Mulholland Drive (2001)
(Release Date: May 16, 2001 [Cannes Film Festival])
(Theatrical Release Date: October 12, 2001)


aJaJaJaJRating Pending...aJaJaJaJ

Oh, what the Hell did I just watch?

J.C. Mašek III... Naked Watts Critic!!!
J.C. Mašek III
The World's Greatest Critic!



Mulholland Drive
Mulholland Drive
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Lovers II
Lovers II
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It's hard to worry too much about Spoilers in this surreal and twisted take on an amnesiac and an aspiring actress in their quest to find their respective identities (as well as what goodies each other has underneath those clothes)! The reason I'm not too frightened about Spoilers is that I'm honest to goodness not sure what the eff-you-see-kay just happened! Maybe I'm ultimately supposed to be this confused by David Lynch's borderline fantasy/ erotic thriller. After all, Lynch is a brilliant spellbinder and an artist in the truest filmic sense of the word, and he's been successful in twisting my mind through two successful years of Twin Peaks and a veritable parade of slimy, yet satisfying films each with the distinctive "Bar S" of the Lynch-meister himself. The debacle of Dune notwithstanding, each Lynch project I've been exposed to has succeeded in leaving me amazed, wanting more, and frequently more than a little confused.

As much of an exception to this rule as Dune is, Mulholland Drive is not only an example of that rule, but it actually is the penultimate proof that this rule exists. Mulholland Drive has left me interested, wanting more, incredibly titillated and more confused than Dan Qualye on Meet the Press! I could call it a "cul de sac" or I could call it a "Tour De Force" or I could call it "a mind-bending triumph" or any other Will Rogers as a Quote-Whore thing. I could, but I can't because I don't know what it is!
Yes you see them naked.

Here's what I do know. This film is almost universally well-acted, most notably by the sensational Naomi Watts and co-lead the so-pretty-it-hurts Laura Elena Harring. Watts' character willingly confines herself to the Gilded Cage of Hollywood (by way of a traveling Aunt Ruth's vacant apartment) where she finds an angelic amnesiac auto accident victim (Harring) in the shower... NAKED. Together they attempt to piece together through subtle clues who Harring is, how she came to be where she was and what dark forces put her there.

Meanwhile dark forces which may, or may not be unrelated to those twisting the lives of the lovers played by Watts and Harring, have taken control of the production of a motion picture ostensibly helmed by Justin Theroux's character Adam Kesher. Theroux's character may or may not be intertwined with the characters of Harring and Watts while the whole thing may or may not be controlled by the enigmatic character of Michael J. Anderson or perhaps by some mystical Cowboy (Lafayette "Monty" Montgomery)! Oh, and, by the way, for multiple reasons the entire Shelob Shebang might or might not actually be the nightmare fantasy of some delusional screw-ball (again, Dan Quayle reference here) named "Dan."

See what I mean? Confusing... and that's just the tip of the Iceberg! Lynch perfectly balances the level of Nightmare versus Fantasy and treats the lesbian love of Watts and Harring with an overt respect. Through Lynch's eye we see "this dream place" in a surreal and shaky ground, but are never sure what is "real" and what is not! In fact every time sure footing is gained, Lynch has the proverbial Arabian Throw-Rug pulled out from under the viewer and propels the audience into the psychosis again. The most disorienting and dizzying event transpired a little over half-way through the film stripping away that which you thought you understood and thrusting you into a constantly changing and evolving mindscape as if a real Earthquake had split Mulholland Drive down the middle. The last half of the movie is more confusing than the fact that Sugar Ray has had a number one Hit, or that David Caruso has his own Prime-Time Hit Drama!

To understand the reason behind this (though not the events of the film) it might help to grasp what Mulholland Drive is as compared to what it was intended to be. Mulholland Drive was David Lynch's idea for a Twin Peaks-like television Drama, with many of the scenes of this film intended to be the pilot episode for the Series. The pilot sat on the shelf for a time in the hope of being picked up by some network or other, before Lynch went for broke and shot an ending for the pilot, making it into a Theatrical Film. The gamble paid off as it earned Lynch a Directorial Oscar nomination, but it also made this film disjointed and more challenging than the Klingon Dictionary to a dyslexic. The directing and editing here are outstanding, and the Oscar Nomination is well-deserved, but that doesn't mean that the film is any more accessible for its technical proficiency. Like any great Lynch project I was left wishing for much, much more, and as great as this film is I find myself wishing for a whole series (preferably on Cable to preserve the Yumminess).

By no stretch of the imagination is this for the kids! Not only is there some incredible nudity and Sapphic love to tip the proverbial hat to, but there is plenty of profanity and violence to tip the scale into the blue! Further, without any blood, violence or overt menace of any real kind Lynch manages to make what he shows on screen scarier than nude pictures of Andy Rooney! The covert curdling of the blood is a Lynch Trademark that is branded so subtly on to the psyche that the audience scarcely realizes they are frightened until it's too late. Lynch slowly turns up the boiling water on we, the froggies, until it's too hot to jump out! Folks, it's scarier than About Schmidt!

I have no idea how many Stars to give to Mulholland Drive! This could be the best film I've ever seen, or it could amount to an excess of the Mediocre! I just don't know yet. It's clear to me that Lynch knew exactly what he was doing and weaved the cross-stitch of this film so that repeated viewings will make things somewhat apparent. Unlike Dune, I can see how well done this film is, and I really, really enjoyed it! This is Vintage Lynch from Bow to Stern, from Port to Starboard and from Mast to Anchor... It's going to take repeated viewings for me to successfully interpret and process this data, however. It's a credit to the writing and the directing of old Judas Booth (or is he FBI Regional Bureau Chief Gordon Cole?) that not only is this interesting throughout, but that the viewer wants to see it multiple times. Bravo! Now where's my Paxil?

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Mulholland Drive (2001) Reviewed by J.C. Mašek III who is solely responsible for his views and for his ear-to-ear smile at having just seen Naomi Watts Naked!
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