One of the new segments I want to introduce on Adam's Final Cut is a series in which over the course of a month, we explore all the films a writer, director, or creative team have created. I'm still working on a name and learning film theories behind the idea, so I'm not quite ready for launch yet. However, for February, mainly because it's fresh in my head, I want to explore the filmography of David Lynch. As a little teaser of what's to come, here are 7 scenes from David Lynch's projects that are utterly unforgettable.
1. Dead Girl Walking (Wild at Heart)
I don't much love Wild at Heart. Lynch's first collaboration with author Barry Gifford, it's a sex-fueled, graphically violent, yet bizarrely goofy love story/road trip between Sailor (Nic Cage) and Lula (Laura Dern) that's probably best described as David Lynch's La La Land meets Kill Bill. It's an experience with enough to like and consider when it comes to optimism in a cruel world.
But amidst the Wizard of Oz references and Willem Dafoe at his creepiest is a scene where Lula and Sailor drive past a terrible accident. The family is totally dead, except for the daughter. From far away (perhaps she shot out of the car upon impact), Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks, Gilmore Girls) approaches Sailor and Lula, asking about her purse, repeating her mother's going to kill her for losing it, unaware that she's bleeding out the side of her head. Sailor tries to get her to their car to get her to town, despite his breaking parole, but she tragically succumbs to her wounds. Fenn's sad performance, punctuated by Dern's "She's dying right in front of us, Sailor!" and "She died right in front of us, Sailor!" left a long-lasting impression in my mind, a powerful single scene.
2. "I'm at Your House. Right Now." (Lost Highway)
This was Lynch's second collaboration with Barry Gifford. I don't much love this one, either, and next to Dune, is probably my least favorite of his works (though this is far better). But the most excellent part of the movie is the enigmatic Mystery Man, played by veteran actor (and later wife murderer) Robert Blake. His music-less, pale-faced, eyebrow-less, unblinking introduction at the party Bill Pullman attends is a definitive Lynch scene. In fact, maybe it's best if you just watch it.
3. "!kcoR s'teL" (Twin Peaks)
Twin Peaks and its prequel-sequel film Fire Walk with Me have so many great scenes that it's hard to narrow down to just one incredible scene. But the introduction to the Red Room defined the television series and created mysteries that kept me watching even during the mid-season two slag. In the third episode, Special Agent Dale Cooper, Federal Bureau of Investigation (Kyle MacLachlan) has a dream where he encounters dead girl Laura Palmer and a dwarf in a otherworldly room with red curtains. However, with non-sequiturs, backwards speech, and an eerie vibe overall, we know prime time television went somewhere unusual and unexpected, elevating an already great series to all-time classic status.
4. "Am I a Good Man?" (The Elephant Man)
The Elephant Man, Lynch's first studio film, has many tragically great scenes, from "I am not an animal!" to the ending, showing that the eccentric director with the disturbing visions is an empathetic man who knows love. But the definitive scene to me, and the one I most think about, is when Anthony Hopkins considers, "Am I a good man, or am I a bad man?" for introducing John Merrick to the world. Has he exploited him as the circus has? Has John become a spectacle for high society? His wife assures him he's a wonderful man with a wonderful heart, but even so, he is not so sure.
5. In Dreams (Blue Velvet)
Besides The Elephant Man and the G-rated The Straight Story, Blue Velvet is probably Lynch's most straightforward film. It doesn't make Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan)'s ride with Frank (Dennis Hopper) any less bizarre and nightmarish. The cherry on the top comes halfway through, when Frank visits old friends (who are also holding his unwilling mistress's child hostage). Out of nowhere, the host turns on Roy Orbison's "In Dreams" and lip-syncs to it. Curiously, Frank goes through a wave of emotions, first familiarity, then beady-eyed perturbation, and finally anger. We says much about the film's villain in this moment, but also teaches so little. Nevertheless, we leave the sequence differently than when we came.
6. Silencio! (Mulholland Drive)
Mulholland Drive is Lynch's best film, for reasons we'll dive into at a later date. This scene pretty much cemented that sentiment. A intense emcee enters the stage and explains that the music we hear is not actually real or diegetic: "it is all a tape recording." There are no sounds; "No hay banda!" He explains the illusion we are all aware of when we watch movies. Yet when Rebekah del Rio sings "Llorando (Crying)" and we see the passion she exudes in close-up, I fall back into the illusion I was just told was an illusion. But the illusion is shattered when the singer suddenly dies on stage but her song continues. Shortly after, the narrative we have been introduced to falls apart and transforms, that too an illusion shattered.
7. Sir Patrick Stewart Charges into Battle with Pug (Dune)
I know I made a whole blog post saying how I couldn't say there were any bad movies in 2018, but they were just the ones "I just didn't love." The jury's still out on whether that was a gaffe on my part to make such a claim, but I can definitively say--Dune is a bad, bad, "spicy" movie (except for Kyle MacLachlan and that soundtrack). I'm not sure whether this is a highlight or the pinnacle of the movie's awfulness, but Sir Patrick Stewart does indeed charge into war with a pug under his arm. Not a space pug, not an super-powered pug... but a pug. Is there context? Sure. Does it make it more comprehensible? Not on your life.
What directors do you want to see explored? What David Lynch scenes or movies do you love? Whatever you have to say about me and the movies, comment below!
And also, check out the brand new Theme Park Workshop, debuting later today!