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Archive for October 27th, 2010

(David Lynch, 1986)

(essay by Kevin)

[This is a repost of an entry I did on the subgenre of Neo-Noir a while back…I am leaving it untouched here for one purpose: I have not added any addendums to this essay about whether or not Blue Velvet is a ‘horror’ film; so, let’s discuss whether it is or isn’t in the comments.]

If Chinatown uses the style of noir to create an atmosphere of loneliness and despair – revealing the corrupt truths of America the way Gittes reveals the corruption of the Cross case; and if Blade Runner uses noir’s style to look into the future to raise the level of awareness about a kind of hyperreality we live in; then David Lynch’s Blue Velvet is an attack on the ideological nostalgic 1950’s America filtered through Lynch’s twisted, microscopic lens. Lynch’s film peers into the secrecy of our lives in order to see what lies underneath the façade of Everytown, USA. Blue Velvet involves families, strokes, teenagers in love, severed ears, murder, drugs, and yes, sadomasochism. And yet Lynch does in deed bring all of these elements together in noir fashion to create an ethereal experience, something so surreal and so bizarre, it is as if the viewer is taking hits from Frank Booth’s gas tank.

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Copyright © 2010 by James Clark

      Regarding the reception of her Anatomy of Hell (2004), soon after the shooting of which she underwent a major stroke, from which she has recovered, Catherine Breillat remarked, “I hope they won’t kill me.” She might have found solace in the fact (undoubtedly known to her) that Ingmar Bergman presented the same incendiary zone in his Cries and Whispers (1972), and went on for decades thereafter. Of course the latter had chosen a discreet embodiment of the concern, embossed by a drop dead cinematic elegance more than ample to quell any mutinous inclinations from the customers. Breillat, bless her, came to the party with porn lightning rod, Rocco Siffredi, and a scenario bristling with pugnacious outrage—and so much more!

    Bergman embarks on his discovery, with steady, crystalline ticking of a clock, tapping upon the exceedingly well-groomed grounds of an estate in early morning diffuse light. He then proceeds to the interior of the villa and a sleeping woman restlessly deposited in bed, awakening (with red-rimmed eyes and nostrils) in startlement, and then invaded by a death-tinged realization, her eyes and mouth fighting panic but unable to dismiss the throbbing of a perpetual grief. Breillat, too, opens with insistent sounds, specifically techno-pop issuing from a dance club in the night. Outside, whereas Bergman showed a sedate stone statue of an angel with a lyre, the latter work shows a man sucking another’s cock. Inside, there is an all-male festivity going full-tilt, all but for a dark and attractive woman, who, after watching impassively for a while, makes her way sombrely toward a washroom, in the course of which bumping against another patron, who is acute enough to detect and care about the danger she exudes. He finds her slashing her wrist and rushes her to a clinic. (more…)

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by Joel

#93 in Best of the 21st Century?, a series in which I view, for the first time, some of the most critically acclaimed films of the previous decade.

While he is an infant, Atanarjuat’s family goes hungry. The boy’s father, an outcast and laughing-stock, can’t hunt to save his life – literally; the other men tease him, asking if his wife will hunt while he stays behind, sewing and cooking. That’s humiliation in this community of hardy hunters; still, the hunger must be worse than humiliation. Atanarjuat is too young to comprehend the situation, but his elder brother Amaqjuaq soaks it all in grimly – particularly the mother’s advice: “You must never forget to take care of Atanarjuat.” Somberly, the little boy reaches up to his baby brother, holding out a scrap of walrus heart (which a friend of the family, pitying their destitution, smuggled in to the starving brood). Tellingly, the half-asleep infant does not respond – it’s as if even at this early age he is confident in his own ability to survive, and perhaps complacent in the sense that his family will take care of him.

When we meet Atanarjuat and Amaqjuaq as adults (played by Natar Ungalaaq and Pakak Innuksuk), the big brother is still looking out for the little one. Atanarjuat is a skilled runner and hunter, weak and dreamy in other respects, but holding onto his lifelong faith in survival and confidence in family security. In the course of this striking and stirring epic, that second feeling will diminish drastically, as Atanarjuat is forced to look out for himself. But that first feeling – the confidence in survival – will only grow, and be based on a firmer foundation, because indeed Atanarjuat (the “fast runner” of the English title) will endure what kills other men, and the experience will only make him stronger.

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