David Lynch’s new exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Morgan Meis in The Smart Set:

IC_MEIS_LYNCH_AP_001All is not well. But we do not see that at first. The white house and the white picket fence are in perfect order. The sky is blue and bright. The flowers are red and yellow. The grass is green. We’re surrounded by primary colors and clarity.

The man watering his lawn doesn’t notice the kink in the hose. The water pressure is building. The pressure in his neck builds, too. Suddenly, the man grabs his neck and falls to the ground. He is having a heart attack, or a stroke. The water from the hose shoots into the air as he falls. The man’s little dog bites ferociously at the stream. The camera pans down into the grass, into the muck of the soil and the writhing creatures beneath. Here, in the mud and the grime, nothing is primary in color. Nothing is clear or distinct. All is not well.

These are the opening shots of Blue Velvet, David Lynch’s now-classic film noir-ish offering from 1986. As the movie progresses, we find out that beneath the surface of Middle American banality, strange doings are afoot. A drug-sniffing maniac (Dennis Hopper) has kidnapped a local woman’s (Isabella Rosselini) husband and son. More disturbingly, the woman may actually enjoy the sexual torture her abductor puts her through. The two locals who get pulled into the drama (Kyle MacLachlan and Laura Dern) nearly succumb to the dark sexuality and violence themselves. All is very much not well.

But what is the point?

Blue Velvet seemed to interrogate Middle American blandness in order to reveal the disturbing violence and sexuality it hides. This has led some critics to complain that the movie amounts to rather ham-fisted satire.

More here.