In 1984, British journalist Arthur Stuart investigates the career of 1970s glam superstar Brian Slade, who was heavily influenced in his early years by hard-living and rebellious American singer Curt Wild.
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 character role of "Maxwell Demon" that he created, he plots his own murder. When fans discover the murder is not real, his star falls abruptly and he is quickly forgotten about. 1984: Arthur, a journalist working for a New York newspaper, gets assigned the tenth anniversary 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.Written by
The film is named after the David Bowie song "Velvet Goldmine," which, although originally recorded for the 1972 "Ziggy Stardust" album, wasn't officially released until 1975, becoming the B-side to the re-issue of the "Space Oddity" single which topped the UK Singles Chart. See more »
In "New York City 1984" the cars are driving on the left-hand side of the road and there are British traffic signs. See more »
Excuse me, fellas, while I raise a glass to the loveliest man in Europe.
And they tell you it's not natural.
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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
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