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Archive for April 7th, 2010

Dennis Hopper and Isabella Rossellini in 'Blue Velvet'

 Copyright © 2010 by James Clark

      While her lover, “Sailor,” is absent, headed into an ill-fated robbery/assassination, “Lula” trembles and cries out, “This whole world is wild at heart and weird on top,” the phrase resulting in the film’s name. In fact, its extended form, with the bit about “weird,” constitutes the heart of Lynch’s presentation of both of the films in view here. Though you might at first imagine she’s referring to corruption not having claimed her, she occupies a room in the Iguana Motel of Big Tuna, Texas, whose floor is compromised by a mesa of her vomit which for twenty-four hours she has somehow neglected to clean up. Sailor, too, had noticed the smell of “puke,” and doing something about it had never crossed his mind. During the 1980s, such tenacious infection dragging down “wildness” came in for close-up investigation by Lynch, and here we should look at two closely related instances.

    David Lynch’s films exude a strange traction by way of a number of means, visual and aural, as heightened by mastery in compositional and narrative judgment. The story of his art’s maturation consists of a lavish outlay for the sake of freeing that most elusive of overtures. The groundbreaking Eraserhead clings to a little beast’s death throes to maintain the possibility of delight. Two films following that debut, Blue Velvet (1986) and Wild at Heart (1990), audaciously concentrate upon the viscous lockdown oppressing his (and our) task of coordinating such an unruly play of power. In accordance with the windfall of America’s peculiarly fertile boisterousness, he sets these adventures in the most unselfconsciously overripe of its zones, the South. Moreover, the work situates the rebellious implications of that upswing amidst the poetry and attitudes of rockabilly music. Lynch is a connoisseur of rock and roll in its maximal incendiary payload. This most sensual, tactile of the arts has always thrived upon piratical menace toward a rational status quo. Blue Velvet snaps into view largely by virtue of a company of small-town North Carolina drug dealers whose leader has been transfixed by the following song.

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