Privy to the Veneer of Things in Lynch’s ‘Mulholland Drive’

In the Nerdwriter‘s video essay on David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, we dive beneath the veneer of things and discover how the legendary director plays with and manipulates our expectations to dizzying effect.

“Not content with the dreams Hollywood has been feeding us en masse for decades,” narrates Nerdwriter, “Lynch uses cliched expectation to move us into the space film has yet to go, showing us the dangers and the hopes of believing.”

At 15 years old, Mulholland Drive remains unmatched in its squeamish sex-appeal and its drawing of parallels between acting and amnesia. Lynch, for whom much of the story came to while practicing Transcendental Meditation (before it was cool), has always been reluctant to discuss interpretations of the film, but admits he considers it a love story. A twisted, masturbatory love story…

BlackBook Premiere: The Mynabirds Runs Into the Night With ‘Believer’ (Watch)

Photography: Jessica Ewald

Laura Burhenn of The Mynabirds understands the world from an intimate perspective, having driven across the United States twice, toured South Africa solo and explored all over Europe, building enough courage to genuinely channel William Faulkner and “lose sight of the shore.” Her third full-length studio album Lovers Know is a result of this global mindset, recorded over a year internationally, from Los Angeles to New Zealand.

In the music video for “Believer,” a track lifted off Lovers Know, Burhenn runs into the night, dodging a creepy clan dressed in all white with matching tattoos, as they collectively point toward her—wide-eyed—and follow the singer throughout the city streets.

“‘Believer’ is a song about completely losing any shred of faith you have left, in yourself most of all,” Burhenn said. “When I was talking to Michael, the director, about that, he came up with this brilliant twist to make the video a horror-tinged love song to my new neighborhood and the friends who’ve stood by my side through it all. Sometimes you’ve got to run through the darkest night to get to the dawn.”

Visually, there are subtle nods to the Dodgers, David Lynch and Michael Jackson’s iconic “Thriller” video, which the singer said was shot close to her house. She’s recruited a cast of familiar faces, including her own dog, Charlie, whom she drove across the country with on multiple occasions. Further cameos include Pierre de Reeder (Rilo Kiley), Stef Drootin (the Good Life and Big Harp), Chris Senseney (Big Harp), Jake Bellows (Neva Dinova) and Morgan Nagler (Whispertown).

Watch the BlackBook premiere of The Mynabirds’ “Believer,” below, off Lovers Know, out now.

The Mynabirds Tour Dates

6/7 – San Francisco, CA at The Chapel
6/8 – Big Sur, CA at Henry Miller Library
6/11 – Sonoma, CA at Huichica Festival

David Lynch’s ‘Blue Velvet’ Will Return to Cinemas for its 30th Anniversary

‘Blue Velvet’ 30th Anniversary Poster

David Lynch’s 1984 film noir classic Blue Velvet will celebrate its 30-year anniversary with a rerelease to select cinemas in the United States and United Kingdom. Starting March 25th through March 31st, the Kyle MacLachlan-led movie is scheduled to be shown at NYC’s Film Forum, with more screenings coming to theaters before its big September birthday. With a freshly designed poster, above, and an official reissue trailer, below, Blue Velvet is getting the accolades a Lynchian standard deserves.


The Best Films to Watch Without Leaving Bed This Week: Stunning Sci-Fi Classics

World on a Wire, Sci-Fi, Film

Every Monday I find myself whispering that old Beckett adage into the morning air: I can’t go on / I’ll go on. As I settle into the week’s work, and no matter how thrilling the day’s prospects, it’s that beginning of the week existential stomach ache that always seemed to start gnawing away at my insides. But breathe, just breathe, the hours will pass themselves and soon it will all be easier and the weekend will come again—one that’s rife with fantastic films playing in theaters all around the city. But in the meantime, look forward to the evening, when a wealth of wonderful films will be at your fingertips.

With so many great movies streaming online, what better way to spend a cold March night than curled up beneath the sheets with some of the best rare and incredible cinema from the comfort of home? But with myriad options streaming, I understand the decision of what to screen in your private bedroom viewing can prove a challenge. So to make your troubles easier, this week we’ve highlighted some of our favorite science fiction movies to watch without leaving bed. From confounding classics like Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s World on a Wire to modern wonders such as Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color, get cozy and enjoy.

WORLD ON A WIRE, Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Available to watch on Hulu +

SOLARIS, Andrei Tarkovsky

Available to watch on Hulu +

LA JETEE, Chris Marker

Available to watch on Hulu +

VIDEODROME, David Cronenberg

Available to watch on Amazon / iTunes


Available to watch on Amazon / iTunes


Available to watch on Netflix / iTunes


Available to watch on Netflix / iTunes

BRAZIL, Terry Gilliam

Available to watch on Amazon


Available to watch on Hulu +


Available to watch on Netflix / iTunes


Available to watch on Hulu +

BLACK MOON, Louis Malle

Available to watch on Hulu +

ALPHAVILLE, Jean-Luc Godard

Available to watch on iTunes / Amazon

11 Great Filmmakers Who Have Never Won the Academy Award for Best Director

Photo via the Criterion Collection

With the 87th Academy Awards commencing this Sunday, we’re reminded that artistic merit does not always mean taking home a gold statue. Simply because a film wins the award of Hollywood’s elite, does not be that it creatively surpasses its contemporaries. And just because a film goes unrecognized by the Academy, the lack of appreciation in that regard says little to what it deserves. This year, director Ava DuVernay went sans nomination for Selma, but over the course of cinematic history, few categories have caused as much of a stir as Best Director. From Stanley Kubrick and Wim Wenders to Ingmar Bergman and David Lynch, some of the last century’s most brilliant artists have failed to move past a nomination, if even given that—which, of course, speaks namely to the politics of Hollywood and not to their respective genius. So, to get you thinking about who will find themselves with arms full of gold on Sunday, here are some of film’s most beloved and talented directors who’ve never garnered the coveted Academy Award for Best Director.


Cinematic Obsessions: Casual Voyeurism,  Everyday Detectives, Seedy Underbelly’s Lurking Behind Pleasant Facades, What’s Hiding Behind the Red Curtains, Flesh on Flesh, 1950s Music and Ephemera, Psycho-Erotic Discomfort, Multiple Personalities, Saccharine Indulgences, Trout, Coffee, The Mysteries of Love, The Secret of Night
Best Director Nominations: Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet, Elephant Man
Best Films: Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart


Cinematic Obsessions: Man versus Technology, Man versus Himself, The Theatrics of Violence, Psychological Journeys Through the Use of Color, Meticulous Planning and Shooting, Psychosexual Aggression
Best Director: Barry Lyndon, A Clockwork Orange, Dr. Strangelove or: How Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, 2001: A Space Odyssey
Best Films: A Clockwork Orange, Dr. Strangelove or: How Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Eyes Wide Shut, The Shining


Cinematic Obsessions: Dramatic Musical Cues, Languid and Beauitful Slow-Motion Shots, Wresting Weary Heads on Shoulders in the Back of Taxis, Endless Romantic Yearning, Food, Lonesome Cigarette Smoking, Deep and Impressionist Use of Color, The Torture of Love, Heartbreaking Matters of Timing
Best Director Nominations: None
Best Films: In the Mood for Love, Chungking Express, 2046


Cinematic Obsessions: The Great American West, Existential Romantic Longing, The Barriers of Human Connection, Transient Spaces, Child/Parent Dynamics, The Psycholoigcal Effects of Neon, Spirituality and a Nostalgic Longing for an Absent Something, Emotional Isolation
Best Director Nominations: None
Best Films: Paris, Texas, Wings of Desire, Alice in the Cities, Pina


Cinematic Obsessions: Exposed Realism, Psycho-Dramatic Character Studies, New York City Streets, Manicly Delivered Male Monologues, Exposure of Social/Societial Injustice/Disorder
Best Director Nominations: The Verdict, Network, Dog Day Afternoon, 12 Angry Men
Best Films: Dog Day Afternoon, Network, Serpico, 12 Angry Men


Cinematic Obsessions: Existential Questioning of Faith and Mortality, Female Sexuality and Desire, Looming Presence of Death, Moral Quandries and Crisis, Psychological Horror
Best Director Nominations: Fanny and Alexander, Autumn Sonata, Face to Face, Cries & Whispers, Through a Glass Darkly, Wild Strawberries
Best Films: Persona, The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Cries & Whispers, Scenes from a Marriage, Winter Light


Cinematic obsessions: Wheat fields Gently Blowing in the Wind at Magic Hour, Sweeping Philosophical Voiceovers, The Confounding Nature of Existence, The Evils of Man, The Divine Presence in Everyday Life, Examining Humility and Grace Through Love, Man’s Existence with Nature Through Time, Redemption and Forgiveness
Best Director Nominations: The Tree of Life, The Thin Red Line
Best Films: Days of Heaven, Badlands, The Tree of Life


Cinematic Obsessions: Rotating Character Studies, Emphasis of Atmosphere and Personalities Over Narrative Structure, Improvisation of Script, Multiple Plotlines, Intersection of Worlds, Music as a Driving Force
Best Director Nominations: Gosford Park, Short Cuts, Nashville, MASH, The Player
Best Films: 3 Women, The Long Goodbye, Nashville, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, MASH, Gosford Park


Cinematic Obsessions: The Psyche of Men, Matters of the Heart, The Struggle and Pain of Human Relationships, Alcohol, Volatility of Emotion, Expression of the Artistic Self, Characterization, Raw Performance, Love
Best Director Nominations: A Woman Under the Influence
Best Films: A Woman Under the Influence, Opening Night, Faces, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie


Cinematic Obsessions: Surrealist Imagery, Exposure of Cinematic Experimentation, Bourgeois Dinner Parties That Never Go As Planned, Satiristic Comedies of Fantasy, Criticism of Morals and Religion, Mocking of the Church, Nonsynchronous Music
Nominations for Best Director: The Obscure Object of Desire, The Discreet Charm of the Boregeoisie
Best Films: The Exterminating Angel, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeois, Un Chien Andalou, Belle Du Jour


Cinematic obsessions: The Audience as a Voyeur, The Charms of Sociopathy, A Little Murder After Supper, Mommy Complexes, The Relationship Between Sex and Death
Nominations for Best Director: Psycho, Rear Window, Spellbound, Lifeboat, Rebecca
Best Films: Spellbound, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Rebecca, Psycho

On His Birthday, The 20 Best David Lynch Quotes

Absurd and brilliant auteur David Lynch has always been a man of ideas. In the past, he’s said that, “ideas dictate everything. You have to be true to that or you’re dead.” And throughout his career, he has been completely unwavering to his own conception and theories of what a work of art should be. Whether it’s his paintings, music, wood-workings, etc. Lynch has stayed true to his precise aesthetic obsessions and artistic desires that have grown into a genre entirely his own.

You hear the term Lynchian and you know what you’re in for—a “deconstruction of this weird irony of the banal” filled with “expressions of certain anxious, obsessive, fetishistic, oedipally arrested, borderlinish parts of the director’s psyche.” Heavily influenced by the work of Francis Bacon, he focused on paintings and art forms outside of film until realizing that if he could put these ideas and creations in motion, just how much more powerful they could be.

Referring to David Lynch’s aesthetic and psychological affinities, as well as his cinematic inclinations, David Foster Wallace once spoke about the juxtaposition of absurd humor and chilling horror in Lynch’s work, digging into the subconscious worlds where Lynch resides. He amalgamates beauty and fright, luring you in with placid worlds and slowly exposing you to their dark underbelly and the salacious nature haunting inside. There’s always a sense of mystery in Lynch’s work, a tempting pull just behind the doorway of the stairs, teasing you with its presence.

And for all his wonderful cinematic gestures and for as fascinating has his films may be, the everyday things that happen to pour from Lynch’s mouth are pretty splendid in their own right. On everything from absurdity and dental hygiene to psychology and sex, take a look below and enjoy.


“Absurdity is what I like most in life, and there’s humor in struggling in ignorance. If you saw a man repeatedly running into a wall until he was a bloody pulp, after a while it would make you laugh because it becomes absurd. But I don’t just find humor in unhappiness – I find it extremely heroic the way people forge on despite the despair they often feel. Like the character in ‘Eraserhead’ -he’s totally confused, yet he struggles to figure things out and do what’s best. Isn’t that fantastic?”

“I don’t like the word ironic. I like the word absurdity, and I don’t really understand the word ‘irony’ too much. The irony comes when you try to verbalize the absurd. When irony happens without words, it’s much more exalted.”


“Human beings are like detectives. They love a mystery. They love going where the mystery pulls them. What we don’t like is a mystery that’s solved completely. It’s a letdown. It always seems less than what we imagined when the mystery was present. The last scene in `Blow Up’ is so perfect because you leave the theater still dreaming. Or the end of `Chinatown,’ where the guy says `Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.’ It explains so much but it only gives you a dream of a bigger mystery. Like life. For me, I want to solve certain things but leave some room to dream.”

“Secrets and mysteries provide a beautiful corridor where you can float out. The corridor expands and many, many wonderful things can happen… I love the process of going into mystery.”


“Well, I’ve been blessed with good hair, or at least some people think it is. It is the way it is, sort of does what it wants to. So, yeah, I guess it is [a metaphor for your views on art and life].”


“I like things to be orderly. For seven years I ate at Bob’s Big Boy. I would go at 2:30, after the lunch rush. I ate a chocolate shake and four, five, six, seven cups of coffee–with lots of sugar. And there’s lots of sugar in that chocolate shake. It’s a thick shake. In a silver goblet. I would get a rush from all this sugar, and I would get so many ideas! I would write them on these napkins. It was like I had a desk with paper. All I had to do was remember to bring my pen, but a waitress would give me one if I remembered to return it at the end of my stay. I got a lot of ideas at Bob’s.”

“Things got bleak at times [during Eraserhead], but they were bleak in a fun way. I think it was sugar that helped me a lot. I went to Bob’s Big Boy, which is a restaurant out here. Every afternoon, at 2:30, was Bob’s time. I’d have a chocolate shake and several cups of coffee. I got such a rush from the sugar that a lot of times I felt much happier than I really was.”


“The house I moved into was across the street from the morgue, next door to Pop’s Diner. The area had a great mood – factories, smoke, railroads, diners, the strangest characters, the darkest nights. The people had stories etched in their faces, and I saw vivid images-plastic curtains held together with Band-Aids, rags stuffed in broken windows, walking through the morgue en-route to a hamburger joint.”

“Yes, [Philadelphia is] horrible, but in a very interesting way. There were places there that had been allowed to decay, where there was so much fear and crime that just for a moment there was an opening to another world. It was fear, but it was so strong, and so magical, like a magnet, that your imagination was always sparking in Philadelphia…I just have to think of Philadelphia now, and I get ideas, I hear the wind, and I’m off into the darkness somewhere.”


“There’s some line I read about the longing for the euphoria of forgotten childhood dreams. And it was like a dream. Airplanes passed by slowly in the sky. Rubber toys floated on the water. Meals seemed to last five years and nap time seemed endless. And the world was so small. I can’t remember being able to see more than a couple of blocks. And those couple of blocks were huge. So all the details were blown out of proportion. Blue skies, picket fences, green grass, cherry trees. Middle America as it’s supposed to be.”


“To me, jazz is the closest thing to insanity that there is in music.”


“When you’re down, when you’ve been kicked down in the street and then kicked a few more times until you’re bleeding and your teeth are out, then you only have up to go. You get reborn again, and expectations aren’t so great because they’ve taken you away. It’s beautiful to be down there. It’s so beautiful!”


“Well, I was very interested in dental hygiene because as a kid,you know…soft, bad teeth and always visiting the dentist. I have a dentist now, Dr. Chin in Santa Monica, who I think is the world’s greatest dentist.”


“I don’t allow cooking in my house. The smell. The smell of cooking – when you have drawings, or even writings – that smell would go all over my work. So I eat things that you don’t have to light a fire for. Or else I order a pizza. The speed at which I eat it, it doesn’t smell up the place too bad. The smell doesn’t last too long.”


“Sex is a doorway to something so powerful and mystical, but movies usually depict it in a completely flat way. Being explicit doesn’t tap into the mystical aspect of it either in fact, that usually kills it because people don’t want to see sex so much as they want to experience the emotions that go along with it. These things are hard to convey in film because sex is such a mystery.”

“To lose love is like light and it’s only a problem when there’s an absence of it. Pure love asks for nothing back and it’s more like a sensation or a vibration, but unfortunately most people don’t understand pure love. We tend to put the responsibility onto another person and that doesn’t work out too good.”

“Tenderness can be just as abstract as insanity.”


“While I was doing Eraserhead I had 40 coffees every day and I smoked 40 cigarettes. I quit smoking….I quit for 20 years… for one year and a half [I smoke again, that was in 1997].”


“I love two-lane highways. They say something about the way things used to be, and about areas that don’t have a lot of people. On those two-lanes at night you get the sense of moving into the unknown, and that’s as thrilling a sense as human beings can have.”


“It’s better not to know so much about what things mean or how they might be interpreted or you’ll be too afraid to let things keep happening. Psychology destroys the mystery, this kind of magic quality. It can be reduced to certain neuroses or certain things, and since it is now named and defined, it’s lost its mystery and the potential for a vast, infinite experience.”

“I always say it’s like fishing. You sit quietly and not much is happening for maybe a long time. And then suddenly you get a bite and there’s an idea. And the deeper the line goes and the better the bait the bigger the fish you’re going to get. And you have to be not necessarily quiet but you have to be open for these things to happen you have to be paying attention.”


“I’m obsessed with textures. We’re surrounded by so much vinyl that I find myself constantly in pursuit of other textures. One time I removed all the hair from a mouse with Nair-Hair just to see what it looked like. And it looked beautiful.”

Quotes via CityofAbsurdity

Sex, Lingerie, and Murder, Because David Lynch

What isn’t influenced by David Lynch these days? Not that we’re complaining. And we’re definitely not complaining about incorporating Naomi Campbell into the Lynchian fold, and that is exactly what lingerie brand Agent Provacateur has done for their spring campaign. Here Naomi is, as the press release states, “a hit woman from whom no one can escape.”

The campaign’s team, though inspired by Lynch and also Brian de Palma’s thriller film Body Double, consisted exclusively of women. Agent Provacateur creative director Sarah Shotton brought Unwerth in for the shoot. Unwerth’s “fizzling sensitivity to female erotic power makes her the perfect artist to capture the adrenaline-fueled chase for our bodacious killer queen Ms. Campbell,” again, according to the release.

Naomi is gorgeous, and yes, “bodacious,” but has also known to be a bit terrifying. She’s seen in the campaign holding a shovel. We’d say the casting is perfect.






Images courtesy of Agent Provacateur


Surreal Life with Kenzo and David Lynch

Image courtesy of Kenzo

Kenzo just released some images and a teaser video for it’s fall winter 2014 campaign, and they’re really weird in a really good way.

The campaign, created in collaboration with Toiletpaper magazine’s creative team — Maurizio Cattelan, Piperpaolo Ferrari, and Micol Talso — Kenzo’s creative directors Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, “bring the viewer on another perplexing exploration into the Parisian fashion house’s collections,” according to the release.

The five-some have previously collaborated on Kenzo’s fall winter 2013 and spring summer 2014 campaigns, focusing on the development of characters and protagonists. This season’s campaign, inspired by David Lynch, places models Guinevere van Seenus and Robert Mckinnon in an unusual environment, and revolves around their exploration and interaction with this beautiful, alien world.

Oh, also, they’re wearing beautiful clothes. Peep the teaser video and another image below, and get excited for more videos and gifs to come every day this week on Kenzo’s blog, Kenzine.


See a Young David Lynch Talk ‘Eraserhead’ in 1979

Whether you’re a Lynchian scholar or the most casual of cinema-goers, it’s hard not to recognize the cult iconography of David Lynch’s Eraserhead. Jack Nance’s signature coiffure and Lynch’s anxiety-evoking sense of nightmarish intrigue have become the calling cards for the film, which launched the filmmaker into new territory. But when it comes to Eraserhead, a film that took Lynch half a decade to complete, there’s an entire history lurking beneath the lady in the radiator. As noted in a past Cinematic Panic:

At that point in his life, he was living in a dangerous neighborhood in Philadelphia—the city where he says he got his “first thrilling thought.” Perhaps that thrill arose from fear, as he dealt with numerous robberies and break-ins (and lived across the street from a morgue). Violence, hate, and filth were all around him and embedded those fears into his subconscious, sparking an artistic inclination towards the beauty in the morbid side of life. Speaking to his obsession with the morgue across the street, Lynch says, “The [body] bags had a big zipper, and they’d open the zipper and shoot water into the bags with big hoses. With the zipper open and the bags sagging on the pegs, it looked like these big smiles. I called them the smiling bags of death.”
Inspired by the troubling world around him, as well as his own fear of fatherhood, Lynch began writing Eraserhead, which was to be green-lit by AFI in 1971 but suffered financial troubles throughout. Lynch delivered newspapers during the film’s principal photography to bring in more money. There were long stretches of time when shooting had to stop for lack of income. But Lynch was determined to press on, even if it meant creating scenes out of miniature dioramas and filming them if need be. Having always been inspired by numerous artists who dealt with anxiety and the macabre side of life is a surreal way, he was influenced greatly by the work of artist Francis Bacon and writer Franz Kafka.
But with an incredible look behind the scenes posted earlier this week, we see a 33-year-old Lynch in an interview done for a class at UCLA in 1979.
Lynch had been with John Waters earlier on the day of the interview and almost got him to join us. David later provided me with a copy of his short film The Amputee, also shot by Elmes, which we screened following the interview on one TV set outside on the UCLA campus — a world premier. The interview ends on one of the great lines from David Lynch, who said he wasn’t interested in Hollywood stars at the time: “If you’re going into the netherworld, you don’t want to go in with Chuck Heston.”
Watch the interview HERE and read the rest of our Eraserhead Cinematic Panic HERE.