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Premieres & Events

Coffee, Cheese and Vertigo: Lynch Slays 'Em Downtown

(Photo: Christopher Campbell)

"I love coffee, and I like cheese as well," David Lynch said to a capacity crowd Monday night at IFC Center. "Cheese is made from milk. Cows give them milk. And then through a process, cheese is one of the results. Cream, also. And I love … I'm sure all of you love cheese."

No, the filmmaker is not moonlighting as a spokesperson for the National Dairy Council; he just had to say something off the wall in order to please his fans. I guess. Lynch's new film, Inland Empire, opens Wednesday at IFC Center, but this event had little to do with that -- in his words -- "long film that no one understands." Instead, he was on hand to present Hitchcock's Vertigo, which is one of his favorite films and certainly one of his biggest influences -- a reference clearly visible to anyone familiar with his work.

"Inspiration is the main thing," he said, implying that "influence" is not even strong enough a word. "It's very inspiring, because it seems like a surface story, very entertaining, but floating in there [are] all kinds of fantastic sub-feelings, psychological things floating. And so it's like more than a mystery -- a deeper mystery."

When asked if he likes any modern films, Lynch responded, "Vertigo is pretty modern cinema."

He did offer a list of some of his other favorites, though, including Rear Window, Lolita (Kubrick's, of course), 8 1/2, La Strada, Stroszek, Mon Oncle and Sunset Boulevard. "Those are important films to me," he said, offering hope that he might return in the future for another presentation.

Before introducing Vertigo, Lynch screened a film of his own: a short that was produced for the special compilation Lumiere and Company. "It's the shortest of the short films," he said, "It's much shorter than Inland Empire. It's one shot. It's called Lumiere."

Regrettably for those unfamiliar with the project or his contribution, I'm not sure the filmmaker is the best person to tell you about it. "They asked 40 directors on the 100th anniversary of cinema to think up some idea for a film," he explained. "Fifty-five seconds long, using the original Lumiere Brothers camera. So there were rules. Once you start cranking this camera, you can't stop. You get three takes. You have to use natural light, and you're allowed to put sound in afterwards. And you have this little wooden magazine that holds the 55 seconds of film. And they said it was a 60mm lens, but when it showed up it was more like a 75 or 80. So, a lot of things had to be adjusted. At first I didn't have any idea, but then I was in my woodshop, and I laid my hand on the table saw -- it wasn't running -- and this thing sort of came. When you think you have 55 seconds and you can't stop the camera, normally you'd stay in one location. But then I got this way of floating through several places."

Lynch was more concise on other matters:

On the fact that no widescreen DVD exists for Lost Highway: "I'm not owning any of my films except Eraserhead. Or controlling anything. So for Lost Highway, I have color-corrected the high-def master; it's completely ready to go to DVD, but I don't even know who owns it now. I think Universal does. But obviously it's not on their top 10 list."

On his unproduced scripts and whether or not DV will allow them to happen: "I don't think I'll make One Saliva Bubble. Always Ronnie Rocket is hovering, but freedom is the number one thing. But I like to try going out into the unknown and see what comes for a new thing."

On doing "another" studio picture: "I've never done a studio picture. Someone asked me that this afternoon. And you can change it to, 'Do you think you'll ever poke a sharp knife through your chest?' And it could happen."

On his self-distribution of Inland Empire: "The world is changing, as you know. We live in a world of change. And the advances that people get go down and down and down, just like what happened in the music business. And then at the end of the day, that's the last money you ever see. And you do the same amount of work. So it just stands to reason that we can go out and do that on our own with a lot of help from our friends."

On his new coffee brand (which was available to sample in the IFC Center lobby): "So Eric -- he's not here; he's in an airplane -- but anyway, a guy who works with me said, 'You should have your own line of coffee.' And one thing led to another. So this is David Lynch Signature Cup coffee. Very, very good. I take about 20 cups a day. It is a very good thing for theaters. Film houses should have good coffee."

On the impact of coffee on his meditation: "My meditations are so deep, the coffee doesn't really pose a problem."

On whether or not cheese would be the next food item he puts his name on: "That's certainly a possibility." -- Christopher Campbell

Posted at December 5, 2006 11:23 AM

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