David Lynch: The Art Life

Imagine how unnerving it would be to listen to Dr. Frankenstein talk about his monster as if his monster is a goofy pet that just learned a new trick, the ol’ rascal. This is a lot like what listening to David Lynch talk about his artwork is like. We screened David Lynch: The Art Life on Friday night at Carbon Arc. This documentary, by the same team that made Lynch (One), focuses mostly on the director as a painter. Narrated in episodic anecdotes by Lynch, the film takes us from the director’s childhood to the production of his first feature, Eraserhead. It’s funny and alarming to hear Lynch describe a rather idyllic childhood and subsequent angst-ridden years as a teenager and young man in his fragmented, nasal cadence, knowing how bizarre and horrifying the products of his work are.

There is one scene in which Lynch tells a story about his father visiting his home in Philadelphia. Lynch takes his dad to the basement to show him his experiments - old food and dead bugs which Lynch left out to observe their decaying process. Lynch recalls that he realized his dad misunderstood this as some sort of sick project. This is where one would expect the director to correct the misunderstanding. Instead, the story just kind of ends. It was at this point in the film that a woman sitting in front of me turned to her friend and asked if she wanted to leave.

Archival footage of the filmmaker and artist as a young boy.

Archival footage of the filmmaker and artist as a young boy.

The Art Life shows Lynch's life-long passion for painting, portraying a side of the artist often overshadowed by his career as a filmmaker. It offers an entertaining insight into his artistic process, albeit at the expense of forcing you to imagine David Lynch as an innocent child.

-Chelsea Rozansky

Join us at Carbon Arc Friday, April 21 at 7pm for Citizen Jane: Battle for the City, a documentary feature about Canadian-American author and activist Jane Jacobs. The next night, at 7pm, we will screen the 18th Annual Animation Show of Shows, a curated program of award-winning international animated short films, including a recent Oscar winner and nominee. Finally, on April 28 Carbon Arc will end its winter season with a double feature of Finnish festival darling and Cannes screened The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki and the return of everybody's favourite cat documentary Kedi - these kittens aren't quittin' (I'm sorry).