Oct 09, 2012, 07:15AM

David Lynch Has to Eat, Too

And I bet he likes when ladies smell nice. So there.

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Late one night, I got to thinking about perfume. Specifically, perfume commercials. I’d just stumbled upon Nicolas Winding Refn’s new spot for Yves Saint Laurent’s Manifesto, starring actress Jessica Chastain. Chastain rolls around in purple paint before crashing an auction, staking her claim on the prize—the Manifesto calling card up for grabs—and, of course, the homme.

It’s a terrifically basic commercial, belying the talent attached. And yet Refn, who catapulted to directorial superstardom with last year’s Drive, isn’t the only highbrow filmmaker venturing into fashion between features. David Lynch directed Marion Cotillard in a 2010 short for Dior that bordered on self-parody. Turns out a magically reappearing $1000 leather satchel isn’t nearly as gripping as Mulholland Drive’s elusive blue box or Twin Peaks’ Man From Another Place. The motivation behind such commercial jaunts isn’t hard to explain: when it can take years to secure financing for passion projects, directors have to find some means of accruing income. What’s weird, then, is how poorly their aesthetics seem to translate to the fashion format, as coherency and creativity take a back seat to the product.

I wonder if such niche filmmakers can in fact be successfully tweaked for mass consumption. Refn’s signature bare-knuckle tension and grit is lost amongst the “sun” lit, choreographed curtains and golden encrusted rows of the auction space. Asked in a video commentary what his own “manifesto” is, he speaks about parenthood, and trying to be the best possible father. It’s not quite clear he even knows what he’s selling. Lynch, for his part, hasn’t made a feature since 2006’s Inland Empire and at one point tried his hand at crowd-funding a biographical documentary, which, as of this April, was making the rounds on Kickstarter.

So what does it mean for the rest of us? That depends. While there may be a depressive air about such lauded, high profile talents still struggling to get their films off the ground (Refn has five titles in development, and scoured $4.8 million for his Drive follow-up), perhaps it’s comforting to know they’re in the trenches with us. Even if we’re not being paid buckets to stoop beneath our abilities, the age-old filmmaking adage holds true: one for me, and one for them. Perhaps now more than ever.

  • UGH! I hope this isn't the future, auteurs having to whore themselves just to make enough money to make the films they deserve to. I much prefer the one for them, one for me policy of the old days - a commercial picture in exchange for an arty one. At least they're not fucking PERFUME COMMERCIALS!

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  • My question. If a filmmaker has to do perfume commercials to make ends meet, can they really consider themselves, succesful filmmakers?

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