Scanbox Entertainment have released a number of DVDs over the course of the year featuring content previously exclusive to David Lynch's subscription-based website (David Lynch.com) but now licensed to the UK company from the director's production house, Absurda. "Dynamic: 01" is the latest release in this series — something of an 'odds & sods' compilation of left over miscellany that includes both video footage of a type similar to that included in the recent feature length documentary, "Lynch (one)" and various other 'experiments' (as the director likes to term them) of varying quality — but all of probably minor importance overall in relation to Lynch's 'official' output. It's the kind of thing Lynch obsessives and completists will doubtless devour with relish, but then only end up watching once or twice in its entirety. Casual viewers of Lynch's films will find little to engage them in what is a somewhat disjointed collection of materials. Each segment is separately titled and comes with a short introduction by Lynch, who deports himself with his usual gnomic affability throughout.
"The Darkened Room" is perhaps the most talked-about piece from the early days of the website. While aspects of the site's surreal soap opera, "Rabbits", eventually became incorporated into the feature film "Inland Empire", this short video piece continued to languish in net obscurity for years, unavailable to those not able or willing to subscribe. But it being the only work included here that feels like something that could have been included in "Inland Empire" gives it something of a curiosity value for fans. It's also the only film here to include other actors besides Lynch or his immediate family. The piece is really just a short experimental scene between two actresses ("Cabin Fever's" Jordan Ladd and Cerina Vincent) in which Lynch evokes his now customary air of menace with just a few lines of non-sequitur dialogue and those familiar, vaguely unsettling rumbles of bass noise on the soundtrack. A reference to a hole burned in one of the characters' slip suggests it might originally have come from material planned for "Inland Empire". What lifts it slightly above perfunctory, run-off-the-mill Lynchism is the director's decision to append it to some other eccentric footage featuring Japanese actress Etsuko Shikata.
The film starts with amateur video footage of the view from out of the window of Shikata's Tokyo apartment. Then we are shown her kitchen sink, before she gives a short monologue about (of all things) bananas! Typical offbeat Lynch humour follows as a trippy dub-beat starts up, over which the actress repeatedly enquires, intoning the words in an eerily slowed-down drawl, "where are the bananas?" She then introduces the main sequence where we see a crying Jordan Ladd, her face disfigured by great panda-eyed cakes of running mascara, sitting in a purple-walled room on a couch, a creepy-looking ventriloquists dummy lying abandoned on a cushion on the floor. A cryptic dialogue then takes place between she and Vincent, with a silent man waiting in the doorway.
"Boat" is another project that started out as one thing but then got turned into something else when Lynch was inspired to add more material. Initially it seems to be just some home video footage showing images of Lynch and his boat. But an added voice-over by actress (and Lynch's wife) Emily Sofle transforms it into a sort of poetic existential meditation where Lynch attempts to go fast enough to travel "into the night".
"Lamp" is the longest piece here and is simply video footage of Lynch working on one of his art projects with a jazzy, mid-tempo rhythm playing on the soundtrack. In this case the project is a sort of lamp stand made of steel and covered in gauze and plaster and paint. Lynch's love of the actual creative process is very much in evidence here (as was the case in the "One" documentary where we saw him making film sets and composing his paintings). Coffee breaks are evidently just as important to him as well! Lynch commentates on the work's progress in typically methodical and endearingly precise terms, always dressed in the same white shirt and beige trousers (how does he always keep them so clean?).
A lighter but no less bizarre tone is struck up by the black & white video-shot piece "Out Yonder - Neighbour Boy" which stars Lynch and his son Austin as a pair of eccentric hillbilly types who talk in high pitched squeaks while sitting and conversing in their backyard. The film is just a single shot of the two men, and starts off with Lynch's oddball dialogue until, eventually, the pair are menaced by a giant fly and pounding footsteps in the yard herald the appearance of the 'neighbour boy' — who turns out to be a giant (whom we see only in silhouette) demanding to be fed milk before proceeding to trash their house! Strange but inventive sound effects and Lynch's sound design add to the overall peculiarity of the piece.
"Industrial Soundscape" is an animated film made with one of Lynch's photographs after it has been manipulated with the aid of photo shop. It depicts an "Eraserhead" style landscape (the photograph was of one of the industrial sites at which the film was shot after a demolition had taken place there) turned into a sort of rhythm producing machine as animated metal girders bang, lights flash and distant drums bang. "Bug Crawls" is another, similar animated piece, showing giant bugs crawling and flying across a derelict and gloomy landscape dominated by the looming silhouette of an old house. These are really experiments for the director where he gets to test out the possibilities of animating with photo shop, the general tone and style takes us right back to the director's earliest projects like "The Alphabet", certain sections of "The Grandmother" and, of course, "Eraserhead".
There are other experiments included here which are simply camera tests - Lynch testing out the possibilities of a intervalometer (time lapse) camera he has acquired. Rather than the usual shots of flowers budding or animals decaying which have become the clichés of time lapse photography, Lynch includes quite subtle subjects for his tests which show changes accumulating in a countryside landscape so slowly that one can barely register them as they occur; another film (accompanied by eerie music that increases its ominous atmospherics) shows us the shadows from the branches of a tree spreading slowly across some stone steps; while the final test depicts the change of light and movement in a garden as seen from inside a conservatory.
The replay value of much of this is negligible, but there is a final treat for fans though, as Lynch also spends about twenty minutes answering questions sent in by David Lynch.com members. These range from the trivial to the well considered, but almost all of them inspire some interesting nuggets from the great man, including an anecdote about meeting Roy Orbison and his initially negative reaction to the manner in which his song "In Dreams" was utilised in Lynch's cult film "Blue Velvet".
No one can pretend this is an essential purchase or that the material here points to any great breakthrough in style or leap in creativity for the director. His internet projects thus far have only led to his apparently moving increasingly away from the visual lushness of cinema and returning to the 'hands on' approach of his artistic youth. This is fine in itself but his exclusive use of digital video gives his work more of a video installation feel these days, and much of it often looks much more suited to an art gallery setting than it does the cinema. As always, Lynch's loyal fans will undoubtedly want to add this to their collections though.