Lynch/Oz - Fantastic Fest Texas State Premiere Review
Director: Alexandre O. Philippe
Starring: Rodney Ascher, Karyn Kusama, Justin Benson, John Waters, Amy Nicholson, Aaron Moorhead, David Lowery
Written by: Alexandre O. Philippe
Produced by: Kerry Deignan Roy
Cinematography by: Robert Muratore
Original Score by: Aaron Lawrence
Victor Fleming's film The Wizard of Oz (1939) is one of David Lynch's most enduring obsessions. This documentary goes over the rainbow to explore this Technicolor through-line in Lynch's work.
It almost feels wrong to be watching a documentary about where David Lynch gets his ideas from. He often cites deep meditation as his main influence on how he comes up with his ideas. Even when asked in person, “what do your films mean?” he always responds with something like “It’s up to your interpretation”. He keeps his stories close to his chest, but there are several films that clearly left their impression on Lynch. This documentary prefaces that the 1939 classic ‘The Wizard of Oz’ was a huge influence on Lynch’s work. Several directors and critics give their point of view on how the 1939 film not only influenced Lynch, but also most movies of the 21st century.
Battles of good and evil, curtains (and often the men behind them) and parallel worlds are all over Lynch’s work. He’s a complicated guy but his films and television shows are always centred around the same themes. In ‘Lynch/Oz’, Karyn Kusama, Rodney Ascher, John Waters, Amy Nicholson, David Lowery, Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead all get chapters explaining the links between Lynch and Oz. Some chapters are better than others, the film makers to me definitely had the more interesting points to make, as they’ve been in similar positions as Lynch. John Water’s section is a lot of fun, not only because he knew Lynch on a personal level but because he also took influence from Oz, in the most twisted ways. The one bad thing I’ll say about the Waters chapter is that the audio seems a bit off, like it’s been pulled from a bad zoom call. Not a terrible thing, but it’s something I definitely noticed compared to the audio in the rest of the film.
One major downfall with the documentary is how they structure the segments. The first two chapters with Amy Nicholson and Rodney Ascher often feel like first time youtubers making a video essay on Lynch. Which is a shame, because I’m a fan of Nicholson’s podcasts and often find her very interesting. Both chapters to me came off as C level film studies students' essays, the ideas are there but it just needed a little something extra to boost those ideas open and make them more interesting. After the second chapter, I did consider not watching the rest (which I’m glad I didn’t), as their sections were such a slog.
As a Lynch fan, it’s great to hear other people share a love for the man and his work. If you’re looking for a documentary that dives deep into the man’s life, this isn’t really it. If you’re looking for a documentary that gets into the psychology of how Lynch’s mind works, well this isn’t that either. But if you do want something that’s a bit thought provoking, taking a look at American film making in the last 100 years and seeing how directors are often pulling from the references, then it’s an interesting watch.
- Adam Neeson
'Lynch/Oz' received it's Texas State Premiere at Fantastic Fest 2022 on September 25th