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
Toni Collette was cast very late in pre-production and had very stiff competition from several other actresses for the role of Mandy Slade. Director Todd Haynes finally cast Collette after the actress faxed him a personal note that read simply "I AM MANDY SLADE!" Haynes saw this as exactly the kind of thing the character Mandy would do. See more »
There are ads for "Miss Saigon" and "Les Miserables" on the side of the London double-decker bus in 1974 London. See more »
That man sittin' over there in the white suit... is the biggest thing to come out of this country since sliced Beatles.
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Even if I didn't think this movie was fantastic (which I do), I would have to be impressed with the incorporation of Oscar Wilde, his fascination with the decadence of pop culture, and his brilliant philosophies concerning art.
At the end of the film, when Arthur Stuart sits to have a drink with Curt Wylde (Oh look! A play on Oscar!, Wylde looks up and tells him that, "The true artist creates beautiful things, and puts none of his own life into them". This is one of the several scenes in which Oscar Wilde is referenced subtly, seamlessly and beautifully.
Curt is not simply Iggy Pop. He is Oscar Wilde. He is the true artist of the crowd, because he creates music without using the art as a form of autobiography.
Brian Slade is Dorian Gray. He invests all of his persona into the public, and into his songs, trapping himself in an expectation. The alter-ego Maxwell Demon is eternal youth. It is the embodiment of Slade in a single moment. Unfortunately, he traps himself, and leaves no room for growth. The shooting accomplishes two things. Slade arranging this pseudo-murder is Dorian gray destroying his portrait. At first Dorian was intrigued, even excited by the changes he saw in the painting. Then it began to wear on him. So with Slade/ Demon. The hoax liberates Slade the way death does Gray. Also, This secures Maxwell Demon a place in history. Brian Slade was a pop-star who was too controversial and too personally naked in his work to have any real longevity. The hype would have faded, and if he changed or grew as a person, that would have meant changing everything about his art (as they were so interlocked) and would have led to cries of "sell out". Either way, he would have faded out and been likely forgotten (the way Britney Spears will hopefully do one day). By enacting this faux death, Slade guarantees Maxwell Demon some form of eternal youth, trading in his career to do so (selling his soul).
There's more, as well. Jerry Devine, for instance, is Lord Henry. Mandy is Sybil Vane. They aren't exact, of course, and there are other veins running through them that make them unique, but one can see the influence.
Beautifully done, and a well paid tribute to the genius of Oscar Wilde!
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