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to Sept. 7
A sexually frustrated jazz musician accused of murdering his wife wakes up in his prison cell one morning as a young auto mechanic; a scorned would-be actress driven mad by the guilt of hiring a hitman to gun down her unfaithful lover loses herself in a masturbatory fantasy. For all their confusing dream logic, David Lynch’s Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive are, essentially, the same movie: To cope with an overwhelming sense of loss, each film’s protagonist willingly retreats into his or her own mind, where an elaborate alternate reality (and identity) offers an escape. Yet the safe haven is not far enough removed from the outside world that it blocks it out entirely. Recurring images, ominous symbols, and buzz-cut-sporting weirdos personifying real-life worries tug at each carefully structured dream world until it collapses, leaving the shell-shocked central character without a firm grasp on either reality or fantasy. If there’s any discernible difference between the two films, it’s that Mulholland Drive—which was originally slated as a pilot episode for a potential ABC television series—features a tacked-on explanatory ending. The gesture, undoubtedly intended in part to appease the Lost Highway critics who were left scratching their heads at the end of the film, plays no small part in the former being widely considered one of Lynch’s most fully realized works while the latter is often mislabeled as an incoherent exercise in self-indulgence. In dreams, I walk with you to “The Films of David Lynch,” which runs to Thursday, Sept. 7, at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $9.25. (301) 495-6700. (Matthew Borlik)