‘Laura’ and ‘Blue Velvet’ to screen at the Egyptian Theatre

Laura 1944 posterThe delightful, urbane and unapologetically posh film noir “Laura” (1944, Otto Preminger) screens tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, part of the American Cinematheque.

“Laura” makes me nostalgic for a life I never led — the adventures of a 1940s career girl living in Manhattan: landing a job on Madison Avenue, buying suits and silk stockings for work, renting a place for $40/month, meeting handsome men, dinner and drinks at the Stork Club, weekend trips to the country.

Of course, “Laura” does have a few downsides — murder and mistaken identity, for starters. Seems that turning every head and being the toast of the town, as is the case with the charming and lovely Laura (Gene Tierney), may prove very dangerous. In a series of flashbacks, we learn the details of Laura’s life and it appears that in addition to having many admirers, she attracted an enemy or two as well. You can read the full review here.

Blue Velvet posterAnd Thursday night: Thomas Ethan Harris presents a seminar on deconstructing writer/director David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet” (1986). This detailed look inside Lynch’s masterpiece takes place in the Spielberg Theatre of the Egyptian.

In “Blue Velvet,” Lynch dazzles and disturbs us as he probes the evil beneath the surface of sunny small-town Americana. Twenty-eight years later, its trippy shimmer has not dimmed, reminding us of Lynch’s auteur power. You can read the full review here.

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On the radar: photo l.a. show returns to Santa Monica, Lynch and Sirk films at the Aero, Carole Lombard classics on DVD

© Julius Shulman, Case study number 22, Playboy Image, C-print, 1960, Courtesy of Be-hold

Focus on style: photo l.a., now in its 22nd year, opens Thursday, Jan. 17, at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Work from 70 galleries and photography dealers from around the world will be on display. The show closes Jan. 21.

Auteurs at the Aero: On Friday, Jan. 18, at 7:30 p.m., the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica has a cool double-feature: David Lynch’s 1986 neo-noir “Blue Velvet,” starring Kyle MacLachlan, Laura Dern, Isabella Rossellini and Dennis Hopper, and “All That Heaven Allows” (1955, Douglas Sirk), a subversive love story about the romance between a lonely widow (Jane Wyman) and her gardener (Rock Hudson).

The Carole Lombard DVD set

Lombard love: TCM is bringing three early and rarely seen Carole Lombard performances to DVD. Carole Lombard in the ’30s will be available exclusively through TCM’s online store beginning Monday, Jan. 21.

With her sparkling presence and sharp timing, the stunning Lombard delighted audiences in some of the greatest screwball comedies ever made, but she spent the early part of her brief career playing dramatic roles and romantic ingénues. (Lombard died in a plane crash in 1942.)

Highlighting her lesser-known films, this DVD set includes fully restored and re-mastered editions of “No More Orchids” (1932), “Brief Moment” (1933) and “Lady By Choice” (1934).

The collection also features an introduction by TCM’s Ben Mankiewicz and bonus materials, including production stills, behind-the-scenes photos, lobby cards and movie posters.

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Suspenseful, subversive ‘Blue Velvet’ continues to beguile

Blue Velvet/1986/MGM/120 min.

David Lynch

In “Blue Velvet,” writer/director David Lynch dazzles and disturbs us as he probes the evil beneath the surface of sunny small-town Americana. Twenty-five years later, its trippy shimmer has not dimmed, reminding us of Lynch’s auteur power. (The film was released last month on Blu-ray.)

Setting the action in Lumberton, N.C., a real-life city with a retro vibe, Lynch introduces us to Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan), a college student with an Eagle scout vibe. Jeffrey stumbles into a sordid mystery when he discovers a human ear lying in a field.

As he investigates, he’s aided by cute, cheerful Sandy Williams (Laura Dern), who is also the police chief’s daughter, always a plus when you’re short on clues. Jeffrey quickly finds that the bloody trail of badness traces back to Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper), a psychotic abuser you’ll never forget.

Kyle MacLachlan and Laura Dern

Top on Frank’s list of victims is a sad and broken nightclub singer named Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini), who sees death as her salvation. As Jeffery is pulled into Frank’s world, he finds himself falling for both Dorothy and Sandy, slowly spiraling until he meets the ugliest side of his soul.

The nightmarish world of “Blue Velvet” is a perfect melding of sly, suspenseful tone, subversive storytelling and marvelous, beguiling images that only painter-turned-filmmaker Lynch could concoct. There is baseball, apple pie and Chevrolet. There are also curtains, stages, disguises, halting juxtapositions.

Jeffrey finds the rank, insect-infested ear just seconds after a beautiful shot of brilliant color – red roses, a white fence, pure blue sky. Savage violence co-exists with moments of buoyant charm. (Compare the slow-motion shots of friendly firemen waving at us with Dorothy’s unrelenting degradation.) Lynch ferrets out the good guys’ guilty secrets and furnishes warped humor – such as the camp comic relief from Frank’s bisexual friends, including a twisted impresario played by Dean Stockwell.

The performances are particularly haunting. Fresh out of rehab, Hopper shrewdly saw that the role could launch a comeback for him. In the DVD extras, Rossellini recalls being moved by Hopper’s talent as he let tears fall down his face.

Rossellini brings uncommon depth and richness to her breakthrough American role. (Lynch originally wanted Helen Mirren). Ideally cast, MacLachlan and Dern nail their parts as well – soft-spoken and gentle straight-shooters who spend much energy suppressing their turbulent, darker desires.

Now 25 years old, “Blue Velvet” remains weird, wild, risky and wonderful.

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‘Blue Velvet’ quick hit

Blue Velvet/1986/MGM/120 min.

Baseball, apple pie and Chevrolet. Gangsters, stray body parts and sadism. Writer/director David Lynch takes us on a journey to the seedy side of small-town America. Laura Dern is a sweet and sheltered high-school student. Her wholesome boyfriend Kyle MacLachlan can’t resist prying into the secrets of mysterious chanteuse Isabella Rossellini and her malevolent boyfriend Dennis Hopper. Disturbing, surreal, thoroughly mesmerizing.

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