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Episode 105 - Eraserhead vs. Blue Velvet (w/ Michael Nordine)


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Poll: Eraserhead vs. Blue Velvet (80 member(s) have cast votes)

Which film should be inducted into The Canon?

  1. Eraserhead (30 votes [37.50%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 37.50%

  2. Blue Velvet (50 votes [62.50%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 62.50%

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#21 Jack Frost

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Posted 06 June 2017 - 05:55 AM

Also on Blue Velvet being full of classic noir tropes, the scene that was described by the hosts as one of the most difficult in the movie where Dorothy finds Jeffrey peeping in her closet is also a fairly standard fetish story. One needn't look too hard to find many examples of fetish literature told from the POV of a voyeur who is discovered in their hiding place by the subject of their peeping, are humiliated and made to strip, and in the process the person being peeped at finds themselves intensely aroused by the whole affair and the two of them engage in passionate lovemaking.
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#22 Dale Cooper-Black

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Posted 06 June 2017 - 07:22 AM

I'm starting to realize (especially while watching the new incarnation of Twin Peaks) that there are actually two very distinct David Lynches: David Lynch the nightmare surrealist, and David Lynch the folksy raconteur. Every Lynch project has some combination of the two, thus making it easy to mistake the mixture for a single, unified vision--but these two David Lynches are actually circling each other in an uneasy truce, constantly vying to be the definitive Lynchian voice.

By my way of thinking, the apogee of "Nightmare Lynch" would be Eraserhead, while the apogee of "Folksy Lynch" would be The Straight Story. But if we want a truly representative David Lynch film for the Canon, we need something a little closer to the middle. Love it or hate it, Blue Velvet strikes a relatively palatable balance between the two.

I think you could also argue that if it weren't for Blue Velvet, Lynch might have wound up as a dimly-remembered cult figure. Dune was a massive failure, and Lynch could have easily gone the way of Michael Cimino after Heaven's Gate, watching his influence as a filmmaker dwindle as he faded into obscurity. Instead, Lynch dug even deeper into his own psyche and gave us Blue Velvet, which paved the way for Twin Peaks, which in turn unleashed Lynch on the wider cultural landscape.

I actually enjoy watching Eraserhead more than Blue Velvet (by a wide margin). But in the grand scheme of things, Eraserhead is a very cool sketch that shows a lot of promise, while Blue Velvet is a fully realized painting.
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#23 24 Hour Party Pizza

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Posted 06 June 2017 - 01:39 PM

Glad to see this forum is active again!

I hope everyone has had the opportunity to see the recent-ish print of Eraserhead that's been showing in recent years. Lynch did a new mix of the sound, and it is MONSTROUS. The NW Film Center had a run a few years back and though I'd seen it a few times, I was completely taken by surprise at the sound and how integral it is to the experience of Eraserhead. It really made me respect the film even more -- and I take issue with comments like this:

Marsellus_H said:

let's be honest: Eraserhead is an experimental student's film, albeit it an ambitious one.

"Student film" is probably not meant as a compliment, but it's also not true; "experimental" implies there's anything unintentional about the film. If anything, David Lynch is not an experimental filmmaker. Every element of his films is a specific choice and has intent behind it. He may draw from dream imagery but there's nothing random about his methods. Calling Eraserhead an "ambitious student film" implies that its reach somehow exceeds its grasp, and I don't think that's true at all. It's a wholly realized, complete work from an filmmaker who is probably our single greatest argument for auteur theory. (also no offense intended.)

Dale Cooper-Black said:

I think you could also argue that if it weren't for Blue Velvet, Lynch might have wound up as a dimly-remembered cult figure. Dune was a massive failure, and Lynch could have easily gone the way of Michael Cimino after Heaven's Gate, watching his influence as a filmmaker dwindle as he faded into obscurity.

Nah, Lynch seems to have a strong work ethic and remains productive in whatever medium he's currently active in -- music, painting, comic strips, Flash animation, and film. Look at Inland Empire: partly self-financed, and then self-distributed. Cimino tanked because he was an inefficient narcissist (Heaven's Gate is still a beautiful movie anyways!) who was pursuing his vision at any cost. Even if Lynch had never made another film after Dune, he would have been notable for other work. And Eraserhead would probably be even more revered.

Anyways, I really enjoyed the guest's arguments for Eraserhead and it swung me that way yesterday, but upon reflection I'm going to side with Blue Velvet. I think Eraserhead may be the more important film in terms of cultural impact as well as a more powerful cinematic experience, but Blue Velvet is the quintessential Lynch work. The technique, the images, the cast, the writing -- it's almost perfect. It might be perfect.

p.s., new Twin Peaks is SO good.

#24 HoldenMartinson

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Posted 06 June 2017 - 01:56 PM

View Postsycasey 2.0, on 05 June 2017 - 04:30 PM, said:


If Devin were still around, I could see him making major hay out of this verbal tic.

He'd probably play a pronunciation clip for Satyajit Ray.

#25 Dale Cooper-Black

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Posted 06 June 2017 - 02:01 PM

View Post24 Hour Party Pizza, on 06 June 2017 - 01:39 PM, said:

p.s., new Twin Peaks is SO good.


Isn't it astounding? At the risk of derailing this thread (something we were specifically warned not to do!), I really believe we are witnessing the quintessential David Lynch masterpiece unfold.
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#26 sabbersolo

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 01:21 AM

Blue Velvet!

#27 Jack Frost

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 11:46 AM

View PostDale Cooper-Black, on 06 June 2017 - 02:01 PM, said:


Isn't it astounding? At the risk of derailing this thread (something we were specifically warned not to do!), I really believe we are witnessing the quintessential David Lynch masterpiece unfold.


DANG IT! I don't have Showtime!!!!

Also while Inland Empire is far from perfect, it's the one that made an official Laura Dern fan out of me.

edit:
I ended up voting for Eraserhead. While Blue Velvet is probably the superior film, Eraserhead is the most distilled Lynch we've yet seen. It's like Lynch concentrate. Also, it seemed like Blue Velvet was winning and I feel like Eraserhead deserves some points for cultural relevance.
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#28 24 Hour Party Pizza

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 01:29 PM

View PostJack Frost, on 07 June 2017 - 11:46 AM, said:


DANG IT! I don't have Showtime!!!!

Also while Inland Empire is far from perfect, it's the one that made an official Laura Dern fan out of me.

FYI you can sign up for a 7-day Showtime trial on Amazon and watch all the episodes there. That's how I did it (two different trials so far).

I put off Inland Empire for years because I'd heard mixed opinions, so my expectations were quite low going in -- I actually ended up liking the film quite a bit. I think the low res digital video works to its advantage; it helps distort the "reality" of when Laura Dern's character is actually on camera or not. And the cinematography and lighting are still very sumptuous and interesting.

#29 HoldenMartinson

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 09:02 PM

Voted Blue Velvet, but ended up re-watching it with a friend this evening. Holy shit, Blue Velvet has kind of a terrible script. It's that everything else--the direction, the design, the performances, the photography, the editing, etc.--is so strong that you forgive the bizarro dialogue and weird character motivations. With that in mind, it actually made the film so much more fun. Blue Velvet has a lot to unpack in terms of craft, but in terms of text, it's incredibly messy, making nitpicking weirdly entertaining.

Goddamn, I love this movie.

#30 Jack Frost

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Posted 08 June 2017 - 04:17 AM

View Post24 Hour Party Pizza, on 07 June 2017 - 01:29 PM, said:

FYI you can sign up for a 7-day Showtime trial on Amazon and watch all the episodes there. That's how I did it (two different trials so far).

All the episodes, like the whole new season? Or just the ones that have been released so far? And thanks!!!\

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#31 alt0782

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Posted 08 June 2017 - 06:46 AM

I think just the ones that have aired to date. You might want to hold off until all 18 have aired to jump on that deal.

#32 Re42scott2

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Posted 08 June 2017 - 10:30 AM

For THE CANON (an exceptional standard of the medium), I chose BLUE VELVET. However, I do think ERASERHEAD is pure nightmare cinema that probably sticks with you in a way that BLUE VELVET doesn't. It is creepy, cryptic and haunting. But without BLUE VELVET we don't get the popular definition of something being "Lynchian". BLUE VELVET is a part of the collective consciousness in a way that ERASERHEAD could never be. Since this is a versus episode, BLUE VELVET makes sense as the clear choice. They are both great movies, though in radically different ways.

#33 Nodz

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Posted 08 June 2017 - 04:36 PM

I have to say Eraserhead. It's pure, raw Lynch and contains some of his most effective filmmaking. I was so glad that Amy said the baby was one of the best special effects she's ever seen, because I thought the same thing watching it this time. It's creepy, unsettling, gritty, and a touch sweet. The sets, the sounds, the acting, and the cinematography serve the film and the themes of desolation and self-image soooo well. Henry's apartment was his only refuge from the ugly, rundown dying animal of a city he lived in and the baby is a horrific reflection of his own flaws that invades his one safe space. Love it.

I don't want to say I love Blue Velvet but I do enjoy it. Rossellini and Hopper are both acting powerhouses, but most if not all of the themes are tackled in Twin Peaks in more interesting ways, in my opinion. I can't seem to separate this movie from that show, which isn't fair to the movie, but it's how I feel. I was surprised they didn't discuss Jeffrey's father in the hospital. During this viewing, I thought that perhaps seeing his father in this state affected his view of his own masculinity, and forced him to temporarily live in a female-dominated household. I appreciated how a lot of this movie is about Jeffrey's relationships with various women. You get a good grasp of his character based on how he speaks to Sandy, Dorothy, and his mother and aunt. Hmm. Maybe I do love this movie. But not as much as Eraserhead.

#34 NewAgeRetroHippy

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Posted 08 June 2017 - 11:26 PM

As someone who's never seen a David Lynch movie before, I felt like I missed-out the most by having never seen Eraserhead. I could retroactively see more of its influence on so much of what I grew up with, everything from Silent Hill and Deadly Premonition to Courage the Cowardly Dog.
Blue Velvet was a fascinating, well made film that I personally identified with, being from a small weird Midwest town (which I am currently back inside of for summer break), but it's impact and importance wasn't as readily apparent to me as Eraserhead's.

#35 mireczech

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Posted 09 June 2017 - 04:41 AM

As much as I love Lynch's debut Eraserhead, in the end I must go with Blue Velvet. I consider the former as the movie that helped Lynch at the same time establish himself as a true idosyncratic artist and as someone who wears on his sleeve the rich cinema history he comes from (mainly german expressionism and surrealism). The symbolism in this movie is handled with such confidence rarely seen in early works of filmmaker's filmography. But still, with Blue Velvet he taps into something not really explored before. In this film he sets up the Americana he is known for and builds on in his future works. And it also makes the case for me because it perfectly goes with the renewed Twin Peaks TV show. What better way to introduce its fans to other works of this one of a kind director?

#36 Salamander Salad Days

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Posted 09 June 2017 - 07:10 AM

Quick question for everybody: Did you guys adjust your TV when you watched Eraserhead? I borrowed a DVD copy of it and there was text before the main menu that said something about how tv sets are poorly calibrated and asked me to turn my brightness all the way down. There was so much black that the film felt even more like it was in a void but there were some scenes like the second time harry and the girl across the hall interacted that were so dark you could barely see anything unless you turned the brightness up a tad. Is the film really suppose to have such a limited field of view? I don't mind a dark film but I wonder if some of the intended darkness is lost in streaming or if what ever HD copy amazon/Netflix/Skynet uses has made up for it.

#37 Jack Frost

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Posted 09 June 2017 - 07:14 AM

View PostSalamander Salad Days, on 09 June 2017 - 07:10 AM, said:

Quick question for everybody: Did you guys adjust your TV when you watched Eraserhead? I borrowed a DVD copy of it and there was text before the main menu that said something about how tv sets are poorly calibrated and asked me to turn my brightness all the way down.

Inland Empire had a similar screen. I didn't actually follow the instructions because I have THX blue filter glasses and several of my DVDs have calibration screens that allow you to properly adjust brightness, color, tint, and contrast. I know Lynch likes things to fall off into darkness on the screen.
That being said, the only way I've ever seen Eraserhead is on a bootleg VHS I bought off the internet as a teenager. it's widescreen but it has Japanese subtitles. So take my opinion for what it's worth.
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#38 ravingponies

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Posted 11 June 2017 - 11:12 AM

Revisiting Eraserhead this weekend, I forgot how fully realized that world is. After it ended it took me a while to shake the movie off, which seems to be an increasingly rare feeling these days. The atmosphere and environment of Erasherhead is just so fully realized and incredibly suffocating that I was completely transported. I used to rank Blue Velvet higher in my favorite Lynch films, probably because it's one of the easiest to unpack and certainly a lot more fun to watch versus his more obscure and disturbing work a la Eraserhead.

If the Canon is just a collection of movies that we can recommend to others and they will enjoy them, then Blue Velvet is the winner. This doesn't seem to be the intention though since how else does Cannibal Holocaust get on any list other than Worst Horror Movies?

I'm going to assume the Canon is for important, unique films that paved the way for other filmmakers and are a representation of what cinema can achieve, so I'm going to have to submit my vote in for Eraserhead.

#39 Scottcarberry

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 12:36 PM

John Waters and Lynch both have two early films that are game-changing and for some folks, unwatchable; Pink Flamingos and Eraserhead. They also have mid-career films that are excellent and have been seen by an audience that didn't or wouldn't enjoy their earlier works. Namely, Hairspray and Blue Velvet. Blue Velvet goes in the Canon even though I love Eraserhead, too.