Eraserhead

The outrageous imagery of David Lynch works in mysterious ways, seeping into your dreams and gestating in your subconscious. Eraserhead presents me with a particular riddle: I was convinced I’d never seen the movie, yet felt instantly familiar with it. Did Lynch’s subsequent work fill in the blanks as if through osmosis, or–more likely–had I seen Eraserhead at such an unripe, impressionable age that my disturbed mind suppressed the memory? Either way, there it was, and I knew it: the way Henry steps into the puddle, the awkward dinner with Family X, the Radiator Lady and her song, and of course the baby, the naked helpless freakin’ baby with its shiny skin, festering sores, and butcher window eyes.

Here’s what Lynch says about Eraserhead in Catching the Big Fish:

Eraserhead is my most spiritual movie. No one understands when I say that, but it is.

Eraserhead was growing in a certain way, and I didn’t know what it meant. I was looking for a key to unlock what these sequences were saying. Of course, I understood some of it; but I didn’t know the thing that just pulled it all together. And it was a struggle. So, I got out my Bible and I started reading. And one day, I read a sentence. And I closed the Bible, because that was it; that was it. And then I saw the thing as a whole. And it fulfilled this vision for me, 100 percent.

I don’t think I’ll ever say what that sentence was.

Eraserhead. David Lynch, 1977. ****

[tags]david lynch, eraserhead, 4 stars, film, bible, baby, fathers, surreal[/tags]

L'Enfant

L’Enfant won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, but it’s going on our worst-of-year list. The set up is interesting enough: a homeless teenager leaves the hospital with a newborn, and her small-time crook boyfriend decides that it would be a good idea to sell the baby for a handful of cash. The technical term for this kind of a man is “raging asshole,” and instead of giving us the mother’s story, the film’s focuses on him as he tries to steal enough money to buy back the child, avoid the cops, and dig himself into an ever-deeper hole. It would have been a challenge to make this character even borderline likable, but the Dardennes don’t even try. The amount of callousness, stupidity, and ignorance on display is overwhelming, and in the unearned final scene, we’re suddenly asked to embrace the babymonger’s unlikely redemption. This is the kind of preposterous fake-gritty hokum that gives art house film a bad name–call it the Crash of Cannes.

L’Enfant. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2005. *

[tags]film, dardenne brothers, belgium, cannes, palme d’or, baby, fathers, 1 star, crooks, suffering, asshole, gritty[/tags]