Friday, September 16, 2011

Blue Velvet

Twin Peaks is still my favorite David Lynch project, but Blue Velvet is my new favorite film that he directed. Mulholland Drive is a popular choice, and I liked that movie a lot, but it veered a bit too far into purely strange-for-strangeness'-sake territory for me in places, and I thought Velvet had just the right balance between bizarreness and comprehensibility for me. It really clicked when I realized that the movie was basically Lynch's take on film noir, which is a great concept, and something I thought he really did well. Kyle MacLachlan stars as a plucky young man who stumbles his way into a criminal investigation when he discovers a human ear rotting in a field. Laura Dern plays the daughter of a cop, and he gets her help to get a lead in figuring things out on his own, and they do some amateur sleuthing.

Things take a hard turn though when he actually meets a woman involved in the case and finds out about the psychopath played by Dennis Hopper who's been abusing her. The film becomes a lot harsher and strange at this point, ramping up the sexuality and the violence (and the language, as Hopper's character is the only one who really swears) and making a clean break from the mostly acceptable material it was before. Lynch has a talent for making intensely memorable moments out of a small number of elements, and the entire sequence of MacLachlan interacting with Hopper and his gang is some of the best stuff by him that I've seen. It leads up to the climax, which has the film's most striking and brutal imagery of all. I love the movie plays with the nostalgic, all-American ideas of older movies while coating them in the twisted thoughts that seem to come out of Lynch's mind with regularity. Very much the work of a man with a clear vision and an ability to present it. I definitely need to see more.

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