David Lynch is a native Angeleno and famous director. He is known for his surrealist films that straddle reality and fantasy and is considered a master of film noir, which is a highly stylized genre that generally features dark content with themes of disparity, cynical attitudes and motivations originally used in Hollywood crime dramas. Lynch helped to revive this genre, creating the neo-noir films of the modern day. A little-known fact: George Lucas once requested that he direct the third Star Wars film, and he declined. Here are some of the innovator’s most notable and controversial works.
This was Lynch’s debut work that he made during film school and actually paid for by working a paper route. Shot in black and white, the movie is the first venture into a twisted dystopian world focused on an isolated man and his dead child.
This movie was another landmark in Lynch’s career, as it was backed by Mel Brooks’ production company. Although he did not write the script himself, it was similar subject matter centered on a severely deformed man originally held in a circus sideshow.
This science-fiction film was commissioned by another studio and based on a futuristic novel that posits a feudal society whose main trade good is a drug called the spice. It was a commercial and critical failure until recently, claiming popular cult status.
This movie is a commentary on middle-class suburbia and the disturbing secrets lurking beneath the surface of every community and individual. It is drenched in sexuality, violence, and unsettling images – everything that denotes Lynch’s signature style.
The title actually refers to the region in Southern California encompassing Palm Springs and other suburbs of Los Angeles where it takes place. It once again follows a cyclical narrative and is described as a trip down the rabbit hole to a surreal semi-reality encompassing dreams and mysteries.
Following a near fatal crash on this iconic road in the Santa Monica Mountains, the protagonist, played by Naomi Watts, cannot remember who she is and must wander Hollywood trying to rediscover herself. This film again brought Lynch another nomination for Best Director and put him on back on the map for mainstream critical praise.
Another psychological horror that evinces the philosophies that Lynch does best. The film has a non-linear plot that folds in on itself as character after character morph into each other. Difficult to follow, but the audience isn’t actually intended to do so.
Starring Nicolas Cage and Lynch’s regular female star Laura Dern, this story is adapted from a novel about a pair of lovers traveling across the country. Of course, the love story ends in bloodshed and toys with the psyche. Lynch describes it as a commentary on the violence in America at the time.