Inland Empire


Inland Empire

Written and Directed by David Lynch



Laura Dern

Jeremy Irons

Justin Theroux

Karolina Gruszka

Jan Hencz

Grace Zabriskie


Theatrical: Camerimage & Asymmetrical Productions

Video: Optimum Releasing


Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Codec: AVC

Disc Size: 45.59 GB

Feature Size: 37.11 GB

Bit Rate: 21.00 Mbps

Runtime: 180 minutes

Chapters: 0

Region: B


English DTS-HD MA 5.1

English LPCM 2.0


Feature: English for the translation of Polish dialogue only.

Standard U.K. Blu-ray case

Release Date: April 19, 2010

The Movie : 8

The question every artist faces, if they're lucky – or doomed, as the case may be - is: Where do you go after you achieve success with your artistic vision?  For my money, the most intriguing film of 2001 was Mulholland Dr.  I imagine that David Lynch would have agreed with me; but more to the point, in Mulholland Dr. Lynch combined his usual ingredients into a satisfying, extravagant dreamscape of impressionist and expressionist proportions that seemed to both fulfill his intentions and please his audience.


The word "Masterpiece" is more than a little overused by film critics.  I rarely find it a useful term of endearment, but I am tempted in the case of Mulholland Dr.  So the question remains: where to from here, Mr. Lynch?  Clearly, many of the same motifs and themes are revisited in his next and most recent feature film, INLAND EMPIRE: the psychic raveling and unraveling, time and identity shifting, the suborning of multimedia techniques.  While Mulholland Dr. might be thought of as the cinematic equivalent of Schönberg's Verklärte Nacht, often considered the pinnacle of German Expressionism in music (its most obvious difference in terms of form is that Mulholland Dr. seems to exist in several temporal planes simultaneously), INLAND EMPIRE takes those ideas and us deeper into a subconscious.  There is much to admire here, but not nearly as much to savor – among other things, the new movie, while it revels in its share of repulsive images, also lacks the raw eroticism of its predecessor.


But, love it or hate it, there is at least one new wrinkle for INLAND EMPIRE: the Sony DSR-PD150 camcorder. (Here's a review of the camera if you'd like to know more about it. The PD150 is not even HD – and one wonders why Lynch didn't go that route if his main goal was a certain degree of freedom of the trappings of MOVIE-MAKING?  But there it is.  For theatrical exhibition, the low-fi image must have first been converted to 35mm film, but even DVD is not exactly a 1:1 transfer.  Reviews of the DVD were mixed on technical grounds, even polarized, leaving us to wonder if a HD transfer would make the limitation that much more apparent.



Image: ?

I am happy to report that it doesn't and, quite frankly, I am surprised.  I can still recall with some aversion the effects on faces of conversion and upscaling that went into large portions of Fahrenheit 911.  Yuk!  These same plasticized, textureless faces crop up in INLAND EMPIRE and their being upscaled to 1080p doesn't fix the problem.  They still look like they belong in a wax museum.  But neither do they look worse.  Hair is still matted, but in well-lit scenes, we can make out a light beard on Justin Theroux, even a semblance of expression.


There was another nagging problem on the DVD (the Absurda/Rhino is the only one I have to compare), relating to movement.  As we watch Grace Zabriskie walk up to Laura Dern's door near the beginning of the film, we reflexively reach for the Dramamine.  We can't quite tell if what we see is the result of deliberate frame dropping, sloppy editing, a snafu in the transfer, or what.  While there is still some jerkiness on the Blu-ray, it feels more deliberate and, if you'll indulge me, smoother.  Note also the scene with the Polish "rabbits" who arrange themselves on a stage.  The camera is still, but on the DVD the image isn't quite stable.  If this isn't entirely apparent, it will be when you see the Blu-ray.  These minute advantages add up to a far less fatiguing, more involving experience over a movie three hours long.


Differences in color and brightness between both the Rhino and Optimum's own DVD are also apparent.  As to brightness, the Blu-ray strikes a middle course between the two DVDs, which I find suitable and preferable to either.  The red shift is quite dramatic, and will not please everyone - I find it works better in some scenes than others.  (I know we're supposed to reviewing what is actually on the DVD, but just a reminder: I'm sure you're display has video tone controls.)


Audio & Music: 7/8

As with the two DVD editions, Optimum's Blu-ray offers the choice of a 2.0 and a 5.1 mix, the latter in DTS-HD MA.  As with the video, there are gains in the uncompressed audio mode that some will find even qualitatively delicious, depending on how good your audio system is.  The music, especially, benefits from the kind of exquisite aural effect that will envelope and transport you directly into another universe.  Be warned.


Operations: 3

The biggest, and to many, the most important difference between the two DVDs are the chapter stops on the Region 1 disc and the lack of them on the Region 2.  Nothing has changed for the U.K. company.  Optimum continues to honor the director's "intentions" in this respect – which reminds me that the disc starts out with a short promo piece for Optimum that promises us a Blu-ray for Mulholland Dr.  Can the director's intentions be far behind, and will they extend to matters beyond the absence of chapter stops?  You know what I mean.


Extras: 5

Optimum imported to their Blu-ray the same extra features that appear on their 2-Disc Special Edition DVD.  The director is the lynchpin in all of them and, since they are gathered from various sources not originally intended for video bonus features, he tends to repeat much of the same material, fascinating though any of them may be.  Conspicuous by her absence is any interview with his star, Laura Dern, about whose virtues as an actress, Lynch can't say enough.  The Rhino wins out here.


Recommendation: 7

For admirers of the film, I'd opt for the Optimum Blu-ray for improved picture and sound, and the Rhino for its bonus features.

Leonard Norwitz


May 5, 2010

Score CardScore_Card.html
About MeAbout_Me.html