Saturday, March 5, 2016

Mulholland Dr.

Year 8, Day 65 - 3/5/16 - Movie #2,266

BEFORE: Chad Everett carries over from "Made in Paris", and since Mr. Everett's only likely to be in two out of however-many films I watch for this project, it's really great that I'm able to watch them back-to-back.  

I still have a few movie "sins" that I need to atone for.  Like I think I tried to watch this one before, and I failed.  There was some kind of twist that people had a problem with?  Actually I think I might have rented it and fast-forwarded to the nude scenes, that also counts as a movie sin.  But today I'm determined, I'm going to watch the FILM itself, pay attention to the plot, and stay awake, no matter what happens.

I couldn't find this one in my collection for a while, that usually means it's the 2nd film of two on a DVD, and it's alphabetized under the first film.  So I have to stop and think about what film I might have paired it with, which also might have something to do with WHEN I added it to my collection, and then I remembered - I put it on the DVD with "Birdman" because they were both films about mixed-up actors, and then after putting it on that DVD, I realized both films had Naomi Watts in them, so it was sort of meant to be.  So then I found "Mulholland Dr." filed under "B" with "Birdman" - see, I just need to stop and remember how my brain pairs things sometimes. 

THE PLOT:  After a car wreck on the winding Mulholland Drive renders a woman amnesiac, she and a perky Hollywood-hopeful search for clues and answers across Los Angeles in a twisting venture beyond dreams and reality.

AFTER: OK, first off, what the actual fuck?  I mean, just what the hell is going on here?  Now I'm sure I never really watched this before, because I would have remembered being this confused.  I thought that the twist was that the two female leads turned into each other, or somehow changed places, but that's not what's happening.  I could handle that, I once worked as a P.A. on a short hi-def shoot back in the early 90's that was about two cops interrogating a suspect, and during the piece the actors kept trading roles.  But this just seems that David Lynch took the story as far as he could go in one direction, and then took this really weird turn into - what, a dream?  Another reality?  Time-travel, reincarnation, past lives, minds-going-sideways, what?

I think the first problem here is that this was filmed as a mini-series and then got re-edited (or re-filmed, it's a bit unclear) to be a movie.  So I'm not sure to what extent the story got re-worked or revised, or if someone just took the scenes and cut them into little bits, then re-assembled the bits into random order.  There seem to be three stories, and they're sort of connected, but not really - in that knowing the connections doesn't help you understand the story one bit.  

There's the main story, where a woman, Rita (only that's not her name) survives a car accident and hides out in an apartment, where another woman (Betty, a young actress) finds her and helps her try to overcome her amnesia and unravel the mystery of who she is and where she came from.  They fall in love in the process -

(ASIDE: Remember when lesbians were hot?  I mean, remember when they were a popular plot device, back when nobody understood them?  Wait, that's not what I mean.  Remember when pop culture latched on to lesbians, after a few high-profile actresses came out, and Hollywood started putting them in everything, but most filmmakers just didn't know what to do with them?  Sort of like the way they're putting transgender people into all kinds of movies and TV shows now - and I can't decide if that's good for their cause or not.  Because today's hot topic is tomorrow's non-trending topic, like lesbians.)

The second story is about a Hollywood director, and someone is trying to get him to cast a particular actress, and that someone is so powerful they can take control of his picture away from him if he doesn't cast this actress, named Camilla, in his film.  To make things worse, he finds his wife in bed with another man, freaks out and ends up getting punched out and thrown out.  Eventually he's confronted by a cowboy who makes some veiled threats, but he then hires the actress he's supposed to.  

And the third story is about some kind of hit man who visits a friend, gets some kind of information from his friend (this is also unclear) and then kills him, but the killing sort of goes bad and out of control, leading him to do more and more bad things to cover up the first thing.  I can't really tell how the third story is connected to the other two, but I still held out hope that there was a way to tie all three stories together - that's the suggestion made by parallel storytelling, in the language of film that we all understand. 

But just as the first story is heading to some kind of answer, when Betty and Rita find the mysterious box that matches the mysterious key, the box turns out to be empty, and that's when the weird left turn takes place.  Rita becomes Camilla and Betty becomes Diane, and we go back in time to re-tell part of the story, only it's different, and the film director is successful and Diane is no longer dead, and the hitman is still a hitman.  

It's enough to make me wonder if this film is just an elaborate practical joke.  Maybe David Lynch just watched "Pulp Fiction" or Robert Altman's "Short Cuts" and thought, "Hey, I can do that, but I want to remove any sort of meaning or point, and let people wonder what the connections between the characters really are."  But there are so many threads that get started and never resolved - why did that man have a dream about the frightening man behind the diner, what does that mean?  Did the hitman ever get those numbers that he said were important, and what did he do with them?  

Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of David Lynch because of "Twin Peaks", and the best and weirdest things always happened when he found the time to direct an episode.  Every other episode, the plot would sort of inch along without much happening.  When Lynch directed, stuff HAPPENED, and it was weird stuff, like Dale would go to the magic lodge and get information from the dwarf who talked backwards.  Or the lady who talked to a log would tell the sheriff where to find the dead body - 

But still, there were unexplained flashes of weirdness - why was that kid holding creamed corn?  How did that woman get turned into a cabinet?  A cabinet, for chrissakes!  Those are the kinds of things I saw in the ending of "Mulholland Dr.", and I don't like them.  They're reflections of the things I didn't like from "Eraserhead" - like tiny people running around.  WTF?  Are these the people who used to live inside the radiator in "Eraserhead"?  

Honestly, unless I learn otherwise, I'm inclined to believe that the director had two half-stories that he wanted to graft together, rather than fully finishing either - or else in adapting this from a mini-series to a movie, something just went very, very wrong.  If there's something right about this film, then I'm just not seeing it. Is this all a big metaphor for something I'm not grasping, or is this just a director being weird for the sake of being weird?

Also starring Naomi Watts (last seen in "Birdman"), Laura Harring, Justin Theroux (last seen in "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion"), Ann Miller (last seen in "Room Service"), Dan Hedaya (last seen in "Maverick"), Mark Pellegrino (last seen in "Twisted"), Missy Crider (last seen in "Powder"), Lee Grant (last seen in "Plaza Suite"), Patrick Fischler, Michael Cooke, Melissa George (last seen in "Down With Love"), Lori Heuring, Billy Ray Cyrus, Monty Montgomery, Rebekah Del Rio, Johanna Stein, with cameos from Robert Forster (last seen in "The Descendants"), Brent Briscoe, Michael Des Barres (last seen in "A Simple Twist of Fate"), Michael J. Anderson.

RATING: 3 out of 10 headshots

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