Film, Special Features

Damn Fine Cinema: The Films of David Lynch

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Twin Peaks is coming back. That news broke more than four months ago, but to many, myself included, it has yet to sink in. Sure, rumors of such a comeback have echoed around the ‘net every couple of years since the show ended, but, historically, they’ve all turned out to be wishful thinking. But to hear it formally announced from David Lynch and Mark Frost, and an actual network, and to hear the flurry of return casting announcements, and to see that picture of Kyle McLachlan holding a cup of coffee . . . well, it’s a lot to take in.

No less exciting, however, is the return of Lynch himself. As a filmmaker, David Lynch has been less than prolific lately; the Peaks reboot will be his first sustained narrative since 2006’s Inland Empire—and even then, “sustained narrative” doesn’t really seem like the right word for that starkly experimental work. His previous film, 2001’s excellent Mulholland Drive, was itself largely composed of a repurposed TV pilot Lynch had shot several years earlier. That makes The Straight Story, Lynch’s surprisingly sedate 1999 slice of life, the last fully conceptualized narrative Lynch has committed to before the ten hours (!!!) of television he’s set to direct next year. To many fans, it had increasingly seemed like Lynch had simply moved on from film.

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Yet, in many ways, Lynch seems more present than ever. For starters, despite his lack of cinematic output, he’s kept himself more than busy. He opened a college for Transcendentalist Meditation and toured the country with quantum physicists. He released two (surprisingly excellent) albums, and marketed an (unsurprisingly excellent) signature coffee blend. For reasons still unclear, he voiced a recurring character on The Cleveland Show, and shot a concert film for Duran Duran. For a while, it seemed like David Lynch was interested in doing anything but making movies.

Moreover, his influence has seemed to grow exponentially in his absence. Lynch the filmmaker might not be terribly active, but Lynchianism is everywhere right now: in filmmakers like Jonathan Glazer and Nicolas Winding Refn; in TV shows like True Detective and Hannibal; and in musicians like Chelsea Wolfe and Lana Del Rey. It seems like you can’t swing a dead cat (wrapped in plastic or not) without hitting a pocket of perverse eroticism, candy-colored noir, and singers who sound an awful lot like Julee Cruise.

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The reasons for this are unclear. While it’s tempting to ascribe it to something portentous like uncertain times or political unease, my personal theory is more simple: Netflix. While Lynch’s work has never been unavailable (save for Eraserhead, which drifted in and out of print before finding a home in the Criterion Collection), it wasn’t as easy to stumble across. I was lucky enough to have parents hip enough to sit me down when Bravo reran Twin Peaks in the late ‘90s, but most millennials had to wait until 2007 to get their hands on the whole series, and a couple of years more until it became free to watch on the Internet. With that gateway open, a whole new generation made friends with Henry Spencer, Frank Booth, and Special Agent Dale Cooper—and without new material from the master, they had to make their own.

Until now, that is. Twin Peaks is coming back. Twin Peaks is coming back. Holy shit, Twin Peaks is coming back.

DAMN FINE CINEMA: THE FILMS OF DAVID LYNCH

2/23 – Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)
2/24 – Twin Peaks: Pilot Episode (1990) FREE SHOWING!
2/25 – Eraserhead (1977) / Shorts Program (various) DOUBLE FEATURE!
2/26 – The Elephant Man (1980)
2/27 – Dune (1984)
2/28 – Wild At Heart (1990) / Blue Velvet (1986) DOUBLE FEATURE!
3/1 – Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992) / Twin Peaks: Pilot Episode (1990) DOUBLE FEATURE!
3/2 – The Straight Story (1999)
3/3 – Lost Highway (1997)
3/4 – Mulholland Drive (2001)
3/5 – Inland Empire (2006)

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