The “Lynchian” Aesthetic
Made in Hollywood / The Life and Death of 9413, A Hollywood Extra
A program of films curated by Jon Dieringer
David Lynch is one of the most distinctive and singular of all filmmakers, forging a unique syntax based upon the legacy of the Surrealists, classic Hollywood genres, American iconography, European art-house cinema, and an appreciation for popular melodrama deftly balancing earnestness and kitsch. To fully reduce this syntax to its constituent parts is not only futile, but beside the point; similarly, it would be impossible to make a full accounting of its influence on cinematic and other arts, direct or otherwise. This series of three programs, featuring a total of seven films and videos, explores influences, predecessors, and antecedents, either real or speculative. Special thanks to Rebecca Cleman
Made in Hollywood
dirs. Bruce & Norman Yonemoto, USA, 1990, video, color, 57 min.
“There’s a secret inside, a mighty powerful secret. But it won’t mean nothing to you until the right time comes. I want you to promise me that you won’t open it until you’re in trouble. I don’t mean the everyday, vexin’ kind of trouble: I mean the kind of trouble that’s so dark and black that there’s no hopin’ left.” So farmgirl Patricia Arquette’s kindly aunt tells her, in a scene reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz, before handing her a curious box and sending her on her way to chase her Hollywood dreams. Sound familiar? Obvious affinities to Mulholland Drive, Wild at Heart, and Lost Highway aside, Los Angeles-based video artists Bruce and Norman Yonemoto anticipate the artist-television format Lynch would take in Twin Peaks in this offbeat and wickedly cynical take on the trappings of fame. Parallel to Arquette’s turn as a budding starlet are the entwined stories of husband-and-wife New York transplants played by Mary Woronov and The Wooster Group’s Ron Vawter, who are divided between literary integrity and commercial success, and a multi-generational family of Hollywood moguls including Michael Lerner.
Ironically employing the syntaxes of soap operas, advertising and classical Hollywood, MADE IN HOLLYWOOD transcends the aesthetics of both cinema and television to tell a hilarious, ironic, melodramatic story that makes devastatingly serious inquiries into ambition, bicoastal credos, consumerism, originality, media, and talent.
Life and Death of 9413, A Hollywood Extra
dirs. Robert Florey, Slavko Vorkapić, USA, 1928, 16mm, b/w, 11 min.
Special thanks to Kitty Cleary, Museum of Modern Art.
It’s the quintessential Hollywood story: a
starry-eyed new arrival signs up to become an extra in the hopes of making it
big and barrels through highs and lows before bottoming out. The Life and Death of 9413 is a compact
masterpiece of alternating whimsy, delirium, and nightmare expressionism.
Directors Robert Florey and Slavko Vorkapić, along with cinematographer Gregg
Toland, represent an early, unlikely strain of avant-garde/Hollywood crossover.
Florey directed dozens of B-pictures and comedies including The Cocoanuts, Murders in the Rue Morgue, and The
Face Behind the Mask, Vorkapić became a major special effects artist noted
for developing the style of the influential, often-parodied classic Hollywood
“montage” sequence. And Gregg Toland’s star ascended as he went on to shoot Citizen Kane. Here that the Hollywood
mythologies explored by Lynch take root.
About the programmer: Jon Dieringer is the founding editor and publisher of Screen Slate, a daily comprehensive listing resource for repertory film and moving image artwork in New York City, and a principal administrator, programmer, and trailer editor at Spectacle, a collectively run DIY cinema in Brooklyn. He has also organized screenings series and shows at 92YTribeca (in collaboration with the Flaherty Seminar), Anthology Film Archives, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the Museum of Arts and Design, and UnionDocs. His video work has shown at venues including Anthology, Lincoln Center, Flux Factory, MoMA Warsaw (Poland), The Museum of Arts and Design, and The Nightingale (Chicago), and he often works in collaboration with musicians to generate original video for live scores at Spectacle. Professionally, Dieringer is the Technical Director at Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI).