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Holy Cinema!

January 18, 1987|John M. Wilson

Christian Century, a 102-year-old, nondenominational, nonprofit weekly magazine out of Chicago, doesn't come out with a Top 10 film list. But exec editor James Wall had an editorial in last week's issue praising what he considers the best movie of the year. Ready? Are you sitting down?

"Blue Velvet," brutality, drugs, sadomasochistic sex and all.

Wall, who's written several books on film and serves frequently on film festival juries, warns his 40,000 readers that "Velvet" is "ugly and depressing." But he also writes that the David Lynch pic "does not revel in its violent content; it presents it with such sensitivity that the viewer is made to enter a world of darkness and despair. Evil is an ugly reality. To depict it properly in art, it needs neither to be exploited--as it is in a movie such as 'Rambo'--nor unintentionally, as it is in the reissued Disney movie, 'Song of the South,' with its long-discarded view of happy slaves. . . ."

Wall finds "Velvet" a "contemporary metaphor" for the fallen human being, said managing editor Linda Delloff, and offers viewers "a real depth of analysis of evil."

Therefore, the movie "is relevant for consideration by a religious magazine." The Century "investigates the relationship of religion to social, political and cultural issues" and is "mainline to liberal."

On a more secular note, Dean Stockwell has begun taking out unusual quarter-page ads in the two daily trades reminding Academy Voters about his bizarre turn in "Velvet" as a pan-sexual pimp. The initial ad, scheduled to run last Friday (when Oscar ballots went out), featured a photo of him in character--and nothing more, not a bit of text.

The thinking, said his rep, is that only those who have seen the movie will vote for him and a simple visual reminder will suffice. This week, he'll add an excerpt from the Rolling Stone review: "Alien humor of a high new order." But neither his nor the film's name will appear at any time.

He's paying out of his own pocket because DeLaurentiis Entertainment Group is doing a more general campaign, said the rep, and because Stockwell's performance "has tended to be a bit obscured, at least in the critics' voting, by Dennis Hopper."

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