Film review: Atrocious self-indulgent nonsense from David Lynch

Original Poster
Joined: Jun 2002
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I'm reminded of Noel Coward's famous pan, "Longer than Parsifal, but not as funny". The fact that this movie was picked as best of the year by many critics reminds me what an unbelievably bad state the movie industry is in. "Mulholland Drive" was a waste of time and money ( and I only paid $1.50 for the DVD rental )! Naomi Watts is a very good actress; I hope that someday she gets to show it again in a much better movie!
Jun 26, 2002 10:53 PM
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Doug,

Not trying to start a flame war here, but your thread title said "film review". Where is the review? Can you explain in more depth exactly what you didn't like about the film? I admit, I am very much a fan of MD, but I am interested in differing opinions, and I'm not looking to get into a debate in an effort to change your mind, I just would like to know what you didn't like.
Jun 27, 2002 5:24 PM
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Doug - what did you think the movie was about. If I tell you it's in the tradition of Poe's "The Telltale Heart," does that help? It's a story told by an unreliable narrator who is descending into insanity following an act of foul murder. (I guess it's sort of Lady MacBeth too).

I will grant you that Lynch is self-indulgent. He inserts scenes that aren't necessary as (a) red herrings, or (b) because it's his movie, dammit, and he wants to. As far as I can tell, we didn't need the bumbling hitman scene, we didn't need the return visit from Diane's Aunt, and we didn't need the Cowboy waking up Diane at the end of her dream. On the other hand, incomprehensible things do show up in real dreams (if you remember them), and so these sequences lend to the feeling of the first two thirds of the movie being a dream.
Jun 28, 2002 9:54 AM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by doug9732
I'm reminded of Noel Coward's famous pan, "Longer than Parsifal, but not as funny". The fact that this movie was picked as best of the year by many critics reminds me what an unbelievably bad state the movie industry is in. "Mulholland Drive" was a waste of time and money ( and I only paid $1.50 for the DVD rental )! Naomi Watts is a very good actress; I hope that someday she gets to show it again in a much better movie! [/QUOTE]

Gee, that's the most insightful review I've ever read.

:rolleyes:
Jul 3, 2002 7:25 PM
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I like where Doug9732 is coming from. 27Bstroke6, though, has a point about his post not actually being a review. I would like to offer a review. Unfortunately, I walked out after about half an hour because the acting was so utterly execrable. I have acted better and I am the worst thespian of all time. The car crash was pretty good, but the actors seemed to have had their speeches done for them by machines. Maybe I'll rent the movie and watch it with the sound off.
Jul 5, 2002 10:07 PM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Philip Marcuse
I like where Doug9732 is coming from. 27Bstroke6, though, has a point about his post not actually being a review. I would like to offer a review. Unfortunately, I walked out after about half an hour because the acting was so utterly execrable. I have acted better and I am the worst thespian of all time. The car crash was pretty good, but the actors seemed to have had their speeches done for them by machines. Maybe I'll rent the movie and watch it with the sound off. [/QUOTE]



Did you ever wonder if it was for a point? Have you ever seen any other David Lynch Film? Do you believe that acting can be done in different ways such as the Brecht technique, although Lynch does not use this? Did you see the audition scene? Did you understand the film? I suppose I used questions because answers seem to mean nothing to you.
Jul 5, 2002 11:55 PM
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I remember thinking during the first half hour that the acting was lame, especially Betty. But then it got better, especially after the audition scene, and I thought, this is strange, how could the actors improve mid-movie. Now after seeing the movie a few times, I realize that at the opening, the characters are acting in a stilted manner, to match a grade B movie style into which Diane's dream was trying to fit. As the dream becomes more intense, the acting improves, and the acting was fine in the last third of the movie (except where it was supposed to be silly, like the two old people from the plane.
Jul 6, 2002 7:19 AM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Philip Marcuse
I like where Doug9732 is coming from. 27Bstroke6, though, has a point about his post not actually being a review. I would like to offer a review. Unfortunately, I walked out after about half an hour because the acting was so utterly execrable. I have acted better and I am the worst thespian of all time. The car crash was pretty good, but the actors seemed to have had their speeches done for them by machines. Maybe I'll rent the movie and watch it with the sound off. [/QUOTE]

Well, won't you feel kinda foolish when you learn that the "bad acting" was actually purposeful--that Betty was Diane's idealized dream/fantasy projection of herself, and that it tells us a lot about Diane that she would think that this Betty is behaving as Diane imagines an idealized ingenue would. It also helps explain why Diane is unsuccessful in Hollywood, if this is what she imagines acting is supposed to look and sound like.
Jul 6, 2002 7:39 AM
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You scholars have given me something to think about. In the name of "art", I suppose the acting, as it were, could purposefully be bad. On the other hand, to appreciate the "art", I had to sit through the movie. The quality of the performances was really making me squirm and I had to leave. I really have no desire to see it again to verify what you've been talking about. I do know that when I dream and I remember it for a while, that all the action is of normal quality, even if the actions performed are fantastic (like flying).
Jul 7, 2002 8:40 PM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Dan Jardine


Well, won't you feel kinda foolish when you learn that the "bad acting" was actually purposeful--that Betty was Diane's idealized dream/fantasy projection of herself, and that it tells us a lot about Diane that she would think that this Betty is behaving as Diane imagines an idealized ingenue would. It also helps explain why Diane is unsuccessful in Hollywood, if this is what she imagines acting is supposed to look and sound like.
[/QUOTE]
Beautifully and concisely put, Dan

I guess I'm one of those anal types who feels the need to watch a film in its ENTIRETY before I trash any of the elements in it.




Neely
Jul 7, 2002 10:50 PM
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Hey, I hear you can see "Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones" at the discount movie house for $1.50 now. And you even have the chance to see it in its entirety, what a concept!

The Kids are out of school. Was it that you chose to stop watching the movie or that your parents kicked you out of the room because of the nuditiy scenes, Jeesh! (Don't laugh, it happened to me when my dad and I watched what he thought was the family oriented "Blue Velvet") Now I own the Blue Velvet DVD at the discounted price of 17.50!!!

Anyways, I'm back from my trip down the lost highway, where I saw many twin peaks and forest fire(s come walk with me). I liked my new car especially with the plush blue velvet interior. And I often scratched my brow with my pencil's eraserhead as I looked at my map for mulholland drive. I think lynch is getting into my head too much! :eek:
Jul 8, 2002 1:31 PM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Detective McKnight
Hey, I hear you can see "Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones" at the discount movie house for $1.50 now. And you even have the chance to see it in its entirety, what a concept!

The Kids are out of school. Was it that you chose to stop watching the movie or that your parents kicked you out of the room because of the nuditiy scenes, Jeesh! (Don't laugh, it happened to me when my dad and I watched what he thought was the family oriented "Blue Velvet") Now I own the Blue Velvet DVD at the discounted price of 17.50!!!

Anyways, I'm back from my trip down the lost highway, where I saw many twin peaks and forest fire(s come walk with me). I liked my new car especially with the plush blue velvet interior. And I often scratched my brow with my pencil's eraserhead as I looked at my map for mulholland drive. I think lynch is getting into my head too much! :eek:
[/QUOTE]

Welcome back, Detective! Howya been Dune, my friend?

Please tell us all about your trip. Did ya see any Elephant(s), Man? We're Wild at Heart to hear the Straight Story.

Ok, ok, I'll leave quietly. :rolleyes:
Jul 8, 2002 2:32 PM
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I think before a person can really fairly criticize Mulholland Dr. to someone(s) who loves it they should at least have a basic understanding (let alone have seen it) of how it is generally interpretted and the coherent structure that is generally agreed upon (though from seeing it, I don't think a viewer should assume that this structure exists or feel like they have to go looking for it). I think once someone understands these basic elements they are then in a position to fairly criticize the movie as a whole or even just criticize the fact that the movie (or any movie) needs to be intrepretted and analyzed before being fully appreciated (though this opinion about movies stifles the possibility that the format of film can even come close to approaching art). Just my two cents on movie criticism.
Jul 8, 2002 3:46 PM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by tommers
[B]I think before a person can really fairly criticize Mulholland Dr. to someone(s) who loves it they should at least have a basic understanding (let alone have seen it) of how it is generally interpretted and the coherent structure that is generally agreed upon.


Although I agree w/ the above statement, I feel that there is, alas, a paradox which will forever prevents the theoretical scenario which you put forth from ever actually occuring.


NOTE: The following "thesis" need a good bit of refining but I'm pretty sure the gist of what I'm saying is (at its core) valid.


All of us (human beings that is) fall into one of two "camps" so to speak:

We are either principally literal-minded (i.e. relatively "vertical" thinkers)...or we aren't. It's a tautology - there's no middle ground to consider; no possibility of a third option. Those that aren't principally literal-minded we'll call figurative-minded (i.e. relatively "lateral" thinkers). Now this is a tautology - there's no middle ground to fall into; no possibility of a third option.

Literal-minded types tend to be relatively anal-retentive and insist upon complete closure...even if it's forced or artificial. Mystery is threatening to them.

Figurative-minded types on the other hand are not so bound by convention. If things don't wrap up all nice and neat, there's no need to make a fuss about it. Mystery is inviting to them.

Now to illustrate the point I'm laboring to make, consider the difference between a fundamentalist view and a metaphorical view of say, ANY religious "text".

The fundamentalist view is by nature a strict; severely limited to the point of being singular. There is no room for any other interpretation besides the literal (obvious) meaning. METAPHOR is a heretical notion - and an utterly useless/frivalous/meaningless device. A case can be made that a fundamentalist does not actually understand the relevence of symbolic representation, and thus chooses to ignore it in reading a particular "text". THE METAPHORICAL VIEW RESIDES "BEYOND"/"OUTSIDE" THAT OF THE LITERAL.

On the other hand, since you can't get to the symbolic interpretation of any manner of text without first going through the literal (or "base") meaning, A COMPLETE UNDERSTANDING OF THE FUNDAMENTALIST VIEW MUST BE CONTAINED "WITHIN" THE METAPHORICAL.

So, getting back to the actual point of all this, I think it's not altogether far-fetched to draw an analogy between a. literal-minded and b. fgurative-minded persons AND c. loathers and d. lovers of MULHOLLAND DR. With a. corresponding to c. and b. to d.

Yes, there is a literal story being told in MULHOLLAND DR., but because of the (highly) unorthodox manner in which said story is presented, it is almost completely obscured upon the initial viewing. As the relatively literal-minded/vertical thinking individual willl more than likely refuse to deal with the non-linear structure of the film and the overlapping, seemingly contradicting layers of the narrative, he/she is almost compelled to react hostile to it or to ridicule it. The degree to which the more literal-minded person seems to be repelled by the film is (I would wager) in almost direct inverse proportion to the degree which the relatively figurative-minded person is drawn to it.


So, in summing up, I believe that "critics" who dismiss MULHOLLAND DR. are relatively literal-minded in their approach to looking at the world, and in particular - art. This literal-mindedness facillitates a failing to understand it (or wanting to understand it) and consequently appreciate its beautific structure. An understanding of this film requires a willingness to go beyond a strict literal-minded perception of it (which is quite the norm for a substantial number of persons). And in the event that a person proves able to conquer their inhibiting pre-judgments and gain the necessary perspecitive to do so, they will - by definition - have ceased to be pre-dominately literal-minded.

Thus, it (loathing MD) is a symptom of the condition ("literal-mindedness"). It is in my opininon impossible to overcome this condition while still retaining said symption.

Translation: I don't think you can TRULY understand this film and dislike/hate/loathe it; with understanding comes appreciation. And that appreciation manifests itself as "love".


Peace,

Aqueryan
Jul 29, 2002 6:30 PM
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I also think your scenario is poretty accurate. But I think in reality there is a lot of middle ground - people can tend one way or the other. And there are people who can enjoy both open ended movies and closed ones.

MD has enough story to keep the literal minded enctranced (once they figure out what is going on. When MD ended the first time I saw it, I literally said to the screen (at home) "No, don't stop now - I don't understand." But then I watched it again, I picked up the clues, and enjoyed the movie immensely. In fact, it was a challenge, and I (a fairly literal-minded person) love a challenge.

I think one difference for me, however, is in my mind I have had to settle on the one interpretation I like the most. I think more figurative minded people are better able to allow different interpretations of the same scene/speech/event/etc. to float around in their minds. Oh well, to each their own.
Jul 30, 2002 12:44 PM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Bukama
I also think your scenario is poretty accurate. But I think in reality there is a lot of middle ground - people can tend one way or the other. And there are people who can enjoy both open ended movies and closed ones...

[/QUOTE]

Bukama,

There's always an exception to prove the rule, but I'm fairly confident that the middle ground you claim exists is far narrower than you believe.

Point blank: Surrealism is anathema to predominantly literal-minded individuals (almost w/out exception). Such people adhere to a relatively rigid mind-set, that prohibits them from (renders them incapable of) appreciating this particular form of art. Bear in mind that there aren't very many popular artists (especially filmmakers) that can accurately be labeled as surrealists. This is why Lynch and his works proves to be an invaluable measuring device.

I know I may appear either arrogant or naive (depending on one's perspective) in maintaining that people can be divided neatly into two categories, but I strongly believe this to be the case.

If there are predominately literal-minded individuals that appreciate surrealism, than I'd be willing to wager that these exceptions are really "latent" figurative-minded persons.

NOTE: I feel it's necessary to qualify my useage of the term "figuratve-minded". I subscribe to the notion that a "figurative" mindset is an expansion beyond the limits of a "literal" mindset. It's a more evolved way of thinking. it's analagous to the difference between three-dimensional representation and two-dimensional representation. They are inherently unequal dispositions. To illustrate this point, consider the idea that the physical universe is LITERALLY a metaphor for spiritual reality/value(s). A literal-minded individual can make sense of these words, but can they truly grasp the significance of the concept...without adopting a figurative mindset?

Apologies for turning this particular thread into a philosophical/spiritual discourse (if that's not your bag) but I find Lynch's ART to be so profoundly beautiful that one could make a compelling case for it being "divinely inspired" (I say this only half-jokingly). And as beauty IS truth (and vice versa)...

P.S. Have you seen Linklater's WAKING LIFE?


Peace,
Jul 31, 2002 3:44 PM
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Aqueryan,

I like your theory, but I have to agree with Bukama that there are people in the middle ground. Most people who know me would say that I am fairly literal-minded and anal retentive, and yet MD is one of my favorite films ever, along with other open-ended/open to multiple interpretations like Fight Club, Brazil and Magnolia. In fact I have a preference for these types of films over the more literal ones.

If you met me, you would probably consider me a fundamentalist with regard to spiritual matters, but I for one have never met a fundamentalist which fits your definition. For example, Jesus said "I am the door" (John 10:9), but I don't know any sane Christian who actually thinks that Jesus believed himself to be a literal door. I realize perhaps you're overstating your case to make a point, but to say that literal-minded people don't understand or can't recognize metaphor is going a bit far.

I think you're trying too hard to see everything (or should I say everyone) as either white or black. Many would say that the desire to avoid grays and only see white and black is indicative of a closed, "literal" mind.;)

Again, I really do like your thoughts, and I would certainly agree that most people tend towards one or the other.
Jul 31, 2002 5:05 PM
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Maybe all the midle-ground people hang out at RT.

I would agree that almost all people who hate MD (and didn't like Twin Peaks) are probably literal-minded folks. There may be some Figurative minded people who didn't like MD because they just didn't think it was done well (there are some figurative minded people who don't like Picasso or Pollack). When you start running through the possible combinations, people are very complex and can have many reasons for liking or not likeing movies. Some people, for example, take offnse if they don't get a movie the first time through. Figurative or literal minded, they just don't like feeling lost in the experience.

But I would agree that the most virulent anti-MD posts seem to come from people who dismiss the movie as a series of unrelated scenes - which is pretty arrogant, if you ask me, since obviously a great deal of thought went into making the movie, and many people were able to find threads of sense throughout.
Jul 31, 2002 9:11 PM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Bukama
Maybe all the midle-ground people hang out at RT.

I would agree that almost all people who hate MD (and didn't like Twin Peaks) are probably literal-minded folks. There may be some Figurative minded people who didn't like MD because they just didn't think it was done well (there are some figurative minded people who don't like Picasso or Pollack). When you start running through the possible combinations, people are very complex and can have many reasons for liking or not likeing movies. Some people, for example, take offnse if they don't get a movie the first time through. Figurative or literal minded, they just don't like feeling lost in the experience.

But I would agree that the most virulent anti-MD posts seem to come from people who dismiss the movie as a series of unrelated scenes - which is pretty arrogant, if you ask me, since obviously a great deal of thought went into making the movie, and many people were able to find threads of sense throughout.
[/QUOTE]

I totally agree. I notice that MD can arouse some real hatred from those who trash it. Now, I find that interesting. If it was so bad, then indifference would be more of an insult. I loathed Eraserhead the one and only time I ever saw it. BUT I had instant respect for a director that could create something that visually repulsive and that got me that upset (I was 20 at the time and not as detached about images as I am now having seen 100s, possibly 1000s, of films since them). I wasn't hooked on Lynch after that, but I definitely thought he was an artist to be reckoned with. It sure never stopped me from watching his movies or writing him off as a director, although he has used some lame actors on occasion (Nick Cage) in his films.

This reminds me of how a few years back a lot of people felt a lot of hatred towards Cronenberg's Crash. I couldn't figure out what the big deal was. I saw people walk out of the theater! I found it amusing and absurd. And sat through the whole thing. However, I can barely stand to see more than one minute of the lame, 3-hour-long solipsistic piece of cinematic trash Titanic, the highest grossing movie of all time...
Aug 1, 2002 6:13 PM
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Can you use the words 'atrocious' and 'self-indulgent' in the same sentence without turning into an atrocious and self-indulgent person?
Mar 18, 2003 11:38 PM
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