Friday, January 20, 2006
Today, director David Lynch turns 60. To date, he has amassed a body of work that, like director Jim Jarmusch, is uniquely his own. Other visionary directors (including Coppola, Scorsese, Stone, and even Hitchcock) have, at some point in their careers, become "gun-for-hires" and marred an otherwise excellent body of work with a film or two or three that simply isn't imbued with their mark as director. (Anybody remember Coppola's Jack or Scorsese's New York, New York or Stone's Any Given Sunday?) That isn't true for Lynch. Even though, he has taken studio projects (rarely), he's always been able to put his stamp on the film (even if it isn't always successful, a la Dune). Lynch puts me in mind of another David who also has been able to maintain the integrity of his film work. Recently, director David Cronenberg has received high marks for his film A History of Violence (it was even nominated for Best Picture at the Golden Globes), but what I admire is the fact that, throughout his entire career (love them or hate them), Cronenberg (like Lynch) has always chosen to make challenging films. It's quite difficult in Hollywood, to lose your way and sell out. Lynch and Cronenberg have managed not to, and still make the most intriguing, thought-provoking and (sometimes) difficult films to watch. (Cronenberg was reportedly offered the chance to direct Return of the Jedi in 1983, but declined.) Both directors have given us films that deserved to be watched two, three, or even ten times, so rich are they with cinematic originality, symbolism, subtext and archetypes. How can you ask anything more from a director? If you aren't acquainted with the work of these two avant garde masters, here's a selected filmography of each. Films of David Lynch: Eraserhead (1977), The Elephant Man (1980), Dune (1984), Blue Velvet (1986), Wild at Heart (1990), Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), Lost Highway (1997), The Straight Story (1999), Mulholland Dr. (2001). Films of David Cronenberg: Scanners (1981), Videodrome (1983), The Dead Zone (1983), The Fly (1986), Dead Ringers (1988), Naked Lunch (1991), M. Butterfly (1993), Crash (1996), eXistenZ (1999), Spider (2002), A History of Violence (2005).