Under the Silver Lake ★★½

[49]

Perfectly fine, if you enjoy being blue-balled for nearly two-and-a-half hours, left to writhe in the self-reflexive pangs of dissatisfaction when all’s said and done. Had very high hopes for this, hinged mostly on my feelings towards IT FOLLOWS : a formal dynamo with an endearing sense of homage that rubbed awkwardly against its increasingly dumb premise. Mitchell’s formalism is still top-notch, but he wears his influences too gaudily on his sleeve this time around, simultaneously tossing heaping gobs of obnoxious juvenilia into the mix (which he clearly intends to be humorous—e.g. Kurt Cobain small-talk during coitus or rough interrogations of Jesus-looking lead singers on the shitter—but…shrug). You start to see trace amounts of THE LONG GOODBYE, MULHOLLAND DRIVE, INHERENT VICE, THE BIG LEBOWSKI, VERTIGO—the list goes on—until the film’s own identity gets obfuscated beyond recognition. Not to mention, the entire thing is a giant dick-slap to the face, an overlong exercise in poking, prodding, and rib-nudging about the absurdity of the modern-day neo-noir and films of a similar ilk ; every omen is intentionally ludicrous, hunches preposterously rendered as truths, symbols purposely planted in plain view, each tangential sideplot willfully leading down a dead-end path that offers zero resolution, zero closure, and utimately little more than Mitchell laughing and unleashing a big, hairy-knuckled middle finger proudly towards the sky. And I’m all for subverting tropes and/or throwing back to films of yore, but this is way, waaaay too self-conscious an effort to be taken even semi-seriously as a valid critique of the genre, and far too fatuous to subsist on standalone merit. It ends up flaccidly tucked somewhere in the middle, an anti-joke that just gets more and more digressive, indulging in unnecessary bloat when it wasn’t even that funny to begin with. Such a shame, because it really does look incredible and the contemporary LA world feels so casual and lived in. A few episodes are momentarily thrilling e.g. the cat-mask lady sneaking into Sam’s house for the first time—but everything, literally everything is for nought, and [wink into the camera] notwithstanding, it makes for a frustratingly empty experience.

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