Summer rerun time! A version of this originally appeared among the comments in April of 2017.
Absurda (2007) and Idem Paris (2013) dir. David Lynch
Here are two very different films and not just because one is a narrative and the other a documentary. “Absurda” is static to an unsettling degree. The layered images of the theater seats and the unwavering edges of the screen only emphasize how bolted-down the point of view feels, like the camera has been fixed to this spot since the beginning of time. Contrast this with “Idem Paris” where the camera is constantly motion. Its subject is innocuous – as opposed to the immediately threatening tableau of the scissors in “Absurda.” But our journey down a Parisian alley into a busy printing shop still retains a voyeuristic feel not entirely unlike the helpless point of view of the first film. I amuse myself by imagining it’s the point of view of the public’s idea of a slightly-maniacal Lynch sneaking uninvited into Idem Paris and gradually falling into a calm fascination with the process he’s witnessing.
When you have a distinct style such as Lynch does you get an adjective born out of your name. Like the many inheritors of the name Kafkaesque, the adjective’s meaning erodes in time, getting sanded down to a film nerd’s way of saying “dreamlike.” The first short clearly fits the popular definition of Lynchian, but I argue the second is just as clearly indicative of the artist’s distinct visual qualities and finds him paying attention and returning to the motifs he includes in his narrative work, like the industrial gears turning and a repetitious metallic soundtrack.
One volume of The Complete Peanuts collection reprints samples from a line of greeting cards featuring Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang. The book points out that even though the lines to create these characters are quite simple, a more than cursory glance makes it obvious the illustrations are not from Schulz’s own hand. So it is with Lynch. Able to be imitated in the broad strokes, but unmistakable in the details.