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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Blue Velvet Blu-ray Review

Posted by Courtney Ferguson on Tue, Nov 15, 2011 at 9:59 AM

BlueVelvet_CoverArt.jpg
Aces! I'd still be a sad DVD-land denizen if not for the motivating factor of watching the 25th anniversary reissue of David Lynch's seminal Blue Velvet, generally agreed to be his greatest film—a fucked-up trip of sexual awakening, surreal tableaus, pervy inclinations, and smiling, rotting Americana. It came out last week on Blu-ray, chockablock with extras including the Siskel & Ebert review where Ebert pooh-poohed the shit out of it, spurring David Lynch to hold a bit of a grudge against the critics. (I loved Lynch's use of S&E's two downward thumbs to promote Lost Highway as that film's main advertising blurb.) Plus a great hour-long 2002 documentary from director Jeffrey Schwarz entitled Mysteries of Love, some filler vignettes, outtakes, and trailers (and I believe most of these extras were on the DVD). But the goody that will have everyone screaming "Baby wants to fuck!" is the 50-plus minutes of lost footage. I posted a juicy clip after the jump. For the most part, the lost footage is needless exposition about Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) coming home from college after his father has a heart attack, and interactions between Jeffrey and his mom and aunt. But there's an amazing onstage bit from the red-curtained roadhouse, The Slow Club, that will knock your socks off—it's bizarre and funny and perfect. There's also a less-than satisfying inclusion of the much-ballyhooed topless woman who lights her nipples on fire (she's kinda far away so you can barely tell why her nipples are glowing). But there's also a pretty great and torrid new scene between Dorothy and Jeffrey on the rooftop of the Deep River Apartments. And sad for this reviewer, there's no explanation in the lost footage for this amazing Italian poster—I long to know why the Italians thought this image best represented Blue Velvet.

More after the jump.

Lost footage clip: Even before his admission into the Dorothy Vallens School of Voyeurism, Jeffrey had a voy-voy streak. Here he's watching some fellow college students at a party, before he gets his call back home to chainsaw-loving Lumberton.

Did you catch a very young Megan Mullally in the yellow sweater as Jeffrey's college girlfriend? Later in the lost footage, Jeffrey's on the phone with her as she's breaking up with him—his parting shot across her bow? "You should go into comedy."

My only complaint, and it's a complaint that all Lynch fans must bear on their Lynch-loving shoulders, is that the genius himself doesn't have much to say about his work. Never does, and this is is no exception. There's a grainy interview with Lynch from 1987 in the Mysteries of Love doc, but it's oh-so brief. And there's no commentary, natch. But I think the doc's interviews with Kyle MacLachlan, Dennis Hopper, Laura Dern, and especially the chatty and charming Isabella Rossellini shed a lot of light on the film's making, aesthetic, and durable creepiness. Rossellini gets into her portrayal of the broken Dorothy and how she used her body to depict nudity as a Francis Bacon-esque still life of meat. A fresh-from-rehab Dennis Hopper talks about his suggestion to use amyl-nitrate as the substance Frank Booth huffs, instead of Lynch's original idea of using a tank of helium. The interviews with scorer Angelo Badalamenti and cinematographer Frederick Elmes are also priceless—talking about David Lynch's first foray into writing lyrics (his first solo album just came out!) and constructing a smoke-belching piston-pumping shadow machine out of cardboard to make a scene look more like a factory.

So I'm not sure how valuable 50-plus minutes of lost Blue Velvet footage is to you—when only about 20 minutes of it are of much interest, however those 20 minutes are definitely humdingers—but it's a godamned amazing film that looks gorgeous, even/especially as it's screaming about Pabst Blue Ribbon and making taxidermy robins eat nasty bugs.

It really does look like a million bucks.

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