DERN FOR BEST ACTRESS? Just bring on the cows.
David Lynch celebrated “David Lynch Day” last Sunday in Harvard Square, where Inland Empire made its local debut at the Brattle Theatre. As David Lynch–type events go, it was pretty low-key. The only remarkable element, perhaps, given his recent efforts promoting Transcendental Meditation, was the location of his reception at OM Restaurant. A totally serendipitous coincidence, his people insist. And in fact not a totally convenient one for the filmmaker. Because of Cambridge’s no-smoking-in-restaurants policy, Harvard Square passers-by were treated to the sight of David Lynch, elegant in long black coat, crisp white shirt, and regal white mane, puffing an American Spirit cigarette on the sidewalk of Winthrop Street.
That’s nothing, though, compared to the show he put on in Los Angeles to promote Laura Dern for Best Actress. Dern gives an amazing performance, juggling several different personae among numerous story lines, films-within-films and dreams-within-dreams, and she sustains an emotional core even when characters in bunny heads make an appearance or when a group of prostitutes break out lip-synching “The Locomotion.” Lynch’s campaign on her behalf has been unconventional: he appeared on the corner of La Brea and Hollywood with a cow.
“You know in Hollywood,” he explains, “in the very beginning days, the actors, directors and film community got together and they had a big dinner and they celebrated each other . . . A really beautiful thing. And they would recognize each other’s talents and they would give awards to each other. Now it’s turned into what it is. So I can’t afford to do all the things, the traditional things, to help Laura get an award. But I got this idea to go out and help her with this cow. And signs.”
Have people been making the connection?
“Yeah. The first day I was there about an hour and 15 minutes and Channel 4 and Channel 5 TV showed up. People would come up and I got to meet all these really great people. They loved the cow. People love cows. Love them. I didn’t know how much they love a cow. They’re so calm and sweet. They give milk. And from that milk, we make cheese. And I love cheese. And I love milk.”
Everybody loves cows, but not everyone loves David Lynch movies. For the first time, he’s taken on the task of distributing his film himself. How have people been responding?
“Way better than I ever hoped for. And it’s younger people. They don’t have a problem with abstractions so much. And it’s not just younger people. There are lots of people who like a dream in a film or enjoy being lost. Lost in some ways but always feeling, you know, they can follow their intuition, and they don’t have a problem. And there’s other people, young or old or middle age, whatever, they just do not like that. But I’ve been pretty amazed, it’s a three-hour picture that’s hard to understand, and it’s doing much better than I ever hoped.”
As distributor, does he have a target audience in mind and a marketing plan?
“Fourteen-year-old girls in the Midwest that like to walk down tree-lined streets. I often wonder if some kind of wind swept across the country, if they’d just catch it and have to see Inland Empire and take their boyfriends and then it would just go up in the years from there. If 14-year-old girls in the Midwest would embrace it, it would be so beautiful.”