Velvet Goldmine
Drama, Music
IMDB rating:
Todd Haynes
Christian Bale as Arthur Stuart
Mairead McKinley as Wilde Housemaid (as Maraid McKinley)
Micko Westmoreland as Jack Fairy
Damian Suchet as BBC Reporter
Luke Morgan Oliver as Oscar Wilde, 8
Wash Westmoreland as Young Man
Janet McTeer as Female Narrator (voice)
Osheen Jones as Jack Fairy, 7
Emily Woof as Shannon
Eddie Izzard as Jerry Devine
Michael Feast as Cecil
Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Brian Slade
Ewan McGregor as Curt Wild
Toni Collette as Mandy Slade
Storyline: 1971: Glamrock explodes all over the world and challenges the seriousness within the flower power generation by means of glitter and brutal music. Brian Slade, a young rock star, inspires numerous teenage boys and girls to paint their nails and explore their own sexuality. In the end Slade destroys himself. Unable to escape the role he created for himself, he plots his own murder. When his fans discover that the murder is not real, his star falls and he is forgotten about. 1984: Arthur, a journalist working for a New York newspaper, gets assigned the story about the fake murder of Brian Slade. When Arthur was young and growing up in Manchester, he was more than a fan of Slade. Reluctantly he accepts the assignment and starts to investigate what happened to his old glamrock hero.
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I went to the premier at the New York Film Festival last week and all I can say is one word: amazing. This film is a pure, sublime trip of an experience with brilliant music that literally makes you rise from your seat and dance. Granted, the actors do not chew up the scenery--the scenery chews up the scenery--yet this doesn't detract from the strong performances from all of the key players involved. The arc of the narrative is somewhat complex--but refreshingly so as the concentric plots and characters interwoven create a unique tapestry of sound and beauty, the likes of which have never been committed to a fall release/art movie before (or any movie in general for that matter).

Unfortunately some people will be turned off by the profound gay content (as demonstrated by the other reviews on this site)-- but then again some people will always be turned off by anything that deals bluntly with alternate sexuality.

Anyone who is a fan of movies and music will be moved by this film on some level--it is empirically fascinating and not elitist in its intellectualism or ideas in the least bit--in fact it works on a pristine visceral level, where the images and sounds not only provide a running commentary on protean identity, but also fetishize and celebrate self-empowerment through baroque posturing and charade--the point being, paradoxically, that we never know our icons (whomever they may be) even though they ultimately help us come to understand ourselves and our place in the world.
Practice your T-Rex moves!
This is a very polarizing movie. I'm sure that everyone who sees it will either love it or hate it. Of course, I liked it. While I never got into the glam scene (too young), I like some of the music that came out of it. It was a beautifully directed film with numerous subplots that actually worked with each other. Done in a sort of 'cut-up' style, it may lose some people. The homosexual aspects may bother others. If so, wake up! This is the nineties, and it's a film about the seventies. Overall, I think it's quite well done.
Rocky Horror Part Three.
Obviously a great film, but patience IS needed for VELVET to prove it's worth. A return to an "epic" style, thought to have died during the last few decades - think CALIGULA or DAWN OF THE DEAD; "event" movies. Minor Flaws: negates the bubblegum hooks of Sweet, Bay City Rollers & nascent Abba in favour of pretentious Bowie, Bolan, Pop (Placebo DO try their best) & Ewan looks more Cobain than "Wild"; 'though one couldn't imagine puritanical "grunge" bores exposing a penis. Eventually, Christian Bale carries the unwieldly format, raising expectations for AMERICAN PSYCHO. Is this the ROCKY HORROR of the '90s??
A goldmine of memories
Bales portrayal of the voyeuristic journalist for me made this movie. It was like reliving a bit of my past. In Houston we had a section of town called Montrose that I hung out in 71 thru 73. Everyone talks about the music taken to the UK from America but no one tells of the music we heard from the UK brought over by students, teachers, and service men. All this was going on and we loved it. Listening to them all, T Rex, David Bowie, and already here, Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper....., so many to list and the concerts. Had seen so many but not all, one of those was Lou Reed, blew me away. Hung around in gay bars with everyone known to man, or woman. This movie reminds me of a brief time when we were allowed to hang out with the fabulous people.
An amazing and amazingly effective and affecting piece of cinema. This is entirely due to the generosity and courage with which Haynes shapes his highly idiosyncratic and personal approach to his art by exploiting all that is revealed in the sharpest rays of his flourescent psyche. For all its flamboyance, this is a film of great subtlety and high wit, not a dish for all palates. Todd Haynes knows exactly what he's doing but it takes a smart audience to keep up with him.

I give it a nine point five out of ten. Smashing, altogether smashing.
yummy, yummy, yummy, I've got love in my tummy
Some of you seem to have missed the point. The movie is hysterical; I haven't laughed that hard since I saw "Happiness" a few weeks ago. If you are a self proclaimed glam-geek, then you'll probably not be able to let go and really enjoy the movies multiple strengths, but for the rest of us it was an all out nostalgic love fest. And the Citizen Kane angle is so enjoyable. I rated this movie very highly, mostly because there is a genuine aesthetic at work, an aesthetic Todd does not compromise at any point. High praise indeed. Besides, how often do you get to see smart, loving tributes to sexual excess?
Smart...Very Smart
For me, the most compelling of the story's characters is Arthur. The fact that--as "The Onion" pointed out--in the investigation of Brian Slade's career we learn more about Arthur than about Slade is a fresh innovation to the tried-and-true "Citizen Cane" formula. The debate over the culmination of his hero-worship relationship with Curt Wild will reign in my head for many a year.
One day the whole stinking world would be theirs!
It's 1984 and newspaper reporter Arthur Stuart is assigned to writing a piece about the disappearance of legendary Brit Glam Rocker, Brian Slade. Who after rising to the very top of the super stardom tree, chose to kill off his stage alter ego, Maxwell Demon, and subsequently killed off his career in the process. The Glam Rock era is one that Arthur knows well, in fact back at the time of the genre explosion he was very much on the scene, his life, Brian Slade's and wild American rocker, Curt Wild, are all linked by decadence and outrageous fulfilment!

There is no getting away from it, Velvet Goldmine divides film lovers across the spectrum, some folk are genuinely baffled by it, others (such as myself) think it's close to being genius, while some cinematic observers want to throw up at the mere mention of the film! I once engaged in a conversation with a fellow cinephile who positively hated the film with a passion, it was clear that we both watched a very different movie, nothing he said sounded remotely like the film I had watched and adored. Here I am after my third viewing thinking that I'm still right and that Velvet Goldmine demands repeat viewings to fully comprehend director Todd Haynes outlandish homages.

This is not remotely close to being a true story of the era, but it certainly has its finger on the pulse as regards how the genre evolved and lit up so many a dull dole day for many many people. Some instances and characters are based around factual things, I mean you would have to seriously know nothing about music to not see the David Bowie and Iggy Pop structured core on show here. But it's what Haynes surrounds these decadent icons with that really keeps you on your toes, when a film delivers the infant Oscar Wilde to a Victorian doorstep via an Unidentified Flying Object, then surely you know that all that is going to follow is not totally what it seems. Haynes sticks his tongue in his cheek and doffs his cap to Citizen Kane, cloaking it in a whirl of luscious identities and sexual explorations, the campy veneer lurching forward at every opportunity, with all of it strummed out to a soundtrack of glittering urgency.

It's a splendid cast list containing Ewan McGregor, Christian Bale, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Toni Collette, Eddie Izzard (of course), Michael Feast and Emily Woof, with Meyers outrageously believable and McGregor having the time of his life. But really it's the writing, the costumes and the art direction that glue it all together, Sandy Powell was rightly academy award nominated for her costumes whilst both Andrew Munro (art) and Todd Haynes (writer/director) can consider themselves astutely smart for knowing exactly how to make this picture work. 9.5/10
"The world has changed because... " (I think you get it)

How can I even begin to tell what I feel for this movie?! I read something a girl wrote about this film.. she said that in some way she wishes that she hadn't seen this movie, because it changes your lifeforever. It really does (I know I am not alone feeling like this.. and I also know there are people who think I must be wacky or something). I had heard so much about it before I saw it (good things), so I thought I would be disappointed.. I couldn't have been more wrong *smile*

The first time I saw it, it was just a visual experience... I never even really tried to follow the story or make out what was behind it. I just enjoyed the ride.. and a ride it was!

Since then I have seen it more than twenty times (probably much more.. haven't really counted). Every time I see it I find something new. Something more to reflect on, some small detail.. making me more certain every time that this is a true masterpiece. I can't thank Mr Todd Haynes enough for making this film. There's so much more to this movie than what it can seem like at a first glance.

I know this movie isn't for everyone, but what movie is. But for you who haven't seen it, give it a try! (or maybe I should advise you not to see it *grin*)

There's actually a lot more to be said.. but, enough. I can't put into words (especially not into English) how I feel.

The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys
"Velvet Goldmine" wisely makes itself difficult to pin down; to escape criticism, it self-inoculates. It's good to defy description, but let's try. The film is a depiction of the 1970s rock fad alternately known as "glam" or "glitter" rock. The New York Dolls (herein, quaintly represented by "Personality Crisis") were early proponents, but the Queen of the movement became David Bowie. This film's main player is Jonathan Rhys Meyers (as Brian Slade). He impersonates the Bowie-type role well, but the character is elusive and difficult to understand. And, what we have here is a conglomerate...

"Velvet Goldmine" is a Bowie tune. In a way, he did turn Lou Reed's "Velvet Underground" into a Goldmine. The plot structure follows Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane" (1941). Former glam-fan and present day reporter Christian Bale (as Arthur Stuart) assumes the storytelling role. He searches for Mr. Meyers, who vanished when disappointed fans learned his death was faked. Think about that for a moment and you'd vanish, too. Meyers is washed-up and somewhat slightly dazed. In the flashback scenes, Mr. Bale looks more amusing than authentic. Toni Collette (as Mandy) does well...

The other major player is Ewan McGregor (as Curt Wild). He's mostly Iggy Pop, but Mr. McGregor looks more like Kurt Cobain. This is probably a good thing, considering. McGregor does look better after taking off all his clothes, and he doesn't excrete anything on the audience. So much for realism. All of this is the brainchild of writer-director Todd Haynes, who nicely acknowledges glam grand-daddy Little Richard. Oscar Wilde also receives special attention. Everything in "Velvet Goldmine" looks nice but adds nothing bigger than the fact that Mr. Haynes is an excellent filmmaker.

******* Velvet Goldmine (5/21/98) Todd Haynes ~ Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Ewan McGregor, Christian Bale, Toni Collette
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