“Blue Velvet” (1986)

8Fifty? Please. This color needs only one shade. Considered by a substantial chunk of David Lynch fans as one of his greatest directorial accomplishments, “Blue Velvet” has grown into an iconic film and is a compulsory addition to any discussion of S&M’s ropey history in cinema. It’s almost 30 years old, yet hardly anyone before or since has been able to rival the on-screen chemistry Lynch gets out of Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini and the Heineken-hating Dennis Hopper, which percolates with equal doses of perversion, violence, BDSM and innocence. It’s another classic film dealing in masochism and sexual perversion that had Roger Ebert famously disappointed (see “The Night Porter” above), but it’s clear that when Ebert calls Lynch out on “whistling that it was all in fun,” there’s a clear misunderstanding of the director’s attempt to satirize and expose the frivolity of suburban society. The notorious scene of MacLachlan’s earnest, naked, college kid Jeffrey hiding in Dorothy’s (Rossellini) closet, and watching Hopper’s deranged and psychotic Frank Booth inhaling unidentified gas and screaming for mommy ranks right up there among the most disturbing sexually perverse scenes ever put on film. A testament to the power of the scene is that there’s actually very little violence onscreen. Thanks in large part to Hopper and Rossellini’s immersive performances, and Lynch playing to his strengths again (this was his follow-up to the failed “Dune”), “Blue Velvet” is BDSM at its most cinematically gratifying.

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