Thursday, May 28, 2015

Really determined to rewatch Blue Velvet

I wasn't going to let a broken remote control or having to stay up until 1:30 a.m. deter me on finally rewatching Blue Velvet.

This is a revisit that's been on the docket for some time. I made an attempt around a year ago, but had to bail when the disc was scratched. Then I borrowed it from the library about a month ago, but it never made it into the player.

This time I had a BluRay from the library, not a DVD, which somehow seemed to increase my resolve to get it done. However, I inadvertently chose the worst of those three conditions to try to watch it.

See, our remote control for our BluRay player is broken. I should say, it's still broken, because it's been 10 days now and we still have not done anything about it. I should also say, it might be broken. Part of the unusual delay in fixing such a central component of our entertainment setup is that I can't be sure it's the remote itself that's broken. The first signs of its failure were that any time you pressed one of the buttons, the red Ghostbusters circle appeared on the screen - as in, "this command is not valid." Now, however, it won't react in any way at all. (And yes, I've changed the batteries.)

Although in situations like this in the past, I may have assumed it was the remote at fault, for some reason now I am paranoid that the sensor on the BluRay player may be broken. If it is, and if I buy another remote, it will just be money down the drain. And perhaps the difference is that I live in Australia, where they want to charge you half the price of the player itself to replace the remote (or so I assume, but then again, I guess the price of all these electronics has come down in recent years). I tried to program the player to run off one of our other remotes, but it never accepted any of the codes as valid.

So while I twiddle my thumbs and hem and haw about what to do, half-heartedly trying the remote again every couple days to see if something has changed, I've been careful not to acquire any new discs, figuring to just focus on iTunes and streaming options for a couple weeks. But then my son said he wanted to go to the park near the new library yesterday, and being near the new library, which has a fantastic movie collection, I could not resist swooping in and picking up eight new BluRays.

I popped in Blue Velvet last night, fairly certain that I would fall asleep at some point during it, but also certain that I could resume after a short nap (this actually works surprisingly well for me). I was also pretty certain, from trial and error last week with A Separation, that I had a method for resuming my spot in the movie, even though I had no pause option.

No such luck. Perhaps because it's a BluRay rather than a DVD, and therefore more sophisticated than (in this case) you want it to be, it started me over from the beginning. Which wouldn't have been a huge problem, because I knew where I left off, except that I also don't have the ability to select chapters or fast forward.

So what do you think I did?

Well, I let the movie -- a two-hour movie -- play again from the start, starting at 11:30. And as good as Blue Velvet is, I didn't watch the whole first hour again. I occupied myself with things on my computer until it was time to tune back in.

And yes, I'm really tired today, to quote George Costanza in the "yada yada yada" episode.

But I'm glad to say the rewatch was worth it. It confirmed the greatness of the film. This is going to be an odd thing to say for a David Lynch movie, but I had forgotten how weird it is. What I mean by that is, my standard line of discussion on Blue Velvet, formulated after my first viewing (which was sometime in the late 1990s I think), is that I was surprised by how conventional of a movie it ended up being. According to my memory, although it was certainly a scarring experience, there wasn't so much about it that was downright weird -- as in, you can't make sense of it or it could be a dream, etc. So, there was a bit more of that than I remembered, specifically the whole odd visit to Ben (Dean Stockwell), in which he lip syncs along to Roy Orbison's "In Dreams." Loved that stuff.

And now that I'm a bit more immersed in Lynch's total filmography than I was when I first saw it, Blue Velvet kind of seems like his greatest hits -- even if some of those hits had yet to be made. Specifically:

1) The shots travelling down the canal of the severed ear and through the blades of grass are reminiscent of the shot going into the radiator in Eraserhead.

2) The lounge singer milieu would be seen again in Mulholland Drive.

3) The recurring use of a diner and the setting of the film in a (presumably northwestern) logging down both anticipate Twin Peaks. (Oh wait, I see the setting is North Carolina. Well, I'll just leave it.)

I have many other takeaways from Blue Velvet, but some are fairly banal for anyone who's watched the movie a number of times and read any analysis of it, so I'll leave off there.

What to do with the other seven movies I have borrowed from the library and really want to watch -- and what to do about the busted remote control, and how to respond to my son the next time he wants to go to that park -- remains to be seen.

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