Film Review: David Lynch: The Art Life

David Lynch: The Art Life

Told by the subject’s own voice, David Lynch: The Art Life is an entertaining insight into Lynch’s life and art.

Before he was a filmmaker, David Lynch was an artist. This documentary captures his early childhood memories up to working on Eraserhead, charting his interest in art and how this impacted his life…

David Lynch: The Art Life is an entertaining and informative documentary. Lynch provides narration for the piece, giving a stamp of approval to proceedings. Jon Nguyen, Rick Barnes, and Olivia Neergaard-Holm’s film combines this narrative with images from Lynch’s childhood, his early exploration into films, and of course a look at his art work.

The film paints Lynch as an artist first and foremost; his foray into films is depicted as almost accidental. Starting from early childhood memories, the subject discusses his family life, how he became engaged in art, his adolescence and early adulthood. The film covers a pivotal period in his life, ending at the making of Eraserhead. By doing so, the filmmakers are effectively saying ‘and the rest is history’. For Lynch fans, this makes perfect sense. The documentary reveals a time in his life that is not widely known, and gives some insight into the background to his successful film career.

The filmmakers view Lynch through his art work; it is the gaze through which they depict their subject. The context to his art will be interesting for fans and casual viewers alike. More amusing are the anecdotes that Lynch provides on his life at that period – these are frequently funny. Filmmakers do touch on the darkness, or peculiarity to his work, but this is discussed in the odd comment rather than being a focal point.

The film is well edited, and uses some of Lynch’s own songs as a soundtrack. As anyone who has viewed his art or seen his films will know, Lynch is a very interesting subject. Although not a definitive documentary, David Lynch: The Art Life does him justice.

David Lynch: The Art Life is being screened at London Film Festival in October 2016.

BFI London Film Festival 2016 Launch

Today saw the launch of the BFI London Film Festival 2016. This year’s programme is bursting with cinematic delights. There are more galas than in previous years, and screen talk participants include Werner Herzog and Paul Verhoeven. Here are some of the films to look out for at London Film Festival 2016.

Headline Galas

The Birth of a Nation

The London Film Festival 2016’s opening gala A United Kingdom had already been announced, the Scorsese-produced, Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire looks like a lot of fun. Elsewhere, plenty of hotly anticipated films including La La Land, Arrival and The Birth of a Nation. Writer-director Nate Parker also stars in the story of an enslaved preacher who led a revolt in 1830s Virginia. Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals is also a headline gala. An adaptation of Austin Wright’s novel Tony and Susan, the film stars Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon. Mira Nair’s Queen of Katwe stars David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong’o.

Strand Galas and Special Presentations

The Handmaiden

This year sees additional galas, which will take place on a purpose built venue on the Strand. They include The Handmaiden, from director Chan-wook Park. The film looks as sumptuous as Park’s previous film Stoker. Miles Teller stars in Bleed For This, based on the true story of boxer Vinny Paziena. Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq is the Sonic Gala. The hip hop musical features Teyonah Parris, Wesley Snipes, Angela Bassett and Samuel L. Jackson. Andrea Arnold’s American Honey and Ava DuVernay’s The 13th are among the special presentations this year.

Official Competition

My Life As A Courgette

Paul Verhoeven’s Elle is amongst the Official Competition at London Film Festival 2016. Staring Isabelle Huppert, the film is an adaptation of a Philippe Dijan novel. Terence Davies’ A Quiet Presentation is a biopic of Emily Dickinson staring Cynthia Nixon. Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, about a young man struggling with his sexuality in 1980s Miami, looks like a great watch. In the First Feature Competition, Porto sees one of Anton Yelchin’s final performances, whilst animation My Life As A Courgette looks like a lot of fun. David Lynch: The Art Life is among the contenders for the Documentary Competition, as well as The Graduation. The latter is a documentary about a prestigious film school in Paris. Chasing Asylum, about the Australian government’s immigration policies, seems very topical.


The Salesman

The Love strand features Lovesong, director So Yong Kim’s film about a lonely young mother. It stars Jena Malone and Riley Keough. Highlights in the Debate category include Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman. A Separation‘s Farhadi has already won awards at Cannes. Mindhorn features in the Laugh strand. The film stars Julian Barratt as a washed-up 1980s TV detective. Dare features Christine, starring Rebecca Hall as the notorious television journalist. Paul Schrader’s Dog Eat Dog looks to be a highlight of the Thrill section, with Nicholas Cage starring alongside Willem Dafoe. Another David Lynch connection (Cage and Dafoe starred in Lynch’s Wild at Heart), Blue Velvet Revisited, features in the Cult strand.

I Am Not A Serial Killer

Cult also features I Am Not A Serial Killer, based on the young adult novel. The Innocents looks to be a highlight of the Journey strand. Anne Fontaine’s film is about a young doctor working for the French Red Cross in 1945. London Town, a coming of age film set in 1979 London, features in the Sonic strand. The Family strand includes Rock Dog, an animation featuring the voices of J.K. Simmons and Luke Wilson. Finally, Experimenta includes Have You Seen My Movie?; a must-see for cinema fans.

The full London Film Festival 2016 programme can be viewed here. The BFI London Film Festival runs from 5th-16th October 2016.