so, a half-week back into the city and i went to see INLAND EMPIRE just like i promised myself i would.
i can’t really understand people saying it’s “not good” or, more specifically, that not only does the heavy symbolism and signage avoid falling into a readable lexicon to what seems like a taunting degree, but that, well, maybe he’s kinda gone too far in terms of the plotless nightmare shtick.
anyway, few movie experiences have moved me as much. moved me to the point that i was nearly in tears on the sidewalk afterward, not because i was saddened by INLAND EMPIRE but because i had stopped conceiving of experiencing life that was not watching INLAND EMPIRE; the world had become a completely disorienting place. and that sorta hits the spot, why i think that it’s a great movie in spite of the goofy use of the beck song and the graduation of plain ol’ mystery–which is parseable–to black coal incomprehensibility: it’s a completely immersive experience. not immersive because a plot drags you along, but because it seems so howlingly open-ended, like you could just keep watching these discrete pieces fall and never quite form a picture, or staring into one of the four faces laura dern makes over three fucking hours (all of which are more vulnerable, terrifying, and deeply magnetic than laura palmer at her worst).
furthermore, when you don’t really seem to have a narrative aim, horror can be heightened and protracted indefinitely, which is kinda what he does. dark hallways, long stretches of sonic dissonance (the IFC center got almost excruciatingly loud at times), but no catharsis in sight. well, one. and there were ebbs. but really, i ended up spending the last hour with my eyes half-shut. it’s a long, unbearable moan of a film, and it’s ultimately one that you just have to sit there with and feel. some might like it and some might not–and the characterization of lynch as a deeply emotion-oriented, instinctive director best experienced on those same terms is kinda a foregone conclusion. but if you’re on the fence about him (or maybe you’ve been on the fence since wild at heart or lost highway), i’d almost say that this is the one. probably isn’t playing anywhere anymore, but if it is, go sit, stop thinking, and discover your body three hours later–unbearably tight, frightened, somehow changed. two hours after leaving the theater, my phone rang and i almost fell out of my chair.