Growing up, I discovered a number of fascinating filmmakers that helped fuel my love of movies. Thankfully many of the ones that inspired me are still working today. Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese are still classing it up, which is a good thing. And while David Cronenberg tended to tread on some seriously twisted territory in his early career (which I admired and appreciated), I always had a love for another strange one. Early on a huge inspiration for yours truly was the man, the myth, the legend, Mr. David Lynch. While not concerned with narrative or structure, he always had a flair for the disturbed and revolting. Many a critic praised his work, yet others were downright disgusted by the images he would present. As a fan, I always looked forward to whatever he had to display whether it struck a chord in my little mind or no. And considering his last feature was in 2006, I’ve been desperately missing my Lynchian cinematic fix.
For many fans, their first introduction to the mind of David Lynch was the cult series TWIN PEAKS. However, many a cinephile discovered this mad genius possibly from a collection of shorts in the Seventies. More importantly however, it was his strangely perverse low budget feature ERASERHEAD in 1977 that horrified anybody who happened to be eating any sort of small bird for dinner. This nightmarish black and white landscape of sexual imagery and eerie surrealism was a breath of fresh air for moviegoers who liked that sort of thing. This experiment led to a lingering success as a midnight movie and ultimately, a must own VHS tape for fans of all that is freaky.
With the artiste cred he earned for ERASERHEAD, his next endeavor was the cinematic tale of Joseph Merrick (the script calls him John) entitled THE ELEPHANT MAN. This feature starred John Hurt as a deformed man living in 19th Century London and Anthony Hopkins as the doctor who took him in. While the make-up effects were phenomenal, this period film was nowhere near as eccentric as his previous work. In fact, it was downright prestigious earning both commercial and critical success. Ultimately it earned eight Academy Award nominations including such biggies as Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Hurt and Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (that’s what it used to be called folks). The make-up effects were so impressive that it led the Academy to create an award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.
Unfortunately for Lynch, his next project was his first major studio flop with the sci-fi extravaganza DUNE (based on 1965 Frank Herbert novel of the same name). This led to the director seemingly wanting no part of a big studio picture. For Lynch, his passion was far less mainstream and a little more “Wild at heart, and weird on top!” With his brilliant 1996 feature BLUE VELVET, he explored the dark underbelly of suburbia. The film earned the director his second Academy Award nomination. Following that films success, he conjured up one of my personal favorite love stories of all-time, the gory and groovy romance of Sailor and Lula. The 1990 bonfire of a flick WILD AT HEART may have been greeted with mixed reviews, yet it has enjoyed a sort of cult status since its initial release. It also earned Diane Ladd Best Supporting Actress nominations at the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes as well.
Next up for the filmmaker was his highly successful collaboration with Mark Frost, the groundbreaking CBS series “Twin Peaks.” The iconic show helped change the way audiences looked at television, and while it was a short lived success, it is still highly regarded today. At this point Lynch seemed to enjoy the lunacy of his work and offered audiences the prequel to his hit series, TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME in 1992 as well as the wickedly weird LOST HIGHWAY in 1997. Later on it was the surprising charm of THE STRAIGHT STORY in 1999 and the mysterious and shockingly sexy MULHOLLAND DR. that returned the filmmaker to award worthy status – the later earned him his third Academy Award nomination for Best Director. Regrettably for his fans, his last feature film was the 2006 experimental flick INLAND EMPIRE, leaving us waiting for the auteur filmmaker to return to cinema.
Lynch has kept busy with a number of projects. He has found a very deep rooted love of coffee. He has taken to music (his work is available at his website www.davidlynch.com) and released several albums over the past few years. His latest release “The Big Dream” is exactly what you would expect from this unique persona. As fascinating as this new phase in his career is, the wait for him to return to directing something other than shorts is disheartening. The word is that he is finished making movies and we will never see another BLUE VELVET or MULLHOLLAND DR. which is especially heartbreaking for this long time fan. Yet in a recent interview with Laura Dern – who appeared in a number of his films – the director has something “cooking” and he will return behind the camera. Could it be we will once again see a deeply weird and wonderful collaboration between the two?
Maybe it’s the booze talkin’, but I want to see David Lynch making movies again. He is original, inventive and bizarre and I love every single one of those qualities. A number of his features still hold up, and if WILD AT HEART is playing on cable, I simply can’t look away. Perhaps he could take some of that incredible admiration of coffee and music and turn it into a feature film. Hell, I’d be thrilled to see what “Twin Peaks” would look like today with a possible return! Come back Mr. Lynch, Hollywood could use some of the quirky goodness you are a master of… although I’m willing to bet you make a damn fine cup of coffee as well.