How do you review someone else’s bad dream? With a sprained ankle swollen to the size of a coconut, I found myself joining the other insomniacs and hardcore cinephiles at an ungodly hour to see David Lynch’s first movie in five years. His latest plumbing of the unconscious is three hours long and his first shot on crappy digital video, but not the first to play like “a wicked dream that seizes the heart,” nor is it the first featuring Laura Dern, shifting identities, and creepy characters doing truly creepy things. William H Macy announces: “Hollywood, California, where stars make dreams and dreams make stars!” After Justin Theroux, Jeremy Irons, Harry Dean Stanton deliver some hesitant exposition about a movie with a history of murder, a suburban BBQ party is overrun by Eastern European carnies, a Kafkaesque interrogator listens to Dern’s curse-word peppered confession, a gaggle of hookers dances the locomotion, and blood is vomited up on the Walk of Fame.

Inland Empire is so Lynchian that it often appears to veer into self-parody, but somehow this works for the film: like the bizarre sitcom where everybody wears a rabbit mask, the laugh track at the Walter Reade was disconcertingly out of whack. Three hours later, while the rest of America gathered for church, we were watching prostitutes lip synch Nina Simone’s “Sinner Man” while a pet monkey frolicked and a man in a red wool cap sawed a log. Remember: there are consequences to one’s actions.

Inland Empire. David Lynch, 2006. ****

[tags]david lynch, pet monkey, prostitutes, laura dern, 4 stars, film, surreal, bad dreams, murder, poland, harry dean stanton, justin theroux, jeremy irons, hollywood, nina simone, sprained ankle, nyff[/tags]