tectactoe
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Album Ratings 796
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Last Active 09-04-19 3:23 pm
Joined 09-24-05

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 Lists
09.09.19 FILM: tectac's Christopher Nolan, Ranke08.28.19 FILM: tectac's Coen Brothers, Ranked
08.19.19 FILM: tectac's Krzysztof Kieslowski, Ra08.12.19 FILM: tectac's Paul Thomas Anderson, Ra
08.06.19 FILM: tectac's David Lynch, Ranked08.01.19 FILM: tectac's Wes Anderson, Ranked
07.30.19 FILM: tectac's Stanley Kubrick, Ranked07.27.19 FILM: tectac's Quentin Tarantino, Ranke
07.25.19 FILM: tectac's Top 50 Favorite Films of 07.10.19 MUSIC: tectac's Top 100 Radiohead Track
06.30.17 FILM: tectac's Top 30 Movies of the 21s 07.18.16 MUSIC: tectac's Top 25 Brand New Songs

FILM: tectac's David Lynch, Ranked

One of the greatest visionaries of our time. Love him or hate him, you can't deny the man's oneiric imagination. For the purposes of this list, I've excluded short films and any incantation of "Twin Peaks" (the show), meaning no European Pilot, or "The Return," or "The Missing Pieces," or any of that nonsense. Only FIRE WALK WITH ME will be eligible, given its status as an actual standalone film.
10Dune Messiah
The Iron Oak


>> DUNE (1984)

Had this not been part of Lynch’s filmography, I wouldn’t have even finished it. (The young completionist in me couldn’t resist, though.) Laughably bad at times, and even at its best it's just an imbroglio of half-baked "space" ideas. It plays by its own rules, making up things as it goes along, never cohering to a single set of governing laws that attempt establish it properly. There's so much about this that is painfully hard to watch: the costume design which often just feels like a cheap, second-rate Star Trek rip off; the awful device of voice-over "inner-thought" narration; the ineffably abysmal CG "effects" which were clearly under-budgeted (and/or over-conceptualized); its needlessly convoluted structure; its insistence on strictly being "weird" in lieu of making any damn sense; etc. Could probably go-on for a while, as I'm having a hard time recalling even a single moment when I felt like this wasn't a chore to finish.
9Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate)
What It Takes to Move Forward


>> INLAND EMPIRE (2006)

I guess there *is* a such thing as “too much liberty.” David Lynch created a 52-second-long short film in 1995 titled PREMONITIONS FOLLOWING AN EVIL DEED and it is a full-blown masterpiece (and no, I’m not being remotely hyperbolic). There were lots of restrictions—it had to be no longer than 52 seconds, it couldn’t have synchronized sound, it couldn’t use more than three takes, and it had to be shot with similar equipment to what was available to the Lumiere brothers back in the early 1900s (i.e., an original Cinemetographe camera). And Lynch, with those constraints, made a thoroughbred masterpiece. My point? Lynch’s creative prowess and artistic headspace is almost so vast and so amorphous that boundaries can help cohere those ideas into something amazing. INLAND EMPIRE, on the other hand, is an example of illimited capacity and how such freedom can turn into an unwieldy mess of comingled, half-baked ideas and methods.
8Mastodon
Crack the Skye


>> THE STRAIGHT STORY (1999)

The least Lynchian film in his oeuvre, without a doubt, but my ambivalence would persist regardless of the director this was accredited to. It’s a visual stunner—those long, wordless stretches with Alvin peddling across wide-open fields with sun sets and rises in the background—but the narrative itself fails to excite me or even sustain my interest. I especially wince anytime Alvin stops to talk with various people; the dialogue is way too inorganic and the film tries too hard to be enlightening in a way that feels particularly graceless. And then there’s saccharine bullshit like the bundle of sticks which is so un-Lynch-like that I’m wondering how much directing he truly did here. It’s not awful by any means, but thoroughly innocuous, and not something I’ve ever yearned to see again after my sole viewing years ago. Final note: Sissy Spacek almost ruined this film for me in the opening reel alone.
7Death Grips
Bottomless Pit


>> LOST HIGHWAY (1997)

Alas, the existence of MULHOLLAND DRIVE will surely never allow me to see this as anything more than a clumsy dry run for similar persona-swapping themes and conceits that would later be sharpened to a masterful degree. It still has its pleasures—the video tapes are one of Lynch’s most unnerving devices, and is there anything greater than Loggia’s violent (and educational) rant about tailgating?—but the bifurcated narrative and personality shapeshifting doesn’t capture Fred’s impotency with even one-tenth of the sheer power as MULHOLLAND DRIVE does with Diane’s jealousy. Two different films, sure, but the conceit is too structurally similar to be ignored, and in retrospect, LOST HIGHWAY feels undernourished. It almost works on pure thrills, but what makes MULHOLLAND DRIVE so great is the emotional resonance of all the abstract shit. Here, the framework feels hollow.
6Heart
Magazine


>> WILD AT HEART (1990)

Aesthetically riveting, and Dern and Cage are having the time of their lives, appropriately hamming it up in full throttle. There’s an enervating quality to the film, though; it’s constantly in motion, but that motion is circular and (mostly) wheel-spinning, revolving perpetually between a constant stream of shady folks, vacuous heart-to-hearts, balls-to-the-walls lovemaking, and savage confrontations. Rinse, repeat. Rather glorious moment to moment, but it fails to coalesce into something greater than the sum of its parts. A “fun” if somewhat repetitious devolution into a world inhibited by caricatures, not people, lacking in lawmen but not in evil, painted with violence, surrealism, and red-hot snake-skin imagery. Dafoe is damn good here, too, rotting teeth and all.
5Death
Individual Thought Patterns


>> THE ELEPHANT MAN (1980)

One of Lynch’s most straightforward (and legitimately affecting) works; though still rife with a bunch of his idiosyncratic flourishes (the tonal white noise, the dreamscape bookends, even the “omniscient zoom into darkness” shows up here), much of the load is carried by John Hurt, encompassing the awkward submission of Mr. Merrick with a gutting combination of pity and mild terror. I’ll never forget watching this for the first time and tearing up when Merrick is introduced to the doctor’s wife; his response to general cordiality is absolutely lacerating. Sidesteps manipulative melodrama by making Hopkins’s doctor just as guilty of “using” Merrick as the side-show owners, only in a slightly less debasing manner. A beautiful and surprisingly tender film, if not a particularly Lynchian one.
4The Velvet Underground
White Light/White Heat


>> BLUE VELVET (1986)

Lynch excels at many things, but to me, his greatest strength will always be his predilection for fertilizing mundane suburbia with an undercurrent of unsettling grotesquerie and inexplicably affecting ugliness: This is apparent in the very opening scene of BLUE VELVET, which traverses slowly through sunshiny Americana, eventually settling down into the grass with a close-up of squirming bugs before highlighting a man who’s suffered an aneurysm while watering his lawn. Welcome to the world of David Lynch. I love the way BLUE VELVET essentially cherry-picks a duo from that perfect, white-picket-fence mentality and heaves them into a world of morbid intensity, led by hallucinogen-induced Frank Booth—Lynch’s greatest antagonist and Hopper’s best role. The obsession with weird sexuality occasionally comes off as juvenile, but there’s enough nerve-shredding ambiance here to counterbalance properly.
3Fire! Orchestra
Ritual


>> TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME (1992)

Complaints of this prequel being “too different” from the show have always stunned me: We’re talking about a show hinged on a female who’s been tattered and beaten by someone her whole life, plagued by supernatural demons, and somehow people found this “too dark” and “too intense?” Huh? If anything, I find the alleviation of comic relief a welcomed change of pace (e.g. no goofy Nadine storylines here), and precisely the grim deviation that was necessary to turn this into an appropriately emotional meat grinder. “Twin Peaks” (the show) has constantly been told via the point of view of everyone in town *except* Laura, and now we finally get to see the world through her eyes. (And my god, it is frightening.) The dismal underbelly running beneath the plasticized façade is exquisite, and this is an excellent exertion of Lynch’s squeamish talents.
2David Lynch
Eraserhead OST


>> ERASERHEAD (1977)

A masterpiece wedged snugly at the intersection of overwhelming surrealism and grotesque abstraction: Is there a film in existence with better sound design? Such dolefully macabre textures? A more nightmarish evocation of unprepared parenthood ever? Even setting aside the subtext, ERASERHEAD works on such a visceral and atmospheric level that no deeper explanation is needed to catalyze my internal reaction to…that *thing*, surely one of cinema’s most searing props (“Mother, they’re not sure it *is* a baby!”). And yet, despite the intravenous unease flowing throughout the entire film, I’ve always garnered a strange, inexplicable sense of comfort (yes, *comfort*) from it. Maybe it’s because I (have) share(d) the same anxieties as Henry, and I, too, inhabit a world that’s overrun with ancillary sounds and white noise. I’d rather not look any deeper, to be honest.
1Converge
Petitioning the Empty Sky


>> MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001)

A perfect amalgam of Lynch’s talents as both an illusory director and an abstract writer; a half-remembered comingling of daydreams and nightmares, a fragmentation of ideas and threads that slowly trickle downward until the final thirty minutes, when everything abruptly (and terrifyingly) snaps into place. The eerie aura that cascades over the film is dizzying, even in scenes of ostensible normalcy, something’s “not quite right.” The construction of this beast is sheer wizardry. It’s amazing that it was originally intended to be a television show and this is the surgically edited “film” version: I can’t imagine it any other way, frankly. Solemn and horrifying in equal measure, there’s nothing that accurately captures the sense of dread that washes over me during the opening nighttime prowl across Mulholland Drive.
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