Follow this Yellow Brick Road.
“Lynch/Oz” is a documentary about how filmmaker David Lynch was influenced by “The Wizard of Oz” in his work, but in the more spiritual sense. Writer/diretcor Alexandre O. Philippe (“You Can Call Me Bill,” “78/52: Hitchcock’s Shower Scene”) makes us really think about the infinite possibilities one classic can impact over filmmakers, actors, and their movies. “The Elephant Man,” “Blue Velvet,” “Lost Highway,” “Mulholland Drive,” “Eraserhead,” and “Twin Peaks” are among the many examples of what goes through Lynch’s head.
It uses seven narrators to read six segments, each representing the very core of this 1939 classic. Some are forgettable, but others really speak from the heart.
The best narrator in the film is Karyn Kusama, who acknowledges that not many people know the meaning of Lynch’s films. She remembers someone asking that question at a NYFF screening of “Mulholland Drive,” and him responding: “You know what it means.” Even she can see the character development of Naomi Watts’ character Betty in that film. But she also sees the darkness in how “The Wizard of Oz” can influence characters and stories. This chapter is quite haunting once we hear show she examines the filmmaker’s interpretations on that film and many of his films.
John Waters directed an incomplete “Wizard of Oz” parody called “Dorothy, the Kansas City Pothead,” which had the girl smoking weed in order to travel to Oz. He also admired villains more than the heroes from some of the best films. And he knows that Lynch lives in an interesting world.
There’s also Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (“Synchronic”), who both show us scenes that use echos from that classic, like “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” or “Pan’s Labyrinth or “Apocalypse Now.” And they both show us the doppelgängers in the stories presented on film, and what they really represent.
And David Lowery explains how movies can be used as escapism and reflections on life. Like how “Peter Pan,” “E.T.,” or “Where the Wild Things Are” explain the importance of growing up. I like to look at movies in these senses, and acknowledge that not every story can have a happy ending.
The first two narrators Amy Nicholson and Rodney Ascher both don’t really make convincing narrators, but I am learning some interesting aspects about how one filmmaker can interpret a film and how many other filmmakers use their own representations of it.
“Lynch/Oz” has a complex mind when it comes to examining pieces of a puzzle, which in this case is a classic film. It’s about what makes a classic film, and what each character, scene, and genre represents about life. Lynch, who was last seen in person as John Ford in Steven Spielberg’s “The Fabelmans,” knows his movies, whether or not they connect with the public, and he knows classic films when he sees them.
Alexandre O. Philippe makes it clear that this documentary is not just about David Lynch and his love for “The Wizard of Oz,” but rather the artistic nature of movies and how they relate to people. There’s no place like the theater. There’s no place like the theater. There’s no place like the theater.
Playing at the IFC Center in NYC Tomorrow