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Empire Admin -> Inland Empire (23/2/2007 8:14:35 PM)

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Philconcannon -> INLAND EMPIRE (23/2/2007 8:14:35 PM)

"I don't know what happened” Laura Dern somewhere in the second half of INLAND EMPIRE, "it's kinda laid a mind-fuck on me”; and most of the viewers who subject themselves to David Lynch's latest film will know exactly how she feels. INLAND EMPIRE - the director prefers the title to be written in capitals - is Lynch's first offering since his magnificent Mulholland Drive, and it's the most challenging and experimental picture the auteur has produced since his debut Eraserhead, thirty years ago. It will probably divide people more than any other Lynch film; some will hail it as a work of genius, an avant-garde masterpiece, while others will deride it as a self-indulgent catastrophe. Most, I think, will pitch their opinions somewhere in the middle ground between those viewpoints.

But whatever you think of INLAND EMPIRE, there's no disputing the fact that this is one of the most difficult and uncompromising films David Lynch has ever made. The director has for decades stretched the limits of traditional storytelling, and here he blows any sense of narrative coherence or logic to smithereens, plunging viewers into a full-on three-hour nightmare. It will undoubtedly be too strong a brew for some viewers, but after two viewings of INLAND EMPIRE, I can't get it out of my head.

So what is INLAND EMPIRE all about anyway? An attempt to lay out this film's plot may be a futile exercise, but on a basic level it's about an actress named Nikki Grace (Laura Dern) whose flagging career might be set for a boost with a ludicrously titled movie called On High in Blue Tomorrows. The film opens with Nikki awaiting her agent's call, and receiving a strange visitor (a vivid Grace Zabriskie cameo) who asks cryptic questions, speaks in riddles and tells Nikki that her film will feature a "brutal fucking murder”, despite the actress's denials. On High in Blue Tomorrows is a southern romance which is being directed by Kingsley Stewart (Jeremy Irons) and co-stars notorious womaniser Devon Berk (Justin Theroux), but there's a dark secret behind this seemingly straightforward picture.

Just before cameras start to roll, Kingsley tells his actors that the film they're working on is in fact a remake of an unfinished Polish film which was abandoned after both of its leads were murdered; and after this revelation INLAND EMPIRE begins to go down some very strange avenues. The lines between Nikki's life and the film she's shooting begin to blur, and on top of that they are mixed in with scenes from the Polish movie which met such a tragic end. Is that not enough for you? There's also a bunch of prostitutes who spend their days lounging around a flat when they're not spontaneously bursting into song, and Julia Ormond plays a woman who is adamant she's going to stab somebody with a screwdriver - like the one which is currently sticking out of her stomach. Another young woman sits in a room weeping uncontrollably while staring at a TV screen, a group of travelling circus performers show up, and let's not forgot about the six-foot rabbits in human clothes who appear to be starring in their own sitcom. INLAND EMPIRE is a movie within a movie within a.... well, you get the idea.

After the glories of Lynch's Mulholland Drive - the greatest American film of this young century - INLAND EMPIRE is inevitably something of a disappointment. At three hours the film is overlong, too much of it feels like material recycled from Lynch's earlier films, and the picture occasionally threatens to slip into self-parody. INLAND EMPIRE's narrative is a shapeless mess which unravels with wild abandon before the various strands overlap and devour each other - we see scenes repeated at different points, or perhaps replayed from a different perspective. This meandering approach leaves the film feeling a little baggy and repetitive, with the final hour in particular struggling to maintain much momentum, and Lynch makes some errors in his pacing of the film allowing a number of scenes to run on beyond their natural length. One sequence towards the end of the film exemplifies this problem perfectly; a badly injured woman collapses to the floor between two vagrants, who carry on with their inane conversation while she lies prone between them. This sight is funny at first, but it soon drags into tedium, and such longueurs pop up too frequently in INLAND EMPIRE.

And yet, for all its flaws, INLAND EMPIRE has somehow managed to lodge itself firmly in my brain, staying with me while so many more refined and coherent films have drifted into obscurity. There's something about David Lynch's films that gets under my skin in a way few filmmakers can manage. He's a master of atmosphere, and INLAND EMPIRE is dripping in that uniquely Lynchian sense of dread; that creeping feeling of terror which seems to grow out of the most innocuous situations. All of the director's standard tropes are here - flickering lights, red rooms, a portentous soundtrack - and they have lost none of their potency. For most of INLAND EMPIRE I was enthralled by what I was watching - at its best, the film exerts an almost hypnotic power - and on a scene-by-scene basis, it contains as many brilliant moments as I've seen in any film this year. One inexplicably chilling scene sees Dern's character wander into a room full of prostitutes, who shine torches in her face while making oblique comments, and the shooting of another character late in the film provides us with a truly nightmarish image. Lynch also punctuates the action with terrific musical moments: an impromptu rendition of The Locomotion, an inspired use of Beck's Black Tambourine, and the end credits - set to Nina Simone's Sinnerman - are simply fabulous. Visually, the film will be a test for some viewers. Lynch's decision to shoot on low-tech Digital Video means the film lacks the glossy, dreamlike quality of the sumptuous Mulholland Drive, but it works for the picture in a different way. The harsh flatness of the DV image is jarring at first, particularly during scenes set in daylight, but as the film progresses it seems to accentuate the darkness being explored; giving an even eerier edge to the film's endless murky corners. It might not be pretty, but it's brutally effective.

Even if INLAND EMPIRE isn't the handsomest film around, it's impossible to tear your eyes away while Laura Dern is onscreen. This is the performance of a lifetime; a multifaceted, stunningly complex, emotionally naked piece of acting which towers over anything produced by this year's crop of Oscar contenders. Dern plays a wide variety of characters here - a Hollywood actress, a housewife, a battered prostitute - and she gives an astonishing performance in every role. She has a monologue late in the film, where she sits in a room and slowly describes the abuse she has suffered in a thick southern drawl, and she gives the speech such resonance it's simply breathtaking to witness. There are outstanding performances right through INLAND EMPIRE - Justin Theroux's smooth lothario is brilliantly played, Jeremy Irons makes the most out of a thin role, Harry Dean Stanton is hilarious - but Dern is the glue which holds this film together. It's not the kind of performance they hand out Academy Awards for, but it's a performance for the ages.

INLAND EMPIRE is pure, undiluted Lynch; and you can either resist the weirdness or simply surrender yourself to it completely. I've now seen the film twice, and I found it a much more satisfying experience second time around, when I gave up looking for some logical answer to the film's conundrums and simply allowed myself to be swept along by the director. INLAND EMPIRE is massively flawed, but the more I think about it the more I like it; for better or for worse, this is a unique cinematic experience and I can't wait to see it again. This is the work of an artist who is constantly exploring the boundaries of cinema, and his experiments here have thrown up sights and sounds which few other filmmakers would even dream of. Nobody in the world makes films like David Lynch, and it remains a pleasure to be baffled by him.

Jasper -> That's weird (5/3/2007 2:29:04 AM)

A review for a five-star film saying many people will hate it. That doesn't make any sense.

Jasper -> That's weird (5/3/2007 2:29:12 AM)

A review for a five-star film saying many people will hate it. That doesn't make any sense.

Gator -> RE: That's weird (8/3/2007 6:08:07 PM)

Marmite managed to get some mileage out of the very same principle.

Davechoc -> RE: That's weird (9/3/2007 8:37:21 PM)



A review for a five-star film saying many people will hate it. That doesn't make any sense.

Why not? A film review is just the opinion of the reviewer - in this case they are aware that they like a film which doesn't have mainstream appeal and therefore will have many detractors, but that doesn't stop them liking it themselves. Besides which, as I'm forever pointing out to people, 'like' and 'good' aren't necessarily the same thing anyway. Many people disliking this film doesn't mean it is a bad film, it just means it isn't popular. I can without contradiction admire and dislike the same film, for instance if there is an intellectual admiration but no emotional response (though it is of course possible to have simultaneously positive or simultaneously negative reactions on both counts); by the same token few would disagree that a song reaching number one is any real and definite reflection of its worth, but that is not to say it isn't popular.

I haven't seen this film yet by the way, but looking forward to it!

ElephantBoy -> RE: That's weird (10/3/2007 3:11:29 PM)

I agree[:D] 

I went to see this yesterday at the very fine cornerhouse pictures in Manchester.

David Lynch's Tenth film see's the visionary filmmaker start a new chapter in his career.  Shooting the whole thing on digital.   It's a astonishing masterpiece unlike anything i've ever seen

We open with a hooker in a motel watching a sitcom featuring people dressed as rabbits (Naomi Watts, Laura Elena Harring and Scott Coffy) performing to canned laughter.  This is already creepy.  We then switch to a polish woman (Grace Zabriskie, Sarah Palmer in Twin Peaks) visiting actress neighbour Nicki Grace (Laura Dern, Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart)  A obscure conversation insures in which the woman explains that the part Nicki is up for is in a murder mystery, although the actress has no knowledge of any murders involved.  Zabriskie is wonderful in this small role.  She controls the dialogue with a ease, condensin every word while flexing her facial muscles gurnning at the camra.

So Nicki starts the film with co-star Devon Berk (Justin Theroux) a english Director Kingsley Stewart (Jeremy Irons) and his wacky assitant (Harry Dean Stanton).  During a reading the director says the film is infact a remake of a polish film which may well be cursed as the original leading actors were killed before it was finished.  A black hole is then discovered at the back of the set and Nicki is taken on a dark and torturous ride for the next two and a bit hours.  This is when the digital effects really work their magic.  As the lines between Reality, Fantasy and Lynch's Dreamlike Reality are blurred.  With Nicki appearing in many different scenes as different characters, with the viewer unsure at times Where she is who she is or if She's in or out of the film.  At one point  turning up as a hooker in a whore house with fellow Hookers one minute talking causually and the next braking into Kylies The Locamotion(what moment!).  We revisit the talking rabbits sitcom amongst other stuff.

A twisted mind warp of a film (which must be seen on a big screen)  INLAND EMPIRE is raw and uninhabited.  It's a love letter to performance and the process of performance.  There's a anticipation to every scene which the film creates it's self.  Laura Dern gives a sturnning three dimensional performance.  Part of the key to it is her lack of knowledge of what she would be doing from one day to the next.  For the film to work she has to be taken on a ride by the picture itself as much if not more then making her mark on it with acting.  Theroux is also very good appearing very sinster while coming accross still as a everyday joe.  A dazzling, supernatural thrill ride.  In essence this is Lynch's most personally work yet while still existing in a world all of it's own.

I came out the other end not sure what had hit me and at times was unaware of people around me.  It'll take further viewings to rank it with his others,  however what i can tell you is the master has created another master piece.   And the sound design and music is amazing your forced to watch until the end of the credits.  WOW! and indeed WOW!!!

ElephantBoy -> RE: That's weird (10/3/2007 3:12:52 PM)

Five stars by the way.

ElephantBoy -> RE: That's weird (10/3/2007 3:29:39 PM)

His or her review was better then mine.  I disagree about the flaws.  I agree Laura Dern is the glue which holds it together.

badassmofo -> RE: Inland Empire (10/3/2007 8:21:53 PM)

From my blog...

Review: INLAND EMPIRE (David Lynch, 2006, USA).

Here are my notes written during my viewing...

1st 10 minutes - bewildering, a woman crying, 2 blurred figures. 1 takes her clothes off for some mysterious reason. Rabbits, a laugh track and a man wanting something. Sketchy conversation with neigbour seems normal in comparison.

The look is sometimes ghastly, mainly in scenes with high levels of contrast and in close-ups. Adds to otherworldness.

Neighbour. Fucking terrifying - wild eyes.

Goes on relatively coherently until the screwdriver scene.

There are consequences to one's actions, repeated.

Like somebody else's nightmare. A needle plays on a record player and a woman crying repeats.

The locomotion - Never could it be as unsettling as this, you would think.

That's as far as I got. I gave in and got sucked in by this world. And that's only about a third of the film.

Nikki Grace (Laura Dern) is an ageing actress living in Hollywood. One day she is visited by a "new neighbour" (Grace Zabreskie), who tells her that the part she will be getting (but has not got yet) is for a film not about lovers, but a "brutal fucking murder". Upon starting the film, she and co-star Devon (Justin Theroux) are informed by the director (Jeremy Irons) that the film "On High In Blue Tomorrows" is a remake of an unfinished Polish film which was stopped because everyone involved in it came to a sticky end. As well as this, Devon is warned off of persuing Nikki first by his entourage and then by her husband (Peter J. Lucas) who warns him that things will be done to ensure that the bonds of marriage remain. They end up sleeping together at which time Nikki says that she feels like she has been through it before but it was tomorrow. The next day, she is intrigued by a darkness towards the back of the film's set. Upon entering it, her personality fragments, she travels into different worlds, maybe the original Polish film, maybe of the people in the Polish film, may be the world of a curb crawler, maybe the life of a woman living with a Polish emigree who may kill her husband.
INLAND EMPIRE as Lynch would have us type it, seems to me like the great man's career has come full-circle and yet progressed further, like a spiral if you will, in that it feels like both a natural progression in his career, in terms of his use of narrative and subject matter and a spiritual return to the rawness of Eraserhead, his first feature. To write a review of it, almost seems like an insult to what Lynch has created with a cheap DV camera and no studio backing. This film will drive many crazy, the truest example of love it/hate it I think we have ever seen and to many my review will seem like prentious twaddle. I simply don't care. The images in this film are often truly mind-blowing. Lynch has always been known as a man who can create an atmosphere like no other but here, it feels like this is one area of his craft which he will never better. The film oozes menace, right from its first frame. The images are burnt into your head and really do stay with you. The sense of fractured time and world is represented so well that at one point I looked at my phone expecting 20 minutes to have passed, but 2 had! That's no lie either. Vagueness in this review is meant, to ruin any of the suprises which come from this film feels like a real shame. The lack of any cohesive narrative after that which I have told you, will be a problem for many and rightly so. Lynch has always been an aquired taste and I would not be suprised if he loses fans from this one, he surely won't be gaining any new ones either. This is a film preaching to the converted. And while it feels like a shame that he is not going to get the credit he desrves from more mainstream sources, I feel it would be right to say that Lynch wouldn't have it any other way. In fairness, much credit must be given to StudioCanal and Optimum Releasing for allowing this film to be shown as widely as it has been and it is reassuring that with a studio such as Optimum distributing this, it will certainly get a chance to shine on video.
Speaking of video... The look of the film. Lynch famously shot this on a Sony PD150 a pretty much consumer grade DV camera which used for its flexibility which in turn enabled Lynch to have more freedom with what he shot. The downside to this is that this film occasionally looks terrible. Even in what i am pretty sure was a digital presentation at the Watershed in Bristol (Feel free to correct me, I would be interested), the film does look amatuerish in parts, specifically, outdoors scenes. And yet, it adds to the mystery of the film. The actual camera itself feels like it is in on the gag, that it and Lynch are working together to create something which will eat away at you, in the INLAND EMPIRE of your imagination.
Laura Dern gives a bravura perfomance and holds the film up in her multiple roles, all with wildly different personalities and without an actress if her strength or even her particular look, the film does not feel like it would grab you as mich as it does. Supporting characters all do well in their own parts but do feel like objects in the background when compared to Dern and the images Lynch has created (Look out for the superimposition towards the end, truly haunting).
Bloody masterpiece.

doncopey1 -> RE: Inland Empire (10/3/2007 9:13:47 PM)

Lucky people who have seen it, i live in a big city like Liverpool with many cinemas and not a single one is showing it, a real disgrace.

mpilotti -> Complete mind**** (11/3/2007 10:45:48 PM)

I saw it at the Cornerhouse in Manchester. The film starts off intriguing and just when you think you know where it might be going (this is an hour in) it suddenly slaps you in the face (or the brain more like) by taking a complete change of direction. It becomes even more weird but you feel compelled to watch even though you are also irritated about how nonsensical it all is. There are some things that make sense but most of it is totally surreal. And after a while you feel like you're in the film because the sense of displacement makes you feel unreal. by the end of the the film I had a terrible head-ache because I kept trying to make sense of the disjointed narrative. I would recommend that if you go to see this film, you go without any expectations and let it just guide you rather than trying to rationalise it.

alundpughe -> (14/3/2007 12:47:17 AM)

Well it took a drive all the way to Bristol to actually find a screening outside London but I can happily report I've seen Inland Empire.

And wow...!

However it's the most extreme Lynch that you can possibly imagine. Think of Lynch at his most bizarre and then play that backwards at 30% speed. Then accidentally drop all the rushes on the floor and randomly put them back in the projector so they're no longer even remotely in order. This is Inland Empire.

Remember how obscure his storylines in Eraserhead, Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway were? Well they're Enid Blyton compared to this.

In short do not go and see unless you really enjoy Lynch at his most obtuse. This is a three hour nightmare and every single moment is sheer horrific genius.

MrRuss -> RE: (16/3/2007 11:40:14 AM)

Watch it for the 'experience'

TheGodfather -> RE: RE: (16/3/2007 11:18:58 PM)

It`s not released here in The Netherlands untill May, I think. But it`s showing at the local Maastricht film festival on the 26th and the 31st. So I`ll be going on the 26th. All I read were positive reviews. Can`t wait to see this one [:)][:)]

ElephantBoy -> RE: RE: (17/3/2007 2:12:36 PM)

I think the long bits are in like a 45 mintue section at the beginng once you get past that your locked inside his world.  And it is amazing.  I'm going to see it for a second time hopfully in Oxford  next week, and then there's two screenings of it in Lancaster next month.  So by the time i've seen a few more times i'll have it all figured out[;)]

Monkey Wrench -> RE: RE: (18/3/2007 11:25:12 AM)

Phil concannon hit the nail right on the fuckin' noggin.

Ethanial -> Finally (25/3/2007 5:30:34 PM)

Who knew it'd come to Romford, but god it was worth the wait, the most mindfuckiong film ever made this latest century, easilly. So disorientated once i left the cinema.

Ethanial -> Finally (25/3/2007 5:30:36 PM)

Who knew it'd come to Romford, but god it was worth the wait, the most mindfuckiong film ever made this latest century, easilly. So disorientated once i left the cinema.

Rich Empire -> Brilliance & Food For Thought From The Master Chef. (8/4/2007 6:13:51 PM)

Nothing could have prepared me for this film and to be honest, a similarity with Mulholland Drive is kind of a good steer but it's still very different.
A seriously indepth review would only take away from the rewards of viewing this great piece of cinema, the less you know the better, treat yourself and go see it now!
Touching all the dark corners that cinema can emotionally provide from pure terror to effortless euphoria. This in my opinion is a work of complete genius that is rarely seen from any director, and is certainly on par with Mulholland Drive. I would like praise David Lynch even further for experimenting with DV formats and proving that when given the proper skills and applied to it, it does contain a big potential for the new horizons of film making. Sheer brilliance from the consistently genius and ever fruitful food for thought master chef David Lynch.

ElephantBoy -> RE: Brilliance & Food For Thought From The Master Chef. (10/4/2007 3:32:00 PM)

I truly agree with that.  If he is to conture to suprise us he has to move forward and look to the future which is percisely what he's doing.

curtain twitcher -> RE: Brilliance & Food For Thought From The Master Chef. (10/4/2007 3:41:44 PM)

Mulholland Drive was fucked up, and good. So this should be good too.

ElephantBoy -> RE: Brilliance & Food For Thought From The Master Chef. (10/4/2007 3:45:51 PM)

I do think this is quite a different film, but yes i think if you liked Mulholland Drive you'll enjoy this.   And remember romour has it this all makes sense.

gloppy -> RE: Brilliance & Food For Thought From The Master Chef. (10/4/2007 6:38:23 PM)


ORIGINAL: ElephantBoy

And remember romour has it this all makes sense.

It does to David Lynch himself anyway! It's a really amazing film, and I'm seriously considering going to see it again (which would make it only the third film I've seen more than once at the cinema!)

Frankenweenie -> Movie/experience? (10/4/2007 9:57:53 PM)

One of the most remarkable films in years. David Lynch is a brilliant filmmaker and Laura Dern shows that she's one of the most talented actresses in Hollywood. INLAND EMPIRE is a completely mind-blowing experience!

furrybastard -> RE: Movie/experience? (10/4/2007 10:30:35 PM)


waspintheattic -> I've noticed the absence..... (19/4/2007 12:37:35 PM)

...of a dissenting voice, so thought I'd sling my axe in.

Damon Wise was right when he said people would hate this. I went with the intention of seeing The Lives of Others, which isn't on, as it turns out, till next week. This film was gash. Poorly shot, poorly scripted, poorly acted (alright, Jeremy Irons was pretty good), and even more crucially, for a David Lynch film, it was boring. This is what happens when you have too many yes men. Someone needs to sit him down and say "Look, Dave. This is shit. Do something else."

It's even more of an insult when the film could have been rescued at any stage. There were several points when it could have ended(three fucking hours - jesus christ), and it would have been okay. A degree of symmetry to the film would have been restored, some of the themes would have came together, and it would have made a bit of sense. Okay....I know that's not the point. But dream logic is supposed to have some kind of rhyme and logic to it, and if not, then please don't make it boring.

The Cinematography was gash. If you can't be arsed focusing your shots, then just don't fucking bother. It depresses me that this film got made, and that the cinema was fairly full when I watched it. No wonder he couldn't get funding for it. There are plenty of low budget filmmakers out there with better ideas and more talent, who deserve more exposure.

There are a few plus sides...there is some genuinely disturbing imagery in it. And the sound is great. But that's really about it.

It's like when you're in a museum, and there's a darkened room with an experimental film on, and you get bored after about five seconds. But, then again, if you like that kind of thing.......

TheWizardOfOZ -> Strange But True (1/5/2007 10:37:02 PM)

As a fan of Lynch I will do as I always do. I will let this film just seep through my mind until I watchi it again, which I will. All I can say now is the end is exactly what is needed after the journey through the bizarre.Mullholland Drive his masterpiece, this his adventure into something new. Behold...

Sugar Kowalczyk -> RE: Strange But True (6/6/2007 11:38:46 AM)

You think of Lynch and you immediately know that you are going to get a really confusing but dazzling film. This film seems to have elements of his others films included for example black and white - Eraserhead, murders - Blue Velvet but one thing that is constant throughout is the weirdness and strangeness of every setting it was scary an example would be the fact that we are first in a dark hallway with a strange noise continuing throughout - bit like Deren's Meshes of the Afternoon with its chilling use of continuous noise. The most weirdest thing was the bunnies but in a strange way it fitted in well with the film itself. In fact what was strange is that although there is no narrative you still are thinking about what it all meant as there are reoccuring themes and symbols which you could take to make up your own idea of what it all means - it will drive you mad though at one point I thought i had it sussed out but no i didn't Lynch turned the whole thing on its head.
Very stylish, beautiful but hauntingly strange. Dern deserves an award for her role but unfortunatly I can't see the Oscars giving it out... shame really.

jonny unitus -> RE: Strange But True (6/7/2007 2:03:40 AM)

This film was amazing!!! Daft comment about the cinematogrphy,did you ever stop to think that some of it may have been out of focus for a reason ie considering Laura Derns warped midset in the film. Surely that isn't particually hard to grasp?

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