Mulholland Drive (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The musical film Moulin Rouge was nominated for eight Oscars, but director Baz Luhrmann was not nominated for the Best Director honor. Instead, David Lynch was nominated for Mulholland Drive, even though this film was not nominated for any other Oscars. Does that make sense to you? It does to me. Back when I was in college, we used the term "pity fuck." This kind of intercourse wasn't as good as when a woman really craved your manly essence, but sometimes a kind woman would throw you a pity fuck when she didn't really want you, but thought you were nice and really needed to have your ashes hauled.

The Academy threw David Lynch a pity fuck.

They figured that David Lynch has been around long enough, and Mulholland Drive is probably his best film, if you believe the critics. If you like David Lynch movies, you will undoubtedly love it, as most critics (80%) did. If you don't like his movies, this won't change your mind, and you may even despise it, as other critics did. It's absolutely a "love it or "hate it" experience. Oh, everyone pretty much agreed on what they saw, but people disagreed sharply on the value of that. To illustrate the problem of perception, I'm going to quote what Roger Ebert said about this film:

The movie is hypnotic; we're drawn along as if one thing leads to another--but nothing leads anywhere, and that's even before the characters start to fracture and recombine like flesh caught in a kaleidoscope. "Mulholland Drive" isn't like "Memento," where if you watch it closely enough, you can hope to explain the mystery. There is no explanation. There may not even be a mystery.

There have been countless dream sequences in the movies, almost all of them conceived with Freudian literalism to show the characters having nightmares about the plot. "Mulholland Drive" is all dream. There is nothing that is intended to be a waking moment. Like real dreams, it does not explain, does not complete its sequences, lingers over what it finds fascinating, dismisses unpromising plotlines. If you want an explanation for the last half hour of the film, think of it as the dreamer rising slowly to consciousness, as threads from the dream fight for space with recent memories from real life, and with fragments of other dreams--old ones and those still in development.

This works because Lynch is absolutely uncompromising. He takes what was frustrating in some of his earlier films, and instead of backing away from it, he charges right through. "Mulholland Drive" is said to have been assembled from scenes that he shot for a 1999 ABC television pilot, but no network would air (or understand) this material, and Lynch knew it. He takes his financing where he can find it and directs as fancy dictates. This movie doesn't feel incomplete because it could never be complete--closure is not a goal.

If you require logic, see something else. "Mulholland Drive" works directly on the emotions, like music. Individual scenes play well by themselves, as they do in dreams, but they don't connect in a way that makes sense--again, like dreams. The way you know the movie is over is that it ends.

Mr Ebert wrote all of that, then gave the film four stars. I pretty much agree with everything he said. It is an excellent description. To me it doesn't add up to four stars. Read it again, and you can give it your own rating, because it is accurate. No matter what decision you make, you will find a critic somewhere who agrees with you because the range of scores encompasses just about every possible rating. If you take a quick glance at the British critics below, for example, you'll see that the scores range from 2/10 to 10/10.

Rex Reed had a somewhat different perspective:

The worst movie Iíve seen this year is Mulholland Drive, a load of moronic and incoherent garbage from David Lynch that started out as a rejected TV pilot and predictably ended up at the New York Film Festival, where pretentious poseurs sit with their eyes glued to any screen as long as the projector is still running.

Of course, Rex is immune to one of the film's greatest charms. Lynch cast two gorgeous women in the lead roles, and he gets them naked and tumbling around together (although Laura Harring's full-frontal scene was digitally censored, as admitted by Lynch himself.) Although Rex Reed may not consider extensive lesbian scenes to have any value, for reasons of his own which are somewhat obvious, those scenes are certainly valid and legal tender for most of us.

Also, I don't think Reed is being fair. Mulholland Drive isn't moronically incoherent and pretentious gibberish.

It is, in fact stylishly incoherent and pretentious gibberish.

 

DVD info from Amazon

  • widescreen (16x9)

  • no meaningful features

 

NUDITY REPORT

Laura Harring and Naomi Watts do two lesbian sex scenes. Laura is also seen stripping off a towel, then climbing into bed.

In the towel scene, Laura should be naked, but when she turns to the camera, the bottom half of her body has either been blurred, or she is wearing some type of garment to cover her pubic area.

SIDEBAR:

Co-star Laura Harring seems to have cast a spell of forgetfulness over her early career. See her bio at www.lauraharring.com, then compare it to the facts in the IMDb. Her own site mentions some Shakespeare on stage, and a couple of TV projects, and the fact that she is a Countess because she married Count von Bismarck. On the other hand, she seems to have erased her entire "B" career (1985-1997) from memory. Laura not only wants to forget that she was the first Latina to win Miss USA, but (more important) she wants to forget that she was topless in Silent Night, Deadly Night 3! Perhaps this is because she wants to forget that film, or perhaps it is because she doesn't like to admit that she has acquired a completely different chest since then. Or perhaps she doesn't want you to realize how many times she has changed her name. She used to be Laura Martinez, then she was Laura Herring, with an "e", so I think that made her the Countess von Bismarck Herring.

Now that I think about it, perhaps she just doesn't want us to know that her career dates back so far because she doesn't like admitting that she was born in 1964.

But now you know.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: three stars. Ebert 4/4, Berardinelli 2/4, BBC 4/5, filmcritic.com 3/5

  • British consensus: two and three quarter stars out of four. Mail 10/10, Telegraph 5/10, Independent 6/10, Guardian 9/10, Observer 7/10, Times 3/10, Standard 2/10, Sun 8/10, Express 8/10, Mirror 10/10, BBC 4/5.

  • David Lynch was nominated for the best director Oscar

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 7.9/10 (among the top 250 of all time).
  • with their dollars: budget $10 million, domestic gross $7 million.

 

IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C+. It isn't a mainstream movie, or even a genre film. It is a niche film. It is atmospheric, sexy, cool, sardonic, and magnificently filmed. It is also mannered, confusing, and pretentious, and the humor consists of a string of obscure in-jokes. In other words, it's a David Lynch film.

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