Rated R because of very graphic sexual content occasionally bordering on pornographic. Yeah, I don't consider David Lynch's attitude towards sex healthy. I don't think it's ever part of the story, nor do I think it is a celebration of a relationship. I often think that he tries to think of erotic things and puts those things in his movies. Also, the language is over the top and there's violence with some mild blood. R.
DIRECTOR: David Lynch
If you know me in real life or if you've been a hardcore follower of this blog (I'd like to imagine that there are those out there who only know me through this blog), you should know that I'm not the biggest fan of David Lynch. While Googling art for above, the first website that came back for "Mulholland Drive" was "Is Mulholland Drive" the best film of the 21st Century?" I can't. Guys, I can't. I get it. Many people think he's a genius. I honestly don't. I think that he has a voice and an audience, but in no sense of the word could I consider Mulholland Drive to be the best film of any decade, century, or year. (I know, I should progress chronologically. Hitting backspace would actually be faster than typing any of this.) I've seen Mulholland Drive before. I bought it from Half-Price Books on Criterion for $10. I thought that, worse comes to worst, I at least added to the Criterion Collection I own. Watching it again...geez.
I want to like David Lynch. I think it is possible to love someone you don't necessarily get. Understanding an auteur is only an element to appreciation. I don't necessarily have the most fun with Ozu movies, but I really respect the heck out of Ozu. Tom Stoppard often breaks my brain open and I leave completely befuddled to what I experienced. I can keep going on with this list. David Lynch, and I'm really sorry to say this to all the MANY fans that he has, makes the most infuriatingly annoying films. Please, understand, this is subjective. I'm never going to change my mind. Do you know why? I WANT TO CHANGE MY MIND! I keep coming back to his films and his works and I want to find a degree of appreciation. But I don't have that. I watch these movies and they just drive me up the wall. Part of that is that he wants me to feel that way. I'm not a moron. Part of the whole experience is the frustration with what's going on screen. But I would like to compare David Lynch to poetry. (See, I can be complimentary!) I've now taken a lot of poetry classes. The best poetry doesn't spoonfeed. It doesn't wear its themes on its sleeve. A dedicated reader can go back and dissect it. Sometimes there's an objective reading of the work; sometimes there isn't. But the reader should be able to look at it and look at it and find some meaning. That meaning may completely stray from the original work's intention. That happens a lot actually. The creator loses control over creation at a certain point. But there has to be something there. There are a lot of bad poems that are weird just to be weird. Look how shocking and different my poem is. Yeah, David Lynch has meaning, but that meaning never has any value to me. Dreams are weird. I have mentioned this in everything that I've done with David Lynch and it drives me nuts.
Honestly, Mulholland Drive is simply an attempt to revisit the tonal weirdness and darkness of Twin Peaks. I didn't hate Wild at Heart because it was still very Lynch-y, but it wasn't just another Twin Peaks. BIG SPOILER: Mulholland Drive is left intentionally cryptic. David Lynch swears that this movie has a definitive answer and that no one has stumbled upon it. I think this is a lie. Okay, I'm going to backpedal that. I think it is only a partial truth. I think that David Lynch has a logical understanding of everything that is happening in the film, but because so much of the movie is a mislead, the minutiae of the film is completely overlooked. I'm going to go against my own better instincts and say that making a murder mystery without a clear ending is a cool and gutsy move. Other directors probably couldn't get away with it, but that's okay. If I made a mystery and didn't provide a meaningful resolution, I would be lambasted. But the idea is kind of cool. But Lynch is trying to distance his audience with this film. He provides all of these details that are ultimately vapid. There are scenes that just waste time. We never really get to know real characters. I suppose that Betty has a bit of a character, but we also probably know that none of the things we're seeing with Betty are really true. If Lynch is commenting on the fact that everything in reality is a show and a lie, I don't think that really comes across. A thing that really bothers me about Lynch is that his movies often don't look or feel that great. He often incorporates this style of acting that reminds me of community theatre. It has to be intentional, because we know that Naomi Watts is actually a talented actress. Heck, there's even a scene where she shows off that she's a very talented actress. But these characters are always left at arm's length. We can't exactly bond with these characters because there's no emotional truth behind anything that we really see. Instead, we go into the realm of stylized weirdness. It's the log lady, only done for an entire film. I sound like I'm tearing into Lynch pretty hard right now, but I'm so nervous to write this next thing.
I think that David Lynch hides behind his style. I kind of have the same vibe when it comes to Tim Burton. David Lynch's filmmaking style is a cover for any actual vulnerability. One of the things that really drives me nuts is when I can say that I could do the same thing without being called a genius. Yeah, Jackson Pollock probably is actually a genius. I get that. I know that format shouldn't matter. But David Lynch has never really proven to me that he can get by without covering his film with gimmicks. It always feels like weirdness for weirdness sake. Mulholland Drive is more tame than something like Inland Empire, but they both cover up anything that would be challenging with odd choices. One of the more frustrating scenes in the film is when Justin Theroux's Adam is in a meeting with the mobsters. The way this scene is shot looks bad. It is criminally boring. We don't really have any real actions. It's a 2-shot that doesn't really treat the scene like the other person is in the room. Honestly, these scenes felt like they were shot on separate days. Similarly, the costume design looks like it was done on a shoestring budget. People look like they dressed themselves. Mobsters and bad guys wore sunglasses and suits. There's got to be something way more fun than that. The movie is just rife with things that I consider lazy. When the movie gets a little bit mundane, Lynch throws something weird into the movie. In my head, the works of David Lynch are "The Emperor's New Clothes." Everyone says that the movie is a work of art and a work of genius so everyone feels guilty when they say that the movie is lacking. It's kind of an ad hominem attack. "You don't like David Lynch because you don't get him." I don't. I try and I try. But I just see weirdness for weirdness sake.
I'm not saying Mulholland Drive doesn't have elements of genius in it. The moments that are shot well are really shot well. If I had to give points for the effectiveness of the weirdness, Mulholland Drive might be my favorite of his films. There's a lot of motifs that we saw in Twin Peaks. Again, I didn't care for Twin Peaks. I can't finish The Return because it was too much. But the little people running around at the end. It was cool looking, even though it didn't really make sense to me. I just find myself getting really mad at these films. Part of the thing about surrealism is that it has to feel earnest and vulnerable. I know I can't really defend this, but I see stuff like Samuel Beckett and I really get into it. I see that there's something there. But the Rita stuff and the guy at the diner stuff don't really feel like there's something important there. I don't see Lynch doing anything except satirizing his circle of influence in Hollywood. What is he saying about the human condition with his weirdness? I also don't like the fact that he made Rita and Betty aggressively sexual. If this intense sexuality was only in Mulholland Drive, I might backtrack this a bit. But this really feels icky. Like, I think that David Lynch is probably turned on by stuff like this and we have to sit there and pretend that this is an important part of the story. Like, the scene where Betty is crying on the couch is wholly unnecessary. I'm also not chalking this up to the American attitude towards sex. When we get over-the-top violent movies, there tends to be a wink at the camera. As much as I don't like John Waters, I think he manages to do the same wink at the camera with his sexuality. David Lynch doesn't really do that. He films his scenes as though those scenes are vital to the tone. But they are really gross. It's the darker side of sexuality and he relishes in it. I know that this may seem like kink shaming, but I'm okay with that. It's exploitative and I really don't like it.
In terms of cinematography, at times the movie is gorgeous. Actually, I'm going to lump in the sound as well. Angelo Badalamenti is Lynch's musician of choice. I find Badamenti boring, but his score works here. But the rest of his movie really feels like a student film. I don't love stuff like this. I acknowledge that a lot of this is on me. But I've given the biggest shake to David Lynch and I continue to despise his movies. I really thought that I would enjoy Mulholland Drive more, knowing that the end was ambiguous. But nope. The movie doesn't do anything for me. I can't believe that this is one of the best movies of the 21st Century. People are allowed to like weird stuff. In fact, I prefer people liking weird stuff instead of boring stuff. But saying David Lynch has made a perfect film? Come on. I genuinely believe that people like David Lynch because it makes them feel deep.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.