Rescued from his degrading life as a circus freak, John Merrick (John Hurt) is given a chance by a dedicated surgeon (Anthony Hopkins) to live his last years with comfort, respect, and dignity. But since life has not been so kind to John Merrick, he finds it hard to open-up to the rest of the world and let others in. Then again, can ya blame him when you look like this?!?!
David Lynch is a guy that I can never wrap my head around as to whether or not I like him, or just find him bat-shit crazy. Mulholland Drive had me for the first hour or so, then just totally lost me after about the box came into play; Dune just sucked and was a film I wish I couldn’t understand, just to add some more interest to it; Wild at Heart is strange, but very engrossing with its themes and different genres; and Blue Velvet is a very strange, dark tale that worked for me mainly because of Dennis Hopper. I know, I haven’t seen all of his movies, but from what I have seen, it’s been a pretty tough act to love, let alone enjoy. However, I think I can add this one to the list of “good Lynch movies” or “enjoyably pleasant ones”.
What sets this film apart from all of Lynch’s other flicks is that it’s not all that concerned with messing with the minds of the audience, as much as it’s actually more concerned about creating a story about a man that has an obvious set-back in his life, but finds anyway possible to get past that and live the life he wants to. Lynch focuses on Merrick and gives us a story that is not only inspiring, but is also very true in the questions and ideas it brings up about how it is to be human. People look at Merrick and see an “animal”, or a “creature”, and write him off as “stupid” just because of the way he looks. However, like every idiot-savant in movies like this (in real-life, I don’t know if they exist), we start to see more of a human-being behind the look and it’s an mesmerizing thing to watch.
However, that is definitely not the case because once Merrick starts to actually talk, we all start to realize that this man is brilliant and one that many of us should look up to considering he doesn’t once ask for any pity whatsoever. Nope, this guy just wants to move on with his life and get past the fact that everywhere he goes, somebody will be staring at him and try wondering what the hell is up with his face and body. To be honest, I’d wonder and probably stare too, but I wouldn’t be as rude about it as some of these people are because I’d realize something fairly quickly: this guy’s a human-being and has feelings like any other human. It’s very hard for anybody to feel and act like this in life, and it’s even harder for a guy like Merrick, but he somehow lives this life-style the whole way through and you are ultimately pulled in right from the start. This is mostly thanks to Lynch’s directing skills because he’s able to play everything straight, while still have a little bit of his weirdness here and there. But Lynch never loses himself and always keep his heart in the right place to give us a story that is one for us all to remember and feel touched by. Sounds strange that this is coming from the same dude who gave us a Naomi Watts lesbian scene, but that’s the whole beauty of this film and what Lynch can do as a director.
But also, that was also my one big problem with this flick. See, as much as Lynch dedicated this flick to being one hell of a story about a man with problems, he still brings in all of these freak-show elements that kind of make this film more confusing than it has any right to be. The first five minutes, we get the signature, Lynch freak-out scene but then it doesn’t come around again until the middle, where Lynch starts touching on all of these freak-shows and other themes of his like the night of the obscure and some strange, sexual obsessions that people have. This wouldn’t seem like something as bad to include in one of his total, mind-fuck movies we all know and sometimes, love him for, but when you place it in a film like this, it seems a little cheap. Also, based on the story we have here, it’s very confusing for a viewer to fully understand just what the hell it is that you are trying to say in the first place. Once again though, it is Lynch we are talking about here and the guy’s never been a fully-sane, fully-functioning person to begin with.
But then again, that’s why we have characters to look at and what a character John Merrick is. Not only is Merrick an inspirational-figure in real-life, but also in this movie and wouldn’t be that way if it wasn’t for John Hurt in this almost unrecognizable role here. The makeup job is done perfectly here and captures exactly what the real person looked like (actually, that guy was worse looking it seems) and I could have only imagined how much of a bitch it must have been for Hurt to have to constantly put that on, day after day. But regardless of how annoying it must have been for him, Hurt still gives off a powerful performance and totally transforms himself into Merrick, whole also actually down-playing the role with ease and subtlety. It’s hard to be subtle when you have a shit-ton of make-up and costumes on, but Hurt is able to capture a sincere presence with his eyes. Oh, those enchanting eyes. Shame that this guy hasn’t fully gotten his due yet from the Academy, but hopefully he will soon.
Anthony Hopkins, another legend on the big-screen, is also very good in a role that seems very fit for him: Frederick Treves. Treves is a character that thinks he is doing the right thing by going around and showing off Merrick to other people, only to realize that he is pretty much doing the same exact thing to him with these meetings, as the last guy was doing with all of those “freak-shows”. It’s one of those characters that hits the dilemma of doing the right thing, but soon realizes he’s way too in over-his-head. But yet, Hopkins always keeps him loveable and for the most part, a guy that’s easy to fall back on, even when shit seems to get a little too hectic for Mr. Merrick. If there was any problem I had with Hopkins, it’s that he always has that frozen look in his eyes where you don’t quite know if he’s nice or just scary underneath all of the glitz, glamour, and charm, but it works for this character and still makes it easy enough for us to care about this guy because he means well, even if others may view it differently.
Consensus: With a surprisingly straight-forward direction by David Lynch, a pair of great performances from Hurt and Hopkins, and an inspirational story at the heart of it all, The Elephant Man is a wonderful flick that will make you feel for it’s main subject but also realize what it’s like to be a human, and what it takes to care for the other humans around you as well.
8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!
One of the nuttiest movies, you may ever want to see in your life.
An innocent (Kyle MacLachlan) gets mixed up in a small-town murder mystery involving a kinky nightclub chanteuse (Isabella Rossellini) and a kidnapper (Dennis Hopper) with a penchant for snorting helium.
For all of my years while being interested in film, I never understood how come this movie was so influential. I heard it was just a nutty piece of work, however, now that I have finally seen the legend, I can understand where most are coming from.
David Lynch, can kind of piss me off as a director. Films like Wild at Heart, Mulholland Dr., and Eraserhead are so damn nuts and symbolic, that it’s kind of annoying just to watch the craziest shit happen, without you even understanding why this crap is happening. This is one of the films though, where he actually makes sense and focuses more on the story and outline of these characters rather than the bizarre symbolism.
I understand why this is sometimes viewed as a crazy masterpiece, because it really is one of the first films to show a deeper look into the natural lives of your typical suburban American. Many horror films, drama films, comedies, all take a lot of ideas from this film, especially the idea of a “modern noir”. This was one of the first films to actually plant the themes and characteristics of an old Hollywood noir, and plant it in a modern-day setting, but its also played very well. You can never understand whats happening, and you never know whats right, but as the main character delves deeper into the case, you delve a lot deeper into the society, and how beautiful and lovely it is on the outside, but is a cold, dark place on the outside.
But as usual with any Lynch film, there is always going to be some problems for me. I had a problem with the fact that the ending was trying so hard to make a point about something, but actually kind of failed. I understood the point that Lynch was trying to make about social order, when it comes to gender, but I feel like he could have done it in a better way. Also, I kind of got tired by the 4th time “Blue Velvet” was played. The song was good the first time, but after about 5 times, ehh I think I just want some Roy Orbison. Oh and that’s what I get, in a pretty cool scene.
Kyle MacLachlan most known for being on Lynch’s crazy show, Twin Peaks, actually does a good job with the material he’s given here. In the beginning, he plays this good guy well, and when he’s taken into this under-belly and totally changed against his will, it’s believable. But when it comes to great acting Isabella Rossellini and Dennis Hopper are the ones to watch. Rossellini was known as a fashion model before this film came out, and she totally bares it all out there, and I do mean it all. She really is nuts, but that beauty she has is undeniable, so when she’s acting all innocent and tragic, you can’t feel a bit of sympathy for her, and it really matches the film’s tone. But the craziest motherfucker in the planet is my boy, the one and the only Dennis fuckin’ Hopper. Hopper is one of the most under-appreciated actors in the biz, and he is freaking creepy every time he’s on-screen. The film probably has the most f-bombs ever in a film, just because of Hopper’s mouth, he’s freaky, nuts, crazy, nuts, and inhales helium like a pro.
Consensus: Blue Velvet may has its misfires, but it is still one of the most influential films for its portrayal of the dark, underworld we don’t know we live in, and the people that inhabit, played greatly by the incredible cast.
A film that is basically about God knows what.
Writer-director David Lynch weaves another mysteriously complex tale in this story about an amnesiac woman (Laura Herring) who’s left stranded on Mulholland Drive and gets taken in by a young newcomer (Naomi Watts) who’s moved to Hollywood to pursue her dreams. The two women gradually start to put the pieces of a troubling puzzle together, but the puzzle unravels a dark, sinister plot — as well as unexpected passions.
For me I think David Lynch is an OK director, if your favorite things are watching random shit happen for some odd reason. I liked Blue Velvet, and his most normal Wild at Heart, but this one even as crazy and nutty as it is, still is great.
The one thing I mostly have to praise is the direction from that crazy boy himself, David Lynch. Although, the whole film is basically up to interpretation, you can still sense a great deal of mature writing and directing when it comes to this job. Lynch, makes his usual wacko, surrealist, psychological films, but this time in the form of a Hollywood noir, and somehow, its works.Despite, being all confused entirely by the end of the film, I still somehow enjoyed it mostly cause of the fact that Lynch does create these great details and themes about imagination, and stardom, while plotting them in this helpless place of despair, combined with great elements of total suspense.
But yet, I also kind of have to fight against Lynch for this film. Lynch, does toy with us, the viewer, a lot during this film. Right when we think we have the story’s plain and simple plot in our minds, and understand it all, Lynch pulls the carpet right from underneath us all, and we are just being plucked away, one after another. In ways, I have to give Lynch the credit for at least, testing this idea out, but yet it kind of pissed me off, that the whole film was pretty much up to interpretation, meaning what’s the point of the film in the first place.
The visuals in this film will blow you away, because you got all these crazy colors flyin at you sometimes and you feel as if your trippin’ mad balls, when you realize your inside of the Lynch maze. There is also some natural beauty to this film, cause it showers the darker side of Hollywood, and some scenes are nightmarish material.
I loved how Naomi Watts, was basically, in other words, amazing. Her character goes in a total transformation, from this happy go-lucky chick in the beginning, to this evil, dark, bitchy character by the end of the film, but oh, wait I gave too much away, I’m done. Laura Elena Harring, is very good too, because she fits that look and feel of an old 1950s actress, and all she has to do is stand there and look pretty, cause she does that very well. I found her story to be the best thing about this film, because through this we sympathize with her character and the problem with her life.
There is also a nice side performance from Justin Theroux as the very arrogant director, who doesn’t take no for answer when it comes to his film, and its pretty obvious what the message is behind that character. Oh yeah, and Billy Ray Cyrus is in here too. Nothing like a good ole’ cameo from Achy Breaky Heart boy.
Consensus: It doesn’t do much to make sense, but Mulholland Dr. is one of those wacko films from David Lynch, that just is so strange, incoherent, and crazy, but yet so imaginative, well-acted, and intelligently structured, that it works.