Velvet Goldmine

June 6, 2016 § Leave a comment

So another theme month opening up (and yeah, I tend to have a habit on making those) and it’s me looking at movies (and a series) that is essential to the LGBT community which I fall into since I outed myself as bi back in my obituary on David Bowie. And it seems fitting because this month is LGBT Pride Month after all so I thought of this for a little while now and look into the good stuff so before anybody ask, no I’m not looking into another Asylum movie involving lesbians or a movie by David Decoteau or even the infamous bad movie that is Ben And Arthur. I’m looking into ones that is generally liked by anybody of any sexuality so I’ll start off with the one I’m part of and I already brought up Bowie so why not start with Velvet Goldmine.

Ben & Arthur
To start it off, let’s talk about Todd Haynes and he honestly is one of my favorite directors. Other than this movie, he did a surreal biopic of Bob Dylan with I’m Not There and even give a haunting but also uncomfortable reality that is Safe. He’s a filmmaker who started on the independent scene this side of Solondz and Linklater that has got recognition even later in mainstream thanks to Far From Heaven and Carol and there is not much to discuss about him other than he’s awesome. So with him doing a disguised biopic on one of my favorite musicians, let’s see how it opens up.

The film opens up in Dublin in 1854 when a flying saucer dropped a baby at the door to his about-to-be adopted parents. The parents noticed the skies and it went on to the point where a baby is revealed to be Oscar Wilde. It then flashes forward to 1960s when a bullied school kid known as Jack discovered an alien brooch previously used by Oscar and the discovery has led him to become Jack Fairy (Micko Westmoreland), the first glam rock musician in this universe. But suffice to say, the story is hardly about Oscar and Jack but it’s instead focused on Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyer) who was the icon of its time being the 1970s and not at all based on David Bowie. Really, it’s such an original character.

Music Video
Years after Brian’s fake murder stunt, Arthur Stuart (Christian Bale), a journalist and old fan of Slade’s music is assigned to investigate whatever happened to Brian and it opens up his story from being married to Mandy (Toni Collette) to his bisexual affair with proto-rock icon Curt Wild (Ewan McGregor) to his career being managed from Cecil (Michael Feast) to Jerry Devine (Eddie Izzard). The bisexual affair became sour and heavy which disrupts Brian’s music and married life to the point where he decides to fake his death during tour and caused backlash that killed his career and disappeared from public eye.

Curt Wilde
Arthur came close to the investigation when he meet up with Curt for the second time after their previous encounter in the late 70s that involves Curt’s conversation with Mandy, Curt and Arthur having sex and them seeing a UFO which causes snow. The second encounter has led to Curt giving the alien brooch to Arthur which ended the movie as Arthur might set off to stop journalism and become like his former idols.

Now I don’t think I’ll give my critique thoughts about this movie because really, I liked this movie anyway and there’s not much faults to be honest. I would discuss few things about it anyway. First thing to discuss is the fact that despite it being a 1970s glam reimagining of Citizen Kane, it start it off as a biopic view of David Bowie’s life during this decade. And believe it or not, David himself read the script but didn’t like it enough that changes were made and his music is not used (except his backing vocals on Lou Reed’s Satellite of Love) which now includes a collage of music by T. Rex, Roxy Music and others.

Tony 2
So yeah, it became a pastiche biopic of a non-existent musician that includes Oscar Wilde and Flying Saucers. And it is not the first time Todd suffered with this. Back in 1987, he made a short film called Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story which focused on Karen’s music life prior to her death with Barbie dolls being used as characters. The short film caused Todd to get a copyright infringement suit from Karen’s brother Richard and the movie is pulled out of circulation. However, the movie is still around in bootleg circles and became notable as a cult movie to this day so hope is not lost. And just in case, I can see that Todd brings this up in this movie thanks to this sequence.

Another thing is that other than Flying Saucers which is notable science fiction element, it also fits itself as a dystopian movie with Arthur being the main piece in an alternate 1984 that is governed by President Reynolds (Frank?) and with a Orwellian view that includes armed soldiers in the streets and giant television screens seen in a street in New York that has audiences obsessively watching Tommy Stone (Alastair Cumming) who’s somewhat an it figure in the music scene (and the only one so it depends on whatever happened to Michael Jackson or Sting in this timeline) and Todd pulled off this dystopian nightmare really well.

Tony 1
The last thing is how this movie plays with the fact that I’m myself am bisexual. Well, in all honesty, I don’t see this movie or any other movie as an answer to my sexuality since I have a long personal history but it did have an influence on me. I first saw it years ago back when I was considered straight and it was before Torchwood became a thing and Brian Fuller became a household name. At that time, I saw this movie as a good movie with interesting characters, fun moments and good soundtrack and that’s how I still see it today. Come to think of it and I hope this is not me but do I also see it as a good double feature with Almost Famous!

And that one is another movie with interesting characters, fun moments and good soundtrack. I know I’m going off in a bit of tangent so back to what I’m saying but given my sexuality, there are some influences in terms of media and Velvet Goldmine has that. I already brought up that I am a fan of Bowie but I’m also a fan of Lou Reed and Iggy Pop and probably at the point where I prefer listening to this kind of music instead of modern, contemporary music like Justin Bieber and Flume. I am in my early thirties so maybe it’s that I’m getting a bit behind the times and it is sad that I hardly listen to anything new on radio nowadays.

There’s probably a little to discuss about this movie really but it is worth checking out if haven’t and it’s really an underrated movie. Now I have got one part of the LGBT spectrum done, the only question is what should I look into next that’s part of the community. I know my answer so to hint this up, the next movie is something that I should have watched last year instead of this year.


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