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I’ve been an admirer of Jennifer Lynch’s work for a while now starting with 1990's The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, a book that she wrote that went in tandem with the world of the TWIN PEAKS TV show, which was created by her father David Lynch. After that, she wowed me with BOXING HELENA (which she directed when only 19 years old in 1993), a film that I saw and loved upon its initial release. Lynch vanished off the scene for a while (personal problems I heard) and came back strong in 2008 with SURVEILLANCE (man I love that f-ing movie) and CHAINED (tough watch I never want to see that one again). I have a short list of people I would do backflips to work with and she’s on top of it. I highly esteem the lady’s talent.
But one 2010 film that she wrangled right after SURVEILLANCE and before CHAINED caused her mucho headaches; it was called HISSS (watch it here), a Bollywood/Hollywood 3 Millions budgeted production that was shot in India. Penny Vozniak was initially on that show to shoot a making of for the impending HISSS disk release, but once shit started hitting the shan, she began shooting this documentary instead and DESPITE THE GODS (on DVD and VOD today) was born! I gave it a whirl yesterday and had fun with it! Personally, this slice of on set life was constantly engaging because of Jennifer Lynch herself. The lady had a winning personality, a wonderful sense of humor that I found endearing, is a straight shooter and her actions displayed lots of character. Like picking up the trash that her crew left behind out of respect for mother earth, her earnest and heartfelt interaction with her (then 13 years old) daughter (who came off as very mature for her age) or getting her hands dirty like all good directors should. I dare you not to fall in love with Jennifer Lynch while watching this one! She made it all worthwhile! I personally wouldn't mind watching a full documentary about Lynch herself: where she came from, where she's been, where she's going. It would make for a captivating watch. But I digress.
On that, anybody that's been on a set will recognize some of the obstacles that Lynch had to overcome during her shoot. Mishaps like adapting to weather, crew strikes (okay that one does not happen any day), actors/actresses who need a lot of “attention” (Mallika Sherawat didn't wind up being the total primadonna I thought she would be ), the too many cooks spoiled the pot syndrome, the cultural differences etc. What stood out for me the most though was 1- that dingbat producer who came off like such a douche (with his threats and pressure tactics) and 2- the fact that they shot a freaking B-Movie for 8 Months – which totally blew my mind! A one-month shoot? Sure. A three months shoot? Okay... I can live with that… that should be tops. But 8 f*cking months for a film of this ilk? I don’t get it. Maybe it’s a Bollywood thing. I mean, was this a low budget horror film or Fast and Furious 8? But hey that’s just me.
Although this doco somewhat ran out of steam at about the hour mark (the bad on set stuff just wasn’t severe enough to make my jaw drop); the whole of it still wound up being entertaining due to Lynch’s presence, her sense of humor and the zany behind the scenes antics having to do with making a "broad turns into a snake" flick. On the whole DESPITE THE GODS made for a pleasant sit down, one that was elevated by Jennifer Lynch’s charm and affable personality! And yeah, I’ll admit it, I now HAVE TO see Hisss!