Thursday, September 18, 2008

Operation Screenshot (Films of the 2000s): David Lynch's Mulholland Dr. (2001)

Naomi Watts

I typically don't add any sort of commentary to this series, but as fans of Mulholland Dr. will no doubt notice something strange about the following stills I figured one was in order.
When I sat down to capture my weekly ten stills this morning, I figured Mulholland Dr. would be a breeze considering that David Lynch is one the great visual stylists in film history and this is one of his greatest achievements. I soon found myself getting overwhelmingly frustrated with the shots I was choosing as they didn't seem to do the film justice, and the ones that did I had already seen on a hundred other different sites.
When I got to the last half hour of the film though, I was suddenly taken back to 2001 when I saw this for the first time at a theater in Lexington, Ky. and I remembered how floored I was by this section. I thought, and still think, that the last half hour of Mulholland Dr. is as great as any film I have ever seen...a moving, harrowing tour de force by a filmmaker at the top of his game and an actress turning the kind of emotional and spiritual corner rarely seen in film, American or otherwise.
So these stills are from that last half hour and I'd like to dedicate them to Naomi Watts, who became one of my favorite actors of all time in this section. Truth be told, I think the only person who has perhaps been better in front of a camera this decade is Watts herself in any number of extraordinary roles she has been in since. The fact that she wasn't even nominated for an Academy Award for her role in Mulholland Dr. still makes me feel uneasy at best.
This post also marks my renewed love affair with the cinema of David Lynch, a man who was at one point among my top directors whom I lost somewhere along the way. Lately though, thanks to revisiting Twin Peaks and a couple of other factors, I have felt myself totally emerged again in his beguiling and totally original world...something that has given me great comfort as of late.

Mulholland Dr. 11

Mulholland Dr. 13

Mulholland Dr. 15

Mulholland Dr. 16

Mulholland Dr. 17

Mulholland Dr. 18

Mulholland Dr. 20

Mulholland Dr. 21

Mulholland Dr. 22

Mulholland Dr. 23

9 comments:

Brandon Colvin said...

It's about damn time. Great post.

The King Of Cool said...

She should have been nominated. I love this film and her performance in it.

J.D. said...

That first still and some of the scenes in the last third of the film... the way they are lit and the color scheme makes me wonder if Mario Bava was an influence on Lynch, at least for this film.

What can you say about this film that hasn't already been said? Amazing film. Lynch has been my fave filmmaker for years and I too have been watching TWIN PEAKS again, thanks to that amazing box set with both season AND the Pilot ep. (thank gahd!). Great set of extras too.

Ed Howard said...

Great stuff. Very creative way of avoiding picking the same stills as I did. The last half-hour really is mind-blowing. Watts should have been nominated, and should have won for sure -- it's hard to imagine a more virtuoso performance than this, in which she shifts between two very different facets of the same woman.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Brandon...sorry it took awhile, be on the look out for some more Lynch related posts soon.

Thanks Keith,
Seriously how was she not nominated for this?

Thanks JD,
I've always thought Bava had to be an influence on Lynch...wonder if he has ever stated it? I'll need to check Tim's book when I get home and see if he is one of the directors mentioned. Also, I agree about the TWIN PEAKS Gold Box, what an incredible set...

Thanks Ed,
Funnily enough after I did my captures I checked your site to make sure I hadn't duplicated any, and sure enough I had on one so I didn't use it...thanks for the comments.

Colin said...

Perhaps my favourite film of the decade so far (just edging out In The Mood For Love and Shinji Aoyama's Eureka).

I mostly have a lukewarm reaction to Lynch's films on a first viewing and then find them getting better and better on reviewings (the mark of a good film really) but Mulholland Drive is a film I loved straight off. Of course I was incredibly happy to find that it similarly gets better and better on reviewings too!

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Colin,
I need to check out Eureka as I haven't seen that one...Lynch's films for the most part do have an incredible way of getting richer on each revisit. He really is one of the greats and I'm sorry it has taken me awhile to post any kind of proper tribute to his work, which meant a great deal to me at a copule of specific points in my life.

Steve Langton said...

Great choice of stills. I cauhgt MD 5 times at the cinema when it came out and rate it as one of the best films of the last 10 years. Like you, I'm still trying to fathom why Watts didn't win Best Actress for this. MD has so many great moments, but my 2 current faves are the '16 Reasons Why I Love You' scene (the song could have been written for this film) and 'Crying Over You' which is one of the most emotional snippets of celluloid magic in many a long day. Look forward to your comments on other Lynch movies including (I hope) Inland Empire.

J.D. said...

Jeremy:

As far as the Bava influence on Lynch, I have an old issue of VIDEO WATCHDOG where Tim Lucas reviews FIRE WALK WITH ME and compares it to KILL, BABY, KILL! if I'm not mistaken. Now, I have never read or heard Lynch directly state Bava as an influence but he's always been pretty coy/secretive about stating films and filmmakers that influence his own work.