In Dreams: The Films of David Lynch

Can it really be that David Lynch has stopped making movies? That's the unhappy thought occasioned by this 9-film retrospective, which begins tonight with The Elephant Man. His last film, Inland Empire (not playing in this series), was released six years ago. Since then, he's written a book on meditation, been painting, and even released an album last year (Crazy Clown Time). Lynch also maintains an active, very odd website with regular dispatches on the weather in ever-sunny Southern California. In contrast, his first studio picture, The Elephant Man (1980), is an entirely darker work as it portrays the wretched life of 19th-century carnival freak John Merrick (John Hurt, beneath the bulbous prosthetics). In Merrick's agonies, his ache to be understood, his fundamental estrangement from the "normal" world, there's a kinship with Dennis Hopper's Frank in Blue Velvet, Robert Blake's ghoul in Lost Highway, and Naomi Watts' starlet in Mulholland Dr. They are figures on one side of a portal peering out; and their antipodes staring back in confusion include Bill Pullman in Lost Highway and Kyle MacLachlan in both Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me . Almost everyone has a distorted double in Lynch's movies (The Straight Story being a notable exception). Other titles in the series include Dune, Eraserhead, and Wild at Heart. My favorite? The great Mulholland Dr., a funhouse-mirror reflection of Hollywood, where Lynch made movies on his own, unique terms. Until, perhaps, those terms were no longer permitted. (PG) BRIAN MILLER

Fri., Jan. 13, 7 p.m.; Jan. 14-19, 2012

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