Tag Archives: Isabella Rossellini

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.

Enemy (2013) Review

Time: 90 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Sex scenes and offensive language
Cast:
Jake Gyllenhaal as Adam Bell/Anthony Claire
Mélanie Laurent as Mary
Sarah Gadon as Helen Claire
Isabella Rossellini as Mother
Director: Denis Villeneuve

A mild-mannered college professor (Jake Gyllenhaal) discovers a look-alike actor and delves into the other man’s private affairs.

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I’ve been catching up on the films from Denis Villeneuve that I hadn’t seen yet. Out of the movies I had already seen from him however, Enemy was the one film that I hadn’t reviewed yet. Since it was a movie that required a rewatch anyway, I decided to give it another viewing, and I can confirm that it’s even better the second time. Villeneuve’s mystery doppleganger thriller is very effective and really is worth seeing when you get the chance to.

Talking about why Enemy works so well is difficult, considering that it would involve getting into heavy spoilers. If you watched the movie and are confused by it, I recommend looking up theories online that explain it, and better yet, think a lot about what you just watched. I say this because it doesn’t spell things out for you as to what’s going on, even though it was made with a certain intent from Villeneuve. I’m not spoiling anything when I say this, but there is no real twist or reveal for the movie, so you’re going to need to look deep into the movie to understand what’s going on. I’ll do my best to keep things spoiler-free. First of all, if you’re afraid of the sight of spiders, you’re probably going to find this a little difficult to watch as they make their unpleasant appearances in the movie (the spiders do actually have a symbolic reason for being in the movie instead of just freaking people out). The tone throughout is kept very eerie and unnerving, and you are pulled into this doppelganger story, which really has you intrigued from start to finish. It really does feel reminiscent of a David Lynch movie. Also, the movie is much better on a second watch, having known what a lot of the scenes now mean you really get more out of it. At an hour and 30 minutes, Enemy is kept at a good pace and has your undivided attention, even if you don’t necessarily understand what many of the scenes mean. The ending is quite abrupt and might feel cheap for some people but having known the context of the themes and all that, it’s great. It does have a meaning beyond being a jumpscare (specifically the last couple shots of the movie).

Jake Gyllenhaal was the main star of the movie in dual roles and as usual was fantastic. He really did feel like two different people and was especially great when he was playing off himself. Gyllenhaal is also great at portraying the obsessions of his characters as they’re trying to figure everything out. The rest of the limited cast were good but the supporting players who stood out was Mélanie Laurent and Sarah Gadon, who were great here.

Denis Villeneuve’s direction was fantastic as to be expected. As all of his movies nowadays are, it’s an absolutely stunning looking movie. Enemy also has got this yellowish tint to it throughout, which really gives off this strange vibe, and it’s very effective. There are also moments of brief scary imagery, which really are effective and get under your skin. It’s made even more uneasy by the soundtrack from Daniel Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans, giving this really unnerving feeling.

Enemy is incredibly complex and layered, the performances from dual Jake Gyllenhaal and Mélanie Laurent were great and Denis Villenueve has once again fantastically crafted a deep and unnerving psychological thriller. It may be confusing at first, especially for first time viewers, however it becomes much more satisfying as you think about it more, and especially when you watch it again. Go into it knowing as little about the movie as possible. Though just prepare yourself if you have a phobia of spiders.

Joy (2015) Review

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Joy

Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive Language
Cast:
Jennifer Lawrence as Joy Mangano
Robert De Niro as Rudy Mangano
Edgar Ramirez as Tony Miranne
Diane Ladd as Mimi
Virginia Madsen as Terri Mangano
Isabella Rossellini as Trudy
Bradley Cooper as Neil Walker
Director: David O. Russell

A story of a family across four generations, centred on the girl who becomes the woman (Jennifer Lawrence) who founds a business dynasty and becomes a matriarch in her own right. Facing betrayal, treachery, the loss of innocence and the scars of love, Joy becomes a true boss of family and enterprise. Allies become adversaries and adversaries become allies, both inside and outside the family, as Joy’s inner life and fierce imagination carry her through the storm she faces.

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Joy was a movie which didn’t initially interest me because its premise wasn’t very interesting but its cast and its director made me curious about it. Before watching it, I noticed it hadn’t gotten quite the praise that David O. Russell’s previous films have received and had mixed reviews. After seeing it I can say that while it’s not a bad movie, Joy was a little disappointing. The performances, particularly from Jennifer Lawrence was good, the direction was decent and the writing for the character of Joy is good. But the writing for the overall story wasn’t always strong and the supporting characters were too two dimensional, which really brought the movie down.

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The plot for this movie was fine, it wasn’t bad, I just wasn’t invested in what was going on as much as I should’ve. The movie is also a little shaky at the start, it didn’t really know how to start off the movie. Eventually the movie did fix itself over time and it knew what sort of movie it was going for. The writing for the character of Joy is great (which elevated Jennifer Lawrence’s performance), the same can’t be said for the other characters. These supporting characters felt too much like movie characters and never did feel like real people, which is a real shame since David O. Russell is usually great at having interesting characters. A lot of the time, many of the scenes with these supporting characters got annoying as they really were just generic movie characters with no real rhyme or reason for their actions.

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Jennifer Lawrence as Joy is definitely the best part of the whole movie and she had the benefit of having the best interesting writing. Joy is the most complex, interesting, entertaining and likable character in the movie, in fact she’s probably the only likable character in this movie. Even though I had issues with the writing of the characters, the supporting actors like Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper gave good performances with what they have. It’s just a shame that their characters aren’t as well written as they should be.

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Even with all its flaws, one thing I can say is that this film is well directed and the technical side of the movie is pretty good. The look was great and the style was also pretty good and worked for the film, which I think is something that David O. Russell is great at, it’s strange that he couldn’t do that with everything else.

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Joy isn’t by any means a bad movie. It does have some good performances, most notably from Jennifer Lawrence but the writing was quite flawed, not as interesting as it should be and had very underdeveloped and surprisingly one dimensional supporting characters. It is a little disappointing considering that I loved Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, both of them previous David O. Russell, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro collaborations. I will say that if you’re going to see this movie watch it for Jennifer Lawrence’s performance, because the movie on the whole is quite flawed.