Everyone needs a best friend. She’s the person who diplomatically steers you away from wearing the pants that make your ass look huge, saying something like, “That looks nice but I like your black pants better.” A best friend is the person who will tell you you have spinach in your teeth or toilet paper on your shoe or, to the matter at hand, that your film may be just a wee bit too long when it’s weighing in mere minutes shy of three hours and lacks a coherent plot line.
David Lynch needs a best friend. That’s what I decided last week after watching the screening of Inland Empire at the Hammer. Don’t get me wrong–I have been a David Lynch fan for a long time. I am old enough to have seen Blue Velvet in the theater when it came out and to have watched Twin Peaks religiously on TV each week with a group of like-minded friends. We made meatloaf and we ate pie. When the series ended, we were bereft. The other night at the Hammer when Inland Empire ended, I was relieved. It’s just too damn long. Just because you’re an auteur doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from a good film editor; that was the lesson of the evening. Well, that and don’t believe the word “reservation” means a damn thing when it comes to the Hammer. More on that lesson after the jump.
Fortunately, I had some idea about the latter lesson, having read about a similar snafu with the Zocalo’s Jonathan Gold event. It seems that there is a trend for these free events to offer the illusion of a reservation in the form of an email rsvp option. The Inland Empire screening and Lynch Q&A was part of Filter Magazine’s Big Time series at the Hammer and the “rsvp” option was just to help them figure out how much gin to order or something. When you email them to make a reservation, they send you a response saying:
This confirms you will be on our list for the event but DOES NOT GUARANTEE getting into the Billy Wilder theatre. Seats will be given out on a first come first serve basis.
You’re on the list, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get in because it’s first-come first-served. Whatever. Anyway, I had learned my lesson about the Hammer years ago when I was turned away for a David Byrne PowerPoint thingie, so I was forearmed this time. My dear friends Colin and Laurel staked out turf at the front of the line early in the evening and we were indeed able to get into the Wilder theater. I feel almost guilty not appreciating it more given the fact that so many folks were turned away or ended up in the overflow theater. (Curiously, while both of these two links–the overflow theater blogger and the turned away blogger–are from LAist, they also were giving away tickets to the event. I have a suspicion that some poor LAist readers were wandering around the Hammer trying to convince whoever would listen that they had tickets to this ticketless event.)
There was a Q&A afterward which was short and not terribly revelatory. Q: Should a film-maker follow his own vision or worry about what the audience thinks? A: He should follow his own vision.
Duh. What did you think David Lynch would say, for crying out loud?
And there was stuff to buy. I was tempted by the Angriest Dog in the World tee-shirts, but I resisted. And the coffee–$16.95 for 12 ounces and not even extracted from civet poo. C’mon David. Cut us a break here.
Anyway, the best part of the evening in my book was the beginning when Lynch played keyboards and quoted the Upanishad: “We are like the spider. We weave our life and then move along in it. We are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives in the dream. This is true for the entire universe.”
I still love David Lynch, but I think I love him just a little bit less now.
(Picture is courtesy iotae from some other David Lynch event somewhere else. I am still camera-less though soon to rectify this problem.)