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Review: David Lynch – The Art Life


Shining a spotlight on American independent cinema

The American Essentials Film Festival, now in its second year, features a range of independent works produced over the last year and timeless American Masterpieces. The Artistic Director, Richard Sowada created a program that captured the essence of American culture. The program features G-Funk, Annie Hall and feature documentaries such as The Bomb that Sowada noted “is an interesting piece… particularly at a time like now”.

David Lynch: The Art Life is one of the featured works inthe festival. It uses Lynch’s artworks, archives and stories from his past to get a deeper view of his work. Within the film, he speaks of his adolescences, his search for meaning and his push to create impactful works.

It is impossible to see David Lynch as dull, but Jon Nguyen’s documentary about him comprises mostly of montages of the director’s paintings interspersed with dramatic music that were a distraction more than anything. Some music felt carefully crafted to the tone of Lynch’s work but the dramatic chords such as that in the beginning felt more suitable for a Bold & The Beautiful shock reveal. I felt irritated at the film’s push towards depicting Lynch as the egocentric brooding artist. The coffee drinker, the hard-working painter burdened with this pressure to make art. This “no one will ever understand me” mantra has played repeatedly in Art Cinema and it seems to be inflating the art worlds ego more than anything. Rather than alienating its audience in the world of the somewhat-cold Lynch, Nguyen perhaps could have created a more engaging dialogue that involved art viewers and friends alike.

I see films such as these that supposedly explore a new side of artist as pointless. Considering how much of artist’s experiences they usually put into their work, these films only seem to point out well established facts for fans.

To be fair, the interview style at his home studio in the Hollywood Hills were nice.  The shots of him in which you could she him reacting to his life felt genuine, particularly when he was playing with his daughter.

As the movie progressed, like with films such as Whiteley the fun of the first few minutes of the film had become a gimmick.  Props to the Cinematographer, Jason S., as the shots were visually beautiful but they were all so slow! Shots of Lynch playing with his hands were ok for the first few seconds yet it becomes tediously long.

Nethertheless, this film has an amazing array of David Lynch’s visual art, seen with the telling of accompanying stories. The film also gives viewers footage from the notoriously press-shy director including pictures and footage from early life.
Therefore, this film is recommended for Lynch fans and art lovers. The film undeniably gives you an unusual look into David Lynch and his work that is best to be engaged if you are aware of the cold and surreal works Lynch has done with paint and film.