Although it had as many detractors as it did admirers, David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive (***1/2) was a surprise addition to the Telluride line-up. Although offbeat auteur David Lynch couldn’t scale the San Jacinto mountains this year, the film fortunately did. Taking Lynch’s unsold TV pilot for ABC, Lynch constructed an entirely new feature film around it shooting ten days of additional, and far more extreme, material. If “Blue Velvet” was a perverse Hardy Boys adventure than Mulholland Drive is a naughty Nancy Drew mystery. Although I didn’t like the film’s enigmatic climax as much as some others as it veers into “Lost Highway”-like incomprehensibility, the film is so filled with striking imagery, a brilliant sound mix that is almost a living presence and a diverse array of bizarre Lynchian oddities and terrific performances that I couldn’t help but be thoroughly captivated by it despite it’s failings. While it’s not as accessible as “Blue Velvet” or “Twin Peaks,” it’s still among the more engaging works of Lynch’s ouvere including the aformentioned “Lost Highway” and “Wild at Heart.” (And for non-Lynch fans, and especially FT publisher Chris Gore, the film boasts the most erotic lesbian scenes in a mainstream film since “The Hunger”) By the end, I couldn’t help but think that I would have preferred to see where Lynch would have gone with it Mulholland Drive as a series and bemoaned the shortsightedness of myopic ABC executives. Ultimately, the constraints of network television may have almost given the show a more powerful subversive quality (and a more coherent narrative) as is evident in the earlier sequences which are clearly drawn from the aborted TV pilot. When Lynch gets to indulge some of his more outlandish impulses in the end, there’s definitely an unfortunate sense of David déjà vu.
Director Guillermo Del Toro was on-hand with the domestic debut of his new horror film, “The Devil’s Backbone (***1/2), a spooky, cerebral ghost story set during the Spanish Civil War. Filled with Del Toro’s trademark horror iconography and stunning cinematography by collaborator Guillermo Navarro, the film was one of Telluride’s most mainstream movies this year, and probably one of its best as well. It was preceded by a brilliant short, “The Cat with Hands,” which just has to be seen to be believed.
As is par for the course at Telluride, the silent films can be expected to be among the best the fest has to offer and this year was no exception. The wonderful Alloy Orchestra, a Boston trio and a Telluride tradition, accompanied “Speedy” (****), an underappreciated gem from the man Kevin Brownlow called the “third genius” (Chaplain and Keaton being the first). “Speedy” will make you reconsider that thesis.
Get the whole festival report in part four of THE 28th ANNUAL TELLURIDE FILM FESTIVAL: POCKETFUL OF MIRACLES>>>