Saturday, February 15, 2014

Wild at Heart

Directed by: DAVID LYNCH
1990, TSPDT Rank #868

Seeing as I'm still waiting for the new 1,000 Greatest Films list and an updated count on my progress, I figured I would take the opportunity to write about one of my favorite films - one that was directed by David Lynch, who is probably my all-time favorite filmmaker. I saw this film tonight on 35mm at the Trylon Microcinema, a Minneapolis cinema which shows a lot of repertory films, and is pretty much directly responsible for rekindling my love of film. Shortly after leaving for college last fall, I discovered that Love Streams, one of the few John Cassavetes films I hadn't gotten around to seeing previously, was being shown on 35mm at a local cinema only a few miles away from where I live, and the experience of seeing it had a profound effect on me. It redefined my idea of what watching a movie could be like, and now I go to the Trylon just about once a week or more.

Anyway, this month the Trylon has been showing a series of David Lynch films, which has included Eraserhead, Dune, and Mulholland Dr., and will be followed by Blue Velvet next weekend. I saw Wild at Heart for the first time about a year ago. At the time it was one of the only David Lynch films I hadn't seen yet, and it completely blew me away. It is probably Lynch's most unhinged and unrestrained film - portraying a story of true love in the midst of a hellish maelstrom of chaos. Filmed at the same time as the latter half of Twin Peaks' first season, and featuring many actors who also appeared in the show (Laura Dern, Jack Nance, Sherilyn Fenn, Sheryl Lee, David Patrick Kelly), Wild at Heart almost seems to occupy a parallel universe to the show - maybe signifying the type of crazy American life that the people of serene Twin Peaks hope to escape from. The atmosphere of the film is as overtly rooted in the South as Twin Peaks is in the Northwest. The sweltering heat and dust are palpable, and the film's erotic elements are as strong and intense as its violence. However, while its sordid depiction of insane killers, maniacs, and love on the run recalls countless crime and noir films, what distinguishes it from these other films is its strangely pure side. It contains heavy references to The Wizard of Oz (one of Lynch's favorite films), and its main characters, Sailor  (in a fantastic performance by Nicolas Cage) and Lula, are genuinely in love, and as likable as they are over-the-top. The film is full of insanity, murder, sex, and thrills - but at its core, it's far from cynical, suggesting that love has the ability to triumph over evil and madness. It's a film that could have only been made by David Lynch, and in my opinion, it's one of his most fully realized visions - an immersive, one-of-a-kind masterpiece. I'm very glad that it's on the 1,000 Greatest Films list where it belongs, and I treasure having had the opportunity to see it on the big screen this weekend.

For anyone who's interested, more on the Trylon Microcinema can be found at If you live in the Minneapolis area, I highly recommend checking them out.

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