Inland Empire

Inland Empire ★★★★★

referring to my Mulholland Dr review from a couple months ago, if that was the pilot then this is the season one compilation film, or perhaps a collection of viral marketing webisodes. lynch transforms Mulholland's more "old hollywood " exploration of sexual exploitation (with its somewhat neater "shiny surface and dark underbelly" structure) for the ascendant age of digital cinema, where that grime and confusion and violence comes in a constant barrage of sound and vision. there's nothing seductive or charming about nikki's big break; even when she cheers having "gotten the part" the score is ominous and overbearing. obviously that early-internet vibe comes mainly from the grungy DV look, like the sort of hideously graphic footage which you once could find on youtube as easily as cat videos, now lost to history but preserved here in spirit. it gives lynch's typical sexual menace a sickening new dimension, one i would more expect to see from a filmmaker who actually grew up being accidentally linked to disgusting things online.** there's even a screamer image at the end! lynch was all over internet video in the 2000s and is clearly still fascinated by streaming video platforms (see his covid-era youtube channel) so it'd be interesting to see him make a feature follow-up to this film now that the internet is far more sanitized and algorithmically directed. the ideal form for this film may be split into pieces across a bespoke streaming site, allowing viewers to click through at will and form their own (conscious and subconscious) associations. even the complete feature has "Related Videos" attached, with the Missing Pieces-style addendum amusingly called More Things That Happened and the short film Rabbits spun out of its unnerving sitcom parody running gag. so many lynch films look backwards at mid-20th century pathologies and wounds, but this is the only one that seems to truly live in its present.

**see jane schoenbrun's We're All Going to the World's Fair next year for a film that could almost be Inland Empire's spiritual sequel

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