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03/19/2002 - OSCAR?S FOLLIES


Dear Friends,

The Academy Awards are this Sunday. The Oscar pools are already circulating around Hollywood, and I'm sure I'll find my way into one of them. Of course, my best score ever was a 15 - not nearly enough to win when there are, what, 31 categories? Someone always scores around a 20. So I'm under no illusion that I might actually win.

However, just because I can't pick the Oscars doesn't mean I can't air my two most salient opinions about movies this year. (1) GHOST WORLD was robbed in only getting nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. It was, in my not-so-humble opinion, the best movie of the year, and should have landed nominations for best Film, Director, Actress, and Actor. At least. (2) MULHOLLAND DRIVE is the most unwatchable film (and I use the term loosely) ever to receive a nomination (Lynch got one for Best Director).

Now, my first point probably won't get much argument, but I've already aired out the second point and been told, among other things, that "[I] obviously don't understand filmmaking"; that it is "Lynch's masterpiece"; and that "[it] is a perfect film."

Luckily, I have a column on the internet with which to respond. Here's how unwatchable MULHOLLAND DRIVE was to me: after 75 minutes, I was so unbelievably bored that I actually looked at my watch for 22 straight minutes. Twenty-two minutes, I watched the second hand going around, trying to force it around faster. I checked in again with the movie, then found it so loathsome that I then proceeded to count and visualize the numbers 1 to 250 (try it sometime - you have to be pretty damn bored). To those of you who say that I missed the film, believe me when I say that the first 75 minutes told me enough. I mean, I was so bored by this movie that, heterosexual male I am, I couldn't even enjoy the sight of a couple of naked women up on screen in the whole lesbian love scene.

The one and only reason I managed to stay in the theater is that I was in the middle of the row, surrounded by friends I had dragged to the theater on both sides. If I would have left, they would have hunted me down and forced me to sit through it again. I'm not sure I'd survive it. Afterwards, all ten of them gave me dirty looks and told me to lead the charge out of the theater next time. So I know I'm not alone in my opinion here. (Not that being alone in my opinion would stop me from having it, of course.)

To those who thought this was some kind of intellectual masterpiece, please watch it again. I submit that what you will see is an incomprehensible story told (or, really, muddled) in fragments that most often resembled overwrought student films. To top it off, the ending basically says the whole exercise didn't matter, and didn't happen because - palm smacking to forehead - it was all a dream! Brilliant! Brilliant! That should be part of a story somewhere. Oh wait, it is - in about a million stories, in fact.

People talk about cinema as being better than television, but at least television executives had the good sense to stop MULHOLLAND DRIVE (yes, it was a failed pilot) before it got on the air.

I thought the madness would stop with the film's release. But then the New York Film Critics Society called it the best film of the year. And then Lynch gets nominated for best director! To be fair, the airport scene and the audition scene were terrific. But a few sequences doesn't make a movie. If anyone else had made this beauty, it would have probably had trouble making it into a local film festival.

Of course, now that I've said this, Lynch will win, and we'll get a string of auteurs doing really bad rip-offs of MULHOLLAND DRIVE. Then again, that's a double-negative, so there's a chance they'll be pretty good.

Enjoy the Oscars. Watch them, for goodness sake - it's your business. Oh, and go see GHOST WORLD.

Lynching Oscar,

P.S. Care to tell me how wrong I am about MULHOLLAND DRIVE and why? I'm at EmailGrady@aol.com.


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