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David Lynch's Inland Empire (Limited Edition Two-Disc Set)
David Lynch's Inland Empire
Limited Edition Two-Disc Set
Actors: Laura Dern, Jeremy Irons, Justin Theroux
Director: David Lynch
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
R     2007     2hr 59min

A magikael, fairy dusted ride through the darkest realms of our collective imaginations. Terrifying!

     

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Movie Details

Actors: Laura Dern, Jeremy Irons, Justin Theroux
Director: David Lynch
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Absurda / Rhino
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 08/14/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 2hr 59min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 17
Edition: Limited Edition
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English, Polish, French

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Movie Reviews

Mansion Full of Mirrors
Rocky Raccoon | Boise, ID | 05/26/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"`Inland Empire' is full of surprises. Convoluted and suspenseful we follow the story lines of successful actress Nikki (Laura Dern) who is waiting for the results of a tryout for a new Hollywood movie, `On High in Blue Tomorrows`. Soon she is visited by her new Polish immigrant neighbor. In her nosey way she pries information, but also intensely warns her of bad omens. She foretells that Nikki will obtain the part she has tried out for, but the story, is a remake and a murder will take place. She intensely relates folk tales, including one about a girl at the marketplace in an alley behind the palace who loses her memory. "Forgetfulness happens to us all," she relates. She also incessantly speaks of "unpaid bills" in a scathing fashion. Rebuffing the neighbor's pointed comments, the actress asks the suspicious elderly woman to leave.

The movie fast-forwards to the next day as the woman foretells in the narration. The gypsy fades out with a vengeance. Nikki gets the part, and on the set we meet Devon (Justin Theroux), her dashing, handsome co-star. The director (Jeremy Irons) facilitates a script reading where he relates that the film is indeed a remake; one where a murder took place and was allegedly cursed from the start.

From here the movie weaves its way through many scenes. Nikki's husband warns the young co-star of the consequences of sneaking out with his actress wife. Some feature Southern characters Billy and Sue in the movie, but they are so closely connected to their actual lives that we begin to lose our own grip on reality. Eerily suspenseful scenes show (Nikki or Sue) walking through a house in bewildered trepidation. Then, we are transported to the lives of the screen couple in the backyard. Next, we find them in Poland during the dead of winter. In one scene the actors are having an affair; in another the characters are. To spice things up, we get a play with actors in rabbit costumes performing an absurdist comedy. At certain points, just when we feel grounded, a woman is watching all the drama on television in her dark apartment.

The developments of `Inland Empire' are intriguing. Like `French Lieutenant's Woman' (significantly also with Jeremy Irons) there's a movie story mixed within a real story. Unlike `FLW' it isn't easy to tell where one story ends and the other begins. In ways like Altman's `The Player,' we have to decide what components are real and which are not. One finds oneself asking many questions while watching the movie. Which parts are from the movie? Which parts are real life? Are the scenes in Poland real or are they components of the original film? Is this all seen through a viewer's eyes or is it all part of the movie? Is she crazy or is her character crazy? Surely, the theme of misogyny is at the forefront as we come across prostitutes and male abuse. Not to mention the claustrophobic fishbowl existence of celebrity life. One thing is for certain, the movie is assembled expertly. It comes across like a mansion full of mirrors--like a fun/haunted house. Not everyone will like the exit strategy (Afterall, who likes hitting the pavement after a funhouse?) but it certainly provides a strange and intense experience.
"
Lynch's alien planet... Hollywood.
Carbonadam | USA | 08/15/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"With Inland Empire, (and I must add Mulholland Drive too), David Lynch, I suspect, has begun to turn inward, most likely mirroring the bizarre twisted view he has of Hollywood. He shows the Hollywood sign almost right away. I am sure to some extent he sees this word on a day to day basis, meeting big phony types, muscle with money, burnt out old stars, pretty boys, nymphs, foreigners, empty sound stages, lame lunch meetings, half baked projects, empty mansions with nothing going on, and all the horrid, strange people met and absorbed on that filthy rich littered landscape. Take all this, and twist it up, pull it, heat it, and mirror it upon itself, upside down and backwards through the Lynch mind and you have Inland Empire.

To say it was either good or bad would be doing the film an injustice. David Lynch's films have become so enigmatic, this one in particular, that to give a yay or nay nod to the film would be to feign some sort of rudimentary understanding of it. I suspect Lynch himself knows no more what he is doing than any of us do, say, when we are asleep, deep in dreams, floating in the abyss of our minds collective soup. This is not a bad thing it's just become surrealism, pure and simple. This is a surrealist film. It cannot be judged as most films are. It stands, pretty much, outside the scope of what I mostly see. I enjoy the change I assure you. Yet the film does not register with me as most films do. This film floats.

One part even seems culled from an old Abbot & Costello routine with Irons telling Bucky to move it down while Bucky comically moves it up.

Other parts, with actors from his other films seem almost as if they have spilled right out of those Lynch movies as real/imagined actors moving on to appear in Inland Empire, as fictional versions of themselves. The recognizable faces such as Dern & Irons only help to remind me I am watching a made up film. I found it hard to lose myself in this. This is often the case with recognizable talent where little or nothing is done to make their People Magazine, normal, every day faces look different. I suspect this was intentional. Still anyone's guess is as good as mine. Lynch has just become so esoteric that reviewing this film on acid would probably get one better results.

It's worth seeing, and more than once for sure. Is it worth loving? For me, the verdict is still out. Sometimes films need a few decades to cook in my mind before they gel into something my unconscious starts to desire all on its own."
Eternal Recurrence and The Karmic Wheel of Time
Unlucky Frank | Lalaland, CA United States | 06/13/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Some very interesting theories in the Discussions Section on this film. Which is what prompted this review.

Finally, for me at least, a cohesive and coherent Lynch film.

**************SPOILER**************

Detailed metaphors, symbols, and Mcguffins (or my lack of catching all the symbolism) aside, here's what I took away from this film upon my initial viewing: The film is simply about a woman forced to relive her brutal murder over and over again under the theory of eternal recurrence for her egotistical karma and harmful infidelities. (Eternal recurrence is an archaic and Nietzschean concept. Woody Allen made a joke about this theory in HANNAH AND HER SISTERS. "Great, now I'll have to sit through the Ice Capades again.")

Allow me to preface my theory about this film by saying: from what we have learned from ancient Eastern thought and physics, time is not a linear event. The concept of time is temporal and subjective. It is possible that multiple timelines may co-exist as a singular event. In "eternal recurrence," the same existence or life is played out over and over again thru time. In Hindu religions it's expressed as the Wheel of Time. Nikki Grace is trapped by her karma or by The Karmic Wheel of Time. According to Eastern doctrines, we all are. Birth, death, and rebirth. Samsara. The only escape according to some Eastern philosophies is thru enlightenment, by paying for that karma ("a past-due bill"), or by altering it. Or, by some other Lynchean shift in consciousness. The Phantom, or Crimp, represents Nikki's "animus" (The masculine inner personality of a female in Jungian psychology.) or her evil karma. Nikki is warned of her Phantom personality or karma by the old gypsy woman at the beginning, "evil was born and followed the boy." Only when Nikki finally kills the Phantom, or her adulterous evil twin, can she free herself from her eternal karma. Free herself from the endless cycle of birth and death. Become enlightened. The Crying Girl (credited as The Lost Girl) represents Nikki in her latest incarnation on The Karmic Wheel of Time, watching her karma and her numerous nightmare lives unfold on TV right before her eyes. The death of The Phantom, or the cleansing of her filthy karma, frees Nikki from the trappings of time and ego, while also freeing Nikki in her current incarnation as The Crying Girl. She has broken her evil karma which allows her, as The Crying Girl, to finally achieve marital bliss, children, and karmic happiness. By the end, Nikki has changed her karma. That's it, in a Lynchean nutshell.

(During my second viewing of the film, I realized that Nikki initiates her evil karma in a past life by murdering her husband and his lover, for which she must suffer karmic payment for her own infidelities by being murdered in a similar fashion during future incarnations.)

********************************

Certainly valid, if one considers Lynch's adherence to Eastern Vedic thought, philosophy, and meditation. Lynch even quotes the Upanishads in the DVD extras.

The Rabbits are the coolest concept Lynch has come up with in a very long time. Awesome and hypnotic. Like a Magritte painting. Mind blowing to say the least. Would love to see this flick on shrooms. To me, the Rabbits represent the karmic materialistic trappings of ego. Samsara. Or, eternal Hell on Earth. If only Lynch had had the temerity to linger on the static images of them for a much longer time in the film. They are macabre. (You can find some 6 to 8 minute episodes on YouTube. Unfortunately, they were not included on the Bonus Disc.) Everyone else's interpretation about this film and the Rabbits is wholly valid. What a cool flick. My hope is that, after spending more time with it, I may see it as a Masterpiece.

Not being a fan of MD or LH by any means, I had given up on Lynch. (The only reason I rented IE is because I was intrigued by the trailer.) So, I have no idea how this narrative is applied to MD. In my opinion this is his best film since WAH and FWWM.

Even though I understand the aesthetic that Lynch was going for with this piece, I only wish he would have used real film, maybe a better digital camera, or brought the film more into focus. I also wish he had used better ambient lighting in certain shots. This film was far too dark in places when it wasn't necessary. The soft dirty focus, vignetting, and fisheyed close-ups were a distraction at times, and played a large part in almost annihilating my full enjoyment of this film. IMO, this was an unnecessary device to exhibit Lynchean dreamtime. However, I may change my opinions about this after subsequent viewings. My theory is that the entire narrative takes place in dreamtime. (Parts of the film were too grounded in reality for dream narrative. I actually wish it had been a little bit more cryptic.) For the entire film to be in soft focus to simulate dreamtime, puts a very big demand upon a modern viewer. I feel that his use of music and his Lynchean set pieces are all that are ever needed to present his inner dreamworlds. However, it is his painting, not mine. (The scratchy phonograph needle that was used to represent one of Nikki's past lives was a nice touch.) I do love the raw grainy look of old film. It's like dragging a dry oil paint brush across a canvas so that the texture of the painting surface shows thru. But, I feel that it's very easy to get carried away with the newer medium of digital tape. Unfortunately, Lynch says he'll never use real film again. Too bad. :(

Aside from being a dreamscape, comparisons to ERASERHEAD are baffling to me. This piece wasn't quite on the same level as ERASERHEAD (is anything?), but it is a very fine Lynch film, none the less. Past reviewers that complained about the "editorial sloppiness" are way off base about this film. IMO, every scene is crucial to the narrative. Nothing was extraneous. (As a matter of fact, I felt that a few scenes adding more clues about The Phantom were needed.) The film is ponderous at times for the average viewer, but the 3 hour running time moved by very quickly for me.

All of the music cues Lynch utilized for this piece were excellent, including his own compositions. I'm especially partial to his ambient music and The Rabbits' theme. Most excellent.

Everything you've heard is right on the money, Laura Dern IS truly amazing in this. A very giving performance. (In some of her scenes, she looks so much like her mother Diane Ladd, it's eerie.)

INLAND EMPIRE indeed.

The DVD extras are great. Over an hour of extra footage, most of which was not necessary to the narrative and was rightly cut. His interview is shorter than the one on the ERASERHEAD DVD, but he seemed more prepared and relaxed in this interview. I love his thoughts on music and the importance of proper theater and home theater equipment for the purpose of achieving the full intent of the artist's vision during playback. (One of my pet peeves are friends that insist on watching films on computer monitors.) Lynch goes off on people that watch films on computers and cell phones. He gets angry and very sad by the use of technology and its trend towards the "putrification" of this artform. (Lynch, I feel your pain, man.) Watching him work behind the scenes was very cool. Because his signature technique is mood, I've always had the feeling that Lynch was very meticulous and demanding in his direction to his actors, and it shows here. "Anyone need some Fixall?" Great stuff!

Now, if we could just get Lynch to film a true biography on Francis Bacon, everything would be right with the world. Or, at least right with the Lynchean Universe.

Signed,

An ex-Lynchead that is intrigued by Lynch again."
Delicious
J from NY | New York | 06/23/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The thing I don't understand about most people is that they say the films of David Lynch are impossible to understand. If you watch and pay attention, not everything is going to necessarily make perfect sense, but you're going to get the jist of what he's trying to do.

In this brilliant new film (certainly as good as, if not better, than "Mulholland Drive" in many ways), Laura Dern gives on the most terrifying performances I have ever seen as promising, beautiful actress Nikki Grace/ a low income, degraded, hideous woman who has nowhere to go.
If you want an idea of the kind of non-linear, angst-ridden surreality you're in for, here's an example:

about a half an hour of the film is devoted to Susan, not Nikki's, plight with a group of prostitutes, some looking like Hollywood stars and others
like crack addicts. She is stabbed by her Polish husband in the cursed film. Bleeding to death on the Hollywood strip all over the "stars", a homeless black woman says: "You're dyin', lady". Then a Japanese girl speaks in her native language--while Dern's schizoid character is dying--about a bus going to somewhere else in Hollywood. This takes about five minutes. Then the black woman holds up a lighter and says to Dern: "Sometimes we die, is all. Here. You see this light? You won't see no blue when you wake up." Then Jeremy Irons bursts in with his megaphone screaming "Bravo! Smashing cut!"

Either Nikki was never Nikki or she was Nikki and became Susan once she prostituted herself for Devon. Or Susan fantasized about being Nikki. In any case, this is schizoid identity crisis in the extreme, but more than that a very nicely placed punch on the nose of Hollywood itself: as in "MH", he portrays most actors and actresses as elitist snobs who are amazingly empty and superficial apart from their roles, wrought with hanger ons and arrogant directors. I don't know if this is Lynch's conspiratorial, paranoid fantasy about Hollywood or how it actually is. This movie is brilliant, exciting, terrifying, and simply enjoyable all the way around. Art. Lynch continues to transcend himself.

Watch out for the Polish lady!"