Under the Silver Lake ★★★★★


Under the Silver Lake (Or): How to Marry a Millionaire!

David Robert Mitchell follows (heh) up It Follows with a sun-baked odyssey of self-absorption and fragile 'nice guy' masculinity, carried by the rolling hills of happenstance and conspiracy, and duly noted by his women of reality. Fantasy is the catalyst of an unemployed stoner nostalgia hipster, through which his relationship history becomes obvious: mystery is the key to his sexual drive, as well as his attention. He learned all the wrong things from the movies, and now, he's in one that he's fabricated for himself. Simply terrifying in how histories are paradoxical only for men to uncover, and that their rush is situated between ignoring what is considered decent and aimlessly controlling their environment. Under the Silver Lake is a multi-faceted text of mansplaining, cinema, cults and religion, big media business, and the threats that are associated with knowing. Its sexism is a prominent fiery skewer of its protagonist, who bumbles along like a puppy-dog, untrained and by nature inhospitable. Rent is past due, and there's a whiff of a skunk along the coastal pathways, the shadow of violence lingering as internal and external demons of catharsis perpetuated by a culture recycled like tissue paper. Mirrors Vertigo and dances on Hitch's grave, with the tale of a man not modifying women in his fantasy image but confronted with the impossibility of ever respecting one, scurrying from one to the next with abandon. It's uncanny, like the river reservoir, and encompassing, like the many radio-tunes grooving out the cracks of car windows. Rarely has a film so viciously turned against its fool and, rarer still, provided the cultural basis for his existence - contributing a plethora of silver screen examples that visualize the cyclical torment of ignorance: Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Andy Griffith Show, Mitchell's own American Sleepover, and an denouement right out of Paris, Texas. We yearn to be what we watch. Why do you think we have Escape Rooms?

Hard to skirt around spoilers, so this is the first of a longer piece, but to close: this is a slippery, hazed-out, elusive masterpiece that was hung out to dry by its distributor, and not embraced for, at the very least, its remarkable symbols and devious narrative non-sequiturs, not to mention its consistently beguiling shagginess and sense of bawdy humor. A complete, purposeful *thing*, which stumbles to the finish line like a walk home from last call, and dismantles the misogynistic undercurrent of its birth. Sublime.

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