Euphoria #41: “I Am The Muffin.”

Two girls and a guy 

We are gathering together all the little moments of cinema that make you full of happiness the way John Travolta is full of puddings.

Writer, filmmaker and ghost tour guide Kristin Loeer sallies forth with this distinctive take on the subject. As we enter the low 40s, the Euphoria starts to darken, you see. This is noirphoria… 

“I realised that it’s hardly ever happy moments that seem to stick with me. It seems that the scenes that mean the most to me are those that make me recognise something about myself.

“Watching Twin Peaks Fire: Walk with Me was a great experience. The entire film sort of takes me back to my teens and growing up in a small town and facing so many new and scary things, suddenly growing up: sexuality, depression, dreams and fears.

“There are two particular scenes which remind me exactly of the feeling of being between the ages of 13 and 16 again. One is the nightclub scene. I am not saying that is what happened when I went out being about 14, but the general feeling of this scene is exactly the feeling I remember from that time. The raw sexuality, the characters and how they talk and seem to deeply understand each other when it is not making much sense. It is comforting somehow to recognise so much later that the first nights out are not necessarily experienced like the prom in Pretty in Pink, but more like this scene from Fire Walk with Me. It is not exactly a happy realisation or memory but makes you think that some people out there experienced it the same way you did. Which makes me feel better… even though I propably shouldn’t.

“The other is the one in which Laura is in bed at night and Bob comes through the window and crawls onto her bed and they make love and she realises it’s her father. I did not find the scene that disturbing compared to others. It just felt like that is just exactly what sexuality feels like to young girls between 13 and 16. –or is that just me?

Action!

“– well, even if it is just me, this scene makes me happy because it is not just me, Laura felt like that too — and no, you don’t have to be abused by your father for it!

“And then of course I remember that significant moment when I zapped through TV many years ago and suddenly saw that moment from Blue Velvet where Isabella Rossellini asks Kyle McLachlan to hit her. It was part of a very short trailer for the film which was going to be on that night. It made me feel very strange and I knew I had to watch this, what ever it was.

“It was one of those first moments I remember where I really thought to myself “Ohh, something is VERY WRONG with you.”

“But that’s all a bit… well, dodgy?” 

BV

We don’t judge, here at Cinema Euphoria. 

(I repeat: Kris is a ghost tour guide. She leads people into Edinburgh’s most haunted catacombs and tells them stories. Come to Edinburgh and she’ll scare the crap out of you for money.)

Interestingly enough, the extract already on Youtube comes as part of a series of “Worst Movie Scenes,” which shows once again that it takes diff’rent stroke / all kinds, etc. But the reasoning behind the scene’s classification as a “worst” seems highly dubious to me, suggesting that maybe it DOESN’T take all kinds, just a magical combination of weirdballs and dumb-asses.

Even interestinger, the very reasons given by the YouTube people for worst-tagging this scene are part of the reason Kris likes it: the baffling dialogue. It’s not that it makes sense to her as such, but it makes sense for the dialogue to BE baffling.

As a sign of how under-regarded this movie was when it came out, the British distributor accidentally released a version without any subtitles for the roadhouse scene,  so this scene was even more puzzling than Lynch intended, since it’s very carefully mixed so you can’t hear quite what anybody is saying (which, as Kris observes, makes it the perfect evocation of the clubbing experience).

The little guy who talks backwards was unsubtitled too, which made things pretty tough.

Of all the stuff you guys have chosen for Euphoria, this clip maybe loses most, firstly because it’s too short, so you don’t get the full oppressive effect of Angelo Badalamenti’s music (which eventually fades out with the longest decay EVER) and secondly because there’s no way it’s going to sound like it should sound in a cinema. I mean, I know our little boxes here are far from adequate at the best of time, I just think this time the shortfall is more than usually destructive.

(Incidentally, Badalamenti came to the Edinburgh Film Festival a few years back and turned out to be THE FUNNIEST MAN ALIVE.)

I think this is a fine example of Cinema Euphoria, even if a lot of people might find it strange. Film is a mental connector, a bridge between minds, and sometimes that projector beam shines out just to find a single person, somewhere in the darkness, and make them glow.

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12 Responses to “Euphoria #41: “I Am The Muffin.””

  1. Well this is rather low on the weirdness meter compared to Inland Empire.

  2. True, but it’s nice to think there may be people out there who find IE just as cheering as Kris found FWWM. In fact, I’m sure there are.

    There’s something very cheering about the idea of Lynch generally, the fact that he’s able to make such personal, individual films.

  3. In fact — the big party at the end of IE, that made ME very happy. That looked like a fun party: Nastassia Kinski, Nina Simone songs, and a monkey!

    Is that song the same song as the one that begins and ends Bunuel’s The Young One? It has the same title and the same riff, but different melody and lyrics… it’s kind of like the same song, only sung from the POV of a different character…

    “Oh, sinnerman…”

  4. Of course, living in LA you must go to parties like that all the time…

  5. As far as I remember, when the new remastered 5.1 DD mix arrived a few years ago, audible dialogue in the nightclub scene had been reinstated, and as Lynch himself approved (contributed to) the disc’s overhaul, there was speculation as to whether the (far superior) dialogue’s original abstraction was purposeful or not.

    Btw, there was an Italian film called THE GOLDEN DOOR, released in 2006 (same year as INLAND EMPIRE) that also concludes with Nina Simone’s Sinnerman.

  6. Well, SOMEBODY put the subtitles on the US version… and Lynch did the sound himself, so how could that be an accident?

    I can’t see any good reason why every film shouldn’t begin or end with that song. And they should all use the opening shot from The Good the Bad and the Ugly too.

  7. And I can’t see any good reason why every film shouldn’t begin or end with Cleo Laine singing “All Gone” from The Servant (Music by John Dankworth, lyrics by Sir Harold Pinter cha-cha-cha)

  8. Another very interesting choice. It’s so good to discover that I’m not alone in loving TPFWWM. It’s a truly disturbing film and sadly underrated. Wonderful soundtrack too. Who knew that David Lynch rocked so much?

    It’s the little moments in Lynch-land. There’s a scene in Lost Highway (another terrific but neglected film) that triggers my creeping, savannah-ape fear sensors every time and it’s nothing but a static shot of a corridor leading to darkness. Remember Howard Schuman’s wonderful BBC film show Moving Pictures? There was a sequence on-set from Lost Highway that showed how Lynch shot scenes using background music to generate atmosphere. I was stunned to hear The Pixies thundering as they filmed a nightclub scene. As Gregory says, “What a guy. What an absolute guy.”

  9. I *think* I have that Lost Highway doc somewheres…

    I just emailed the BBC suggesting a cross between Moving Pictures and Screen Wipe, based on this blog. No reply.

    Lynch says that when Badalamenti started rapping “Black dog sleeps at night” Lynch laughed so hard he herniated himself and made FWWM in a lot of physical pain as a result…

  10. What a lovely story!

  11. Maybe that’s why the film is so much darker than the series.

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