Okay, Cronenberg Completists, Let's Go Deep: Blue

So you're a super, die-hard David Cronenberg fan, huh? Well, here's one you don't have. Blue. I know you don't have it, because nobody does. At least not a legit, authorized release. Because it's never been released, not even on VHS. It might appear to be available for stream online through Amazon, but reading their description, they and imdb seem to have their listings mixed up.

"Blue, Not Just a Color Anymore! Blue's the Friend Everybody Would Love to Have. He's a Floating Blue Ball of Unknown Energy, and He can morph into Anything he Wants! from an Apple Ipod to a Zurich Made Watch and Everything in Between!"

That is definitely not this film. I question if that's even a real film at all... a "Friend Everybody Would Love to Have" that transforms into "an Apple Ipod?" That sounds more like a television commercial. Well, if anybody's curious enough to throw away $1.99 to find out, I'd love to hear what Amazon's actually charging. But until somebody steps up to take a hit for the team, we'll just have to wonder.
The real film is something a little less corporate. In fact, it was responsible for some rumors that Cronenberg had started his career in porn, like Craven or Lustig. But it really wouldn't be fair to describe this is a porno, despite having a healthy dose of hardcore footage on hand. It's more a movie about pornography; and it's actually a smart, entertaining little film.

And by the way, Cronenberg didn't write or direct Blue. He just stars in it. And it's also not some early, experimental short from the cradle of his career. This was made in 1992; and he was probably cast because the director had seen his first starring role in Nightbreed two years prior.

This film was actually written and directed by Don McKellar, a compelling filmmaker in his own right. He's mostly known as an actor, starring in such films as Exotica and Existenz; but he's also written and directed some truly great movies of his own, like Last Night and Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould. Apparently, this was his graduate film he made when studying directing at the Canadian Film Centre. Imagine being in class with a guy who got David Cronenberg to star in his student film - hope they didn't grade on a curve! But yeah, McKellar's great. When I first heard he was behind this, that might've gotten me more excited to check this out than Cronenberg's involvement.
So what's Blue actually about? Well, it's essentially two separate but thematically connected films that intercut back and forth between each other. One is a traditional, narrative film, where Cronenberg stars as a manager of a carpet factory who makes a ritual out of his dirty magazine habit. It co-stars McKellar's wife and regular actor Tracy Wright, and they make a charming, funny pair. Then the other half is an older, retired porn actress narrating - essentially doing a traditional audio commentary - one of her old porn scenes where she plays a bored housewife seducing a surprisingly buff bellboy. It's just over twenty minutes long, but it's full of that light but warm humanity McKellar exhibits in a lot of his more famous work.
So yeah, Blue was never legitimately released, but I always remember seeing it in Video Search of Miami's catalog, and I eventually bit the bullet, after they made the jump to making DVD-Rs. So what you're looking at are screenshots of their disc, which is obviously sourced from VHS, right down to the video noise at the bottom of the screen. It's terribly grimy, soft and faded, and on top of that, it's got some really strong interlacing problems. Just look at that shot of Cronenberg with Geoff McBridge there; it looks like he's starting to get beamed up, Star Trek style.

Obviously there are no extras or anything to talk about; this is just a VSoM grey market disc. It has a generic, blank menu screen and the disc actually runs for 88 minutes, but everything after the 21 minute mark is just never ending black video noise. Very odd.
So it's too bad Blue is really not available at all; even the Video Search of Miami option is off the table now. Considering how many times Stereo and Crimes of the Future have been packaged and repackaged as bonus features with other Cronenberg films, it would be great to see the net get cast a little wider and include this one of these days. Or, of course, it could go with a McKellar film - Blue would make a great component of a special edition Last Night blu-ray. I can just imagine how much cleaner and nicer this would look taken from the original film elements.

1 comment:

  1. I was a film censor at the Australian Film Censorship Board between 1980 and 1994. A VHS copy of "Blue" was submitted in the late '80s - probably by the Customs service - and I was scheduled to watch it in case it offended our then Customs Regulations. I loved this film, and absolute delight, and drew it to the attention of my colleagues so was able to watch it a couple of times. I think it must have been on VHS. I have been trying to get a copy ever since. Lucky the person who was bringing it into the country!

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