Jan 26, 2009

The movie that made me a smoker

The wife and I caught Blue Velvet on TV last night. I was amazed and delighted to find it holding up so well. It's just as hypnotic as it was when I first saw it in 1989. It was the film that turned me into a smoker. Until then I'd been trying to smoke but not really enjoying it. But the moment the film ended, I staggered out into the night, feeling Dennis Hopper's viciousness like a kick to the kidneys, and without thinking, sucked down my first fully-enjoyable Marlboro red. I'm munching in Nicorette these days, but still felt the movie somewhere deep in my solar plexus. I was struck by just how quiet it all is — lots of whispered dialogue and ambient hum— and by the classicism of the story. I never really remembered it this way, but beneath all the severed ears and smeared lipstick, there's a detective story, very cleanly told, about a local drug king-pin being brought down. The scene at Pussy Heaven, with Dean Stockwell lip-synching 'The Candy-Colored Clown They Call the Sandman', remains my favorite all-time scene of cinematic debauch. Filmmakers usually get this horribly wrong, with too much going on in — too much energy, too much liveliness. Lynch catches the weird stillness of genuine depravity. It's just people in a room, checked out, swaying gently, lost to one another, waiting for someone to scream, "Let's hit. The fuck. Ing road."

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