David Lynch's Mulholland Drive
This is the perfect example of what filmmakers should be doing these days--challenging their audience. David Lynch is in his fourth decade of putting his audiences through a mental ringer--unreliably, to be sure, but consistently.
Mulholland Drive is the first time that his particular brand of cinema has clicked with me. I have seen
Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Lost Highway,
Wild at Heart,
The Elephant Man, Twin Peaks the pilot and the prequel, as well as, I'm sure, others, but while I could appreciate that they were imaginative and technically brilliant, they all left me feeling as if something were missing from the experience.
Mulholland Drive was a full cinematic experience. I was even touched by the predicaments of the lead characters--felt their love, and their pain. Even though the film tries to divert from the normal linear plotline, I felt I even understood most of the story. (With repeated viewings, I hear this gets easier.)
Yes, I enjoyed watching
Mulholland Drive. But what I really enjoyed was the experience of watching
Mulholland Drive. The confusion is part of the fun. Trying to figure out "what really happened" while you run different scenes through your mind is exhilarating.
Rarely do I leave a movie still thinking about it--even days later. This was a movie from which you really feel you get your money's worth. I watched From Hell the night before, and I doubt I'll remember that one for very long. Now, don't get me wrong, it was a well-done piece of film (although I had guessed the ending early on), and I was entertained (and if a film does not challenge, it should at least entertain), but it doesn't linger in my mind the way
Mulholland Drive does. I find I can barely remember any scenes of From Hell with any clarity, while scenes from
Mulholland Drive still glow with their original vitality.
Although I hesitate to compare it to
Memento, which I saw first (primarily because Lynch was confusing viewers when Christopher Nolan was still in grade school), the similarities in tone and theme are indisputable; the mixed up timeline being the main one. Perhaps a side-by-side viewing of these two would serve to remind audiences that the challenge of a trip to the theater can be mental as well as financial.
Comment on the DVD: There are no extras to speak of on this pressing, barring the theatrical trailer and cast and crew bio- and filmographies. What is included is a list of David Lynch's 10 tips to help you understand the movie. Also notable is the lack of a "scene selections" option. The movie is one long track and must be watched from beginning to end, with no scene-jumping--which I'm sure will disappoint some viewers.
[See the Lynch films nominated in the Sight and Sound Top 10 poll]
(A note on
From Hell, since I brought it up: For sticklers to fact, please note that this film is based on the graphic novel of the same name, which in turn is based on the theories put forth in
another book entirely--Stephen Knight's
Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution. The identity of the murderer is all conjecture and not solid fact. In fact, the theories have long been considered to be the result of faulty logic along the lines of "If A is true, then B must be true.")