Thursday, November 30, 2006

Lost Highway and The Straight Story

For the two most diametrically opposed entries in David Lynch's filmography, look no further than Lost Highway and The Straight Story. This makes them an interesting combo to watch in one class.

The Straight Story is startlingly normal and touching for a David Lynch movie. And it's rated G. I'll pause for a moment to let that sink in.

We've seen Lynch take on a straightforward story before, in The Elephant Man and (to an certain extent) Dune. But The Elephant Man had a certain macabre element to it that really suited Lynch. And Dune, for all of its problems, was certainly Lynchian with the guy with boils all over his face and the giant sandworms and the fact that it takes place in another universe. But The Straight Story is about a guy who drives his tractor from Iowa to Wisconsin. And that's it. But (like The Elephant Man) it's incredibly touching. And I think it's notable because I think a lot of people don't give Lynch his due because they think his movies are too inaccessible, but this is proof positive that he's an extremely talented director. It's not a David Lynch film in theme, but it is in execution.

On the complete opposite end of the Lynch spectrum, we also watched Lost Highway. I think it's a testament to Lynch's skills as a filmmaker that I was completely intrigued by the film even though I couldn't really make sense of it. A second viewing didn't really clarify things all that much, but I gave up trying to "figure it out" after a while and decided to just go along for the ride. I figure if I just chalk a lot of it up to a dream, it's a lot less frustrating than trying to figure out how Bill Pullman suddenly transformed himself into Balthazar Getty. It felt very similar to Mulholland Drive, although I think I had a slightly better handle on that film. Or maybe not. I don't know. All I know is that Mulholland Drive didn't have a scary-ass Robert Blake in it.

I think my favorite part of the movie was the soundtrack. Lou Reed's version of "This Magic Moment" is pretty much my new favorite song. Lou Reed is just so damn awesome. And no matter how old he gets, he will always be the epitome of cool, as will David Bowie, who was also on the soundtrack.

Oh, and Gary Busey is in Lost Highway. I don't even need to elaborate on that.

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