I'm still trying to decide if this piece of hocus-pocus (2001) is David Lynch's best feature between Eraserhead and Inland Empire. In any case, it's immensely more likable than his other stabs at neonoir (Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, Lost Highway), perhaps because it likes its characters and avoids sentimentalizing or sneering at them (the sort of thing that limited Twin Peaks). Originally conceived and rejected as a TV pilot, then expanded after some French producers stepped in, it has the benefit of Lynch's own observations about Hollywood, which were fresher at this point than his puritanical notations on small towns in the American heartland. The best-known actors (Ann Miller, Robert Forster, Dan Hedaya) wound up relatively marginalized, while the lesser-known talents (in particular the remarkable Naomi Watts and the glamorous Laura Elena Harring) were invited to take over the movie (and have a field day doing so). The plot slides along agreeably as a tantalizing mystery before becoming almost completely inexplicable, though no less thrilling, in the closing stretches—but that's what Lynch is famous for.
Director: David Lynch
Writer: David Lynch
Producer: Pierre Edelman, David Lynch, Mary Sweeney, Alain Sarde, Neal Edelstein, Michael Polaire and Tony Krantz
Cast: Justin Theroux, Naomi Watts, Laura Elena Harring, Ann Miller, Dan Hedaya, Mark Pellegrino, Brian Beacock, Robert Forster, Katharine Towne, Lee Grant, Michael J. Anderson, Scott Coffey, Billy Ray Cyrus, Chad Everett, Kate Forster, Matt Gallini, Melissa George, Marcus Graham, Elizabeth Lackey, Sean E. Markland, Monty Montgomery and Johanna Stein