David Lynch’s 1985 version of Dune—many people have said many unkind things about it over the years, because it’s a mess—but the movie has some indelible components. In his interstellar travel tank, the bladder-headed Guild Navigator. The floating madman Baron Harkkonen. Brad Dourif, with his classic list of hilarious gibberish. Sting’s codpiece with wing-embossed wings is not to be forgotten.
Lynch did not have the final cut DuneHis third feature film was ‘The Third Man,’ and he found himself at the mercy his producers who wanted to make a short movie of two hours that could be enjoyed by theatre owners. The director was forced to squeeze Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel, which is quite heavy, into an unsuitable runtime. Lynch regretted it ever since.
Denis Villeneuve (director now), whose last film was in Cannes. Blade Runner 2049Also an exhumation in the 1980s, he has now taken his own shot at DuneThis is a. Villeneuve has only been given a bit more time for his picture than Lynch was (this film runs just over two and a half hours)—but then his new DuneHerbert’s first book only. The second part, which contains much of the story’s action, will require a second movie, the making of which will presumably be contingent upon the ability of this one—which is long and dark and slow—to find an audience.
It might. The picture, which is filled with moody grey interiors and brutalist architecture as well as endless wind-sculpted desert, looks stunning. It’s the same story. The story is set in 10,000 years into the future. It takes place on Caladan (the ocean planet home to the noble Atreides families); on Giedi Prime (the ugly industrial planet stronghold of Harkkonens); and on Arrakis (the parched planet Dune), which is where melange, the sought-after spice, can be found. It is used to enable space travel, psychic abilities and other capabilities. On Arrakis, it is fiercely guarded both by giant sandworms and by the Fremen (native tribe), who are angry at their oppression over many years by colonizers from off-world planets.
This universe has an unidentified emperor who’s setting the Atreides family up for fall. The Baron Harkkonen is overseeing all spice-mining activities on Arrakis and has given them the task of completing this mission. As played by the late Kenneth McMillan, the Baron was the most grossly entertaining character in Lynch’s film; here, portrayed by an unrecognizable Stellan Skarsgård, rising up from a vat of black mud to begin his daily round of despicable activities, he is a darker, less amusing presence.
The Baron’s goal is to crush the hated Atreides family: Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac); his concubine Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson)—who’s also a member of the witchy Bene Gesserit order of black-robed female schemers; and their son, Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet). Kyle MacLachlan was the one who played Paul earlier in this movie. DuneChalamet doesn’t have much to do during the film’s first innings. He is mostly required to maintain his hair and to endure some pain. Because Isaac has a lot of family nobility on his shoulders, the charismatic duties of Isaac fall to Ferguson (a veteran from the ongoing). Mission Impossiblefranchise), who performs a subtle commanding performance as an actress of fearless devotion to her faith and family.
DuneThis year’s cast is more crowded than ever. But it is less confusing. Jason Momoa and Josh Brolin are the Atreides’ side. Stephen McKinley Henderson is also there. Dave Bautista, David Dastmalchian and Brad Dourif are doing their best to help the Harkkonens. The Fremen beauty Chani Zendaya is teetering in Paul’s dream world. She’ll get more screen time in the next film, if that happens.
The film benefits greatly from Hans Zimmer’s score—a jolting, hammer-of-the-gods electronic assault that’s sometimes more interesting than what’s happening onscreen. However, you would expect modern computer-animation technology has improved Lynch’s effects. One great shot shows Brolin and Chalamet running in the desert, with Brolin following them. However, the overall effect of the worms is very similar to those of 30 years ago. And the huge, clunky techno dueling armor worn by MacLachlan and company back then—one of the most ungainly creations in big-budget FX history—has been improved only slightly by Villeneuve’s fizzling update, which makes it seem as if the duelers are blowing a fuse. The movie is not one to be excited about, like so much else.(*)(
DuneOn October 22, the film will be released theatrically as well as on HBO Max.The Velvet Underground
A few things are unique about the Velvet Underground. They recorded four albums worth of incredible music, from 1966 through 1970. Their records don’t have annoying phasing or phony neobeatles string quartets. Its classic lineup consisted of two men with guitars, an untrained drummer (who was partial to tom-toms and mallets), and Nico, a German actress, fashion model, and musician. It must have been great to hear the music that they left behind, as it does still. However, very few people noticed.
Writer-director Todd Haynes (
Velvet GoldmineHe is clearly a huge Velvets fan and has put together an excellent documentary on the band. This was difficult considering that there wasn’t much footage of them live. Haynes has finessed this challenge by broadening the scope of his film to take in the downtown arts scene of Manhattan in the early 1960s—The place where the band was formed, and inviting in witnesses such as John Waters and Jackson Browne (Nico’s former guitarist), Jonathan Richman and Danny Fields. La Monte Young is an avant-garde artist who all have something to add.It is now well-known. In a metropolis rich in experimentation in music, writing, and cinema at the time, droll singer-songwriter Lou Reed came together with college pal/guitarist Sterling Morrison, sister-of-a-friend/drummer Maureen Tucker, and classically trained Welsh expatriate John Cale, who played piano, bass, and a very edgy viola. They hit it off, and since Reed had some songs—some
Great songs, like “Femme Fatale,” “Venus in Furs,” “All Tomorrow’s Parties”—the group went into a studio and had their mentor, Andy Warhol, cough up the $1500 required to record them. Warhol added Nico, a beautiful and blonde vocalist.The first and subsequent albums, as well as the excellent follow-ups to them (including the amazing), are not available.
LoadedThe Velvets did a lot of business. But the magic of the Velvets’ music is vividly suggested here in live clips—not always of the band itself but of its environment: downtown clubs like the Dom, and Warhol’s Factory, and a clip of Nico’s small part in Fellini’s La Dolce VitaThis is a symbol of the art-film madness of that time. These things have all vanished, much to the dismay of Haynes’s documentary. The music that they made together with Velvet Underground isn’t going away anytime soon.The Velvet Underground plays on Apple TV+ and is currently in theaters.