Blue Velvet (1986)

“Summer of Film #19 of 100”:
There is a sensibility that made-for-TV movies and the Hardy Boys novels share. There is a sensibility that the best of the Hardy Boys novels share with pulp Hitchcock. And there is a sensibility that Hitchcock shares with The Twilight Zone. If you’ve seen Twin Peaks, you probably have an idea of what I’m talking about- though maybe not entirely.

David Lynch combines all of these and more in his own brand beneath-the-surface-of-Small-Town-USA cinema that treat grizzly tales of deranged people like the every day mysteries of Nancy Drew. Blue Velvet has Kyle MacLachlan is who comes to town one day because his father had a heart attack. He ends up finding an human ear on the side of the road and while that could have been the end of that, since Kyle is a regular Hardy boy, the ear takes him into the underbelly of the small town where a sadist Frank (Dennis Hopper) takes advantage of a woman Dorothy (brilliant and daring Isabella Rossellini) having kidnapped her husband and son. The first time we see the pain Hopper inflicts and Rossellini gladly accepts, we are shocked- not only because such a scene is inherently shocking, but because the Hardy boys shouldn’t be seeing things of this nature! But soon we realize that David Lynch is playing a game with us- with Kyle’s daytime life being so surreally normal that the nighttime mystery’s contrast is all the more stark and shocking.

Fifteen years later David Lynch perfected the same craft with the most involving movie of modern times, Mullholland Drive, in which he dispenses with all pretense of traditional storytelling and gets straight to what he really wants to do.


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