Monday, June 3, 2013

739. Blue Velvet (1986)


Running Time: 120 minutes
Directed By: David Lynch
Written By: David Lynch
Main Cast: Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini, Dennis Hopper, Laura Dern, Hope Lange
Click here to view the trailer

TROUBLE UNTIL THE ROBINS COME

Since my wife and I were both off tomorrow and needed a couple of movies to watch, I decided to let her do the honors in picking the two movies that would replace "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" and "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre". All she really had to work with was our DVD collection, so (with a little urging from yours truly) her first selection was "Blue Velvet".


Jeffrey Beaumont (MacLachlan) is home from school because his father has just been placed in the hospital, after suffering a severe stroke. One day, while walking home from visiting his father at the hospital, Jeffrey crosses a field and happens upon a human ear lying in the grass. He takes the ear directly to the police station and an investigation is opened. Jeffrey, perhaps driven by boredom and the fact that nothing ever happens in his crummy, little hometown of Lumberton, goes to visit the police detective that night, Detective Williams, who is also a neighbor. Det. Williams tells him that he'll have to stop asking questions about the case, but promises that once everything blows over, he'll tell him all about it. While walking home, he runs into Sandy Williams (Dern), the detective's daughter, who walks with him and tells him tidbits of the case she heard, since her bedroom is right above her father's office. She recalls hearing the name Dorothy Vallens (Rossellini) over and over and knows that she lives in an apartment building, not far from their street.  Jeffrey is fully intrigued by the prospect of murder happening right in the middle of Lumberton and can't stay away from the case. Jeffrey schemes to break into Dorothy's apartment and find out more about the ear and what's really going on with Dorothy Vallens. He pulls Sandy in with him and what Jeffrey ultimately finds out is that Dorothy's husband and son have been kidnapped and are being held by psychopath Frank Booth (Hopper). Frank is holding Dorothy's family hostage so that, in turn for keeping them alive, she'll do sexual favors for him.

In dreams, I walk with you. In dreams, I talk to you. In dreams, you're mine, all the time. Forever.


I first encountered David Lynch in 2005. I was working at a Movie Gallery and a friend & co-worker couldn't stop talking about a movie he'd been renting everyday, for the past week. We got free rentals at this particular video store and every night, I'd notice this co-worker return and re-rent the same film, over and over again. One night, we got to talking about it and it turned out that the film was called "Mulholland Dr." and was directed by somebody named David Lynch. I'd seen "Blue Velvet" before, but nothing else of this David Lynch's and since I liked "Blue Velvet", decided that I'd give this "Mulholland" movie a try...when he was finished with it. It turned out that the reason he kept renting it, over and over again, was because he couldn't figure it out. Apparently every night he'd watch it, try to crack the code that was "Mulholland Dr." and fail. Even back then I considered myself a fairly smart guy when it came to films, so I was sure that I'd rent it, figure it out in one sitting and be proud as punch when I returned to work the next day to shed some light on my friend's ongoing investigation. Except, it wasn't quite that easy and Lynch had stumped even me. It wasn't so much the unsolvable qualities of "Mulholland Dr." though that got me going, but rather the dreamlike atmosphere, the characters that had both human and inhuman qualities and the pure weirdness. Anyway, I decided then that I was going to become a HUGE David Lynch fan, watch everything of his that I could get a hold of and probably watch them over and over again, not unlike my friend and his obsession with "Mulholland". However, a few years later, after I got married, I revisited some of Lynch's filmography and decided that maybe I went a little too gaga for this guy and that really, he only had two masterpieces: "Mulholland Dr." and "Blue Velvet", with the latter being the most mentally accessible.

What's not to like about "Blue Velvet" really? Oh sure, there's a TON of cursing, some nudity and a bunch of sexual content & dialogue, but if you're a big boy or girl, you can handle and what you'll get in return is an amazing time at the movies. "Blue Velvet" works on so many levels, whether you're the type of movie goer that likes to dig a little deeper or whether you're the type that just likes to sit back and enjoy the ride - "Blue Velvet" will accommodate all tastes. Isn't it funny how sometimes the scariest films are the ones that you wouldn't necessarily classify as horror films? I'd consider "Blue Velvet" to be ONE OF the freakiest movies I've ever seen and it's because we're dealing with real people here. I have no doubt that there are people walking the streets right now, somewhere in the country I live in, somewhere in the state I live in, perhaps somewhere on the street I live on, that are just as psychotic as Frank, if not worse. To me, one of the things this film represented was the birth of evil. When we open, we zoom in on Anytown, USA. A fireman waves hello from his truck, roses outside of a white picket fence are highlighted and a man waters his lawn. It all has a very "Leave It to Beaver"-esque quality and while we're never told when the film takes place, I'd assume it takes place in the 50s or so.


Now then, when you hear the word "evil", you probably don't think of the suburbs circa 1950, where Peggy Sue, the homecoming queen and Bobby, the football quarterback could go down to the candy store and get a couple of sodas, all the while flipping through the jukebox to find their favorite tune, presumably something they heard on 'Bandstand'. No, you probably don't think of that when you hear the word "evil". In fact, what you probably think of is something current, perhaps something you saw on the news or perhaps you think of something artificial, like green pea soup spewing out of the mouth of Linda Blair. Maybe you even think of something biblical, but certainly there was a time when the general consensus says evil didn't exist in our country and kids could walk home from school freely without being nabbed and the worse thing to happen on a Friday night was maybe a car race between the Sharks and the Jets. So to me, this film smashes that misconception and says, "Yes, evil has always existed and even in the most unlikeliest of places; on Main Street in Anytown, USA, with a very neat girl and a very neat guy.

The whole film feels unreal and sometimes the line between reality and dream are a little blurred, as Jeffrey falls further and further down the rabbit hole and is constantly pulled between the world of the good (Sandy)and the world of the evil (Dorothy and Frank). The film incorporates elements of voyeurism, film noir and sadomasochistic behaviors. I'd even go so far as to call Frank Booth ONE OF the greatest and scariest movie villains of all-time, right up there with Hitchcock's most evil characters. Dennis Hopper, that once young kid who played opposite James Dean in "Giant" and "Rebel Without a Cause", shatters every preexisting thought you ever had about him and gives you a new persona to remember. Don't forget to keep your eyes peeled for Dean Stockwell and his Roy Orbison lip-synch. Every scene is carefully constructed and essential to moving the story. Lynch had been on the scene since 1977, but didn't really cement his name until 1986 and the release of "Blue Velvet".

RATING: 9/10  I can't go all the way because there were a few flaws (too few to mention), but it's still a damn good movie and proof that whether you love him or hate him, David Lynch knows how to make an outstanding film.

MOVIES WATCHED: 696
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 305

June 3, 2013  1:37am

2 comments:

  1. Good one Andrew, and my apologies for being surprised.. I didn't think you would like this.
    A bit unusual for you to come higher than me in the 'slightly weird' film section.
    Ray

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm okay with weird, as long as there's some sort of direction and it's not just weird for the sake of weird.

      Delete

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