Saturday, March 31, 2012

You live in terror of not being misunderstood.

You know what? I'll stay outside and keep an eye on your expectations for you.
On Thursday, my wife and I were halfway through Crazy Heart when we shut it down for the evening. The next day, Velvet Goldmine showed up in mail. It was looking like we were going to have a little music-based movie marathon on our hands. Not quite. She fell asleep early, so I was forced to start Goldmine on my own. First she marries me, then she misses out on this one? Talk about lucky. If only she'd played the lottery...

So, I basically hated this movie. It is frickin' work to make it to the end of this one - serious work. Sure, I started it entirely too late (just before midnight), but I'm not sure it matters. It is so long, so ridiculous and intermittently awful, I don't know where to begin. Actually, the beginning was my favorite part. I was still happy then.

Since I don't think this poster gives you the greatest heads-up, let me boil the plot down for you. Velvet Goldmine is some sort of weird love-letter to the glam-rock era of the 70's. The story focuses on three fictitious icons of the era, Jack Fairy, Curt Wild and poster-boy, Brian Slade (aka Maxwell Demon). Throughout the 124-minute runtime, most of these characters will sing obnoxiously awesome songs (if you could get Google translate high, this is the shit it would come up with) and have sex with one another. Buried in that man-sandwich is a tale of a reporter (an oddly, super-effeminate Christian Bale) researching a staged murder. I didn't research the specifics of the plot when I added this to my queue. Frankly, I needed a V movie. And the cast. On paper, the cast f--king rules.

A few more feathers and this would've been ridiculous.
You know, I'm not really a fan, but I respect David Bowie. I'm assuming this movie is loosely based on some of the shit he did with that whole Ziggy Stardust character. But seriously, I've never understood the allure. The music is weird as f--k and the accompanying visuals make me want to fight something. I'm not even sure if it's a person, really. I actually want to punch the idea in the balls.

Let's just get to the glitter-covered Yays and the feathery Boos, I should've just re-watched V for Vendetta style.

Does Courtney Love find this guy attractive?
  • Everybody delivers solid performances. I'll throw some extra love to Toni Collette and Eddie Izzard.
  • With horrible accuracy the glam-rock era is recreated perfectly. 
  • The music, even though it goes on way too long, is pretty sweet at times. 
  • It ended. There was a time where I thought it wouldn't. Crisis averted.
  • Everyone is dressed like my mom. Everyone.
  • Let's just say that Obi-Wan whips out his lightsaber for a three-way duel. His opponents? Decency and My Enjoyment.
  • Every woman in this movie sucks. Not in a cool way, either.
  • I sort of hate Jonathan Rhys Myers' face. And this movie doesn't. At all.
  • Though I like the song, I've always hated the video for The Killers' Mr. Brightside. Imagine if it were two hours long, about a guy instead, and you'd have Velvet Goldmine. Yeesh.
Hey, by all means, tell me that I'm an idiot and that this is a masterpiece. Do it. But there's a catch. You have to explain how the Hell you came to that conclusion. Good luck, you glittery bastard.


  1. I have an awkward relationship with this movie. I told my mom I was lesbian and made her watch it to accept the gay culture. Note to self: don't watch gay porn with your mom. Still, if nothing else, it's hella interesting to see some of these actors out of their element. Well, really just Christian Bale, since I'm so used to him being MANLY MAN John Connor or Bruce Wayne. Ewan McGregor is always flamboyant and Johnathan Rhys Myer's face always irritates me. Great review!

    1. M - Interesting story here. I'm curious as to why you went with this film, or what else you considered. Let me know.

      As for the flick, I don't know what else to say. The further I get from it, the more I dislike it. I think you could probably tell a pretty kickass story set in the Glam era, but for me, this wasn't it.

      And Bale? Yeah, it was crazy to see him as the lost youth. 9,000,000 million miles from the badass, uber-hetero Bruce Wayne.
      I felt that I missed something with his character. Was he really there as a kid? Why did he never mention it? Or am I just stupid and missed some symbolic madness?

    2. Not so much interesting story as bad decision! Watching Ewan McGregor let it all hang out with your mother is always an awkward moment. I'm just glad I didn't end up in a basket on someone's doorstep. It was just "the gay movie" at the time, so I went with that. But I think I healed those wounds by making her watch "Imagine Me & You" instead, which is a much better gay movie. And Piper Perabo and Lena Headey go at it. I'm sold.

      I'm pretty sure the only way to understand anything in this movie is to watch it baked. End of story.

    3. Okay. Piper and anyone else? I'm in. Other chick's pretty hot too, so even on a pervy level - yes, please.

      All through my life, I've found nudity on the big screen 900% awkward when Mom's around. As a kid, I'd usually have already seen the movie, and would excuse myself ("Uh, I'm getting a drink") when the friskiness would begin. I always thought it was a courtesy to my parents. They probably thought something less thoughtful, more awkward. Yeesh.

  2. Have you seen Metropolis or read Christopher Isherwood? Mmm, you don't like Bowie or Ziggy or Glam, perhaps you are not the target audience. Get some sleep.

    1. Unsurprisingly, I haven't seen Metropolis or read any Isherwood. I do own a copy of A Single Man, though I've also never watched that either (really striking out here, huh?).

      I am most certain that I am not the target audience, but feel I can appreciate many genres or styles. Glam, as it were, seems slightly incomprehensible. Sexual freedom, okay. Expression - cool. But the collective is too buried in absurdity for my tastes.

      Or maybe, I'm just an idiot.

  3. Glam descends from the tradition of the British music hall, the Oscar Wilde dandy, and the futurism of A Clockwork Orange, influenced by, among other things, Japanese Kabuki, Burroughs, Brecht, Baudelaire, Dada, Dietrich, Warhol and Wittgenstein. Unlike most popular music genres, Glam is literary, the songs are replete with references to literature, cinema, art and philosophy. As Bowie put it, "We were very miffed that people who'd obviously never seen Metropolis or heard of Christopher Isherwood were actually becoming glam rockers."
    Not to be unkind but perhaps people who haven't seen Metropolis or listened to Roxy Music shouldn't be film critics.

  4. Hmm. Where to begin? The overview of Glam is appreciated, it is, though I saw no discernible evidence of these literary allusions in the main characters in Velvet Goldmine (or do we count the UFO delivering the baby?). Brian Slade is a poser - a huge one. Your Bowie quote seems to be directed at damn near every character featured in this film. They are all style. Your diatribe seems to suggest much more substance to the genre. Maybe it applies to Bowie, but these guys? Please.

    As for the last bit, I think you'd be onto something if I was a) actually interested in Glam or b) a film critic.

    Do you really like this movie? Really? What is it that warrants your adoration? Seriously, I'd like to know.

    1. Literary allusions - half the dialogue is by Oscar Wilde. He originated the idea of identity as a self invention and posited that the artist's best creation is his own self. He is also a gay icon because he spent three years at hard labor in jail for 'gross indecency'. Other works referenced are by Jean Genet, Norman Brown, Andre Gide, and Huysmans. Brian Slade is as much as poser as David Bowie was. Now Bowie is considered a major talent of the 20th century who influenced everyone who came after, but in the beginning he was a silly pretentious bloke who got laughed off the stage. Iggy Pop and Lou Reed were pioneers, copied by everybody, but marginalized for a very long time before being recognized as the godfathers of punk. We live in a culture foretold by Warhol in which everyone is a superstar who will be famous for 15 minutes. While the film focuses on the more cerebral glam rockers (Marc Bolan was a published poet before becoming one of the best selling musical acts in UK history, most of Roxy Music's members attended art school and did graphic art), it includes mainstays like Slade and Gary Glitter. As for the notion that it's all about style. People are attracted to things by their beauty and style; the artist digs deeper and learns about the ideas behind those things, draws them out and recreates them anew. It only seems like mere style because they make it look easy. Also being 'natural' is a style or a pose too.

      Why I like it:

      1. Perfect soundtrack in its selection of originals and spot-on pastiches written for the film.
      2. Perfect casting, great performances.
      3. Perfect evocation of 70s cinema in the use of zoom lenses, swish-pans, visible grain, etc, including references to films like Cabaret (Christopher Isherwood, decadent Berlin in the 30s), and Performance (cult classic staring Mick Jagger by Nic Roeg), documentaries about Bowie (Cracked Actor), underground film legend Jack Smith (Flaming Creatures) and Citizen Kane.
      4. Perfect costuming by Oscar winner Sandy Powell.
      5. Perfect makeup by Oscar winner Peter King. You probably know his work in Lord of the Rings.
      6. Perfect evocation of being a teenager and fan.
      7. Witty pop culture musical references to the Beatles films, the Monkees, Little Richard, the Stones, Hendrix, Bowie, Bolan, Slade, Roxy Music, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, The New York Dolls, Brian Eno, Top of the Pops, rock journalism and rock & fashion photography.
      8. An unabashed celebration of the promise of sexual liberation, in particular gay liberation. (Worlds away from your supposed appreciation of "Sexual freedom, okay" from a guy who says "Every woman in this movie sucks. Not in a cool way, either." )

      I only came by your blog due to a google alert for velvet goldmine. You said from the start you were ignorant of glam and now that you are not interested in glam, so why review the film at all? Just ignore it, write about the films you are qualified to write about/interested in. I don't have a blog telling people baseball sucks just because I am ignorant of and not interested in it. And you state that you're not a film critic? Well you are reviewing films on a blog called Two Dollar cinema, aren't you?

  5. If you're looking for a victory here, fine - take it. I don't have the energy or desire to argue these points further. However...

    I find it unfathomable that you would take the time to even write more than a word or two on a blog that shares none of your interests. Apparently, I insulted one of your favorite films. Not you as a person, no. I went after a work you had no hand in creating. As a result, you have taken some jabs at me. Feels good, right?

    There is an injustice here. I put my name on my work. Work that I have actually taken the time to produce. You may have a wonderfully eloquent blog (or whatever), but you're not offering it up. I know, I probably wouldn't understand it anyway. I'm just an idiot who hates women.

    Oh, and you really need to come off of the 'film critic' bit. I'm a guy who writes a blog for his friends to read. Goodness. If I told you that it was hot outside today, does that make me a meteorologist, too?

  6. Just for the record I never called you an idiot. I did not insult you, I merely said you are uninformed on this topic. You then asked for those who disagreed with you to say why they loved the movie, twice. If you write this blog just for your friends to read and don't want it to be indexed by search engines, there's probably a setting you can change.


    Glittery Bastard