This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Two things you will learn from the new documentary "Lynch," which plays May 23-25 at Webster University on a double bill with "Eraserhead":
1. David Lynch practices Transcendental MeditationTM every day (OK, you may already know that, given his much-publicized fund-raising/contributions to that organization) and wishes everyone else would, too.
2. David Lynch does not own or know how to use an ashtray. Early on in "Lynch," as we see the director sitting at a desk taping one of his frequent video messages/weather reports for his Web site , it's hard not to be distracted by the clutter on his office floor. What's going on? Some kind of behind-the-radiator visual ambience concocted for the film? No, the mess is real, and the chain-smoking creator of "Eraserhead" tends to toss his smoldering butts onto the floor behind him when he's done with them. It's a curious detail - especially given that the film shows him earnestly sweeping a studio floor and carefully rearranging furniture on a set - but it's about as close to a personal detail as "Lynch" ever gets.
"Lynch," credited to filmmakers (or a filmmaker) working under the name of "blackANDwhite," appears to have been made with almost unlimited access to its subject as he worked on "Inland Empire," yet the movie has almost nothing to show for it. It's a fawning portrait of the artist wandering through trademark Lynchian surroundings, telling a few anecdotes, meticulously attending to trivial production details, yet providing almost nothing of interest about his work or career.
At best, "Lynch" is hero-worshipping without a cause. If you're looking for insight into Lynch's films or a justification of their rather narrow view of race, gender or sexuality, you'll be disappointed. If you're among those who think that the director willingly turned himself and his work into self-parody somewhere around the time of the first season finale of "Twin Peaks," you'll find nothing to change your mind.