Alexandre O. Phillippe also made 78/52: Hitchcock’s Shower Scene, Memory: The Origins of Alien and The People vs. George Lucas, so he gets how to make a movie obsessed movie. Featuring filmmakers Karyn Kusama, Rodney Ascher, Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, John Waters and critic Amy Nicholson, his latest documentary Lynch/Oz attempts to figure out David Lynch by way of looking at Victor Fleming’s 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.
Winds, narrated by Nicholson, explains the motifs that Lynch has taken from The Wizard of Oz and where they appear within his films, such as the curtains, mysterious wind and red shoes. Membranes follows, as Room 237 and The El Duce Tapes director Rodney Ascher explains that the literal walls — membranes — within Lynch’s films are thinner than the ones in our reality.
John Waters’ segment, Kindred, explains how alike the two directors are and how they came up within the same independent system, as well as their famous Big Boy meeting. Like Lynch, Waters can show moments in all of his movies that come directly from Oz. Waters once described the movie to Today as “Girl leaves drab farm, becomes a fag hag, meets gay lions and men that don’t try to molest her, and meets a witch, kills her. And unfortunately — by a surreal act of shoe fetishism — clicks her shoes together and is back to where she belongs. It has an unhappy ending.” Yet his love for the film runs deep — he has an autographed Margaret Hamilton photo on his wall — and he also added that his favorite moment is “When they throw the water on the witch, she says, “Who would have thought a good little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness?” That line inspired my life. I sometimes say it to myself before I go to sleep, like a prayer.”
Multitudes belongs to Karyn Kusama, who directed Girlfight and Jennifer’s Body, and it truly added to my appreciation of Lynch’s Mulholland Drive as its connections to Dorothy were explored. Similarly, Judy Garland is the subject of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead’s (Spring, The Endless, Something In the Dirt) segment Judy, explaining how Lynch uses names like Judy (Jowday) to be perhaps the final nemeis of Twin Peaks and Dorothy Vallens in Blue Velvet.
The last segment, Dig, has David Lowry — whose Pete’s Dragon is perhaps the best remake of a child’s movie I’ve seen — discuss his feelings on Lynch.
Some may see this as too scholarly. Others as something like extras on a DVD. As for me, it was perfect, a way of reframing cinema by larning of influence and seeing art in a totally new way.