Film Review: Blue Velvet Revisited

Blue Velvet Revisited

Blue Velvet Revisited is almost a video essay except it isn’t coherent enough to engage and not quirky enough to excite.

Peter Braatz, then a film student, wrote to David Lynch and asked if he could cover the production of his latest film, Blue Velvet. The resulting film is a concoction of interviews with Lynch, cast and crew, photographs, audio and footage…

David Lynch’s Blue Velvet is undoubtedly a cult classic. Given the affection towards Lynch’s work, it is unsurprising that a documentary has been made about one of his most memorable films. The audience will want some insight, some hitherto unknown background to the film. Blue Velvet Revisited, sadly, does not offer this.

Rather than a traditional format, the film is made up of archive footage captured by Peter Braatz at the time of production. There are ample on set images, as well as some interviews. The film does not seem to have a strong aim; rather it floats around with a hazy quality.

Blue Velvet Revisited begins slowly, with imagery, but little in the way of insight. The documentary gets a bit more interesting background when the focus shifts to the film set and its props. There are a couple of interesting remarks, such as Lynch discussing using technology despite his love for the organic. There are also some interesting comments on Super 8,filmmaking and lighting.

The score works well, but it needed to be interspersed with more commentary. Blue Velvet Revisited could have done with more musings from Lynch, or even from other crew and cast. There is little insight into other crew, apart from a few asides – Kyle MacLachlan’s double for example. Isabella Rossellini needed more than a sentence and some brief footage.

Ultimately, Blue Velvet Revisited suffers from a paucity of strong editing, and a lack of an overall drive. A wasted opportunity to reveal something about a fantastic film.

Blue Velvet Revisited is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2016.

Film Review: My Dog Tulip

Paul and Sandra Fierlinger’s My Dog Tulip is a charming film that offers as much from its visuals as it does from its narrative. There is a warmth to the film that is likely to be appreciated by all who view it.

Writer J.R. Ackerley, who lives alone, decides to adopt a German shepherd. Tulip is an excitable animal, and not at all house-trained. Over several years, man and dog become firm friends. Their friendship seems even to outweigh their relationships with others…

My Dog Tulip is based on the story by J.R. Ackerley. His narration guides the story, detailing the relationship between man and dog, and speaking for Tulip. This is ultimately very subjective; the character makes requisite assumptions about the dog’s emotions and about what she may be thinking.

The film is both emotional and pensive. Pet-owners will no doubt see parallels with the onscreen relationship between man and dog. Nonetheless, the friendship between the pair is even more fundamental than this. Even those who do not care for animals will be hard pressed not to be moved by My Dog Tulip. The story is thoughtfully told, offering sentiment and humour. The companionship at the heart of the film is something many strive for, albeit perhaps in a different guise. Moreover, most viewers will be able to empathise with Ackerley’s difficulties in forming attachments to other people. It is only through his relationship with Tulip that the writer is able to experience the closeness that many take for granted.

There are several sequences in the film that break the narrative. These are often amusing, where the protagonist’s imaginings about his canine companion come to life. In some of the sequences, for example, Ackerley imagines Tulip in a humanised form, wearing clothes and carrying a handbag. These breakaways serve to highlight the wonderful imagination of Ackerley himself, as well as the Fierlingers in bringing it to life.

The animation is hand-drawn, and has a very unpolished appeal. The style is at odds with the state-of-the-art animation of Pixar etc, and is refreshingly quaint as a result. The lines around Tulip always look more slapdash than the humans in the film, which serve to accentuate the energy of the dog.

Christopher Plummer is well cast as the voice of Ackerley, suitably situating the film it its period setting. The late Lynn Redgrave brings amusement as Nancy, while Isabella Rossellini is instantly recognisable as kindly vet Ms Canvenini.

My Dog Tulip is a wonderfully imaginative animated film that exudes genuine feeling. A must see for animation fans and dog lovers alike.