Sunday, June 17, 2018

David Lynch Movie Night with "Blue Velvet" at Seattle Art Museum: Jun 21

As part of the contractual details of directing the 1984 adaptation of Frank Herbert's "Dune" for producer Dino De Laurentiis, David Lynch was under obligation to direct two more films, the first of which was to be a planned sequel. In the wake of the film's poor box office and mixed critical reception, the sequel was never developed beyond the stage of its initial script. The Herbert project then aborted, opportunity opened for the  second of the two films to be developed as a more personal work. Expanding on ideas that Lynch had been gestating as far back as 1973, and a screenplay that had been shopped around by the director since the late 1970s, De Laurentiis became both its producer and distributor. Where other studios declined the screenplay due to its tarnished depiction of smalltown American life, foreground presentation of violence, and strong sexual content, the Italian independent gave the director free reign within it's budgetary constrains. And most importantly, power of final cut. Not limited to his early shorts, boldly experimental feature length effort, and Academy Award nominated "Elephant Man", the premise of a subconscious underworld buried beneath the facade of everyday existence remains one of the reoccurring themes throughout the totality of the director's work. Nowhere in David Lynch's filmography is this dichotomy more explicit in it's depiction than in "Blue Velvet". In the decades following it's release, the film would go on to be considered one of the most notable, and influential, independent American works of the 1980s. Not only significant within the independent cinema landscape of the decade, "Blue Velvet" earned David Lynch his first Academy Award nomination, as well as consideration at Cannes. The film gaining further appreciation in the new century, indicative of its inclusion in the BBC's 2015 global critical assessment of the 100 Greatest American Films Ever Made.

While it relaunched Dennis Hopper's career, and made the daughter of Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini a household name, "Blue Velvet" was powerfully divisive at the time of its release in 1986. Much in the way a decade later Lynch's underappreciated "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me", disturbed and alienated fans who had joined on for the television series' global phenomena. Star critic Gene Siskel included "Blue Velvet" on his list of the best films of 1986, asserting that; "Blue Velvet" crosses the line of good taste, but so does real life. It also contains some of the year`s best filmmaking". Like was often the case, his companion and cineaste sparring partner, Roget Ebert had quite other things to say on the subject. Writing for The New Yorker, Pauline Kael was engrossed with the film's contrarian tides of humor and horror, citing that; "this is possibly the only coming-of-age movie in which sex has the danger and the heightened excitement of a horror picture. The charged erotic atmosphere makes the film something of a hallucination". Searing first encounters with "Blue Velvet" aren't only limited to 1986, to this day the film remains spellbinding and dreamlike in it's hallucinatory representation of the underside of the American smalltown life. Three decades from it's release, David Lynch's American dream continues to garner pieces like Peter Bradshaw's "David Lynch's Blue Velvet: Why I Still Can't Take My Eyes Off It" for The Guardian. Seattle Art Museum's annual summer David Lynch Movie Night pairs the new restoration of the original with Peter Braatz' behind the scenes making-of documentary "Blue Velvet Revisited". Braatz' documentary drawing from an amassed array of period super-8 footage and photographic stills, set to a new soundtrack supplied by post-punk luminaries Tuxedomoon.