Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Blue Velvet

As I said, I decided to watch only bona fide classics from now on. It was David Lynch's Blue Velvet. I realized I hadn't seen it since it was first shown in the little town of Pori in 1987. I remember writing a review of it (I criticized the Finnish advertising for the film, since it seemed to me that some people had come to watch some nice romance), but I remembered only bits and details of the film. They are more interesting, since Lynch never explains everything - why does Frank Booth kidnap Dorothy Vallens's family in the first place? who kills the bad cop? who are the dead people that the bad cop is supposed to have shot? what's Dean Stockwell's character actually doing in the house with all the fat ladies costumed like it's 1964?

It was nice to notice that the film has been a precursor to many neo noirs, both films and books. Frank Booth is the quintessential neo noir bad guy, totally unpredictable sadist. There's no explanation for any of his actions, which is the essence of new noir.

Having said this, there are lots of things to criticize in Blue Velvet. Lynch tries very hard to show us that he's being postmodern and ironical - the results are dated. For example the scene in which Kyle McLachlan says: "Why is there so much trouble in the world? Why are there people like Frank?" is now nothing but awkward. It's also empty, as irony almost always is. Lynch has been criticized for showing no options for the bad he depicts. I don't know whether he really should (he's only telling a story here), but there's a point in there. It seems that he doesn't take his own pictures seriously, which undermines them. (Same goes for the Finnish Aki Kaurismäki.)

And yet, Blue Velvet is a strangely compelling and intriguing film. A true classic of the eighties. Now, what next?

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