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kuze 04-28-2006 03:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Spider Crusoe
Mulholland Drive - the only other David Lynch movie I had seen before was Blue Velvet, and both certainly have a distinct flavor that I haven't seen elsewhere. I think I like MD more, but it's been awhile since I saw BV so I'm not sure. I liked how it started off simple enough to follow, and then towards the end became complicated. Definitely something worth rewatching. Naomi Watts gave a great performance.

If you liked MD, I'd definitely recommend watching Elephant Man. It might be not as confusing as MD (actually, not confusing at all), but it's one of the best Lynch movies I have seen. And I've seen almost all of them.

Spiwak 04-28-2006 12:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kuze
If you liked MD, I'd definitely recommend watching Elephant Man. It might be not as confusing as MD (actually, not confusing at all), but it's one of the best Lynch movies I have seen. And I've seen almost all of them.

I think Elephant Man is probably the most overrated of his movies. If you want to see a good non-wierd Lynch movie see Straight Story. Disney's practically disowned it for some godawful reason but what a charming movie.

Mulholland Dr. is for me the undisputed Lynch masterpiece.

Once A Villain 04-28-2006 12:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Spiwak
I think Elephant Man is probably the most overrated of his movies. If you want to see a good non-wierd Lynch movie see Straight Story. Disney's practically disowned it for some godawful reason but what a charming movie.

Mulholland Dr. is for me the undisputed Lynch masterpiece.

Hmmm...I don't think The Elephant Man is really all that overrated. But yeah, The Straight Story is excellent, and Mulholland Dr. is my favorite Lynch as well.

If anything is overrated or terrible among his work, it's Dune. :P

Spiwak 04-28-2006 01:37 PM

Well yea, but Dune isn't overrated. It's already well-known as as his most sub-par work.

I think Elephant Man is overrated because eveyone thinks it's amazing but I find it the most emotionally manipulative and the least intriguing (assuming Dune is already out of the contest. I don't consider it a Lynch film) of his works. Granted, it's not bad by any means, and there are certainly scenes that are disturbing for their imagery, but I don't know it doesn't sit well with me, the un-subtlety of it.

Maquisard 04-28-2006 01:43 PM

Is Dune not weird enough for a Lynch movie? ;)

kuze 04-28-2006 02:00 PM

"Emotionally manipulative"? As in "sweet, touching story", maybe. Lynch knows how to create a tense, uncomfortable atmosphere in a movie filled with mystery and sex, and thats perfectly fine. The Elephant Man was, however, exactly the opposite, and Lynch mastered it just as well as he did his other movies, and thats what makes it a great work of art.

Too bad I haven't seen Dune. Is it that bad, Spiwak?

After a brisk nap 04-28-2006 10:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Once A Villain
If anything is overrated or terrible among his work, it's Dune. :P

No, if anything is overrated it's Mulholland Dr. Basically just a rehash of Lost Highway.

Beautiful film, mind you, but awfully short on substance.

Once A Villain 04-28-2006 11:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by After a brisk nap
No, if anything is overrated it's Mulholland Dr. Basically just a rehash of Lost Highway.

Beautiful film, mind you, but awfully short on substance.

Mulholland Dr. had plenty of substance, that's why it was good and why Lost Highway was not. Granted, both have a similar style, but one had a point, and the other was just weird for the sake of being weird.

After a brisk nap 04-29-2006 10:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Once A Villain
Mulholland Dr. had plenty of substance, that's why it was good and why Lost Highway was not. Granted, both have a similar style, but one had a point, and the other was just weird for the sake of being weird.

No, you've got it the wrong way around.

Mulholland Dr. is Lynch-lite. The abrasive elements of his vision have been toned way down, and it comes with a handy explanation to ensure that any unsettling elements can be dismissed by the viewer. It is easily one of his least challenging films, which is of course why it has achieved so much mainstream success.

In Lost Highway, Lynch is at the top of his game, following his uncompromising vision like in Eraserhead or Blue Velvet. It makes no pretense of the mystical or irrational being under control by the characters, the viewer, or even the director. It is unpleasant, it is unsafe, it doesn't yield to analysis. Parts of the film are going off in every direction. Even the best explanations available remain wholly unsatisfactory. It's a film that doesn't let you go.

Lynch stiched Mulholland Dr. together as a film by recycling the main plot devices from Lost Highway, and of course, they're far more stale the second time around. The film is buoyed by a marvellous performance by Naomi Watts, Lynch's confident cinematography, and the best Angelo Badalamenti score since Twin Peaks, but it remains a lightweight, minor work.

Lynch may be weird for the sake of being weird; but he's weird for the sake of being weird for a reason.

Once A Villain 04-29-2006 11:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by After a brisk nap
No, you've got it the wrong way around.

Mulholland Dr. is Lynch-lite. The abrasive elements of his vision have been toned way down, and it comes with a handy explanation to ensure that any unsettling elements can be dismissed by the viewer. It is easily one of his least challenging films, which is of course why it has achieved so much mainstream success.

In Lost Highway, Lynch is at the top of his game, following his uncompromising vision like in Eraserhead or Blue Velvet. It makes no pretense of the mystical or irrational being under control by the characters, the viewer, or even the director. It is unpleasant, it is unsafe, it doesn't yield to analysis. Parts of the film are going off in every direction. Even the best explanations available remain wholly unsatisfactory. It's a film that doesn't let you go.

Lynch stiched Mulholland Dr. together as a film by recycling the main plot devices from Lost Highway, and of course, they're far more stale the second time around. The film is buoyed by a marvellous performance by Naomi Watts, Lynch's confident cinematography, and the best Angelo Badalamenti score since Twin Peaks, but it remains a lightweight, minor work.

Lynch may be weird for the sake of being weird; but he's weird for the sake of being weird for a reason.

A film being "challenging" because it makes no sense isn't quite fair and deserves a mere fraction of the credit you give it. Mulholland Dr. IS challenging for most viewers. It's a very visual film, nothing is spelled out for the viewer, but the hints are there in the images. Sense can be made of this picture, meaning can be pieced together. It has something to say, it has a point. Lost Highway did not. As you said, "Parts of the film are going off in every direction. Even the best explanations available remain wholly unsatisfactory." That is the sign of a film that has nothing to say and no clear direction. For you, perhaps a virtue. For me, no thanks. Lost Highway is the minor work of the two.

Spiwak 04-29-2006 11:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kuze
"Emotionally manipulative"? As in "sweet, touching story", maybe. Lynch knows how to create a tense, uncomfortable atmosphere in a movie filled with mystery and sex, and thats perfectly fine. The Elephant Man was, however, exactly the opposite, and Lynch mastered it just as well as he did his other movies, and thats what makes it a great work of art.

Too bad I haven't seen Dune. Is it that bad, Spiwak?

Not necessarily as "sweet touching story" but as "boy I feel like heart strings are being yanked out of my body unnecessarily." I sometimes like that sort of effect, but not in a way that just makes the character more sympathetic. The difference between this and his other films is that most of his others aim for the mind while Elephant Man hit the heart. I'd rather be challenged intellectually than emotionally is all. But it does work in the way it's supposed to, so it's a success in that way.

Oh, and Dune isn't a bad movie compared to most, but because it's a Lynch film it's always going to be viewed in that context, and in that case it doesn't fit in because it doesn't feel like a Lynch movie (whereas Straight Story and Elephant Man, despite their relative normality, do), and is generally thought of as his worst because of this. A little unfair to the movie, I suppose.

As for Lost Highway v. Mulholland Dr., I find it to be a matter of preference. Lost Highway is a brilliant Surrealist film, while Mulholland Dr., while displaying some Surreal qualities, is actually too structured to be so. Lost Highway, from what I could figure after watching, doesn't try to make a cohesive story in the slightest but mostly lays on the imagery and this could be very appealing for more "artsy-fartsy" viewers, because it does follow the tradition of Bunuel. Mulholland Dr. however is more like a poem or a short story, where everything --the imagery, the structure, the acting--creates a multi-layered story. That's the way I saw it, anyways. I like both, but watching Mulholland Dr. several several times just to piece the puzzle together was for me a more rewarding experience.

Simply put, Mulholland Dr. changed the way I look at film when I first saw it and it's the main reason I've become interested in film both as entertainment and as art.

Once A Villain 04-29-2006 12:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Spiwak
Lost Highway, from what I could figure after watching, doesn't try to make a cohesive story in the slightest but mostly lays on the imagery and this could be very appealing for more "artsy-fartsy" viewers, because it does follow the tradition of Bunuel.

An insult to Bunuel as far as I'm concerned. :P If Lost Highway was the best Lynch was capable of (thank goodness it's not) he wouldn't be worthy of licking dog shit off Bunuel's shoes.

After a brisk nap 04-29-2006 12:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Once A Villain
A film being "challenging" because it makes no sense isn't quite fair and deserves a mere fraction of the credit you give it.

That would be a valid point if Lost Highway made no sense whatsoever. However, there's plenty of meaning in the film.

Although Hollywood has conditioned us to think of film as a storytelling medium, meaning in art is not limited to narrative. Lynch, as a painter, knows that art can speak to us in other ways than through accounts of sequences of events.

That's not to say Lost Highway doesn't have a meaningful plot. Even at first look it tells several stories that are reasonably coherent, even if they may seem fragmentary or incomplete. Look a little closer, and you'll see that there's an overall structure and a secret narrative which makes sense of a lot of what you're seeing.

However, the film is not a mere puzzle which you can solve and then put aside, like Mulholland Dr. Its true meaning remains shrouded in questions, contradictions and caveats. Even if we accept a particular interpretation as "correct", we have to admit discordant elements.

This is an important aspect of how Lynch experiences life, as expressed in his art. "This whole world's wild at heart and weird on top", as he puts it in one of his films. That's why I said Lynch is weird for the sake of being weird for a reason: The inexplicable strangeness of life is one of the main things he's trying to express.

Spiwak, you make a very good point when you call Lynch a surrealist. Lost Highway may not be a surrealist film in the vein of Un chien andalou or some of his own short films, but it definitely fits in well with films like Cet obscur objet du désir, which integrate surreal elements into an otherwise conventional story.

Quote:

Mulholland Dr. IS challenging for most viewers. It's a very visual film, nothing is spelled out for the viewer, but the hints are there in the images. Sense can be made of this picture, meaning can be pieced together.
Mulholland Dr. was challenging for some viewers, but not for anyone who had struggled with Lost Highway. A lot of people were able to decrypt the movie, so it can't have been that difficult. I'm pretty much convinced that if you re-edited Mulholland Dr. in chronological order, it would seem self-evident what's going on. That's why I think it's lightweight and superficial.

Now I quite enjoy a brain workout, and I'm not going to disparage disorientation as valid literary and filmic device, but a puzzle is entertainment, not art. And Mulholland Dr. is very little more than a puzzle. It doesn't have much to say other than "can you figure it out?"

Quote:

It has something to say, it has a point. Lost Highway did not. As you said, "Parts of the film are going off in every direction. Even the best explanations available remain wholly unsatisfactory." That is the sign of a film that has nothing to say and no clear direction. For you, perhaps a virtue. For me, no thanks. Lost Highway is the minor work of the two.
It sounds like you haven't really understood the bits of Lost Highway that are understandable. If you watch it again while keeping in mind that the key is the same as that to Mulholland Dr., maybe you will start to appreciate it.

pinkgothic 04-29-2006 01:03 PM

Hm.

Is this a bad time to say I adore Lost Highway?

Once A Villain 04-29-2006 01:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by After a brisk nap
Although Hollywood has conditioned us to think of film as a storytelling medium, meaning in art is not limited to narrative.

You're not going to get very far attempting to inform me of how Hollywood has "conditioned us". I'm no fan of Hollywood, and some of the very earliest silent films made in countries other than the U.S. also seemed to believe that film works well as a storytelling medium. Obviously art is not limited to narrative, but it would help Lynch's cause in Lost Highway if I hadn't already seen many superior non-narrative films.

Quote:

Originally Posted by After a brisk nap
That's not to say Lost Highway doesn't have a meaningful plot. Even at first look it tells several stories that are reasonably coherent, even if they may seem fragmentary or incomplete. Look a little closer, and you'll see that there's an overall structure and a secret narrative which makes sense of a lot of what you're seeing.

No need to patronize me, I've seen Lost Highway at least thirteen times...I've looked as close as you can look. I guess now would be a good time to mention that I used to think Lost Highway was a great movie in my teens, I just don't anymore (perhaps because Mulholland is so much better). It has gone the way of The Frighteners, Total Recall, and Army of Darkness for me...

Quote:

Originally Posted by After a brisk nap
This is an important aspect of how Lynch experiences life, as expressed in his art. "This whole world's wild at heart and weird on top", as he puts it in one of his films. That's why I said Lynch is weird for the sake of being weird for a reason: The inexplicable strangeness of life is one of the main things he's trying to express.

Well, give me Béla Tarr for this any day of the week. Andrei Tarkovsky perhaps. Maybe a little Fassbinder, or as previously mentioned, Bunuel. Hell, I'd take Fellini too.

Quote:

Originally Posted by After a brisk nap
Mulholland Dr. was challenging for some viewers, but not for anyone who had struggled with Lost Highway.

I would rather be challenged than struggle with something that has no end to the struggle. Trying to make sense out of something even the director didn't seem to understand is pretty much futile.

Quote:

Originally Posted by After a brisk nap
I'm pretty much convinced that if you re-edited Mulholland Dr. in chronological order, it would seem self-evident what's going on. That's why I think it's lightweight and superficial.

Hmmm... While we are at it, can we edit Pulp Fiction into chronological order? Oh wait, I wouldn't want that, nevermind.

Quote:

Originally Posted by After a brisk nap
Now I quite enjoy a brain workout, and I'm not going to disparage disorientation as valid literary and filmic device, but a puzzle is entertainment, not art. And Mulholland Dr. is very little more than a puzzle. It doesn't have much to say other than "can you figure it out?"

Sorry but given the way I view Lost Highway, it almost sounds like you're saying a puzzle with a solution can't be art, while a puzzle with no solution CAN be art.

Quote:

Originally Posted by After a brisk nap
It sounds like you haven't really understood the bits of Lost Highway that are understandable. If you watch it again while keeping in mind that the key is the same as that to Mulholland Dr., maybe you will start to appreciate it.

I understand what is understandable. But I wouldn't mind if more of it was understandable. :D

Spiwak 04-29-2006 02:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Once A Villain
An insult to Bunuel as far as I'm concerned. :P If Lost Highway was the best Lynch was capable of (thank goodness it's not) he wouldn't be worthy of licking dog shit off Bunuel's shoes.

Well I never said it was comparable to Bunuel :P I mean, Bunuel is the Master of Surrealism, as far as I'm concerned. Even before Dali.

kuze 04-29-2006 02:53 PM

Before Dali? I always thought they made Bunuel's first movie together.

After a brisk nap 04-29-2006 02:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Once A Villain
You're not going to get very far attempting to inform me of how Hollywood has "conditioned us". I'm no fan of Hollywood, and some of the very earliest silent films made in countries other than the U.S. also seemed to believe that film works well as a storytelling medium. Obviously art is not limited to narrative, but it would help Lynch's cause in Lost Highway if I hadn't already seen many superior non-narrative films.

It's certainly worth discussing Lost Highway's merit aside from narrative (I don't think it is perfect by any stretch), but it seems like that would require a very different debate than what we've seen so far, with claims that it has no substance, is weird for the sake of being weird, makes no sense, has nothing to say, etc.

Quote:

Well, give me Béla Tarr for this any day of the week. Andrei Tarkovsky perhaps. Maybe a little Fassbinder, or as previously mentioned, Bunuel. Hell, I'd take Fellini too.
Dismissing Lynch as a surrealist, to me, is an awful lot like dismissing him altogether. I guess I expect anyone who admires Lynch to admit that he's a worthwhile surrealist.

Quote:

I would rather be challenged than struggle with something that has no end to the struggle. Trying to make sense out of something even the director didn't seem to understand is pretty much futile.
Don't you think experiencing and appreciating is possible without complete understanding? It seems to me that the great works of art are those that refuse to be summed up with glib explanations.

Quote:

Hmmm... While we are at it, can we edit Pulp Fiction into chronological order? Oh wait, I wouldn't want that, nevermind.
I'm not saying I would want it, artistically. I'd like to have a chronological cut of Mulholland Dr.:

a) To show to people who claim that the movie makes no sense and cannot possibly be understood.
b) As a way to examine it more closely.

Quote:

Sorry but given the way I view Lost Highway, it almost sounds like you're saying a puzzle with a solution can't be art, while a puzzle with no solution CAN be art.
No, I don't think that. For one thing, I don't think Lost Highway is a puzzle with no solution.

What I'm saying is that a puzzle is different from a mystery with no solution. They have to be considered differently (For example, when an enigmatic element is not explained, that is not a flaw, as it would be in a puzzle that left loose ends.) Both are essentially devices, they don't determine the worth of the work by themselves.

However, puzzles do have a tendency to be gimmicky, detracting from whatever other interest the work might hold. This actually isn't, to me, a big problem with Mulholland Dr. My complaint is rather that there isn't much more to the movie than the puzzle of finding the explanation of what's happening in the film.

I enjoy puzzles as well as enigmas. In fact, I'm just reading a whole bunch of mystery novels by Patrick Quentin (pseudonym for, among others, Hugh Wheeler, who in his second career wrote Sweeney Todd and A Little Night Music). But I guess on some level I do feel that questions with no answers are more interesting than questions you can figure out through a little bit of cleverness.

Tell me, would The Trial be a better book if, through close reading, you could figure out who accused Josef K? Would Rashomon be a greater movie if it finally showed us what really happened on that country road? Would Hamlet be a masterpiece if it kept us guessing about Hamlet's true motivations, then revealed them in a twist at the end? Would Picnic at Hanging Rock be improved if we knew what happened to the girls up on that mountain?

Once A Villain 04-29-2006 03:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by After a brisk nap
Dismissing Lynch as a surrealist, to me, is an awful lot like dismissing him altogether. I guess I expect anyone who admires Lynch to admit that he's a worthwhile surrealist.

I honestly don't dismiss Lynch as a surrealist or as a filmmaker in general. I quite like him when he's "on". I do believe he's hit or miss though, and not a single one of his films would be on a Top 200 list of mine until about 160 or so.

Quote:

Originally Posted by After a brisk nap
Don't you think experiencing and appreciating is possible without complete understanding? It seems to me that the great works of art are those that refuse to be summed up with glib explanations.

Of course I agree. One of my favorite movies of all time is Tarkovsky's Mirror, which has the "logic" of dreams and nightmares. I simply don't think that Lost Highway can be defended in such a way. To be fair though, I haven't seen Lost Highway in about 4 or 5 years now. By the way, I think there are also great works of art that are relatively easy to understand. I think, for instance, that Ozu's Tokyo Story is a great work of cinematic art, but it's a very simple story that is easy to understand.

Quote:

Originally Posted by After a brisk nap
However, puzzles do have a tendency to be gimmicky, detracting from whatever other interest the work might hold. This actually isn't, to me, a big problem with Mulholland Dr. My complaint is rather that there isn't much more to the movie than the puzzle of finding the explanation of what's happening in the film.

Well, I see Mulholland Dr. almost entirely as a character piece on Diane (Naomi Watts). So I think there's quite a bit there in addition to the mystery. It's done quite differently than most character studies and indeed I probably prefer other forms of character study, but I enjoyed Mulholland Dr. as a commentary on both her character and mental state.

Quote:

Originally Posted by After a brisk nap
Tell me, would The Trial be a better book if, through close reading, you could figure out who accused Josef K? Would Rashomon be a greater movie if it finally showed us what really happened on that country road? Would Hamlet be a masterpiece if it kept us guessing about Hamlet's true motivations, then revealed them in a twist at the end? Would Picnic at Hanging Rock be improved if we knew what happened to the girls up on that mountain?

First of all, please tell me you like Orson Welles. :P You mentioned The Trial as a novel, but not the Orson Welles film version. Heh. And to answer your question: NO. But those are entirely different films. Of course I loved not ever finding out what happened in Picnic at Hanging Rock...it made the whole experience quite frightening in my opinion. And Rashomon is all about the nature of truth, and revealing what actually happened would destroy the whole thing. Heh. I just don't think Lost Highway is a good comparison with those films, perhaps I need to watch it a 14th time. :D

Spiwak 04-29-2006 04:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kuze
Before Dali? I always thought they made Bunuel's first movie together.

Not chronologically. I mean I prefer Bunuel over Dali.

But yes they did make Un Chien Andalou together.


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