Tag Archive: Dennis Hopper


“People call me a director, but I really think of myself as a sound man.” –David Lynch, quoted in Michael Chion’s David Lynch

David Lynch‘s electro-pop album Crazy Clown Time has left a lot of music fans and critics scratching their heads. But, looking back at the filmmaker’s long history of re-purposing pop music in his films and other work, it’s possible that Crazy Clown Time is one of the least strange moves that the veteran film director, meditation guru, coffee entrepreneur, and amateur weatherman has made in his entire career.

This isn’t intended to be a complete list of David Lynch’s musical ventures, as a number of music videos, Lynch-penned compositions, and other collaborations have been left out. Rather, consider it a smattering of some of Lynch’s strangest, presented in chronological order.

Feature artwork by Cap Blackard. Read more the review here: http://bit.ly/1527Ddf

“In Heaven” from Eraserhead (1977)

Lynch’s history both as a musician and as a feature filmmaker begin here withEraserhead. Following several mostly animated short films, Lynch received a small grant from the American Film Institute to begin what would become his first full-length movie. Filmed piecemeal from 1971 to 1976, it was met with mixed reactions at festivals, but early championing from famous fans including David Bowie and Charles Bukowski helpedEraserhead become one of the midnight circuit’s most popular movies.

The various musical performances in Lynch’s debut come courtesy of the Lady in the Radiator, a charming, tumor-cheeked woman who appears to Henry in visions at several points in the film. The most famous of these is her performance of “In Heaven” (famously covered by The Pixies), a simple, yet creepy, little song written by Peter Ivers at Lynch’s request. (In another segment, The Lady in the Radiator performs a memorably stomach-turning dance where oversized sperm creatures drop from the ceiling and are squished under her feet.)

Sting’s scantily clad space prince in Dune (1984)

“I met David [Lynch] and I loved him. He’s a madman in sheep’s clothing, and I just felt I had to do the movie because I know he’s going to do something extraordinary.” -Sting inRolling Stone Magazine #403, September 1983

“I didn’t even like the film, I don’t have a clue what it was about, it was very confusing.” – Sting to The Courier Mail, July 1985

Following the cult success of Eraserhead and the critical acclaim of his Academy Award-nominated Hollywood debut, The Elephant Man, Lynch was pegged to direct a big-budget adaptation of Frank Herbert’s science fiction classic, Dune. (Lynch had recently declined George Lucas’s offer to direct Return of the Jedi.) Lynch’s grandiose vision forDune would have resulted in a three-plus-hour film, which the studio cut down to a still-grueling 137 minutes. While more than a few distinct Lynch-isms survived the chopping block, the film that arrived in theaters was a convoluted mess and wound up being a huge commercial and critical flop.

“In Dreams” from Blue Velvet (1986)

Lynch bounced back from Dune with the smaller, more personal Blue Velvet. A mystery set against the dark underbelly of small-town America, Blue Velvet earned David Lynch his second best director Academy Award nomination and resurrected Dennis Hopper’s career with his turn as Frank Booth, the movie’s unforgettable gas-huffing villain.

Teenage sleuth Jeffrey Beaumont finds himself in way over his head when the dangerously unpredictable Frank Booth takes him along for a wild ride. Frank takes him to the home of his “suave” drug dealer, Ben, who lip-syncs Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” into an electric light. This sends Frank down an emotional roller coaster and prompts one of the most terrifying scenes in the movie.

“Blue Velvet” from Blue Velvet (1986)

Though far less disturbing than Dean Stockwell’s performance of “In Dreams”, Isabella Rosselini’s nightclub performance of Bobby Vinton’s “Blue Velvet” has become one of the film’s most iconic scenes. With her sensual allure and an evening of song, beleaguered nightclub singer Dorothy Vallens pulls the young Jeffrey Beaumont irrevocably into her dark world.

David Lynch initially brought in Angelo Badalamenti to serve as Isabella Rosselini’s voice coach for this scene, but wound up finding one of his most frequent collaborators in the composer. (Badalamenti appears as the piano player in this scene.)

Julee Cruise – Floating Into the Night (1989)

Rights issues prevented David Lynch from using a This Mortal Coil cover of Tim Buckley’s “Song to the Siren” in Blue Velvet. Unable to find another song that conveyed the same feelings, Lynch penned the lyrics to “Mysteries of Love”, which composer Angelo Badalamenti set to music. Lynch asked for a singer with an “ethereal” voice. Badalamenti suggested Julee Cruise, whom he had met in a theater workshop. The results play in Blue Velvet over a sweetly emotional dancing scene.

Industrial Symphony No. 1 (1989)

Following the success of Blue Velvet, The Brooklyn Academy of Music approached David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti to produce a 45-minute stage production to open their New Wave Music Festival. The pair agreed and put the entire show together in just two weeks, creating imagery to pair with several of the songs they’d written for Julee Cruise.

Presented only twice in November of 1989, the original production starred Cruise, as well as Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern, with whom Lynch was currently filming Wild at Heart, and Michael J. Anderson, who would go on to fame as the diminutive, backwards-talking Man From Another Place in Twin Peaks.

“Love Me” / “Love Me Tender” from Wild at Heart(1990)

David Lynch juggled a wide variety of projects in the late 1980s, perhaps the quickest to get off the ground being Wild at Heart. Within six months of being given a copy of the Barry Gifford novel that served as the film’s source material, Lynch had wrapped shooting on an adaptation that strongly showed the filmmaker’s bizarre stamp and contained more than a few less-than-subtle allusions to The Wizard of Oz.

Starring Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern as Sailor and Lula, outlaw lovers on the lam from both law enforcement and a contract killer, Wild at Heart calls back to Elvis Presley’s acting career without once actually vocalizing the singer’s name. Nicolas Cage musically breaks into songs made famous by Presley at two points in the movie: first in a version of “Love Me” that Sailor sings to Lula after pummeling a kid senseless in a bar fight and second (and even more bizarrely) in a rendition of “Love Me Tender” that’s sung under the credits.

“Just You And I” from Twin Peaks (1990)

It’s not surprising that two of the strangest musical moments in Twin Peaks come from David Lynch-directed episodes. Early on in season two, James and Donna, friends and classmates of the late Laura Palmer, and her near-identical cousin, Maddie, gather to record a ’50s-style pop song. The song isn’t mentioned before this moment and isn’t referred to again, making the almost-random, three-minute performance one of the most inexplicable, yet surreally sweet, scenes in the show.

David Bowie in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me(1992)

Ratings for Twin Peaks took a serious plummet in the second season, as a move to a Saturday evening time slot and the resolution of the central “Who killed Laura Palmer?” mystery caused viewers to lose interest. Following the show’s cancellation, Lynch announced he’d signed a three-picture deal with French company CIBY that would include a spin-off prequel. The world of Twin Peaks would live on for one more feature film, despite several of the show’s lead actors declining to be involved.

David Bowie, an early fan of Lynch’s Eraserhead, appears in a very brief cameo as a disappearing special agent with a laughably terrible Southern accent. Bowie filmed his role in just a few days while rehearsing for his Tin Machine tour, and only this scene survived into the film’s final cut.

“Sycamore Trees” / “Questions in a World of Blue” from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me was a critical and commercial flop in the United States, perhaps because of its near incomprehensibility, particularly to those who hadn’t invested almost 30 hours in the TV show’s many threaded plotlines. To fans of the director, however, it could be seen as his most hallucinatory and surreal film since Eraserhead.

Many of Lynch’s trademarks are quite visible throughout, including his penchant for including on-screen singing. The first is a short appearance by “Little” Jimmy Scott, a jazz vocalist with a distinctively high voice caused by a rare genetic disorder that prevented him from reaching puberty, singing “Sycamore Trees”, a new song by Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti.

The second is an in-film performance by Lynch’s frequent musical collaborator, Julee Cruise, singing the Lynch and Badalamenti composition “Questions in a World of Blue”, which would later appear on her sophomore album, also produced by Lynch.

“The Mr. Peanuts Song” from On the Air (1992)

On the Air was one of two short-lived television shows from David Lynch and his Twin Peaks co-creator, Mark Frost, following the success of that series. Starring several of the smaller-role actors from Twin Peaks in the lead and filmed with much of the same crew, the old-timey throwback to 1950s live variety programming flopped in the ratings with only a handful of episodes making it to air.

While possibly one of the least Lynch-esque projects he’s attached his name to, On the Air played in the same world of innocent nostalgia that was turned on its head in films likeBlue Velvet and Mulholland Drive. Several pieces of music are fit into the show-within-a-show’s variety format, one of the most memorable being “The Mr. Peanuts Song”, sung by one of the show’s leads, coming to the aid of a disgraced puppeteer.

Michael Jackson’s Dangerous teaser (1993)

David Lynch directed the introduction to Michael Jackson’s Dangerous: The Short Filmscollection, and as far as 90-second pop music commercials go, they don’t get much Lynch-ier than this. Featuring flickering lights, industrial noise, and a dancing dwarf, this little-scene video packs a lot of directorial trademarks into a small amount of time.

Marilyn Manson and Twiggy Ramirez as porn stars inLost Highway (1997)

Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor had reached out to Lynch previously to direct one of his music videos but was unable to pin down the filmmaker. Impressing producers with his work on the Natural Born Killers companion soundtrack, Reznor was approached to reprise that musical compiler role for Lost Highway as well as composing a few original pieces of music for the movie. The final result was released on CD in advance of the film’s opening and featured tracks by Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, David Bowie, Rammstein, and The Smashing Pumpkins.

Soundtrack contributors Marilyn Manson and bandmate Twiggy Ramirez have brief, almost-background cameos as porn stars in a snuff flick that’s viewed by the characters in one of the movie’s skeezier scenes.

“Llorando” in Mulholland Drive (2001)

“The music has to marry with the picture and enhance it. You can’t just lob something in and think it’s going to work, even if it’s one of your all-time favorite songs. The piece of music may have nothing to do with the scene. When it marries, you can feel it.” –David Lynch in his book, Catching the Big Fish

Initially conceived as a TV pilot that was later rejected by ABC executives, Lynch went back and shot additional scenes to turn it into one of his most critically acclaimed feature films, Mulholland Drive. The unusual production history of the film and the open-ended narrative structure, as well as Lynch’s typically surreal style, make viewing the film a hallucinatory and dreamlike feeling.

In all of the scenes listed here, Rebekah Del Rio’s Spanish, a capella performance of Roy Orbison’s “Crying” (retitled “Llorando”) may be the most haunting. Lynch had originally intended to use this song rather than Orbison’s “In Dreams” for Blue Velvet, but used it here instead after hearing Del Rio’s cover. At a critical point in the film, lovers Betty and Rita visit the mysterious and mostly empty Club Silencio. “No hay banda,” a performer announces; there is no band, yet we hear one. Any further description of this scene would be spoiling it for those who haven’t yet experienced it.

BlueBob (2001)

A music video was released for “Thank You, Judge”, which featured appearances by Naomi Watts and Eli Roth, as well as both Lynch and Neff.

“Sinnerman”, “Imaginary Girl”, and “Ghost of Love” from Inland Empire (2006)

Shot without a script over the course of more than two years with a stable of Lynch regulars, Inland Empire remains Lynch’s most recent film. Here, for the first time sinceWild at Heart, the filmmaker saves the weirdest musical moment for the end credits. The film closes with a Lynch-esque dance number set to Nina Simone’s rendition of “Sinnerman”, including a few of the director’s recurring thumbprints, from the blinking lights to a log-sawing lumberjack.

David Lynch makes his singing debut (without heavy distortion filters) for the soundtrack of Inland Empire, singing two original songs: “Ghost of Love” and “Imaginary Girl”.

Moby’s “Shot in the Back of the Head” music video (2009)

It doesn’t seem that unusual that electronic artist Moby and David Lynch would be email pen pals. As Moby describes it, he would occasionally send Lynch pieces of music that he thinks he would like. In the case of “Shot in the Back of the Head” from 2009 album Wait for Me, Lynch sent the song back with visuals attached to it.

Lynch’s animated music video interpreted Moby’s song as a surreal narrative involving a love affair between a man and a woman’s severed head.

Dark Night of the Soul (2010)

Dark Night of the Soul was a collaborative album written by Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse and featured a wide cast of indie rock luminaries in guest appearances, including Wayne Coyne, Iggy Pop, Gruff Rhys, Jason Lytle, James Mercer, Black Francis, Julian Casablancas, Suzanne Vega, Nina Persson, Vic Chesnutt, and Scott Spillane. It included some of the last recordings by Sparklehorse’s Mark Linkous and Vic Chesnutt before their respective suicides.

A limited-edition version of the set came with a book that included more than 100 pages of photos taken by David Lynch. The filmmaker sang in two of the songs, including “Star Eyes”, which is below set to his accompanying photographs.

In closing…

“Sound is almost like a drug. It’s so pure that when it goes in your ears, it instantly does something to you.” -David Lynch

In the end, when put into the context of a long and idiosyncratic career that’s included its fair share of left turns, an electro-pop album from David Lynch really isn’t a surprising move. Popular music has long played such an integral role in Lynch’s creative output that it may just be the logical next step.

Enjoy Crazy Clown Time, and try to have a good day today.

_hitchcock-john-keaton
This morning the Academy Award nominationswere revealed, and as usual, they’re bound to inspire debates over who got snubbed.

In light of today’s news (and, ahem, no Best Actor nomination for Jamie Foxx’s work in Django Unchained), we’re looking back at the biggest Oscar snubs of all time. To be clear, we’re not squabbling about nominees who should’ve won their categories—we’re talking about iconic and classic performances or films that were inexplicably overlooked and failed to even receive nominations.

15. Gary OldmanSid and Nancy (1986)
Overlooked for: Best Actor
Nominated Instead: Paul Newman (The Color of Money), Dexter Gordon (Round Midnight), William Hurt (Children of a Lesser God), Bob Hoskins (Mona Lisa), James Woods (Salvador)
It’s always tough to play a real person, but to play a punk icon/raging drug addict/probable murderer less than a decade after his high-profile death is a nearly impossible task. Oldman transformed into Sid Vicious for this film, both physically (at one point being hospitalized for losing too much weight for the role) and emotionally, pouring himself into the role.

14. Kathleen TurnerBody Heat (1981)
Overlooked for: Best Actress
Nominated Instead: Katherine Hepburn (On Golden Pond), Diane Keaton (Reds), Marsha Mason (Only When I Laugh), Susan Sarandon (Atlantic City), Meryl Streep (The French Lieutenant’s Woman)
As femme fatale Matty Walker in this neo-noir, Kathleen Turner made her film debut, but her performance makes it seem as though she’s been doing this forever—oozing the style, confidence and sensuality of a bygone era.

13. Steven SpielbergJaws (1975)
Overlooked for: Best Director
Nominated Instead: Milos Forman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), Robert Altman (Nashville), Federico Fellini (Amarcord), Stanley Kubrick (Barry Lyndon), Sidney Lumet (Dog Day Afternoon)
Sure, the directors’ category was pretty stacked in 1975, and it’s tough to decide who we’d bump to make room for him, but with Jaws, Steven Spielberg essentially created the summer blockbuster and forever changed how we see movies while laying the groundwork for the auteur’s impressive career—no small feat.

12. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Overlooked for: Best Picture
Nominated InsteadOliver!Funny GirlThe Lion in WinterRachel, RachelRomeo and Juliet
As we wrote when we declared this one of the slowest (but also greatest) movies of all time, “Straddling the boundary between art film and sci-fi epic, Stanley Kubrick’s space-age fantasia is loaded with arresting images. The legendary opening, with the apes and the bone—would you really want that passage hurried? The scene builds like a symphony, and then hurtles us into space, where the action moves with appropriate gravity. The menace of HAL is partly in the deliberateness with which he operates. If you’re looking for exploding Death Stars and quippy little alien creatures, you’ve come to the wrong place. Kubrick takes interstellar life seriously.” If you’re still not convinced, think about how visually stunning the film remains to this day and consider what it’d be like to watch it in 1968—before we’d even put a man on the moon.

11. Dennis HopperBlue Velvet (1986)
Overlooked for: Best Supporting Actor
Nominated Instead: Michael Caine (Hannah and Her Sisters), Tom Berenger (Platoon), Willem Dafoe (Platoon), Denholm Elliot (A Room With A View), Dennis Hopper (Hoosiers)
The Academy chose the wrong 1986 Dennis Hopper performance. He’s great in Hoosiers, but as Frank Booth in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, he’s positively terrifying. Booth is one of the most memorable movie villains of all time—sometimes funny, frequently disturbing and always riveting. Plus, he was drinking PBRbefore it was cool.

10. The Dark Knight (2008)
Overlooked for: Best Picture
Nominated InsteadSlumdog MillionaireThe Curious Case of Benjamin ButtonFrost/NixonMilkThe Reader
The Dark Knight was more than just a movie; it was an event. Christopher Nolan’s sequel to Batman Begins managed to transcend genre and become much more than a simple comic-book movie. It’s a visually stunning morality tale that raises some important questions about good and evil, and Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker—hideous, deranged and yet hugely charismatic—is one for the ages.

9. Bette Davis, Of Human Bondage (1934)
Overlooked for: Best Actress
Nominated Instead: Claudette Colbert (It Happened One Night), Grace Moore (One Night of Love), Norma Shearer (The Barretts of Wimpole Street)
There was such a massive public outcry when Bette Davis was snubbed for her star-making performance in Of Human Bondage that the Academy essentially owned up to their mistake and actually allowed a special write-in campaign to get her on the ballot.

8. Alfred Hitchcock, North By Northwest (1959) (but also basically every other film he made)
Overlooked for: Best Director
Nominated Instead: William Wyler (Ben-Hur), Jack Clayton (Room at the Top), Billy Wilder (Some Like It Hot), George Stevens (The Diary of Anne Frank), Fred Zinnerman (The Nun’s Story)
The fact that one of the greatest—if not the greatest—directors of all time never received a Best Director Oscar seems unreal and borderline criminal. Despite making almost 60 films, the lion’s share of which his directorial work is more than worthy of a nomination, Hitch was only nominated for the award five times and never won.

7. The Shining (1980)
Overlooked for: Best Picture
Nominated InsteadOrdinary PeopleCoal Miner’s DaughterThe Elephant ManRaging BullTess
Though it’s considered a classic today, The Shining failed to receive the recognition it deserved when it initially came out; in fact, it actually received two Razzie nominations—a Worst Actress nod for Shelley Duvall and a Worst Director nomination for Stanley Kubrick. Thankfully, audiences have since come to their senses and realized what a gem this Stephen King adaptation truly is.

6. Anthony Perkins, Psycho (1960)
Overlooked for: Best Actor
Nominated Instead: Burt Lancaster (Elmer Gantry), Spencer Tracy (Inherit The Wind), Trevor Howard (Sons and Lovers), Jack Lemmon (The Apartment), Laurence Olivier (The Entertainer)
Like the director himself, Alfred Hitchcock’s actors were historically overlooked by the Academy. As the villainous Norman Bates, Perkins played against type and delivered an iconic, creepy, yet wildly sympathetic performance. Norman’s a murderer with his dead mom stuffed in the attic, but he’s also a seemingly sweet, awkward guy who just got pushed to the brink by an unbearable relative. Hey, we all go a little mad sometimes, right?

5. Gene Kelly, Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
Overlooked for: Best Actor
Nominated Instead: Gary Cooper (High Noon), Marlon Brando (Viva Zapata!), Kirk Douglas (The Bad and the Beautiful), Jose Ferrer (Moulin Rouge), Alec Guinness (The Lavender Hill Mob)
The epitome of Old Hollywood glamour—and a triple threat if ever there was one—Gene Kelly received a special Oscar in 1952 (the same year he stunned in An American in Paris) for “his versatility as an actor, singer, director and dancer, and specifically for his brilliant achievements in the art of choreography on film.” That same year, he turned in arguably his most iconic performance in Singin’ In The Rain, but despite his exuding grace and pure joy in the titular number, the Academy rained on his parade at the following ceremony and failed to recognize him.

4. Sidney Poitier, In the Heat of the Night (1967)
Overlooked for: Best Actor
Nominated Instead: Rod Steiger (In the Heat of the Night), Warren Beatty (Bonnie and Clyde), Dustin Hoffman (The Graduate), Paul Newman (Cool Hand Luke), Spencer Tracy (Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner)
In 1967, Sidney Poitier starred in not one, but two extremely important films about race. At a time when Civil Rights tensions were boiling over, Poitier brought a glimpse of the African-American experience to the mainstream. His white co-stars (Rod Steiger for In the Heat of the Night and Spencer Tracy for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner) were both nominated for their portrayals of men who must confront their own prejudices, but Poitier himself wasn’t rewarded for his work. His performance as homicide detective Virgil Tibbs in In the Heat of the Night is especially profound, as he brings a quiet, restrained anger to the performance.

3. Do The Right Thing (1989)
Overlooked for: Best Picture
Nominated InsteadDriving Miss DaisyBorn on the Fourth of JulyDead Poets SocietyField of Dreams,My Left Foot
As Scott Wold wrote when we declared it the third-best movie of the ’80s, “the violence of Do the Right Thing erupts as an extension of literal and metaphorical long-simmering neighborhood temperatures, and finally boils over as something of a catharsis while never coming off as mawkish, or giving audiences the ability to escape conversation after the credits roll. A remarkable cast sells the complicated relationship with their Brooklyn neighborhood flawlessly.” The titular “right thing” in the film is hazy and thought-provoking, but instead, Driving Miss Daisy—a story about race with a much more upbeat, Hollywood ending in which the two protagonists put aside their differences and share a piece of pie—took home the top prize.

2. Hoop Dreams (1994)
Overlooked for: Best Documentary Feature
Nominated InsteadMaya Lin: A Strong Clear VisionComplaints of a Dutiful DaughterD-Day RememberedFreedom on My MindA Great Day in Harlem
Hoop Dreams is one of the best films of the ‘90s—documentary or otherwise—and despite appearing on more critics’ Top 10 lists than any other movie in a stacked year that included Pulp FictionForrest Gumpand The Shawshank Redemption, it failed to make even the shortlist for the Oscars. There was (justifiable) outrage, and many campaigned for the film to be nominated for Best Picture, but sadly, director Steve James and his team got shafted. History repeated itself last year when James’ The Interrupters was overlooked as well.

1. Vertigo (1958)
Overlooked for: Best Picture, Best Actor (James Stewart), Best Director (Alfred Hitchcock)
Nominated Instead: Best Picture: GigiCat on a Hot Tin RoofAuntie MameSeparate TablesThe Defiant Ones
Vertigo is Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, and it features frequent collaborator Jimmy Stewart’s finest performance. As we wrote when we declared it to be the best Hitchcock film, “His typically warm everyman on-screen persona is gone, and here he’s neurotic, cold and obsessed—and brilliant. It’s also regarded as Hitchcock’s most personal film; the idea of a man remaking a woman in the image of another he’s lost is often said to reflect the director’s decision to keep casting Grace Kelly-esque blondes after feeling abandoned by Kelly, who retired from acting in 1956.” So, what did Vertigo get at the Oscars? Squat, save for a few minor technical nominations. For shame, Academy voters, for shame.

 

— image taken from fineartamerica.com articles written by bonnie stiernberg for paste magazine

 

%d bloggers like this: