David Lynch: The Art Life Blu-ray Review
David Lynch: The Art Life (2017) Blu-ray Review, a movie directed by Jon Nguyen, Rick Barnes, and Olivia Neergaard-Holm, starring David Lynch.
Release Date: September 26, 2017.
“Artist and filmmaker David Lynch discusses his early life and the events that shaped his outlook on art and the creative process.”
Run Time: 88 min
Format: Blu-ray, AC-3, DTS Surround Sound, Widescreen
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Language: English 5.1 (DTS-HD)
Rating: Not Rated
The visual presentation of this addition to the Criterion Collection is A+. These editions are always immediately appreciated once the Blu-ray menu pops up, alerting you to how much care was put into the release. The fact that this was shot digitally doesn’t take away from the immersive, oftentimes film-like graininess that so perfectly complements Lynch’s own aesthetic. There’s dust in the air of his studio, lens-flares from the incoming sunshine outside, and perfectly presented photographs from Lynch’s time in Philadelphia as an art student. Everything looks great, and the care and effort is certainly appreciated.
I have no complaints, here. I was unable to use a proper surround sound speaker set-up, but never had an issue hearing things clearly or frustratedly fiddling with the audio settings. I was using a simple Bravia television. The dialogue is clear, the score is mixed in adequately – no issues on my end.
Blu-ray Bonus Content
- Interview with David Lynch and Director Jon Nguyen – This fifteen-minute interview feels like half of an extension of the actual film (it literally begins with Lynch’s last quote in the documentary), and like a semi-informative behind the scenes look at the intentions of the filmmakers. We’re told about the filming process (how Nguyen got access to Lynch by befriending Lynch’s assistant, Jason, who lived with the famous director for more than two years, as well as the decision to film this project digitally on both a 5D and an iPhone), and how Lynch approached the interview sessions. Besides that, there isn’t much else – but that’s better than bloating this 15 minutes up into 40 minutes with unnecessary talking heads that repeat clichéd praise or whatever else these standard EPK kits usually provide us with.
David Lynch: The Art Life is not essential viewing for Lynch fans. It complements what you already know of the man, and his approach to sensory input and fervor for dream-like visions in his every day life. The man loves to paint, and it’s evident from quotes like “I could imagine a whole world outside that doesn’t exist, but it really would be such a world…” during his time in Philadelphia, when factories and darkness and smokestacks pervaded his every thought. Lynch is more a medium for feelings from the ether than most other filmmakers – he really attempts to sink into the external world around him, and the internal realities and experiences within his mind, and committing those to tangible items, than most others.
The structure of this documentary is fairly basic – which is not a criticism, whatsoever. We have the traditional voiceover from our subject, as his voice guides us through 16mm film and old photographs of his childhood. Almost immediately, the content revolves around ‘the past’, and how “it’s all there in the beginning – everything you need.” Lynch is aware that much of our psyche is shaped and cemented at an early age, and we spend a lot of the time listening to him describe his father, and his mother’s personality. Like a sculpture, these are the people that molded him into what he’d eventually become. That is not to say he didn’t build upon this – after all, an artist actually has to put in the work, if he’s ever to become someone you make a documentary about.
The great thing about David Lynch: The Art Life, is that its aesthetic is directly influenced by Lynch’s own work and the man’s actual living space, itself. We spend the whole time in his art studio, in the hills of Hollywood, entrenched in luscious greenery and surrounded by yellow, sunshine skies. We see him smoke, and play with his niece (or is he still virile enough for that to be his grand-daughter…?). His home is a place intended for creation. Like the man himself explains when asked about his early days as an aspiring painter, “I had this idea that you drink coffee, you smoke cigarettes, and you paint – and that’s it.” If you’re a David Lynch fan, it’s moments like these that make the loins of your heart tickle.
Essentially, this is intended for fans of David Lynch, at best. You won’t get much from this if you’re an ‘outsider’, or a casual fan of his work. But if you truly appreciate his efforts in getting into his own dreamscape and creating one for an audience, you may enjoy falling into this dream for a bit. At a mere hour and a half, it’s not much of a commitment. And thankfully, the aesthetic of this documentary (shot with on Canon 5D and iPhone at times – to get those quick shots that would’ve otherwise been lost) matches the grainy, ethereal visuals of some of Lynch’s own work. It’s a nice touch – one that complements the Lynchian worlds we so love to inhabit.
You can purchase David Lynch: The Art Life here.
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