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The Awkward Movie Challenge: ‘Suite 208 Does David Lynch’

February 18, 2010 By: Category: Greatest Hits, Movie Reviews, The Awkward Movie Challenge


According to Netflix, Mike and Jeffrey agree with each other on movies 84% of the time. In their weekly feature, The Awkward Movie Challenge, they search valiantly for that sweet 16% that results in big arguments and big laughs.

Jeffrey Dinsmore is one of those people I’ve always expected big things from and from whom I’ve always expected big things. As a novelist, he has written one of the funniest books of the ‘00s, a metaphysical sci-fi detective story called Johnny Astronaut. Well, he claims he wrote it. The author credit on the cover reads “Rory Carmichael”, but I am told there is some question regarding whether or not this person actually exists. I personally choose to believe he doesn’t, if only because he has never been photographed alongside Jeffrey. I’m told that photos of Carmichael by himself are fairly scarce too.

As a biographer, Dinsmore co-wrote I, an Actress: The Autobiography of Karen Jamey, the memoirs of a movie star who has not aged well. I am told Karen Jamey, like Carmichael, may only exist in Jeffrey’s head. I saw a movie the other night and thought I saw Karen Jamey’s name in the credits, but a visit to imdb revealed that the last name of the actress is actually “Janney”. And her first name is actually “Allison”. The movie was American Beauty. Like Karen Jamey, it has not aged well either.

Jamey… Janney… Jamey… Janney

As a publisher, Dinsmore published the two aforementioned novels with a small press called Contemporary Press. This should not deter anyone from reading them. He has also put out a collection of short stories with his own Awkward Press, the site of which you are reading now. I am told there is another on the way, but as you may have already gleaned from the first three paragraphs of this article, I am told many things.

Dinsmore has also distinguished himself on stage as both a singer of songs and a one-manner of one-man shows. As a friend, he and I used to spend hours and hours watching movies together when we lived in New York. Sometimes I’d fall asleep during the boring ones only to discover him tenderly stroking my hair when I awoke. I’d then pretend I was still asleep because I didn’t want to make him self-conscious and I didn’t want him to stop.

With such credentials, I couldn’t help but anticipate Jeffrey Dinsmore’s first foray into the cinematic world with a fervor bordering on the mentally insane. When I heard he was to collaborate on his debut film with his officemate, Brendan Hughes, that fervor grew to mentally and physically insane proportions, partially because I knew virtually nothing about Mr. Hughes and partially because I didn’t.

Having finally seen Suite 208 does David Lynch, I must confess that my expectations of big things from Jeffrey Dinsmore have been completely fulfilled in some respects… and completely dashed in others. My love of David Lynch is a pretty open secret. I’ve had David Lynch film-marathons— complete with coffee, donuts, and cherry pie— in which I was the only person in attendance. Regardless of that fact, I can say with utter confidence that the lengthy introductory speeches I gave before each movie were informative, witty, and rippling with insight. Except for the one I gave before Dune. That one sucked. I have also written articles about David Lynch…

Yes, that is my name on the cover, thank you very much.

…I’ve painted portraits of David Lynch. I’ve given portraits of David Lynch I painted as wedding presents…

Jeffrey Dinsmore and wife Sarah Cole celebrate their nuptials in front of my painting of Mr. Lynch.

…I’ve mailed perfumed mash notes to David Lynch. So, when I heard that Dinsmore and Hughes’s film would be a tribute to my #1 idol, my anticipatory fervor became so intense that I started bleeding out of my tear ducts.

In a nutshell, Suite 208 does David Lynch is the story of an Unnamed Man (Brendan Hughes) who works in a rather indistinct office and keeps a small basketball in his mouth. Brimming with inquisitive fervor, he removes the basketball from his oral clutches, pivots in his office chair, and says, “Jeffrey, I have a question for you” as Lynchian white-noise bristles on the soundtrack. Jeffrey (Jeffrey Dinsmore) turns slowly toward the man and responds “Yes?” in an oddly unsettling, high-pitched voice, which brings to mind Freddie Jones’s similar turn as George Kovich in Lynch’s 1990 Palm d’Or-winning film Wild at Heart, which you can see in the deleted scene below (starting at 3:38):

We are next treated/subjected to extreme close-ups of the Unnamed Man and Jeffrey as they stare at each other. The aggressive punk song “Planet of Ass” by the band Scissorfight rises on the soundtrack, indicating that there is some unnamed aggression between the two characters and that the guys in Scissorfight have every album by The Misfits. Suddenly, the Unnamed Man and Jeffrey’s faces distort in a grotesque manner, recalling the scene in Lynch’s 2006 film Inland Empire where Laura Dern’s face does this:

Then the screen solarizes, and violent images of antler-locked bucks flash across it. I’m not sure which Lynch film this references, but it did remind me of the stock footage of a buffalo stampede superimposed over Bela Lugosi shouting “Pull the string!” in Ed Wood’s 1953 film Glen or Glenda:

With a jarring shudder, the antler fight ceases and the two characters announce in unison, “I’ve forgotten what it was.” Jeffrey (Jeffrey Dinsmore) then shakes his head “No” and the Unnamed Man places the basketball back into his mouth. Fade to black. Thus ends Suite 208 does David Lynch.

I must say that I was a bit puzzled by Suite 208 does David Lynch. While it is undoubtedly rife with haunting, haunted images of ennui and violence, I found the plot to be a bit “thin.” The multiple references to David Lynch’s decidedly Lynchian body of work were a joy to behold as I found myself playing a one-man game of “spot that reference,” but as a premise, it is not one that invites multiple viewings. This is a serious flaw in the work, as I think Suite 208 does David Lynch requires multiple viewings in order to unravel its dense layers of meaning. Sadly, I will not be viewing it again.

I must also say that after anticipating Jeffrey Dinsmore’s screen debut for so long, I was more than a little disappointed to discover a labored performance delivered with little of the charisma evident in his stage work and none of the tenderness evident in his hair-stroking work. Brendon Hughes, however, turns in a performance that can only be described as “star making.” If there is an award for acting, he will no doubt get it.

Despite my reservations about Suite 208 does David Lynch, we can consider Jeffrey Dinsmore “down” but hardly “out.” He remains an unsculpted heap of raw talent that I’m sure will one day sculpt himself into a cinematic superstar that may even rival the man to whom he pays tribute in Suite 208 does David Lynch: David Lynch. Until then, I recommend he keep at it, never give up, and apply himself.

Mike gives Suite 208 does David Lynch … 2 ½ Glenn Danzigs!

Next up, Jeffrey Dinsmore explains why he thinks Jeffrey Dinsmore is the next D.W. Griffith… and it ain’t just because he’s an incorrigible racist!

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2 Comments to “The Awkward Movie Challenge: ‘Suite 208 Does David Lynch’”

  1. Where do I see this movie gem if indeed it exists?