Velvet Goldmine

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Velvet Goldmine
VelvetGoldminePoster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTodd Haynes
Produced byChristine Vachon
Michael Stipe
Bob Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein
Written byTodd Haynes
James K. Lyons
StarringEwan McGregor
Christian Bale
Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Narrated byJanet McTeer
Music byCarter Burwell
CinematographyMaryse Alberti
Edited byJames Lyons
Production
  company
Newmarket Capital Group
Channel Four Films
Distributed byCiBy Sales (worldwide)
Miramax Films
Release date(s)
  • 6 November 1998 (1998-11-06)
Running time124 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
United States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$9 million
Box office$1,053,788
 
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For the song, see Velvet Goldmine (song).
"Maxwell Demon" redirects here. For the thought experiment, see Maxwell's demon.
Velvet Goldmine
VelvetGoldminePoster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTodd Haynes
Produced byChristine Vachon
Michael Stipe
Bob Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein
Written byTodd Haynes
James K. Lyons
StarringEwan McGregor
Christian Bale
Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Narrated byJanet McTeer
Music byCarter Burwell
CinematographyMaryse Alberti
Edited byJames Lyons
Production
  company
Newmarket Capital Group
Channel Four Films
Distributed byCiBy Sales (worldwide)
Miramax Films
Release date(s)
  • 6 November 1998 (1998-11-06)
Running time124 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
United States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$9 million
Box office$1,053,788

Velvet Goldmine (1998) is a British drama film directed and co-written by Todd Haynes set in Britain during the glam rock days of the early 1970s; it tells the story of the fictional pop star Brian Slade. Sandy Powell received a BAFTA Award for Best Costume Design and was nominated in the same category for an Academy Award for Best Costume Design. The film utilizes a non-linear structure to interweave the vignettes of the various characters.

Plot[edit]

The homosexual British journalist, Arthur Stuart (Christian Bale) is writing an article about the withdrawal from public life of the bi-sexual glam rock star, Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), speaking with those that had a part in the entertainer's career. As each person recalls their thoughts it becomes the introduction of the vignette for that particular segment in Slade's personal and professional life. Part of the story involves Stuart's family's reaction to his sexuality.

The vignettes show an increasingly difficult person with whom to work. Slade's career has ended following the critical backlash from an on-stage publicity stunt that faked his murder. Slade is married to Mandy (Toni Collette) and when he comes to the US he makes the acquaintance of the homosexual American Curt Wild (Ewan McGregor) and they become involved in each other's lives on a personal and creative level.

Stuart is told that the story is no longer of public interest but he is obsessed and continues searching out Slade. After seeing Wild perform, Stuart has a fantasy interaction. Eventually, Stuart tracks down Wild in one of his pub haunts where, following a brief chat, Wild gives him a keepsake that Stuart realizes is too important to be given away and returns it. When Wild leaves, Stuart comes to the conclusion that what is left to him in his quest for Slade is his own personal fulfilment, but then finds that Wild has surreptitiously left him the keepsake.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The film centers on Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a bisexual glam rock icon patterned after David Bowie and, to a lesser extent, Marc Bolan. Ewan McGregor co-stars in the role of Curt Wild, a genre-defying performer who doesn't back down from sex, nudity, or drugs on or off stage, and whose biographical details are based on Iggy Pop (who grew up in a trailer park)[1] and Lou Reed (whose parents sent him to electroshock therapy to 'cure' his homosexual feelings).[2] Also featured are Christian Bale as the young glam rock fan and reporter, Arthur Stuart; Toni Collette as Slade's wife, Mandy; Eddie Izzard as his manager, Jerry Devine; and Luke Morgan Oliver as a young Oscar Wilde.

The tale strongly parallels Bowie's relationships with Reed and Pop in the 1970s and 1980s. Brian Slade's gradually overwhelming on-stage persona of "Maxwell Demon" and his backing band, "Venus in Furs", likewise bear a resemblance to Bowie's persona and backing band. The album, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, tells a similar story of a rock star gone over the edge, and culminates in his assassination. As with Slade and Wild, Bowie produced records for, and with, both Iggy Pop and Lou Reed. The band name "Venus in Furs" is taken from a song by Lou Reed's early band, The Velvet Underground, which itself was taken from Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's novel by the same name, which appeared on their first album. Maxwell Demon was the name of an early band of Brian Eno, a long-time Bowie associate, whose music is heard at various points in the film.

Haynes has said that the story is also about the love affair between America and Britain, New York and London, in the way each music scene feeds off and influences each other.[3] Little Richard is shown as an early influence on Brian Slade. In real life Little Richard inspired the Beatles and Bowie, who in turn inspired many bands to come after. Little Richard has also been cited by Haynes as the inspiration for Jack Fairy.[3]

The film is strongly influenced by the ideas and life of Oscar Wilde (seen in the film as a progenitor of glam rock), and refers to events in his life and quotes his work on dozens of occasions. The work of Jean Genet (the subject of Haynes' previous film, Poison) is referred to in imagery and also quoted in dialogue.

The narrative structure of the film is modeled on that of Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, in that reporter Stuart tries to solve a mystery about Slade, traveling around to interview Slade's lovers and colleagues, whose recollections are shown in 1950s, 1960s and 1970s flashback sequences.[4]

Reception[edit]

Velvet Goldmine received mixed reviews from critics. Janet Maslin, having seen the film at the New York Film Festival, made it a "NYT Critics' Pick," calling it "dazzlingly surreal" rock version of "Citizen Kane with an extraterrestrial Rosebud" and saying it "brilliantly reimagines the glam rock 70's as a brave new world of electrifying theatricality and sexual possibility, to the point where identifying precise figures in this neo-psychedelic landscape is almost beside the point. Velvet Goldmine tells a story the way operas do: blazing with exquisite yet abstract passions, and with quite a lot to look at on the side."[5] According to Peter Travers, "Haynes creates Velvet Goldmine..."with a masturbatory fervor that demands dead-on details" and "fashions a structure out of Citizen Kane"; it's a film that "works best as a feast of sight and sound,...re-creating an era as a gorgeous carnal dream,...celebrat[ing] the art of the possible."[6] In a less enthusiastic review, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film two out of four stars and found its plot too discursive and confusingly assorted because of how it "bogs down in the apparatus of the search for Slade" by clumsily using scenes from Citizen Kane.[7]

The film wasn't successful at the box office, making just $1.5m on a budget of $9m.[citation needed] It currently holds a 56% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 41 reviews.

In a retrospective review, Slant Magazine's Jeremiah Kipp gave Velvet Goldmine four out of four stars and said that, although unsupportive critics may be "terrified of a movie with so many ideas", the film successfully shows a "melancholic ode to freedom, and those who fight for it through art", because of Haynes' detailed imagery and the cast's "expressive, soulful performances".[8] Scott Tobias of The A.V. Club felt that Haynes' appropriation of structural elements from Citizen Kane is the film's "masterstroke", as it helps "evoke the glam rock movement without destroying the all-important mystique that sustains it." Tobias argued that, like Haynes' Bob Dylan-inspired 2007 film I'm Not There, Velvet Goldmine deals with a famously enigmatic figure indirectly through allusion and imagery, and consequently succeeds more than a simpler biopic could.[9]

Home video[edit]

Since its 1999 DVD release the film has become a cult classic[10] and "has found an obsessive following among younger audiences."[11] Haynes said in a 2007 interview, "A film that had the hardest time, at least initially, was Velvet Goldmine, and it's the film that seems to mean the most to a lot of teenagers and young people, who are just obsessed with that movie. They're exactly who I was thinking about when I made Velvet Goldmine, but it just didn't get to them the first time around."[12] The Blu-ray disc version of the film was released in Region A on 13 December 2011, and includes a newly recorded commentary track by director Todd Haynes and producer Christine Vachon. In it Haynes thanks the fansites for helping him compile the notes for the commentary.[13]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Soundtrack[edit]

Velvet Goldmine
Soundtrack album by various artists
Released3 November 1998
GenreGlam rock, soundtrack
Length1:12:09
LabelFontana Records London
ProducerRandall Poster, Todd Haynes, Michael Stipe

Although the character of Brian Slade is heavily based on David Bowie, Bowie himself disliked the script[16] and vetoed the proposal that his songs appear in the film.[17]

The finished soundtrack includes songs by glam rock and glam-influenced bands, past and present.

The English musicians who played under the name The Venus in Furs on the soundtrack were Radiohead's Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood, David Gray, Suede's Bernard Butler, and Roxy Music's Andy Mackay. The American musicians who played as Curt Wild's Wylde Ratttz on the soundtrack were The Stooges' Ron Asheton, Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and Steve Shelley, Minutemen's Mike Watt, Gumball's Don Fleming, and Mark Arm of Mudhoney.

The soundtrack features new songs written for the film by Pulp, Shudder to Think and Grant Lee Buffalo,[18] as well as many early glam rock compositions, both covers and original versions. The Venus in Furs covers several Roxy Music songs with Thom Yorke channeling Bryan Ferry on vocals,[18] Placebo covers T. Rex's "20th Century Boy," Wylde Ratttz and Ewan McGregor cover The Stooges' "T.V. Eye" and "Gimme Danger", and Teenage Fanclub and Donna Matthews cover The New York Dolls' "Personality Crisis." Lou Reed, Brian Eno, T. Rex, and Steve Harley songs from the period are also included. The album is rounded out by a piece of Carter Burwell's film score.

All three members of the band Placebo also appeared in the film, with Brian Molko and Steve Hewitt playing members of the Flaming Creatures (Malcolm and Billy respectively) and Stefan Olsdal playing Polly Small's bassist.

Track listing[edit]

  1. Brian Eno: "Needle In The Camel's Eye" (Brian Eno/Phil Manzanera) – 3:09
  2. Shudder To Think: "Hot One" (Nathan Larson/Shudder To Think) – 3:04
  3. Placebo: "20th Century Boy" (Marc Bolan) – 3:42
  4. Venus in Furs (vocals by Thom Yorke): "2HB" (Bryan Ferry) – 5:39
  5. Wylde Ratttz (vocals by Ewan McGregor): "T.V. Eye" (Dave Alexander/Scott Asheton/Ron Asheton/James Osterberg, Jr.) – 5:24
  6. Shudder To Think: "Ballad of Maxwell Demon" (Craig Wedren/Shudder to Think) – 4:47
  7. Grant Lee Buffalo: "The Whole Shebang" (Grant-Lee Phillips) – 4:11
  8. Venus in Furs (vocals by Thom Yorke): "Ladytron" (Bryan Ferry) – 4:26
  9. Pulp: "We Are The Boyz" (Cocker/Banks/Doyle/Mackey/Webber) – 3:13
  10. Roxy Music: "Virginia Plain" (Bryan Ferry) – 3:00
  11. Teenage Fanclub & Donna Matthews: "Personality Crisis" (David Johansen/Johnny Thunders) – 3:49
  12. Lou Reed: "Satellite Of Love" (Lou Reed) – 3:41
  13. T. Rex: "Diamond Meadows" (Marc Bolan) – 2:00
  14. Paul Kimble & Andy Mackay: "Bitters End" (Bryan Ferry) – 2:13
  15. Venus in Furs (vocals by Jonathan Rhys Meyers): "Baby's On Fire" (Brian Eno) – 3:19
  16. Venus in Furs (vocals by Thom Yorke): "Bitter-Sweet" (Andy Mackay/Bryan Ferry) – 4:55
  17. Carter Burwell: "Velvet Spacetime" (Carter Burwell) – 4:10
  18. Venus in Furs (vocals by Jonathan Rhys Meyers): "Tumbling Down" (Steve Harley) – 3:28
  19. Steve Harley: "Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)" (Steve Harley) – 3:59

Connections to other works[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Limping with the Stooges in Washington Heights" in The Brooklyn Rail
  2. ^ Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk (1996)
  3. ^ a b Moverman, Oren (1998) "Superstardust: Talking Glam with Todd Haynes", an interview in the introduction of Velvet Goldmine, A Screenplay by Todd Haynes, Hyperion: New York
  4. ^ Ashare, Matt (9 November 1998). "'Velvet Goldmine' stirs up the glam past". Boston Phoenix. 
  5. ^ Maslin, Janet (1 October 1998). "Glittering Ode to the Days of Ziggy Stardust". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-01-27. 
  6. ^ Travers, Peter (April 18, 2001). "Velvet Goldmine". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-01-27. 
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger (6 November 1998). "Velvet Goldmine Movie Review & Film Summary (1998)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  8. ^ Kipp, Jeremiah (25 March 2004). "Velvet Goldmine". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  9. ^ Tobias, Scott (5 February 2009). "The New Cult Canon: Velvet Goldmine". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2012-01-27. 
  10. ^ "Glam’s Velvet Goldmine Marks End of McCarren’s Film Season" in "Encore New York"
  11. ^ Lim, Dennis (12 January 2012). "'Velvet Goldmine,' 'Mildred Pierce' capture director's interests". L.A. Times. 
  12. ^ "Todd Haynes Interview" in "A.V. Club"
  13. ^ "Todd Haynes talks Velvet Goldmine Blu-ray Release" in "Indiewire"
  14. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Velvet Goldmine". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-10-02. 
  15. ^ Awards for Velvet Goldmine, IMDb.
  16. ^ "Making of Velvet Goldmine". DVD. 
  17. ^ Guthmann, Edward (6 November 1998). "The Glitter of Glam Rock Doesn't Look Like Much Fun". San Francisco Chronicle. pp. C–1. 
  18. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Velvet Goldmine: Review", AllMusic.com.
  19. ^ Velvet Goldmine: The Movie - The Ziggy Stardust Companion

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]