Blue Velvet Midnight Movie Review
By Bret Dorman
Generally my Friday nights are pretty predictable and mundane. I check out Facebook every now and then as well as some various film related websites. I’ll make a dinner (either pasta or pizza) and try to find something on TV. When I’m done with my dinner I’ll finish whatever sitcom I’m watching (if I ever start a sitcom, I have to watch it till the end) or wait for the next commercial break of whatever crappy movie I’m watching. Then I’ll go fart around on the computer some more.
But once 11:30 hits, I spring into action. Throw on my jacket and do my pocket check. Keys? Check. Wallet? Check. iPod? Check. Then I leave and make my way to The Music Box theater for a Midnight Movie. Upon getting there I pick my movie, stop by concessions for a Small Popcorn with no butter and a Medium Sprite. If the movie is playing in Theater 1, I go to the Third aisle, Third row (starting at the second section), Third seat in. If its Theater 2 I’ll generally just try to find a seat that’s not directly in front or behind anyone and hope that no one sits directly in front or behind me.
Two hours-ish later I put my empty Sprite in my empty popcorn bag, throw it out, visit the little boy’s room, then start on my way home. I do make a slight detour on Clark Street, to check out the crowds getting out of the bars (2 am, closing time). There’s usually a gridlock of cabs which lets me cross freely and tons of cops patrolling the area or stopping to make someone’s night extra unlucky. Tons of drunk guys screaming and drunk chicks either crying or giggling (sometimes its hard to tell which one). The line at Ian’s Pizza is usually to the door. It’s only another minute to my house, where I get home and fart around on the computer some more.
And that’s it. Nothing special, but I like it. It’s ‘my thing’, what I do. But this Friday (3/4) it will be different. You see, even the movies Music Box plays at midnight, are predictably crazy. You can’t just show any movie at midnight and call it a Midnight Movie, it must be a certain breed. Which is why this Friday, when I go see Blue Velvet, I know for two hours even my predictable night will descend into the dark depths of David Lynch’s mad mind.
Story: Jeffrey Beaumont comes home from school and gets involved in an innocent love affair with local cutie Sandy, while exploring a dark secret that only gets darker the deeper he probes. Also, there’s some freaky sex!
I feel kind of sad for the people in the audience who haven’t seen Blue Velvet yet. For one of two reasons… One, this movie is often hyped as super crazy and freaky and while that may be true, the movie never really flashes it as a badge of honor. It just is. And reason Two, if they don’t know anything about the movie, they’re in for a super crazy and freaky treat! (Yes my Reason Two is why Reason One exists…)
The biggest strength of this movie as a Midnight Movie is its pacing. Every scene takes its times. Every character plays his or her part straight. By 30 minutes in we haven’t really done anything except get a look at an average town with average people. But once we slip into Dorothy Vallens’ seventh floor apartment room, the movie takes a dark turn that, like our main character, we want to know more about. But we don’t get it right away. The movie unfolds its mystery at the same pace as it shows us the average town with its average people.
Even the movie’s energy level is subdued a bit. Average scenes become almost dull and lifeless while intense scenes are even taken down a notch. It’s almost as if David Lynch set out to write an absurd comedy but then decided to have his actors play it straight. I hate to use the phrase ‘Documentary Style’ because of movies like Paranormal Activity and Catfish and also because the movie isn’t shot like a doc, its shot like a film. But the characters are all shown as real people that are really disturbed.
And speaking of disturbed… Dennis Hopper as Frank Booth is one disturbed man. As Frank shouts obscenities to everyone he knows, we start to realize this man is really dangerous. His character seems to be like a litmus test for the tolerance of evil people in the world. It’s as if he woke up one day realizing he could get people to do whatever he says and started seeing how far he could take it, before losing himself in his own power. Jeffrey innocently asks, “Why are there people like Frank?” Because everyone else does exactly what he says and no one stands up to him.
But as our character, a good hearted and innocently curious young man, explores his world more and more he realizes that in the face of evil, good must stand, and we see the toll it takes on those around him who he loves. The strangest part may not be how crazy the movie gets, but how seemingly unfazed Jeffrey remains through the end of it.
So even though the rest of my Friday will be the same, with every viewing of Blue Velvet, it’s hard to not get hypnotized. Even though you know what’s going to happen, the movie is still as unpredictable as ever. It goes places you’ve never been before, don’t ever want to go again, but can’t stop visiting…
Why You Must See It At Midnight: A movie that’s this absurd deserves to be seen with other people, as part of the message is how voyeuristic we are. As the movie theater watches Jeffrey as he watches those around him, we can’t help but all be united in our own sick minds. And when the movie lets out and everyone pours into the street, we can look around and say “Now… it’s dark”.