‘David Lynch’ documentary has arty appeal for fans of filmmaker

“David Lynch – The Art Life.” Contributed

David Lynch no longer remains a mystery. Well, that’s not entirely accurate, but John Nguyen’s documentary “David Lynch: The Art Life,” which screened at South by Southwest, does shed some light on what led the man behind “Twin Peaks,” “Eraserhead,” “The Elephant Man” and more to begin his filmmaking career.

Nguyen takes us through Lynch’s early adolescence and formative years and his dedicated journey to becoming a painter by adhering to a philosophy of “the art life.” It’s a Beat-aesthetic philosophy that consists of painting, drinking, coffee, cigarettes and occasionally opening some time up for women, Lynch says .

“The Art Life” essentially is a feature-length interview married with a slickly produced art show — dark and comic vignettes that resonated with Lynch contributing to his creative psyche. We also get to bear witness to some making-of footage as we get to watch Lynch smear, tug and screw various materials into his mixed-media canvases high in his Hollywood Hills studio, where most of the film takes place.

Fanchildren of Lynch will be enraptured; the casual observer of Lynch’s work might find the documentary tedious and self-indulgent. However, Lynch is one of America’s last true auteurs, so Nguyen’s rendering is par for the course in its well-composed oddity. In this age of celebrity, it is refreshing that “The Art Life” sheds more light on the man’s methods and philosophy behind his artistic processes than the man himself — though the ubiquitous presence of Lynch’s very young daughter throughout the documentary as they paint, sit and listen to music together leaves more questions than answers about the enigmatic man. Intimate, yet somewhat contrived, beautiful and frustrating, “The Art Life” is still psychedelic through all its slickness.

‘Lucky’ will appeal to fans of Harry Dean Stanton

“Lucky.” Contributed by Stefania Rosini

“Lucky” is a brave portrait of the life and philosophy of Harry Dean Stanton, fictionalized.

The directorial debut from actor John Carrol Lynch (“The Invitation,” “Fargo”) probably won’t appeal to all filmgoers — it’s an existential experience, a thought-provoking vignette grappling with mortality, loneliness and the inevitable anxiety of facing the void at the end of existence.

Stanton’s Lucky is a 90-year-old atheist living in a small town with no known relatives, progeny or any immediate family. Lynch walks us through the routines of such a man — a cigarette is lit before getting out of bed, the cigarette rests in an ashtray as Lucky does his morning yoga stretches, a chilled glass of milk is downed straight from the refrigerator and then replaced. Lucky’s routine reflects his Zen-like, hard-edged philosophy.

For fans of Stanton, “Lucky” is a simple pleasure indulging in the mannerisms, thoughts and style of one of the most iconic character actors in cinema. Accompanying Stanton through this thing called being is David Lynch, who has a supporting role as Lucky’s closest ally and drinking buddy. James Darren appears as a suave storytelling barfly holding court in their local watering hole.

With nods to some of Stanton’s earlier roles such as Bud in “Repo Man” (1984) and Asa Hawkes in “Wise Blood” (1979), “Lucky” holds a tortoise’s pace but is layered with myriad avenues of thought and exploration.

“Lucky” screens again at 8:15 p.m. March 13 at Alamo South,  6 p.m. March 15 at Alamo Ritz  and 3 p.m. March 18 at Alamo South.