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DIRECTED BY: Alexandre O. Philippe
FEATURING: Amy Nichols, , ,
PLOT: Six directors and one critic give their thoughts on the connections between The Wizard of Oz and the complete works of .
COMMENTS: Director Alexandre O. Philippe has made a career out of making films about other filmmakers’ films: George Lucas, , and are among his previous subjects. This modestly structured doc—nothing but experts reading their own personal essays over film clips—tackles his weightiest subject yet. The Wizard of Oz is a massive icon in pop culture, and, within his sphere of influence, David Lynch is equally influential. The result is not as narrow and academic as you might fear; although the movie expects the viewer to have a working knowledge of Lynch and Oz, the topic is broad enough to serve as a jumping-off point for reflections about movies, American culture, and the artistic process itself.
The essays are roughly arranged in order from most to least enlightening. Nicholson’s opening chapter (“The Wind”) is, in my view, the best; I think her position as the only critic on the panel gives her the widest lens through which to view the subject. Rodney Ascher focuses on Oz as a perfect story template (it’s basically the Hero’s Journey with doppelgangers). Lowery’s segment is probably the least on-topic—and the most concerned with his own personal output—but nevertheless contains fascinating theories about the purpose of childrens’ films (setting kids up to deal with the disillusionment of adulthood and the real world). Phillipe’s contribution is mainly in selecting the clips and images that illustrate and expand on the authors’ words, an exhaustive task that’s not as simple as just fast-forwarding to the appropriate spot in Oz or Wild at Heart; there are also archival Lynch appearances to sort through, and excursions into everything from Gone with the Wind to Star Wars to Videodrome.
“The fact that The Wizard of Oz and David Lynch can go hand-in-hand and communicate with one another,” Lowery explains, “the fact that we can have this conversation about ruby slippers andIndeed, Lynch/Oz is about the influence of one on the other, but it’s also about all sorts of creative cross-pollinations and new perspectives. Cinema, and the arts in general, are all about conversations between human beings over time. Lynch/Oz is obviously aimed at a select few cinephiles, but if your breadth of knowledge is wide enough, you’ll find plenty to get you thinking—and if not, you’ll discover plenty of new corridors to explore in the labyrinths of cinema.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“An enjoyable, if not entirely satisfying, look at a strange cinematic affinity…. Though frustratingly unfocused and sometimes overreaching (even compared to Philippe’s other docs, which are never what you’d call precision-crafted), the film is consistently enjoyable, with just enough flashes of insight to justify its existence.”–John Defore, The Hollywood Reporter (festival screening)