David Lynch: The Art Life Screen 5 articles

David Lynch: The Art Life

2016

David Lynch: The Art Life Poster
  • Rarely do the filmmakers cut to Lynch as he speaks, instead placing his distinct voice over interesting images of him painting, or simply pondering in his workshop. A cut above the typical filmmaker profile, The Art Life still has shortcomings, most notably a somewhat arbitrary endpoint, which cuts off as his film career is about to takeoff with Eraserhead.

  • One senses that Lynch is the captain of this project, and that directors Jon Nguyen, Rick Barnes, and Olivia Neergaard-Holm haven’t unturned anything in their subject that he hasn’t decided to disclose in advance. The Art Life may lack the spontaneity of a classic documentary, but it compellingly reveals new elements of fear and rootlessness to be lurking underneath Lynch’s confidence.

  • Evidence of that craft is on display throughout, as Lynch’s artwork—from paintings to sculptures to one of his earliest film shorts, “The Alphabet”—frequently fills the screen, its disturbing phantasmagoria providing an amusing juxtaposition to all the calm shots of Lynch dabbing at a canvas, recording his narration, half-glimpsed in the shadows of a sound booth or, most often, staring off contemplatively while smoking (always smoking).

  • When we see a photograph of Lynch’s mother Edwina carrying a log, or hear him recalling how, as a young boy in Spokane, Washington, he witnessed a woman walking one evening down his suburban street, stark naked and with a bloodied mouth (“kinda like the strangest dream”), it is as if the imaginative landscapes of his future work were already being sown in the past.

  • Die-hard fans will be familiar with many of these stories, but there is something subtly different about hearing them in his own voice, and about the tone that he adopts here: the reflective tenor of a septuagenarian... Lynch speaks with an unusual openness about deep-seated fears and anxieties. Watching The Art Life, one is struck by the degree to which the Lynchian—linked as it is to the ever-present possibility of things falling apart—is a phobic sensibility.

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