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150 of 152 people found the following review helpful
Little-seen LynchDec 16 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
This collection of David Lynch's short films was originally only available through his Web site. This new edition is reportedly the same disc with different packaging (it lacks the oversized box and booklet of the first version), but it's considerably cheaper. You can watch each film with or without an introduction by Lynch. The films are:
SIX MEN GETTING SICK - This animated one-minute movie was Lynch's very first film. It was originally part of a multi-media piece and was projected over a sculpture on a continuously running loop. The title is an accurate description of the film, as several human heads become inflamed, catch fire, and vomit copiously. It's worth noting that, while 99.9% of movie directors become filmmakers because they're into films, Lynch came to filmmaking purely as an extension of his painting, and was never a movie buff. I think that simple fact goes a long way in explaining Lynch's originality as a director.
THE ALPHABET - A combination of animation and live action, this approximately 5-minute film is "about the fear of learning," according to Lynch. The soundtrack consists of children repeatedly chanting the alphabet, while animated letters seem to excrete and procreate and a woman in white-face cowers in a bed and eventually vomits blood (vomiting figures strongly in Lynch's early film work). It's a concentrated and eerie piece of surrealism.
THE GRANDMOTHER - A lonely, abused boy grows a grandmother from a seed in this, Lynch's first attempt at narrative (of a sort). There's some animation, but live action dominates. It's crudely made in comparison to his first feature, Eraserhead, but it's clearly the product of the same singular artistic vision.
THE AMPUTEE - Back around the time he was making ERASERHEAD, Lynch was offered some videotape for free, so he used it to shoot this short bit of black comedy. It stars Catherine Coulson (much later she became the Log Lady in TWIN PEAKS) and Lynch himself.
THE COWBOY AND THE FRENCHMAN - Made for French TV right after he finished BLUE VELVET, this is a virtually plotless exercise in comic surrealism, plopping down an absurdly stereotypical Frenchman (he wears a beret, and carries a bottle of wine and snails in briefcase) in the middle of a ranch inhabited by several stereotypical cowboys. It looks like it was mastered off a videotape source, which is odd. I wonder if the original film elements were lost.
LUMIERE - Originally titled PREMONITION FOLLOWING AN EVIL DEED, which I personally like a lot better than LUMIERE. This was made for the film LUMIERE AND COMPANY, in which acclaimed directors from all over the world were given a Lumiere camera (the very first motion picture camera) and asked to make a movie with it. Since the camera could only hold 55 seconds worth of film, the directors were retsricted to that running time. They also were not allowed to edit. If you've seen LUMIERE AND COMPANY, you know that Lynch's film is by far the most interesting and imaginative of the bunch. He ingeniously got around the prohibition against editing by constructing several sets side-by-side, and blocking the lens momentarily while he moved the camera to the next scene. The movie goes by in a flash of bizarre black and white images. Was that a naked woman floating in a huge glass tube? And what were those humanoid things and what exactly were they doing? You have to watch the film several times to begin to get a clear idea of what you've seen.
These shorts represent the more abstract side of Lynch's film work - they're much more the work of the Lynch who made ERASERHEAD than the Lynch who made THE STRAIGHT STORY. Your average Joe Filmgoer would hate them. But if you're a Lynch fan and haven't seen some or all of these films, you'll definitely want to get this.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Some Like It Sick - Times SixMay 11 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
If you're a Lynch devotee, a student of the relationship between fine art and film, or you just like to stroll the docks late at night hoping to get beaten up, this is must viewing for you. The Short Films Of David Lynch showcases the celebrated eccentric's earliest efforts, some of which are only a few minutes long. Not only are they spellbinding, his commentary on them is as interesting as the subjects themselves. Watching these pieces, and they deserve repeated viewing, resolves the two most persistent questions about David Lynch. The first question is: Is David Lynch really as sick and perverse as he seems to be or has he cloaked himself in a mantle of depravity because such an affectation is considered hip in the art world?
After watching "Six Men Getting Sick" - six times in a row, you will have your answer. The Grandmother is equally grotesque and horrifying, foreshadowing the revulsion soon to come in his unforgettable Eraserhead. The Amputee is not really much different from many Monty Python sketches you've seen, except that the delivery is so deadpan as to be unpleasant if not twisted. Most illuminating of all, with respect to films made years later, is The Cowboy And The Frenchman - a frothy concoction of existential surrealism that dances between delightful absurdity and annoying stupidity with effortless ease. It has all the content of a Samuel Beckett novel.
Which brings us to the second question about David Lynch. Are his films pointless by design; is he completely uninterested in creating real characters and putting them in situations that have meaning? Or, to put it differently, does he view film as "moving canvas," a medium that shows but does not reveal, and in the process provides ample opportunity for him to unleash the bats in his brain that prevent him from sleeping at night?
The Short Films Of David Lynch answers this question too. The intentional lack of meaning and devotion to bizarre graphic style foretells what is to come, from Wild At Heart and Lost Highway all the way through to his masterpiece, Mulholland Drive. Lynch is brilliant, troubling, and hard to categorize. These short films, which just recently became available, provide valuable insight into the unique vision of our most painterly, unorthodox, and demented director.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Nightmares!Dec 14 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
What is it about old short films with grain, textures, and lo-fi sounds that make it so haunting?
I've never quite been able to state whether I love David Lynch's work or hate it. But I can't deny that he's always been intriguing. These films are quite frightening and yes, of course they're bizarre and strange. As I mentioned, the textures, the contrast, the audio, the characters and stories... all the elements combine to produce some really amazing and beautiful work. You'll get basically nothing as far as the traditional narrative here, but there is so much more to work with. If you're familiar at all with the Brothers Quay, this would be a definite buy for you.
Of the Lynch features I've seen, I'd probably say that "Eraserhead" and "Inland Empire" are the most comparable to the short films on this disc. Take it for what it's worth, could be good or bad. I think that his early work embraces the experimental, and he capitalizes on the fact he is working with a short film, not a feature. I really love these pieces, having previously only seen "Luminere"
I will assume that most people at least have some idea of what David Lynch can be like... so take that into account if buying this collection. I think the films are great, but they're definitely not for everybody. One huge attribute to this collection is the short intros given by the director before each film (option to watch with or without)
& Peggy singing the alphabet is going to give me nightmares for weeks.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A tangential opinionFeb. 20 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
The films themselves are simple, odd and fun to watch; but the commentary by David Lynch is amaaaaaaaazing. Slow and intensely weird while at the same time, somehow, warm and educational. Lynch doesn't hold back about his beginnings, rambling on in his nostalgia. He's one of those people who make you think, "How can he be so serious about what he does?" And then, you realize, you've just been thoroughly entertained.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
That's how it beganJan. 2 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
David Lynch is my favorite director of all times. He stands on top, side by side with Stanley Kubrick, in my opinion. I've been watching his films over and over again since I was 16 and it's always a new experience. Every single time I discover new meanings, new interpretations, new compelling details, which is wonderful but also frustrating, in a way: when I think I'm pretty close to fully understand his art, I have to re-think it all. But "The Short Films" came as a fundamental help to my efforts. There is where it all began and there I found the seeds (it's funny to see how the seeds are a constant in his early works, from "The Alphabet" to "Eraserhead") of his unique art. The DVD includes the following works:
-- Six Men getting sick -- The Alphabet -- The Grandmother -- The Amputee -- The Cowboy and the Frenchman -- Lumiere
I can see clearly a path connecting the first three films. In the odd "film painting" of the Six Men Lynch establishes one of his staple subjects: the birth/generation (the life!) as a sickness; then he depicts learning as a traumatic experience in "The Alphabet" and finally ends this unorthodox trilogy with that "nightmare of growing" called "The Grandmother". "The Grandmother" is definitely a complete film and his first, disturbing masterpiece: I think this alone is worth the price of the DVD, an absolute must-see. The remaining three works are less interesting. I see in them more mannerism and less significance, while "The cowboy and the Frenchman" is fun (thanks to Harry Dean Stanton!) and very reminiscent of the humour of "Twin Peaks". I would have enjoyed some extras, but now my Lynch collection is complete and I'm very glad of my purchase.