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Author Topic: Movie Club  (Read 21999 times)
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pugetopolis
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« Reply #45 on: September 14, 2007, 09:32:23 PM »

The Alphabet (1968)

Two other early films on the SFODL dvd are relevant to understanding Lynch’s oeuvre--The Alphabet (1968, 4 minutes) and The Grandmother (1970, 34 minutes).

For example, much has been said about Dune 1984. For me, Frank Herbert and David Lynch’s collaboration with Dune has similarities with the Graham Greene-Carol Reed collaboration with The Third Man:

“The Third Man was never written to be read but only to be seen. Like many love affairs it started at a dinner table and continued with many headaches in many places: Vienna, Venice, Ravello, London, Santa Monica…”—Graham Greene, The Third Man

Greene’s preface mentions how Korda asked him to write a film for Reed—to follow Fallen Idol. Who really knows what happens when a writer and director get together to do a film? Perhaps even they don’t know.  If you’ve read Dune then you know how dense and complex the novel is—perhaps it took an artist rather than just a straight film director to bring it off.

The Alphabet (1968) is about an “alphabet-obsessed” nightmare Lynch’s niece has—in the movie she wakes up spewing blood. Some say it’s a dream about metaphorical menstruation—signaling the death of girlhood and all that that implies? I thought of my boyhood on the hand— my naïve impulses to rationalize dream logic with its seemingly totally irrational adolescent weird things going on like wetdreams and nocturnal emissions.

My boy-mind couldn’t understand it—couldn’t conceptualize what was happening to me. Even when I was told that it was natural and every boy goes thru it—still it was so bizarre and the dreams so very weird and alien. My “alphabet” rational mind tried to wrap around it—but the experience was so alien I had nothing to compare with. It was like an Other had commandeered my body—leaving the boy behind…it took awhile for me to catch up with it.

The same with The Grandmother (1970)—it’s another movie about the Other. A boy who reenacts the Jack and the Beanstalk fairytale—to create a fairy godmother to help him thru his crazy dysfunctional family adolescence. There’s more of a “collaboration” going on between the boy and his fairy grandmother—than with the girl and her dream alphabet. The boy goes beyond language—while the girl is still caught up memorizing and being caught up in the alphabet-loop of her dreams.

Language has its limits—in terms of the Other. Who knows how extra-linguistic collaboration with the Other works? Something tells me it has to do with what Borges is talking about in his short stories—“Borges and I,” “The Other” and “August 25, 1983.” But I’ll leave that up to the Latin American littérateurs & magic realists. I’m not very good at fabulation, don't you know…   Wink

I don’t know if any film critics have looked into the possible influence between these two early short films and Dune. But what Frank Herbert says toward the end down below sounds intriguing:

“Lynch was notoriously resistant to structure during his tenure at the AFI, claiming ignorance of basic narrative techniques. And yet, however avant-garde they might be, The Grandmother and even The Alphabet are somewhat archetypal (not only does reciting the alphabet song impose an arc, but Lynch also follows the girl's restless sleep through to its logical end), suggesting that something Lynch's future collaborator Frank Herbert once said about the human inability to conceive of a truly alien life-form applies to fiction, too.”

http://filmfreakcentral.net/dvdreviews/eraserhead.htm

The human inability to conceive a truly alien life-form—especially if that alien life-form is us—sounds paradoxical. But if what Herbert says is true, then surely it must apply not only to fiction but film as well. We probably wouldn’t even know an alien—if we met one. Although sometimes I think there's one here on this Elba site...  :'(

Something tells me exopolitics isn’t as simple as we think—it’s probably just as complex as any collaboration is between creative minds. Such as Lynch and Herbert—or Greene and Reed…



« Last Edit: September 14, 2007, 09:40:37 PM by pugetopolis » Logged

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Dzimas
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« Reply #46 on: September 15, 2007, 02:41:36 AM »

Could we talk David Lynch for a minute?  Does anyone understand his movies?  I like their weird, surrealistic touch but then he goes throwing dwarves in and I'm thrown off.  Note - this is not a dwarfophobic post, I don't care what anyone says.

My take on dwarves is that Lynch knows most people are afraid of dwarves, so he uses them to pry into your subconscious and release those fears, and then he can play with them the way he likes, through corridors, mirrors and other "funhouse" elements many of us experience in our dreams.  The ending of "Twin Peaks" is a classic case in point.  I think Lynch is one of those who believes certain persons can get into your dreams and twist and turn them, and ultimately use them for evil purposes, like Bob.  What better provocateur than a dwarf!
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« Reply #47 on: September 15, 2007, 11:13:06 AM »

Makes sense to me.  Any person whose body is an unusual shape can be used in a film to conjure fear and anxiety and an overall sense of unreality.

A director who deals with Lynch themes (bent reality, dreams, movie-within-movie) is Paul Auster.  I would go so far as to recommend his "Lulu on the Bridge" as worthy of a group viewing and discussion.  With a stellar cast (Harvey Keitel, Willem Dafoe, Vanessa Redgrave, Myra Sorvino, Mandy Patinkin, Gina Gershon, et al.), we go into a strange world that follows the shooting of a jazz musician, in which he recovers (or does he?) and falls in love with a waitress/aspiring actress, who he later helps to get the Louise Brooks role, "Lulu," in a remake that is being made of Pandora's Box.  A strange rock is found by the jazzman, a sort of paranormal Maguffin, and the lovers are pursued by various groups intent on its recovery.

I felt the film covered more territory in a more accessible way, in 100 minutes, than Lynch did in his much-longer MD or IE.  And where else can you hear Willem Dafoe try to sing and dance "Singin' in the Rain" ?




 
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« Reply #48 on: September 15, 2007, 01:24:33 PM »

First rule of movie club:  Don't talk about movie club.
Second rule of movie club:  Don't talk about movie club.
Third rule of movie club:  No references to gay movies (splooge)
Fourth rule of movie club:  No one is to post anything from 2-3 pm.
Fifth rule of movie club:  Don't forget the third rule.
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« Reply #49 on: September 15, 2007, 01:49:41 PM »

The Alphabet...metaphorical menstruation, end of childhood and all that implies. 

Dunno.  In his introduction to the short, Lynch comments that his wife was visiting her parents at the same time as his young niece and that the niece had a nightmare.  The niece was reciting the alphabet during the nightmare.  He doesn't mention the age of the niece, only the word "young."  Lynch has also said the short is about fear of learning. 

The use of his wife as the dreamer, and her vomiting of blood adds an interesting dimension.  Suppose you combine the ideas of fear of learning with metaphorical menstruation.  The thing seems to take on the idea of The Fall.  I would assume the mythological Eve didn't menstruate until she experienced the loss of innocence that followed her eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.   

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« Reply #50 on: September 15, 2007, 02:14:51 PM »

The crying creature in The Alphabet could have served as the germ of the idea for the mutant in Eraserhead....which could easily be interpreted as a movie about loss of innocence and fear of learning. 
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pugetopolis
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« Reply #51 on: September 15, 2007, 03:03:14 PM »



Dzimas Barton

Speaking of dwarfs, Michael J. Anderson plays “Samson” in the HBO series Carnivàle (2003)—about a dustbowl depression days touring carnival of freaks. Dwarfs, Siamese twins, mind readers, bearded ladies, convicts, roustabouts, a boy on the run…trying to find himself.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0319969/

Then the history of art if full of dwarfs…European courts full of them, as well as fairy tales like Rumpelstiltskin…jokers, guides, spinning gold from straw…
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pugetopolis
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« Reply #52 on: September 15, 2007, 03:04:46 PM »

The crying creature in The Alphabet could have served as the germ of the idea for the mutant in Eraserhead....which could easily be interpreted as a movie about loss of innocence and fear of learning. 

More dwarfs...  Smiley
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pugetopolis
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« Reply #53 on: September 15, 2007, 03:19:40 PM »

The Alphabet...metaphorical menstruation, end of childhood and all that implies. 

I guess we all go to www.imdb.com a lot...

I know I do and the external review links page is important to me...before & after watching a movie.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0074486/externalreviews

Like Eraserhead (1977) has 70 links to reviews...that's how I came across the review of Lynch's short films.

http://filmfreakcentral.net/dvdreviews/eraserhead.htm

I hadn't thought of the reviewer's critique of Alphabet along those lines...

But yes, loss of innocence and fear of learning...I can relate to that can't you?

I don't know about girlhood but boyhood...well, yeah, Alphabet, The Grandmother, Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Dune...

Beginnings are always important...like she says at the beginning of Dune...

Loss of innocence and fear of the unknown...those are pretty universal themes...








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“Other people's obsessions
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pugetopolis
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« Reply #54 on: September 15, 2007, 03:25:24 PM »

First rule of movie club:  Don't talk about movie club.
Second rule of movie club:  Don't talk about movie club.
Third rule of movie club:  No references to gay movies (splooge)
Fourth rule of movie club:  No one is to post anything from 2-3 pm.
Fifth rule of movie club:  Don't forget the third rule.

Sixth rule of the movie club: None of the above rules apply...
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« Reply #55 on: September 15, 2007, 08:53:59 PM »

Here's a site where you can watch Lynch's The Grandmother.  This one, I can definitely buy the idea of metaphorical menstruation and the pre-adolescent dealing with fears related to leaving childhood behind.


http://stage6.divx.com/Experimental-Films/video/1148176/David-Lynch---The-Grandmother

The nice thing about The Short Films of David Lynch, he gives intros to each of the films. 

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Dzimas
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« Reply #56 on: September 16, 2007, 05:02:38 AM »

Thanks for the link to The Grandmother, hoffman.  I've been interested in his short films and animation, but haven't decided whether I wanted to buy the DVD's.  Maybe we should go with Lynch as the initial topic of discussion, since he seems to be on everyone's mind at the moment.  Not too long ago I received the Faber & Faber book Lynch on Lynch, but haven't read it yet.  I don't know how much he "reveals" in it.  He doesn't seem like the guy who would give away too many of his secrets.  But, he has done an interesting number of departure films, such as The Straight Story,

http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/recap;_ylt=AmyKOnZDrFI6AjYIZu3NqCccvrYF?gid=200709150029&prov=ap
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Dzimas
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« Reply #57 on: September 16, 2007, 06:18:04 AM »

I did go for The Threepenny Opera,


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pugetopolis
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« Reply #58 on: September 16, 2007, 06:23:45 AM »

Catching the Big Fish

dzimas hoffman

I have the above book written by Lynch and dip into it now and then. What’s nice about this book is it’s a series of quick snapshot-essays into filmmaking and what goes on inside the mind of a director like Lynch. I chose this “A Sense of Place” piece to give you both an idea of how Lynch thinks about soundscapes:

“A sense of place is so critical in cinema, because you want to go into another world. Every story has its own world, and its own feel, and its own mood. So you try to put together all these things—these little details—to create that sense of place. I has a lot to do with lighting and sound. The sounds that come into a room can help paint a world there and make it so much fuller. While many sets are good enough for a wide shot, in my mind, they should be enough for close scrutiny, for the  little details to show. You may not ever really see them all, but you’ve got to feel that they’re there, somehow, to feel that’s it’s a real place, a real world.”—David Lynch, Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity, “A Sense of Place,” New York: Penguin, 2006

Nathan Lee (Village Voice) goes into this in more detail describing the soundscape of Eraserhead seen in a theater as opposed to DVD:

“I remember one thing only of my reunion with Eraserhead: the discovery that to see the film means nothing—one must also hear it. Viewing it alone in the dark in my bedroom, its aphonic oddities may have been diminished on TV, but they well enough amazed. Watched on an appliance, it sounded like one: a refrigerator on the fritz perhaps, or a vacuum cleaner stuck in the bathroom. In the larger reaches of a grand old space, bounding off marble and chandelier, the soundscape of Eraserhead opened a vast new dimension. Choose your onomatopoeia: clang, drone, hiss, buzz, squawk, howl, khzzsh-shzz-frphft. All of which echoed as if housed in an intergalactic seashell cocked to the ears of an acid-tripping gargantua…”

http://www.villagevoice.com/film/0703,lee,75564,20.html
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« Reply #59 on: September 16, 2007, 07:42:13 AM »

In an odd way, Lynch reminds of Glenn Gould, especially after watching 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould,



Too bad the movie is so hard to find these days.  I can imagine Lynch sitting it at a diner orchestrating what he hears into a film script or at the very least a short film. Much of Twin Peaks revolved around the Diner.
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