Lynch on Prowl for American Dreams

Director takes time-out from surreal films to study reality
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 21, 2009 11:30 AM CDT

All of David Lynch's work, writes Lee Siegel on the Daily Beast, seems to take as its starting point Norman Mailer's observation that the essence of America is the smell of gasoline and cheap perfume. For his latest project, the director of “bare-knuckle surrealist films” takes a 20,000 mile road trip to interview 121 Americans with hardscrabble lives in marginal places. The result, The Interview Project, is an elegiac and affecting web documentary that records the kind of lives that are “the elementary materials of his movies before they become fictions.”

"His subjects are always people with what more sophisticated types like to call ‘humble’ lives,” Siegel continues. “Some are sad and seem beaten by life.” Was Lynch reaching for a political statement, about "the futility of Red State existences?” Siegel wonders. Unlikely, since “his team’s self-effacing, even gentle camerawork and editing would belie any such plan.” More to the point, perhaps, Siegel notes, "In Lynch’s work, people are more exposed to life’s naked elements in America than they are just about any place else." (Read more David Lynch stories.)

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