The MoFo Top 100 Neo-noir Countdown

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After years of not being able to remember whether or not I had actually seen the whole film or just part of it, I finally got around to (re)watching Mulholland Drive for the Countdown. It's a strange, yet compelling film that I can never seem to spell correctly, as evidenced by my post a few minutes ago haha. I even had to double check how to spell it again just now!

I thought I had it in one of those last 5 spots on my list, but apparently I cut it. Fortunately it didn't need those extra few points anyway.

Seen: 50/91

Thursday Next's Avatar
I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
Fargo and No Country For Old Men show up all the time but Miller's Crossing is the noir-est and deserved to beat them here. I had it at #14.

Drive was my #23.

From the near misses, I had John Wick at #22. I was under the impression that Sonatine was ineligible, or I would have had that too.

6. Miller's Crossing
7. The Big Lebowski
8. Pulp Fiction
10. Le Circle Rouge
13. No Country for Old Men
16. Mulholland Drive
17. The Silence of the Lambs
18. Blow Out
22. Point Blank
23. Alphaville

While we wait for the reveal, have some fun with a simple game:

Neo-Noir by actors
14 of 13 4:57
I was so blindingly fast that it gave me extra credit.
WARNING: spoilers below
13 of 13 1:15

I did not have any David Lynch films on my ballot. But one of my no-shows...

Charley Varrick (1973) is a terrific hard-boiled caper film from the 1970s, and for my money easily the best Don Siegel flick from that decade that doesn't star Clint Eastwood. This one stars Walter Matthau as the title character, "The Last of the Independents". That's the tagline that goes along with his crop dusting business, but Varrick has also worked outside the law. He puts together a four-man crew, including his wife, to knock over a small bank in the remote town of Tres Cruces, New Mexico. They do get away with the cash, but two of the four robbers are killed, including his wife, leaving Charley and Herman (Andy Robinson) to split up the loot. When they get it home and open the bags they realize there is a lot of money. Too much money for a small bank. That's because they accidentally hit a bank that was laundering money for the Las Vegas mob. Which means they have worse than Cops and the F.B.I. looking for them, they have ruthless killers. The one who gets assigned to them is one of the most ruthless, a man simply known as Molly (Joe Don Baker). From there it is a race to see if Varrick can stay two steps ahead of the law and one step ahead of the mafia.

If you only know Matthau from the later phase of his career, things like Grumpy Old Men and Dennis the Menace, or as a comedian in the likes of The Bad News Bears and The Odd Couple, while he was certainly one of our finest comedic actors, Matthau had a very long career where he did a little bit of everything, and in the 1970s he got to play in some really fine thrillers including the original Taking of Pelham One Two Three, The Laughing Policeman, and of course Charley Varrick. He is fantastic here as the clever but cautious criminal. In addition to Joe Don Baker - who plays on the all-time great sleazy hit men - and Andy Robinson, the great cast also includes John Vernon, the ever-sexy Sheree North, Woodrow Parfrey, William Schallert, Norman Fell, and Benson Fong. Oh, and another top-notch score from Lalo Schifrin!

I had Charley Varrick as my twenty-third pick, just a few points for a funky '70s favorite I couldn't leave off of my list.

4. Night Moves (#40)
5. High & Low (#19)
6. Nightcrawler (#21)
7. The Grifters (#45)
8. One False Move (#73)
9. Blast of Silence (#48)
11. Blow Out (#17)
12. To Live & Die in L.A. (#43)
13. The Naked Kiss (#51)
14. Angel Heart (#31)
15. Shallow Grave (#95)
17. Dead Again (#90)
21. Drive (#14)
22. The Hot Spot (#85)
23. Charley Varrick (DNP)
24. Blue Ruin (#82)
25. Johnny Handsome (DNP)

"Film is a disease. When it infects your bloodstream it takes over as the number one hormone. It bosses the enzymes, directs the pineal gland, plays Iago to your psyche. As with heroin, the antidote to Film is more Film." - Frank Capra

If you're a fan of Mulholland Drive and like listening to podcasts, I did a special episode of mine a couple of years ago dedicated solely to analyze the Club Silencio scene. Feel free to check it out!

The Movie Loot - Special Episode VI (Mulholland Drive)

Check out my podcast: The Movie Loot!

1 for 1 today but I did not have Mulholland Drive on my ballot.

63 of 91 seen.

Trouble with a capital "T"
Hey guess what??? I voted for that. My #19 Mulholland Drive though I only rated it a
. Didn't love the more nuttier Lynch stuff but dug the rest.

CR going against character. Now it's a countdown party.

A system of cells interlinked
While we wait for the reveal, have some fun with a simple game:

Neo-Noir by actors

100% 03:39

Holden is too fast. One title somehow vanished from my mind for about 5 seconds and I sat there staring at the screen blankly...
“It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.” ― Thomas Sowell


RT – 84%, IMDb – 7.9

Roger Ebert said:

"David Lynch has been working toward Mulholland Drive all of his career, and now that he's arrived there I forgive him Wild at Heart and even Lost Highway. At last his experiment doesn't shatter the test tubes. The movie is a surrealist dreamscape in the form of a Hollywood film noir, and the less sense it makes, the more we can't stop watching it." (read full review here)
Kaila Spencer, from Film Cred, said:

"Mulholland Drive is a prime example of the neo-noir because of its hyper-awareness of the genre’s conventions, taking advantage of them to exaggerate themes of romanticism, betrayal, and regret." (read full review here)
@The Gunslinger45 said:

"[David Lynch] films are meant to be rewatched, multiple times if needed to try and get a better understanding of his work. And even though you may not know what exactly is going on, the films are still beautiful to watch. Whether you see this film as some sort of commentary on the Hollywood system, or the comparison of the fantasy and reality of becoming a big star in Tinseltown; the man is certainly unique in his vision and execution." (read full review here)

Well there goes my top 10 predictions. I was way off with this one. Oh well. I had Mulholland Drive at #8. I put it a bit lower on my list and gave a bump to Blue Velvet, to help the David Lynch cause. It's a brilliant enigmatic film that rewards repeat viewings - and I'm due for another.

3. Blue Velvet (1986)
4. The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976)
5. High and Low (1963)
8. Mulholland Drive (2001)
10. Alphaville (1965)
13. The Conversation (1974)
14. Zodiac (2007)
15. Memories of Murder (2003)
17. Fireworks (1997)
18. Pale Flower (1964)
19. The Grifters (1990)
20. Inherent Vice (2014)
22. The American Friend (1977)
24. Le Cercle Rouge (1970)
25. Série noire (1979) - One pointer
"Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

A system of cells interlinked
There was a long stretch of time here on the site where my Top 10 favorites screen had the same three films in the top 3 slots as a lock. Mulholland Drive was one of them. I have told the story before, but I might as well recount it here as the film gets its much deserved due.

I used to play this card game back in the 90s/00s, and I was at a big tournament in Boston. Some kid one table over had his laptop up, and he had Mulholland Drive playing on DVD. A judge walked by, saw boobs, and kicked the kid out. After this happened, people at my table asked what movie he had been watching, and someone said Mulholland Drive. Later that week, I was browsing at Blockbuster Video, and there were several copies of the film ready to rent. Having already wasted a good half not picking a film out, I grabbed a copy and off I went.

I went home and watched it with my then girlfriend and man did I hate this movie. I mean, I hated so much it made me angry. What kind of senseless garbage was this? I put the film in its case, drove back to Blockbuster, and told the guy working there that it had to be either the worst film I had ever seen, or close to it. I stomped around the store, picked up something shit like Tomb Raider or the like, and went up to rent it. He said "I will comp you a rental for this one since the other one was so bad." I went home and watched Tomb Raider, and promptly forgot about it for the rest of my life, because it is actually a bad film, and Mulholland Drive isn't.

For the next two days, I could not stop thinking about Mulholland Drive. It was like a little worm in my brain just a crawlin' around like one of the ants in the ear in Blue Velvet. So, after angrily stomping around Blockbuster a couple nights earlier cursing under my breath about how terrible the film was, I did the only sensible thing: I went out and bought a copy of Mulholland Drive.

I probably watched it 5 times in the next few days; it was the most interesting, absorbing piece of cinema I had ever seen. I spent hours on the internet studying every little detail and scrap of info about the movie and its meaning. I would talk about it with anyone who would listen, I drove my friends crazy, I made people watch it with me, after which they would avoid me for months on end. I gifted a copy to a friend that lived 7 states away, then hounded them for their opinion on the film. I lent it to the upstairs neighbor and three weeks later he moved to Georgia.

I was pretty much obsessed with this film for a good 8 years after I first saw it. When my later-to-be wife and myself went on our first date, we went out to eat and then went back to my place to watch Mulholland Drive. Halfway through the film she asked if I was on any special mediation or perhaps in some sort of program. Surprisingly, we are still married to this day.

Sounds like this film might be at the top of my ballot, eh? Over the past few years, I am kind of cooled on it a bit. I don't watch it anywhere near as often as I used to, and I rarely even mention it these days. I had it at #7 on my ballot.