Wednesday, October 31, 2007

20:07 (A Woman in Trouble)

screenshots from the 20th minute and 7th second of a movie
I can't guarantee the same results at home (different players/timing) I use WinDVD

JEREMY IRONS [voiceover]: This script, this world we're going to plunge into—if we all play our role, do our best, if we work hard together... well, this could be the one. This is a star-maker if ever I saw one. You'll see. I think we have a chance to pull it off. What do you say?

I couldn't avoid it. I couldn't go with anything else. I worked for over an hour on a different banquet of 20:07 images for today, and I'll probably still share them tomorrow. But it is Halloween, and nothing in recent memory, or perhaps ever, has spooked me as badly in a movie theater as INLAND EMPIRE did. The first time I saw it, I screamed at least twice, somehow managed not to jump into Goatdog's lap, exited the theater into a back street at midnight, and cried on the bus on the way home. The second time I saw it, I screamed at least twice, the same two times. (If you've seen the movie, no points for guessing when.) The third time I saw it, I took 14 pages of notes, partly to start working on an essay about the movie, partly to insulate myself just a smidge against total psychosis.

Though the image isn't exactly definitive (though what image from this movie would be?), I love that 20:07 pinpoints this particular moment in the script: the moment where "Nikki Grace" commits herself completely to "Susan Blue," who may or may not be the same person as herself, and which therefore may or may not entail a terrorizing pledge of allegiance against her own well-being, even her own reality. Also the moment where the full ride of Laura Dern's performance really begins; and the moment where INLAND EMPIRE raises its own stakes as a "plunge" worth taking, as the "one" movie that Lynch fans have been begging him to make in the five long years since Mulholland Dr. Clearly we do have to "work hard together" with this movie if we're going to get anything out of it, but there's so, so, so much to be gotten. Trick or treat? Both, I think.

LAURA DERN: I'm tellin' you, it was a night like any other night.

If you rent or buy the DVD of INLAND EMPIRE, you gain access to 75 more minutes of extra footage, or what Lynch dubs "More Things That Happened." I haven't waded through all these expansions and effluvia yet; everything I read assures me that no "explanation" of INLAND EMPIRE arises from these sequences. I do love that, in another glorious and fortuitous surprise of this feature that Nathaniel dreamed up, the Nikki pinpointed at 20:07 of the bonus disc is the polar-opposite Nikki of the ambitious Hollywood glamor gal we find at 20:07 of the theatrical version. Oh, that Nikki—always somehow exposing at least two sides of herself at, quite literally, the same time. As she so mellifluously puts it, "That's the kind of shit I'm talking about."

As for "a night like any other night"? I don't think so, Nikki/Susan/Laura/David.

And as for you, here's wishing you a happy-scary night unlike any other night.

4 comments:

Kamikaze Camel said...

Perhaps having known about how crazy this movie was beforehand, when I finally got around to seeing it I wasn't exactly thrown for a loop - I knew not to expect something that made sense. But I think it was an amazing accomplishment. That Lynch can just throw those images on the screen with next to no context and still have them terrify then... well, that says a lot about him (and about "horror" films of late in general).

Catherine said...

I still haven't seen INLAND EMPIRE. I think I'm gonna rent it at the weekend, before heading back to school. I have to say tough, Laura Dern must have the most expressive face in Hollywood. That lady can gurn.

Barry said...

The first time "the face" popped up, it scared the shit out of me. The second time was scarier because "the face" was there a bit longer than last time. Good scary wtf crazy motherfucker of a movie to watch on Halloween.

steve said...

Ooh, I loved this. Even if it didn't make any sense to me. I was fascinated the entire time. Dern was stellar. Performances that good should win Oscars.