THE TOP TEN: #1: INLAND EMPIRE
And here it is, not only my top film of 2006 but the second David Lynch film of the new millenium to be the best of its year. But what is it about his films- particularly, of course, the particularly labyrinthine ones such as this- that fascinates me, and indeed so many others, so much? It's a well worn fact of debate that his films generally don't make coherent narrative sense, and that Lynch doesn't want them to- but why is it that some respond so eagerly to this, and others detest it? In the case of INLAND EMPIRE, at least, it would be easy to shrug off with an explanation that the sheer emotion here is the reason- scenes like the indescribly discomfiting scene where two strangers have a pallid discussion as a woman lies dying between them- but I think what Lynch does so well, instead of simply using his actors and mise-en-scene to provoke any random emotion, is expertly calibrate a building up of these emotions, leading his audience to horrifying crescendos, letting his three-hour running time take away all sense of time and space (which is why, incidentally, I was so distressed by an intermission during my second impulsive viewing) so that INLAND EMPIRE is simply all that exists, and therefore in itself it is not strange or incoherent, but perfectly, if subconsciously, understandable. The matter of whether or not a person responds favorably is not a matter of elitism or intelligence- it is simply a matter of emotional, and perhaps even physical, conditioning. INLAND EMPIRE is not a film that deals in strange ideas- it simply deals with them in strange, refreshing and unusual ways.