Viewed – 02 December 2011 Blu-ray
David Lynch’s 1986 movie has been heralded by some critics as the greatest movie of the 80s, even if it’s subject matter and provocative, often disturbing imagery may contradict what we think of when recalling the eighties. There was clearly nothing quite like it during that decade, and despite an initial negative reaction, has gone on to be considered the director’s masterpiece. I have had a mixed relationship with the film, and although a fan of Lynch’s work, didn’t enjoy Blue Velvet when I first watched it. Like much of the director’s output, it treads an awkward line between conventional drama / thriller plotting and absolute weirdness with moments that can’t be rationalized or explained … yet on subsequent viewings, I began to greatly appreciate the style, the uncomfortable atmosphere and the often beautiful imagery.
Beautiful and disturbing, much like Isabella Rossellini’s Dorothy, part glamorous siren, part broken doll. She plays a nightclub singer trapped in a situation by the malevolent Frank, a career best from the late Dennis Hopper who deliver’s an intense and very disturbing performance of a very perverse and unpredictable monster. Dorothy finds salvation from snooping high school amateur detective Jeffrey (Kyle Maclachlan) who stumbles upon her plight after finding a severed ear in a field, and after giving it over to the Police, begins his own investigation with the help of the Police Detective’s daughter Sandy (Laura Dern). He goes on to uncover a dark and sinister world lurking beneath the idyllic suburban town of Lumberton, and gradually enters a nightmare he may never wake up from.
This is movie that never allows the viewer to feel safe, and will be an acquired taste for some. It explores aspects of violence, masochism and sex few movies fear to tread, and although it doesn’t show anything particularly graphic, it creates a mood that is unflinching in its nightmarish-tone. Lynch is one of the few director’s who can perfectly capture the feel of a dream, and with a surreal use of music, from Bobby Vinton’s timeless title track to Roy Orbison’s seminal In Dreams, this has a look and feel uniquely its own, and uniquely Lynch. Quite brilliant.
The Blu-ray boasts a very nice if purposely soft-focus image, which oozes colour and detail. The soundtrack, very important for a David Lynch movie is also very effective, with clear dialogue and great impact from the music and also the weird and effective sound design. The extras are plentiful with a multi-part documentary called Mysteries Of Love running for 72 minutes, newly discovered footage spanning 50 minutes, and we also have outtakes, interviews and a Siskel & Ebert review. No commentary, although that is not really surprising considering Lynch’s often secretive attitude towards his work, and overall this is a great treatment for a real classic.
Verdict: 5 /5
Loving this – it looks crazy as hell, but retains much of the magic that made the eighties TV show so good – bring it on!!!
Viewed – 27 March 2010 Blu-ray
With the advent of the Twilight saga, Kristen Stewart has quickly become a household name and one of the more interesting rising stars. This amiable teen comedy-drama follows a college graduate (Jesse Eisenberg) who is forced to take a dead-end job at a local amusement park to pay for his University scholarship, and there he meets a bunch of likable co-workers who learn him the true meaning of life … mostly by falling for a girl, and learning some hard lessons along the way.
This charming movie is held together by some quality acting, especially from Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart as the troubled girl whose life is more complicated that Eisenberg first realises. Ryan Reynolds is on hand as a cool maintenance engineer come rock musician who gets all the ladies attentions, and along with some comic turns from various other characters – this is very entertaining. I had trouble deciding whether this was trying to be a full on comedy or a meaningful drama, and the movie as a whole sat uneasily between the two, and how things unfold isn’t particularly fresh or original, but the performances alone keep this from turning predictable. It dabbles in some mature themes as far as sex & relationships go, and it’s put together very realistically, capped off with an excellent 80′s soundtrack.
A worthy evenings viewing by anyones standards.
Verdict: 4 /5
Viewed - 29 August 2008 DVD
20th High School Reunion Edition
Here in the UK, I don’t think this 1988 teen comedy has anywhere near the cult following that it does in the states. At the time stars Winona Ryder & Christian Slater were tipped as the coolest actors of their generation, and both went on to become A-list celebrities with a series of highly regarded roles (Winona: Edward Scissorhands, Little Women, Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Slater: Interview With A Vampire, Broken Arrow, True Romance). But it was here where they truly hit the mark, and its sad to say both have no where near the appeal in present day they once could be admired for.
A satirical take on the teen movie, this is so the anti-John Hughes film, with the squeaky clean, straight-A cliques painted as the villains, and the rebellious outsiders the ones you route for. The Heathers are a trio of bitchy, popular girls who like nothing more than revelling in their own superiority and causing all manor of cruelty and unpleasantness for those unworthy of their company. Step in Winona Ryder as Veronica, struggling to fit in with the in-crowd, but attracted to James Dean styled loner Jason Dean (Slater), and soon he’s luring her into killing off those she despises in her school in the naive attempt of making it a better place for everyone.
Now this is very much a fantasy, with a very surreal style, and goes for a uneasy-comedy approach rather than anything remotely serious, which is somewhat its failing and its biggest selling point. Michael Lehmann’s direction with Daniel Waters razor-sharp, biting script (how very! – pre-dating Clueless) although playing it safe, doesn’t fail to keep you glued, and at the centre of the chaos are superb turns by a career-best Winona Ryder, and a fantastically psychotic Christian Slater.
This High School Reunion edition, one of several released by Anchor Bay holds two very interesting documentaries (with the new ‘Return to Westerburg High’ a particular highlight) and a feature commentary from the director, writer and producer. What makes this edition excel though is a superb picture and sound treatment, meaning if you’re a fan or even watching this for the first time – Heathers has never looked or sounded better.
Verdict: 4 /5