WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Clean-cut college kid Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) returns to his smalltown home after his father has a stroke. While staying with his family, he discovers a severed ear in a meadow, and with the help of his amorous neighbour (Laura Dern) begins an investigation that leads him to a psychotic, nitrous oxide inhaling gangster- Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper), and his sex slave Dorothy (Isabella Rossellini).
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
After ERASERHEAD, I think we can call BLUE VELVET David Lynch's true debut in the form that we know him today. Sure, he had already directed the brilliant ELEPHANT MAN, and the underrated DUNE (a financial disaster that almost ruined him), but this is really him examining the thing that seems to really strike his fancy. Namely, the evil that lurks underneath the surface of small-town Americana. Without BLUE VELVET, their couldn't have been a TWIN PEAKS.
Despite DUNE's failure, Lynch carried over Kyle MacLachlan from that film, and his “gee whiz” innocence really does wonders for the character, who comes face-to-face with things he could have never possibly imagined, specifically Hopper's Frank Booth, who is one of greatest screen villains of all-time. Hopper is scary as hell in this movie, inhaling hits of nitrous, while simultaneously raping Rossellini and calling for his mommy.
However, BLUE VELVET is far from the film-noir the synopsis suggests. While it's more linear than his later films, Lynch is at least as interested in the idiosyncrasies of the quirky characters that populate his universe- while also stopping for the occasional virtuoso set piece. Who could forget Dean Stockwell's lipsyching of Roy Orbison's In Dreams, while MacLachlan is viciously pummelled by Hopper? Or the closing montage set to Julee Cruise's Mysteries of Love. Sigh- what a film...
The extras on BLUE VELVET are numerous, with only some being ported over from the previous DVD. Of most interest to fans are over an hour's worth of cut scenes presented in full HD, although for the most part they're a tad meandering, and more evident of Lynch's later INLAND EMPIRE style work than BLUE VELVET. Also- some of the footage is pretty wild and would have certainly landed an X rating. Next up are some intriguing outtakes - giving us a rare glimpse into Lynch's on-set demeanour (pretty friendly and easy-going actually). There's also an hour long documentary called Mysteries of Love which is ported over from the old DVD. There was what I assume must be a firmware issue on my player that lead to the image only filling a tiny box in the top left corner of my screen (annoying) but the doc seems to be good. The only problem is that Lynch declined to participate, and all of his interview clips are vintage. Also interesting is an old capsule review by Siskel and Ebert At the Movies where Ebert absolutely destroys the film. Lynch's movies tend to be divisive. A very nice package overall.
This really is a must-have for any adventurous moviegoer. Lynch's canon of essential films really began with this, and I can't recommend it highly enough. It's a film I've revisited quite a few times over the years, and if by chance you haven't seen it- you're in for a ride.