All while I was writing that review, leading up to the ambiguity issue I was thinking specifically of a student film I saw in London. There was one film featuring a couple arguing while a baby cried in the background, then the soundFX of the baby just stopped at one point, and the woman looked into a crib, cut to close up and the line "Our Baby's dead." - delivered as deadpan and straight without any sense of emotion. The entire room exploded into laughter. The rest of the film was just as bad, yet none of it was explained. Afterward the director, nearly in tears had to endure the faculty and staff asking all these questions about what was going on. He just kept repeating over and over again things like "I didn't want to make it too obvious..." Or "I wanted this to remain a bit open to interpretation..." The rest of us watched on in fits of giggles remembering the "Our Baby's Dead." line and how nothing made sense.
I wouldn't lump David Lynch in here, because I think he honestly knows what he's doing, even when he says he didn't. He's one of the rarest of artists that can lead with his gut and his philosophy and yield mind altering, thought provoking material.
Richard Kelly is a fine example of problems with ambiguities and successes with them. Donnie Darko is a masterpiece, in my opinion. Its a riddle wrapped in an enigma, as well as being Kelly's first major step in using his art to answer all the questions that have plagued him since he became fully self aware as we all do when we become adolescents. But, if you listen to the commentary track on the DVD, it seems as if Kelly accidentally made a great film with Darko. His slavish nature to ambiguities and viewer interpretation is his failure to fully convey his ideas on film. Ideas he would try to augment with a Director's Cut where he often sabotages his own good fortune by replacing great music with lesser choices and yes, even over explaining. He also wrote the Philosophy of Time Travel which pretty much closes the doors on the ambiguities and fully explains the film in cryptic but accessible passages.
Kelly would further my points with his meandering and overly ambitious film Southland Tales, but even more so with The Box. A film that I rewound because I thought I had missed something, and still don't understand much of, or like at all. Junior makes a very valid point in his review that Kelly is searching for deeper meaning and human connections with his approach to SCIFI, but all the time travel material and the Hangar Scene are ambiguous to a fault, and lead the film on a complete about face, which can be interesting, but are left so wide open and emerge from as deep a left field as we'll ever see that its a disaster. I still think Kelly is trying to do things that are vastly interesting, and seeking answers to questions he himself knows are bigger than he can comprehend and that most of his audience will ever attempt to deal with, and for that I applaud him, but its a fault that has shown through in this film and Southland Tales, at least for me.
Why is it that Blade Runner works then? Because, ultimately, I think, Roy Batty's final Tears in the Rain speech beings home the character's humanity and in 2 minutes changes the character from unfeeling, villainous robotic killer to a sympathetic person. He allows his humanity to shine through, like when the old man that terrorized you and the other neighborhood kids lays on his deathbed and says a prayer. Humanity shines through.
Woah, I just reread what I wrote and its kind of all over the place. I don't know I can fully explain any of this, but Blade Runner is great despite being such a mess.