After staggering out of Inland Empire like a mole groping toward sunlight, you could be forgiven for thinking that there should be a start-up kit for learning how to make a David Lynch movie. Fritzing overhead lights — check. Sound of candles being blown out, amped through a Marshall stack — check. Industrial decay, inexplicable dance sequence, mix-and-match identities — check, check, check. The lesson of the new documentary Lynch— well, one lesson, along with the sound advice not to perforate a bloated cow with a pickax — is that producing a fugue-state apocalypse ripped bleeding from the subconscious isn't as easy as it sounds. Filmed over the two years spanning the inception and making of Inland Empire, Lynch carries a mysterious director's credit (“blackANDwhite”) and apes its subject's style so thoroughly that it could pass for the world's longest director's-signature American Express ad. Chronologically vague and associative, the film intersperses fly-on-the-wall footage of Lynch brooding, joking, and tending his Web site with the minutiae of the director shaping his unclear vision — from personally distressing a set to coaching Laura Dern on how best to fake a knifing on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Famously clammed-up about the symbolic or even — God forbid — political order of his conservative phantasmagorias, Lynch does no unpacking of his work here. Instead (and maybe more telling), there's just the evidence of his Warhol-like work ethic as he shepherds his crew, busies himself with tools, and stakes out a mineshaft into his imagination.
(Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Sat., Jan. 19, 7:30 p.m. www.lacma.org.)
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