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Strange world.

  • Aug 17, 2012
**** out of ****

In the fictional logging town of Lumberton, writer-director David Lynch has created an urban landscape pretty enough for a postcard. In a creepy opening, we see men on trucks waving from the streets, dads watering the grass, and flowers growing in front of a white picket fence. The town is a portrait of what an idealistic 1950's society must have been like; content, peaceful, sociable. Or at least this is how we felt it ought to be. Water from a hose meets the green lawn, and below we see a bunch of creepy, crawly bugs. Perhaps the one thing that's off about the society that we are seeing. Although I don't recall anyone taking particular notice of the roaches. Certainly not Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan), a student at Oak Hill College who is introduced as a kid who - aside from being back in Lumberton upon his father having a stroke - enjoys walks along the water; up until the day that he finds a rotting human ear in the middle of a field.

He brings the ear to the local police department and waits on results. Checking up on it, Jeffrey meets the town detective's daughter Sandy (Laura Dern), who tells him of her father's findings over a midnight stroll in the neighborhood. A mysterious yet beautiful night club singer named Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) is somehow linked to the ear, and Jeffrey steals a key from her apartment after posing as an exterminator and returns the next night, hiding in her closet, watching through the blinds as she answers an odd phone call, undresses, and after discovering Jeffrey's presence in her home, is revealed to be currently engaged in a sadomasochistic relationship ("Baby wants to fuck!") with a violent man named Frank (Dennis Hopper), whom Jeffrey theorizes is holding Dorothy's son and husband captive in exchange for her sexual services.

Jeffrey must get himself romantically entangled in this woman's life in an attempt to understand it and perhaps even rescue her. After their second (sexual) encounter, Jeffrey finally meets Frank face-to-face and is taken on a "joy ride", along with Dorothy and some of Frank's thugs. This joy ride includes going to an acquaintance of Frank named Ben's place for drinks and a show, and being beaten up and left for dead in a lumber yard overnight. Frank is indeed one of the most down-right repulsive and sadistic movie characters I've yet to come across; characterized by his constant inhaling from a gas mask that increases the pleasure of the sexual experience as well as the fact that he literally can't go a sentence without dropping an F-bomb. He is also involved heavily in drugs; and the police might be in on it as well.

"I can't figure out if you're a detective or a pervert." Lynch's entertains a lot of ideas that will not, in fact, entertain most people and will instead repel those who are deeply disturbed by themes of sadomasochism and notions of surrealism, typical to Lynch's work (the latter). It's a film about voyeurism, erotic romance, and those seedy little roaches that exist underneath the exterior of every town, every city, and every society. Our first reaction to the story is probably that it is strange, graphic, and unsettling; but upon visiting it twice after my initial viewing, I now see that it is a work of such profound emotional power and resonance that it destroys almost everything Lynch had made prior to it, although I do love "Eraserhead", so I'll be careful in my choice of words there.

I would consider it one of the finest films I've had the pleasure of watching and re-watching. "Blue Velvet" is a movie filled with memorable scenes both beautiful and unpleasant. Let's start with the former. Dean Stockwell as Ben has a great scene in which he lip-syncs to Roy Orbison's "In Dreams", a song which causes Hopper's character to show at least some emotion. It is implied that Frank had a dark sexual past with his mother, which explains the significance of the blue velvet (also a song which plays in the film itself and that Dorothy sings at the nightclub); and it might explain, somewhat, why the song somehow gets to the very core of his being. I am fully aware that a David Lynch film cannot be properly interpreted as his works are highly personal and his job is to entertain through images and sound (the film has both superb cinematography/lighting/use of color and a great soundtrack-score); although my personal interpretation relates to the story being a parable for domestic violence in societies like the one presented.

"It's a strange world, isn't it?" The film fascinates some and repulses others because Lynch hits us where it hurts. We've been in these places, and back then perhaps people did not acknowledge the horrors of inner-city life. "Blue Velvet" exposes every fear and every terror that lies within. It's both frightening and whimsical; there is an element of dark - very dark - humor as well as a genuine layer of grotesque urban realism. Just take a look at Ben's home, Dorothy's apartment, the diner that Jeffrey and Sandy eat at a few times during his investigation. All of these places are normal yet abnormal; the first two especially. Lynch can take just about anything and embed his dream-like spin which makes it all the more distressing. In dreams, I walk with it; in dreams, I talk about it. In dreams, I love "Blue Velvet"; and in dreams, I will watch it several more times in the near future. A strange world indeed.

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More Blue Velvet reviews
Quick Tip by . July 15, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This movie is creepy and weird. Don't see it. Unless you like really creep weird stuff.
Quick Tip by . July 14, 2010
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Such a brilliantly weird movie. Thank you, David Lynch. RIP, Dennis Hopper.
review by . July 13, 2010
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I finally got around to seeing this, probably his most critically-acclaimed flick. With so much I heard about it over the years, I thought I pretty much had it pegged, and I somewhat did.      The criticism of suburban America and the two sides of society came as no surprise, as they shouldn't to anyone who has read the most simplistic of plot summaries. Dennis Hopper was just as insane as I would have expected. Given this script, any filmmaker could have said, more or less, …
review by . May 03, 2009
Blue Velvet was David Lynch's return to what he does best. Surrealistic dramas. After the box office failure of his big budgeted sci-fi/ fantasy epic that was based upon the novel DUNE, Lynch was looking for a much smaller project. A returning into the mainstream Dennis Hopper makes a career renewing performance as the psychotic Frank Booth. This film was a much needed shot-in-the-arm for both men. They would both be immortalized in 80's Americana thanks to Blue Velvet.    The …
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Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #2
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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