Blu-ray Review: Criterion Takes Another Trip down MULHOLLAND DRIVE
While Mulholland Drive might not be David Lynch's weirdest and least understandable film (I think that title goes to Inland Empire), it's still a film that people continue to dissect and debate, twenty years after its release. It remains one of his most popular and financially succesful films, which says a lot considering the opaqueness of its story. And yet, that very opaqueness is the centre of its allure: to fully understand Mulholland Drive, one would have to lose too much of its beauty and disturbances to your film-viewing soul.
Such is the popularity and importance of Lynch's film, that Criterion has re-released its edition of the film; but this isn't just any re-release, but one that, for many cinephiles, will have them proverbially (or perhaps literally, I don't judge) frothing at the mouth: the inclusion of a 4K UHD disc. With the inclusion of the special features from the previous edition on the Blu ray disc, it's now setting a new standard for home viewing quality.
These sumptuous, erotic, and surreal thriller has become a classic for many reasons. At first, the story of Betty (Naomi Watts), the young actress with starts in ther eyes, and Rita (Laura Harring), the strange amnesiac with whom Betty falls in love as they try to discover Rita's past, is enigmatic and enticing, a modern take on the beauty and pain of Hollywood. And then, when it turns, and Betty becomes Diane and Rita becomes Camila, and the casting of a film, the betrayal of a lover, and a rash decision regretted bring out horrifying creatures behind dumpsters and terrifying elderly Canadians from under beds.
If Los Angeles is the city of dreams, then only someone who loves LA the way that Lynch does, could make a film that taps into its beauty, it viciousness, and the surreality of existence both at its centre and on the margins. The lushness of Mulholland Drive, the dizzying heights of ecstasy and anger expressed in its narrative, the sheer audacity and cruetly of those with power and money, versus the the grunge and despair of those left to rot in the gutter, all combine in this bizarre mosaic which purposefully elludes explanation.
First things first: we will never get a real explanation of what the heck is going on in Mulholland Drive. We may get little teases here and there, but neither Lynch nor anyone else involved with the film is never going to lay it all out. And that's just fine. A bit of mystery is good, and I suspect not even Lynch has a complete idea. It's better left out in the dark corners and behind dumpsters.
The extras are all on the Blu ray disc, and are the same as the 2015 release. The booklet features interviews with Lynch, conducted by Chris Rodley (excerpted from his book), between 1993 and 2005. Lynch talks about what the street means to him, old versus new Los Angeles, the failed televsion show, and how so much of the film are metaphors of his own work and views on the world of film and this city. Filmed interviews with Lynch, Naomi Watts, Laura Herring, and Justin Theroux provide great insight and fun anecdotes to how Lynch works with actors, how he cares for them and at the same time is able to draw out performances, even if he needs to push a little from time to time. It's a treat to have an interview with Johanna Ray, and learn her process; too often casting directors are the unsung heroes of the film world, and it's clear Ray is a cornerstone of Lynch's work. As as producrion designer Jack Fisk and composer Angelo Badalamenti (for the latter, his admission as to why he decided to keep learning piano should provide an understandable laugh).
Highlights of the disc extras are a deleted scene with the police detectives, played by Robert Forster and Brent Briscoe; it perhaps doesn't lend any more insight to the story, but it's nice to see those characters. The on-set footage is a rare treat; showing behind the scenes footage from filming at the diner, and the dinner party when Adam and Camila's engagement is announced, lets us see Lynch in action (he dresses nice, and smokes a lot). It's also a testament (if anyone watching wasn't aware) of how many people it takes to make a film, from sound to make-up to just carrying long cords while jogging beside a moving car.
But the reason for this re-issue, is a new 4K UHD disc; this is stil the digital restoration supervised by Lynch and his director oh photography Peter Deming, but now in ultra high definition. This is the latest, and some would say last, work in quality. It's basically as high definition as the human eye and brain can process. So if you're going to have a film on UHD, it should be something like Mulholland Drive. Watching it on my decent-sized television in the dark, it felt as close as I could get to being in a movie theatre, watching a print that was running through the projector for the first time. The richness of the reds and blues, the depth that comes through in the shots of Los Angeles, of Betty and Rita, and the sound: close your eyes and you would think you were in the theatre with them listening to Rebekah del Rio's beautiful voice, open your eyes and seeing her make-up makes you almost feel her breath.
If you don't have the 2015 release, this is certainly worth the purchase. If you do have it, but you want just that extra quality, it could be worth it. It's never a mistake to have one of Lynch's finest works in your collection.
- David Lynch
- David Lynch
- Naomi Watts
- Laura Harring
- Justin Theroux