Edinburgh Cinema

Edinburgh’s cinemas have their own, different feel. When I visit them, I’ll be writing about both the film and the place, giving you the organic experience. Film critics on the big scale can’t really cater for this, so I hope my reviews bring something extra in this respect.

David Lynch: The Art Life


David Lynch: The Art Life 16.07.17

I had a choice, to go and watch the latest Planet of the Apes blockbuster, or a documentary about a director whose art deeply disturbs me. Well, there's always next week for the apes, or next year for the sequel.

I don't think there will be a sequel for David Lynch: The Art Life, simply because his storytelling is unique. This is the man who produced the most convincing and accessible plunges into cinematic surrealism I have ever been fucked up by, including one of the greatest noir movies of all time – Mullholland Drive – and one of the most enduring TV shows – Twin Peaks. The documentary says nothing of these mainstream works or any other except Eraserhead, his first. What we get instead is his upbringing, his life story tied to art.

What aroused my curiosity was the single moment that changed everything: the scholarship Lynch won to film school in LA. At the time he was struggling to pay the bills with a printing job, having just become a father and husband. He had just missed out on previous funding, and lacked the time to be creative. What if the scholarship hadn't come? It was from this secured position, for several years, that Lynch worked on Eraserhead, which would propel him towards fame and fortune.

These moments, of course, can be overestimated. Lynch had already produced a troubling semi-animation called The Grandmother, and it was this that left a scholarship board wondering: 'genius or madness?' Prior to this, we see him as a driven artist, handsome, enigmatic, stuck in a troubling neighbourhood of Philadelphia, making ends meet. I'm glad he said he hated school. His childhood was idyllic but marred by two harrowing visual experiences, one of which he couldn't bring himself to describe in full.

What makes an artist? He believed in the twisted nature of his depictions, and the scholarship came at a pivotal moment. I don't think, though, that you produce a body of work like Lynch unless something is driving you. In a documentary where he doesn't cite a single director or movie as inspiration, or even any genre or medium, Lynch is conveying ideas, and would have continued doing so whether the big break came or not.
War for the Planet of the Apes
Song To Song


No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Sunday, 26 January 2020

Captcha Image

What's On This Week

My Latest Posts

October 05, 2019


October 05, 2019


Joker The trailer did its work, flashing images of anomie and fury perfectly pitched for these unstable times of precarious working conditions, grievance and institutional indifference. For these same reasons, Joker , directed by Todd Phillips and starring Joaquin Phoenix as the protagonist, has attracted pre-release criticisms like few other recen...
September 29, 2019

Resisting Whiteness event 2019

Resisting Whiteness one-day event, Edinburgh Returning for the second consecutive year, Resisting Whiteness came yesterday to the Pleasance Theatre in Edinburgh, providing an intense and inspiring series of panels, as well as a wonderful spoken word section, and a final segment based around the documentary short Invisible by internationally-acclaim...
August 21, 2019

Hearty by Emma Frankland

Hearty by Emma Frankland Raw and dripping with punk aesthetic, this one-woman-show's one-woman emerges in ripped tights and a T-shirt that paraphrases loudly the words of anti-trans theorist Germaine Greer: Lop Your Dick Off. My first impression of Emma Frankland is edgily uncertain and in awe, her Lady-Gaga-looks combined with Heath Ledger's mesme...
August 21, 2019

Pronoun, Pass, & Amnesty International

Transgender drama: Pronoun To be clear at the outset, this was the production of a youth theatre group, not a highly resourced team of experienced, professional career actors – although some of the performances left a powerful impression, and the show as a whole achieved some remarkable moments. Pronoun , written by Evan Placey, follows the transit...
August 13, 2019

Transgender Dance: Sound Cistem

Transgender Dance: Sound Cistem It starts with a heartbeat, the dancer-directors Lizzie and Ayden in slow-motion entry, setting the scene of a nightclub featuring two young transgender bodies who are in fact multiple. Sound Cistem is theatrical dance set to a series of pulsing, dance-floor rhythms and the voices of several trans interviewees projec...
August 04, 2019

Drone by Harry Josephine Giles

Drone by Harry Josephine Giles The blurring of human and machine reiterates here in a comedically surreal, startling performance by the performance poet Harry Josephine Giles. Drawing on visual and aural effects, Giles presents the disturbingly evocative middle-class arc of the life of an electronic, military drone. With Giles as both narrator and ...
August 03, 2019

Burgerz by Travis Alabanza

Burgerz by Travis Alabanza Playing currently at the Traverse Theatre is Travis Alabanza's poignant and comic one-person show, a thought-provoking meditation created out of a jarring personal experience. Back in 2016, Alabanza, a non-binary person of colour, was abused in a London street, with a burger thrown at them by a stranger. The show's series...
August 03, 2019

While transphobes get more hateful, I become more freckly

While transphobes got more hateful, I became more freckly Written weeks after the conference Transgender: Intersectional/International There's nothing good to say, even the films I enjoyed watching this past week, Midsommar and Apollo 11 , I've lost the Sunday will to write. Perhaps Brexit Britain will become like the village cult in Midsommar , bu...
June 09, 2019

Dark Phoenix, John Wick 3, Godzilla: my reflections

Three fantasy movies within three days: X Men: Dark Phoenix; John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum; Godzilla: King of the Monsters The Lacanian feminist Kaja Silverman says about cinema, we go because we need the affirmation, to see the things we hope to see and fail to see in the real world. In Lacanian-speak, Silverman says we go because 'the desire ...