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This week:

Mulholland Drive

Filthy says:
"I'm still creaming my jeans."


That's me getting ready for my new job at the Wheatridge TerrorDome, a haunted house for kids eight to twelve. Yeah, I know what all of you are thinking: Wheatridge? That town's a crackwhore's armpit. It's no slice of heaven on earth like Arvada, but all my fair city offers as a haunted house is that fucking Abundant Life Center's "Hell House" where they make you pay seven bucks to get yelled at by a preacher about being gay or getting an abortion or liking pornography. That's not scary, that's just pathetic.

I'm getting eight bones an hour to make little kids wet their pants. I'm supposed to be the guy who wears the skull mask and black robe and hides in the dark corners of the old, vacant Town Center Mall. I jump out at the kids and scream, or shake a buzzing chainsaw at them. That's sort of dumb, though, because the chainsaw doesn't even have a blade on it. Actually, the whole thing is sort of lame: it's all set up to only scare the kids for the moment. The kids scream and run away, sure, but once they get out of the haunted house they stop wetting themselves and go get ice cream.

And what's the fun in that? Those are cheap scares, a dime a dozen. I think that when parents pay four-and-a-half bucks to get their kids into the TerrorDome, they want their money's worth. They want to send in innocent boys and girls and get back silent, tearful young men and women. And even if my manager Tony thinks he knows how to scare kids and has put together employee instructions and rules, I'm going to go with my guts.

Good scares are like a cold rain, soaking to the bone. They crawl slowly up your spine and lodge in the base of your brain, waiting patiently. And, like the bloody hiccups you can get after trying to drink a pony keg alone, they reappear when you least expect them. A good scare re-emerges every time you hear someone else walking through your house late at night, the cock of a pistol behind you in the woods, or you feel the Harelip slide her leathery hand down your thigh in the dark. In the case of Mulholland Drive, its characters slip into your dreams so that one moment it's beddy-bye as usual--your mother is naked and breastfeeding you while your father is pulling thick tufts of hair out of his mouth--and the next there is a shaky old couple, frantic and screaming, cornering you in a pitch-black, dead-end hallway. Those are the good fucking scares, and that's what I plan on giving these eight-to-twelve-year olds. I will read them choice selections from Tim O'Brien's Vietnam novels, tell them of a regretted life spent drinking cheap beer under fluorescent lights in narrow bars with people who hate them, and sing them Indigo Girl songs. When they are 42 years old, I want them to remember me with a shudder.

If the pretentious fucks in line with me at the artsy-fartsy theater in Denver on Friday night are any indication, there's going to be about as many interpretations of Mulholland Drive as there are individuals. Some people will genuinely try to figure out what it means, and some people will shove a hand up their ass, cradle their chin in the other and then spout a bunch of self-important bullshit that is meant to show that only they are in sync with Director/Writer David Lynch. After all, nothing gets pretentious assholes talking more about how smart they are than the work of someone who actually is.

All I can say is, if the person talking to you about Mulholland Drive is wearing a turtleneck or tells you that David Lynch is "way out there", punch him or her in the face and tell them to go fuck themselves. If the person is normal, just walk away. In fact, you should just walk away from your fucking computer right now because I'm going to talk about this movie and there is no way in the world that what I say will be correct. If you're at work and your boss wants to know why you aren't at your desk, tell him Filthy said it's okay. Go ahead, walk away. Leave. Go see the movie instead and hate it or love for yourself. Me? I loved it.

While Mulholland Drive has a story buried in it, it's not about characters reaching resolutions. It's about Los Angeles, faded, cracked, decaying, half in the waking world and half in sleep. It's about people's expectations from Los Angeles, and what the city actually delivers. It's a place you want to be for the glamour and for the underlying creeping evil. It's a city where people can re-imagine themselves only to end up worse off, and where people can shed their identities as easily as putting on a wig. Where the lazy pricks in Hollywood plant half their movies in Los Angeles because it's all they think they know, this is the only movie I've seen in a too long where the director truly has his own understanding of the city and turns it into a character.

Naomi Watts is a wide-eyed ingenue from Canada who has come to Hollywood to find fame. It's funny to me that David Lynch had to go to Canada to find a naïve character. I guess all the ones in Kansas are junkie hookers by now. Upon arriving at her out-of-town aunt's tony Spanish-plaza apartment, she unexpectedly finds Rita (Laura Harring), naked in the shower. This is exactly what I hope to find when I come home.

Rita isn't her real name. She got amnesia when her limousine was slammed into by a gang of wild teens on Mulholland Drive, just as she was about to be murdered. She stumbled down the hill and into the apartment on sunset, unsure of who she is. Normally, amnesia is the sort of gimmick that indicates the grassfuckers in Hollywood's creative bankruptcy, but Lynch uses it for exactly that reason. It's a device used as a device, created by a character who thinks in Hollywood's terms.

Together, the ingenue and the dark-haired sexpot with the great tits try to unravel the mystery of who Rita is and why she's carrying a purse stuffed with cash and a blue key. Watts takes the lead, pulling Harring along by the hand as they act like I always wanted Nacy Drew and her friends to act: slinking in alleys, slipping through windows, making anonymous phone calls, and--best of all--falling into each other's arms and getting it on. It ain't that cheap bump-and-grind shit that Hollywood peddles as sex. The first lesbain sex scene here is real, funny, fumbly, staggered-breath groping and it's really fucking great. It gave me a boner. They get tangled with a prick director (Justin Theroux looking like a junior version of Bono) who is being forced to cast a lead actress against his will by a midget in a darkened room and a threatening cowboy in a lonely hilltop corral. A man encounters the fear from his nightmare near the dumpster behind a coffee shop, and it nearly kills him. Watts auditions for a movie, is discovered as the great actress she dreams of being, only to reject an opportunity with the prick director because she is loyal to Harring.

As the two girls find clues to who Harring is, we learn that is not the mystery. The mystery is who Watts is: ingenue or hardened Angeleno? Gifted actress or one step from porn? Jilted lover, yes, but jilted by another or the city itself? Reality encroaches on their games, and they are pulled back to who they may be, how they are seen and their own relationships to Los Angeles.

I can tell you all of that without giving away anything because this movie is as thick and tangled as the creeping vines that seem to blanket its Los Angeles. I either forgot or failed to mention another half-dozen plot strands like El Club Silencio where Rebecca Del Rio performs or doesn't perform Roy Orbison's "Crying" or the semi-competent hitman.

I fucking loved this movie because whether I understood it or not, I think I did. And unlike in high school where I thought I understood a God damn book only to have the teacher yell at me for being an idiot, there's nobody who can take away my interpretation. It's a movie, and I can't flunk for liking it for my reasons.

But not everyone will. Here is a partial list of people who won't like Mulholland Drive: anyone who went to see Corky Romano, children, and people who say "when I get home from work I just want to shut off my brain" or "I'm too tired to think" as justification for their own fucking laziness. The brain doesn't wear out or tire, you can't ever be too tired to think, but you can be too fucking lazy to try. And if you like movies that wrap up nicely in two hours with nothing left for you to do but go home and turn on the TV, don't go see this. You don't have to be smart to enjoy it, just willing to do a little work of your own and come to your own conclusions. Hell, you might love to think about shit and still hate this movie. That's still better than just going, "Eww, how weird. I need a mocha latte quick!"

While watching the movie, I thought it was great, then just good, then finally great. It's long in the middle, and Lynch's slow pacing takes a while to get used to. Every now and then the weird shit seems like it's leading nowhere but back into David Lynch's head. Now, two days later, the movie's even better because I've slept through two nights of dreams where the cowboy comes to visit, the old couple scream and reach out at me, the cars crash over and over. It's because Lynch makes everything simultaneously vivid and sleepy. His characters and sets are like the most elaborate colorforms that you can pull out of his tableau and stick into your own dreams.

And this movie is funnier and more entertaining than the shit "comedies" I've been seeing. Lynch knows when he's being weird and he plays it for laughs that are sometimes uneasy and sometimes just goofy. his whole point is not to pound home any message other than entertainment. As Watts wanders through the LA airport, she is open-mouthed in awe at the city, even the cheap banners welcoming her. One scene is of a low-rent hood trying to kill a target, but his every act makes it that much more complicated and involved. It is downright one of the funniest things I've seen this year, ripe for Quentin Tarantino to rip off.

Watts and Harring are outstanding, especially Watts who goes from ingenue to jaded, masturbating washout with ease. Lynch has always made actors both good and bad look like they know what the hell they are doing, even when the movies aren't so good, like Lost Highway. The other characters range from critical to gratuitous bits of Lynch weirdness. Most work, some don't, but they're all individual. And that's another thing that's so fucking great. Lynch takes many images straight from Hollywood's lexicon and then shows them to us refracted by his own ideas. The guy won't be satisfied delivering what we expect. He knows we've been trained by Hollywood's limited vocabulary and lazy use of the same devices as shorthand to explain the setup. He turns it upside down, and while you may recognize a locale or a scene, Mulholland Drive shows it to you in completely different ways. It's a movie that is new all the way through, no cop outs, no "good enoughs" and nobody so fucking afraid you won't get the point that they have to spell it out. Lynch is an artist who doesn't need constant reassurance. He couldn't care less if he's a genius or not. He just knows what he wants to show us.

It's movie fucking magic. Five Fingers and I'm going back, partly because the same theater is showing Ghost World so I can pay for one and sneak into the other.

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