mulholland-drive-at-night

  • Thanks to David Allison I stumbled across this article on Mullholland Drive, a veritable critical smorgasboard that opens up the prevailing critical approaches to the film and brings some fresh ideas to the discussion. Not only that! Some of it is really annoying! Is it just me or do readings of MH that position it strictly as a critique of Hollywood drive anyone else up the wall? The idea that David Lynch is cynical also pisses me off – the guy’s work suggests to me that he’s incapable of straightforward cynicism. It’s probably worth noting that the chap who puts forward the latter of these opinions (and who I find myself agreeing with very strongly later in the discussion) also suggests that Lynch “cultivates” an irrationalist persona in interviews, which kinda leaves me baffled. Am I supposed to buy the idea that his talk of “the eye of the duck”, his vocal support for Transcendental Meditation, and his constant emphasis on the feel of things is in some way a contrivance? I’m not sure I’m prepared to pigeon-hole Lynch as an irrationalist, but I certainly don’t see his irrational tendencies, in particular the fact that he often produces texts that cannot be entirely reduced (hey, that’s my assertion!), as anything approaching false. My next bugbear comes in the form of the idea that Lynch is a tricky trickster, a kind of narrative huckster who’s goal is to lure us into thinking we’ve found the correct reading only to undermine our noodlings at the last minute. To be fair, that position never comes roaring into view, but I spotted it lurking in the background more than once. I appreciate that this sort of reading has certain charm, but it strikes me as very simplistic and more than a little specious. But enough with griping, I can really get behind this:“Now, I’m always surprised at how people view Mulholland Drive primarily as an intellectual mystery to be solved, rather than as one of the saddest, most emotionally devastating movies ever made.”Oh yeah, and Abhay and David Fiore feature. You like them, don’t you?(As an added bonus, here’s some of what Amy had to say about the movie yarns ago on Barbelith:

    “I do think the film is ostensibly *about* a woman who arrives in Hollywood, falls in love and kills her lover, and I do think the 1st part is best described as “fantasy”. But all this “she is wanking/dreaming and then she wakes up” business…..

    The whole thing seems…haunted, somehow – all the heavily emotionally charged objects/spaces/beings/etc: the black bedroom, the box, Mulholland Drive…. The film…it seems as though someone’s trying to work through something, a mind reworking an old trauma, devouring itself. It’s all very “hungry ghost”.

    There is the sense of an absence; as though something is forced to play itself out, some violent, habitual process – a psychic scar that won’t heal – but we know where it leads: Death. The absence looms over everything, and occasionally makes itself visible, as the cracks begin to appear in the cute, comfortable love story the deluded spirit clothes itself in.”

    The rejection of the word “dream” for “haunting” equals a big yes in my book. It should be noted that Amy *isn’t* saying that anything straightforwardly supernatural is going on, his view is more abstract than that, and far less literal. Personally I think there’s something in the idea of a haunting that could potentially reconcile David Fiore and Charles Reece’s views, in that, to my mind, it lets you have your subject and eat it) (z)

  • Whatever. Let’s have some real class.  Picture this – you’re a kid growing up in a small, relatively rural village in the South East of England. You’re bored, up late, and watching shitty TV. Then these opening credits appear  and you see a vision of ultimate shiny corporate splendour that seems a billion miles from the trees, grass and middle England cosiness of your immediate surroundings. Look at that hair! Those smiles! That Corbin Bernsen! That embarrassment of stereotypical cuddlytardness that is Larry Drake! Now I had something to aspire to. That vision of shimmering skyscrapers and power dressing has haunted me ever since. One day my life will have those opening credits. I just know it. (tbmd)
  • While we’re at it, remember this? Has there ever been a more grown up man then Jack Killian? I wanted to be part of his little radio crew so bad.  Heck that crew rolled with the awesome little kung fu master from Big Trouble in Little China, sporting a totally boss uber-mullet. Saxophones, skyscrapers and silky tones. We be all about the smooth, sensual and serious 80′s here at Mindless HQ. (tbmd)

  • Nearly five years ago now, K-Punk broadcast a kind of sound-collage thing on Resonance called londonunderlondon (parts 1, 2, 3, 4 – takes a bit of downloading if your kit’s anything like mine). It’s a deep topography thinkpiece, Stewart Home eets Eno if you like, on The Tube and the conceptual framework underneath London that it represents. I’m not sure it works entirely – the mixing is a bit frustrating in so far as you can’t hear the words over the music (deliberate probably, annoying definitely), and the thrilling radiophonic flourishes don’t sem to merge with the whole as well as they could. Ultimately, it sounds like music as made by a philospher, which is never going to be ideal. However, this bit of prose, something of a companion piece to the audio, focusing on Wells’ and Kneale’s interpretations of the problem of life and London is electrifying.
  • Sorry if you’re outside the UK, you probably won’t be able to hear this, but Will Self on JG Ballard. Swearing on Radio 4! (b)

9 Responses to “Stop being so bloody aggregating!”

  1. Papers Says:

    I actually maintain that Mulholland Drive works best for me as a cinematic hypertime, two worlds which are separate but intersect in unnatural and uncomfortable overlaps (and always experienced as a penetration by the uncanny). The dream/dreamer reading is a little too straightforward (a = b!) for me. Plus, I like the idea of Betty as a postmodern pastiche of Nancy Drew *too much* to reduce her to a figment. Plus, you know, Adam Kescher.

  2. Zom Says:

    I can get with all these interpretations, and I love the fact that the film is so open to them, but I’m of the opinion that, on a surface level at least (and that’s a very important delineation because I think some very weird things start to happen when you dig deep), the intention is that one half is some sense fantasy and the other reality. I know I’m going to come across as arrogant and condescending, but pretty much any denial of this intention (from smart folk) seems to me to be ignoring what’s in front of your face. Of course intentionality isn’t the be all and end all, I’m a mindless one I get that, but what I recognise as the intentionality behind the film paints a very powerful and satisfactory narrative, and I don’t think it’s one to be simply dismissed as a=b. If that’s what a=b looks like then a=b is very interesting indeed.

    What’s interesting to me is how the clear distinctions start to dissolve the further down the rabbit whole we go. A might equal b on one level, but when we get closer we can see that the logic is fuzzy, perhaps ultimately empty.

  3. James Says:

    And y’know, there’s a startling majority that have trouble grasping eve the “a=b” of it, and just dismiss the movie as nonsense. (There’s this horrible bit of received internet wisdom that Mulholland Dr. started production as a TV series – is this even true? – and when it didn’t happen Lynch just farted out a sudden ending so it could be released in cinemas, and that’s why it “doesn’t make sense”.) So even the most “basic” reading is useful, if only to bludgeon those monsters with. (Because of course it makes sense, you twat.)

  4. Botswana Beast Says:

    Mulholland – certainly, I read in newspapers (not internets) around it’s release that it had been intended as, yes, a post-Twin Peaks TV serial; this is partly why the casting selection of fantasy Paula Harring, once of lurid daytime-Lynchian C5 soap ‘Sunset Beach’, seemed so inspired.

    Intensely aggravating: I bought Mulholland Dr. with birthday or wedding gift vouchers, months ago, and it disappeared before I could ever watch it.

  5. Papers Says:

    I think my problem with the dream/reality reading, Zom, is that it’s so fucking obvious; it’s clearly been designed for that reading (it opens, you’ll recall, with the camera breathing heavily and lying down on silk sheets, its lens into the pillow) — I like my hypertime reading because it’s just flat out more fun for me.

    Yeah, the “doesn’t make sense” camp are weak. It’s pretty obvious what the intention of it was, as a whole unit. I wish we could have seen what it would have been as a series–it had far superior production values to TWIN PEAKS, which alone is enough to justify it because Lynch does such great work when he gets to be glossy.

    I liked MH a lot more at one point than I do now; I still think it’s a great movie, but I think it telegraphs too much of its intention for a Lynch movie; it feels oddly uneven in retrospect, but I give it the benefit of the doubt because of how the project came to be realized.

  6. Sean Witzke Says:

    What do you guys think about Inland Empire? I don’t even have an opinion, I’ve seen it twice and love moments but still haven’t completely grasped it. Pretty, though.

  7. amypoodle Says:

    i watched inland empire exhausted and on the mother of all comedowns, so i was very, very…errr receptive to it’s blacker than black magic. best analogy for the experience of watching it i can come up with (’cause bordering on how it actually felt at the time): like drowning. really hot, delirious, dreamy and out of focus.

    and black.

    don’t forget the blackness.

  8. nrh Says:

    I remember reading over and over again, at the time of initial (American) screenings that “Drive” was intended for an HBO pilot that was never picked up — but that Lynch was reluctant to make it as tv in the first place and was all too happy to turn it into a movie.

    It’s often forgotten how many of his projects have strange and staggered trajectories — the odd trail from Twin Peaks to the Wild at Heart Adaptation (Based on the Gifford novel) to Hotel Room (written by Gifford) to Lost Highway (Co-written by Gifford and finishing many of the themes of the last four series) is so crazy that most people don’t touch the links, and I’m not sure it would help anyway.

    Which is another way of saying ,with Lynch, informed uncertainty is a great way of approaching it, and as a group of Morrison scholars all of you should be well equipped.

  9. Zom Says:

    James, I read the script to the MD pilot after my Twin Peaks crazy sister dug it up from the interweb. This was back in the late nineties (I think), quite a while before the film hit the cinemas. Personally I would have loved to have seen a tv show, particularly now that tv drama has eclipsed film as my televisual narrative mode of choice

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