Monday, February 10, 2014

Overlooked Film of the Week- "Mulholland Drive" (2001)

Overlooked Film of the Week

Mulholland Drive
Director David Lynch is someone I have discussed before, and I know I will talk about him again. I wish he worked more often than he does. His last film was in 2006 and it feels like the wait for his next project has been forever with no end to the agony in site. If he turned out a film every 2-3 years like Christopher Nolan or David Fincher, I'd be happier than Augustus Galoop going to Wonka's Chocolate Factory.

I have always loved a good brain-game movie. Something that really plays with your mind, something throws a jigsaw puzzle to you and asks you to solve it. That is essentially what Lynch does with his films. The difference with his films though is normally, brain-game films usually have a resolve by the end. Sometimes, I am not sure Lynch has resolved anything by the end of his pictures (I've been watching "INLAND EMPIRE" every couple of years since 2007 and I STILL don't have that one figured out.). Yet, they are so fun to watch and so addicting that its hard to not like them. I take that back, his movies add resolve, you just have to be patient and be willing to play by Lynch's rules.

"Mulholland Drive" was a failed HBO pilot. Lynch made a highly popular mystery-detective show called "Twin Peaks," which was popular in the 90's (The entire series is on Netflix right now.) and he wanted to put another series under his belt. Nobody took it though, but I suppose Lynch saw something special in this idea, so created a movie out of it. The film begins with a highly surreal image of people doing the jitterbug dance, followed by an image of a head falling on a pillow. As the opening credits float through the Los Angeles skyline, we see a limo driving through Mulholland Drive. The driver pulls over and points a gun at Rita (Laura Harring) the limo is then suddenly hit by drag racers. Rita leaves the wreckage and wonders into an open apartment room. That room is then occupied by Betty (Naomi Watts), a lady who has traveled from the other side of the country to become an actress. She finds Rita in her new place and finds she has amnesia, so Betty helps Rita put her life back together.

Their investigation takes them down a strange, scary road. But their friendship becomes something else entirely. Yes, Lynch can't seem to make a single movie without naked people. But that's not the draw of his films. There are moments of dreamlike clarity in "Mulholland Drive" and there are moments that scare you out of rational thought. The scene with the man behind Winky's? Scary. There is so much of this movie that many people could enjoy.

And there are vast surprises around the corner. The first half of the film is about two women helping each other to piece their lives together. The second half is something else, and I dare not spoil it. I hope you try this movie out if you haven't yet, because I'd love to hear theories about what this film all meant. 

The work done by Watts and Harring is completely transcendent. They are the glue of this unsuspecting masterpiece and they should get all the credit in the world for making this mindfuck work. For movies that challenge the mind, you need your leads to be strong, otherwise you'll lose your audience quick. I feel Lynch has discovered this, because he pours great actors into his films. I also love the work done by Justin Theroux in this movie. He plays a film director who is being strong armed by a crime syndicate to cast a certain women in his next movie. When he refuses, they ruin his life. When he sees Rita and Betty, he remembers something, but we don't know what and that's yet another mystery to resolve. There is also a cameo by Billy Ray Cyrus that cracks me up every time I see it,  it really it is that humorous.

Some people can't stand the brain-game films, and I never hold that against them. If you like that type of film then I highly recommend this immediately. You are being warned though, this is not a movie that creates a genuine resolve if you pay attention; its not "Fight Club," or "The Usual Suspects" or "Memento." This is a movie that you'll have to watch a few times to fully process, but for me, that's part of the fun. I hope this is a fun experience for you. Nobody does it like Mr. Lynch. Nobody.

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