22 August 2008

Blue Velvet (1986)

Written & Directed by: David Lynch
Full credits from IMDb

Isabella Rossellini appears early in Blue Velvet, draped in enough of the titular fabric to make Costanza green with velvet envy. But, by film’s end, she’s wearing nothing but a black eye. Roger Ebert, known Lynch-hater, cried misogyny but time and better sense has drowned him out—critics now regard Lynch’s film as one of the Reagan era’s finest. Opening amid candy-colored Americana, Velvet quickly undercuts its “Morning Again” innocence with violence, and Lynch’s camera swoops beneath a manicured lawn to reveal a civilization of seething black beetles. What evil lurks below the surface! Kyle MacLachlan’s discovery of a severed human ear launches his descent into a Nancy Drew nightmare of suburban depravity (which includes a PBR party, long before they were fashionable), but Velvet tackles more than red-county debauchery; it’s not only about sex in America but sex in movies. In a single scene, MacLachlan objectifies, becomes
objectified and finally witnesses his (and our?) fantasy perversely realized: Dennis Hopper (post-hippie, pre-corporate spokesman) squealing for mommy while he beats and rapes Rossellini. In short, Blue Velvet plays out like the baddest of bad dreams. But Lynch ultimately has the magnanimity to reassure us, with the closing shot of a bug-gobbling robin, that love can still conquer Mr. Hopper.

From the program notes for The L Magazine's SummerScreen series. Blue Velvet screens on Monday, August 25, at Brooklyn's McCarren Park Pool.

Watch the trailer:

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