Vern Reviews MULHOLLAND DRIVE… But Which Cut’!

Hey, everyone. “Moriarty” here with some Rumblings From The Lab.

Which version of this movie did he see? He mentions the lesbian sex that dominates the third act, as other reviewers have, but he doesn’t go on and on about how hot it is, as other reviewers have, so does that mean Vern is just a classy guy, or is it possible he saw the original TV pilot?

Either way, AICN’s favorite outlaw has come up with something worth your time, a peek at what David Lynch has been up to…


(includes the spoilers)

First off let me say I feel like a grade-a asshole sitting here Writing a movie review when so many innocent people died here this month and so many more will be dying in other countries soon. But I guess somehow you gotta get back to your life at some point and I’m afraid reviewing movies is about the best I can muster for this world. I speak on behalf of myself only but, let’s face it, even the best film Writers are basically just wasting your time. or at least that’s what the talbackers say about me, and I’m one of the best film Writers in my opinion, so you do the math.

Mulholland Dr.Anyway what I was able to do was see an early screening of Mr. David Lynch’s award winning new picture Mullholland Drive. If you don’t know the background on this one I’ll fill you in. It started out as the pilot for an ABC tv series that was supposed to do to LA what Twin Peaks did to wherever the fuck in Washington Twin Peaks was supposed to be. However when ABC saw the pilot and found out it was not about lawyers or hospitals they decided not to air it. Don’t you like how these tv fucks are willing to give a sitcom development deal to any standup comedian or chef that happens to walk by their office building but they can’t even air something really good from an established artist that they already have in the can? Hooray for hollywood.

Once the whole thing fell through Mr. Lynch decided to go back for two weeks, film a bunch of nonsense and throw it on the end and call it a movie so that he could win top awards at the Cannes film festival for his artistic bravery and werewithal in taking something so low as “tv” and turning it into a “film”.

Now look, I’ve straightened up my life but I may or may not come across a bootleg now and then and therefore I may or may not have actually seen the tv pilot version of this picture. And if I did see it I may have liked it alot. And here is what it may or may not have been about:

A glamorous woman’s limo makes an unexpected stop on Mullholland Drive. The people in the front seat turn around and point guns at the woman. Suddenly, out of the blue, two car loads of joyriding teenagers straight out of Hot Rods To Hell ram into the limo.

The woman manages to escape alive, but she doesn’t remember who she is or why the people were trying to kill her. Or also why she is carrying a purse full of $100 bills and a mysterious key.

Seeking refuge at a random hollywood apartment, she names herself Rita and befriends Betty (Naomi Watts), a goofy aspiring actress who helps her investigate the little shreds of memory she has left.

Also, there is a white trash hitman trying to track down Rita, as well as steal a mysterious black book of names and phone numbers.

Meanwhile Adam, who wears Steven Soderbergh style glasses to signal to the ABC television viewing audience that he is a hot hollywood director, finds his production being interfered with. You see, a shadowy organization of mafia like thugs, midgets and cowboys is forcing him to recast his movie for reasons unknown.

The series no doubt would have gone on for five seasons or so before we were even supposed to understand what was going on here. The setup is great and you really wonder what in fuck is up here.

But if you thought the movie might tie up any of the loose ends, well, forget it. It not only doesn’t address any of these concerns, it completely forgets about them. I’m not even sure Mr. Lynch remembered which movie he was supposed to be adding footage to. The movie version is basically a re-editing of the pilot with a scene or two added here and there and some extra garbage at the end.

I would like to disrespectfully give away what happens at the end, but unfortunately I have no idea what happens, and neither will you. Lynch throws on your typical Lost Highway style random senseless identity switching, your old Eraserhead style meaningless song and dance routines, and a bit of your audience pleasing lesbian sex. This definitely satisfied your David Lynch obsessed nerds at the screening, and that’s probaly who Lynch should be shooting for anyway. The people who will spend years trying to crack what the hell this one was supposed to mean, no matter how many times David Lynch tells them to their faces that it wasn’t supposed to mean jack shit. But as a representative of everybody else in the world all I can say is, whuh?

Don’t get me wrong, if the movie didn’t have to have an ending I woulda loved it. This one shows off everything Mr. Lynch is so good at. The gloomy atmosphere and shadowy surrealist conspiracy somehow fit right into hollywood. There are a number of truly great scenes that fit on their own – two really funny ones involving confrontations with Billy Ray Cyrus, one where the hitman has a fuck of a time doing what seems like an easy kill, and a really scary one where two people discuss a nightmare. Like the Robert Blake scene in Lost Highway that last one really has nothing to do with the rest of the movie and would be better off saving up its money for a while until it can afford to move out into a movie of its own.

Naomi Watts is really good in this picture, mainly because she’s pretty bad. Her character is a complete goofball, coming down from Canada and stumbling around Los Angeles in wide-eyed awe. She is given lines like, “Come on, let’s do it – it’ll be just like in the movies!”, and she says that without irony. She gives these lines the stiff delivery they deserve. But then what’s really brilliant is that later on we see her auditioning for a movie and it turns out that when she’s acting she completely changes, and seems like a real person.

I also like the dude that plays Steven Soderbergh. He reacts to his bizarre situation like a real person. When he is mysteriously made to go meet with a guy named “The Cowboy” at a secret corral, he gives the right combination of amusement, disbelief and fear.

The problem here is that the setup is really pretty traditional. When you got a movie about an amnesiac trying to find out why she was almost killed, why she has a bag of money and why she has a key, I mean come on… you want to find out why. When there is a secret conspiracy to recast a movie the reason why it’s enjoyable is because you wonder why the hell they would go through all this trouble, and you’re waiting for the payoff. When there is a great setpiece about a guy trying to steal a black book of addresses and numbers, you’re gonna want to find out what he needs it for, right? Or at least have
the book be mentioned again?

I admire the outlaw spirit of David Lynch saying fuck you, I’m not going to tell you what you want to know, I’m not going to stoop to “entertaining you” by “storytelling” and “setting up expectations that are delivered upon in a surprising or other fashion” or “making plot twists that make some sort of sense” or “letting you have any clue what the hell is going on” or “making a movie where things happen that make sense on some level.”

See, making a deliberately unsatisfying picture seems, on paper, to be a bold move. My only problem with it is that personally, in the end, I found myself to be not satisfied.

So if you liked Lost Highway, or kind of liked Lost Highway, see this, because it’s the same sort of crap but with a better sense of humor. If you’re obsessed with David Lynch and absolutely adore everything he has ever done, then see this, because you will absolutely adore it and, in my opinion, even obsess over it.

However, if you’re not a big Lynch fan, I recommend watching most of the movie, then getting up to go to the bathroom at some point when it starts to get boring, then get distracted by some sort of reading material, conversation or altercation, never return and never see the end of the movie, always imagining that in the end the threads came together, gave you some idea of what was going on, and at the same time opened up new and more interesting questions for you to ponder at home.

(What really happens is an elderly couple about two inches tall walks out of a box on fast speed, and then it cuts to some heavily made up lady on a stage saying, “Silencio.”)


Oh well.

your friend,


Originally posted at Ain’t-It-Cool-News: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/10336

View the archived Ain’t-It-Cool-News Talkback

  • Sept. 28, 2001, 2:30 a.m. CST

    Only the hot lesbian scenes please

    by Frank Black

    There are some people who don’t care for Lynch’s kind of film making and don’t have the patience to unravel his twisted stories and metaphors, but for the rest of us a new David Lynch movie is like spending a weekend with your dangerous Uncle and staying out all night with “hotties” who would normally have nothing to do with you, consuming every drug available, and then blacking out, only to be haunted for years by that night.

    I love David Lynch. He twists a good yarn and gives us the best mind-f*cks.

    Hot lesbian sex scenes, indeed.

  • Sept. 28, 2001, 6:20 a.m. CST

    Sex Scenes

    by Intangible_One

    If you’d thought about it, you’d realize that there’s no way one could confuse the TV Pilot with the movie. I’ve read the script to the pilot and have seen the finished movie. There’s no way in hell ABC would have permitted the sex scenes in the pilot, regardless of how many 18-34 year old males it would have attracted.

    Truth is, while admittedly hot, these scenes never would have warrented an ‘R’ rating if is was a het couple. So don’t get TOO excited, boys.

  • Sept. 28, 2001, 7:56 a.m. CST

    On the subject of hot lesbian scenes….

    by fullphantom5

    …I’d like to cast my vote in favor of hot lesbian scenes in just about every film. Imagine ‘Remains of the Day’ featuring some ultra-juicy Helena Bonham-Carter carpet munching. Or even a film like Koyanniquatsi with lesbian scenes done at high speed and slow with Phil Glass music in the background? Yes, hot lesbianism can make ANY film watchable, why, even The Phantom Menace….no, no, wait, even then, it wouldnt be watchable.

  • Sept. 28, 2001, 7:59 a.m. CST

    Lost Highway does make sense…

    by kreide2000

    …but not in the way that people want it to. The first thing to concider is that Lost Highway works on a different level than most films. In this respect it’s a lot like Kafka. The conciderations that we would have for a work like The Metamorphosis are the same considerations that we should have for Lost Highway: Lynch is using Metaphor and Personifacation. What trips people up is that these Personifactions can interact with characters in the film, characters whom we concider “real people”, but the world of Lost Highway is not concerned with “the real world” it’s only concerned with the world that it’s created to tell it’s story.

    The Mystery Man remains for most viewers exactly that: a mystery. Everything he does just makes absolutely no sense, but that’s because they’re trying to view him as a “real person”. That’s simply not correct. He’s a personifaction of the troubles in Fred and Renee’s marriage. Once that’s established the fact that he can be in more than one place at the same time makes sense. He can be both at the house and at the party where they’re together, because their marital problems are both at home and at the party, where they’ve taken their problems to by simply being their together.

    A second thing that confuses people is the transformation of Fred into Pete. Here people simply ask the wrong question. They ask: How did Fred turn into Pete? It doesn’t matter how. Like in the Metamorphosis we don’t ask how Gregor Samsa turned into a bug, because that’s not what the story’s about. What it’s about are the results of the transmformation. In Lost Highway this is also true. How Fred turns into Pete is immaterial. What matters is that he screws up the situation a second time, but as a different person Pete.

    Hopefully this has cleared up at least a little bit the mystery surrounding Lost Highway.


  • Sept. 28, 2001, 9:29 a.m. CST

    don’t listen to this guy

    by Krinkle

    He doesn’t get it. That’s plainly obvious from his embarrasing dismissing of the final forty-five minutes, which contains some of the finest and most potent surrealist images ever in an American film. Trust me, this is top-rank Lynch (and what exactly consitutes a David Lynch “nerd?” If you don’t GET something, is necessary to ghettoize all those who claim to GET said thing in some outsider, weirdo community? Are there Shakespeare nerds? Cassavettes nerds? Or just people of refined taste?)

  • Sept. 28, 2001, 10:47 a.m. CST

    The thing that is bugging me

    by fieldingmellish

    David Lynch shoots all his films in the aspect ratio of 2.35. Since Mullohand Drive was a pilot for TV, he probably shot it 1.33. But to make a 90 minute TV pilot into a 150 minute film, he had to go back and shoot new scenes. He would have to shoot these new scenes in 1.33 to fit with the TV scenes, thereby leaving behind his beloved 2.35. If he shot the movie in 1.33 how will they be able to show it in my theater? They would have to only use 50% of the screen, which would be kinda weird. But, on the other hand, maybe Lynch did shoot his TV pilot in 2.35, and ABC would have cut off the sides. Or maybe Lynch shot his TV show in 1.85, a step down for him. If he shot it in 1.85 for widescreen TVs Lynch could have just shot his movie in 1.85. But, all TV shows that broadcast in widescreen for widescreen TVs only carry an aspect ratio of 1.77, like ‘The Sopranos’ or ‘ER’. So did David film his TV show in full frame not knowing that he would have to turn his show into a movie so it would get released? Or maybe he didn’t let ABC have control, and he shot his original scenes in 2.35. That would be best, because David Lynch is a very visual director, and 2.35 is the aspect ratio for that. So, what did he do. I dunno, does anyone know the answer?

  • Sept. 28, 2001, 12:38 p.m. CST


    by Frank Black

    Indeed, sex has been fading from American cinema for some time now, and sadly so. David Lynch still delivers because, “The Straight Story” aside, he isn’t interested in a mainstream audience.

    How much better would “Tomb Raider” have been with a hot lesbian scene?

    It would have been great regardless of how bad the movie was.

    If only someone would make movies like that…

    Oh yeah, someone is.


    Check it out now, thank me later.

  • Sept. 28, 2001, 1:29 p.m. CST

    David Lynch Needs your Help

    by fwwmfight

    Hey all. Help support the inclusion of Deleted Scenes on the upcoming Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me DVD. Lynch has chosen over 1 hour of scenes to be included, but New Line is thinking the costs are too high to do it right, and might release the DVD without them. Check out my website at http://www.geocities.com/fwwmfight for more info.


  • Sept. 28, 2001, 1:51 p.m. CST

    Kreide, you moron

    by Keyser195

    Seriously, I hate people who think that there is a good “explanation” for surreal films. There isn’t one. That’s why it’s surreal.

    As for your little exposition on Lynch’s purpose in making the movie “Lost Highway”, it’s an interesting theory, but trying to compare one of Lynch’s lesser films (of which “Lost Highway” was certainly one) to the writing of Franz Kafka makes you look kind of silly – some of the motifs may be similar, but the effect isn’t the same at all.

    Finally, never, ever, ever, capitalize words like Metaphor and Personification. It makes you look like the pompous, under-education poseur that you obviously must be.

    And, like that, I’m gone…

  • Sept. 28, 2001, 4:19 p.m. CST

    ABC was smart, this show wouldn’t of lasted a month.

    by BigTuna

    It just wouldn’t have done well in the ratings at all. Not enough mass appeal.

  • Sept. 28, 2001, 7:05 p.m. CST

    What they mean by ” mainstream” is…

    by BigTuna

    That it didn’t have any weird story or visuals in it. It was just a nice little true story, very different from Lynch’s other films.

  • Sept. 28, 2001, 9:24 p.m. CST

    I saw BOTH cuts

    by Vern

    Clarification for the moriarty fellow: I saw a tape of the tv pilot a while ago, then I saw the actual movie last week when it was screened in Seattle by Naomi Watts and some joker with a magic cane.

  • Oct. 1, 2001, 12:38 a.m. CST

    highway and straight

    by dolombru

    It’s been a while since i’ve seen lost highway but i thought he kills his girlfriend at the start and spends the rest of the film running from his concience and even trying to re-write his memory , maybe even in his last moments in the chair(if the last scene is literal) or generally ‘in hell’.

    I think the straight story is actually a great success , maybe an easy target for him , though.

    In a disney framework he uses the audiences knowledge of film cliche to expect something – and not deliver. And maybe because of the painfully slow pace i didn’t notice the warm gooey feelings were lynch tampering with my brain.

  • Oct. 1, 2001, 12:19 p.m. CST

    Lynch is the man…

    by Halloween68

    David Lynch is a true original. One of the greatest filmmakers of our or anyone else’s day. He is an inovator and a true film-maker. His films are an artistic expression. He’s not looking to get mass appeal, he’s looking to make inspiring works of art. He’s looking to portray visions that will truelly affect the viewer, whether that be in a good way or a bad way. Hats off to him. He’s the last of a dying breed. I always look forward to his next. But I can’t say I’m not surprised with ABC dropping his pilot… Network tv is only interested in ratings, and they’ll drop you like a hot potato if a Angela Lansbury comes by with a new generation of Murder She Wrote outtakes. It puzzles me why he even bothered to even try to get a deal with ABC. Wasn’t it ABC who screwed him over with Twin Peaks? Or was it CBS? Either way, if you want to introduce anything with more depth than a Mariah Cary video, networks aren’t the way to go. I agree with the previous post-er who suggestion HBO as a possible partner to produce a good suspence thriller, Lynchian style… Either HBO or Showtime. We’re starting to see a lot of these type shows making it on the premo channels.

  • March 26, 2007, 8:04 a.m. CST

    Okay, It’s March 26, 2007, and I finally saw this…

    by tonagan

    What a great film. Unfortunately, there’s no one left to discuss the film with :(

This entry was posted on Friday, September 28th, 2001 at 1:47 am and is filed under AICN, I don't know, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

15 Responses to “Vern Reviews MULHOLLAND DRIVE… But Which Cut’!”

  1. I really liked this film, hub I’m guessing the TV show would have been fucking incredible. At least something came out of it, but the MULLHOLLAND series will have to join Kubrick’s NAPOLEON, Lean’s NOSTROMO or Gilliam’s QUIXOTE.

  2. Vern, I agree with you on 99.99% of your theories and reviews…but I have to disagree here. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I’m surprised your not a fan of Lynch’s more commercial stuff (This, Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks). They all are unique and surreal, which for people that watch as many movies as we do is refreshing. They can be difficult to figure out, but ambiguity (did I spell that right?) works sometimes. And with you being a Kaufman fan (Synechdoche, New York) I’m very surprised you’re not into this. The ending is a bit fucked up, and certainly Blue Velvet is a little bit better, but this is a great movie. Anyway, keep up the good work. Seagalogy for life.

  3. Is this really happening? http://variety.com/2014/tv/news/twin-peaks-revival-to-air-on-showtime-in-2016-1201322329/ Also, David Lynch confirms it on Twitter.

  4. The Criterion Collection’s latest newsletter all but confirmed a release of this with their latest clue


  5. That would be kinda cool if they included the TV pilot version I saw for reference.

  6. Knox Harrington

    May 1st, 2015 at 2:32 am

    Fuck that blue key, man. If someone gave that to me, I would run for the fucking hills.

  7. Has anyone here seen the David Lynch/Werner Herzog collaboration MY SON, MY SON WHAT HAVE YE DONE? I hade it lying on the shelf and I started to watch it. The cast is quite something. Michael Shannon, Willem Defoe, Udo Kier, Brad Dourif and Grace Zabriskie.

  8. Watched this recently, and to David Lynch’s certain dismay, on my iPhone since it’s the most up-to-date gadget I have. I watched it on the new Filmstruck app, which I heartily recommend to everyone here. This is in the Criterion Channel which is an add-on to the app. Altogether it’s 11 bucks but the value for what you’re getting is quite a bit. For MULHOLLAND DRIVE it has all the features that came with last year’s release. Right after finishing, I watched the interview with Lynch and Naomi Watts. His description of how his meditation basically saved the wreckage of what happened with the TV pilot was interesting to me, as well as Watts’ casting process. Even with all that she has done since, this is such a signature role for her still.

    I saw this for the first time years ago on cable, and having really no clue who David Lynch was, I didn’t like it. I saw BLUE VELVET a few years later, and I remember liking it at least more than this. Wasn’t until seeing INLAND EMPIRE and LOST HIGHWAY at the same time is when I kind of sat back and enjoyed the weirdness, that I took it for what it was and started warming up. I’m way behind on TWIN PEAKS, only having seen a little bit of the pilot, but I am looking forward to the new Showtime revival. He has a killer cast lined up, so it would be hard to avoid for me.

  9. I, too, watched this film again for the second time just last week. I think it’s fantastic. So rich. So much to be mined from it. That scene with the mob heavy and his espresso!

  10. And Watts will be in the new TWIN PEAKS next year.

  11. I have never brought myself to slog through TWIN PEAKS, though I keep trying to psych myself up and make it happen. I’m probly due.

  12. Skani: that heavy is played by Angelo Badalamenti, and his brother played by Val Verde’s own Dan Hedaya. This was also the first thing of any note featuring recent tabloid fixture Justin Theroux, who’s done some pretty solid work since (a supporting role on SIX FEET UNDER, the film version of MIAMI VICE, and currently on HBO’s THE LEFTOVERS. also worked with David again in INLAND EMPIRE).

    I found out, that even on a piddly movie-watching device like the iPhone, that the first Winkie’s scene is still terrifying.

  13. Like most of Lynch´s work, even if you don´t register or comprehend FULLY what you are seeing, it somehow seems to make sense in some strange way.

  14. “Dream-like” is a phrase I try to avoid, it’s over-used, but it’s really apt when talking about his stuff. And with regard to at least LOST HIGHWAY and this, there is a dream-like feeling to it where things taken on their own don’t make sense but as part of the whole are less troublesome. There are things at work regarding the subconscious that aren’t as well-rendered as this on film. And that’s his genius.

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