Surrealism is an artistic relic of centuries gone past. While there are still surrealist artists out there, their work remains unpopular and undistinguished. In filmmaking especially, there are really only two experimental auteurs I would classify as contemporary surrealists. The first is Charlie Kaufman, whose work includes the brilliant “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and the most recent “I’m Thinking of Ending Things.” The second is David Lynch.
Last night, my roommate and I watched “Mulholland Drive.” I hadn’t seen the film in years and I forgot how much I liked it. All of Lynch’s films are experimental, but “Mulholland Drive’s” dreamy depiction of a neo-realist Los Angeles envelops me and questions my own perception of film as a medium. Lynch is a master of his own domain and as a fan, I can’t wait to see what mindfucking reality he brings to life next.
However, I do think the success of Lynch’s films are largely based on the events happening in reality. “Mulholland Drive” was released in October of 2001, a year after Y2K and only a month after the 9/11 attacks. In 1986, the year “Blue Velvet” was released, the world endured both the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster and the Chernobyl explosion. During both 1986 and 2001, audiences clamored for a means of escapsim in which the horrors of the real world were forgotten for 120 minutes. David Lynch provided this then and I think he could provide it now.
I’m presuming that the readers of Metaflix don’t live under a rock and therefore I’ll spare the details. But I think it goes without saying that 2020 was a shitstorm of a year and 2021 hasn’t been much better. We need to escape, and I don’t mean through TikTok trends and YouTube videos. Oh. and defintiely not through films with pandemic storylines. Yikes.
No, we need a David Lynch, mind-melting reality that distracts us from the nightmare of current existence. A reality in which Kyle Maclachlan investigates small town murders, Naomi Watts cries during magic shows – and neither of them wear masks.
However, Lynch has stated that he’s waiting until post-isolation to make a film and while I’m disappointed, it’s probably the safest choice. But until then, here’s my favorite scene from “Mulholland Drive” as a placeholder. Betty deserved that role!