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massadvj

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Only One Explanation Possible, 31 August 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

SPOILERS****SPOILERS*****SPOILERS

I have read with much interest all of the interpretations of Mulholland Drive, including the very insightful question and answer session on salon.com. Having seen the movie a second time, I must generally agree with all of salon.com's analysis but for one critical point.

The first two-thirds of the movie do indeed represent Diane's dream, but not a dream she is having while masturbating. The masturbation scene is there to inject one more source of frustration which leads Diane to commit suicide.

The "dream" occurs between the time Diane pulls the trigger and the time she actually dies. It makes a lot more sense that way since the two old folks she "travels" with at the beginning of the dream are the last thing she saw (hallucinated) before she pulled the trigger, so naturally they would be there in a new manifestation at the beginning of the dream.

In the other interpretation, these two show up in the dream out of the blue, and then return as devil hallucinations to hound her into killing herself. This makes less sense to me as it fails to explain what stimulus activated their appearance at the beginning of the dream. I do like the idea that the two could have, in Diane's life, been judges of her jitterbug dancing. In that way, they represent dashed hopes and failed ambition.

The dream is an attempt by Diane to reconcile the failures of her life before she ultimately dies. In real time the entire thing may have taken place in a few seconds, like one's life passing before one's eyes at the moment of death.

This also makes more meaningful the last scene of the movie as the Mexican singer utters the word "silencio," which signifies that Diane's existence has been silenced at the conclusion of her "dream."

END OF SPOILERS*****END OF SPOILERS*****END OF SPOILERS

Mulholland Drive is a very fine offering from David Lynch. I do not, however, think it surpasses Blue Velvet. Time will render his earlier work to be his definitive masterpiece, until or unless he surpasses it, which he has not done yet.

K-PAX (2001)
One Flew Over The Starman's Nest, 2 November 2001

The movie was mildly entertaining but routine, politically correct and uneven. On balance, I'd give it a 6.0 out of ten.

Kevin Spacey offers a pretty good performance but nothing we haven't seen before, and so he looks less multi-dimensional here than in past performances. Bridges is competent but certainly no great shakes in the role. And the acting was the best thing about the film.

The script is a convoluted mess. The only good scene, in my opinion, was the meeting between Prot and the scientists. Most of the rest was postmodern, liberal psychobabble about vegetarianism and nonviolence being so much higher order than the crude ways of us meat-eating barbarians who call ourselves human. The ending was vague, predictable and unsatisfying, except for the fact that I was grateful it was over.

If you want to see a more haunting movie about what it means to be human, see "AI." If you want to see a better Spacey performance see "American Beauty." If you want to see a good movie about the dynamic of a mental institution, see "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." And if you want to see a better alien in America flick, try the old Jeff Bridges "Starman." This one borrows a little from all of those, never finding an identity of its own.

A couple of notes. In the movie there was a character who would not go outside in New York City because of the contaminants in the air. He also wouldn't touch things because of the possibility of skin disease. Did anyone else see the parallels between the guy's paranoia and anthrax? I cringed a little at that. Also, might this have been a better movie had they reverse cast it? Bridges as the alien, Spacey as the psychiatrist? Think about it.

Magnolia (1999)
Ambitious, Audacious and Uneven - Why You Shouldn't Miss It, 30 January 2000
8/10

The problem with the Old Testament is all that original sin business. In Genesis, we find the roots of the philosophical view that human beings are born to be bad. We just can't help it. But that's not the half of it. Our real troubles come after we've committed our inevitable sins, and we must live with the anguish and regret. We wander the planet for the remainder of our days, seeking both redemption and punishment for what we've done.

Such is the state of every character in Magnolia, and that's why a lot of folks aren't going to like it. Anderson dares to take us to the places we'd prefer to keep hidden below the veneers we see in the mirror, and he rubs our noses in the stuff from which we have been hiding. What makes this movie such an astonishing achievement is that he actually dares to do it; unabashedly, unashamedly, and with an audacity that would cause Andy Kauffman to stand up and take notice. It isn't so amazing that he fails, but that he comes so damned close, given the ambition.

Anderson is telling us that our regret is what holds humanity together. It's the one thing that links all of us, and it rains down upon us like, like... well, see the movie.

5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Rent This Movie. It's Corny, But It's Good., 26 July 1999

"Crazy People" is about an advertising executive who goes nuts and starts writing "honest" television commercials, as opposed to the puffery and outright lies we have come to know and expect. Naturally, they lock him up. But, lo and behold, the honest approach actually works, so the agency enlists the help of the entire population of the mental hospital to write ads.

The ads themselves are hilarious, as are some of the scenes. There is one very funny scene in which calloused and savvy advertising execs try to write honest ads, but find they are too jaded.

The film could have done without a subplot involving a romance between Dudley Moore and Daryl Hannah. Other than that, it is definitely worth your time.***

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
"My Life As a Dog" Meets Masterpiece Theater, 26 July 1999

Generally, we associate the term "slice of life" to television commercials, but I can think of no more appropriate term to describe this film about an early-twentieth century Scottish upper class family. The film has the look, feel and pace of an episode of "Masterpiece Theater," with a predictable assortment of eccentric characters, so avoid it if you do not like that sort of thing.

The main plot is about a boy's coming of age, and his trying to make sense of the inconsistencies he discovers between what men say and what they actually do. It is reminiscent of "My Life As a Dog," but nowhere near as powerful.

Irene Jacob as Heloise, the boy's young and attractive aunt, is a magical screen presence, although her performance is uneven. Other reviewers have noted the ambiguity of the Colin Firth character. We are never certain whether to love him or hate him. Personally, I did not find this to be a problem because I think we encounter the same discrepancies with people we meet in real life. The big unanswered question for me was why Heloise was marrying the uncle. Did she love him, and if so where were his redeeming qualities? Was it his money? Then why did she seem so sweet? That was never clear to me.

All in all, "My Life So Far" is an entertaining diversion, marginally worth the price of admission. ***