Thursday, November 14, 2013

CANON OF FILM: "MULHOLLAND DR."

MULHOLLAND DR. (2001)

Director/Screenplay: David Lynch



I was discussing "Mulholland Dr." with a FB friend recently, and he suggested a website that explains the film and some of the theories behind it. I mentioned here, that I'm pretty sure I know everything that actually does happen in the film, but that explaining it or discussing it is rather pointless. I tried to go to the website anyway, but honestly, I spent whole day or two of my life watching "Mulholland Drive," if you add up the hours, and it's fun to go through it on your own, but at a certain point it becomes very clear that the reason it's not important is that, if it was important that it be explained, it would be explained. Even the best of these so-called puzzle movies, usually have a reveal or a trick to it, that explains everything, and there's nothing wrong with that, that makes some of them so interesting to watch, and sometimes the reveal or an explanation so great to begin with, but with David Lynch films, and especially with "Mulholland Dr." (I've seen the title both ways, "Dr." and "Drive"), more importantly than figuring the film out, is having the experience of watching the film. Few experiences are more fun and seductive, especially for movie fans, than "Mulholland Dr." It teases, it tempts, it frightens, and plays like most Lynch films, like a dream.

It is almost impossible to criticize a David Lynch film. He doesn't follow the same storytelling structure that Hollywood follows. The closest inspiration I can name is surrealist Luis Bunuel, especially in the way his movies have dreamlike qualities to them, but he may be inspired, he is not influenced by them, or anybody else. Most of his films have to be watched on multiple occasions just to figure out exactly what his film’s are about, or for that matter, what actually happens in them. Starting with the cult favorite, “Eraserhead,” his films are filled with dreamy imagery and sequences with characters who don’t lead anywhere, and other characters we follow until we’re more confused and lead us to worlds that may or may not exist. Even though he’s capable of occasional normal films like “The Elephant Man,” and “The Straight Story,” works like “Blue Velvet,” “Wild at Heart” and “INLAND EMPIRE” are heavy on sudden bursts of violence, sex, and explosions of pop imagery all colliding and re-colliding like molecules or atoms. As you can tell by the way I’ve worded this, it’s also almost impossible to describe a David Lynch film, for they’re the most open-minded viewer, and they have to be experienced, and then interpreted as the viewer wishes. “Mulholland Drive,” is arguably his most challenging work, and probably his best. It follows, or I should say, it begins, if that's even the right word, with two girls, a new-to-town starlet wannabe named Betty (Naomi Watts) and an amnesia-ridden Rita (Laura Herring) who may or may not have been in an accident on Mulholland Dr., which may or may or not have occurred. They meet, and they have to figure out an apparent mystery behind Rita, who names herself by seeing an old Rita Hayworth poster. There’s something about a key, a nightclub, a Director (Justin Theroux) a landlord (Ann Miller), and possibly a dozen other things. Some matter more, or maybe they don't. Like a dream, where we follow what most intrigues us and what we care about most, (and the movie itself) we, also decide what's important and what to dwell on most, at least until we ourselves find something more interesting.

Originally a painter, Lynch carefully constructs and deconstructs each shot and scene, and loves to spend time on obscure objects and landscapes and buildings, that would often go overlooked by other filmmakers are enhanced in importance by Lynch. With this film, which supposedly was originally a TV pilot for ABC, although I doubt any of this could of or would have ever been aired for network television, especially on the channel Disney owns, (Although his most famous work is the TV show “Twin Peaks”) he got additional European funding and reconstructed the film to become a feature, earning him a Best Director Oscar nomination. The more confusing with Lynch the better, for he allows us to make of his films what we wish, yet we don’t feel jerked around a ride, unless that’s how the viewer feels. Like I said, how do you criticize that which is inherently subjective? How one reacts is up to the viewer, which is the point, you’ll either allow yourself on the ride, or you’ll just dismiss it, like we do most dreams, where you’ll linger on the fascinating, ignore the boring, and as though we have the illusion of actual control. That's the funny thing, like a movie, we don't really have control of our dreams do we, except when it’s time to wake up. 
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