Sailor and Lula on the Big Screen

June 11, 2014 | By

Kids: this is what happens when you never brush your teeth and eat Cracker Jack before bedtime.


2014 seems to be shaping up into a year where David Lynch’s career is getting a refocus of sorts, with Adam Nayman continuing his retrospective on the director’s work (David Lynch in Nayman’s Terms) in a series of lectures in Toronto, and Lynch and Mark Frost’s iconoclastic series Twin Peaks (1990-1992) is slated for a proper Blu-ray edition (packing together the series, the feature film + long-sought after deleted scenes) on July 29 from Paramount.

Lynch also made the headlines when he announced a contest in which the selected winner will be awarded a full scholarship for an M.A. in Film at the Maharishi University of Management in Iowa. (The deadline is June 21st for the program that combines filmmaking and meditation – Lynch’s current passion.)

David Lynch hasn’t made a feature film since Inland Empire (2006), and hasn’t shot a feature-length movie on film since Mulholland Drive (2001), and although he’s been involved with shorts, segments within anthology works, and a Duran Duran concert film in 2011, he’s stepped away from the harsh spotlight as America’s most beloved oddball, which is a shame because even when his work isn’t wholly organic, there are those magnetic, moody sections which manage to simultaneously amuse and horrify.

Case in point: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), which is an awful mess (no deleted scenes could fix the nonsensical first hour) except once Lynch is done with useless cameos and protracted weirdness, the story of what happened to Laura Palmer finally kicks in and the film gets really nasty, with a great use of editing and sound design to maximize the horror of a sadistic murder. (I’ve always argued there’s a superb prequel episode in that film, and years ago I cut a 48 minute version to prove the film could function as an R-rated episode.)

WildAtHeart1990_BRWild at Heart was made during the production of Twin Peaks, and like the series’ spin-off film, it’s also got big flaws that slow down the narrative until the story of Barry Gifford’s Sailor and Lula starts to get back on track and we’re headed for a great showdown.

Full confession: I hated the film when it was first release, and my disliking at the time likely stemmed from Lynch’s script lacking the plotting and structure from his collaborations with Frost, a veteran TV writer and showrunner who knows (in TV, at least), how to avoid indulgent distractions.

WAH isn’t awful, but it’s not a maligned masterpiece. There are amazing moments within the film’s bloated running time, but it’s tough tolerating two lead characters who may be genuinely in love, but are also grating idiots. Like Inland Empire, WAH is a divisive work because on his own Lynch can drift and wander; sometimes he creates haunting works, or something interminably dull.

There’s also Nicolas Cage’s channeling of Elvis, and dialogue lifted from the book which doesn’t always work. Lynch has shown (and does so several times in WAH) that more can be said through behaviour and sparse words, or even the repetition of words over almost pornographic close-ups bubbling with menace (as when Bobby Peru grabs Lula and repeats F-bombs through his stumpy mouth in a scene that snaps from sleazy to explosive).

PerditaDurango_aka_DanceWithDevilUploaded are reviews WAH, newly released on Blu-ray by Twilight Time with all the extras from MGM’s prior special edition DVD set, plus Perdita Durango / Dance with the Devil,  Alex de la Iglesia’s 1997 film version of Gifford’s related S&L novel which showcased two minor characters in WAH – Perdita Durango, and Mexican crime boss Santos. I’d love to see Iglesias’ uncut version with the weird CGI material that’s apparently in the Spanish release version, but for now, at least in North America, we have a somewhat uncut version from el cheapo label Unapix.

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I’ll upload a cluster of reviews over the next few days (including a trio of Twilight Times) and will be back with more material next week, as the free entry deadline for the Toronto Urban Film Festival is this weekend, and I’ve much trippy stuff to render over the next few days.

Expect a composer podcast, director podcast, and reviews of recently completed TV series next week, plus a link to my TUFF entry when it’s up on Vimeo and YouTube.




Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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