Derik Badman's Journal

2021-09-20 08:08

Cool out this morning, sweatshirt weather, and the swallows that always seem to be gathered by the church on my walk were missing. Maybe it's migration time for them (I'm exactly sure what species of swallow they are, so I haven't looked it up), or maybe it's just that the bugs aren't out when it's cooler, or they wait until later in the morning when it's cooler.

Finished Nick Pinkerton's Goodbye Dragon Inn book yesterday out on the porch. It was an interesting read, a lot of annotation and analysis of the annotation and perhaps it felt like it was a little less analysis of the film itself (perhaps a little more about the formal aspects of it). He dives into Tsai's history and filmography and some of the history of Taiwanese cinema and the history of the movie being shown in the theater and about the theater's themselves and the changes in theaters over the recent decades and cruising in theaters (a few Delany references there). Something I only vaguely knew about is how Tsai has been moving more to showing films in art galleries and how he was basically doing his own promotion/distribution in Taiwan for his films (like renting a theater and then selling tickets to his movies).

About halfway through Inland Empire now, didn't get all the way through as the sound on it is often really hard to hear (mostly the dialogue and there are no captions). It's another movie about movie making where the actors/characters start to blur together in confusing ways. It feels vaguely like Mulholland Drive. He gets a lot of effect and creepiness/uncanniness out of just the basic editing of films. In one early scene the actors (played by Laura Dern and Justin Theroux) are sitting down for their first script reading with the director near a partially finished set. They hear someone behind them. Theroux gets up and goes into the set following the footsteps. He gets to a set of what looks the outside of a motel. He's heard the door on it shut, but now it's locked. He looks in the window and can't see anything, then he walks around the side of the set. It's just a front, no interior, no one is there.

Later (maybe 20 minutes of film time, maybe more, but clearly days of narrative time) Dern's character is putting a brown bag into a car in an alley. She looks up and sees some weird letters painted on/over a door (if they have any signifance I missed it or it hasn't come up yet). She opens the door and ends up going through these dark twisted hallways, eventually coming out and seeing herself and Theroux sitting down at the script reading. We don't see two of her, just a shot of her looking and then a shot of her and the rest of them at the table. The simple use of a view point shot makes it unsettling.

She then turns and runs away. We are seeing the same scene again this time more from her point of view than Theroux's. We see her open the door on the motel set and go through. There is a cut and we see her entering a motel room, shutting the door behind her. That's how movies and sets often work, yet here Lynch has made it strange. She sees Theroux looking in the window as he did earlier but this time somehow she is actually in a room and he is on the set where there is no room.