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Mulholland Dr. (2001)

October 18, 2010

8/10 Out-of-Towners

Took me two viewings to actually get it, but it was worth all the weirdness.

Mulholland Dr. is about a small-town, bright-eyed girl who moves to L.A. with aspirations to be an A-list movie star on the silver screen like she’s always dreamed of. So she moves into her new digs and finds an amnesic broad already shacking up there, but instead of booting her ass to the curb, she helps this squatter figure out her identity while going on big time auditions around town and such. A lot of other weird shit also goes down that kinda sorta ties into all this, but whatever, better off letting you figure out that noise for yourself.

Boy, talk about some crazy shit. First time I was introduced to this was in High School when I grabbed it from the library thinking it would be something along the lines of The Elephant Man or The Straight Story – the only David Lynch movies I’d seen at the time. Long story short, that’s no way to go into this movie and it took me eight years to finally buckle down, clear two-and-a-half hours out of my schedule and convince myself that maybe this time it would make sense.

Thank the lord, it actually paid off, and if you’ve got eight years to mull this thing over, I say go for it.

I guess the best place to start is with writer/director David Lynch, because…well, this is all him. The thing with some of Lynch’s stranger efforts, like this, is that you just kinda have to go with them. You won’t be able to explain a lot of what you’re watching or process most of what anyone’s talking about, but you piece it together as best you can, find some appreciation in the fact that you’ve never seen anything quite like this and simply hope for the best. The upside of this is that there’s a method to Lynch’s madness – it might be a method that only Lynch is in on and so we’re just stuck with our own conclusions and nightmares to sort out as we see fit by the time it’s all said and done, but it’s there and I dig that.

Geez, this is a damn hard movie to write about because so much of why it’s awesome comes with just figuring it out for yourself. It’s very open to interpretation, but after you get through the last half-hour, start rewinding in your head everything you saw beforehand and give yourself an air high-five for paying attention when you would have been completely justified in zoning out and drinking yourself to sleep, you’ll hopefully realize that this is in fact a pretty brilliant movie. And as good as the performances are, the only reason it works is because of how Lynch tells it. Pretty wild the way he takes an otherwise cop-out ending and turns it on its head so that it seems entirely new, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

From shady businessmen who barf out espresso when it’s not up to their standards to that horrifying he/she bastard up there on the poster who shows up out of nowhere in a scene that seemingly has nothing to do with the main plot line, it’s all part of the experience. It’s funny, it’s arresting and it’s sure as hell something different, but, love it or hate it, that’s kinda why Lynch is the man. Dude does his own thing, does it well, and when others try to follow suit, they usually end up failing miserably.

But aside from all the weird stuff, it’s still got the electronic piano score and the contrast between the goody-two-shoes 1950s vibe and the ugly reality of L.A. going for it much in the same way that Blue Velvet did, and while that actually just makes things weirder, it’s all welcome.

And Naomi Watts deserves a big fat paycheck for her turn here as Betty – our Hollywood hopeful of the hour. Girl is given one seriously demanding role and she does one hell of a job going from peppy, Leave it to Beaver extra to tortured psycho bitch whose horror movie facial expressions towards the end look way more convincing than they probably should. Laura Harring is also pretty good as Betty’s unknown roommate, Rita, but she gets away with a lot less thanks to her not being able to remember anything. Also a bit ridiculous how naked these two get, actually pretty disturbing after a while, but, hey, at least the end product was good.

Nor does it hurt that we’re treated to bit roles from Billy Ray Cyrus and that tap dancing, backwards-speaking dwarf from Twin Peaks that everyone just can’t get enough of. And where the hell did Justin Theroux go? He’s damn good as hot shot director Adam Keshler, no idea why I’ve never seen him since. Cool glasses, too.

But while Mulholland Dr. is one outrageously strange movie (I would say “weird” but I’ve about worn that word out to death so far), and even though I’ve still got questions that most likely will never get answered, I can’t stop thinking about it. If you asked me eight years ago, I would have recommended you pick up a dime bag on the way home from Blockbuster to have any hope of getting something out of this, but now that I actually have a grasp on what the hell happened after those girls opened up the blue box, I can totally understand why a lot of people consider this one of the best movies of the past decade. Might be another re-watch or two before I’m on the same page, but this is exactly why folks love David Lynch. Can’t guarantee that you’ll like it, but it’s totally worth a watch.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. October 18, 2010 7:02 am

    Crazy, and weird as fuck, but at the same time, totally interesting, and mind-bending. Many questions were brought up in this film, and although some parts, I didn’t understand, I still thought were great, mainly cause of Lynch’s sense of style. Good review!

    • October 18, 2010 12:38 pm

      Thanks, man. Well said. “Weird” is the operative word here, but “weird as fuck” is definitely more like it. What a freakin’ trip.

  2. October 18, 2010 10:48 am

    That thing behind the coffee shop just creeped out so bad because it was totally unexpected and out of nowhere. Great film that is something you will not see anywhere else, very good review sir!

    • October 18, 2010 12:40 pm

      Thanks, man! Had the same reaction the first time I saw him pop out from behind his corner. Very similar reaction to when I first saw that dead girl in the closet’s warped face at the start of The Ring. So so strange.

  3. October 18, 2010 11:38 am

    As weird as Lynch’s other films but I do love this. Naomi Watts is brilliant…so damn alluring.

    • October 18, 2010 12:41 pm

      “Alluring’s” the word. Hard to take your eyes off her, and not just because she can’t seem to keep her damn shirt on.

  4. October 18, 2010 12:29 pm

    I actually have my friends dvd on top of the player for the past 2 years and still haven’t got around to watching this. I don’t know if this is my cup of tea nor do I agree with the subject matter, but I like Watts and the story is intriguing so I’ll give it a watch one of these days.

    • October 18, 2010 12:41 pm

      Gotta check it out. Worth the investment. Let me know what you think.

  5. October 18, 2010 6:52 pm

    It’s hilariously troubling. That’s all I can say.

  6. October 18, 2010 7:01 pm

    I agree that it’s really hard to write about this film. It’s such a complicated, confusing film that you spend so much of it trying to figure out what just happens that it’s hard to comprehend the film on a basic level. I too really enjoyed it, although I haven’t gone back to revisit it yet. Maybe then I’ll find it a bit more coherent, but I kinda like the insane, sprawling confusion of my first viewing.

    Also, love the addition of more pictures, but did you have to add that creepy lady to the poster. That thing freaked me out.

    • October 18, 2010 7:11 pm

      hahahahaha. had to do it, man. much love for the tar lady.

      as much as I’m totally with you that there’s definitely a big appeal to just lingering in everything that doesn’t make sense instead of trying to unravel it, it’s worth a second watch if only to see the wild job Lynch does of tying everything together.

      glad you dig the pictures, too. party on, dude.

  7. October 19, 2010 12:14 pm

    Just saw this for the first time not too long ago. Man this was a mind trip to say the least and was full of more red herrings than all of Lost and Alias combined. I though I had it figured out near the end but as soon as the credits rolled I lost it:P I guess I have to give it another go like you did but I hope it happens sooner than 8 years from now.

    Watts was riveting in her audition, and I love how she acted it out over the top in her kitchen and went CTB (cut throat bitch) in the actual audition. Wow night and day transformation that floored me.

    I agree with you on the absence of Justin Theroux in cinema these days.

    • October 19, 2010 6:15 pm

      Hahaha. I had the same reaction the first time I around as soon as that blue box opened. Whole thing was a big ol’ question mark the rest of the way through. And, yeah, Watts’ audition is fucking fantastic, same goes for that CRAZY look on her face at the end when she sees herself making coffee in the kitchen.

      And glad you agree about Theroux. Never seen him before or after, but he was on point.

  8. October 19, 2010 4:35 pm

    A definitive write-up on this complex, engrossing film. Well done. Tough to write about this one and try to get it all in. Lynch is a master filmmaker and, as this film proves, he doesn’t give in to his audience. He paints the canvas and lets you interpret how you wish. Watts is terrific here and his visionary style is tough to match. Glad to read this one….

    • October 19, 2010 6:16 pm

      haha. thanks, man. right there with ya’ on every point, the dude rules. did i mention his hair? it’s gorgeous?

  9. Johnny permalink
    October 21, 2010 11:45 pm

    Good move. Lynch is so pompous and full of himself I can barely stand him, but this is a good one. Now to mention it has maybe the hottest lesbian sex scenes in any movie ever.

  10. October 22, 2010 6:28 am

    I don’t know bout you, but that “audition” scene Naomi Watt’s does still makes me… well, react. Quite possibly the most disconcerting and affecting moment I’ve witnessed in a cinema!

  11. Dan the Man permalink
    March 13, 2012 2:49 am

    Nice stuff…see celluloidofkewl blog

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