Tag Archives: David Lynch

Blue Velvet (1986) Review

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Blue Velvet

Time: 120 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] contains violence, sexual violence and offensive language
Cast:
Isabella Rossellini as Dorothy Vallens
Kyle MacLachlan as Jeffrey Beaumont
Dennis Hopper as Frank Booth
Laura Dern as Sandy Williams
Hope Lange as Mrs. Pam Williams
Dean Stockwell as Ben
Director: David Lynch

College student Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) returns home after his father has a stroke. When he discovers a severed ear in an abandoned field, Beaumont teams up with detective’s daughter Sandy Williams (Laura Dern) to solve the mystery. They believe beautiful lounge singer Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) may be connected with the case, and Beaumont finds himself becoming drawn into her dark, twisted world, where he encounters sexually depraved psychopath Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper).

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Blue Velvet was the first movie I saw from David Lynch and it left quite an impression on me. Returning back to it after having seen some of his other movies, I find it to be an even better movie. A great and strange thriller, directed excellently and beautifully. It may have been divisive upon its release, but its generally regarded now as a classic.

BLUE VELVET, Kyle MacLachlan, 1986. ©De Laurentis Group/Courtesy Everett Collection.

Blue Velvet is by far the most straightforward of David Lynch’s films, at least one of his most. While there’s definitely a lot to unpack thematically, you won’t have to deep dive interpret events yourself to understand the general plot (like some of his other movies like Mulholland Drive). It is tightly paced across the 2 hour long runtime and keeps you constantly engaged. It starts as an innocent enough mystery that seems Nancy Drew esque (albeit one sparked by discovering a severed human ear in a field) but turns into a seedy nightmare as it descends into an unsettling psychosexual fantasy world. Lynch contrasts the bright and sunny façade of suburban life with the dark underbelly of crime and sexual perversions. Blue Velvet may be a neo-noir thriller but it’s a mix of a lot of elements, noir, comedy, satire, thriller, a bit of horror, and it’s even part sordid noir and teen melodrama. It’s a film dripping in sleaze and foreboding menace, and has a creepy aura.

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The cast are all great in their parts. Kyle MacLachlan does well as Jeffrey, portraying someone who finds his innocence corrupted as he uncovers what’s really going on. Isabella Rossellini gives a very effective and memorable performance. Laura Dern is also good in her part. The performance that steals the whole movie however is Dennis Hopper as Frank Booth. Hopper has played plenty of villains, but none of them come close to the level of Booth in this movie. He’s completely depraved, disturbed and incredibly memorable. The movie is already great before he shows up, but its taken to a whole other level when he does, and really does signal the reveal of the darker side of the film’s setting.

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David Lynch’s direction is nothing short of fantastic. It looks great, the cinematography is rich and colourful in its presentation, showcasing the light and dark of the town with impressive use of texture and shades of tone. At the same time there are occasionally some aesthetics of a horror film in here. The set and production designs are also quite effective. Blue Velvet really does aim for a noir movie feel, with the shadows, some of the shots and the score. Speaking of which, the score from Angelo Badalamenti works quite well. The use of songs also works in their respective scenes, including Blue Velvet, In Dreams and Mysteries of Love, fitting Lynch’s vision perfectly and heightening their respective scenes.

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Blue Velvet is an excellent movie, a dreamlike and nightmarish thriller so fantastically directed and put together. It is up there among Lynch’s best work, and I think I’m close to considering it among my favourite movies now. While I haven’t finished watching all of David Lynch’s movies yet, I’d say that if you wanted a movie to start to get into his filmography, Blue Velvet is a great start.

Dune (1984) Review

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Dune (1984)

Time: 136 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Francesca Annis as Lady Jessica
Leonardo Cimino as the Baron’s Doctor
Brad Dourif as Piter De Vries
José Ferrer as Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV
Linda Hunt as the Shadout Mapes
Freddie Jones as Thufir Hawat
Richard Jordan as Duncan Idaho
Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides
Virginia Madsen as Princess Irulan
Silvana Mangano as Reverend Mother Ramallo
Everett McGill as Stilgar
Kenneth McMillan as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen
Jack Nance as Nefud
Siân Phillips as Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam
Jürgen Prochnow as Duke Leto Atreides
Paul Smith as The Beast Rabban
Patrick Stewart as Gurney Halleck
Sting as Feyd Rautha
Dean Stockwell as Doctor Wellington Yueh
Max von Sydow as Doctor Kynes
Alicia Roanne Witt as Alia
Sean Young as Chani
Director: David Lynch

In the year 10191, a spice called melange is the most valuable substance known in the universe, and its only source is the desert planet Arrakis. A royal decree awards Arrakis to Duke Leto Atreides (Jürgen Prochnow) and ousts his bitter enemies, the Harkonnens. However, when the Harkonnens violently seize back their fiefdom, it is up to Paul (Kyle MacLachlan), Leto’s son, to lead the Fremen, the natives of Arrakis, in a battle for control of the planet and its spice. Based on Frank Herbert’s epic novel.

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I’ve heard about Dune for some time, especially that it was David Lynch directing a movie based on the influential novel, and had been meaning to watch it at some point. With Denis Villeneuve’s version coming however, I was felt that the time was right to watch Lynch’s version. Dune certainly was an ambitious book to adapt for the big screen. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to work out all that well, even Lynch himself didn’t have a good time making the movie, mostly due to the studio interference that went on during the movie. Still, I liked what I saw.

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I haven’t read Frank Herbert’s Dune, so I can’t comment on how well it was adapted to the big screen. A lot of adaptations of books can suffer from not being able to cover everything in its story and having to condense it down quite a bit, but that especially feels the case with this movie. It certainly feels like there’s a lot missing from the movie, even at 2 hours and 15 minutes. The last half of the story particularly feels quite rushed. One of the biggest mistakes was the use of narration, it’s used not only to explain a lot of the background and worldbuilding but it’s mainly used to reveal their inner thoughts. It was already quite a bit much with Kyle MacLachlan, but there’s narration from multiple characters about their feelings and it quickly becomes annoying. The exposition dumps were also pretty bad, the film literally opens with a floating head narrator shoving so much information onto you, and it is just a mess. Additionally, I wasn’t particularly interested in the characters or the story, I was just following what was going on.

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Dune has got a large cast, including Kyle MacLachlan, Patrick Stewart, Brad Dourif, Max von Sydow. Sean Young and Sting. Generally I remember the cast being alright, but they are constrained by the characters being not particularly well written or interesting. However, they do what they can.

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David Lynch is a great director and we know this from many of his other movies like Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet and The Elephant Man. With that said, while I haven’t seen all of his movies, when most people say that Dune is easily his weakest movie, I believe that. At the same time, I think it has got a lot of things going for it, and I even liked some of the choices that Lynch made. The production designs and costumes definitely go all out on the craziness. I haven’t read the book so I’m not sure if the designs are supposed to resemble how they look in Lynch’s movie, but looking at it all as its own thing, I liked it in a campy and over the top sci-fi way. The visual effects however don’t hold up well. Some are a little dated, other parts look so absurdly dated that I can’t imagine that it looked particularly good even for the 80s.

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David Lynch’s Dune is a bit of a mixed bag to say the least. Some of the direction didn’t work so well, and while the ideas are there, they weren’t executed the best. I think mainly that Dune just wasn’t ready to be made into a movie that early on, and at 2 hour and 15 minutes long it wasn’t quite enough. However, I don’t regret watching it, and I even enjoyed it for what it was. I will say that what benefited my experience of this movie was knowing that Villeneuve’s version would be coming and imagining how many of these concepts would be delivered by him (I even started imagining some of the characters in Lynch’s Dune played by the actors cast in Denis’s version). 1984 Dune doesn’t succeed all that well, but I think it’s worth a watch at the very least.