Chat-worthy Auteur: David Lynch

[rtm’s note: This post is part of LAMB’s Director’s Chair #17 event]

There is much to say about a director such as David Lynch – mainstream and avant-garde, meticulous visual painter and sound designer, having a wicked and dry sense of humor, once dated Isabella Rossellini, having an uncanny full head of hair, an honored Chevalier and Officier in France, TV and film innovator who pushes the boundaries of narrative and medium, a tireless self promoter (he sells his own brand of coffee), a practitioner of transcendental meditation, and a surprisingly intelligent embracer of new technology (just check out

It is impossible to categorize such an auteur. He has one foot in Academy Award circles and another in the wild and arty glamorama of European film festivals – and rightfully so. Here is a guy who has proven time and again a calculated but organic control over his craft.

Below is a range of his films that run the gamut of extremity, preciseness and dare we say it: straightforwardness.

Eraserhead (1977)

This self-produced and family financed film is near the top of all time cult classics. Dark, powerful and brooding, we are initiated into Lynch’s metaphysical world of grotesquery. Too strange to describe into precise words, it needs an open minded viewing or clear palette to appreciate. This is Jack Nance’s first film with the director. Reportedly a favorite of Kubrick and George Lucas.

The Elephant Man (1980)

This fine period piece is a heartfelt biography of severely deformed but highly intelligent John Merrick (John Hurt) who popularized the disease in Victorian times. Anthony Hopkins plays the surgeon who discovers Merrick in a London sideshow. The film garnered nominations for Best Picture and Actor.

Dune (1984)

Lynch’s worst film of the lot is really not that bad and may have gotten the unfair shake from Hollywood who disagreed with the director’s vision. Not quite Blade Runner status, the film did showcase innovative set design and costumes and boasted an all star cast. A difficult adaptation by any standards, Lynch got close to the essence of the book’s metaphysics unlike future substandard adaptations. I still believe only Lynch could do this justice.

Blue Velvet (1986)

One of Lynch’s best, Blue Velvet is a twisted homage to the 50s American Dream. It shows the grotesque, evil and sexually violent dark side of a picturesque and pastoral small town in middle America. Dennis Hopper portrays Frank Booth – one of the most memorable screen villains in film history.

Wild at Heart (1990)

A loose meditation on the Wizard of Oz fable, Wild at Heart is a road trip love story of extreme caricatures and characters that I could call it ‘fun’. Less serious than previous works, it has all the hallmarks of creepy characters, violence, symbolism and strangeness one would expect from Lynch. Adding to Frank Booth’s legacy is Willem Dafoe’s portrayal of sleaze ball Bobby Peru.

Lost Highway (1997)

My personal favorite, this is Lynch’s first foray into non-linearity storytelling. Bill Pullman in perfectly cast as the jilted putz along with Patricia Arquette (the perfect femme fatale) in a steamy role as his adulterous wife. Requires multiple viewings to appreciate but well worth the time and effort. Robert Loggia is hilarious as a ruthless mob boss and Robert Blake plays an excellent Mephisto. The giant cell phone scene is a classic.

The Straight Story (1999)

Proof that David Lynch can tell a ‘straight’ story, this heartfelt film tells the true story of Alvin Straight (old-Hollywood stuntman Richard Farnsworth in his last and Oscar nominated performance) who traveled across Wisconsin and Iowa on a tractor to visit his ailing brother. Though a ‘straightforward’ story, any Lynch fan can see the surrealism in an old geezer’s relentless mission to travel cross country on a riding lawnmower.

Mulholland Dr. (2001)

Nominated for Best Film, here Lynch perfected the non-linear narrative in this atmospheric and narcotic film. Originally conceived as a TV series, Mulholland Dr. works perfectly as a standalone film. Naomi Watts is excellent as Betty, an aspiring and innocent wannabe actress – or is she? There are pastoral elements reminiscent of Blue Velvet that only enhance the shock that perhaps all is not what it seems. Plenty of memorable scenes especially of Justin Theroux’s Hollywood meeting with the Italian film producers. Ordering a cappuccino would never be the same.

Inland Empire (2006)

Though not a fan of standard definition DV camerawork, you have to admire Lynch’s passion for DIY ethics. Clocking in at 3 hours, this is challenging stuff with all the strangeness, horror and humor to be expected. Diehard Lynchians will easily eat this up though with the help of caffeine and cigarettes (2 of Lynch’s vices). Inland Empire takes non-linear storytelling to a new level in that the script was also being written during filming. The actors did not know their lines or scenes in advance – they improvised on a daily basis. Laura Dern’s portrayal of an adulterous Hollywood starlet is one of her finest.

What are your thoughts on Mr. Lynch? You can start by sharing your favorite movie(s) from his collection.

Guest Post: Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’ Script Review

Script cover courtesy of

So I got a hold of Tarantino’s new script Django Unchained and have read it three times, it’s probably one of the most exciting scripts I’ve read in a while. In case you don’t believe me, see the image to the right, it’s the front page of the script, if you go to some other sites to read the review of the script, you‘ll see the exact same page.

I also read the scripts of Kill Bill and Inglorious Basterds way before the films came out and I thought those were great but Django was much better, so let‘s hope QT can turn it into a great film. Since the film hasn’t even been made or cast yet, I won’t go deep into the story, I have too much respect for QT to ruin his great work and spoil it for those who prefer to see the film. I’ll skim through some of the characters and what you can expect from the film. It’s basically a revenge/love story with Tarantino’s touch.

Fans of QT know that he love the cinemas of the 60s and 70s and this film will be his true homage to the spaghetti western genre and also a little bit of blaxpoitation films. Particularly he played a lot of homage to Once Upon a Time in the West and Mandingo. A lot of people assume it will be a remake of Sergio Corbucci’s 1966 Django, but it’s not. Although the star from that film, Franco Nero, will probably have a minor role in Django Unchained, QT wrote a character especially for him. The story took place sometime in the 1800s, he never specify the year and right away we see to our hero Djangoand a couple of pages in we were introduce to our second hero, Dr. King Schultz. Since QT knows how to shoot a great action sequence, this opening scene will no doubt be spectacular once it’s on the screen, again I won’t spoil it for you but let’s just say Dr. Schultz is one bad ass character. Apparently QT wrote the part specifically for Christopher Waltz and if he accepts the role, no doubt he’ll own it like he did with Col. Landa.

Fan-made poster by Federico Mancosu

After we were introduced to our two heroes and a big action scene (trust me you‘re going to love the sequence and it was quite bloody too), just like in other QT’s films, he jump the story to another character with the usual screen fades to black and then title card telling us what we’re about to see now. In this segment we were introduced to Django’s wife Broomhilda and what happened to her after the opening scene. There’s a flashback scene in the beginning of the movie of Django and Broomhilda’s time together but a tragic event happened and they got separated.

Also, here we were introduced to the main villain, the slimy and despicable Calvin Candie. If you think Col. Landa or Bill were great villains, Candie might actually change your mind. I’d compare Calvin Candie to another despicable villain character, Judge Holden from Blood Meridien, a western novel written by Cormac McCarthy. I won’t be surprised at all if QT sort of based Calvin Candie on Holden. Later in this segment, we get to see Candie’s right hand man, a house slave named Stephen; he’s as nasty as Candie. Also there were some minor characters we were introduced to; these include a vicious killer who kills slaves for fun. There’s a scene in the script that’s very similar to a scene from Schindler’s List where Ralph Fienes’ character lined up Jewish prisoners and shot them in the head one by one; in this movie a few slaves were lined up and this character named Ace Woody starts shooting them in the head one by one. Then there was Candie’s lawyer Mr. Moguy, even though he’s in the rest of the film after we met him, he didn’t have a lot of dialog. The rest of the film takes place at Candie’s farm called Candyland, that’s where he pits slave fighters against one another.

As I mentioned before, this is one of the best scripts I’ve ever read and it has QT’s signature unexpected scene in it, you know like the one where Vincent shot Marvin in the face in Pulp Fiction or the shootout scene in the basement bar in Inglourious Basterds. In this one there’s a handshake scene that will make people laugh and jump at the same time, seriously it’s going to be awesome. What’s surprising to me though was how straight forward the plot of the film was, I was expecting something wild and crazy but what QT wrote was a true western with a lot of action and great characters. Now since the story is about slaves in the 1800s, the N-word were uttered by every major characters in the film except Broomhilda, so if you’re offended easily I don’t recommend you go see this film. Also, whichever actress who gets the role of Broomhilda, she’ll have to bear her skin quite a bit. There’s a couple of rape scenes and of course whipping. Just like the other QT’s films, it’s brutal and unflinching; I know for sure some scenes will make people very uncomfortable. One particular scene might not make it to the screen, it involved a runaway slave and huge hunting dogs, and I’ll let you use your imagination as to what happened in that scene.

QT and Christoph at the Governor’s Ball

In the last month or so Will Smith was the front runner to take the role of Django but looks like he’s backing away from it, probably because he doesn’t want to star in such a violent film, which is kind of funny because he was in Bad Boys 2 and that film was quite violent. If Smith won’t take the role then I would like to see maybe Anthony Mackie or Idris Elba. As for Dr. King Shultz, Christopher Waltz have to accept it, I can’t see anyone else in that role but him. If Alan Rickman were a bit younger, I think he’d be great for this role too. Rumors also been going around that Michael Fassbender was offered a role in the film, I assume it’s for Candie’s lawyer role Mr. Moguy, the role is minor and very similar to his character in Inglourious Basterds.

As for the villain Calvin Candie, apparently QT offered the role to Leonardo DiCaprio. This is kind of strange since he wrote the character as someone who’s in his late 40s or early 50s. If Leo accepts it then I’m sure QT can change the script and make the character younger. I actually like this move by QT a lot, cast one of the biggest stars in Hollywood as one of the most despicable villains ever and I think Leo can do it. It will be very interesting to see how people will react when he says the N-word to our hero and to all of the black characters in the film and trust me he uttered that word quite a bit. I think for the role of Broomhilda QT can probably cast some unknown actress since I assume some well-known ones might not want to take it. Like I mentioned before, the role will require the actress to be naked a lot and she got raped in a couple of scenes. For the role of house slave and second main villain Stephen, Samuel L. Jackson has apparently been offered the role and he’s perfect for it. In the script QT described him as a tall, skinny and in his 50s. He and Django do not like each other one bit and the showdown between them was pretty awesome, can’t ruin it for you though.

Now QT love to change his scripts so what I read might not be the final script but I hope he keeps most of it when he finally shoots the film. I remember he changed the script of Kill Bill and Inglourious Basterds, only about 60% to 70% of script made it to the screen. Whatever he decides to do, I’ll be there opening night. Seriously I can’t wait to see this movie but it won’t hit theaters ’til Christmas 2012!

So there you have it, an early review of QT’s new script that sure to be stirred up some controversies once it hits the big screen. What do you think? Will you go see it or are you not a fan of Tarantino? Feel free to leave your comments below.