Tuesday, November 30, 2021 at 7pm
Laura Dern Onscreen: 1974–2006

155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn

An illustrated lecture by Melissa Anderson

David Lynch’s Inland Empire, his avowed final film, is unquestionably his most bewildering and free-associative. In this three-hour phantasmagoria, Laura Dern, in her third collaboration with the writer-director, plays an actress who splinters into multiple personae. Despite its overwhelming gloom, Inland Empire mesmerizes, its pull resulting from the thrills of watching a well-known performer, one long associated with Lynch, transform into terrified, terrifying characters.

“Look at me—and tell me if you’ve known me before,” Dern’s avatars say more than once in the film. This anxious question, framed as an imperative, offers viewers a way to enter the entropy of Inland Empire—a movie that defies logic at nearly every turn—by inviting us to reflect not only on Dern’s previous work with Lynch but also on her stardom more broadly. If “making sense” of Inland Empire is ultimately futile, that doesn’t mean the film isn’t legible. Thanks to Dern, whose gestures, reactions, and movements are always pinpoint precise in their immensity, this insoluble project is made indelible and at times even lucid.

My informal, highly selective illustrated lecture will trace Dern’s career from one of her first film appearances, in Martin Scorsese’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974)—in which the actress, then seven years old, shares the screen with her mother, Diane Ladd—through 2006, the year of Inland Empire’s release. In her roles over this three-decade span, Dern proves again and again that no one is better at plumbing the vast, murky psychic terrain where innocence mingles with defilement and vice versa.

- MA

Melissa Anderson is the film editor and lead film critic of 4Columns. She is the author of the just-published Inland Empire, part of the Decadent Editions series from Fireflies Press. Copies of the book will be available for sale at the event.

Tickets - Pay what you can ($8 suggested donation), available at door, cash and cards accepted.

Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 6:30pm.