In a surprising twist, LAFCA -- or Los Angeles Film Critics Society -- has named David Lynch's Mulholland Drive as the best film of the decade, followed in order by: There Will Be Blood, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Brokeback Mountain, No Country for Old Men (tied with Zodiac), Yi Yi, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Spirited Away, United 93, Y Tu Mama Tambien, and Sideways.
As someone who has been intrigued by the film since it was released, I'm wildly pleased about the decision. Mulholland Drive has always been this rather unique piece of the cinematic landscape. It should have been a television show, but was morphed into a film that actually worked. To some, it might seem like a misshapen mess of clips -- no more than the product of Lynch's original TV intent. Instead, however, it's this wonderfully postmodern yin and yang that works on a myriad of levels.
I wrote my final university paper on the film, wildly excited by just how perfectly the film fit into theories of identity, the big focus of my studies. The film was a road map of Frederic Jameson's thoughts about the protective wall of gothics and death of the subject, and Laura Elena Harring's Rita literally embodies Lacan's mirror stage as she creates "Rita" in Betty's bathroom. But Mulholland Drive is also such a perfectly morbid look into the Hollywood monster as we all know it -- how we assume the Hollywood dream to be, glossy on the outside, and how it manifests in messy darkness and death.
It seems absolutely incoherent, but only in how it mimics the incoherence of the system itself. The fact that Lynch was able to morph the pilot of a television show into such a perfect embodiment both of his big-screen work and the tarnished Hollywood system is stunning. And it's quite a great surprise to see it receive such love.
Unfortunately, it also reminds us how far Lynch himself has moved away from the cinema of his past. Will we ever be able to swim through Lynchian cinema again?