Movie Project #43 and #44: Mulholland Drive [2001] and Million Dollar Baby [2004]

The 50 Movies Project is a personal “marathon” of mine. In June, I compiled a list of 50 movies that I felt I needed to see by the end of the year. Old, new, foreign, English — it doesn’t matter. These are all movies that I have heard a lot about and have been wanting to see for some time. This project gives me a way to stay focused on the goal.

Mulholland Drive [2001]
Mulholland Drive [2001, David Lynch]
Starring Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Justin Theroux.

I don’t know if there has been another film in my project that has lingered in my mind like Mulholland Drive. I know David Lynch is a very peculiar and often confusing director, and I was proud of myself for keeping up with everything that was happening in the movie. Well, at least until the last twenty minutes or so. That’s when shit hit the fan and I suddenly became lost. Thanks to some theorizing with others and with the help of Wikipedia’s extensive encyclopedic entry, I gained a better understanding of what the hell was going on near the end. With everything in perspective, the movie almost made sense.

Mulholland Drive is very much a hate it or love it type film, as evidenced by my girlfriend’s remarks of frustration as the credits rolled. Lynch’s works certainly aren’t for everyone, but I have a fond connection to his quirks and eccentricities. Nothing is ever as it seems, but it’s hard not to remain fascinated even as you remain clueless. This is particularly true with Mulholland Drive, and I felt that the movie kept getting better and better as it went along. Just doing this brief writeup has made me want to watch it again, this time to pick up on hints that I know I missed the first time around. That, to me, is the sign of a damn good film. 8.5/10

Million Dollar Baby [2004]
Million Dollar Baby [2004, Clint Eastwood]
Starring Hilary Swank, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman.

I was a little disappointed that I already knew the big “twist” near the end of Million Dollar Baby. I had heard others discussing it after its release, and I was mildly worried that it would ruin my movie watching experience. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case at all. Watching Hillary Swank rise through the ranks from white trash waitress to a badass boxing machine was a lot of fun. The boxing scenes in particular were very impressive and felt authentic. While I knew not to expect a happy ending, I almost wish the movie went in a different direction, as the last 20-30 minutes were completely different from the rest of the film. It was a jarring transition, even though it was handled with care.

Still, there’s a lot that I liked about Million Dollar Baby. As far as sports films go, this is one of the better ones. It certainly helps that Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman are in excellent form here, with the latter doing his trademark narration as well. I don’t know if I would go as far as to say this is the best picture of 2004, but it is definitely a good one, and I am glad I decided to watch it despite knowing the outcome. 8/10

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13 thoughts on “Movie Project #43 and #44: Mulholland Drive [2001] and Million Dollar Baby [2004]

  1. Pete says:

    Both great films but only one I would want to watch again. Mulholland is a wonderful headf*ck with a brilliant tone and deserves repeat viewings. MD Baby was a total shocker. Horribly moving and unforgettable and therefore I will not be needing to see it again. Numbers 43 and 44! Nearly there!

    • Eric says:

      Agreed on both fronts. I would like to see Mulholland Drive again; Million Dollar Baby, not so much. I think one of my goals in the new year will be to see more Lynch films, and maybe tackle the Twin Peaks series.

  2. rtm says:

    Hey you’re finally catching up with your writing 😀 I haven’t seen either one of these even though I still have my friend’s dvd of Mullholand Drive waiting to be watched one of these days. Million Dollar Baby just seems too depressing though.

    • Eric says:

      Haha yeah, I have been really working hard on the movie project this week. I have just one film left to see now… it’s hard to believe, considering how slow this was to take off.

      If you’re ever in an odd mood, go for Mulholland Drive. It’s truly bizarre, but a fascinating piece of filmmaking. But you’re right about Million Dollar Baby; it’s definitely not a feel-good story.

  3. Marshall says:

    There’s nothing worst than knowing the general mood/ending of a movie! It totally ruined “War Horse” for me!!!

    But I’m glad it didn’t spoil “Million Dollar Baby” for you. I saw it very young and didn’t fully appreciate it. Then I watched it again in 2011 and really appreciated what a fine piece of art Eastwood made. Just so emotionally jarring.

    • Eric says:

      Hi Marshall, welcome to The Warning Sign! I wish I had been able to see Million Dollar Baby without knowing anything about it, but you’re right — it’s still a very emotional film that is well worth watching anyway.

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