Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Taste of Blue Velvet

I must admit to committing a rather peculiar act the other day.  You see, besides being a (world famous!?) film critic and a (still relatively novice) film historian, I also run, along with my lovely wife, a small arthouse cinema in my hometown of Harrisburg PA.  In connection with our local film festival, we play a few midnight movies each and every Memorial Day weekend.  This year, one of the films was David Lynch's brilliantly subversive Blue Velvet.  I have never seen BV on the big screen (my first viewing was on VHS way back in 1987) and here it was right in front of me - and on 35mm to boot!

Now every time I would venture back to the projection room (we had the print in our grubby little possession for three days) I would run my hands over the film.  Now this is not the peculiar part of my story.  Really, it's not.  I love the feel of celluloid - always have - but when I would touch, nay, when I would rub, nay again, when I would caress that print of Blue Velvet, it took on a somewhat more, shall we say, erotic nature!?  Perhaps I was channeling Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper passed away sometime during this whole scenario) or maybe I was subconsciously dreaming of Dorothy Vallens - who knows.  All I knew was, something had possessed me.  But again, this is not the peculiar part - or at least it is not the most peculiar part.  Just wait.

 You see, at some point, don't ask me when, I came to the conclusion that caressing was just not enough.  I wanted more.  I needed more!  I had to have more!!  So, of course, I took the next logical step.  I licked that 35mm print of Blue Velvet.  You read that right - I licked it.  It was just a tiny lick mind you, but a lick nonetheless.  My wife once contemplated licking a Picasso at the Guggenheim in NY, but the beefy, burly guards had scared her off.  Alas, there were no beefy, burly guards back in that projection room, so I gave it a lick.  A gentle, loving lick.  The lick of a born and bred cinephile.  The revolutionaries of the sixties may have chained themselves to the cinematheque doors, but how many of them actually licked those films they adored so much?  None I bet - none!  Okay, this may seem quite strange - and indeed it may very well be - but there you have it.  I licked Blue Velvet.

I suppose this story could have gotten a lot weirder (think Jason Biggs and a certain apple pie that mom was told had been eaten) so perhaps a mere lick (okay, two licks dammit!!) is not the worst thing that could have happened.  Of course, then after all that was said and done (and licked) I sat down with a crowd of unsuspecting moviegoers and watched Blue Velvet up there on the big screen.  I couldn't really tell which few frames had been licked and I am sure no one else would have even fathomed such a thing had even occurred, but I believe it brought something more to the already luscious viewing on that big screen, amongst all those poor unsuspecting fellow viewers.

A brilliant film - licked or unlicked - and it was beyond a thrill to see it on 35mm and projected on the big screen for a crowd filled with mostly first-time viewers.  Most seemed to enjoy it (though some of the younger crowd seemed to laugh at the more melodramatic parts) and the screening was a great success - even if no one had any idea that I had gotten to second base with the movie earlier that evening.

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