I just finished watched "Mulholland Dr." (2001) for the first time, and in the immortal words of Britney Spears, "Huuu-hhh??"
I've become pretty adept at unraveling postmodern puzzles: Pynchon, Borges, Joyce, Lowry, you name it, I've been obligated to read and make sense of it in one seminar or another. I've taken a fair number of courses in film studies, and generally I do ok talking about "film" with "film people" (except the crazies who've memorized hours and hours of B grade horror flicks from the 70s, I avoid those folks).
But still, to the extent that I'm semi-film literate, and semi-equipped to decode a narrative puzzle, "Mulholland Drive" has reduced me to Britney Spears on E (x, not !).
I read through some of the conjectures and explanations available in the four corners of the Internet, which were elucidating. It's a very sad story, when you get a semblance of a story out of it. It's very cleverly plotted. Nevertheless-- I just wasn't drawn in.
I blame this on Lynch's attempt to mimic film noir, which I generally don't care for, along with mystery novels. Call me a philistine, but consider this my anti-film noir manifesto.
--I hate, hate, hate when the screen is totally dark except for maybe one point of light. It makes me start fiddling around with my television's color and contrast control buttons and this is a waste of time.
--Worse than no light source is a flourescent or greenish light source; worst of all is when it's flickering out or only going at half power and is emitting that annoying buzz that sounds like the hum of your nervous system when you've got your ears plugged up. The absolute worst is when said light suddenly blows out. Ugh. It makes me feel uncomfortable. It's probably meant to. But it's such pointless discomfort.
--Close-ups on just one eye make me think of Bunuel and my skin starts to crawl. Usually the skin around the eye is sweating. If it's a woman, her mascara will be smudged.
--Gross hired killers with greasy hair.
--Fake Italian accents ("an esprrrresso!").
--Forced line readings. ("and you were there, in my dream, and you were scared, and I was scared because you were scared!")
--Cowboys. (ok, not really a part of film noir but I don't like westerns even in their own genre)
--ok I'll just say it now, I really don't like LA or the whole gestalt of LA and so I tend not to like movies set in LA, which is just about half the American film noir genre (and lots of other genres too)... My boyfriend made me sit through "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" last week and the best part of it was Robert Downey Jr's hapless New Yorker thrown into the ludicrous doings of Angelenos. The second best part was that in French the film was called "Keeess Keess Bong Bong." I'm sorry, LA readers. What can I say? Maybe it's an east coast thing.
I don't want to be totally harsh; Naomi Watts's performance was superlative, and Justin Theroux in glasses and a headset was hotter than all the lesbian sex in the film. The inept hired killer was pretty funny. I loved the casting agent's assistant and her big glasses. And the inimitable Ann Miller! In her last film role! I know she was probably decked out in freak gear for this role, but in my mind she embodies what LA does to the young and talented when they get old: they disappear from view and re-emerge with freaky plastic surgery.
I'm trying to think of something else I liked. Um, that Rebekah Del Rio sure can sing.
I'm told this is the best of all David Lynch's films. In that case, I'm not in a hurry to see the others. Something about a guy on a tractor driving cross-country? Spare me. But feel free to liberate me from my cavern of ignorance, if I'm missing something!