Sunday, 6 June 2010

We Don't Stop Here.

Ok, so in moments of tiredness and laziness I tend to fall back on ol' favs. Hence returning to R + J just recently. I also went back to one of my favourite films of the noughties, Mulholland Drive.

David Lynch is a genius. Let's just get it out there. And Mulholloand Drive is, quite obviously, the work of a genius at the peak of his nutcase powers. I am yet to see Inland Empire (bad me), but I understand it is also quite cray cray, so I'm going to assume that he's still at his peak. And Blue Velvet and Lost Highway were damn fine pieces of cinema, so he's been at the peak for, what, pretty much his entire career. We all love Twin Peaks. Sure there have been some minor misfires (we all remember what I thought of Wild At Heart), but in general I pick up a David Lynch film I know I'm at the very least going to be in for a wild ride. (On that note, I simply MUST check out The Straight Story, because it just sounds too different to miss.)

Meanwhile. Mulholland Drive. It started out as a pilot for a new television series, which wasn't picked up, but some people chucked some more money at him and asked him to make a film out of it. That film I saw back in the break between high school and uni in 2001/02 (it was late one year or early the next - I forget which.) I remember the film ending, and me turning to the two friends I was with and saying 'I have no idea what that was about, but I know that it was brilliant.' A number of years and many viewings later, I think I have some idea, but I don't know how much I will go into it for fear of ruining the experience for anyone who may stumble across here without having experienced the full magnificence of the film.

Naomi Watts scored her breakout role here as Betty/Diana. As the film begins, she is a young ingenue in from the mid-West, staying at her aunt's house in Hollywood while her aunt is out of town shooting a picture. Randomly, one evening, Rita/Camilla (Laura Elena Harring) is in a horrible car accident on Mulholland Drive and stumbles down to collapse, concussed, in the front yard of the aunt's building. The next morning, she wakes to find the aunt leaving - what a coincidence, she manages to sneak into the apartment that Betty shall soon occupy. Betty's good nature means that she only wants to help Rita, and the two become friends, even though Rita is not her real name and she has no idea who she is or what happened to her. So begins a long and twisted tormented journey into what may or may not be really going on - is the reality of the beginning a fiction brought on by Diana's own failings and jealousy at Camilla's success? The lesbian undertones are alluded to with the addition of director Adam (Justin Theroux), a presumably talented man who sells his soul to get his film made. Cowboys, man speaking care of tubes and spat out espressos are all too common in this fable about Hollywood, and anything is possible in a world where Ann Miller is the landlady of an apartment complex that once housed a prized boxing kangaroo. Hell, even Billy Ray Cyrus pops up.

This is an absolute tour de force. The mind that came up with it (that would be our dear friend Mr Lynch) should probably be hospitalised, but that would be such a waste to all of us waiting with bated breath for his next move. Watts' performance made her a star, literally overnight. Her audition scene, going from sweet and naive to sultry and malicious was and remains stunning, an incredible indication of the turning point that will send the movie spiraling into insanity (or reality.) And the Spanish performance of Roy Orbison's 'Crying' by Rebekah del Rio never fails to move me to tears in its power, beauty and the trick of falsity.

There is so little to say about the film outside of the fact that it will go down as one of the most unique pieces of truly compelling filmmaking in the history of cinema. Watching it goes past a must. 5 stars.

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