Top Five David Lynch Movies

Prepare yourselves, viewers, your tv sets are about to be taken over. The FIFA World Cup is upon us once again, with talk in pubs and coffee shops around the world already turning to topics such as the squad value world cup.

Whether the prospect of 64 matches in the space of a month is a good or a bad thing, of course, depends upon your own sporting preferences. Whatever the case, though, it is always good to escape the action in Qatar with a movie or two – and for our money, few directors do escapism quite like David Lynch. A man who hits the movie news with whatever project he chooses to inflict upon our consciousness, Lynch is a director unlike any other, and here we pick out five of his best.

5. Lost Highway (1997)

The neo-noir mystery label of this 1997 feature is certainly apt. The movie is certainly dark and so mysterious you may spend much of the time wondering exactly what is going on. That opaque quality is, however, all part of the Lynch charm and is seen to dazzling effect in this tale involving a Jazz musician, VHS messages, and murder. Bill Pulman is excellent in the lead role, as is Patricia Arquette, but it is Robert Blake who steals the show with a simply terrifying turn as “The Mystery Man”. If the image of Blake charging towards the screen with a handheld video camera doesn’t disturb your dreams, you are made of sterner stuff than us….

4. Eraserhead (1977)

The movie that started it all, Eraserhead, is a surreal nightmare of a movie with an emphasis on the surreal. Long-time Lynch favorite Jack Nance takes the lead as Henry Spence – a man struggling to care for his grossly disfigured “child”.  A cast of characters, including “The Lady in the Radiator” and “The Man in the Planet,” makes for a bizarre cult classic, with the decision to shoot entirely in black and white adding sublimely to the grimy atmosphere. Several years in the making due to funding difficulties, Lynch’s feature-length debut took some time to emerge from the midnight movie scene but is now recognized as a classic of industrial unease. A movie to be experienced rather than watched.

3. Blue Velvet (1986)

Before Lost Highway, Lynch made a “slightly” more conventional trip into the neo-noir genre with this absorbing mystery thriller. Our tale begins with Kyle MacLachlan (Agent Dale Cooper of Twin Peaks fame) discovering a severed ear in a field. What follows is a world littered with sadomasochism and criminal conspiracy, all centered around a troubled lounge singer – played by Isabella Rossellini, who embarked on a four-year relationship with Lynch following the film’s release. Topping the bill, though, is Dennis Hopper in a near career-best performance as the frenzied and insane Frank Booth. Not only one of Lynch’s finest works but one of the best movies of the 1980’s period.

2. The Straight Story (1999)

1980’s The Elephant Man deserves an honorable mention here, but for us, Lynch’s greatest stab at a conventional narrative comes in the shape of the appropriately named “The Straight Story.” Produced by Walt Disney, this biographical drama tells the true-to-life tale of Alvin Straight and his epic voyage to visit his estranged, dying brother, Lyle– a journey he makes on a lawnmower! Along the way, Alvin meets a mesmerizing cast of characters, all of whom have something to teach us about life, albeit with an unmistakable Lynchian hue. Sissy Spacek is wonderful as Alvin’s daughter Rose, but it is Richard Farnsworth who stuns in the title role. Terminally ill with cancer during filming, Farnsworth died the following year – a fact which only adds to the considerable emotional heft of the picture.

1. Mulholland Drive (2001)

Lynch’s follow-up to The Straight Story could scarcely have been more contrasting. Mullholland Drive sees the virtuoso of the surreal return to his roots with this masterful take on the overlap of dreams and nightmares in LA. To reveal the plot entirely would be to ruin the impact of what occurs around the midway point, but suffice it to say, all is not quite as it seems in Lynch’s take on Tinseltown. Filled with set pieces which will stay with you long after the final credits roll, this dark and disturbing mystery is lit up by a stellar cast, with Naomi Watts simply sensational in her dual role as Betty and Diane. One of the true classics of the 21st Century and a movie which demands rewatching in order to piece together all of the disturbing elements of the puzzle.