Mulholland Falls Reviews
The spot-on recreation of LA's bygone glamour era, the conspiracy-laden plot, and the excellent cast highlight this film. I'm a sucker for neo-noir, and although this isn't quite Chinatown, it is a valiant effort. Tamahori and writers Dexter and Mutrux even chose to end the film on a down note. The squad's broken up, and Griffith leaves Nolte, exclaiming "You broke my heart, Max." Noirs shouldn't have happy endings.
As for Jennifer, she's the crux of the film, but we don't get to spend very much time at all with her. We don't get a sense of who she is and why she did the things that she did, and that greatly lessens the impact of her death. If you don't care about the core of the story, then it's difficult to have any real investment in the rest of the movie.
In all honesty, even if the movie was in black and white and Jennifer Connelly had two times more scenes, this movie would probably still be boring. I just never cared or was interested in what was going on. Michael Madsen was wasted, there wasn't nearly enough of John Malkovich, and Nick Nolte was just smacking people and looking grim. Mulholland Falls gets two stars for Jennifer Connelly's magnificence, but even her wonders barely made it worth watching.
Oh, btw: if for nothing else, and you're male, check out this movie for Jennifer Connelly. I have seen her in one or two other movies and she has always seemed demure and lovely. She is, here, too, but shows certain sides of herself that seem amazing.
I'm really going to have to give spoilers here, because I reached the last five minutes and couldn't give the movie a positive review anymore. I really, really wanted to, and I just couldn't. I am in general a big fan of the neo-noir, and I'm always up for a movie about police corruption in Los Angeles. (This is a much larger genre than the city would really like us to think.) This movie has an impressive cast, albeit a B-list impressive cast at best, but in the end, literally, its flaws just outweighed what was otherwise a perfectly watchable film. Oh, don't get me wrong. I had not been considering giving this movie a [i]high[/i] rating, but I had been wavering between a six and a seven for most of the film. It even featured a rare restrained performance from John Malkovich, whom I love but who has a bit of a tendency to go scenery-chewing. But then, it all went nuts in the last few minutes and killed its own suspense.
Max Hoover (Nick Nolte) is the utmost in Crooked LA Cops. He and his colleagues are introduced showing an East Coast mobster (William Petersen) and his no-good mouthpiece (Rob Lowe) that they don't want organized crime in Los Angeles; they throw Petersen off a cliff, the eponymous falls. (It's a joke!) And the next day, they discover that a beautiful young woman, Allison Pond (Jennifer Connelly), has been murdered. She is driven so far into the ground that they go looking for heavy-moving equipment, and the coroner (Richard Sylbert) assumes she's been thrown off a cliff. Max discovers that her next-door neighbour, Jimmy Fields (Andrew McCarthy), has been filming Allison as she has dalliances with General Thomas Timms (Malkovich), who is in charge of nuclear testing for the military. Oh, and with Max himself. The FBI gets involved because of the federal implications, and their way of getting Max to back off is by sending some of that film to his wife, Katherine (Melanie Griffith). It doesn't work.
So far, so good, right? The police chief is an uncredited Bruce Dern, yet another example of the spot-on casting for a lot of the picture. There's always been something a little seedy about Bruce Dern, and after all, this is a police chief who is actively supporting what is basically a hit squad. Treat Williams is Colonel Nathan Fitzgerald, the person who is really running things out at the military base. The other members of the squad are played by Chazz Palminteri, Michael Madsen, and Chris Penn. Jimmy is expressly gay, but the film treats him with respect even if the other characters don't--if they all had, it would have rung false to the era in which the film is set. The script is weak, and the score really belongs in a Douglas Sirk film--or [i]Escape to Witch Mountain[/i]--more than it does in this story, but it wasn't too grating most of the time. Neo-noir shouldn't be so lushly scored, but I was willing to accept that. There were problems, but it wasn't the most terrible movie of its genre ever.
And then, there was the ending. It seems that Fitzgerald had Allison thrown out of a plane because she was threatening the work they were doing. Which is ridiculous enough as it is. But somehow, they get Max and Elleroy Coolidge (Palminteri, who doesn't look like a Coolidge) to get up in a parachuting training plane--no door--to take them back to LA from the base, despite the fact that I'm pretty sure they drove there themselves. While they're on the plane, Max figures out what had happened, because of course he did by being in [i]the exact same situation in which they killed Allison[/i], and realizes that the plan is now to kill him and Coolidge in the same incredibly suspicious way that will of course in no way lead back to the place they were likely to have been before ending up dead. So Max and Coolidge manage to successfully fight Fitzgerald and the soldier whose name I missed, despite being held at gunpoint. Naturally, the pilot has been shot in the struggle, and they must keep him alive long enough to get the plane down. And then the pilot dies of his wounds, Coolidge reveals that he was shot, and he dies, too.
You see. Any goodwill left at that point is pretty much gone. I mean, I was willing to believe that people were swooning over Jennifer Connelly. I was willing to believe the blackmail scam. Heck, I'll even believe both that she might have been murdered to keep government secrets and that the FBI would think that revealing Max's affair to Katherine would get him to back off. I definitely believe that the plan would backfire! But I don't believe that the FBI would go to such lengths as murdering Jimmy in such a dramatic fashion. I don't believe that a murder intended to keep government secrets--either Jimmy's, Allison's, or that of the two cops--would have been in such a way that couldn't possibly have been, say, just a mugging or an accident or something. And I don't believe it would have been done in a way that relied on just a couple of random guys to keep quiet. I mean, what's the pilot's stake in the whole thing?
Watching the star-studded cast at work is half the fun. Jennifer Connelly alone is worth the price of admission, although unfortunately she doesn't get much screen time here.
For crying out loud...watch the movie a few more times until you catch what you keep missing.
This is a suspense thriller of the same caliper as Chinatown.
Actually much better as the main actors (around 8 of them & all class acts) have very little time to bring their characters to life. Yes, the story has twists and turns, but it's a great story with GREAT twists and turns.
The costumes and scenery were spectacular and the feel was pure noir.
Do yourself a favor :
1)Make sure the kids are sleeping soundly so they won't interrupt you.
2)Make sure your significant other is either quiet or asleep throughout the length of the movie.
3)Make sure anything you want to eat or drink is within arms reach.
4)Turn off the phones and the lights.
5)Dive into the world of "Mulholland Falls" head first.
You wont' be disappointed.