Inspired by Dave Hicks’ excellent blog, I have decided to write about my favorite film for each year from 1926-2008.
2001: Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch)
One thing people don’t discuss all that much when it comes to David Lynch is his relationship to film noir. When I look at the majority of his work—Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, “Twin Peaks,” Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, Lost Highway, Mulholland Dr. and Inland Empire—as much as anything else, I see influences and traces of noir. Sure, he blends different genres, and sure his films challenge us to reconsider the look, feel and sound of noir, but so many elements of noir are present. And I say this as a compliment. After all, noir is the genre I know best, and it’s probably the one that got me into loving (and making) film in the first place.
I won’t break down and analyze all the noir elements I see in Mulholland Dr., but I will at least make a quick mention of them: The theme of amnesia, a deep relationship to a specific city and locale, a serpentine plot, a non-linear narrative, a femme fatale, a fatalistic tone, obscurity in favor of clarity, elements of crime and an emphasis on the nocturnal.
Mulholland Dr. combines all of Lynch’s talents—mastery of noir, humor and sexiness—into an incredibly powerful and fresh concoction. I love almost all of Lynch’s films, but this one has some of his most memorable characters. It is also one of his more accessible and (relatively) audience-friendly works. As is always the case with Lynch’s films, Mulholland Dr. is both entertaining and smart, and it looks and sounds amazing.
What moviemakers can learn: In my book, Lynch is the single greatest practitioner of sound in the history of cinema. Have two hours to spare? Close your eyes, plug your headphones in and listen to (don’t watch) Mulholland Dr..
Other contenders for 2001: From this year, I really like Catherine Breillat’s Fat Girl and Sean Penn’s The Pledge. I love Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Jacques Rivette’s Va savoir , Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Millennium Mambo and Dover Koshashvili’s Late Marriage. And my closest runner-up is Tsai Ming-liang’s What Time Is It Over There?.
After living in Los Angeles for seven years, Jeffrey Goodman returned to his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana to direct The Last Lullaby. Co-written by the creator of Road to Perdition, and starring Tom Sizemore and Sasha Alexander, The Last Lullaby was filmed entirely in and around Shreveport and financed by 48 local investors. Goodman is now at work raising money for his next feature, Peril.