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DVD Review: Inland Empire

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David Lynch's Inland Empire is a mind trip of epic proportions. If this were not a Lynch film, I would say it is the story of an actress whose real life and character's life become uncomfortably intertwined. But since this is a Lynch film, it is not about that at all. What began as camera tinkering in the Czech Republic soon became three hours (yes, three hours) of experimental DV footage financed entirely out of Lynch's pocket.

Inland Empire is a barely narrative hodge podge including: a family in giant bunny costumes, Czech hookers, crazy old neighbor ladies, backyard barbecues, street urchins, back-alley talent agents, the Locomotion, life-imitating-art-imitating-life, fetish queen Masumi Max with a monkey, and plenty of abstract imagery.

The film is largely comprised of scenes, rather than story. However, the acting in those scenes is quiet, but effective. You get the feeling that Laura Dern's character is losing her mind. You get the feeling that Grace Zabriskie, Laura Dern's visitor, is perhaps a witch beneath her creepy, uncomfortable exterior. You get the feeling that Jeremy Irons, as the on-screen director, has ulterior motives. Of course, this being a Lynch film, none of these "feelings" are ever out-and-out validated. Lynch allows the viewer to find his own meaning.

If you thought Lynch put every second of shot footage he could into the theatrical release, you are mistaken. The second disc is loaded with over three and a half hours of additional footage. The stand-out on this disc is something that only Lynch could do – offer an instructional video on how to prepare quinoa (a high-protein grain), which is apparently his favorite dinner. In his own kitchen, Lynch takes you through all the steps to prepare this dinner – all set to the creepy, atmospheric score from the film. Talk about Lynchian. Also included are: over an hour of "more things that happened" (aka deleted scenes); a half-hour of behind-the-scenes footage – everything from Lynch directing to touching up some props to ordering fill lights; plus the standard production stills and trailers.

Lynch also sits down and gives behind-the-scenes anecdotes, just Lynch, a microphone, and a cigarette in a red room (how appropriate). As is characteristic of Lynch, he doesn't even hint at the meaning behind his story, but he does share interesting stories about how Inland Empire went from camera test to opus.

If you've never seen a David Lynch film before, don't start with this one. If you are a Lynch fan, don't miss this one. Inland Empire is a return to Lynchian form, the dark, complex abstraction made famous by Eraserhead. With beautiful – if befuddling – imagery and a haunting score, Inland Empire can be considered one of David Lynch's best films.

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