Saturday, July 28, 2012

Dissecting Jennifer Lynch

Soooo, who is this Jennifer Lynch?  Often referred to as 'the daughter of David Lynch', Jennifer has been through hell and back to carve her niche in a tough industry where making a name for oneself is easier said than done.  Despite who your father is.

I chose the particular photo of Jennifer I posted above, from the many available on the web, because it struck a chord in me.  I have sported many hairdos in my life, including the one above, and had the subsequent snickering from family, friends and strangers.  Didn't matter, my need to express myself outweighed any criticism I was the recipient of.  I saw the photo and recognized a kindred free spirit.  Not to be outdone, Google her father and see his hairdos.  The man has a mean head of hair.

Jennifer Chambers Lynch was born on April 7, 1968 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  She is the daughter of David Lynch, filmmaker, TV director, visual artist, musician and actor, most notably known for 'Twin Peaks', 'Mullholland Drive', 'Blue Velvet', 'The Elephant Man' and 'Eraserhead'.  Her mother is a painter.  They separated in 1977, and her father is now married for the fourth time, he and his current wife are expecting a child.  When she was six years old she began practicing Transcendental Meditation, influenced by her father who was introduced to the spiritual techniques in 1973 although being raised Presbyterian himself.

She attended school in Los Angeles and the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan.  As a teen, she had the role of a little girl in her father's film, 'Eraserhead', a cult classic film.  Jennifer also worked as a production assistant for 'Blue Velvet' and wrote 'The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer' to accompany 'Twin Peaks', directed and created by her father, respectively.

At 19 years old, in 1993, she wrote the commissioned screenplay for 'Boxing Helena' that she also ended up directing.  The subject matter raised the hackles of feminists far and wide, caused accusations of nepotism and involved a law suit with Kim Basinger who was at first slated to take the female lead.

Kim Basinger, on the advice of her agent, backed out of her verbal agreement to be in the film.  Upon reconsideration,  the personality of the character, the script written by someone so young and the graphic sex scenes made her uncomfortable.  She was sued for breach of contract for $6.4 million, a dollar amount that the studio claimed it lost, and ended up costing Basinger $8.5 million.  [LA TIMES]

Also considered for the part was Madonna, who walked away when Andrew Lloyd Weber caught wind of it and issued an ultimatum, 'You can't have Evita, Madonna, if you do Boxing Helena.'  Madonna later wrote Jennifer Lynch a letter followed up by a personal phone call, crying.  Say what you want about Madonna, and I personally like her, she paid back every dime knowing that she had not honored the contract and recognizing the time spent by production.  [THE INDEPENDENT]

'Twin Peaks' star, Sherilyn Fenn eventually took the role.

'Boxing Helena' tells the tale of a lonely lovelorn surgeon obsessed with a woman named Helena, whom he previously had an affair with but cannot accept the reality she has moved on from him .  As fate would have it, Helena is injured in a hit-and-run accident in front of his home.  He kidnaps her and initially treats her, amputating both of her legs.  After a time, he amputates her healthy arms as well.  Limbless and held captive, Helena spends her time ridiculing Nick's shortcomings in an attempt to emasculate him becomes lonely herself and succumbs to his admiration of her.

Reality imitating her film, Jennifer herself was knocked down, age 19, and injured in a car accident that later progressed into debilitating spinal injuries, leaving her bedridden for a year after the birth of her daughter, Sydney.  She had left Sydney's father and was a single parent.  To alleviate the pain, Jennifer took up smoking weed, ignoring her condition until an alarmed doctor told her that her spine was being 'held together by a prayer'.  She abstained from drugs and alcohol, had three spinal surgeries and endured a rigorous rehabilitation.  [THE INDEPENDENT]

'Boxing Helena' came out when she was 24 years old receiving the worst reviews ever on record.  It was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival but did not win. She dropped out of the public eye, to regroup and lick her wounds and did not return for 15 years when she came back with her offering of  'Surveillance'.

'Surveillance' took took top prize at the Festival de Cine de Stiges in October of 2008 [where her 'Chained' will screen this October] and one month later, Jennifer Lynch became the first woman to receive the New York City Horror Film Festival's 'Best Director' award.

Two years later, 2010, Jennifer returned with the film 'Hisss', about a man in the last stage of brain cancer who has only six months to live and decides to extract the 'Nagmani' from a shape-shifting snake who can take human form.  'George' captures a nag [male snake] to coax the female nagin to free her lover and obtain the nagmani by force.  The nag is kept in a glass case where it is electrocuted and tortured eventually bringing the nagin to him as part of his plan.  She is helped by a police inspector dealing with his own personal issues with an infertile wife that has caused a strain on their relationship.  The nagin helps them and other women who have been victims of brutality by men, killing those men who captured her mate and the ones victimized.  The inspector helps her to find our where her mate is located, at George's hideout, and once reunited the nagin and nag engage in sexual intimacy during which George tries to take her nagmani by disguising himself in a suit that hides his heat signature.  At the same time he captures her, the inspector arrives, saving her.  So angered by her now dead mate, she shape-shifts into half snake, half woman, and throws George into the same glass case that held her mate captive and electrocutes him.  I won't give away the ending.  [WIKIPEDIA]

The film was shot in India with a Bollywood actress as lead.  The critics in Bollywood hammered the film for its 'bad script, careless directing, special effects that appeared more funny than eye-grabbing and the poor acting.'   The box office in India labeled the film 'Disaster'.  It screened at the Cannes Film Festival, where a grateful-to-be-able-to-walk Jennifer Lynch appeared on the red carpet with her daughter, Sydney in tow.  'Hisss' was also scheduled to premiere at the Montreal Festival du Noveau Cinema and the Gotham Screen Film Festival & Screenplay Contest in NYC but was pulled from both before they opened.

A documentary entitled 'Despite The Gods' chronicles the trials and tribulations of the filming of 'Hisss' and is set to be screened at the Fantasia International Film Festival along with the world premiere of 'Chained'.

Not to be discouraged, filming began on 'Rabbit' later changed to 'Chained' in July of 2011.  Lending support was Julia Ormond who had previously worked with Jennifer in 'Surveillance'.  In a surprising move to those who follow Vincent D'Onofrio closely, he agreed to portray the lead character of  'Bob', a cab-driving serial killer who kills Ormond's character 'Sarah' and kidnaps her son to become his protege'.

After horrific research in preparation and eventual filming of 'The Cell', Vincent has lamented about the ramifications--and nightmares he's experienced--that it cost him.  So it was unexpected when in an interview on 'Good Things Utah', while promoting a charity event, he revealed that he was going to portray the 'darkest character I have ever done.'  And, it was to be on his terms, filming to be done consecutively for the three days so as not to 'break character'.

Shane Daly, First AD, Jennifer Lynch, Director and Damian O'Donnell, Script Writer

Initial reports of the filming, though scant, were details of amazing techniques Vincent was coming up with to enhance his 'Bob'.  A mouth piece was inserted to achieve a speech impediment and a shuffling of the feet was added. The entire filming was done in Lynch's beloved Canada and fitting that its world premiere will also be there.

Then the bad news came that the MPAA had slapped the film with an NC-17 rating that resulted in an attempt by Jennifer and her producer to have it overturned.  It was not to be.  The rating stands, as deemed by the MPAA for its 'explicit violence' for a scene that involves a throat-slashing.

'Chained' is also scheduled to be screened at the 'Film4 Frightfest in the UK and 'Fantasy Filmfest' in Germany in August and .'Stiges' in Catalonia in October.

Just recently, in what I personally consider a disappointing move, Anchor Bay Entertainment announced 'Chained' would be released on Blu-ray followed by a 'Bonus Pack' Blu-ray and DVD which will include the bonus deleted scene dubbed  'Mary's Murder' which resulted in the NC-17 rating being issued.  Both will be released this October.

I can't for the life of me figure out why?  Maybe it's because no one wants to take the risk on a Jennifer Lynch film, or thoughts that the film will do poorly in a theatrical release because of the deleted scene or maybe the subject matter is 'too sensitive'.  Maybe all.

In a recent interview, 'Observations: Keep it in the family: the dark visions of Jennifer Lynch', Jennifer Lynch shared her thoughts about 'Chained'.

“The subject matter is upsetting, no doubt about it. It should be. It is a horrible thing, violence,” says Lynch. “When the project first came to me I was not 'turned on'.”

Instead, Lynch wanted to create a study of “how monsters are made”. “In my mind, real-life monsters are born of wounds: of sorrows. Of pains not spoken or healed. I wanted to promote a dialogue about child abuse. I did not want to excuse terrible acts, but to bring the human monster to light.”

What real-life events or films influenced her? “Everything I have ever seen or done influenced me,” she says. “Truly. The love I was given. The fears I had and still have. The questions I ask each day. All of them were part of my telling this story.”

There have been some hints/rumors of a limited theatrical release and I hope it's true.  I hope it makes it to the big screen in some lucky people's cities.  If only for the sake of an actor of Vincent D'Onofrio's calibre, movie magic and acting brilliance to be truly appreciated on a big ass screen.  You can save the DVD to cut your lunch meat.

Jennifer Lynch is currently in pre-production for 'A Fall From Grace'.

Good luck at the festivals, Jennifer, I think you've got a good one here.  And, if I could say one thing to you, always stay true to yourself despite what the others may think or say.  At the end of the day, you only have yourself to answer to and not the others who should find themselves having 'no place at the in(n).'

Oh, in case some of the details of the movies have left you unsettled, here's a photo sent to me from Marian of two pups whose mother was rescued in the nick of time...she was in labor!