For some reason known only to my always obsessive brain, I often watch every single movie a director has made in a crazy Netflix spree. That's what I've been doing with David Lynch, and I have to say that Blue Velvet is my favorite of his movies. Starring Lynch regular Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini, Laura Dern, the utterly fab Dean Stockwell, and the scarier than hell Dennis Hopper, this movie is a dark, surreal mystery with a robin fetish. Well, that's the least of its fetishes, to be honest.
Young Jeffrey returns home from college to help out in the family hardware store after his father gets sick, and finds a severed human ear in a field. After turning the ear into the police, Jeffrey becomes involved with (a) the police chief's bright young daughter, (b) the disturbed and haunted wife of the man whose ear was severed, (c) the amyl nitrate huffing psycho who cut off the ear, (d) the dark and violent convoluted mystery of the reason for the severed ear, or (e) all of the above. If you answered e, you are correcto-mundo.
Lynch has called it "a film about things that are hidden--within a small city and within people." Once again, it explores Lynch's fascination with the darkness that lies beneath the apparent idyllic surface of small town America. It has sex, violence and lots of close ups of bugs. I have to say my favorite scene is also, for me at least, the strangest in the movie, where the Man in the Yellow Suit is standing, shot and bleeding and apparently dead, upright in a seedy apartment, as the Man Who Got His Ear Cut Off (aka Don) kneels in front of him with his head all hacked up and bandaged. It is as odd as any surrealist painting, and an image that will stick with me forever. Yep, it's a feel good kind of movie, further enhanced by Dean Stockwell in freaky makeup singing "In Dreams" with a shop light for a microphone, and Dennis Hopper going absolutely psycho in every single scene. Man, Dennis was amazing.
Interestingly, Robert Ebert absolutely hated the movie, and thought Lynch degraded Isabella Rossellini to an unacceptable point. Some of her scenes are certainly difficult to watch, but there's an artistry to the film that shines beyond the darkness. Lynch is a genius, and I think this film may be his neo-noir masterpiece.