Flashback: Mulholland Drive

Mr. Lynch makes an extraordinary leap to embrace the irrational. Its sheer audacity and the size of its target make the director’s earlier eviscerations of idyllic American oases and the rot beneath them seem comparatively petty. In taking on Hollywood, of course, Mr. Lynch is biting a hand that has fed him off and on, even though the Hollywood depicted by the film is a dream world that bears only a passing resemblance to the everyday film business of corporate yuppie sharpshooters.

Mr. Lynch’s distillation of Hollywood vibrates weirdly between the present and the pop cultural climate of 40 years ago. It is a place where a ludicrous monster in a bear costume hides behind a graffiti-spattered Denny’s-like restaurant. In Mr. Lynch’s Hollywood, authoritarian moguls of the Otto Preminger type still assert an imperial will in offices that feel like giant mausoleums.

Stephen Holden.