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Still reeling after the Twin Peaks finale last year? Are you wondering where you're going to get your next Lynchian fix? Considering the usual gap between David Lynch's projects in the past, we may have a long while to wait before he graces us with another film. In the meantime, here are some films you might enjoy if you enjoy the works of David Lynch.
5. 'The Fountain' (2006, dir. Darren Aronofsky)
By far, The Fountain is Aronofsky's most underrated work to date. Mixing gorgeous visuals, a sweeping symphonic soundtrack, brilliant acting, and a story that requires multiple viewings to even begin to understand, The Fountain is Aronofsky's equivalent to Lynch's Inland Empire in beauty and complexity.
The Fountain plays out in three distinctly different settings: One in modern day, one in the days of the Conquistadors, and one presumably in the future. In modern day, brain surgeon Tommy rushes to find a cure for his wife, who is soon to die of a brain tumor. In the past, Tomas is a Conquistador serving Queen Isabella of Spain, sent to retrieve an elixir of eternal life. In the future, he is an astronaut, traveling with a mysterious tree, having visions of his past lives, attempting to reach a dying star before it goes out forever.
The three narratives switch off and interweave in a convoluted tapestry of cinema, leaving the viewer a bit befuddled. However, it must be said that very few movies have been made on this level of sheer beauty. Aronofsky's surreal tale takes place within the jungles of Central America, and golden nebulae in outer space, and, as vastly different as these locales may be, the narrative weaves them together in an intriguing way. This movie can be enjoyed on many different levels, especially as brain food. You don't see this level of creativity often.
4. 'Ellie Parker' (2005, dir. Scott Coffey)
Ellie Parker is something like Mulholland Drive's more light-hearted little sister. It was born out of the friendship between co-stars Naomi Watts and Scott Coffey, who met on the set of Mulholland Drive. The film also features cameos from notable folks such as Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Syme (just before her death, which is memorialized at the beginning of Mulholland Drive), and singer Jessicka Addams (Scarling and Jack Off Jill).
Watts plays the eponymous Ellie Parker, an aspiring actress in Hollywood as she goes through her routine auditions and rejections, being snubbed by business people, meeting with druggie directors who instantly forget about her, a cheating musician boyfriend played by Mark Pellegrino (the hitman from Mulholland Drive), and phony acting teachers. She eventually strikes up a friendship with Chris (Scott Coffey), who boosts her spirits after several betrayals from people close to her.
Like Mulholland Drive, the film deals with the tribulations of being an artist, the phoniness of the industry, and the stages of humiliation, despair, determination, and hope that a struggling artist goes through. However, this film hits a much more optimistic note than Mulholland Drive. Watts' performance ranges from hilarious to tragic, showing the brilliance of raw human emotion. The overall message is one of survival and moxie, as Ellie picks herself up again and again from failure, always hoping that at any moment, she'll get "the call."
3. 'The Hour of the Wolf,' AKA Vargtimmen (1968, dir. Ingmar Bergman)
Surrealist director Ingmar Bergman may be far better known for his masterpieces The Seventh Seal and Persona, and deservedly so, but The Hour of the Wolf is tragically underappreciated. It mixes surrealist sensibilities with elements of horror in a fashion comparable to David Lynch's melding of the two in Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire.
The Hour of the Wolf is a dizzying descent into intrigue and madness, as Alma, the wife of artist Johan Borg (played by Bergman regulars Liv Ullman and Max von Sydow respectively), recounts what she knows of her husband's last days before his disappearance, pieced together from his diary entries and rambling stories he told her. Johan Becomes increasingly paranoid, and experiences many bizarre encounters with both human and non-human beings. He finds it difficult to tell if these encounters are real, or if they are merely hallucinations, a product of his growing insomnia. As Johan nears his breaking point, Alma is determined to fight to save him.
The Hour of the Wolf is hypnotically strange and compelling, a truly original film for its time, and a must for any Lynch fan who wishes to experience earlier examples of surrealist horror.
2. 'Santa Sangre' (1990, dir. Alejandro Jodorowsky)
Alejandro Jodorowsky is unlike any other filmmaker in his level of high strangeness. Beginning in 1957 with La Cravate, Jodorowsky's film career has spanned nearly six decades, broke new ground in avant-garde cinema, and inspired many new surrealist directors, including David Lynch. Jodorowsky's work is most notable for his stunning imagery and his intricate use of psychology and occult symbolism.
Santa Sangre is the tale of a boy named Fenix, who was raised in the circus. His mother, aside from being an aerialist in the circus, was the high priestess of a religious order that worships a sainted girl who was raped and murdered, having both her arms cut off. The order is deemed subversive, and its church is bulldozed. Years later, Fenix is living in a mental institution, acting like a monkey, until his mother comes and helps him escape. They became a performing duo at a theater, where the mother plays the head and body, and Fenix pretends to be her arms.
The film is an Oedipal nightmare set with the backdrop of the beautiful jungles of Mexico. It is at times confusing, but the story does straighten itself out, and along the way treats its viewers to some stunning visuals and intriguing symbolism. It is definitely on par with Jodorowsky's other masterpiece, El Topo.
1. 'Lake Munga' (2010, dir. Joel Anderson)
Shown in faux documentary style, Lake Mungo is a subtle and eerie tale. It was definitely made for patient audiences, as you will have to sit through multiple twists and red herrings to get to the payoff, but I promise you that it's worth it. This film features one of the most disturbing endings I've seen in a long time; one that will stick with you when you turn out the lights.
The story centers on an Australian family, the Palmers, whose daughter Alice drowns to death, and the strange events that occur in the wake. The mother and the father begin to have dreams in which they see Alice, and a series of film clips and photos turn up showing what appears to be Alice walking around by the lake and even around the house. The family first wonders if they misidentified the body, but then suspect that her spirit is wandering around, trying to get their attention. As they follow the clues, they begin to uncover unsettling secrets about their daughter, some that may have led to her death.
With some obvious nods to Twin Peaks, which alone make it worth watching for Lynch fans, Lake Mungo is a unique horror film: It doesn't waste time with predictable jump scares, and every time you think you have it figured out, it switches things around. Almost the entire three-quarters of the film are composed of red herrings, which trick you into thinking this is just a simple ghost story, when the truth is so much more disturbing.