Brunette Rita (Laura Elena Harring) wanders Mulholland Drive, dazed and confused after an auto accident. She finds refuge with Betty (Naomi Watts), an aspiring blonde actress who has arrived from Deep River, Ontario, with her innocence intact. The two work together to try to piece together Rita’s story… But nothing is quite what it seems in this rich, disturbing neo-noir from David Lynch, an enigmatic mystery which invites multiple interpretations but which seems to imply these two women are in some ways mirror images… Indeed as the film goes on, it becomes its own mirror.
Films about filmmaking figure prominently in Sight & Sound magazine’s list of the Greatest Films Ever Made: Singin’ in the Rain (#10), Man with a Movie Camera (#9) and Mulholland Dr. (#8) all qualify (as do 8½ and Close-Up). Lynch’s title echoes Billy Wilder’s Hollywood black comedy Sunset Blvd, and his view of the movie business is equally acidic, with Justin Theroux’s auteur losing control of the film within the film to shady power brokers, and Betty’s “innocence” ultimately exposed as either a nostalgic memory or pure fantasy.
Released in 2001, Mulholland Dr was instantly hailed as a classic, and twenty years later it’s the most recent film in Sight & Sound’s top 20.
Sunday’s screening in our PANTHEON series will feature free refreshments and a short introduction by an expert in the field.
Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Justin Theroux, Ann Miller, Robert Forster
Award for Best Director (tied) , Cannes 2001
Sunday September 17
Mary Sweeney, Alain Sarde, Neal Edelstein, Michael Polaire, Tony Krantz
Also in This Series
Runner up in the 2022 Sight & Sound poll of the Greatest Films of All Time (and #1 in 2012) this is Hitchcock's most personal and revealing film, a movie about male neurosis, fetishism and power, with James Stewart and Kim Novak.
Inspired by Herman Melville's Billy Budd, Claire Denis' transfixing Beau Travail is set in East Africa. Sgt Galoup (Denis Lavant) reflects on his time in the French Foreign Legion, and the impact of the handsome Sentain (Gregoire Colin).
Singin' in the Rain
The greatest movie musical ever made, Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly's sublime Hollywood on Hollywood satire is dynamic, romantic, and very funny, with some of the most memorable dance numbers ever shot - including, of course, the legendary title number.
Man with a Movie Camera
Bottomless invention and frenetic, dizzying montage make this city symphony one of cinema’s sharpest, most exciting experiences nearly a century after its release.
Ozu's most celebrated film follows an aging couple as they come to the city and make the rounds of their now grown children. Busy with their own lives, the children have little time for their parents, who are quickly packed off to hot springs in Osaka.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Based on Arthur C Clarke's short story The Sentinel, 2001 redefined the sci-fi genre. With its radical structure, scant dialogue and oblique narrative this was the first film to emulate the philosophical seriousness of writers like Clarke and Dick.
One of the greatest films about film ever made, Federico Fellini's 8½ (Otto e mezzo) turns one man's artistic crisis into a grand epic of the cinema.
Brunette Rita (Laura Elena Harring) wanders Mulholland Drive, dazed and confused after an auto accident. She finds refuge with Betty (Naomi Watts), an aspiring blonde actress who has arrived from Deep River, Ontario, with her innocence intact.
In the Mood for Love
Wong Kar-wai's most popular film is a love story about two neighbours (Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung) who are drawn together by the long absences of their respective spouses.
In Abbas Kiarostami's self-reflexive non-fiction narrative feature, Sabzian, an illiterate film buff who passed himself off as the Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf plays himself in reconstructions of his fraud.
Orson Welles's debut was the most sophisticated movie to come out of the Hollywood studio system to that time, and opened up the creative possibilities of the narrative feature film for generations. For nearly 50 years it was "the best ever made".