The director known as blackANDwhite gives a rare and revealing glimpse into the mind and working habits of David Lynch. Sometimes funny, sometimes bizarre but always entertaining, the film is as experimental and abstract as the filmmaker it covers.
For those who are disappointed never to really get a sense of how Lynch works from the limited extras in his DVD releases, Lynch goes beyond the trademark chain smoking and weird hairdo to show an outgoing, pleasant human being with an insatiable creative drive and a love for Bastille Day. (It will make sense when you see it.)
Shot in black & white and color in different formats over two years, the main thread of the film is Lynch’s preparation and filming of Inland Empire. blackANDwhite is there when Lynch announces the project to his devoted davidlynch.com members, through filming as he guides Laura Dern, whose look of excitement and attentiveness while listening to Lynch makes you think she’d go to the ends of the earth for her director.
Some of the best scenes are Lynch just siting at his desk telling stories. There’s a series of tales about his time living in Philadelphia, the day as a kid when he came across a dead, bloated cow and tried to puncture it with his pick ax and his dreams (I’ll let you imagine what David Lynch dreams about). There’s also a great sequence where he oohs and ahs over the photos he’s taken in dingy Polish factories.
But like Lynch’s films it’s the weird details that stick out for me in the doc. The most memorable is when blackANDwhite films Lynch recording the sound of an old record player. With a cigarette dangling out of the side of his mouth, the ash as long as what he has left of the cigarette, Lynch demands silence, and when he gets it begins turning the hand crank on the side of the player. A grinding sound comes out and after 15-20 seconds blackANDwhite cuts to a shot inside a moving train, a recurring image in the film, but when we’ve seen the shot previously there wasn’t any sound, now he uses the grinding sound to substitute that of a moving train.
A beautiful transition that would make the film’s subject proud.
Lynch is currently on sale through Absurda (a.k.a. davidlynch.com for $15.91).