(Reposted on the occasion of his 65th birthday)
Dear God of Post-Modern Moviemaking:
Too much? Have I put you off already? If so, I’m sorry. It’s just hard imagining what I have to say, and how I have to say it. You see, I’ve loved you for a very long time. No, not your subversive Midwestern mentality that sees beauty in the most grotesque of worm-infested rotting meat mannerisms. Nor am I particularly enamored of your current concentration on Transcendental Meditation, though I can completely see where you’re coming from with the whole “free your mind” ideal. You see, I’ve loved your MOVIES for a very long time - since I first saw your “straight” drama The Elephant Man way back in 1980, and I’m here to say that I miss you, and need you back in my life terribly.
Wow - how weak-willed and whiny. I was hoping to come off a little more forceful than this. You see, I am a real movie maniac, someone who linked up with your Wild at Heart so significantly that I remember watching it over and over when it was finally released on VHS (I know, you HATE that. Sorry again). Several dozen viewings later and I can argue with anyone over the merits of your bizarro-world Wizard of Oz riff. I’m as Powermad as Sailor and Lula, hotter than Georgia asphalt and convinced that peaches do indeed spread diseases. Crazy old cousin “Jingle” Dell’s got nothing on me, and I can easily…dammit. There I go, rambling again. You have that effect on me, don’t you know.
I remember when my passion became permanent, not just some fleeting filmmaking fancy. It happened when I first saw Eraserhead. This was years into your career, after Man, after Dune, and just as Roger Ebert was calling you “reprobate” for the masterful Blue Velvet. Previously, I could see what you were saying, but didn’t find it fully enveloping my aesthetic spirit. And then I saw the story of Henry Spencer and his decidedly wacky hair-do, and I was hooked. Later, as I learned that everything is fine in Heaven and that deformed babies can be a bitch, I marveled at the grandeur in your monochrome visuals, vowing to use the experience as a way of becoming more connected to your creativity.
It worked, you see. It worked like goddamn gossamer gangbusters. Velvet begat an appreciation of all things Angelo Badalementi, and when it was announced that you were tackling TV, I drank in every episode of Twin Peaks and its sly sitcom doppelganger, On the Air. I riffled through the red herrings to try and decipher who exactly did kill Laura Palmer, and never once flinched when you trotted out “Bob” and his baffling supernatural status. I even worshiped every minute of the big screen prequel Fire Walk with Me, knowing full well that it would only add to my appreciation of your reason-defying dream logic. Like getting lost in a gorgeous woman’s eyes, I have been absent in your artistic aspirations for years.
Just last year, I voted Mulholland Dr. the film of the decade (2001 - 2010), and with good reason. It stands as a symbol of everything I adore about you - clever casting, unusual characterization, mixed up narrative meaning, arch ambiguities, and facets that only mean something to you, and those who sync up with your special brand of cinema. It’s a similar sentiment I share with your other great ‘90s epic, Lost Highway. Dick Laurent may be dead, but my feelings for you have only increased through the years. Even when you went “native” taking digital technology to expert experimental extremes with INLAND EMPIRE, I remained your dotting devotee.
But David, my dear, that was over five years ago. Sure, I signed up for your website, hoping the exclusive content promised would live up to the $10 per month I was paying for the privilege. For the most part (Rabbits, Dumbland), it was. Yet it wasn’t enough, either. Special Edition DVDs didn’t quell my desire. Promised added content which never materialized didn’t spoil my special feelings. But your current MIA career…instead of making my heart grow fonder, your absence is starting to piss me off.
It’s not a vehement anger, but it’s getting there. I saw Wild at Heart just the other night, and in a pristine HD presentation. The attention to detail, the contrasts in color and the complicated intersecting storyline blew me away…all over again. I’ve had similar sensations recently with Blue Velvet, Dune, and Eraserhead. Each time, each partial to complete revisit, was like the first time we met. I was mesmerized. I was spellbound. I was once again adrift in your uncompromising brilliance, desperate for something new to wrap my starving sense of art around. Even going back to The Straight Story, your least “Lynch” film off all, brought more baffling questions.
I guess what I’m asking is - why don’t you make another movie? Is it a matter of money? Is it really that hard for someone as undeniably gifted as you to find financing for your latest flights of fancy? It’s not like you don’t have some tantalizing projects just lying around waiting to be realized. Ronnie Rocket? Dreams of the Bovine? One Salvia Bubble? Is the current state of the cinema so narrow-minded and noxious that you can’t find an economic sanctuary and yet certified hacks like Shawn Levy and Walt Becker continue to pocket millions? Are we really in danger of losing you to a lifetime in service of your Foundation and fondness for TM? Or is there something much deeper going on?
Let’s cut to the chase - are you breaking up with me? Are you simply going to sit back on your limited oeuvre laurels and wait for me to give up? Do you honestly think that will work? Come on, I’ve heard about Snootworld, your possible next project (listed as an animated film, intriguingly enough) and just the mere mention of something you could be potentially, perhaps, be working on is enough to get me through those dark filmic nights of the soul. And truth be told, I don’t want to be dumped. Instead, I want to continue experiencing the kind of cosmic epiphanies that seems irretrievably tagged to your films. It happened way back in 1980. I know it will continue to happen, no matter when you release your next project.
Until then, I will have to simply wait. As the rock and roll scholar Tom Petty once said, it truly is “the hardest part.” You can toy with me all you want, mock my obsession and its connection to your ever-changing moods, and I still won’t waver. That’s the glory of, and the hoary old story of love. You can avoid me all you want, but I will not be ignored! I need you to make more movies. Please? If not just for me, but as a favor to the rest of the artform. Cinema is stale without you - and I know my life is as well.
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