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|Index||12 reviews in total|
I just saw this film. I found it exciting, touching, more than a little
inspiring, and was impressed by the filmmaker's ability to craft an
intimate personal portrait of the man while also rendering a feeling
for the period in which he lived.
Good times -- will likely get out to see it again before it leaves town.
Agree with the original poster: this one seems destined for cult status.
PS: Anyone find it odd that saving bandwidth by writing concisely here is punished by IMDb? I love everything else about this site, but the arbitrary requirement that we each become novelists in the mini-reviews is silly, and ultimately counter-productive: is it really so bad if you can say what you need to say in under 10 lines? I pity those who can't, and if IMDb must ban me rather than update their policy to accommodate those who can communicate well, then at least the few of you who read this before they ditched me know that at least I tried.
Some businesses learn and adapt. Others ban reality.
This is a remarkable compilation of interviews, live shows, home
videos, and more all bringing together the short but phenomenal career
of Klaus Nomi.
Though it seems blatantly low-budget, it keeps in vein with the atmosphere of the time and the storyline falls into place artfully but logically. I was very impressed by the vast amount of material that was found to put into this documentary; being a Klaus Nomi fan myself I know it's extremely hard to get your hands on this sort of thing... well, here it is!
The only thing I could've asked to improve as far as this movie goes was a better remaster of the audio - a lot of it was out of sync, a common problem that is easily fixed. Maybe we can look forward to that on later releases or perhaps the DVD? In any case, I still love it, 9 out of 10 stars.
Andrew Horn's The Nomi Song makes no bones about it - performance
artist Klaus Nomi was a man of genius. The film is an unapologetic
celebration of the mystique of Nomi, the weird brilliance of this late
'70s/early '80s New York club phenomenon, who had a minor breakthrough
after appearing with David Bowie on Saturday Night Live (he sold well
in Europe anyway). If you have no idea who Nomi was then you're not
alone; his appeal was purely a cultish one. Those who sing his praises
in The Nomi Song - people who were doing lots of drugs in the days
they're recounting, it must be pointed out - would have us believe that
this was a man of such soaring talent, it would only have been a matter
of time before he became famous world-wide. The evidence put forth by
Horn - old home videos, some snippets from professionally made programs
- would seem to suggest something else, however: a man who, in spite of
his obvious talent (he was a trained opera singer, a tenor capable of
achieving a haunting falsetto), was always too wrapped up in his own
strange, stylized persona to ever really connect with the masses.
The Nomi Song is the portrait of a man who reinvented himself, an exhibitionist who discovered an audience by nullifying every hint of his own personality, and presenting himself as a kind of performing robot. The real Klaus Nomi, we're told, was a sweet, gentle soul, a kid from Berlin who came to New York with dreams of being a star and wound up mopping floors; and the few glimpses we get of Nomi off-stage would seem to uphold this. The real Nomi, it appears, was nothing special, outside of the fact that he could sing (it was his misfortune that there wasn't much market for German tenors who could stretch to a falsetto soprano); the fake Klaus, invented by Klaus as a replacement for the one the world didn't much care for, was a man with a painted face who dressed like a gay Ming the Merciless and sang opera-tinged pop songs in New Wave clubs. People who witnessed Nomi's bizarre, Kabuki-like stage-act gush on and on about what an overwhelming experience it was, but what we see of Nomi, though certainly odd and interesting, fails to convey this feeling. Nothing, we're led to believe, could ever capture the true power of Nomi on-stage. What the film offers us is a tantalizing taste of something eyewitnesses swear was practically transcendent; it's like trying to appreciate the greatness of Robert Johnson by listening to some scratchy old records.
Maybe Nomi was what the film insists he was - a great talent who, by the sad fact of his untimely demise not to mention some egregious mis-management, failed to achieve the stature he seemed destined for. I would tend to doubt it, but the movie makes its argument compellingly, and by placing Nomi in the context of his times, the fag-end of the Andy Warhol days and the beginning of the AIDS horror (Nomi died of the disease), conveys a poignant sense of a lost era, a fondly-remembered scene (the eyewitnesses are all middle-aged, conservative-seeming people; it's hard to imagine them decked out in pink hair and Star Trek get-ups). It finally doesn't matter if Nomi really was what The Nomi Song wants us to think he was (his music was simple-minded and mannered); it matters more that he existed, and embodies in people's minds a certain time and place (those who die young always come to represent the age they lived in; James Dean IS the '50s). The Nomi Song is as much a portrait of the world around Nomi as it is of Nomi, and that world, its strangeness, its lingering energy, is the thing worth remembering.
My husband and I were eagerly anticipating THE NOMI SONG, Andrew Horn's by-turns witty and poignant documentary about Klaus Nomi, the German singer/performance artist with the multi-octave range who took New York and then the world by storm for a brief, exciting period in the 1980s. Nomi, with his outer space alien persona, was so avant-garde even the avant-garde set wasn't quite sure what to make of him, but loved him all the same before his tragic death from AIDS (this was back when AIDS was still new and scary and known as "gay cancer"). Our 8-year-old daughter liked Nomi's "high, high voice" and kooky costumes. We adults liked the interviews with Ann Magnuson and other scene-makers from the era, as well as the chance to see such rarities as Nomi's performance with David Bowie on a 1979 SNL episode (which I remember seeing during its live broadcast back in the day). THE NOMI SONG also sports a treasure trove of DVD extras, including full-length musical performances, an Easter Egg feature for part-time pastry chef Nomi's lime tart recipe, and Lou Christie talking enthusiastically about Nomi's cover of his classic "Lightning Strikes Again" (Christie kinda starts talking about himself, too, but it's interesting and endearing). If you like 1980s New Wave music and all things offbeat, THE NOMI SONG is well worth seeking out!
Andrew Horn's 'Nomi Song' is not a 'film' as such, but rather an
extended television documentary shot on videotape.
The archive footage is a treat and includes unseen home video, rare performance footage and obscure TV appearances. It's fascinating to see videotape as the primary archive source in a documentary of this kind - so crude, so unstable, so immediate. The sourcing of this material is Andrew Horn's principle achievement.
But 'Nomi Song' is crude in other less interesting ways - as though a few more days in the edit might have helped. The interviews are unimaginatively staged and shot and some of the junctions between scenes jar.
The first hand accounts are illuminating, but sometimes petty and it would have been useful to hear some contemporary artists and more objective commentators weigh Klaus's achievement and influence to provide some perspective.
That said, this the only Nomi documentary available and we should be grateful for it. If you're curious to know more about this wonderful artist, this is a good place to start...
Klaus Nomi was certainly an interesting character. Possessing a unique
look and a phenomenal voice, he seemed poised for a measure of stardom
during the early 1980s. Alas, Nomi was to be one of the first people of
note to be struck down by AIDS.
This documentary does a very credible job of not only giving us a glimpse into Klaus Nomi, but also giving us a look into the world of the "New Wave" in New York during the late 1970s and early 1980s. It is replete with footage of Nomi in performance, showing off his truly bizarre look and his unbelievable singing voice (Nomi's performance of "The Cold Song," an arrangement of a piece by Henry Purcell, is one of the most beautifully haunting pieces of music I've ever heard).
Andrew Horn does a very good job of interspersing interview footage and performance footage. He does, however, misstep in a couple of areas. The use of 1950s Sci-fi footage, used to augment Nomi's ruse of being from outer space, is overdone. Horn apparently feels the need to hammer this motif into the ground. More unusual is the use of paper mache cut-outs used to represent Nomi's aunt, seen as we hear her many comments throughout the film. It is a device as obscure in its intent as it is distracting and annoying in its effect.
Overall, this is a good documentary with a pervasive sadness. We lost an amazing voice before it could be heard by the world. It is a well done portrait of a unique character, a colossal talent, and at heart, a lonely man with a sweet, sweet soul.
As a preteen, I became aware of Klaus Nomi's (as well as Nina Hagen's)
music through my Public Library. I'm pretty sure that Klaus was dead by
the time I had discovered him, but his image has remained with me for
over 20-years!! Like nearly everyone-else, I first heard his music
through a copy of "Urgh!!: A Music War" (and the Bowie-appearance on
SNL!!), and loved "Total Eclipse." What can you say about the
late-seventies, early-eighties that hasn't been said before? It was a
culturally-vibrant time when people still took SERIOUS
artistic-chances. While I see a few rumblings with the kids these-days,
most of it comes-off as "apeing," and is mostly-unoriginal. Kids, take
some lessons from Klau Nomi, THIS is what is original. So original, it
has yet to be surpassed.
I have to say that director Andrew Horn did an extraordinary job on this film in every-respect. My only complaint is: where are the interviews with Nomi's contemporaries, like Gary Numan, Nina Hagen (a glaring-omission), Lydia Lunch and others? Otherwise, this film is about as perfect as one could ever hope. For the uninitiated, and for the fans-alike, this film will be a revelation of unknown-scenes and players, and the loss-for-words power that was Klaus Nomi. It also underscores how underwhelming most culture and music have been since-then. Perhaps, we are close to a "new-change" in the counterculture, and a move-away from it being entirely "youth-oriented." Now, THAT would be revolutionary! While my favorites of this era have traditionally been the likes of Devo, PiL, the Ramones, the Talking Heads, Bebop Deluxe, Pere Ubu, Blondie, Gary Numan, Kraftwerk, Nina Hagen, Suicide, Killing Joke, Wire, Throbbing Gristle, etc., Nomi is utterly unique. And that is probably what is "typical" of that wonderful, cultural-era. Miss it? You-bet! Apparently Rush Limbaugh is a "fan" of Klaus Nomi's music, and encourages people to buy the albums through links at his site! NOW the Weimar-connection is becoming clear. With his recent-addiction to powerful-synthetic narcotics (oxykotin), he kinda reminds me of the closeted Herman Goering.
We can thank-the-Gods for the people who documented these groups, scenes, and beautiful people. Without them, documentaries like "The Nomi Song" would be almost impossible (as with the Velvet Underground-- shame on you Andy). The "New Wave" referred to what the American-branch of "punk" called-itself in its early-days, and it was pretty diverse. Unfortunately, things changed for-the-worse when punk-orthodoxy cemented things into the boring, three-chord pap we're stuck with nowadays. But this happens with all cultural-waves. They eventually become the problem after the initial-shock they provoke. Kinda like a joke that was funny...the first-time. Fine, be boring if you want, but there will always be people who like variety and something that challenges them. Watch this documentary (better-yet, buy it now). It will move you, unless you happen to be an emotionally-retarded homophobe. Then, go buy every Klaus Nomi CD in-print. Then, go make the world a little brighter. Create things that amaze you and your friends. Be magical. Life is short. The amazing, and short-life of Klaus Nomi proves this adage.
This is a personal vision from a filmmaker who obviously knows what he's talking about when he approaches music, show business and the 70-80s. He succeeds in delivering a film hovering between fiction and documentary, respecting the original character, Klaus Nomi, all along, while offering a personal perspective on the man and his era. Because he interviews actual witnesses of the time, the result is a realistic and phantasmagoria dive into the life and death of a charismatic individual with the destiny of a shooting star. This film has all the potential of a cult movie.
We very much enjoyed this movie and it expanded our enjoyment of Klaus Nomi. We already had the "Encore" album and were fans. Of course, seeing Klaus is very much part of the experience. To see him speaking and to hear others reminisce about him added a very nice personal touch. On the extras there is a video of Boy Adrian's mutant dance. Way cool. It reminded us of Ray Harryhausen animations for films in the '50s, such as The Seven Voyages of Sinbad. Hearing Klaus's wonderfully weird vocals and seeing that performance were something. I wonder if anyone knows what became of Boy Adrian? Lovely DVD. We're going to rent it again now to listen to the commentary after reading about that in this message board.
Before I saw this documentary, I'd never heard of Klaus Nomi--even
though I lived through the time period in which he gained underground
fame in New York and abroad. What I remember instead are the New Wave
acts that followed in his footsteps--groups that imitated his weird
stage routine, makeup and costumes. Probably the closest to Nomi that I
remember was Grace Jones, though the hair and costumes of A Flock of
Seagulls also had to have been influenced by Nomi as well. As for David
Bowie, it's hard to tell how much Nomi influenced him or vice-versa as
both had a rather similar "other-worldliness" about them in the 1970s.
What completely set this man apart, including from the people listed above, was his bizarre singing. Having had aspirations to do opera and having a very, very high-pitched voice (almost like one of the castrati), his singing was something unmatched then or today. Some of this could be because few could imitate the style and some because it was so strange and outside the mainstream you wonder if there'd even be a market for this sort of music. It was interesting and wild--though, to me, not especially something I would like to listen to for long.
This documentary is about his life--particularly after he came to America in the early 70s. His life in Greenwich Village among the artsy crowd, his rise to prominence in what was to be termed the "New Wave" and his ultimate fall when he just started to achieve fame are all chronicled here. A sad piece, but I also appreciated how the film makers didn't just whitewash the man--giving a hint to the darker aspects of this strange man (such as the repeated theft of his friend's music).
How the story was told was done well, though there were limits since the video recordings of Nomi were often of poor quality due to the technology of the time. Also, in a VERY strange move, old audio interviews with his aunt were used but in an odd way. Since they had no video, they created sets and used a large cut-out of her! Weird, but considering Nomi's legacy, probably appropriate.
Considering that I didn't know about Nomi and was not so taken by his music, you'd expect I wouldn't really care for the film, but this would be mistaken. It was nice from a nostalgic point of view for this 40-something guy and the film was well-constructed. Well worth a look if you like documentaries AND want something different....VERY different.
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