Her

January 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Movies

We live in a very interesting time when it comes to social interactions and relationships. With the advent of social networking through this Technological Age, it seems as though we can be impersonal and personal at the same time without it being a dichotomy or contradiction. In Spike Jonze’s “Her”, we are taken through a very personal journey for the characters that is as real for them as it can be for the viewers watching. It doesn’t try to stand alone as a statement of what technology is doing to us as people, however, nor does it make some kind of general social statement about humanity devolving in any kind of way.

It tells the story of a seemingly lonely guy named Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) who may seem detached but is able to successfully write love letters for clients at one of the most curious companies ever. It may be arbitrary but it certainly serves as a good purpose for the theme of the film. In some cases he’s known his clients so long he can actually come up with thoughts of theirs that they may not have even told him to put down in writing. He’s lauded for his efforts by a co-worker, Paul (Chris Pratt), and he seems to be happy with the job. But he has an emptiness in his life that we learn comes from the impending divorce from his wife, Catherine (Rooney Mara), whom he’s known since childhood. Fragments of their relationship are spliced throughout the film, giving us a glimpse into their happiness, and demise. We’re not exactly sure what broke down between them, but it becomes more apparent as we get to know Theodore more. He is immersed in technology. He’s one of those guys who will always have the latest tech gadget–but instead of being introverted about technology, he seems to use it for social reasons. He logs into a one-night stand hotline to have phone sex with strangers (sort of like Chat Roulette) and has a rather amusing if over the top encounter with a random girl (voiced by Kristin Wiig). He is turned onto a new kind of AI operating system that grows in intellect the more you use it, and Theodore decides to invest in one, choosing a female voice that names herself Samantha (Scarlett Johansson).

Her relationship with Theodore starts off more like Siri for iPhone but quickly develops into a more familiar one, and then a romantic one. Theodore is instantly hooked, but has some distractions…such as a first date with a girl his friend has set him up with (played a little too convincingly by Olivia Wilde). His friend Amy (Amy Adams) is in a relationship herself, married to a somewhat inauspicious guy, Charles (Matt Letscher) who is never afraid to criticize her even when she’s showing a film she made to Theodore. The date starts off well but goes awry and Theodore confides in Samantha, drawing them closer together.

This is where the film really becomes absorbing. Once they fully accept being in a relationship together, all of the parallels of what a relationship is are explored. He calls her his “girlfriend”, even to his soon to be ex-wife, who mocks his relationship and tells him he can only have a meaningful relationship with “his laptop”.

But things aren’t so rosy for Theodore and Samantha. There are jealousies, accusations, things that happen in a normal relationship, that begin to challenge their situation. It’s all very natural–but it’s all very synthetic at the same time. In a way, Theodore is Samantha, programmed to be a way that cannot change. But can he accept himself being alone, and not being lonely?

This sort of plot is not exactly wholly original. We’ve seen stories of Artificial Intelligence being used as characters in relationships. Spielberg’s “AI” and Andrew Niccol’s “S1m0ne” come to mind. But I like that Spike Jonze makes this a very intimate, personal story. One that you become so wrapped up in because you start to put yourself in Theodore’s place. And Johansson’s performance is so instantly appealing, you start to fall for her as well. Every jolt of something unpleasant between them is felt, and when you feel something is slipping away, you get that same feeling you would if you were going through the same thing with your significant other.

Even though it sounds a bit heavy, it’s emotional impact is embraceable, rather than something that weighs it down. It gives the film so much more depth by exploring the ups and downs of a serious relationship. In a way, it’s more powerful than some films about two actual human beings in a relationship. Never seeing Samantha allows our imaginations to conjure up what she’d look like, what her expressions were, and I didn’t necessarily actually picture Johansson a lot of times. There are some laugh out loud moments, too, such as when Theodore is stuck at a certain point in a video game he’s playing. The character he interacts with (voiced by Jonze) is very funny, if a bit obnoxious and rude.

The film is very satisfying, and I think it could pass as a date movie. Not a first date movie, though. That may be a little much…and a bit too revealing. It’s like going to a palm reading for couples on your first date. You want to have a little mystery.

But even watching alone, it can be greatly appreciated. The performances are very strong, and credible, and the journey is one that’s very sweet and endearing throughout. Try not to hit on any computers on your next visit to Fry’s, though. May be a little awkward.

My rating: :D

After Earth

June 3, 2013 by  
Filed under Movies

“Danger can be very real. Fear is a choice.” That’s a line from Cypher Raige in “After Earth”, a film that is so very basic and simple in its storytelling, it was refreshing to see a science fiction film that really understood the medium. The film takes place in the future, of course, and Earth is no longer inhabitable. Instead, there are human colonies set up on another planet in the solar system. But humans are not entirely safe after evacuating earth. There is an alien race that wants to destroy humans inhabiting Nova Prime (the new planet the humans have colonized) and their weapon of choice is a creature known as an Ursa, which can sense fear and find and kill humans that way since they can’t hear, smell or see. But there are certain humans who can “ghost”, which means they do not give off fear and can remain undetected by the Ursas, killing them undetected.

General Cypher Raige (Will Smith) is one such “ghoster”, and also is a superior Ranger who leads a group of other Rangers on one last mission before retirement (of course!) including his son Kitai (Jaden Smith), who has failed becoming a Ranger thus disappointing his father. There’s another backstory regarding the father/son relationship as well, though, that complicates it a bit more. We learn that Kitai had a sister named Senshi who was killed by an Ursa while Kitai was a boy, and he watched her die from a little bubble she had put him in to protect him. Cypher believes he should have saved her. While Kitai is riddled with guilt, he also feels his father should have been there as well, instead of just on some other mission.

The two of them are thrust into a very dire situation when their ship hits an asteroid belt and they are forced to crash land on earth, susceptible to all of the problems that the planet has now such as large, primal animals that will kill them; and, tempature shifts that cause the planet to freeze overnight. In the crash, everyone but the father and son are killed. Cypher is badly injured, and so it’s up to his son, Kitai, to retrieve a beacon from the tail end of the ship that landed halfway across the planet. The atmosphere is not breathable so he has to take oxygen capsules with him in order to survive. This sets up what I call the “video game plot”, in which a character’s only means are basic tools that all will serve a very specific purpose in getting to the end and completing the mission. You realize, too, that whatever the character is given will be challenged and possibly taken away during the course of the plot as well.

The story unfolds predictably; but it’s directed at such a good pace by M. Night Shyamalan that it feels okay to just sit back and enjoy it. The morality tale that lies beneath the action is nice, and the performances by Smith and his son work even though the elder Smith is far superior as an actor and has much better range. It rarely is distracting because the two of them rarely share the same screen time since Kitai is off on the planet and Cypher is back in the ship, directing him through a communicator.

There’s a nice little subplot involving a large condor as well that serves as possibly the only other “character” in the story. But the focus is mainly on the father and son, and their journey not only to recover this beacon to send a distress call, but also to mend their relationship. For Kitai, he must get over his fear and guilt in order to survive the final “boss” of the film, an escaped Ursa that was being brought along on the ship in captivity. For Cypher, he too has guilt over allowing his daughter to die and his own fear of losing his only other child.

The climax and resolution is satisfying, mainly because the film does not rely on a deus ex machina like so many sci-fi films do these days. Instead, Kitai must look within himself in order to “ghost”; and while you still have to suspend disbelief a bit in some of the third act, we’re invested enough in the characters by then to forgive some things that are outlandish. This is sci-fi fantasy, after all.

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to enjoy a film directed by Shyamalan and it was nice to see him take a step back a bit. He co-wrote this film, and Will Smith provided the story. I think it was smart for Shyamalan to share this time, and it should benefit him for the future if this film is a success. On balance it is a nice enough film with plenty of thrills and even some touching moments that were unexpected. I hope this is the start of a recovery for Shyamalan. As for Jaden Smith, he still has a long way to go. But this was certainly a big step for him

Flight

November 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Movies

I’m pretty sure if you gave me a few lines of cocaine, an all night binge of drinking and casual sex, I don’t think I could land a malfunctioning plane the very next morning. Of course, I don’t know that I’d function at all the next day. But that’s just the scenario commercial airline pilot Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) has put himself into–and he lands the plane, inverted, and saves 96 out of 102 people on board.

That’s the set up of Rob Zemekis’s new film, and his first live action film since “Cast Away” in 2000. That film, too, had an airpline crisis that wound up leaving Tom Hanks stranded on a deserted island. Here, though, all is well, and the plane…lands.

But that’s not the whole story. After the crash/land, Whitaker sustains a few injuries, as well as his co-pilot (recovering from a coma), and his casual sex partner who happened to be one of the flight attendants, is one of the dead. He’s obviously shaken by this event, and after being offered some pick-me-ups from his dealer (played jovially by John Goodman, who always puts a smile on your face whatever he does), decides he wants to stay clean. That’s a good idea for him, as he’s battled addiction before and lost his marriage and custody of his son over it. Whip is considered a hero to the media and to the people he saved–but the NTSB (a federal investigation bureau assigned to the crash landing) has produced a toxicology report that, if brought to light, could put Whip in jail, possibly for the rest of his life. The positive results of alcohol and cocaine being in his system at the time of the flight and landing mean that the 6 who were killed would be charged as manslaughter against him.

Someone from the pilot union is on Whip’s side, Charlie (played well by the always reliable Bruce Greenwood), and an attourney, Hugh Lang (Don Cheadle), agrees to help Whip and thinks he can have the toxicology report thrown out.

All of this works out well for Whip, who could walk away clean. On top of this, while in the hospital, he meets another recovering addict (of heroin), Nicole (Kelly Reilly). The two of them go off to his father’s old crop dusting ranch, retreating from the media and secluding themselves from outside conflicts. But it’s the inner conflicts that begin to haunt Whip, as he delves back into alcoholism and drives Nicole away. Meanwhile, he tries in vain to reconnect with his ex-wife and son, who kicks him out in one of the film’s most dramatic scenes.

The film is full of dramatic scenes, all of them involving Denzel, delivering his best and most complete performance in years. But while the film has its heart in the right place, and is highly likeable, something is just a little off.

In the first place, I never really bought the NTSB investigation. The media hype alone would have staved off any kind of investigation because it would have been a PR nightmare. This was due to airplane malfunction, not pilot error. The toxicology report would’ve been shredded immediately. Sure, it’s the government and they have a responsibility. And we all know how honorable and trustworthy government agencies are in this great nation, right? …?

Then, there’s a real missed opportunity with the theme of “hero worship” in general. Whip saved 96 lives on a plane that was doomed to kill all on board. Yes, he tries to escape the media. But what if he actually tried to embrace it, like so many do? Book deals, interviews, 60 minutes, talk shows? What if that related to the alcohol abuse, or gave him more of a reason to use again? There’s not a lot of backstory on how much Whip was a user while flying. Did he do these things because that’s the only way he could fly? That’s never really explored.

In fact, the film gets tunnel vision right around the time that Whip and Nicole hide out together. Nicole is completely heroin-free, something else that’s a bit hard to believe since withdrawal from that drug can actually cause death because it’s so intense to get off of.

Then, there’s the religious angle. There are scenes where the film tries to hint at the question of whether God was involved in saving that plane. There’s some symbolism, and there’s one very confused and uncomfortable scene where the co-pilot has awoken from his coma, and he and his wife (who can only speak in “Praise Jesus” words, literally), go from berating him and judging him…to praying with him and telling him everything will be OK. It’s very awkward, and doesn’t do anything to raise the stakes for Whip. Because there’s no direct agenda on what the film’s trying to say about whether God exists or not, it just comes off as flimsy.

While there are stakes in the background for Whip, in the foreground it just doesn’t come across dramatically. I never felt that the investigation was going to find Whip guilty of manslaughter. There is a “courtroom” scene that’s well done, in which Whip finally has to force himself to take responsibility.

But all of this is done in a somewhat muddled way–it’s uncharacteristically unfocused for Zemekis, who is usually in command behind the camera. The film’s title is an obvious double meaning, similar in the way “Cast Away” was. But while it is a wonderful character study of addiction, and Denzel Washington does an incredible job of bringing that to the screen with brutal honesty, the film itself…does not…take…

OK, I’ll spare you the pun. It just doesn’t come together for me in the end. There were some things the film did well, but I think it was missing out on something even bigger. If a guy lands a plane and saves lives but was on drugs, it raises great moral questions

I think there were other questions this film could’ve pondered, too, and it would’ve made it a stronger film.

The Artist

January 30, 2012 by  
Filed under Movies

Homages are always a tricky thing to pull off. You want to celebrate what you’re paying homage to, but you also want to make something your own as well. Sometimes it works well, like in the case of Woody Allen’s “Everyone Always Says I Love You” which of course was an homage to musicals, and was itself a musical. Examples where it doesn’t work, in my opinion, would be J. J. Abrams’ mindless “Super 8” which attempts to capture Spielberg at his best and wound up just capturing his own self indulgence.

In Michel Hazanavicius’s new film “The Artist”, he pays homage to the silent film era. This certainly is a case where the homage works with flying colors (pardon the expression). The film starts in 1927 and focuses on a successful silent film era star named George Valentin (played wonderfully by Jean Dujardin), who has just premiered his latest success when one of his admirers has a chance encounter with him at the premiere. An eye catching beauty, Peppy Miller (played equally wonderfully by Berenice Bejo) winds up bumping into him while he’s getting publicity photos taken. To enhance the moment, he leans in and gives her a kiss, igniting a storm of curiosity–“Who’s that Girl?”

Peppy winds up auditioning for a bit part in an upcoming film with Valentin as a dancer, and winds up becoming a star herself. Valentin’s life begins to come apart as the years go by, however, with a wife that he doesn’t love, nor does she love him (played by Penelope Ann Miller) kicks him out after his career’s fallen apart due to the introduction of “talkies” and the death of silent cinema. Determined to remain a silent actor, Valentin makes his own film which is a bomb; meanwhile, Peppy’s starring in a film that becomes a huge hit. Valentin fires his long time butler (played by James Cromwell) after suffering not only his film career collapse, but also the stock market crash of 1929, and lives by himself with his cute little dog in an apartment. One night, in a fit of anger after watching reels of his glory days, he sets fire to them and the whole apartment catches fire.

He’s rescued in a Lassie-like moment by his dog, and is taken care of by Peppy to somewhat his dismay. He also sees that she’s collected all of his possessions that he had to put up for auction to keep himself afloat financially. He is the ultimate “tormented” artist and hits rock bottom pretty hard when he realizes he has nothing left to give the world of cinema. But Peppy has a few ideas…

The film’s plot is simple, and the delivery is straight forward. But it’s done with such grace, such a light touch, that it’s instantly charming and very amusing. It takes a few minutes to perfectly set yourself in accordance to “silent film” mode; but once you’re there, you hardly notice that it’s a silent film at all and enjoy it as a film itself. That’s really the key to why this film is so good. As an homage, it does everything right. The expressions of the actors are big and over the top, and Dujardin has an instant appeal and a throwback look to him that it’s almost as if they plucked him from the silent era and plopped him in. The same could be said about his co-star, Bejo, who with one flap of  her eyebrows has you melting in your seat.

Now, I thought to myself, if this were a regular “talkie” film, would it have been as good? Sure, it would’ve had all the elements to make it good. It would have been satisfying, I think. But something big would be missing. And the fact that it is silent is what gives it such power. We are nearly a century removed from that era. That would be like giving someone an Apple IIe computer and say, “Here, use this.” We’re so used to talking in films, and explosions and special effects–to strip that all away, except for a musical track (that itself goes silent a few times for effect in the film), could have been a huge miscalculation. But Hazanavicius has such a love for that era, you can tell, and his passion shines through. The film never drags, although the third act does begin to feel a bit familiar and a tad repetitive; by the time you’re aware of that, however, it ends, and leaves you with a big smile on your face.

This isn’t just a celebration of silent film; it’s a celebration of film in general. Its simple message of staying true to yourself as an artist and things will pay off echoes warmly rather than flatly; and its sincerity and earnest performances save it from being corny or hokey.

It’s also a treat to see names like John Goodman and Malcolm McDowell (although he’s only in a bit role) bring something to the “silent era” as well, as their faces are so recognizable–it was interesting to see them, and not really hear them. In fact, there are only 2 moments in the whole film in which you can hear sound. Both scenes work extremely well, I thought, and are not at all distracting. The music accompaniment is a great companion as well. In fact, the whole film is a piece of music, and every note is pitch perfect.

My rating: :D

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus

January 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured Content, Movies

I’m not always sure how to review a Terry Gilliam film. These days, I think it’s safe to say it’s an achievement for him to even get one made anymore. After projects coming together, then falling apart (“The Man Who Killed Don Quixote”, “Good Omens”), and with this one even being in question after the main star had died during production (do I even have to say his name?), the fact that this film is FINISHED can be given a thumb’s up, no? But this is the film critiquing business and I still have a job to do. Even though I’m not paid for it and nobody really reads these anyway. I still believe in myself. So there.

I’d have to start off by saying if you enjoy Gilliam’s earlier works, you will most likely enjoy this. If you’re not a fan, this won’t make you one. It keeps within the visual styles and narrative themes that he and his co-writer Charles McKeown have been making for decades now. In this film, the theme is self-indulgence and selfishness, and it’s presented in a typical, Gilliam way.

The “Imaginarium” is a world beyond a mirror that you can be taken to for a donation, as a traveling “circus” like stage moves about towns, seeking customers. Anton (played by Andrew Garfield) is the attractor. Valentina (Lily Cole) is the beautiful temptress to lure the men. Dr. Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) merely sits on the stage in a zen-like way, waiting for those who want to come into his world.

It looks like a cheap parlor trick, but inside the Imaginarium is literally a fantasy world. In it, your wildest dreams come true. But there is a price. Actually, there is a choice. The devil, known as Mr. Nick (Tom Waits), is waiting in the Imaginarium to seduce you as well. As the plot continues you learn that the two of them are battling for souls, as part of a bet that Parnassus made with him long ago.

But Parnassus is not made out to be God, or god-like. He’s a simple man with simple pleasures and simple desires–and he’s an alcoholic. He is accompanied by a dwarf named Percy (Verne Troyer) who tries to keep him in line (“What would I do without you, Percy?” “Get a midget.”) but Parnassus is consumed with himself. He made a deal with the devil that if he doesn’t win, he loses his daughter to him. His daughter, nor Anton, know about this and Anton is in love with her.

The plot thickens when they encounter a hanging man that they bring back to life, who’s revealed as Tony (Heath Ledger, among others). They’re not sure where he’s come from but he bears strange markings on his head, and he’s dressed in a suit. Tony, meanwhile, cannot remember anything, not even his name. Parnassus gets a few tidbits from Mr. Nick (though they’re “enemies”, the two have a relationship) and Parnassus convinces Tony who he is and what he was doing (he was hosting a charity event). But Mr. Nick swears that Tony is “not his”, nor sent by him. Tony feels obligated to pay Parnassus back, so he joins their traveling show and woos women into coming into the mirror. This allows Parnassus to possibly win the bet and get his daughter back. He needs 5 souls.

But problems arise once Tony is sucked into the world himself. He transforms, becomes other manifestations of himself. He grows increasingly selfish about it, and is revealed to be somewhat of a bad person. It is in this world that brings other performances by Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell into the film, as Tony. Each one delivered is a good one, and in some way resemble Ledger’s Tony. This is what saved the film. It would not have been finished without this happening. However, it makes perfect sense in the narrative for it to happen regardless. In fact it strengthens the theme because of how much Tony “changes”.

While I enjoyed the theme and the look of the film, it was actually the performances that I found the strongest element of it. Andrew Garfield is perfect as Anton; Waits is a pure delight to watch, and Ledger & Co. are all entertaining, especially Jude Law.

The film bears striking resemblances to earlier Gilliam works as well. I’m not sure if I’d call it a weakness, but it certainly doesn’t possess the uniqueness that some of his older work has. For instance, the “street” scenes with Parnassus are straight out of “The Fisher King” and “12 Monkeys”. The character of Tony is extremely reminiscent of Brad Pitt’s Jeffrey Goines. Parnassus himself reminds me of Baron Munchausen. Some of the disjointed and disorganized dialog and presentations in the Imaginarium are straight out of “Brazil”.

All of that being said, however, the film is fun to watch and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Its climax and ending are very satisfactory, and I left with a smile on my face.

I’m sure this is not the last film we see from Gilliam. But I hope his next venture isn’t as much of a hassle. I won’t hold my breath, though.

My rating: :-)

Inland Empire

June 14, 2009 by  
Filed under Home Video

Within ten seconds of a David Lynch film, you know you’re watching a David Lynch film. He has a style and approach that is obviously one of the more unique of the past few generations of filmmakers. His latest film, “Inland Empire”, has been compared to “8 1/2” among other atmospheric odyssies and it’s appropriate–however, it must be pointed out that Lynch had no idea what he was doing while shooting this film. He literally made it up as he went along. He’s admitted to this.

It’s always a difficult thing to try and review a Lynch film, in my opinion. On the one hand, you’re trying to piece together something that throws out more questions than answers, and Lynch does this on purpose. He wants you to be confused, and spend time thinking and asking your own questions, talking about what you interpret with friends afterward. I call these movies “Coffeehouse Movies” (I’m pretty sure I did not coin that phrase, though) because it’s exactly the type of film you quietly walk out of, and go to a cafe afterward and talk about it over coffee or tea with your friends. Everyone’s going to have their own interpretation of what the movie’s about–everyone could be wrong or right. It doesn’t matter. It’s the process of knowing what to ask at all, I think, in Lynch’s mind.

And so, I could go ahead and describe the plot which would take about two sentences, and then basically offer my own interpretation of what Lynch was going for. But I realize that the only people that would want to read this review are David Lynch fans, because he never really seems interested in reaching a mainstream crowd. He kind of preaches to his own choir. He’s one of the few filmmakers that does that, and doesn’t bother me. In fact, I think it’s always a pleasure watching his films because I know I’m watching something that won’t be done again for a long time.

“Inland Empire” follows a few different stories in a style of vignettes, pieces of narrative, thrown together on a canvas like a Jackson Pollack painting. We begin with a scene of a man and woman speaking Polish, their heads blurred, and speaking in low voices, in a hotel room. We are then thrown into a scene that includes a laugh track with a family of Rabbits. I told you, this is David Lynch. I would expect within 5 minutes, you’re either going to be intrigued, or you’re going to turn this off. But, the film does settle somewhat into a linear “plot” once we are introduced to Nikki Grace, an actress who lives in a lavish house with her controlling, powerful husband. Grace, played by Laura Dern, is visited by an old woman who provides a bit of foreshadowing of things to come, and it’s very important to listen to what she’s saying, even if you’re completely confused as to what’s going on. She tells Nikki that she has received a part that she’s been auditioning for, but at the time, Nikki hasn’t gotten the part yet. Then, after the woman is asked to leave after acting a bit too strange for Nikki’s taste, she gets a call that she did in fact get the part.

The movie she works on, with a director named Kingsley (played by Jeremy Irons), is called “On High in Blue Tomorrows”, and her co-star is Devin (played by Justin Theroux). It is discovered that the film is actually a remake of an older film called “47” which was never finished because the two leads were murdered. One of the foreseen things the old woman told Nikki about was that there would be a murder involved with the story, something Nikki was unaware of.

Also complicating the plot is Devin and Nikki’s growing intimate relationship, something he is warned about because Nikki’s husband would kill him if he found out they’re together.

Once all of this is established, Lynch takes a hatchet to traditional storytelling, and we’re thrust into a world of portals to seemingly different dimensions, or we’re transported through a series of other films, films within films, and all of them center around Laura Dern, who turns in probably her finest performance I’ve ever seen in her career. She plays an array of characters, but we only know her as Nikki and her character, Susan. She is antagonized in some scenes by whores, then there are scenes that involve a woman who says she’ll kill someone with a screwdriver. There are scenes in which Nikki sits with a psychiatrist and talks to him about being raped–and it is as though she is now a character with the other whores, and works with them.

The subplots seem to act as a way of thickening a storyline that will never be concluded, because the tangents provide other narratives that, as I said before, are small vignettes. What it looks like Lynch is doing in this film is making a chronicle of short stories that devour the main story, like a group of appetizers consuming the entree. Much of the main story is abandoned in the last hour of the film, and we’re thrust into different realms, stories, characters, and visions. We do come back to Nikki at times, and sometimes we come back to Sue. We are in the film “On High in Blue Tomorrows” but we get the feeling that the fate of this film will be much like “47”, just as the fate of the film “Inland Empire” in general. It’s as if Lynch is channel surfing throughout this film, especially when we’re watching the Rabbits, who do actually become involved with Nikki (or Sue?) at times. The inappropriate laugh track is done on purpose, something like a distraction, intrusive. It makes no sense at all.

You could probably say that about a lot of David Lynch’s antics in his films, but again, I believe you’re missing the point if you’re expecting him to explain anything to you or give you clues to figure out his films. I’m sure re-watching this movie will allow you to explore more questions and come to some conclusions. But I believe this is a film of exploration of character, of humanity: frailty, strength, loss, deception, redemption, and death. It’s even deeper than that, I think, and I may even be missing the point myself. I have no idea. But you know, the beautiful thing about Lynch is that while his films are extremely complex and confusing, they’re also incredibly compelling. This film is 3 hours long, and after the first twenty minutes, it felt like it went by in half that time. So much is going on in each scene, so much to pay attention to. You have to think about everything after you’re done watching because if you try doing it during the film, you’ll miss something. The red light. The blue light. “The Phantom”, the Polish connections, the prostitutes, the Rabbits. They’re all part of something that Lynch may never want you to figure out.

But if you’re asking all of these questions, and talking about it, I think that’s what pleases Lynch the most. And for that, this is probably one of his finest films.

It’s hard to give the film a rating because I don’t know if it’s a “great movie”, but I will say it’s laid on my mind more than a lot of other films I’ve seen recently. And that is ultimately what Lynch is still a master of accomplishing.

My rating: :D

The trailer: