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Boyhood

Richard Linklater's drama about a young boy growing into manhood is also a film about the fleeting nature of existence.

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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Take Mulholland Dr. to the Lost Highway, Inland Empire exit...

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"I'm there right now": The lost highway goes down Mulholland Drive and through the Inland Empire...

It is possible that many people would not describe David Lynch's movies as "straightforward," but they're really pretty simple to grasp if you think of them as meditations on states of consciousness rather than chronological narratives (or, uh, "straight stories"). They still have beginnings, middles and endings and they take you from one place (or way of seeing) to another. "Inland Empire," for example, is about a Hollywood actress (who may or may not be unfaithful to her husband -- but is that the actress or the Southern gal she's playing or someone else?), a suburban wife married to a former animal handler in a Polish carny, a mistress, a Polish whore... And all of them appear to be aspects of the same woman, played by Laura Dern. Or, perhaps, all these women are aspects of one another: the actress feels like a whore, the wife is also a mistress, the whore is also an actress, the actress's character is having an adulterous affair, and so on and so on.

I think "Lost Highway," "Mulholland Drive" and "Inland Empire" are ("Twin Peaks" aside -- that's in a realm of its own) Lynch's strongest work, and they also feel like extensions of one another. The saxophonist played by Bill Pullman and the mechanic played by Balthazar Getty, the actresses played by Naomi Watts and Laura Harring, the actress played by Laura Dern -- they all seem like variations on similar ideas. ("Mulholland Dr." is basically "Lost Highway" in reverse.)

In Lynch's book "Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity" he describes "Lost Highway," for example, in a way that seems perfectly clear when you watch it:

At the time Barry Gifford and I were writing the script for "Lost Highway," I was sort of obsessed with the O.J. Simpson trial. Barry and I never talked about it this way, but I think the film is somehow related to that.

What struck me about O.J. Simpson was that he was able to smile and laugh. He was able to go golfing with seemingly very few problems about the whole thing. I wondered how, if a person did these deeds, he could go on living. And we found this great psychology term -- "psychogenic fugue" -- describing an event where the mind tricks itself to escape some horror. So, in a way, "Lost Highway" is about that. And the fact that nothing can stay hidden forever.

(The fact that Robert Blake, who appeared as the chilling Mystery Man in that film, was latter tried for the murder of his wife, adds another sinister dimension to the film, or the atmosphere surrounding it.) Dave McCoy, Editor of MSN Movies, has summarized the movie this way: "It's about a guy who kills his wife and is so horrified by what he's done that the only way he can deal with it is to become another person... and a character in a film noir, no less, where women are evil and violence can be easily rationalized."

 

Hey, what more do ya need? A map? Just remember: DON'T YOU EVER F---IN' TAILGATE!!! I'm sorry about that, Pete, but tailgating is one thing I cannot tolerate....

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