The City of Absurdity Lynch Events
LACMA Film Department Presents A David Lynch Retrospective

by KK Hedman

So, I had the great pleasure of being in the same room as David on Saturday. Well, theater, to be exact. The best spent $15 ever!

For those who don't know, LACMA stands for Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It's the biggest art museum in the western United States and occasionally has some interesting things going... like the ongoing David Lynch Retrospective.

I left early so that I would get a good seat for both a free screening of INDUSTRIAL SYMPHONY #1, and the main event; a screening of LOST HIGHWAY and a conversation with David.

Well, I guess I wasn't the only one wanting a good seat -- there were about 100 people in line when I got there. I started walking towards the line but this woman came running to me... "I'm from Canada! I didn't know about this! You don't have any extra tickets, do you!?". "No... no I don't. Sorry." "I'll buy yours! I'll pay $50!" "No thanks... I don't wanna miss this." "$100!" "No thank you." She was heart-broken and proceeded to attack others.

Around 5:30 (the IS screening was scheduled to start at 6) the line went around the building. I was really surprised about this -- I wasn't expecting that many people to show up. I talked with people around me and they were all a bit surprised. "David's not THIS popular! :)". It was definitely a motley crew -- a lot of guys dressed in black, several goth babes, several surprisingly "normal" looking ones, old ladies, some with strange hair-dos, and some definite artist types.

They started letting people in around 5:45. The 600 seat Leo S. Bing Theater quickly filled up to its capacity. I did get a pretty good seat. I sat in the 5th row, almost in the middle. While waiting for the screening to start, I again talked with some of the fans. Some knew about Mike's site, and the mailing list... some didn't (those who didn't know now :) ).

I've only seen IS once before, so it was good seeing it again. Whatever happened to Julee Cruise anyways? What does she do nowadays? After the screening of IS, we were asked to go out again to line up for LH (crappy arrangement if you ask me). I (and several others) left my jacket behind to reserve a seat. "His other work is a lot better..." I heard someone say to his friend. So, I guess there were people in there who had never seen his stuff before.

We got out of the theater... there were about 100-200 people already outside waiting in line... they obviously didn't know (or care?) about the free IS screening. Even the ones without tickets joined the line in hopes of getting in anyways. Somebody saw Basquiat and we talked about him and the film for a while. I recognized a few faces here and there but couldn't figure out who they were (I'm crap at recognizing celebs).

Eventually we were let back in and I got back to my "reserved" seat. The atmosphere was noticeably different from the IS screening. More hardcore fans. This IFP/West guy announced the film and read this piece of paper that basically said that if my face/question appears on IFC or KCRW I can't sue them. He also told us that David asked them to play it LOUD! :)

So, the lights dimmed down and the film started. And it was like watching STAR WARS when it was re-released. People applauded at various places, laughed out loud at the jokes, and just generally got into it. It was really strange seeing a David Lynch film that way. It was a good feeling, and a strange one at the same time. "My god! Everybody in this theater digs the film! This is great!" I thought. I was hoping to see a slightly different cut. Maybe some extra scenes here and there, but unfortunately that didn't happen. And unfortunately the sound system in the theater is kinda inferior (well, I'm comparing it to the best theaters in town that I've gotten used to going to). But, it was still a memorable experience... seeing it with 600 other fans. And I love this film... it's like a great painting to me. The film ended, people applauded, and the lights came back on.

A 10 minute intermission followed during which the IFC crew set up their cameras and stuff. A couple of IFP/West people spoke (I have a list of names in front of me, but I can't figure out who the speakers were). They thanked LACMA for providing the venue, KCRW for doing their Independent Focus thing, and IFC for sponsoring it. And, of course, they thanked David.

Somebody introduced the host, Elvis Mitchell (KCRW) and we applauded (at this point totally unaware of what was to follow). And then he introduced David. And our guy walks onto the stage. He looks older but still has that great head of hair going. He was visibly humbled by the standing ovation that he got (I was scared by the screams that he got from the two older ladies who sat behind me).

It was extremely cool sitting there watching him talk about things. You could listen to this guy for hours and hours... he's a natural born story teller. Mr. Mitchell's questions, however, were totally lame. The same old boring questions that David gets wherever he goes. "How in the world did you come up with that!?" "Where do the ideas come from?" "How do you work?" And Elvis would like spend a lot of time on each film (starting from the shorts) asking these stupid questions. Questions that we fans know he would never get straight answers to. And then he got stuck on DUNE. Asking all these things. And David got visibly frustrated. So, we decided to help David a little bit by rudely interrupting Elvis and asking him (not so politely) to move on to the next film. It wasn't all old news however and I'm sure we all learned something. He still wants to do RONNIE ROCKET, for example. He thinks there's something still "wrong" with the story, but he doesn't quite know what.

By 11:30 it was our turn to ask questions. I wanted to ask David about the CD-ROM/DVD stuff Synergy is doing, I wanted to ask about Jocelyn West, I wanted to ask about his next film. But, according to this IFC guy, my questions weren't "film oriented" (which is what they wanted)... so, I never got to ask them. Somebody asked about TWIN PEAKS: FWWM. He asked whether there is extra material enough for "a director's cut". And yes, there is. David said that he's got all these mini/background stories that revolve around certain characters. And that he would love to release a longer version of the film, but doesn't know how (meaning: he wants it to be a theatrical release... but who would finance that?). Somebody also asked about a DUNE director's cut... maybe some day if he can deal with that disaster again seemed to be David's answer (supposedly there's over a million feet of film for DUNE). David still hates video tapes and laserdiscs and therefore isn't really interested in re-releasing any of his features on video. He was talking about wanting to re-release SIX MEN GETTING SICK, THE ALPHABET, and THE GRANDMOTHER though -- video would be okay for those, he said.

David got another standing ovation as he waved goodbye and thanked us, and walked off the stage.

All in all, it was great. Nothing new, but still great. Shame about Elvis' interviewing skills. I think he probably only read a short bio or something before interviewing him and didn't really know what to ask. But it was still great, all thanks to David. He was as cool as always.

They are showing all of his films and all the screenings so far have sold out.

So, the whole thing will be on IFC at some point... and those of you who live here in L.A. will get to hear it on KCRW (and I'm sure it'll be available on the Net as well just like the previous LH interview).

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© Mike Hartmann