You may have already heard the news: David Lynch is opening a nightclub in Paris. Yes, you read that correctly. The acclaimed director of "The Elephant Man" is to open an entertainment venue in one of Europe's cultural capitals. To sweeten and/or poison the deal, depending on your outlook, it's taking as its design premise Lynch's 2001 masterwork "Mulholland Drive" and the film's own night club, Club Silencio. For those who haven't seen the film in a while and need reminding, Club Silencio is the other-worldly mystical dive joint in which wide-eyed Hollywood starlet Betty Elms (Naomi Watts) finally leaves her self-declared comfortable "dream place" and awakens as the suicidal Diane Selwyn (also Naomi Watts) in a monstrous version of reality. This real-life iteration promises "a movie theater, concert hall, art gallery, restaurant and, of course, a bar" but there's no word yet on whether the establishment will stick with the film's continuity and have Rebakah del Rio doing the nightly floor-show where she collapses onstage in a death-trance, a whack-job in a blue powder wig who ominously mutters the club's title and a mustachioed emcee called Cookie who also runs a hotel downtown. Whatever the case, all of this is pretty dispiriting news for those of us still waiting for Lynch to announce another film project.
There’s a pretty famous article that David Foster Wallace wrote about his set visit to “Lost Highway” that any Lynch fan worth his or her salt should be well acquainted with by now. Writing in 1997 before the release of the film that Lynch co-wrote with author Barry Gifford, Wallace noted, “However obsessed with fluxes in identity his movies are, Lynch has remained remarkably himself throughout his filmmaking career. You could probably argue it either way -- that Lynch hasn't compromised or sold out, or that he hasn't grown all that much in twenty years of making movies -- but the fact remains that Lynch has held fast to his own intensely personal vision and approach to filmmaking, and that he's made significant sacrifices in order to do so.” If you’d have told Wallace that
twenty-four fourteen years from now we’d be discussing Lynch’s segue into the vibrant Paris nightclub scene inspired by one of his own movies, it would’ve seemed a prospect about as horrifying as being molested by a homeless vagrant behind a 1950s-themed diner. But no-one could have predicted the violent swerves Lynch has taken in his career post-2007 -- shacking up with Seth MacFarlane for guest spots on “The Cleveland Show”, shilling his own brand of coffee more enthusiastically than the marketing department of Kenco, snapping photos for the late Mark Linkous and Sparklehorse. It’s enough to make anyone pine for the halcyon days of his (now retired) daily online weather reports and a period of some relative stability.
The other quote that Lynch enthusiasts and haters alike enjoy hanging round his neck to explain away the auteur’s thematic habits is one in “Blue Velvet”. Laura Dern says of amateur neighborhood sleuth Kyle MacLachlan right before he breaks into a woman’s apartment to vicariously view her being ritually abused by a sadomasochistic drug addict, “I don’t know if you’re a detective or a pervert.” MacLachlan cryptically replies with a wry smile, “That’s for me to know and for you to find out.” But in the two decades that have elapsed between "Blue Velvet" and his digital-video nightmare “Inland Empire” Dern’s statement seems less and less relevant if someone wants to get a handle on the director. A more accurate sentiment in 2011 might read “I don’t know if you’re a travelling java enthusiast or a closet Duran Duran megafan.”
Whether or not the director has had enough with the cinematic medium altogether, or is trying hard to wrangle the perfect idea “fish” he’s always raving about, the drought we’ve had to suffer through since 2007 has been more than a little unpleasant. He's dabbled in ads for fashion houses like Gucci and Lady Dior; and we're not even going into his recent attempts at a music career and he's done some producing as well, getting behind Werner Herzog's "My Son My Son, What Have Ye Done." But what we're all still waiting on is a new full length movie and it seems Lynch is losing his spark (or turning into a parody of himself). Here are five things we’d rather see the director do to regain his ailing mojo:
1. Lynch Resurrects "Ronnie Rocket" Or Any Number Of His Unproduced Projects (Or Hell, How About A 'Dune' Sequel?)
There’s almost as many unproduced Lynch projects -- also-rans like “One Saliva Bubble” [a comedy that would have starred Steve Martin and Martin Short] or “Dream of the Bovine” [another comedy] -- as there are actual produced feature films. The obvious thing to do to regain some cultural cache would be to resurrect a long-dormant project like “Ronnie Rocket.” Said to be about "electricity and a three-foot guy with red hair" with a soundtrack boasting '50s rockabilly, folks like Mel Brooks and Francis Ford Coppola approached Lynch over the years to produce the film and it nearly happened in the early '90s until he dropped it in favor of "Twin Peaks." Failing that, any form of “Dumbland: The Movie”, a live-action version of his short-lived web series would be welcome. Or how about taking a page from Werner Herzog and going off and filming something truly eclectic and strange in a documentary? Or maybe just surprise everybody and take over the ailing "Dune" reboot (hell, he already has a sequel draft knocking around someplace).
We've been teased about the possibility of a sequel to "Mulholland Drive" or even an entirely new project from the director; there was a documentary he was working on about Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (although seriously, enough with the meditation stuff already) -- so yeah, there's no shortage of stuff he could dust off and get moving on.
2. Lynch Gets a Condo in Philadelphia, Stays There Until He Goes Insane
Lynch has never had any kind words to say about Philadelphia, the city that most of “Eraserhead” was shot in over the course of several years. The city’s spiritual malaise in the late 1970s was the industrial wasteland that Lynch chose to use as the film’s backdrop and he’s since described it as “decaying but… fantastically beautiful, filled with violence, hate and filth." While he’s been hung up on the venalities of Los Angeles since the late 1990s, perhaps too much time spent in Hollywood has triggered this decision to recreate Club Silencio in Paris; a project that seems as demented and hubristic as Hank Kingsley’s fictional “Look Around Café” in “The Larry Sanders Show”.
So now might be a good time to revisit the place that still conjures the nightmarish hellscape in the director’s mind that gave his early short features their sicko-fantasia vitality and revisit his roots as a penniless artist. Perhaps he could bus tables for a bit at Pop’s Diner, a place that Lynch gave this description, “The people had stories etched in their faces, and I saw vivid images-plastic curtains held together with Band-Aids, rags stuffed in broken windows, walking through the morgue en-route to a hamburger joint." If that doesn’t disabuse him of the notion that this club is a good idea, then nothing will.
3. Lynch Produces A Series of Spurious Reality Series Based On Obscure Minor Characters From His Movies
In 1990, Lynch and Mark Frost changed the face of narrative television forever with everyone’s favorite tale of small-town familial incest and demonic possession, “Twin Peaks”. While his contemporaries like Michael Mann and Martin Scorsese have only just made the leap to HBO, surely Lynch would want to stay ahead of the curve by injecting some life into the most bankrupt of genres: reality television.
Here’s a few suggestions for the master: “Billy Ray Cyrus is… The Pool Man” in an elaborate blend of fiction and hopeless reality as wronged folk singer Billy Ray Cyrus retreats into the fantasy land established in “Mulholland Drive” (if this seems beyond the realms of reality, just remember that Billy Ray blames Lynch for everything that went wrong in his life post-2001); “Tailgating with Mr. Eddy” a spectacularly violent gangster show which plays like “The Sopranos” meets “Salo: 120 Days of Sodom” as Robert Loggia rampages around the City of Angels, ramming handguns up the anuses of people who have wronged him; “America’s Next Top Bovine Fetus” which demands ordinary members of the public craft their own “children” cobbled from “mystery ingredients” from a random parade of barnyard animals taken from a local slaughterhouse.
But seriously, spinoff movies/TV shows are all the rage in Hollywood. There must be some character in the Lynch universe that he could center a new project around.
4. Lynch Agrees To Play All the Male Roles In Upcoming Episodes Of Isabella Rossellini's “Green Porno”
Surely they’ve both seen each other’s respective naked parts before (the two dated in the late 1980s/early 1990s) and it’d be a damn sight better than the limited success of his dreary internet works like “Darkened Room”. Rosellini’s flat-out hilarious recreation of random animals and insects' reproductive habits already pretty closely tally with Lynch’s thematic preoccupations. Honestly what would be more fun? Sullenly touring the country while pimping something called the “David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace” or getting raped by Ingrid Bergman’s daughter in a duck outfit?
5. And Some Random Miscellaneous Suggestions... Lynch Becomes the New Face of Barbie; Lynch Launches His Own Range of Lingerie fronted by Diane Ladd, Lynch Becomes an Erstwhile Meteorologist Called Betsy, Lynch Does Another Series of “On the Air”, Lynch Opens a Pie Shop, Lynch Becomes a Cow Farmer, Lynch Forms a Mariachi Band with Werner Herzog and Michael Haneke, Lynch Sleeps with all the Members of Au Revoir Simone because he admires their music, Lynch Opens a strip club in Tanzania based on One Eyed Jack’s with Julee Cruise, Lynch Opens a Motel in Cleveland based on the Lost Highway Hotel with Marilyn Manson, Lynch Collaborates with Gasper Noé to make a real-life club version of Irreversible’s “Rectum”… or, you know, Lynch makes another movie.
All joking aside, in the original ABC pilot of "Mulholland Drive" that leaked online recently, there’s one new moment in which jaded movie director Adam Kesher (Justin Thoreaux) complains about the corrupting nature of the industry and warns, “I am a director you do not want to lose”. Whatever happened to David Lynch in the intervening decade between 2001 and the present day to put him off directing fiction films that weren't just willfully bonkers three-hour digital abstractions, the mere fact of his opening a nightclub can provoke such attention proves that he's a director we definitely don't want to lose to a meaningless array of side-projects. Get it together, Dave.