When Derek Malcolm chose his accompanying list in The Guardian, his two most recent films were Zhang Yimou’s “Raise The Red Lantern” (which would easily made my list, but I love all Zhang Yimou’s films with Gong Li so I’ll think again) and David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet”, which may well have made my list, if it wasn’t for this film (and Mr Malcolm choosing it).During the 90s a lot of people were telling me to watch Lynch , I would love it, but I gave “Wild At Heart”, “Blue Velvet” and “Lost Highway” a go (I already seen “Eraserhead” and “The Elephant Man” in the 80s) and as much as I had admired all of them, I just didn’t think they were for me. Then, just on the cusp of the millennium, Lynch released his most accessible film “The Straight Story” and again I saw it on a freebie on a Sunday morning, I thought it was a lovely film, but it didn’t make me come back to David Lynch.Early in 2002 Dirk had asked me if I wanted to go to watch “Mulholland Drive” and with it being Lynch I reluctantly agreed. To use my often overused quote, I was completely blown away.
It has a lot of different ideas in “Mulholland Drive” and you can make your own mind up what exactly is happening at times, but it mostly follows Betty as she arrives in Hollywood and tries to out for an audition whilst staying at her Aunt’s apartment in LA, when she arrives Betty finds a mysterious brunette called “Rita” who can’t recall how she go there and the two of them set out on a voyage of discovery.
It is no coincidence that when Betty arrives at Paramount studios for her audition she is wearing a suit very similar to Kim Novak in Hitchcock’s own identity thriller Vertigo or the fact that Norma Desmond’s car is parked there from “Sunset Boulevard”, a road that runs parallel to Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles. During the audition, the actor she is working with hovers his hand over her backside; she places his hand on it. From then on you know that “sweet” Betty, isn’t quite as sweet as she seems, for me this is the “Eye Of The Duck” sequence in the film. Betty then goes home and makes love to Rita.
What does the appearance of the blue lamp, the cowboy or Billy “Achy Breaky Heart” Cyrus mean? David Lynch put out an advert in the press at the time giving you ten steps to unlocking the thriller, a guide which is now included in the DVD.
The think I love about “Mulholland Drive” (besides Naomi Watts) is the fact I can watch it again and again and get something different out of it each time. The other thing I love about it is the fact that it made me reassess David Lynch’s work. I now think “Blue Velvet” is perhaps the best film of the 80s, “Wild At Heart” is one of the few Nicholas Cage films worth bothering about and I have finally managed to track down a copy of the long deleted “Lost Highway” on DVD, I haven’t watched it again yet, as it took me over an hour to work out how to change the language over from French, but I’ll let you know how it goes.
I haven’t returned to Lynch’s only other film since this, “Inland Empire”, since I saw it at the cinema, mainly I think because I just don’t want to put up with Laura Dern for three hours again, nor have I ever seen “Dune”, but never say never.
This is the best film of the 00s and dare I say it, it maybe even deserves a place in the Sight & Sound Best Ten.