Hotel Room.. discussion and interpretations

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claaa7
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Hotel Room.. discussion and interpretations

Postby claaa7 » Fri Jan 20, 2017 2:08 am

I couldn't find a thread on "Hotel Room" through a search on this forum so i hope i'm not overlooking an already existing one. I've just finished rewatching On The Air and then Hotel Room following a Twin Peaks marathon, and i must say that Hotel Room is a great piece of work by David and Barry Gifford. You can see a lot of elements that would crystalize in Lost Highway start to take shape in these two short films ("Tricks" and "Blackout"). i would go as far as calling them my favorites amongst Lynch short films as they are self-contained stories within themeselves depsite being part of a series. it's a shame i have only been able to see both of these works on a bad .AVI rip from a VHS cassette. luckily the visual side is not their most important feature - in fact, Hotel Room is most likely the least visual out of all of Lynch's works. i've probably seen them both three times by now, and i think the writing, directing and acting really creates a mysterious and abstract world which gives more with each rewatch. i love how the physical setting and interiors are so simple they are almost non-existant which brings all the focus on the characters and the story. it's pretty brave stuff to put this on as a TV-series as it requires a lot of thinking and is pretty hard to grab on a first viewing.

"Tricks"
Especially "Tricks" which like i said above is a pre-cursor to "Lost Highway". in my opinion Lou and Moe are the same person, two splits of the same identity.. Lou's psyche has created the agressive Moe to handle the dirty business he won't admit himself capable of or wanting. first time I saw it i wasn't at all sure about this, and couldn't quite grasp the purposefully vauge dialouge. however Lynch and Gifford clearly lets the viewers know that there's some mix-up of their identity at work here... Moe is talking about his wife Felicia, although later an agitated Lou screams out at Darlene that "FELICIA was MY WIFE!!" .. Later on we see a wallet with Moe's identity but Lou's photo on it. The most telling shot however is one where Lou and Darlene are sitting on the beds talking to Moe who is standing in front of a mirror. The shot shows Lou and Darlene through the mirror but there's no reflection of Moe, who is nowhere to be seen. Brilliantly it is shot in a way so that it could possibly be that Moe is standing right next to it, just out of view, but the fact that Lynch wants us to notice the mirror and the lack of a reflection is quite clear. i wonder if Moe was created as a split from Lou's psyche after he killed his wife or if their "relationship" goes back a long time. one great small segment is when Moe has his way with Darlene on one bed, while Lou is sitting alone on the other bed with his head down, totally zoned out and his thoughts seems to be replaced with the sound of a rushing train. it's like he doesn't even exist at that moment (as his mind is foucsed into one for that short time imo).

of course, Darlene is in there too and is actually having a conversation with both of the men which of course couldn't be physically possible if they are both the same. i read Michael Chion's take on this short and his take on it (if i remember right) is what we are seeing (up until the end) is something of a fever dream taking place after Darlene has left (if there ever was a real Darlene) and that his psyche conjures up Moe as a dream symbol of his negative self - something like that. i disagree with this view.. to me we are seeing an actual meeting in that Hotel Room between Lou and Darlene, she does not see Moe however. like in Lost Highway with Pete Drayton actually meeting people and the film turning in on itself, what we see is something of a representation of Lou's perspective on the scene - had we seen the scene from Darlene's point of view it would have looked and sounded very different.

i love how the classic Lynch theme of doubles is incorporated into "Tricks" - of course with Lou and Moe, but also with the double beds, with Felicia and Darlene, with the great actress Monique Mystique (or whatever her name was) and her role as The Great Vucuvara, with the hotelworkers who later will return in the other episodes. here you got a man who murdered his wife and in order to cope with the horrors his psyche is split into two, creating an entire new person - if Barry G and David L never had worked on this maybe that seed that grew into Lost Highway might never have been planted... and what a shame that would've been!


"Blackout"
This is the favorite segment amongst most Lynch fans, and that's very understandable as it's a fascinating and gripping short film which despite it's modest setting and visual style captures many of Lynch's hallmarks. the film has a mysterious and otherwordly quality to it that is simply arresting. there is also a tension that hangs in the air throughout, alternating between dread and beauty. as a viewer i tend to hang on every word the characters speak here, and with each line you gets a little closer to understanding the central mystery as it is only revealed in bits and pieces throughout its 45 minutes running time. taking place in 1936 during the big blackout in New York City, we learn that Danny and Diane had a son (Dan, whom they used to call Dan-Bug) that tragically died two years ago. the tragedy has left Diane in a deep mental unbalance; she is denying what happened with Dan-Bug to herself and she is losing her grip on reality. they are in NYC to meet up with a specialist in hopes of getting her help. it is often said, however, that the first step in getting better is to admit the problem and accept the reality of it. when we first meet Diane and Danny she certainly isn't doing that.. she has created a false reality for herself where the horrors of her past is blocked out/blacked out. her ignorance and unknowing-ness is physically represented by the blackout, and notice how she is shading her eyes from the lights of the lantern at the beginning - she does not want to be awakened to the horror of realization. however throughout the film, Danny and Diane's conversation gradually helps her both understanding and coping.. and right at the end when they are on the bed she has accepted what happened to Dan-Bug, and suddenly the lights are on.. everywhere! as they stare out the window she is completely illuminated by the light which represents her breaking free from the shackles of denial and can start the real healing process. absolutely beautiful!

this is an amazing film, and Crispin Glover and Alicia Witt does a great job of translating these two characters to the screen. it's all about them, no real visual flairs or flashbacks, just a dark room, a great story and two great actors doing it justice. as Lynch (and many other directors) have done in the past, he uses the physical enviroment to represent the innter lives of the characters inhabiting that world. in some ways the film reminds me of "Inland Empire"; a woman in trouble with a dark past (an unpaid bill to be paid) that will eventually face that dark past and come out of it reborn, healthy and happy. truly beautiul! the dark interiors lit with only dim light and close-ups of the actors reminds me stylistically of some scenes in IE as well. again, this needs a proper DVD release (along with the less great "On the Air")
claaa7
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Re: Hotel Room.. discussion and interpretations

Postby claaa7 » Fri Jan 20, 2017 5:50 am

do you think this would have been able to hold up as an actual series over several episodes? while i love the two short films we got from Lynch i doubt the format would hold up over many more episodes..

have anyone read the third play Gifford wrote for the series? he published it in a book with "Tricks" and "Blackout". would be very interesting to read.. also if anyone have read it, are there any differences or notable things that shed light on "Tricks" and "Blackout" in the scripts?
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mtwentz
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Re: Hotel Room.. discussion and interpretations

Postby mtwentz » Sat Apr 01, 2017 10:41 am

claaa7 wrote:do you think this would have been able to hold up as an actual series over several episodes? while i love the two short films we got from Lynch i doubt the format would hold up over many more episodes..

have anyone read the third play Gifford wrote for the series? he published it in a book with "Tricks" and "Blackout". would be very interesting to read.. also if anyone have read it, are there any differences or notable things that shed light on "Tricks" and "Blackout" in the scripts?


I just finished watching Blackout while I was cooking in the kitchen. You pretty much nailed it, not much I can add except the slow exposition is just so Lynchian!

Edit: What also strikes me about "Blackout", as opposed to many of Lynch's works, is that the symbolism of the blackout being lifted is quite clear, not really open to "multiple interpretations". Unlike Twin Peaks or MD, which we can sit here and debate forever and five people will have five different opinions.
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Mr. Reindeer
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Re: Hotel Room.. discussion and interpretations

Postby Mr. Reindeer » Mon Apr 03, 2017 5:49 pm

claaa7 wrote:have anyone read the third play Gifford wrote for the series? he published it in a book with "Tricks" and "Blackout". would be very interesting to read.. also if anyone have read it, are there any differences or notable things that shed light on "Tricks" and "Blackout" in the scripts?


Yep, "Mrs. Kashfi." It's an odd one. The script is only 12 pages. It's a relatively cliche story: a mom goes to see a fortuneteller/medium (the titular character) to talk to her dead mother's spirit, and her kid sits in the waiting room. Grandma's spirit visits the son in the waiting room and talks to him about her life; grandma basically raised the kid because mom is unreliable and impetuous. She tells him about a key she taped to the bottom of his toy chest. She tells him not to tell his mother -- go to the bank and talk to Mr. DeWitt and only Mr. DeWitt. Inside her safety deposit box is a letter addressed to DeWitt that will ensure the boy is taken care of for life. There's a really weird subplot where a Mr. DeWitt (presumably the bank employee) repeatedly talks to the hotel desk clerk: in the first scene, he explains that he has no memory and needs to be repeatedly reminded of his room number every time he comes in. (Note that this introduces a new hotel location, the lobby, and a new hotel employee!) The very last scene of the play is Mr. DeWitt entering the lobby covered in dirt and blood. The desk clerk doesn't believe that it's him because DeWitt just went upstairs; he explains that he's just fallen out of the window. What a strange, strange shaggy dog ending. I'm really not sure what the point is of the DeWitt scenes.

I'm sure DKL could have padded the script out and given it a mood (it's thematically reminiscent of The Grandmother), but it's certainly not something I'm sad didn't get shot. (The year is stated as 1952, BTW.)

I remember reading that all the plays have been done onstage, and I believe Gifford wrote a couple more of them for the stage which haven't been published in book form, but I can't find the link now. I'd love to read (or see) the others.

What do people think of "Getting Rid of Robert"? It's definitely the odd man out, and doesn't feel Lynchian at all. I used to hate its cynical mean-spiritedness and smug mugging style, but I've come to appreciate it as its own thing. The ending is some pretty solid dark comedy, and one wishes that tone had carried throughout.

Here's a list of differences between the script and the episodes as shot, since someone asked:

Tricks
- The script oddly says Arthur (Moe's son) was born in 1960. Lynch pushed this back to 1950, so it makes more sense that he could be the boyfriend Darlene stabbed.
- Moe’s “Martine Mustique” monologue is much longer, with more of her backstory. The script makes clear that she was murdered, decapitated in her bathtub by the heir to a condom empire who could only achieve an erection with her, after she refused his proposal of marriage. (Note also that Mustique's real name, Rima Dot Duguid, also gets name-checked in Gifford's final Sailor/Lula/Pace novel, The Up-Down.)
- Darlene's dialogue saying she would have shot her boyfriend if she’d had a gun is longer: she specifies it would have been once in each knee to make him crawl like a snake, before she delivered the coup de grace. Darlene then has a long monologue about a science textbook she once read about male copperhead snakes wrestling each other—sometimes for days—for the attention of the female. She then opines that women never have a chance, the way men are, and says that men make the law, not nature.
- Lynch added the shot of Lou slipping his wallet into Moe’s coat, apparently at HBO's request. Gifford has gone on record as saying he disliked this change and believes it robs the story of its ambiguity.
- A little extra dialogue after Darlene escapes and Moe says "it could have happened." Lou says, “I’m not sorry. I’m not sorry about any of it. You understand?” Moe answers, “Sure, Lou. I understand. I’ve always understood. Just like you.”
- Moe’s monologue about the Chinese food delivery has more detail about the woman’s sloppy lifestyle (bugs crawling on the dishes in the sink) (“Spooky, the way some people live,” says Lou). She leaves the room and returns in a different, green see-through nightgown, offers him a fifty, and flicks her tongue like a snake. Moe asks if she has anything smaller; she returns with the twenty (and Moe is disappointed that she’s still wearing the green nightgown and hasn’t changed again).

Blackout
- The ages and dates are very different in the script. No year is specified (Gifford mentions in brackets, somewhat dismissively, that “the original production” was set in 1936). Danny is in his late 30s and Diane in her mid-30s; Lynch made them 22 and 20 (presumably so he could cast the very-young Alicia Witt). In both the script and the episode, they’ve been together for 17 yrs., making their history vastly different between the two versions. In the script, they met after Danny got out of the service when he was 20 and she was 18; in the episode, they’ve been childhood sweethearts for almost their entire lives. In the script, Dan-Bug died twelve yrs. ago; in the episode, it’s only two yrs. (The script is also mid-summer, appropriate for the references to how hot it is; Lynch oddly changed this to April.)
- The script has a little more backstory on Famine McCoy: folks eventually got wise to him and stopped inviting him in for dinner, so he had to get a job as a carpenter to afford food. He bought a “hog Lincoln” with no muffler and would drive it up and down the street gunning it to let everyone know he knew they were eating and to guilt them. The script also makes it clear that Famine was taking a dump in the palmettos when he received his fatal snakebite.
- Diane’s dance with the candle is more seductive in the script: she whirls and writhes like Salome. Lynch shoots it in creepier style.
- In the script, Diane is confusing time, insisting that Danny was away in the Sea of Red, when she didn’t actually know Danny until he came back. Therefore, Danny’s line, “I wasn’t anywhere, Di. I wasn’t away,” makes sense in the script. Despite the change in timeline, Lynch left the line in, and it’s rather odd because Danny was in the service during their relationship (although perhaps not on the specific night Di is talking about).
- Diane says Bonnie and Rinky Dink were doing lines in the Cherokee bathroom while she was crying in the toilet, and says they offered her some, but she declined: “you know drugs and me is not on friendly terms.” Lynch changed the drug references to drinks in these lines.
- Danny has an extra line at the end: “Honey, what would you say to some Chinese food?”

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