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BLUE VELVET, 20 years later, still packs a punch
by Tony Farinella

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David Lynch's BLUE VELVET

David Lynch's BLUE VELVET
It's been 20 years since David Lynch's BLUE VELVET took the movie world by storm. In those 20 years, we have seen just about everything you can see on a movie screen. From gay cowboys to racism, to brutal war killings, to Kevin Spacey in a shower doing well, you know, to Tom Cruise in MAGNOLIA. I can't leave out Felicity Huffman as a woman playing a man wanting to be a woman. Don't forget about a 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN finally doing the deed. The point is Hollywood and the movies have done about everything there is to do. Nothing is really taboo anymore or shocking.

Upon viewing BLUE VELVET, once again in my film class, with a group of people, it still evokes the same reaction it did 20 years ago. Disgust, anger, remorse, and a foul taste in peoples mouth after viewing. We did a discussion afterwords, and more then half of the class said they would never watch it again and called it pure trash. While the other half thought it was brilliant and understood what Lynch was trying to accomplish with it. But regardless of your thoughts on it, you can't deny the powerful emotional impact it leaves on the viewer. Even two decades later, it stands the test of time.

Today most films will shock for the 2 hours of viewing, until the next shocking film comes along. Audiences today are very hard to shock, or leave any lasting impact on the viewers mind. They are used to it. Turn on your TV, murder is an everyday thing. People will say "that's terrible", and then go
Eli Roth's HOSTEL

Eli Roth's HOSTEL
back to their daily routines. Violence in schools is at an all time high. Yet no one really flinches or thinks twice about it. It's common place and an everyday occurrence. Horror movies are making money at an all time high.

But it's all just a means to an end. People will see SAW, and then see SAW 2, and they want the violence to be raised. Yet after the film is over, it's out of their memory and onto the next graphic horror film. HOSTEL, with no big name actors attached to it, made amazing money its first week. People like to see violence, since we are a violent world. Most problems in society are usually solved with violence, unfortunately. Someone is rude to you in traffic? Kick their ass. Someone steals your girlfriend? Take a baseball bat to their head.

Or as we saw in last weeks Cubs/Sox game, someone slides into home plate and hits you, grab them and punch their darn lights out. But we put on a show as if we are normal, but deep down that violent side exists.

So why does BLUE VELVET, with everything going on and all that has been seen, still cause such a fuss?

Because it hits close to home for many, many people. Lynch portrays the opening sequence as this film being in a place we all know and love. A nice suburban town. Everyone is friendly, the girl next door is blond, pretty and nice. Everyone knows everybody. No problems, no worries, sunny, happy, and sweet. But as with a lot of things in life, it is too good to be
Dennis Hopper in BLUE VELVET

Dennis Hopper in BLUE VELVET
true.

Beneath of all this is corruption, lies, sexual deviants, murder, and lots of evil. It is under the radar of a lot of people. Or maybe it isn't, but they choose to ignore it. People go on smiling ignoring the seedy side of life, since it does not affect them. But it does not go away. It's still there. Getting worse and worse.

Lynch puts the camera right in this part of town. It's unflinching, disturbing, brutal, and often times tough to view. But these kind of relationships and these kind of people do exist. It is dark, gloomy, depressing and leaves haunting and disturbing images in your head for days.

With horror movies, most of the situations are rather unrealistic. No one is going to put a Venus fly trap around your head like in SAW. No one is going to make you saw off your own foot to stay alive. At the end of the movie, it's over, and you go on. The people you see killed on TV, are not usually your family or people you know. You never think it will happen to you and it usually does not.

But in a film like BLUE VELVET, it starts to make you question yourself as a person. The town you live in. The people you know. It shows you it. Something you don't want to see in this fashion. Everybody has evil in them. But we make efforts and a choice everyday not to give into the evil side. Not to be evil.

But as shown in BLUE VELVET, sometimes evil finds us and we fall into it, without even wanting to. Have you fallen into evil lately?

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Single and Loving Flicks
Every other Tuesday

Expect the unexpected from Tony as he'll give you his columns on the way movies used to be, the way movies are, and the way they should be.


Other Columns
Other columns by Tony Farinella:

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The 2007 Thanksgiving Turkey Movie Awards

Danielle Harris of Halloween 4 and 5 Interview

The Four Seasons of SAW

I love 2004

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Tony Farinella
Tony is an Oak Lawn, IL based film reviewer and columnist looking to have fun and share his unique views on film with everyone. Tony also has an unhealthy obsession with Vanessa Lengies, but that is neither here nor there.


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If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Tony Farinella by clicking here.


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