Color, 1998, 80 mins.

Directed by Toby Keeler

Image / Fine Cut

Format: DVD

Not many avant garde directors manage to cross over into the mainstream, but David Lynch has come as close as anyone can. From Eraserhead to Dune to the recent, controversial Lost Highway, his career has been consistently fascinating and surprising, arguably reaching its apex with the landmark television series Twin Peaks. Obviously this documentary's target audience already knows who they are, so if you like David Lynch's films (and other tangent projects), this DVD is an essential purchase. While Pretty as a Picture has been available on video for quite a while, the new DVD edition is not only much sharper but also contains an additional 15 minutes of footage (tacked on after the end, making the full running time 95 minutes) and a one-minute photo montage of Lynch family pictures.

The shooting of Lost Highway forms the structural backbone of the film, which dissects Lynch's creative process and reveals the financial ins and outs of independent filmmaking. Along the way we get interviews with Mel Brooks (who released The Elephant Man), Jennifer Lynch (no further comments necessary there), Dean Stockwell, the recently deceased Jack Nance, and the primary cast of Lost Highway (Bill Pullman, Robert Blake, Patricia Arquette, Balthazar Getty, etc.). The documentary also offers a welcome glimpse of the composing process of Lynch's long-time musical collaborator, Angelo Badalamenti, and even presents a reunion of the Eraserhead cast at that film's shooting location. As if that weren't enough, Lynch also leads the viewer on a tour of gallery showings of his photographs and paintings (one of which adorns the DVD cover -- once you've seen his painting process, you'll never forget it) and speaks candidly about his domestic life as a child and what he views as the strongest influence on his craft. While anyone unfamiliar with Lynch's work will be crawling the walls after the first 10 minutes, well-versed midnight movie addicts should find plenty to savor here.

Though shot professionally on video, Pretty as a Picture looks very good here; the arid desert locations are consistently color and provide some surprising atmosphere for the interview sequences. The film clips range from excellent (letterboxed snippets from Eraserhead, for example) to dismal (Blue Velvet panned and scanned will induce shudders). No visible artifacts or distortion are evident, and the mono audio, while obviously not demo material due to the source, is well recorded and clearly presented. Bracing, illuminating, and occasionally unsettling stuff.

Mondo Digital MainPage | Mondo Digital Vault | LaserLogue | ScoreLogue