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'Blue Velvet,' 47 Seconds At a Time

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by Matt Singer
March 19, 2012 4:14 PM
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"Blue Velvet."
"Blue Velvet."

If you're a fan of insanely intricate film criticism, we've got a recommendation for you: "The 'Blue Velvet' Project" at Filmmaker Magazine by critic and professor Nicholas Rombes.  Three times a week -- Monday, Wednesday, and Friday -- Rombes writes about a single frame from David Lynch's 1986 film "Blue Velvet."  Each entry is about the image 47 seconds after the one examined in the previous blog post.  The "Blue Velvet" Project will last an entire year, and concludes in August 2012.  That's not putting a film under a microscope; that's like putting a film under about 150 microscopes one at a time.

I love ideas like this.  Good film writing is like good film: it breaks rules and defies easy categorization.  For years, I tried to convince a website to let me watch and write about the same film every single day for a month or even a year -- I wanted to do "No Country For Old Men" -- but that project never materialized, possibly because it was quixotic and pointless.  But then what piece of great criticism isn't quixotic and pointless, and also glorious to boot? 

Each day of Rombes' project brings new insights, not just about "Blue Velvet" and David Lynch, but about film in general.  This comment, from a few days ago, strikes me as a rarely acknowledged truth about film reception:

"'Blue Velvet,' extended beyond all reason over the period of one year, though still the same movie, is now experienced through chance. And yet perhaps chance is an inescapable (subversive) part of seeing movies in the first place. So much, after all, is dependent on our state of mind as we’re watching, the conditions of our surroundings, our predisposition toward the film itself, our feelings about those around us."

Even if you're not a die-hard Lynch fan, I recommend you take a chance on The "Blue Velvet" Project.  Or take a chance on your own mad film criticism project.  Embrace the quixotic and the pointless and the glorious.

[H/T Matt Zoller Seitz]

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