Wednesday, May 13, 2020

[Roll Your Own Life] The Movies That Made Me (Part 17)


It's no secret that I'm a massive David Lynch fan. I have been since my teens and I first witnessed the wonders of Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks, the latter sending me on an obsessive journey of fandom and decoding for decades to come. I could have picked Blue Velvet, or Mulholland Drive, to add to my list - both of which I love, especially Mulholland Drive. However I thought I'd go a bit left-field and go with my favourite of all the Lynch movies - Lost Highway.

For those of you who haven't seen it (seriously, why not?) it's a tale of a saxophonist Fred Madison (Bill Pullman) who starts getting weird VHS tapes left on his front door. As the days progress, the VHS recordings continue, each showing camcorder footage of his own house, getting closer, until finally entering the house. The last tape shows him murdering his wife, Renee (Patricia Arquette). Fred has no memory of committing the crime, but the evidence is there and he's sentenced to death for her murder.

In the prison cell, he transforms into a completely different person - Pete Dayton (Balthazar Getty), an auto mechanic who does repair work for mobster Mr Eddy, whose mistress, Alice (also played by Patricia Arquette) looks an awful lot like Fred's wife.

Throw into the mix the Mystery Man (Robert Blake) in one of the most unsettling scenes from any movie... Seriously. He goes up to Fred at a party and asks him to call his own house, because he's in it right now. Fred does, while the Mystery Man looks on, smiling. And the Mystery Man answers the phone...

Messed up.

The whole movie loops back on itself, with a final scene that will confuse and intrigue in equal portions. And that's possibly why I love it so much. It's simply mindbending. You can find dozens and dozens of articles and features on Lost Highway, and what it all means. I like to think it's in the same universe as Twin Peaks, with the Mystery Man being another entity from the Black Lodge.

Add to this a score by Angelo Badalamenti, and a soundtrack collaborated with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, and you can see why I love it so much.

I didn't get to see Lost Highway when it came out at the cinema in the UK, I don't think it was on screens for very long, but I remember renting the VHS and loving it, while being equally confused. Like a lot of David Lynch projects, the whole film feels like a dream - a confusing and unsettling dream. Lynch will refuse to explain it, rather letting the audience get what they want from the film. Interpreting it in their own way to mean different things to different people.

What do you think it means?

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