself.  In that case, it’s unsettling and, ultimately, a big fat subversive mindfuck.

Which, on second thought, might make The Straight Story the David-Lynchiest, 1999-iest movie ever.

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The Sopranos is Francis Ford Coppola, duh.  Martin Scorsese‘s a little too flashy for The Sopranos so he gets to be Breaking Bad, with all the shovel-POV shots and such.

Steven Spielberg has to be LOST: heaps of gee-whiz! with a dollop of schmaltz.

I’ve never seen Battlestar Galactica, but I want to say that one’s George Lucas.  Of the shows I have seen, the closest George Lucas might be Heroes– though in fairness to Lucas, Heroes started sucking in way less time.

Friday Night Lights is Robert Altman, particularly Nashville, where country music is high school football and the acting is unbelievably natural.

Louie is obviously Woody Allen, only I think I could actually hang out with Louie’s alter ego without wanting to slap the neuroses out of him.

Mad Men is Stanley Kubrick, I think.  Clinically sterile on the surface, but still very human at its core.  Also because they both feel like Americans who love America but wish they were British so they could see America from a British perspective.

If all those Discovery & History Channel reality shows about dangerous, nature-battling jobs (Deadliest Catch, Ice Road Truckers) procreated with all those A&E and TLC reality shows about mentally-disturbed weirdos (Hoarders, My Strange Addiction), the offspring would be Werner Herzog.

If all those tacky, tasteless MTV & VH1 reality shows (Jersey Shore, Flavor Of Love) fucked each other, the offspring would be John Waters.  (This is meant as a compliment to John Waters, and as an insult to the reality shows.  I’m not sure how that works, but that’s how it is.)

If Wes Craven and John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper and Brian DePalma and Dario Argento had an orgy and the offspring got mostly recessive genes, that offspring would be American Horror Story

Carnivale is David Lynch, because of the genuinely eerie Americana and all the unanswered questions.

The Walking Dead is George Romero if he took his sweet, sweet time a la Terrence Malick.  Though of course Terrence Malick is more Planet Earth. 

30 Rock might have to be Mike Nichols, though of course it has plenty of Mel Brooks too.  But with all the genre-spoofing, Mel Brooks should probably be Community.  And I guess that would mean Arrested Development is John LandisThe Office (US Version) is Hal Ashby (unless Parks And Recreation is Hal Ashby).  The Office (UK Version) is more realistic and uncomfortable to watch, so that’s John CassavetesHow I Met Your Mother is meta-Arthur Hiller (the guy who directed Love Story as well as a couple of Neil Simon scripts).  I can’t think of who It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia would be.  Who’s the most mean-spirited and irredeemably obnoxious 1970s filmmaker?

I have yet to see Homeland or Rubicon, but they’re Alan Pakula, right?  Because conspiracies and shit?

The Wire would have to be Sidney Lumet, with the criminals and the scathing social commentary of modern urban…OK, I’m just guessing on this one too, since I’ve only seen like 4 episodes of The Wire, and I’m ashamed to admit this.

Deadwood is either Walter Hill or Sam Peckinpah, since it takes the brutality inherent in early-20th Century Westerns and reconfigures it through modern…

…all right, I’ve seen zero episodes of Deadwood.

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