Mulholland Drive is one of those insanely long streets that weaves its way through a huge swathe of Los Angeles. It goes all the way from the ocean, starting at Pacific Coast Highway, through the hills – and ends up in Hollywood, offering great views all the way. Sometimes it stops and gets a bit lost, and at night its elevation over the city provides great sparkling vistas and more than a little eerieness. A little like the David Lynch movie of the same name – long, often dark, creepy and confusing.
Funnily enough, you barely see Mulholland Drive in Mulholland Drive, though it's where the action starts, with a spectacular car crash and a curvaceous brunette ('Rita', played by Laura Elena Harring) with amnesia. However, you do see quite a bit of Los Angeles throughout the movie, and it really feels like LA.
There are some sweeping overviews of the city, including aerial shots of the Hollywood sign and Downtown by day and by night. Although the characters spend a lot of time in apartments, they also drive through the streets, park in Downtown lots and walk down alleys (the kinds you find behind apartment buildings – a very familiar scene to Angelenos, but maybe not quite so normal to movie-watchers).
The homes definitely have that LA feel. From Adam Kesher's (Justin Theroux) swanky modern pad overlooking the cityscape to Betty's (Naomi Watts) Hollywood apartment building (Il Borghese, 450 North Sycamore Avenue) and Diane Selwyn's cottage (2900 Griffith Park Boulevard), they are very much the types of places you'd visit in the city of angels. (Check out Movie Locations for more information about the buildings featured.)
And of course there are plenty of palm trees. Living in Los Angeles, it's very easy to get used to seeing palm trees all the time, but there aren't that many cities in the world whose streets are lined with them.
So, yes this is a dark, sometimes horrifying movie, but it captures LA pretty well. I've been watching Robert Altman movies like The Player and Short Cuts, trying to find an LA movie that really captures the city. In truth, I'm not quite there yet – but this one does a pretty good job. Altman offers the character without the scenery, so it feels like LA but doesn't show you the sights. Lynch manages both.
And it's fun watching Mulholland Drive just to figure out what the **** is going on. I think I've cracked it, but I may well be wrong. – Roshan McArthur