Twelve hours have passed since I experienced INLAND EMPIRE, and I'm still reeling. To even try to begin to formulate cohesive thoughts at this early stage would be as nonsensical as explaining the film itself, so I'll simply spew some stream-of-consciousness reactions. If ever there were a film in which there is no such thing as a 'spoiler,' INLAND EMPIRE is it. Regardless, I won't mention anything about the film itself in the brain spewing below, so you needn't worry about that.
-- INLAND EMPIRE is MULHOLLAND DRIVE taken to its most abstract, esoteric, and avant-garde extreme.
-- For the first two hours of the film, while I was firmly aware that I was watching a nearly identical retread of MULHOLLAND DRIVE, I didn't care. I found it to be an exhilarating, hilarious, terrifying, and shockingly audacious work. But at a certain point--I don't know the hour and minute count but I know exactly when it happened--everything was gone. I tried to get it back, but there it went, spiralling beyond the Lynchosphere, never to return. At that point, I felt like I was watching a series of thin sketches that had been thoughtlessly cobbled together, as opposed the first two hours, when I was convinced I was watching yet another masterfully constructed descent into the subconscious.
-- This film will never be released in its current state in this country. If it finds a distributor, I will be utterly shocked. So I highly recommend that you find a way into one of next weekend's screenings.
-- The final third of the film was such a letdown to me that I walked out of the theatre convinced that I would never be able to bring myself to watch it again. Twelve hours later, I'm already getting excited for Friday's second press/industry screening. Which makes as little sense as the film itself, yet it speaks volumes.
-- Laura Dern should win a Medal of Bravery for her performance.
-- It pains me to say this, but MULHOLLAND DRIVE and INLAND EMPIRE perfectly encapsulate the film vs. video debate. Lynch has denounced celluloid as a 'dinosaur' and begun to champion digital video as a revolutionary medium in which he can express himself more freely. Yet, taking the chronology out of it, my feeling is that INLAND EMPIRE plays like an early, rough, unfiltered sketch of MULHOLLAND DRIVE. Whereas MULHOLLAND DRIVE is the work of an absolute genius, INLAND EMPIRE is an extremely gifted artist fucking around in his backyard. I'm saying this with the full awareness that I might wake up tomorrow morning and feel differently. But for now, I wonder if the limitations of celluloid might be a good thing in every conceivable way. David Lynch should feel godly to me. Yet there were many moments in INLAND EMPIRE when I saw several cracks in the tower.
-- Thank God for David Lynch's sense of humor.
I guess that's all I've got for now. It will be very strange entering the Walter Reade tomorrow morning and watching another film. However critical and negative my response may appear to be, INLAND EMPIRE has lodged itself in my brain like only a David Lynch film can. And my response isn't necessarily negative. Watching the film just brought a lot of dilemmas to light, that's all. Hopefully I'll be able to address these dilemmas more eloquently after I've seen the film for a second time, which I now have decided that I have to do.