Monday, January 30, 2012

With “It” Being a Very David Lynchy Sense of Hollywood Tragedy

So there’s a singer named Lana Del Rey. Perhaps you’ve heard of her?

In the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t put this one together until Spencer alerted me to a particularly insightful comment on a Del Rey-centric Gawker post. But yeah — now that you mention it, she’s like a character who spiraled straight out of Mulholland Drive, hobbled onstage and started singing a little dirge ditty.

Consider this her name: Lana Del Rey, with the first name presumably intending to evoke the old Hollywood glamour of Lana Turner and the two-part last name skewing very Los Angeles — the Del Rey neighborhood of Culver City or Marina del Rey or Playa del Rey over on the far west side. That’s Lynchy in itself, if you think about his Los Angeles-focused Mulholland Drive period, but it’s also a trick he’s tried before: the FBI agent that Chris Isaak plays in Fire Walk With Me is Chet Desmond — half jazz musician Chet Baker and half Sunset Boulevard character Norma Desmond. (And that’s all ignoring those Hollywood stand-ins for Los Angeles, Chinatown’s Hollis and Evelyn Mulwray.)

In one sense, you could view Lana Del Rey as a Camilla Rhodes figure — the blonde on the top left, the girl whose dreams of show business success come true for no good reason. Like the character in Mulholland Drive, it has simply been deemed that “this is the girl,” without any real explanation. She’s selected by the powers that be to be the one basking in the spotlight instead of anyone else who might be more deserving of the attention. But on the other hand, there’s also a sense that Lana Del Rey is a version of Mulholland Drive’s Rebekah Del Rio — the woman on the bottom with the painted-on tears, the singer whose entire persona is an illusion. Think about it this way: In the Club Silencio scene in Mulholland Drive, Betty and Rita watch Rebekah sing on stage, and they’re incredibly moved by the performance. Before she can finishing singing her Spanish-language take on “Crying,” however, she falls to the ground, as if dead. The song continues anyway. Her whole thing — her presence on stage, her schtick as a singer, her song itself — doesn’t really need her. She’s just one part of an elaborate show. In my head, anyway, this works because her performance on Saturday Night Live revealed that the physical existence of Lana Del Rey, live and in person, pales in comparison to the reputation that precedes her. Watching her fumble through “Video Games” on SNL was sort of like watching her slump over dead on live TV, only we all knew that the song would keep playing no matter how lifeless she seemed.

Aside from all that, the lighting alone in this one shot I’ve found would totally make David Lynch smile. And, of course, if it turned out that Lana Del Rey were both Camilla Rhodes and Rebekeh Del Rio at the same time? That would make David Lynch even happier.

David Lynch, previously:

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