Shines with Lynch’s idiosyncratic brilliance

Given the troubled production history of Lynch’s latest slice of nightmare noir, it’s nothing short of miraculous that Mulholland Drive is not only being released but shines with the filmmaker’s idiosyncratic brilliance. Mulholland Drive was made as a pilot for a US television series which was cancelled. Subsequently wooed with French money, Lynch junked half the pilot and shot new material for a cinema release.

Although Mulholland Drive is set in the present day (albeit with retro styling), Lynch draws on his fascination with 403 and 505 Hollywood, and in particular its secret history of crime. In the opening sequence, which takes place on the eponymous dark highway, a nameless, glamorous woman (played by former Miss USA Laura Elena Harring) narrowly escapes being murdered by a pair of heavies, via a ‘lucky’ car wreck. She emerges with her memory impaired and stumbles down into the city and into an apartment belonging to the out of town aunt of Betty Elmes (Naomi Watts), a starry- eyed innocent newly arrived in Tinseltown. The intruder plucks a name, Rita, from a poster for the Hayworth film Gilda, and Betty offers to help her rediscover her past.

Meanwhile, brattish young filmmaker Adam Kesher (Justin Theroux) is being threatened by men in suits (who might be studio executives or might be mobsters) into casting a certain actress as the lead in his film. Betty auditions at the studio where Adam works, but he succumbs to the threats and casts a woman named Camilla Rhodes. Thereafter, the proceedings veer into the kind of waking nightmare territory that either flummoxes or delights viewers. The following plot twists are at least as astounding as the central one in Lost Highway.

Once again, Lynch mixes the bizarre and almost laughable with moments of electrifying fear. In one scene, we are introduced to another in the long line of Lynch’s diabolic figures (Twin Peaks’ Killer Bob, Lost Highway’s Mystery Man), Cowboy, a Stetson-wearing fella who meets Adam in a deserted corral and warns him to play ball, or else. In another scene, Betty and Rita visit a midnight vaudeville theatre called Silencio (a ringer for Twin Peak’s Black Lodge), where a singer’s rendition of Roy Orbison’s ‘Crying’ (mimed and in Spanish) induces utter terror in them.

This disconcerting dream-state, somewhere between hilarity and horror, is unique to Lynch. Allow yourself to succumb to both it and the warped world view of one of America’s most visionary filmmakers. (Miles Fielder)

I So eater." recast) fron‘ Fri Sec .‘ez—ztzire. pages 70— 73.

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DRAMA ROCK STAR (15) 105 mins 00

Although Rock Star is based on the life of Tim ‘Fiipper' Owens. the heavy metal fan who became heavy metal god when his beloved Judas Priest offered him the lead vocalist gig, it also bears a striking resemblance to the story of Dirk Diggler, the porn star from Boogie Nights. not least because Mark Wahlberg plays the rising star in both films.

Like big dick Diggler, Wahlberg's long-haired rocker Chris Cole is plucked from obscurity and has fame and fortune thrust upon him. Having already been ousted from his own Pennsylvania-based tribute band Blood Pollution. Cole is given a shot at the big time when British monsters of rock Steel Dragon sack their singer Bobby Beers (Jason Flemyng) because he's gay and ask Cole to replace him. Cole is. of course. ecstatic about the offer and fills Beers' leather pants remarkably well. But living his ultimate fantasy goes to Cole's head. Despite his longtime girlfriend Emily (played by a thoroughly miscast Jennifer Aniston) dumping him, it's not until he realises that all the founding members of Steel Dragon want from him is to be a figurehead that he is brought back down to earth with a bump. At which point he learns a little humility and gets back to being true to himself by becoming a singer- songwriter in the Kurt Cobain mould (complete with brown jumper and unwashed hair).

Lame as an air-guitar solo

Rock Star may have its origins in real life. but making a film about the rock ‘n' roll lifestyle on and off stage and treating it with so much cheesy sincerity is a bad move. Two words: Spinal Tap. That mock-rockumentary ensured that it will be forever impossible to take metal god antics seriously when Wahlberg walls into his microphone. all I can hear is a guitar that ‘goes up to eleven'. In any event. even if Spinal Tap was still just an unpleasant medical procedure. grafting that old chestnut the rags-to- riches tale onto the rock milieu and sanitising it of the sex and drugs is as lame as an air-guitar solo. (Miles Fielder)

I General release from Fri 7 7 Jan.

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