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Doogan's Views at The Digital Bits!
page added: 4/5/02
updated: 4/13/02




A Doogan Double DVD

David Lynch.. artist, filmmaker, Internet whore. The French love him, and his films confuse American audiences as much as they entertain. But love him or hate him, you WILL watch his movies. Why? He's the proverbial car crash you can't stop staring at. His films are rife with beauty tied up with the grotesque, poetics mixed with ham-fisted symbolism. He's one of The Digital Bits' favorite filmmakers and today we look at two of his most recent releases on DVD.


Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Encoded with DTS & Dolby Digital 5.1 Digital Surround

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me
1992 (2002) - New Line

Film Rating: A-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/B-/B+

Specs and Features:

134 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:14:15 in chapter 24), Snapper case packaging, original documentary, theatrical trailer, animated film-themed menu screens with sound, scene selection (40 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1, 2.0 and DTS 5.1) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English and French, Closed Captioned


Meant to tie-up the loose ends in the story of Laura Palmer's decent into hell in the Twin Peaks TV series, upon it's original release, most critics and fans turned their backs on Fire Walk with Me. The reasons were simple: when compared to the original series, there was something overly violent and less "down home" about the film. Peggy Lipton says in the documentary on this disc, that she doesn't like the film because the undercurrent of layered innocent Americana isn't here. But I challenge that. In my thinking, Twin Peaks, as a small Northwestern town, didn't have any underlying Americana until they had secrets to hide in relation to Laura's death. The syrupy sweet aspects of Twin Peaks only came out after they realized their egg was a very bad thing indeed. But before Agent Cooper and friends came a pokin', Twin Peaks might have been a place when they've forgotten the kitschy edge. Only when the town needed to hide their real selves, did the pie, coffee and good-natured people show themselves.

I think critics of this film should come back and re-examine it all these years later, because time has made for a better viewing experience. I say that with authority, considering that I was one of the initial critical haters of this film. I loved the series, but hated this film when I first saw it, thinking that Lynch had missed his own point. Now I know I was wrong and can see what Lynch was trying to pull off.

Fire Walk with Me follows Laura Palmer as she heads for her last days. We see in her both the coke whore and the high-school sweetheart. The conniver and the innocent, the victimizer and the victim. It's not a pretty picture, but it's nothing new to fans of Twin Peaks. Most of the main players in Laura's life and after-life are here: Agent Cooper, the Man from Another Place, the One-Armed Man, Leo, Jacque, Bob and of course, Leland. But there are a few new players here as well. Chris Issak plays the FBI man who heads up the Teresa Banks murder, Keifer Sutherland is his forensics man and David Bowie plays an agent who crossed over to the Red Room but made it back to tell his co-workers what he saw (before he's suddenly grabbed back). It all makes for a thoroughly engaging, dream-like film and therefore a thoroughly Lynchian one. One note: if you're looking for a twist ending, you won't find one here. It ends with the hanging thread waiting to be found in the Twin Peaks television series.

The DVD from New Line, although initially promised to be a packed special edition (with some of the hour's worth of deleted scenes from the Cannes premier cut of the film as supplement), is sadly little more than a standard edition. But that's okay. We can't fault New Line for not being able to secure the American rights to the footage. For what it is, Fire looks and sound great on DVD. Well, let me take that back. That's true except for one major faux pas (more on that in a moment). The blacks solid, colors are bright and detail is pretty incredible. This film was made for hi-end, digital presentation, and New Line didn't drop the ball with the video at all.

But on the audio side, they stumbled a bit. Yes, the sound is in luscious Dolby Digital 5.1 and an even more delicious DTS 5.1 (along with a nicely enveloping English 2.0). But for some strange and odd reason, the scene that takes place in the Bang Bang Bar in Canada (where the music is deliberately so overpowering that you can hardly hear the dialogue and therefore everything is subtitled), is mixed so that you can hear everything perfectly well. Why!? It was supposed to be too loud to hear the dialogue! There are subtitles for a reason. It's a very stupid mistake. Oddly, the same scene in the French 2.0 mix is absolutely perfect, as is the same scene when it's being discussed in the documentary on this disc. Another big QC hiccup is the fact that this disc has chapter stops, which is a big Lynch DVD no-no. They aren't listed on the packaging and they're not selectable in the menus, but there are 40 of them suckers nonetheless. Between that and the sound glitch, someone really screwed the pooch.

Aside from the nice video presentation and good sound (ah-hum), New Line gives us the original trailer and a new documentary from Mark Rance and company at Three Legged Cat. These are the same guys who did the supplements on the original series set, so a lot of these interviews are from the same sessions. But beware, the artistic editing style from the original series supplements is in that same pseudo-Lynch style, which was highly annoying on the TV DVDs and is even more so here. But stick with it, because a lot of the information gathered in these interviews is priceless and worth waiting for.

Give Fire Walk with Me another chance - even all you critics out there that hated the film the first time. Enough time has gone by to provide a little perspective, which actually helps this to be a better understood film. I just wish New Line hadn't fixed that sound "glitch" that wasn't really a glitch...

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me
Buy this DVD now at DVD Planet!


Mulholland Drive

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Encoded with DTS & Dolby Digital 5.1 Digital Surround

Mulholland Drive
2001 (2002) - Universal

Film Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A/C-

Specs and Features:

147 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:13:10 in chapter 1), Amaray keep case packaging, theatrical trailer, cast and crew biographies and filmographies, animated film-themed menu screens with sound, scene selection (none), languages: English (DD and DTS 5.1), subtitles: English, Spanish and French


I'm not going to tell you what Mulholland Drive is about. You don't need to know up front and part of the fun is trying to figure it out for yourself. I will say that when I first watched the film, I hated it. That's saying something, because it was the first Lynch film that I had ever truly hated. I mean, I didn't like Fire Walk with Me the first time I saw it, but I didn't hate it. And I was one of the few people out there to like Lost Highway when I first saw it. That goes to say that I'm pretty used to being confused by, but liking, Lynch's dream-style.

But Mulholland... oh, I hated it. When I got done watching the film, I called Drew up and yelled at him because he said loved the film in passing conversation. I called him, railed against the film, the acting, the tone and the awful ending and he just sat there taking it all in and listening to me. And when I was done, and all my questions about what the hell happened in the film were asked, he simply said, "Go to Salon.com and read their analysis. But do that only after you watch the film a second time. Promise me you'll watch the film again." I promised and then the bastard hung up on me.

So I hunkered down and watched the film again, all the way through. And I have to say, upon second viewing, I understood it. I understood what I was watching, why the ending seemed awful but turned out brilliant and why all the acting at first seemed off, but in the context of the film, was genius. I popped the disc out, put it in its case and then I went to Salon.com and read what they had to say and felt validated. Hey, and I even think I know what the "blue box" is. Salon.com claims they don't, so there!

So without spoiling the film with set-up and my hackneyed explanations, my only advice to you is, see this movie. It's everything a movie should be. But promise that you'll watch it twice. Because if you're an observant film watcher, you'll catch it. You'll know what it all means. And if you don't, then you can go here to Salon.com and read what they have to say. I promise that if you normally like Lynch, but have a hard time with this movie, once you understand what he's doing, this will become one of your favorite of his oeuvre.

The Universal DVD does the film great justice. The picture is anamorphic and features some incredible color representation. There are no artifacts and line definition is clean and without noise. The sound is also pretty incredible (as most Lynch films use sound play to the nth degree and should feature the best possible sound features). English is the only option available, but it's in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1, and both sound great.

There are no features to speak of, unless you think the trailer and a cast and crew bio index are special. I would have liked a commentary and a "making of" documentary, but I'd also like a million dollars and I'm not going to get that anytime soon.

Mulholland Drive is a really great film once you figure out what's going on. Drew's right, watch the film twice and if you still don't get it, look on the Internet for some explanations. Mulholland Drive will prompt thought and conversation... and isn't that what good art is all about?

4/13/02 Update

I just want to make two quick additional notes about Mulholland Drive. First, there are no chapter stops on the DVD. It's NOT a defect of the disc. Lynch has said in the past that films aren’t books and therefore shouldn't have chapters. His films will all be offered on DVD without chapter stops in the future. The old version of Blue Velvet is the exception, but that will be replaced soon. Second, there's the issue of the blurring of Laura Herring's nether region during the first love scene between Rita and Betty in Drive. I personally think it was done during the original theatrical printing and no one noticed. It's a very dark and quick shot - even my wife originally thought she saw something and when we went back she was shocked to see a quick blur. Even if it wasn't done theatrically and was done for the DVD, David Lynch himself said he did it personally and he did it to keep people from downloading and spreading the image online. On Lynch's own site he recently discussed the issue and when asked if the new Blue Velvet DVD will be censored as well (for Isabella Rossellini's full frontal nudity) he said no, because the technology wasn't available back then. Confusing, but I think with that statement he confirms that he did the blurring in Drive for the original prints of the film. As further fortification, I found a children's protection website (see this link) that notes an instance of "silhouette/shadowed nudity", and if they didn't catch full frontal nudity, then I believe it wasn't there.

Of course, if you feel the need to debate this issue, head over to our friends at Twin Peaks Gazette and their forum on the subject and debate away. Thanks to Jordan and The Gazette for pointing us to the forum.

Mulholland Drive
Buy this DVD now at DVD Planet!

That's all for now. Have a great weekend and keep spinning those discs!

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com


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