Blue Velvet (Classic Film Pick)
In 1986 David Lynch broke the language of cinema wide open in the same way that Jackson Pollock did with the art world in the early '40s. Using a minimalist palate set in small town America, Lynch blended surrealist elements into a story of adult sexual awakening juxtaposed against violence, mystery, and mental illness. Using character names drawn from '50s Americana iconography, and a moody musical score to match, Lynch presents returning hometown boy Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) who promptly unearths a severed ear in a field that he crossed thousands of times in his youth. Jeffrey finds a willing ally for his private investigation into the mystery of the ear's owner in the local police detective's romantically inclined daughter Sandy (Laura Dern). However, Jeffrey is unprepared for the psychological and emotional upheaval that will devour him when he stalks the fetishized life of Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini), a sultry nightclub singer used to playing rough with a very debauched criminal named Frank (Dennis Hopper). "Blue Velvet" is David Lynch's greatest achievement. His balance of symbols and montage is at its most poetic and powerful. Every role is perfectly cast, and the story carries an indescribable undertow that kicks like a spastic mule in heat. It is the closest that any filmmaker other than Bunuel has ever come to such daring perfection of simultaneously primal and sophisticated cinema.