Thursday, 21 May 2009

[187] Dumbland DVD Review

David Lynch is one of my favourite directors, and I would say that almost all of his feature films have moved or inspired me in some way (apart from Dune, no one can seriously like that). I'm a major fan of Twin Peaks, too, but after watching Dumbland, I was disappointed to find such a wholeheartedly Lynchian piece of work that I didn't like. The resulting review, probably because of my respect for the creator, is more sedate and thoughtful than an out-and-out rantfest. Check it out.


Originally released back in 2002 on the Internet, and compiled for Region 1 territories on DVD in 2005, David Lynch's 'absurd animated comedy' series Dumbland has now made its way across the Atlantic. Dumbland consists of 8 short episodes (totalling around 35 minutes); it is devised, written, voiced and crudely animated by Lynch himself, and contains little more than grotesque, exaggerated snapshots of the daily life of the main character, a gaping-mouthed, protuding-browed, wife beater-wearing troglodyte reportedly called Randy.

Each episode is focused on one aspect of the minutiae of Randy's existence, from an over-the-fence conversation with a neighbour, to being tasked with minding an old relative. Such boring, everyday subject matter becomes twisted and malformed in Lynch's hands. Randy's family are dysfunctional and caricatured, with his shrieking, grimacing wife and squeaky, wide-eyed child getting in the way of his eruptions of anger. Taking inspiration from real life, and filtering situations and relationships through a surrealist lens is one of the cornerstones of David Lynch's style, and his films typically have these moments of off-kilter, quirky tension - such as the most horrific meet-the-parents dinner scene committed to film in Eraserhead, his first feature, or the particularly uncomfortable scene in Mulholland Drive featuring composer Angelo Badalamenti and a cup of espresso.

However, the vignettes that make up Dumbland are for the most part purposefully artless. The black and white, Flash-based animation is just plain ugly, yet it achieves a raw, rough form of expressionism. Its comedy is based around the absurd extremity of the situations: Randy is all-swearing, all-dangerous and all-stupid, like a lobotomised version of Mr Eddy from Lost Highway, or Dennis Hopper's Frank in Blue Velvet.

Read the full article here.

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