September 8, 2010

03.09: Catch-up Classic: Blue Velvet

On Friday night (late on Friday night) I was lucky enough to catch a screening of one of David Lynch’s earliest works: Blue Velvet, in 35mm no less. I’ve not actually seen it before, hence why this is also a Catch-up Classic. And despite having read a fair amount of various reviews etc. about it over the years… it was not what I expected. Which is about all you should expect from Mr. Lynch.

I guess you could consider it a neo-noir psycho-sexual art thriller, with Kyle MacLachlan as a young man finding himself drawn into the dark side of suburbia following his discovery of an ear in a field. As he’s an unnaturally curious fellow he continues to follow up on it, with the Detective’s teenage daughter Sandy Williams (Laura Dern). The affair also involves tortured torch singer Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rosellini) and the psychotically evil gangster Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper). Hopper is the biggest name in the cast, and easily the biggest character. Booth is one of the most vile and evil villains ever to put up on the big screen. And Hopper seems to be having a ball of a time with the role of the violent amyl-nitrate suckin' crazy-man (even scarier is that Hopper wanted the role because, as he said "
I've got to play Frank... I am Frank!"):

What's fascinating is seeing in this similar motifs and themes that Lynch has explored, almost throughout his entire filmography (not that I've seen his entire filmography). Sex and sexual kinks, strong female characters, mysterious characters coming out of the shadows, highways at night, zooming in and entering objects and more and more. However, I found it suffered occasionally from actors coming in and just delivering their lines, throwing them out like statements rather than dialogue. It kind of smacks of an early film in a director's body of work. But then, that may also just have been the sound levels: they were all the way down. I wasn't sure if it was the quality of the print, or if the projectionist just didn't turn the sound up enough... It did help drive home again how important sound is to cinema: it sounded hollow and robbed of life at points. But hey! Minor quibbles for a film that also included Dean Stockwell as a camp pimp!

Lynch is truly one of a kind in American cinema. Always fascinating, I love that he gets to make movies. His is a fascinating voice, and one always worth listening to. Even if I'm not sure what he's saying sometimes.

And in super exciting awesome news: apparently the Paramount is planning on doing more late-night cult showings! This, along with the Embassy playing genre classics
(Enter the Dragon, Ghostbusters etc.) and Sunday matinees of bona-fide classics (Badlands, Touch of Evil), is fuckin’ excellent news. FINALLY we’re getting some revival cinema going here!


  1. Amen to that. Wages of Fear, Peeing Tom, Badlands, Yes!

  2. Heh. I'm sure you mean PEEPing Tom. Peeing Tom is an entirely different type of film...