Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Mulholland Drive/Swimming Pool |
Actors: Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Justin Theroux, Charlotte Rampling, Charles Dance
Directors: David Lynch, François Ozon
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
An odd pair of films from David Lynch and François Ozon
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 09/01/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Sometimes there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the combinations of movies they come up with in these 2-packs but with "Mullholland Drive" and "Swimming Pool" they came up with a quirky combo. If you do not like David Lynch and those who make movies in that mold then you should know that going in and can just avoid these two. But if you like quirky films that force you to think to figure out what the hell just happened in a movie, then this is a well-suited pair.
"Mulholland Drive" is written and directed by David Lynch and is certainly more style than substance, with Lynch creating his more surrealistic film yet. There might be those who think that this is some sort of film noir because there is a scene where a couple of hard-boiled cops show up and spout film noir type dialogue. But there are bits and pieces of different film genres throughout the film, which is another clue to the tapestry of Lynch's tale. When the second main character in the drama, Betty (Naomi Watts), gets off the plane in Hollywood ready to pursue her quest to become a star, it never dawned on me that there was more to the kindly old couple that wishes her well and drive off in a limosine. Betty moves into an apartment, only to discover Rita, who has apparently suffered amnesia after her near death experiences, taking a shower. Betty is from Canada, so she opts for helping Rita rather than calling the police. The two become friends and more than friends in a couple of the best sex scenes seen in a movie in the last decade (they also serve to underscore how unsexy most sex scenes are in movies today).
"Mulholland Drive" is a movie about Hollywood, or more appropriately the dream of Hollywood. It means something that Rita, who does remember her real name, pulls the one she uses from a movie poster for "Gilda." Betty is the plucky young kids from the sticks who wants to be a star. The unwritten rule about such people is that they would do anything to achieve their dream and in a sense Lynch's film just flips the dream over and looks at the nightmare side of the equation. However, I have no problem with the idea that for many of those who watch this film that "Muholland Drive" will not come close to making sense to them until the second time they see it and that many of those people are not going to make the effort. For those of us who have seen Lynch's other films, most notably "Eraserhead" and "Blue Velvet," we knew going in that was probably going to be necessary. I mean, come on. This is David Lynch people. What did you expect?
As for "Swimming Pool," I would say that it is more sensual than it is erotic, although ultimately the nudity in this film is secondary to the story. Sarah Morton (Charlotte Rampling) is a British writer of crime fiction who apparently find no joy in her writing, her popularity, her publisher, or any the idea that any other writer might be writing something worth reading as well. Everyone is waiting for the next installment about her detective and she in uninspired. So her publisher (Charles Dance) offers her the use of his villa in France as a place where she can retreat and come up with a new book. Once there Sarah explores the house, taking notice of the leaf covered swimming pool in back. She also begins to write, and although we have no idea what she is writing about, Sarah seems productive and happy.
Then Julie (Ludivine Sagnier), the daughter of her publisher shows up as an unexpected guest. Not only because Sarah assumed she would be alone, but because she did not know he had a daughter. If anything, Sarah has been waiting for him to show up so that she can get in a little relaxation with her rest. Instead Julie shows up and violates not only Sarah's privacy but here sense of propriety. Julie tends walk around topless by the pool and apparently shows no sense of discrimination in bringing home men to sleep with. We know Sarah disapproves of such practices, but this does not stop her from watching Julie, whether she is swimming in the villa's pool or making love to some strange man. It then becomes clear that not only is Julie becoming a part of Sarah's novel, but that something is going to happen.
"Swimming Pool" is usually described as being a thriller, but that strikes me as being off the mark. It is more of a mystery, but in a subtle way, which explains why it is difficult to talk about director François Ozon's film without giving away too much. This is the sort of film where you are going to have to go back and at least watch the end of the film again, if not the entire thing from start to finish (just like with "Mulholland Drive"), to make sure you understand what happened. What helped me out in untangling this film was that for most of it I kept asking what Sarah was writing. There was clearly a connection between what was happening and what Sarah was writing, but I kept waiting for Ozon to show us what that was, which, in the end, only goes to show how much I was fooled by this film. In this regard the film ends up being surprising rather than shocking, in keeping with the subtlety and sensuality of the film.
Although they are both quirky films they are certainly odd in decidedly different ways and it will be interesting to see which of these two you end up preferring. The last piece of advice is not to watch them the same week (watching them back to back would do incredibly weird things to your brain).