Sunday, July 3, 2011

Blue Velvet. A-

David Lynch isn't up to his usual tricks in Blue Velvet, and the result is a refreshingly ordinary youth sleuth detective yarn-at least by his standards. Blue Velvet does have its fair share of oddities, some of which disturb as much as they surprise, but by and large I was surprised at just how normal the movie is. The story is like a clash between the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and a hard boiled, pulpy noir from the forties. A kid, Jeffery, living in a classic suburban American town in the fifties (at least I presume it's that decade, though it could be from the sixties or even the eighties), has finished his first year of college and is home for a long, hot summer with nothing much to do but throw rocks in a field. It's there that he stumbles upon "the ear," which by now is one of the most famous crime discoveries in the history of movies. A righteous, polite, clean-cut student, Jeffery immediately takes his find (I like how there's a paper bag just sitting there, like it's waiting to be used for that purpose) to a detective who immediately brings a team to the field to scout out the place. While Jeffery seems to be the type who doesn't go looking for trouble, his curiosity, mixed with boredom, takes him deep into the heart of the case. Soon he's several steps ahead of the cops, thanks in part to the detective's daughter (Laura Dern), who gives Jeffery some important initial info, reluctantly participates in his dangerous escapades, and forms a romance with him. Though Lynch is great at the almost fantastical depictions of old school America (Mulholland Drive), one expects him to take Blue Velvet into a more surreal nightmarish world and have it become something truly horrifying-like he did in Mulholland Dr. But besides one long, winding scene with Dennis Hopper's psychotic villain, the movie stays pretty normal. Lynch seems almost more concerned with just paying respect to history and cinema rather than doing that and then putting his own spin on his inspired world.

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