Film Crit Hulk Smash: HULK VS. THE GENIUS OF MULHOLLAND DRIVE

Hulk takes on Lynch.

DAVID LYNCH IS ONE OF HULK'S FAVORITE FILMMAKERS.

THIS MAY SOUND STRANGE TO A PORTION OF HULK'S READERS BECAUSE HULK TEND TO GO ON AND ON ABOUT THINGS LIKE THE POWER OF CONVENTIONAL DRAMA, STORYTELLING 101 AND HOW TO MAKE A GOOD ACTION SCENE... AND DAVID LYNCH SEEMS ABOUT AS FAR AWAY FROM THAT STUFF AS POSSIBLE. BUT HULK THINK HE'S JUST THE BEES' KNEES.

THERE IS A POPULAR CONCEPTION THAT DAVID LYNCH JUST THINKS UP WEIRD SHIT AND PUTS IT IN HIS MOVIES. THERE IS ALSO A (FAR WORSE) POPULAR CONCEPTION THAT PEOPLE WHO LIKE HIS MOVIES EMBRACE THIS RANDOM WEIRD SHIT AS SOME SORT OF PRETENTIOUS RUSE TO SEEM SMART... IF YOU THINK EITHER OF THESE THINGS THEN HULK HEARTILY ENCOURAGE YOU TO KEEP READING. HOPEFULLY YOU WILL GET A CHANCE TO SEE WHAT LYNCH IS ALL ABOUT.

THE FIRST PROBLEM IN PROVING THAT DAVID LYNCH ISN'T JUST DICKING US AROUND IS THE FACT THAT HE ACTUALLY PROPAGATES THIS "MY MOVIES ARE JUST WEIRD SHIT I THINK OF!" CONCEPTION HIMSELF. HE OFTEN TALKS ABOUT THE MOST STRANGE METHODS OF INSPIRATION AND EXTRAPOLATION. BUT THIS IS JUST BECAUSE HE NEVER, EVER WANTS TO DIVULGE HIS INTENTION. THIS SERVES THE VERY IMPORTANT PURPOSE OF LETTING HIS FILMS' INTERPRETATIONS "LIVE FOREVER" SO TO SPEAK. IT GREATLY ENCOURAGE DISCOURSE AND AFFECTATION. IT EVEN ALLOWS HULKS TO WRITE COLUMNS ABOUT IT! AND WHEN IT COMES DOWN TO IT, HE JUST WOULD NEVER DO SOMETHING SO REDUCTIVE AS TO SAY "THIS IS WHAT I ACTUALLY MEANT."

BUT THE TRUTH IS THAT DAVID LYNCH, FOR ALL HIS TANGIBLE WEIRDNESS, IS ACTUALLY A PRETTY SMART AND SELF-AWARE FELLOW. ONE WHO IS CLEARLY WELL-VERSED IN PSYCHOLOGY, SYMBOLOGY, DREAM INTERPRETATION AND CRAP LOAD OF SEMIOTICS. HOW DO WE KNOW THIS? WELL, FOR ONE, HE WENT TO PRESTIGIOUS PENN ACADEMY OF FINE ARTS IN PHILADELPHIA AND HULK PRETTY SURE THESE CONCEPTS MIGHT'VE COME UP A FEW TIMES.

BUT FAR MORE IMPORTANTLY, THE STUFF THAT ENDS UP ON SCREEN IS JUST TOO VIBRANT AND SYMBOLICALLY CONCRETE TO IGNORE. THERE IS A THROUGH-LINE OF LOGIC THAT PRESENTS ITSELF IN EARNEST. AND A MOST BASIC UNDERSTANDING OF COMMON LYNCH TROPES LENDS ITSELF ENDLESSLY TO INTERPRETATION... WHICH MEANS, NO,  HIS FILMS ARE MOST DEFINITELY NOT A BUNCH OF WEIRD STUFF UP ON SCREEN.

AND HULK CAN THINK OF NO BETTER WAY TO TRY AND "PROVE IT" THAN WITH HULK'S MAYBE-DEFINITIVE INTERPRETATION OF DAVID LYNCH'S MASTERPIECE MULHOLLAND DRIVE.

LET'S DO THIS.

PART 1 - LYNCHIAN QUALIFIERS

WHAT'S THAT? AN INTERPRETATION OF A FILM THAT IS ABOUT 12 YEARS TOO LATE TO BE RELEVANT OR USEFUL?

SORRY! THE MOVIE IS SO GREAT THAT HULK JUST GONNA DO IT ANYWAY. PLUS HULK NOT REALLY SATISFIED WITH THE OTHER EXPLANATIONS HULK'S READ, SO THIS WILL BE CATHARTIC.

BUT FIRST WE HAVE TO ESTABLISH A FEW THINGS ABOUT HOW BOTH CINEMATIC INTERPRETATION WORKS AS WELL AS THE BRAIN OF DAVID LYNCH.

1) WHEN TALKING ABOUT THE MEANING OF LYNCH MOVIES YOU'RE BASICALLY DIVING HEAD FIRST INTO THE FIELD OF SEMIOTICS, WHICH IS BASICALLY THE INTERPRETATION OF SIGNS, METAPHORS, ANALOGIES, ETC. ALL FOR THE DIRECT PURPOSE OF DEDUCTING A LARGER MEANING. AND SEMIOTICS DICTATES THAT ANY IDEA, IMAGE OR MOMENT IN AN ARTIST'S WORK IS FAIR GAME FOR SAID INTERPRETATION, AS LONG AS THE INTERPRETER UNDERSTANDS IT MAY NOT HAVE BEEN FULLY INTENTIONAL ON THE ARTIST'S PART. BUT THE OTHER IMPORTANT THING ABOUT SEMIOTICS IS IT STILL ASSUMES THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE AUTHOR ANYWAY (BUT HOPEFULLY IN A HUMANE, UNDERSTANDING WAY).

2) SO SEMIOTICS IS NOT TRULY DEFINITIVE, BUT IT IS STILL DEFINITIVE ENOUGH TO HAVE REAL VALUE. DOES THAT MAKE SENSE? THERE IS NO WAY HULK CAN PRESENT THESE IDEAS AS "VALID FACT" (ESPECIALLY WITH LYNCH NOT DIVULGING OF THE HIS INTENT), HULK CAN ONLY PRESENT A CASE. BUT THE IMPORTANT THING IN MAKING A CASE WITH SEMIOTICS IS THAT COLLECTIVE CONTEXT IS THE MOST CRITICAL THING TO USE. IT REQUIRES THAT THE DEDUCTION BOTH MAKES SENSE BASED ON ALL THE EVIDENCE, AND THUS FITS INTO THE CONTEXT OF EVERYTHING ELSE PRESENTED. IT THIS LAST PART THAT RITUALLY DRIVES HULK NUTS WHEN PEOPLE START INTERPRETING ART. HECK, THERE'S 90 MILLION LOST THEORIES OUT THERE THAT ARE BASED ON ONE DETAIL AND GO ON FOR PAGES AND PAGES WITHOUT EVER FITTING IN A LARGER CONTEXT OUTSIDE THE ARGUMENT (LOST "GURU" DOC JENSEN WAS PARTICULARLY HORRIBLE AT THIS). ONE MUST ALWAYS BE CAREFUL NOT TO JUMP OFF THE HANDLE INTO MEANINGLESS EXTRAPOLATION. ONE MUST CONSTANTLY ASK "HOW DOES THIS ALL PIECE TOGETHER?"

3) THE BEST GATEWAY FILM FOR GETTING A GRASP ON THE WORK OF DAVID LYNCH IS DEFINITELY BLUE VELVET. THE FILM REVEALS A WHOLE SERIES OF DUALITIES THAT CAN BE SEEN THROUGHOUT HIS WORK:

A) DAYWORLD/UNDERWORLD - BLUE VELVET MAKES THIS EXPRESSLY CLEAR. ON ONE HAND WE HAVE THE SURFACE OF SUBURBIA. BRIGHT. SHINY. HAPPY. DAVID LYNCH COLORS THIS WORLD WITH AN EQUALLY CREEPY/FUNNY-AS-HELL LENS. EVERYTHING TAKES ON THIS REAL 1950/60'S STYLE. PEOPLE ARE SUPER-BUBBLY TO THE POINT OF CARICATURE. IT'S ALL VERY ROCKWELLIAN ON PURPOSE. BUT THEN LYNCH HAS THE UNDERWORLD. DARK. SEEDY. MACABRE. PROFOUNDLY FUCKED UP. THERE'S SEVERED EARS. GAS MASKS. "DADDY WANTS TO FUCK." HE CLASHES THESE TWO WORLDS IN SHOCKING WAYS AND EXAMINES THE WAY CHARACTERS SHIFT BACK AND FORTH. THE DICHOTOMY BETWEEN THESE TWO "WORLDS" IS THE FUNDAMENTAL THEME OF ALMOST ALL OF HIS WORK. MOST NOTABLY, TWIN PEAKS, WHEREIN A PICTURESQUE TOWN IS POPULATED BY DARK SECRETS. SO AN IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER HERE IS THAT EVEN AT ITS MOST OBTUSE AND STRANGE, LYNCH'S WORK IS OFTEN ABOUT THE MOST BASIC DUALITY OF EVIL AND GOOD WITHIN HUMAN BEINGS. AND THAT'S WHAT MAKES IT ALL THE MORE RESONATE.

B) BLONDES/BRUNETTES - AGAIN A DICHOTOMY. LYNCH IS FASCINATED BY THE HAIR COLOR DYNAMIC AND FREQUENTLY USES IT AS A COMMENT ON "IDENTITY SHIFT." SO OFTEN CHARACTERS TRY TO "FEEL LIKE A NEW PERSON" AND CHANGE BETWEEN THE TWO HAIR COLORS. IT FREQUENTLY TIES RIGHT INTO HIS 50'S/60'S VIBE WITH THE CLASSIC ARCHETYPES OF JACKIE AND MARYLIN. BUT RARELY IS THIS ABOUT TRANSFORMATION FOR GOOD. OFTEN THE SHIFTING OF BLONDE TO BRUNETTE IS A MATTER OF DISPLACEMENT. THEY'RE RUNNING FROM SOMETHING WHETHER IT BE HEARTACHE, THE MUNDANE OR EVEN FROM EVIL ITSELF.

4) DON'T GO NUTS - THERE ARE A LOT OF BULLSHIT INTERPRETATIONS OF LYNCH. HULK TALKIN' TOTALLY NUTS STUFF. WHAT THESE PEOPLE FORGET IS THAT THE CORE OF LYNCHIAN INTERPRETATIONS IS USUALLY PRETTY NORMAL. THERE ARE NO INSANE THEORIES OR CONSPIRACIES AT PLAY. PEOPLE AREN'T SECRETLY ALIENS (EXCEPT WHEN THEY ARE. THANKS TWIN PEAKS!). THERE ARE NOT EXTENSIVE MYTHOLOGIES. THERE ARE OFTEN JUST MANIFESTATIONS OF SOME BASIC HUMAN EMOTIONS AND FEARS. OFTEN THERE'S A DOMINATING THEME WHICH IS THE KEY TO FIGURING EVERYTHING OUT: BEING A TERRIBLE FATHER (ERASERHEAD), THE FATE OF THE SOUL (ELEPHANT MAN), JUVENILE RUSH TO LOVE (WILD AT HEART), INFIDELITY (BLUE VELVET), ABUSE (TWIN PEAKS) AND GUILT (LOST HIGHWAY). THE CONCEPTS AT THE HEART OF THESE STORIES ARE ACHINGLY FAMILIAR. BUT WHAT MAKES THEM SO DISTINCT IS JUST THE EERIE METHOD AND SURFACE THAT LYNCH GIVES TO THEM.

5) A FEW OF YOU MAY NOTE THAT IN THE SUMMARY HULK COMBINES A FEW SCENES TOGETHER NOT IN THE PRECISE ORDER THEY HAPPENED, OR THAT THEY WERE INTERCUT. THIS IS SIMPLY IN THE INTEREST OF STAYING ON TOPIC AND NOT JUST REGURGITATING THE MOVIE'S SCENE ORDER VERBATIM AND RUINING FLOW. HULK HOPE THAT COOL...

6) WHEN IT COMES TO ACTUALLY DISCUSSING MULHOLLAND DRIVE, ONE THING THAT YOU HAVE TO KNOW IS THAT PART OF THE FILM IS ACTUALLY FROM A 2 HOUR PILOT THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO LAUNCH A TV SHOW. THAT FELL THROUGH (TOO WEIRD!) AND SO LYNCH ADDED A FEW SCENES PLUS THE ENTIRE LAST 20 MINUTES OR SO AND TURNED IT INTO A FILM... PEOPLE OFTEN TALK ABOUT THIS FACT LIKE IT WAS SOME KIND OF OBSTACLE, BUT TO HULK IT IS THE LEAST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD. ESPECIALLY GIVEN HULK'S INTERPRETATION IT SHOWS JUST HOW IN CONTOL LYNCH IS REGARDING EVERY BIT OF WHAT WE SEE. IT ALSO FULLY SUPPORTS THE NOTION THAT THE LAST 20 MINUTES WORKS AS A KIND OF "LEGEND" TO FIGURE OUT THE FILM.

SO WITH ALL THOSE QUALIFIERS OUT OF THE WAY, LET'S GO DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE...

PART 2 - THE BARE-BONES REALITY

THE FIRST TWO HOURS OF MULHOLLAND DRIVE IS A DREAM.

... THERE. HULK GOT THAT OUT OF THE WAY IMMEDIATELY.

NOW, WE'RE ALMOST CONDITIONED TO HATE WHEN A FILM PULLS THE "IT WAS ALLLLLL A DREAM!" CARD ON YOU AND THERE'S GOOD REASON FOR IT. SO OFTEN THE DEVICE IS USED AS AN UTTERLY NONSENSICAL, MISLEADING, AUDIENCE-JERKING FAKE-OUT WITH LITTLE TO NO REDEEMING VALUE. SOME EVEN STOOP TO IT WHEN THEY JUST DON'T HAVE AN ENDING.

BUT THAT IS NOT WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH LYNCH. NOT IN THE SLIGHTEST. THIS IS AN EXAMINATION OF THE ENTIRE PROCESSING OF DREAMING ITSELF.

THE OTHER REASON IT DOESN'T FEEL CHEAP LIKE THAT IS BECAUSE HE USES A WHOLE LOT MORE SLIGHT OF HAND IN THE PROCESS (JUST AS ANY TRUE ILLUSIONIST REALLY WOULD). HE WANTS YOU TO EASE INTO THE REALIZATION AND NOT BE JERKED. HE WANTS YOU TO FIND THE TRUTH, NOT BE TOLD IT. BUT LIKE HULK ALLUDED TO BEFORE, THE REAL REASON THE DEVICE WORKS SO DAMN WELL IS BECAUSE LYNCH USES THIS "DREAM" TO SAY FAR MORE ABOUT CHARACTERS THAN HE POSSIBLY COULD IN "REALITY." HE USES THE DREAM TO BRING US SO DEEPLY INTO THE NEEDS, WANTS AND PSYCHE OF THE MAIN CHARACTER THAT IT ENDS UP BEING THE BEST POSSIBLE WAY TO GET A PICTURE OF HER SOUL. AND WHO WOULDN'T WANT THAT FROM THEIR MAIN CHARACTER?

THINK ABOUT THE WORD ITSELF: DREAM. WHAT ARE OUR LIFE DREAMS? WHAT DO WE DREAM ABOUT? WHAT ARE OUR NIGHTMARES? LYNCH USES THE NARRATIVE OF THE FILM TO EXPOSE OUR NEEDS, WANTS AND DESIRES. REMEMBER HOW HULK DEVELOPING CHARACTER TREES IN SCREENWRITING 101 (POINT #10)? LYNCH IS REALLY JUST EXPLORING THE SAME THING IN A ROUNDABOUT WAY. HE WANTS TO GIVE US A PICTURE OF OUR HAUNTED PSYCHES AND SUBCONSCIOUS IDS. AND EVEN THEN, IT HAS LONG BEEN INSINUATED THAT MOVIES ARE DREAMS AND NO ONE IS MORE AWARE OF THAT THAN MR. LYNCH. HE SEEMS TO DELIGHT IN IT. THINK ABOUT HOW OFTEN HE USES DREAM-LIKE AND UNNERVING CINEMATIC LANGUAGE TO REINFORCE THAT IDEA. THERE'S NO BETTER PLACE FOR THAT THAN THE SILVER SCREEN.

BUT IN ACCEPTING THAT THE FIRST TWO HOURS OF THE FILM ARE A DREAM OF THE MAIN CHARACTER, THAT MEANS THE LAST 20 MINUTES ARE "REAL." WELL... THEY DON'T ACTUALLY SEEM REAL BECAUSE THE SCENES ARE PRESENTED OUT OF ORDER IN STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS THOUGHT. ALSO MANY OF THE CHARACTERS ACT IN EXTREME, LURID WAYS. THAT'S BECAUSE THEY ARE EMOTIONAL MEMORIES. THE FACTS PRESENTED IN THESE LAST 20 MINUTES ARE ABSOLUTELY REAL, THEY'RE JUST SHOWN IN THE WAY SHE EXPERIENCED THEM.

"But wait! Why make the ending seem like a dream, when really the first two hours is the actual dream and that is just shot like a (sort of) normal movie?!?!"

GOOD QUESTION PROVERBIAL READER! IF "MOVIES ARE DREAMS" AND REAL-LIFE IS FAR MORE STRANGE THAN FICTION, THAN LYNCH IS JUST FULLY EMBRACING THE CONCEIT. THE REGULAR STORY IS A MOVIE! AND REAL LIFE IS ABSURD! IT'S NOT THAT EXTREME A CONCEPT SO TRUST HULK, IF YOU ACCEPT IT, UNDERSTAND IT AND ROLL WITH IT, THEN THE WHOLE THING WILL MAKE PERFECT SENSE.

SO BEFORE GOING FORWARD, LET'S SUMMARIZE ON A FACTUAL LEVEL EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS IN THIS LAST 20 MINUTE REALITY WHERE EVERYTHING IS REAL (CHRONOLOGICALLY):

***

A WOMAN NAMED DIANE SELWIN (NAOMI WATTS' REAL LIFE CHARACTER NAME) IS AN ACTRESS TRYING TO MAKE IT IN HOLLYWOOD. SHE SEEMS SOMEWHAT ANGRY AND UNHINGED. SHE HAS A BRIEF FLING / FALLS IN LOVE WITH A FAMOUS MOVIE STAR NAMED CAMILLA RHODES (LAURA HARRING'S REAL LIFE CHARACTER). CAMILLA GETS DIANE A FEW JOBS AS AN EXTRA OR WITH BIT PARTS. CAMILLA IS CLEARLY KIND AND AFFECTIONATE TO DIANE, BUT NOT IN LOVE. SHE'S EVEN A LITTLE WORRIED ABOUT HER. DIANE THEN SEES CAMILLA FLIRT WITH FAMOUS HOLLYWOOD DIRECTOR ADAM KESHER (JUSTIN THEROUX).

CAMILLA BREAKS UP WITH DIANE, WHO BECOMES ANGRY, HEART-BROKEN AND DESPERATE. DIANE'S LIFE DESCENDS INTO CRAP. AT SOME POINT IN THIS MISERY SHE APPARENTLY HAS REBOUND RELATIONSHIP THAT ALSO DESCENDS INTO CRAP. SHE SEEMS TO BLAME CAMILLA FOR ALL OF IT. DIANE IS INVITED TO A PARTY FOR CAMILLA AT THE DIRECTOR'S HOUSE ON MULHOLLAND DRIVE. DIANE SHOWS UP AND BRIEFLY FEELS CONNECTED TO CAMILLA, BEFORE ADAM'S PRESENCE RUINS IT. DIANE MAKES AWKWARD CHIT-CHAT WITH COCO WHO IS ADAM'S KIND BUT WEARY MOTHER. BUT WHEN CAMILLA ANNOUNCES HER ENGAGEMENT TO ADAM, SHE UNINTENTIONALLY RUBS IT IN DIANE'S FACE. DIANE STEWS. BUT THEN, SOMETHING EVEN WORSE HAPPENS. A YOUNG, NAMELESS BLONDE GIRL APPEARS AND BEGINS MAKING OUT WITH CAMILLA. BEING DITCHED FOR SOME FAMOUS DIRECTOR IS HUMILIATING, BUT SOMETHING DIANE CAN UNDERSTAND. BUT NOT EVEN GETTING TO BE THE GIRL ON THE SIDE? DIANE RAGES AND SEEMINGLY MAKES A BAD DECISION IN HER HEAD.

NEXT WE SEE DIANE IS IN WINKY'S DINER, HIRING A CONTRACT KILLER (JACOB FROM LOST!) TO KILL CAMILLA. WHILE DOING SO, DIANE OBSERVES A WAITRESS SERVING HER NAMED "BETTY" AND A MAN WATCHING HER FROM THE COUNTER. THE CONTRACT KILLER SAYS WHEN HE RETURNS THIS BRIGHT BLUE KEY TO HER, THE MURDER WILL HAVE BEEN COMMITTED. LATER, DIANE STARES AT THE BLUE KEY ON HER COFFEE TABLE WHICH MEANS THE MURDER HAS BEEN COMMITTED. CAMILLA IS DEAD. THE GUILT HAUNTS HER. SHE IMAGINES CAMILLA COMING BACK TO HER. BUT SHE IS TRAUMATIZED. THE POLICE WANT TO SPEAK WITH HER. HER DEMONS HAUNT HER. IN A HAZE OF GUILT AND FEAR, DIANE TAKES HER OWN LIFE. IN DOING SO, SHE ASCENDS INTO THIS WEIRD GHOSTLY IMAGE, SHINING IN THE LIGHTS OF ADORATION AND STARDOM WITH CAMILLA.

***

GOOD GRAVY, THAT'S SOME GRIM STUFF RIGHT THERE... BUT IT'S THE KIND OF HOLLYWOOD TRAGEDY OF YESTERYEAR THAT LYNCH IS FREQUENTLY OBSESSED WITH. IT IS THE FILM'S REALITY. AND KNOWING THESE FACTS BECOME THE KEY TO FIGURING OUT JUST WHAT IN THE DAMN HELL IS HAPPENING IN THE FIRST TWO HOURS OF THE FILM.

SO WITH THIS DREAM, THE FIRST QUESTION YOU NEED TO ASK YOURSELF IS THIS... WHAT WOULD THE DIANE CHARACTER ACTUALLY DREAM ABOUT? WHAT WOULD BE THE DREAM OF SOMEONE WHO EXPERIENCED ALL THOSE THING? WHO WANTED STARDOM AND ENDED UP KILLING AN EX-LOVER IN A FIT OF JEALOUSY? WHAT WOULD BE THEIR HOPES, FEARS, WANTS AND DESIRES? WHAT KIND OF PSYCHE WOULD THIS PERSON HAVE? WHAT KIND OF LIFE WOULD THEY REALLY WANT?

AND WHEN YOU ASK ALL THOSE QUESTIONS, YOU CAN LOOK AT THE FIRST TWO HOURS OF "THE FILM PROPER" IN SUCH A WAY WHERE SUDDENLY IT ALL MAKES SENSE.

PART 3 - "THE DREAM"

(THIS WAS ORIGINALLY A BIG LONG DESCRIPTION, BUT HULK BROKE THEM DOWN INTO SECTIONS AND LETTER DESIGNATIONS TO HELP IN REFERENCING AND ORGANIZATION.)

SECTION I - ESTABLISHING A MIND AT EASE...

A. - INTRO

SO LET'S START FROM THE BEGINNING. THE FILM BEGINS WITH A PINK BACKGROUND. SWING DANCERS AND SILHOUETTES EMERGE AND START DANCING TO SWING MUSIC. IT IS A BRECHTIAN GESTURE. LYNCH IS NOTING THE ARTIFICE. WE'RE ENTERING "THE WORLD OF SHOWMANSHIP AND CINEMA." WE ARE BEING PREPPED FOR THE FACT THAT WHAT WE ARE ABOUT TO SEE IS NOT REAL.

THE IMAGE BEGINS TO HAVE SOMETHING ELSE APPEAR OVER IT AS ETHEREAL MUSIC PLAYS IN THE BACKGROUND. NAOMI WATTS APPEARS TO US IN BOOKEND IMAGES OF WHAT WE WILL LATER SEE AT THE END. SHE IS GHOSTLY AND BATHED IN LIGHTS AND ADORATION. TO HER SIDES ARE AN ELDERLY COUPLE. WE DON'T REALLY KNOW THIS NOW, BUT THEY ARE HER PARENTAL GUIDANCE FIGURES. THE ONES WHO PROMISE NAOMI WATTS CHARACTER SHE'LL "MAKE IT" AND BE ADORED!

AND WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

FOR THE PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO STILL ROUTINELY CLAIM HULK IS "AN IDIOT" FOR THINKING THAT LYNCH INTENDED THE FIRST TWO HOURS OF THE FILM TO BE A DREAM, WHAT DO WE SEE HAPPEN? WE SEE THE CAMERA FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF SOME UNSEEN CHARACTER, LYING DOWN AND PUTTING THEIR HEAD ON A PILLOW... HULK MEAN COME ON! BUT REALLY THIS SHOT IS FROM PERSPECTIVE OF THE REAL DIANE SELWIN.

SHE IS FALLING ASLEEP.

B. - THE DREAM PROPER BEGINS

IT'S NIGHT. A HAUNTING IMAGE PASSES BY WITH THE STREET SIGN FOR MULHOLLAND DRIVE. WHITE / BLUE FLASHES GO AROUND (THESE WILL BE USED A BUNCH). WHAT IS MULHOLLAND DRIVE TO DIANE SELWIN? WHY IT'S WHERE CAMILLA TRULY LEFT HER BEHIND AND ALL HER WORST FEARS CAME TRUE.

AS THE CREDITS BEGIN WE WATCH A CAR DRIVING UP MULHOLLAND DRIVE ITSELF, WHICH IS A DARK MOUNTAIN ROAD. LAURA HARRING'S CHARACTER IS ON HER WAY TO A PARTY (NOTE: AT FIRST HULK WILL USE "LAURA HARRING" AND "NAOMI WATTS" TO REFER TO THOSE APPEARING ON SCREEN BEFORE WE CLARIFY THEIR "DREAM IDENTITIES").

ANYWHO, THE DRIVERS PULL OVER AND PULL OUT A GUN TO EXECUTE "THE HIT" ON HER (THE VERY ONE THAT IS THE INCEPTION OF THE REAL DIANE SELWIN'S GUILT). ONLY INSTEAD OF BEING KILLED? TWO CARS OF PARTYING TEENAGERS SWERVE AND HIT THEIR CAR. THE DRIVERS ARE KILLED. FATE HAS INTERVENED. THE LAURA HARRING CHARACTER IS SPARED.  THE REAL DIANE HAS DREAMED WHAT SHE WANTED TO HAPPEN. HARRING EMERGES FROM THE WRECK, BLOODIED AND CONFUSED. SHE WANDERS DOWN INTO THE WOODS TOWARD THE LIGHTS OF THE CITY BELOW. SHE WALKS THE STREETS, CONFUSED. WHITE AND BLUE LIGHTS OF CARS GO BY AND FLASH ON HER FACE. SHE FINALLY COLLAPSES IN SOME BUSHES OUTSIDE AN APARTMENT COMPLEX.

MEANWHILE, AT THE ACCIDENT ABOVE, TWO POLICE OFFICERS ARE ALREADY AT THE SCENE (ONE OF THEM IS THE GREAT ROBERT FORSTER!). THE TWO COPS JUST SIT THERE SLACK-JAWED AND MAKE HILARIOUS, OBVIOUS OBSERVATIONS ABOUT WHAT MUST HAVE HAPPENED AT THE ACCIDENT. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

ON ONE LEVEL, THEIR RELATIVE DUMBNESS AND INEPTITUDE IS EXACTLY WHAT THE REAL DIANE SELWIN WOULD WANT TO HAPPEN: A POLICE FORCE THAT WOULD NEVER BE ABLE TO TRACE THE MURDER BACK TO HER. BUT ON ANOTHER LEVEL, THIS IS THE FIRST OF MANY MOMENTS WHERE LYNCH WILL POINT OUT AND MAKE FUN OF THE CONVENTIONS OF MOVIES AND TV SHOWS. THE COPS' DIALOGUE IS SO DAMN PERFUNCTORY AND OBTUSE. A PURE EXPLANATION OF WHAT THE AUDIENCE ALREADY KNOWS, FOR NO OTHER PURPOSE THAN COMING TO THE CONCLUSIONS THEMSELVES AND PLACATING "PLOT." HULK MEAN, LOOK HOW SLOW AND LAMELY THEY TALK. LYNCH IS 100% AWARE OF WHAT THEY'RE DOING HERE AND HE'S HAVING A FUN LITTLE JOKE ON THE NATURE OF EXPOSITORY DIALOGUE.

THE NEXT MORNING, AN OLDER WOMAN (AUNT ROSE) HAILS A CAB, APPARENTLY LEAVING FOR A VACATION, AND LAURA HARRING'S CHARACTER RUNS INSIDE HER NOW VACANT APARTMENT TO HIDE. EVEN THIS IS NOT AN ACCIDENT; SHE IS RUNNING TO THE VERY PLACE IN WHICH THE REAL DIANE'S SUBCONSCIOUS CAN FIND HER.

C. - CONSCIENCE AND GUILT

NEXT, DIANE'S DREAM BRINGS US TO WINKY'S DINER. WE SEE A MAN WE DON'T RECOGNIZE AT FIRST, BUT WHO WILL LATER BE IN THE WINKY'S DINER SCENE IN  "REALITY." HE IS PLAYED BY THE GREAT CHARACTER ACTOR PATRICK FISCHLER. HE IS TALKING TO HIS THERAPIST. WHAT DOES HE SAY? "I JUST WANTED TO COME HERE...THIS WINKY'S...I HAD A DREAM ABOUT THIS PLACE." AND BEGINS TO DESCRIBE THIS SORT OF DAY-NIGHT SCENARIO HAPPENING IN HIS DREAM (WHICH IS NOT A DREAM WITHIN A DREAM, BUT A REFERENCE TO A DREAM WITHIN A DREAM. KEY DIFFERENCE.) HE REMARKS THAT HIS THERAPIST WAS STANDING OVER BY THE COUNTER LOOKING OVER AND HE FELT GUILTY.

BUT THE REAL CONCERN IS THAT THERE IS A VILE MONSTER HIDING OUT BACK. HE CALLS IT THE MOST HORRIBLE THING HE'S EVER SEEN. THE THERAPIST TELLS HIM THAT THE MONSTER IS NOT REAL AND ENCOURAGES HIM TO GO LOOK FOR HIMSELF. THEY GO SILENTLY TOWARD THE BACK, TERRIFIED. THE MUSIC DRONES. WHEN THEY COME TO THE CORNER, A HIDEOUS MONSTER/HOMELESS MAN EMERGES AROUND THE BEND AND SCARES THE SHIT OUT OF HIM. HE COLLAPSES TO THE GROUND CLUTCHING HIS CHEST. THE FILM ITSELF RATTLES.

OKAY. THIS IS ONE SCENE THAT SEEMS A LITTLE HARDER TO UNTANGLE, BUT IT'S ACTUALLY ANOTHER THING THAT'S PRETTY CLEAR. FOR STARTERS, IT IS ONE OF THE MOST VISCERAL AND UNNERVING CINEMATIC MOMENTS HULK HAS EVER SEEN. BUT ON THE CEREBRAL LEVEL IT MAKES SENSE: THE ENTIRE SCENE IS A MANIFESTATION OF REAL-LIFE DIANE'S GUILT. FOR STARTERS, IT TAKES PLACE IN WINKY'S, THE PLACE WHERE SHE HIRED THE CONTRACT KILLER. AND THE MAN WHO HAD THIS DREAM? HE IS THE SAME MAN WHO STARED AT HER FROM THE COUNTER, SEEMINGLY JUDGING HER (EVEN IF HE OBVIOUSLY HAD NO IDEA WHAT SHE WAS DOING). SO HOW DOES DIANE'S DREAM PROCESS HIM? SHE DISPLACES EVERYTHING BY TURNING HIM INTO THE FIXTURE OF GUILT. HE BECOMES THE ONE TALKING TO HIS THERAPIST. HE IS FEARFUL, RUNNING FROM SOMETHING. HE IS A PERSON WHO CANNOT FACE HIS DEMONS (LIKE DIANE) - DEMONS THAT ARE ALL TOO REAL. WE'LL REVISIT THIS ALL IN A BIT, BUT DOESN'T IT MAKE PERFECT SENSE? THE WINKY'S LOCATION IS RETURNED TO TIME AND TIME AGAIN. IT'S THE ANCHOR TO THE REAL-DIANE'S GUILT.

D. - THE POWERS THAT BE

NEXT WE SHIFT TO SOMETHING EVEN WEIRDER. A SERIES OF TELEPHONE CONVERSATIONS MOVE ACROSS THE SCREEN IN WEIRD, DIMLY LIT, FLUORESCENT LOCATIONS. ALL WITH THE SAME MESSAGE: "THE GIRL IS STILL MISSING." NOW THIS COULD HAVE MANY MEANINGS. THE LARGEST CONCERNS HOW THE REAL DIANE IS "MISSING," BUT THIS INFORMATION FIRSTLY SERVES ON A FUNCTIONAL LEVEL TO IMPLY THAT LAURA HARRING'S CHARACTER, SOMEONE OF SEEMING IMPORTANCE, IS STILL UNACCOUNTED FOR AFTER THE ACCIDENT.

SO WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? ON THE SURFACE, THESE PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY THE UNSEEN FORCES BEHIND THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY. BUT THE OPULENT WAY THEY COME ACROSS IS NO ACCIDENT. THEY ARE ALMOST GOD-LIKE POWER FIGURES. THE MAIN ORCHESTRATOR APPEARS TO BE MICHAEL J. ANDERSON, THE LITTLE PERSON ACTOR WITH WHOM LYNCH FREQUENTLY COLLABORATES.  A DWARF AS A MYSTICAL FIGURE? ISN'T THAT A LITTLE CRASS FOR LYNCH? EH, IT'S NOT BELITTLING. LYNCH HAS USED DWARFS AND GIANTS TO RELATIVE PURPOSES AS ALL-KNOWING UNIVERSE POWERS BEFORE. HERE WE HAVE ANOTHER.

BUT RATHER THAN BEING GOD OF THE UNIVERSE, THIS FIGURE IS SIMPLY GOD OF THE MIND. THE REAL-DIANE'S MIND SPECIFICALLY. HE AND HIS EXTENSIONS SEEM TO BE DIANE'S ID. WE'RE TIPPED OFF BY THE BLUE VELET CURTAINS, WHICH HAD A SIMILAR PURPOSE IN LYNCH'S FILM OF THAT SAME NAME. AND IN THE DEEPEST PARTS OF DIANE'S BRAIN WE FIND THESE NONSENSE MACHINATIONS WHICH BOTH HUNT AND AVOID THEIR PURPOSE: WAKING DIANE UP, COMING TO CONSCIOUSNESS AND COMING TO REALIZATION.

BUT THEN EVERYTHING CHANGES...

E. - OUR BEST POSSIBLE SELVES

ENTER "BETTY ELMS," PLAYED BY NAOMI WATTS. THIS IS THE REAL DIANE SELWIN'S DREAM VERSION OF HERSELF. WHILE THE REAL DIANE IS UNHINGED, JADED AND JEALOUS, THIS VERSION OF HERSELF IS NONE OF THOSE THINGS. SHE'S NOT EVEN "DIANE" - SHE'S A FRESH-FACED, UPBEAT KID WHO STILL LOOKS AT LOS ANGELES THROUGH ROSE-COLORED GLASSES. WHY "BETTY?" IT'S THE SIMPLEST AND SADDEST MATTER OF DISPLACEMENT. WHILE AT WINKY'S HIRING CAMILLA'S KILLER, SHE GLANCES UP AT HER WAITRESS' NAME-TAG AND SEES "BETTY." SHE'S SIMPLY "ANYBODY ELSE" - AND DIANE WOULD RATHER HAVE ANYONE ELSE'S IDENTITY THAN HER OWN.

SO BETTY ARRIVES IN L.A. ALONG WITH TWO ELDERLY TRAVELERS WITH WHOM SHE HAD A DELIGHTFUL CONVERSATION ON THE PLANE. (THIS IS THE SAME COUPLE THAT APPEARED IN A GHOSTLY IMAGE WITH HER AT THE BEGINNING OF THE FILM. THIS CONFIRMS THEIR "PARENT-LIKE" GUIDANCE). THEY WISH HER THE BEST WITH AN EERIE DISPLAY OF NICETY. WHEN THEY LEAVE, LYNCH LINGERS ON A SHOT OF THEM IN THE BACK SEAT OF THEIR CAR. THEY HOLD THE CREEPIEST FUCKING SMILES OF ALL TIME AS THEY LOOK AT EACH OTHER AND TOWARD THE CAMERA. WHAT MIGHT ILLICIT A SIMPLE "THE FUCK!?!?!?" IS ALSO ANOTHER DIRECT COMMENTARY. LYNCH IS USING HIS ROCKWELLIAN PALETTE, ARTICULATING THE HORROR THAT IS THIS PUT-ON NICETY OF PEOPLE "MAKING IT" IN THIS TOWN. JUST REMEMBER, WHENEVER LYNCH IS LAYING ON THE NICETIES TO TERRIFYING RESULTS IT IS A DIRECT COMMENTARY ON MISGUIDED OPTIMISM.

SO ANYWAY, BETTY ARRIVES AT HER AUNTS APARTMENT AND MEETS... COCO! IT SEEMS THAT FAMOUS-DIRECTOR ADAM'S MOTHER IS NOW HER LANDLORD IN HER DREAM. THIS MAKES SENSE. COCO WAS NICE AND SOMEWHAT JUDGMENTAL OF HER SON'S RELATIONSHIP WITH CAMILLA. AND IN HER CONVERSATION WITH REAL-DIANE, COCO WAS NICE, BUT STILL PITIED HER. SHE SIMPLY SAW DIANE FOR WHAT SHE WAS. SO WHAT IS COCO'S FATE IN THE DREAM? SHE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ADAM WHATSOEVER. SHE BECOMES THE ROLE-MODEL FIGURE FOR BETTY. SHE GIVES HER GREAT ADVICE AND SUPPORT. SHE SEES BETTY FOR THE WONDERFUL LITTLE SPARK-PLUG SHE IS. AGAIN, IT'S PURE DISPLACEMENT ON THE PART OF THE REAL-LIFE DIANE SELWIN.

IMPORTANT NOTE: IN THIS CONVERSATION BETTY REVEALS THAT SHE'S ARRIVING IN L.A. AUDITION ALREADY IN HAND! HOW NICE!

AND THEN BETTY FINALLY GOES INTO HER AUNTS APARTMENT...

F. - ENTER "RITA"

AND THAT'S WHERE SHE MEETS LAURA HARRING'S CHARACTER. SHE FINDS LAURA FIRST IN THE SHOWER. SHE'S NAKED AND VULNERABLE. THE SCENE IS LITTERED WITH WOMB-LIKE IMAGERY. LAURA HARRING CAN BARELY SPEAK. IT IS CLEAR SHE HAS SOME KIND OF AMNESIA. BETTY LEAVES HER TO GET CLEANED OFF AND DRY. WHILE STANDING IN A TOWEL, LAURA HARRING LOOKS UP AND SEES A POSTER FOR RITA HAYWORTH. SHE EMERGES AND SAYS HER NAME IS "RITA."

NOW WHAT THE HECK HAS HAPPENED HERE?

SO AT THIS POINT WE'VE ESTABLISHED THAT THE LAURA HARRING CHARACTER IS STILL BASED OFF THE REAL CAMILLA RHODES; ONLY BECAUSE THIS IS DIANE'S DREAM, SHE HAS "SEPARATED" HER INTO TWO HALVES. IN THIS AMNESIA VERSION, SHE HAS TAKEN ALL THE THINGS SHE LOVES ABOUT CAMILLA RHODES AND LEFT THEM INTACT. HER BODY. HER KINDNESS. BUT GONE IS THE CAMILLA MONIKER AND TRAPPINGS OF FAME. THERE IS ONLY THIS IDEAL VERSION NAMED "RITA." AND WITH ALL THE WOMB-LIKE IMAGERY INVOLVED WE ARE WITNESSING HER "BIRTH" OF SORTS. AND NOTICE HOW MUCH RITA WILL LOVE AND NEED BETTY. IN THIS MOMENT THERE IS A KIND OF INSTANT CONNECT AND TRUST. AND SINCE THIS IS DIANE'S DREAM, IT IS RITA WHO DEPENDS ON BETTY INSTEAD OF DIANE DEPENDING ON CAMILLA.

BUT AT THE END OF THIS CONVERSATION WE GET THE FIRST OF MANY SIGNIFIERS THAT SOMETHING IS OFF ABOUT THIS WHOLE WORLD. THAT SOMETHING IS OFF ABOUT THE VERY FABRIC OF REALITY. IN FACT, BETTY OUTRIGHT SAYS IT: "I'M FROM DEEP RIVER, ONTARIO (WHICH IS ACTUALLY TRUE FOR DIANE) AND NOW I'M IN THIS DREAM PLACE."

"Wait Hulk! Didn't you say the "Camilla Rhodes" persona was separated? What happened to the bad stuff???"

FOR THAT WE TURN TO THE NEXT SCENE.

G. - ADAM KESHER THE FAMOUS DIRECTOR

WE ARE INTRODUCED TO ADAM KESHER, FAMOUS HOLLYWOOD DIRECTOR CURRENTLY INVOLVED IN A MEETING BECAUSE HIS LEAD ACTRESS (OUR "RITA") HAS GONE MISSING. THEY'RE DISCUSSING THE REPLACEMENT AND THE STUDIO HEADS PROCLAIM THAT THIS NEW WOMAN "CAMILLA RHODES" ABSOLUTELY HAS TO BE HIS CHOICE FOR THE LEAD. WHO IS THE WOMAN IN THE PICTURE? IT'S THE GIRL WHO KISSED THE REAL CAMILLA AT THE PARTY AND EFFECTIVELY "REPLACED" THE REAL DIANE.

SO WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN? IT MEANS THE NAME CAMILLA RHODES HAS BECOME THE EMBODIMENT OF HOLLYWOOD EVIL. THE KIND OF PERSON WHO IS JUST FATED TO STARDOM APROPOS OF NOTHING. THE IN-DREAM "CAMILLA" IS THE OBJECT OF ALL THE REAL-DIANE'S VENOM. SHE'S NOTHING MORE THAN A TALENTLESS HACK WHOSE CAREER IS PROPAGATED BY THE POWERS THAT BE.

BUT WHAT IS ALSO IMPORTANT TO NOTE IS THAT THIS SCENE INITIATES A WHOLE SEQUENCE OF HORRIBLE THINGS THAT HAPPEN TO THE ADAM KESHER CHARACTER (REMEMBER THIS PHRASE FOR LATER: SOMETIMES GOOD THINGS HAPPEN? WELL SOMETIMES BAD THINGS HAPPEN TOO). ADAM IS FURIOUS. THE CHOICES IN HIS FILM ARE BEING TAKEN AWAY FROM HIM. HE STORMS OUT OF THE RIDICULOUS MEETING AND SLAMS A GOLF CLUB INTO THE WINDSHIELD OF THE STUDIO HEAD GUY'S CAR. AND THUS? THE POWERS-THAT-BE DECIDE TO SHUT THE FILM DOWN.

THIS SCENE ALSO HAS WONDERFUL, ON THE NOSE COMMENTARIES ON HOLLYWOOD CULTURE. THE ARRIVING STUDIO BOSS ASKS FOR A CAPPUCCINO. APPARENTLY THERE IS SOME HISTORY WHERE HE HAS NOT ENJOYED THEIR OFFERINGS BEFORE. THE CAPPUCCINO COMES AND HE ALSO ASKS FOR A NAPKIN. HE SIPS THEN HILARIOUSLY SPITS IT OUT. THE ONES ORGANIZING THE MEETING ARE INCREDULOUS THAT ONE OF THE BEST CAPPUCCINOS IN THE WORLD WAS NOT UP TO HIS STANDARDS... SAFE TO SAY LYNCH IS JUST HAVING A LITTLE FUN WITH THE HOLLYWOOD COFFEE MAFIA (AND THIS FROM A MAN WHO LOVES HIS COFFEE).

SO NOW THE DREAM'S ATTENTIONS TURN TO OUR HITMAN (JACOB!). HOW IS HE MANIFESTED IN THE DREAM? FOR ONE, HE'S A BIT OF A PROTO-SURFER DOUCHEBAG TYPE. HE STANDS ACROSS FROM A MAN AND THEY JOKE AT LENGTH ABOUT THE HILARIOUS RANDOMNESS OF CAR ACCIDENT HANDLING "THE JOB" FOR THEM (MEANING THEY THINK "RITA" IS DEAD). BUT AS SOON AS THE HITMAN SETS EYES ON THE GUY'S ADDRESS BOOK, HE SHOOTS HIM IN THE HEAD SO HE CAN TAKE IT (AS THIS IS AN EXTENSION OF HIS MISSION). BUT WHEN THE HITMAN ATTEMPTS TO MAKE THE SHOOTING LOOK LIKE A SUICIDE ATTEMPT, IT SUDDENLY TURNS INTO THIS RIDICULOUS COEN-ESQUE SET-PIECE. THE CIRCUMSTANCES GO ON AND ON AND ON WITH MORE AND MORE PEOPLE SEEING WHAT TRANSPIRED, AND NEEDING TO BE KILLED. IT'S FUCKING HILARIOUS, BUT THE LARGER POINT IS THE HITMAN IS WHOLLY INCOMPETENT IN THE DREAM WORLD. YET ANOTHER THING DIANE WOULD SO DESPERATELY WANT.

READ SECTION II HERE

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