In case you couldn’t tell, I gave up trying to make 30 posts in 30 days long ago. That’s why this is no longer titled in terms of a challenge, although it certainly has become challenging. What can I say? I just can’t give up the extra hits that putting the meme in the titles of these posts brings. I am looking forward to surprising some folks with my 30th post: favorite movie.
But for now, we’re still stuck on day 28 and stalling a bit. I know what movie and director I want to feature, just not what to say. Like The Shining, this movie intimidates me when it comes to addressing it on my little old blog. Blue Velvet is the movie in question. Since this blog is all about me anyway, (no, really), I’m just gonna revisit my relationship with Blue Velvet over the years.
Blue Velvet has stuck with me through hanging out with my first boyfriend, when we rented it after stumbling onto the Twin Peaks pilot on TV and were going through the stage in life when you figure out that you don’t have to look unique to be unique. It’s possible that this stage evades some people.
The movie was my old friend in the first year of college when I was out of my element and the English professors thought they could shock us by screening Blue Velvet (still my only big screen showing, unfortunately) but all they did was make my best friend run around saying “hiiiiit me” in a vaguely European accent every night after we got un-sober; that is, when she wasn’t baring her teeth to make fun of Laura Dern crying when Isabella Rossellini shows up naked at Kyle MacLachlan’s house. Also, those professors weren’t as smart as they thought they were and couldn’t come up with anything to say about the movie either, since all they did was draw out a dichotomy on the board with a line showing Frank Booth on one end and Jeffrey Beaumont on the other. And this was an honors class.
Blue Velvet became something to show people to gauge their reaction as well as something I felt anyone I thought was cool really needed to experience. One college boyfriend’s dad came in the room while we were watching and said, “you would have to be fucking stoned to understand this movie,” and left. Occasionally, someone would pull the reverse of this trick on me, and once for some guy’s trouble I kept his pirated VHS copy of the laserdisc forever. Not that I took it, it’s just that he left it and I didn’t try hard to give it back.
Then I stayed away from the movie for about ten years, remembering it as hilarious and absurd but something I didn’t necessarily need to revisit. I watched it again six months ago and I was entranced as if seeing it for the first time. I realized how purposely saccharine Laura Dern’s character is to make Frank and all his cronies that much more horrific by comparison. I noticed that Jeffrey really thought he was a man of the world for returning home from college right up until he got taken on a joyride by Frank, and that he was no more worldly than I was in college (or than I am now, which is to say, not at all). Dean Stockwell terrifies me now as Ben, because for some reason he is the only person who isn’t afraid of Frank. The relationship between Jeffrey and Dorothy leads me to endlessly debate with myself over who is exploiting whom (if anyone), rather than making me go, “ew, why is he boinking that old lady?”
I have gone on record before as saying that David Lynch’s movies scare the crap out of me, and this is no exception. I’ve run with the wrong crowd and I’ve done some stuff and seen some things, but nothing compared to Frank Booth. Blue Velvet would be a horror film if Frank wasn’t killed at the end. (Can you imagine what might have happened if he had just escaped to another small town, leaving the story open for sequels directed by folks like Renny Harlin)? I’ve also finally been able to somewhat understand why Dorothy allowed herself to be enslaved to Frank, having had a child of my own and being able to make the armchair assumption of how I’d feel if he was kidnapped.
Blue Velvet has gone beyond being a brilliant homage/parody of noir into a movie to be valued on its own merit. It’s probably the best thing ever to come out of the De Laurentiis Group production company (and no, Giada De Laurentiis either pre or post- boob job don’t count). Sadly, it’s also the best thing David Lynch ever did. Fortunately the film has also become an influence on other filmmakers. I will argue to the death that Travolta wouldn’t have died the way he did in Pulp Fiction without Kyle MacLachlan having missed the horn honking signal for also arrogantly using the bathroom on a stakeout.
I won’t deny that some parts are still funny (the dumpy woman dancing on top of the car while Jeffrey gets beaten up comes to mind), but maybe one day I’ll grow up. Recently I made my husband watch Blue Velvet for the first time, not to see if I would still find him cool afterwards (neither of us are cool), but because he had recently gotten into Twin Peaks and I knew he would love it. He almost made me spit out the water I was drinking when he said, right before the final confrontation, “David Lynch is a well-adjusted human being.” The thing is, I’m pretty sure that David Lynch actually is a well-adjusted human being, but I’m thankful that he has an outlet in his art all the same.