ANDPOP’s Sarah Khan hopes to expand your film repertoire as she tackles some of the best little known films in the new bi-weekly column, “Blink And You’ll Miss It.” This week, she tells you why Todd Haynes’ Velvet Goldmine is one film you shouldn’t overlook.
What It Is: The fictionalized story of a Bowie-like rock star and his relationship with a punk rocker, inspired by the friendship between David Bowie and Iggy Pop.
A young Christian Bale stars as Arthur, a reporter assigned to investigate the newsworthy career of glam rocker, Brian Slade (played by The Tudors’ Jonathan Rhys Meyers), on the anniversary of his murder. While researching the humble beginnings and breakthrough fame of the eccentric musician, Arthur not only learns about Brian’s tragic love affair with punk rocker, Curt Wild (played by Ewan McGregor), but also is forced to recall Brian’s influence on his Arthur’s own sexuality.
Why You Probably Missed It:
Director Todd Haynes is a regular name among movie buffs, but unfortunately isn’t really a household name with audiences – yet. On top of that, despite the fact that the main stars of this movie are now big names in Hollywood, they were all mostly independent actors when the movie was released in 1998. Rhys Meyers was just starting to get noticed while Bale had a hefty filmography to his name which mostly consisted of indie films. McGregor was probably the best known actor of them all, but still not enough for the movie to have become a box office hit.
The movie also deals with homosexuality in a very detailed and unapologetic way and is overall the story of a glam rocker’s rise and fall from fame. Glam rock isn’t really a wildly popular genre of music and even though Brian Slade is supposed to be a fictionalized Bowie (even the title is a Bowie song!), there are no Bowie songs on the soundtrack or in the movie itself. (Apparently, Todd Haynes wanted to use so many Bowie songs on the album that Bowie refused to let him have any.)
Why You Should See It:
Underneath is all, this is a love story about an insightful dreamer and an emotionally tortured punk as seen through the findings of a star struck fan. It’s so colourful and has the best soundtrack of any movie ever, in my opinion. Most of the songs are sung in the movie and some were actually written by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, who is also featured on the soundtrack.
It’s also worth checking out just because it’s always interesting to see the sorts of movies actors decide to do before they’re famous enough to really pick and choose their roles. While Bale has since found extreme success and fame as the Batman in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, Rhys Meyers continues to find success on the small screen first with The Tudors and now with Dracula, which premiered this fall.
If you’re a fan of the ’70s, punk or glam rock music, movies about musicians or all of the above, this movie is definitely worth a watch.
Watch the trailer for Velvet Goldmine below: