Inland Empire


Action / Drama / Mystery / Thriller


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January 12, 2012 at 05:45 PM



Justin Theroux as Devon Berk / Billy Side
Naomi Watts as Suzie Rabbit
Mary Steenburgen as Visitor #2
Terry Crews as Street Person #3
1.01 GB
23.976 fps
3hr 0 min
P/S 13 / 98

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by manythings711 8 / 10

I would like a red plumb floating in perfume served in a gentleman's hat.

Much can be said about David Lynch but I think the mistake most people make is to think that he is trying to create a coherent and straight forward narrative structure. He is working on a subconscious level in his mind. The idea comes before the reason behind the idea. In many ways this is how art should be created because any other way will feel forced and pretentious.

David Lynch is not just trying to f*k with you. Its not meaningless and its not pretentious. If you've ever seen his interviews he is one of the most humble and soft spoken directors I've ever seen. Justin Theroux did a Q & A after my screening of Inland Empire and he described working with lynch as light hearted and fun. The complete opposite of what its like to watch some of his films which are often dark, terrifying, and disturbing.

Inland Empire is a sister film to Mulholland Dr. As my wife put it, "Watching Mulholland Dr. helped me to understand Inland Empire." They are two sides of the same coin. Lynch still seems to want to take a stab at the evils of Hollywood. His concern for the well being of actors is strong but this time instead of a new comer (Naomi Watts) he deals with one older actresses come back role and like Mulholland Dr. their are the evil producers behind the scenes and even the added possibility of a cursed set.

I am a huge Lynch fan. I don't find his films hard to understand. I am not a very intellectual person but Lynch's themes are so simple. The visuals are to be enjoyed on their own terms especially when they seem not to fit with the rest of the film. A lot of lynch's trademarks return, the dual personalities, time folding in on itself, gratuitous nudity, and another tragic murder mystery.

While this film does feel like a retread of Mulholland Dr. it also stands on its own especially since it contains a much more upbeat ending and perhaps four layers of storytelling,good luck figuring out which is which. He also continues to experiment with sound and even sings the vocals to a song in the film.

I got exactly what I wanted from Inland Empire. The downside to this is that Lynch is sort of repeating himself and I hope that doesn't mean he's out of ideas or perhaps Mulholland Dr. did not yet exercise his disdain for the studio system. The film is part murder mystery and part lucid dream. It has dream logic and has a lot of fun with some of its bizarre dialog and incredible visuals. This film also has much in common with Eraserhead in that he's completely free to explore his ideas. No one is telling him to shorten the film, cut out scenes, or that it doesn't make sense. Its uncompromising and truly art without boundaries.

My only other criticism is that the digital video is just ugly at times. When the shot is static the amount of detail in the picture can be incredible but when its hand held and moving around its grainy and looks pretty terrible. I miss the polished look of his older films but I guess that is going to be another thing that sets this movie apart from the others. I highly recommend this film to the Lynch enthusiast and to no one else. If you aren't in on the joke then I cannot imagine you leaving the theater happy after three hours of pure, free from concentrate, unpasteurized lynch. I went to see this with my wife and my best friend needless to say only I loved it. Take that as you will.


Reviewed by illuminousgurkin 8 / 10

Mulholland Drive on Acid

I saw INLAND EMPIRE at the Venice Film Festival world premiere last month. I want to keep this review short due to the fact that writing in great detail about this film is useless. INLAND EMPIRE is an experience. An experience not to be written about but to be FELT. It is David Lynch's definitive work. It's everything he has ever wanted to put into a film and it's completely free from anyone else's taming influence. The film is suffocating, dark and endless yet paradoxically contains some of the director's funniest and lightest scenes. I was frightened, uneasy, overwhelmed and moved. My emotions were thrown into disarray several times during which I lost all sense of appropriate reaction. Do not expect the mystery of this film to be solved, but expect it to be finished. Do not expect your head to understand the resolution but expect that your heart and intuition will.

If you cannot decide whether to see this film or not, I implore you to get up and go. Whether or not you enjoy it, you will never see a film like this again. I also implore you to see it IN THE CINEMA. Do not wait to see it on DVD because the experience won't be half as extraordinary.

Reviewed by Chris Knipp 9 / 10

A nightmare to remember: Lynch back on the edge

Inland Empire: it means Los Angeles, the place of Lynch's inspiration, but also the inward realm of the mind and of dreams, the surreal world of Lynch's imagination that uniquely inspires his visual poems. This new work, three hours long but unified by a savage and harrowing performance by Laura Dern channeling three or four or more overlapping personalities growing out of a lengthy free-standing monologue that was the film's starting point, is proof that the man isn't playing; hasn't lost his touch; still produces work unlike any other, work to be treasured.

DL explores a universe reachable only by going past the rational mind. It is a realm where a character, in the present case particularly the characters played by Dern (the press cliche is 'career-defining performance'), turns into other characters and turns again. It's a realm where there's another world behind the sound stage and that other world is another life, another identity, another set of terrors. And we go there; we come back; and we go there again.

After becoming the desperate monologist, Dern also became "Nikki," a movie star chosen with "Devon" (Justin Theroux) to star in a film, 'On High in Blue Tomorrows', directed by "Kingsley" (Jeremy Irons). And "Kingsley" works with "Freddie" (Harry Dean Stanton) a co-director who cadges money from stagehands and actors and apologizes saying, "I used to carry my own weight." On High in Blue Tomorrows turns out to be a remake of a doomed film, '4/7', never finished because both stars were murdered, and based on a Polish gypsy folktale. In the film Nikki, as "Sue," is cheating on her husband, and during the shoot Nikki's "real life"husband warns her not to do it for real. But of course she does: the film relationship parallels "real life," and the stars find they're confusing themselves with their film characters, just as it happens in Michele Piccioni's recent film, La vita che vorrei.

That expletive-strewn 14-page ("single-spaced") ur-monologue that anchors the film was shot in the back of DL's house with a Sony PD-150 digital video camera he'd started to use in connection with his website,, "a common midrange model" that sells now for $2,724. The monologue became the ground of being and the Sony became the simple visual tool that gave 'Inland Empire' its content and its visual style. Lynch has switched to DV for good, saying a sad farewell to the glorious beauties and cumbersome complexities of celluloid, and for this film embraced DV's limitations. He does not try to make it look like film. DL admits people say the quality is "not so good." "but it's a different quality. It reminds me," he says, "of early 35- millimeter film. You see different things. It talks to you differently" (NYTimes, Dennis Lim).

This reversion, if you will, to a cruder visual medium (but one that's in many ways more fluid, both for the actors – who can work through without pauses – and the editor – who has handy software – and the crew – who can be fewer, and work lighter), has stirred up the director's creative juices, brought him back in a way to the raw energies and immediacy of Eraserhead. Thus it's a return to youthful beginnings and yet something completely new. It's burning the bridges and rediscovering roots at the same time., which basically is what any artist to stay alive needs to do.

Dern anchors the film, but it has many elements that need anchoring. There is the disreputable husband of the disreputable monologist, who joins a Baltic circus.There's a woman played by Julia Ormond, who's first seen in a sleazy backyard with a screwdriver in her stomach, and later reappears as Billy's wife. And there's a Polish thread – which grew out of Baltic connections DL has forged and in the structure of ideas may trace back to the origins of the film of Devon and Sue (be the ur-'4/7'). There's a weeping Polish prostitute, watching a TV monitor on which appears a sitcom shot on a stage with people wearing rabbit heads; a laugh track creates a disquieting effect because the laughs come at "meaningless" points, giving the lines a sinister ring. Later the screen shows Sue. Slant magazine's Ed Gonzales smartly refers to the monitor as one of various "portals" through which characters merge into other worlds (go through the looking-glass; fall through rabbit-holes). Clearly it's all in the editing, and those who feel DL's creations are chaotic and portentously meaningless overlook his canny sense of structure.

There's a group of pretty prostitutes in a motel room, who talk to Laura Dern's character and sing and dance, "Do the Locomotion," and then at the end lipsynch Nina Simone's "Sinner Man" behind the closing credits -- one of the great closing credits of recent decades, a rollicking, gorgeous episode, which cheers you up but still contains flashes (Laura's face) that haunt you with memories of the strangeness and terror that's passed.

These are some of the interlocking boxes of 'Inland Empire'. DL mocks the idea of the "real" while using the concept to slide in between worlds.

All this is gloriously cinematic.

The film "technically" has no US distributor, though it has many European ones and the French Studio Canal signed on early at the stage when DL said he was using DV and didn't know what he was doing.

The whole of 'Inland Empire' perhaps "resembles the cosmic free fall of the mind-warping final act in Mulholland Drive" (Lim), but on the other hand it has someone to "identify" with (if you can stand the ride) in Laura Dern, who dominates the film and threads it together. Her full-ranged performance is sure to gain much mention at year's end.

After fifteen years of disappointment with and doubt about DL, it is possible to love his work again.

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