A bit more than one year old, Silencio may no longer be the hottest (or the coolest) club in Paris, but David Lynch’s nouveau cave is definitely the most underground. A discreet velvet rope identifies the nondescript entrance on Rue Montmartre, a few blocks from the Bourse, and a six flight descent leads into the ultra-finished sub-basement where some 120 years ago Emile Zola supposedly penned “J’accuse!”
The first American avant-garde filmmaker to direct a Hollywood blockbuster (the ill-fated “Dune”) and create a prime time network TV show (the fabulously idiosyncratic “Twin Peaks”), Lynch is the now the first American a-g filmmaker since Andy Warhol to create his own private media space, not to mention Paris’s first private member’s club. (The top yearly dues are something like $1500.) Named for the eerily empty theater where Rebekah Del Rio sings a Spanish version of “Crying” towards the end of “Mulholland Drive”, Silencio is far less menacing than it is mellow—at least that’s how it seemed the night that I dropped by around 11:30 pm, half an hour before the joint opens to non-members. The most Lynchian thing about the place was the exhibit of Todd Hido photographs illuminating the stairwell—spooky C-prints of abandoned middle American landscapes.
Silencio’s ceiling is pitched low, its cocktails (still something of a novelty in Paris) are priced high. The waitrons are amiable. The ambient techopop is hushed, although at one point the programmed playlist erupted into the final number in “The Inland Empire,” Little Eva’s exhortation to “Do the Locomotion.” The passages are tubular. The décor (burnished gold, dark gray, and chrome) is industrial Aztec Jetsonism—more L.A. than what the French call “trés Brooklyn.” The bathrooms are black on black; another space is all in white. Down from the bar is a miniature stage where plush velvet curtains frame a grand piano. I can’t judge the outré quality of the musical or other performances but the movies screened nightly in the club’s 24-seat screening room (a/k/a Cabinet de Curiosités) are curated for taste. This week’s theme was “Paradis” and the featured programs included the ‘40s chestnut “Children of Paradise”, Frank Capra’s 1938 “Lost Horizons”, Gaspar Noe’s “Enter the Void” as well as its model “2001”, Wim Wenders’s “Wings of Desire”, and Terrence Malick’s “Days of Heaven”.
Everything makes sense except for the nightly showing of the newly released Danish film “Royal Affair”—a romantic, politically progressive costume drama that would seem better suited to Paris’s other filmmaker-operated moviehouse, the ivy-covered, mock Olympian Ciné 13 Théâtre created by Claude Lelouch on a Montmartre hilltop.