Mulholland Dr.

January 28, 2012 10 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

One of a few movies that has been released in the last year, Mulholland Dr. (Drive) will literally mess with your head. There’s really no two ways about it. I’ve read countless other reviews by film critics and will state that my interpretation of the movie would probably be as about as good of a guess as the next guy. But let’s talk about David Lynch a little bit, shall we? Lynch, and his legions of fans, is an interesting man. He’s best-known for his work on the television show Twin Peaks, but has made his share of films that many people revere as they would the bible! From his first film (Eraserhead) to the very moving The Elephant Man to the bomb that was Dune…not all of his films are as great as the rest, but they all have a very distinctive style and flare to them. Another movie that came out last year that reminded me of this film was the Tom Cruise vehicle, Vanilla Sky. Sky was directed by Cameron Crowe, who helmed some lighter films (Say Anything, Singles and Jerry MaGuire). Quite simply, we expect Lynch to mess with our head, but not Cameron Crowe. One worked and one didn’t. But what these two share is the fact that what you’re seeing may or may not be real and two-thirds the way through the movie, they turn the world upside down on us.

So here we go…I’m going to attempt to explain what happens here, but will not hypothesize as to the “true” meaning of the movie. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who has not yet seen this film. Yes, while you may have to watch it a few times, it’s worth it. Even when the end credits roll and you say “Huh”? It’s worth it. We meet Betty Elms (Naomi Watts) as she is getting off the plane, a fresh new face trying to make in Hollywood. She is to move in her aunt’s place as she practices for potential parts. The night before, “Rita” (Laura Harring) is in the back of a limo and on Mulholland Dr. (the drive above Sunset Boulevard, but below the Hollywood Hills). She has a gun pointed at her, but before a trigger can be pulled, two cars (doing some sort of drag race) crash into the car, killing everyone but her. Hurt and suffering from temporary amnesia, she makes her way into the same apartment that Betty is going to occupy the very next day. Betty, thinking that “Rita” (she gives this as her name as she sees an old movie poster for “Gilda” starring Rita Hayworth) is a friend of her aunt’s is happy to see her, though it’s not long that the two find out that trouble is near.

Now, granted, this is about the first twenty minutes of a 146 minute movie! As Lynch does, we have a series of loosely tied together stories that may or may not share a common thread. We then meet two men and as one of them describes a dream he has had, they soon find a “monster” of some sort in the back alley. One of the men faints. Cut to a movie director, and this is the other “significant” story aside from Betty/Rita. Casting for a film, the director is told to choose one woman for a part when he sees her. Unwilling to cooperate, he meets a cowboy high above L.A. who tells him the same thing, in a rather cryptic way of course. Add to this, the fact that he comes home to find his wife in bed with the pool man (played by none other than Billy Ray Cyrus). There are a few other sub plots, but as I try and write this, I find myself more and more confused. Let’s just say that you will have to watch this movie at least twice. I’ve seen it twice and it does make more sense the next time around. Lynch doens’t spoon-feed us plots that we’re so used to. His movies polarize many viewers as is the case for movies that actually make you think. You want mystery and intrigue, this is for you. You want a few lesbian sex scenes, this is for you. You want the end credits to roll and stare blinking at the screen saying “Where did my two hours just go”, this is for you. But more importantly, if you want to try and figure out what the hell is going on, and have a movie make you think, then I can’t recommend it more.

Video: How does it look?

It’s no secret that this movie was originally meant for television. ABC saw the film and then backed out. So Lynch shot some more scenes and made it into one of the most critically-acclaimed movies of the year. Lynch usually uses a very wide scope for his movies (2.35:1), but this was meant for TV so it’s presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio that is enhanced for widescreen TV’s. Overall, the image is very strong and solid, what we would come to expect from a new movie to DVD. A few scenes do appear a bit odd, but we never know when watching a movie like this. Several shots make the black levels come alive and as a challenge for the screen, they look great here. A few washed out shots take away from the action a bit, but on the whole it’s a good transfer. There is some controversey about a shot well into the movie that is blurred. Rita’s character is nude and as she gets into bed, there is a blur around her pubic regions. Personally I only knew about this because it was talked about and it’s hardly noticeable. Lynch says that he did that so as to prevent millions of screen shots appearing on the internet of Laura Harring. Fine by me, but you get to see plenty of her that isn’t blurred, so relax!

Audio: How does it sound?

While I think I railed Lynch for his use of Audio on Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me he is known for his use of sound in some movies. Mulholland Dr. benefits from a very robust DTS and Dolby Digital tracks. A majority of the sound is used to heighten the mood, not the surround effects that we’ve become so used to. It works because it gets us more into the film, and if you’re trying to make sense of it, you’ll find yourself pretty wrapped up in the movie. Dialogue doesn’t suffer in the least, as was the case in some of his earlier work. But I’ve been told that he purposely has the dialogue low on purpose, to draw people further into the movie. Still, regardless of all that, the DTS is a very active track that more than serves its purpose here. Fans of sound and Lynch will be happy here…

Supplements: What are the extras?

Unfortunately, David Lynch isn’t that big of a fan of supplements. All we’ll find here is a theatrical trailer, some cast bios and his “David Lynch’s 10 Clues to Unlocking This Thriller” which don’t really help. In fact, it might even confuse you more (if that’s possible). As per usual, there are no chapter stops as he feels that a film shouldn’t be like a novel where you can put it down and pick it up whenever. Who am I to argue? I can’t tell how much a commentary would help here, but maybe he likes to keep us guessing. I’ll watch his next movie, that’s for sure.

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