David Lynch: The Art Life

2016
Dir: Jon Nguygen, Rick Barnes and Olivia Neergaard-Holm

For those familiar with David Lynch’s body of work, David Lynch: The Art Life is a treat. Through an insightful look into Lynch’s early life, the film offers a small glimpse into Lynch’s psyche and in turn his creative process or what he would refer to as his lived ‘art life’. The film could perhaps even act as a useful companion to Lynch’s work, as that work often left viewers exhilarated, astounded, but above all else, confused.

Structured chronologically and in an autobiographical style, Lynch is the sole voice heard through the length of the documentary. The narration is accompanied by photographs and films from his childhood, adolescence and early adulthood, as well as a collection of his paintings. Through this, the film attempts to unpack the relationship between Lynch’s early life and his art and experimental filmmaking prior to the release of his first feature film, Eraserhead, in 1977.

Through his retelling of anecdotes during these periods of his life, The Art Life captures some of Lynch’s most vivid dreams, memories and imageries, which appear to easily lend themselves to the strong surrealist themes that bind together much of his work.

In the present, an older Lynch is shown working on various pieces in his studio in the Hollywood hills, as well as in his interactions with his young daughter. At first, these glossier scenes appear to be in contention with the collage of archival footage and shots of Lynch’s art. However, on further reflection, these scenes work perfectly alongside the rest of the film, and transpose Lynch into the present, demonstrating his dedication to the art life philosophy, of a life lived with an uncompromising creativity.

Mina Suder

War for the Planet of the Apes

2017
Dir: Matt Reeves

War for the Planet of the Apes is the third instalment in the recent reboot of the Planet of the Apes series, which act as prequels to the original films. Continuing on from its predecessor, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, War resumes with the on-going conflict between humans and simians, entrenched in violence, imprisonment and revenge, which culminates in an epic battle.

With elements of the Western and Vietnam War films, a small group of apes traverse the land in seek of revenge and reluctantly rescue a young orphaned girl along the way. Through its primary focus on the plight of the apes, War is refreshing in its approach to the narrative, with a non-human perspective. This sense of viewers’ alliance with the apes is largely as result of Andy Serkis’ now signatory and excellent motion capture performance.

Elsewhere, Woody Harrelson’s performance as The Colonel, the leader of the humans, is less effective and original. Appearing to channel Marlon Brando’s Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now, Harrelson’s Colonel lacks the emotional complexities and ambiguities one would expect.

War, in line with other films in the Planet of the Apes series, offer a degree of commentary on socio-political issues, with the original series acting as an allegory of race relations in the US during the post-civil rights era. Similar to the post-Vietnam War films, War explores the ostensible dichotomy of the savage and the civilised, and ultimately poses the question of what makes us human.

Mina Suder