Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Mulholland Dr. (2001)

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Too often filmmakers tie together complicated plot structures in the last 5 minutes of a film, explaining how the pieces of an intricately woven narrative fit, leaving the viewer with little to do but sigh. Some find this mesmerizing or even a required duty of the director, while others feel cheated out of their own interpretation. In Mulholland Dr., director David Lynch leaves the viewer with absolutely nothing at the end of a brutal two and a half hours, and in doing so has created a masterpiece. At first glance, the entire film feels like a punch to the face for no reason, but less than ten minutes after the film, the events that preceded the punch start to come back into memory and the more that you recall the happier you are you got punched in the first place. There have been few films in the past decade that leave more up to the viewer's judgment than Lynch's classic, and this works because in the 144 minutes before the credits roll he gives the viewer everything the visual and auditory senses can handle. The story is so convoluted that it is difficult to summarize, but the plot essentially involves an amnesic actress and friend trying to sort out how she arrived at a random apartment in LA after a car accident. The two lead roles are played by Naomi Watts, in her first starring role, and Laura Harring. Both actresses are beautiful, horrifying, sexy, and repulsive as they portray emotions across the spectrum in scenes most actresses would melt in and in situations most could not lose themselves within. The star of the film, however, is the writer/director, who has invented and captured some of the most creative scenes in modern cinema. Jealousy, lust, passion, greed, and countless other sins and virtues are painted on the screen in haunting detail. Scenes involving a particularly intense acting audition and a dream-like opera sequence stick with the viewer for days after, and bizarre side-plots and recurring characters tickle the imagination. Putting this Lynch film into words is difficult, which is strange because, as it becomes apparent after a first, second, or tenth viewing, there is so much to say. The imagery, symbolism, allegory, metaphor, and rhythm are nearly overwhelming, and to try to see the film through Lynch's eyes may induce nausea or insanity. Repeated viewings are a must and become more enjoyable as they become more inexplicable. Mulholland Dr. could have failed on so many levels, and it almost seems as if this massive, unthinkable assembly of thought was just the right fit, one stray piece from an explosion forming a cinematic black hole. But the glorious, otherworldly vision of David Lynch proves that film can be both entertaining and art. No film in the past decade better illustrates this.

Good for: fans of art films, smart people, people who like psychological mysteries

Bad for: the easily confused, people who give up fast, uptight people, someone not in the mood to think

The Gallery
The Surfer: * * * *
The Writer * * * *

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