(director/writer:Alexandre O. Philippe; cinematographer: Robert Muratore; editor: David Lawrence; music:Aaron Lawrence; cast: Rodney Ascher, John Waters, Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson, Karyn Kusama, David Lowery, Amy Nicholson; Runtime: 109; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: The people Vs. George LucasKerry Deignan Roy; Dogwood/Exhibit A Pictures; 2022)

“A unique film for the cerebral crowd.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

orn in Switzerland and based in Denver, the noted documentary filmmaker Alexandre O. Philippe (“The People Vs. George Lucas”/”Memory: The Origins of Alien”) explores in this well-conceived but abstract bio-pic documentary on filmmaker David Lynch, who is known for refusing to explain the meaning of his films and of his obsession over The Wizard of Oz.

The film is shot in 6 distinctive chapters, each with a different narrator. It shows how Lynch was influenced by MGM’s 1939 classic that was directed in Technicolor by
Victor Fleming. The essay film is a study that should enrich your viewing experience on celebrated Lynch films such as “Eraserhead,” “The Elephant Man,” “Blue Velvet,” “Twin Peaks: The Return,” “The Straight Story,” “Lost Highway” and “Mulholland Drive.”

In Chapter 1, narrated by the film critic Amy Nicholson and titled “Wind,” we see how Lynch sees the similarities between The Wizard of Oz and It’s a Wonderful Life—two films that bombed at the box office upon release yet found a new audience through annual TV-showings. We learn that as a child Lynch fell in love with the Wizard.

In Chapter 2, titled “Membranes,” narrated by filmmaker, Rodney Ascher (“Room 237“), Philippe revels at the argument of the real world versus the nightmare world, which recalls films like The Matrix to Back to the Future to Dune. It tells us that Lynch used doppelgängers as a recurring motif because of the Oz factor.

In Chapter 3,  narrated by camp filmmaker John Waters (Hairspray) and entitled “Kindred”, it juxtaposes the weird humor of Waters and Lynch against one another.

In the remaining chapters, the filmmaker Karyn Kusama (“Jennifer’s Body”) and the filmmaker duo of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (“Spring”) expose the artificiality of Hollywood.

Filmmaker David Lowery’s (The Green Knight) narration for “Dig”, in the final chapter, tells about layered realities, superimpositions and slow dissolves, as they appear in film clips by Abbas Kiarostami, Spike Lee and Jane Campion.

A unique film for the cerebral crowd. It leaves us with the thought of Lynch saying at a Q & A “There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about ‘The Wizard of Oz.’”

For whatever it’s worth, I still prefer watching Lynch guided by the way I view his films. This one only raises more questions than answers.
It played at the Tribeca Film Festival.

REVIEWED ON 8/2/2022  GRADE:  B-