Lead image credit: IMDB
Date: Sometime between 1997 and Present Day
Form: Leftover THC soft gel
Result: Hatred of David Lynch, Temporal anomalies
It is universally acknowledged that a man in quarantine must be in want of consumable content. (After all, one can only re-watch Bridgerton so often on the weak basis that “you’re interested in the period.”). So, it was (‘twas?) that I agreed to watch the cult classic Mulholland Drive while high.
I mean, I didn’t really mean to watch it high. My friend suggested it. And while we have differing tastes, I was excited to watch.
“Nice,” I thought. “A classic!”
Kim Basinger in a femme fatale/“hooker with a heart of gold” role. Murder and mystery in old-timey Hollywood. Something easily digestible.
A film, I rationalized, whose quality could only be enhanced by the presence of a little THC. A Hollywood hit with a healthy high.
Or so I thought.
My first mistake was that the movie I had in mind was L.A. Confidential. Not Mulholland Drive. My second mistake was believing any mind-altering substance would help me understand the mind and work of David Lynch.
As is tradition for me and my friends, Wednesday nights are for movies. Usually, I have some wine as we engage in our little midweek ritual. But I opted for a leftover 5mg THC soft gel because I was (regrettably) doing Dry January.
These nights, admittedly, are not really about the movie. They are an excuse to call one another and clink a virtual glass. Like we used to in the before-times. First, we get some face-to-face time in, and when we’re sick of looking at each other on our small screens, we focus our attention on a bigger screen and consume some content together.
This is where the trouble started. Pressing play seemed more difficult than usual. For anyone that has ever used an Apple TV remote, you know that full control of your faculties is required. But, at this point, fine motor skills had departed me, and I scrolled wildly around the screen, then pressed play before my compatriots were ready. We tried twice more to sync up, but each attempt was futile. Even when they counted down for me, I couldn’t seem to match my impulses to their direction. Eventually, I say “got it!” and, rather than let them know I’m an idiot, I mute my T.V. and (miraculously) turn on my subtitles.
If you want a recap of the movie, I can tell you this: it’s a fever dream. One that, I am sure, is only marginally more comprehensible when not high. It’s got Naomi Watts, sure. But also, plenty of wild and wacky scenes that are eerily uncomfortable and don’t seem (at least by my estimation) to match one another.
In addition, the movie has a low-quality, almost soap-opera look to it. The staging is (probably ingeniously) stilted, and — let me tell you — with tetrahydrocannabinol coursing through my bloodstream, the effect it produces only makes me irrationally angry. I say as much to my friends, who are (incredulously) thoroughly enjoying themselves on the opposite end of the call.
I get it. Who am I to criticize a great auteur? David probably didn’t wish for his masterpiece to be consumed on mute, with tinny, delayed volume broadcasted through a Facebook messenger call. At the same time, the watcher is high and only half paying attention. Certainly, I’m not the intended audience.
But I don’t let that stop me. I go off on tangents. If this movie is so deep — so intentionally layered — as my friends claim, then I’m going to crack it. I spin theories as wide and interloping as my pupils. I glean significance from minor details and fragmentally tie them together. I talk at such length that the movie wraps up (you’ll excuse me that I can’t remember how it ended), and the line stays quiet.
“Ok,” a voice from the other end finally answers. “Moving on…”
Throughout the customary debrief, my fellow Mulhollanders expose details and theories that make my head spin. That, in combination with my peak high, makes it so I can hardly remain vertical. So, unable to add to the conversation, and with my eyelids heavy from David Lynch-esque drama, I curl up and let myself drift off to a night of dreams devoid of car crashes, alternate timelines and any street names.