Skip to content

Maxwell Exorcises His Demons

May 13, 2010

Glad I got you on my viewscreen, sailor

Bat(E)man, Obi-Wan, A Definite Article, Muriel and Henry VIII all walk into a bar…

Maybe the delectable Jonathan Rhys-Meyers never believed he’d be a big, big star, but I’ve always known – oddly enough I’m far too cowardly to actually watch The Tudors, though I hear he’s quite fantastic – he would storm the states and rock the house. I went to see Velvet Goldmine because it was what all my friends were doing and also I was trying to avoid another night of dancing on the go-go box to some really bad uninspired 70s “Fox on the Run” style glam rock.

Whenever I recommend this eye and ear candy to folks I often do so without any commentary, except to say: “Oh my god, who asks questions about a movie where Ewan McGregor goes full frontal (again). What the hell is wrong with you. Oh yeah, it’s got Muriel from that wedding movie, Christian Bale doing some awful British accent. Damn, I hate when Americans try talk British. It’s totally cheesy… Oh, he’s Welsh. I see then. Well he sounds like Eliza Doolittle1.”

in search of crimes past

There are three problems with telling people the “story”:

  • It kind of makes Christian Bale’s character – Arthur Stewart – seem rather idiotic.
  • It deprives the viewer of framing the film from their own perspective.
  • It might make you not like Bowie much (it did for me, for like two hours, then I got over it.)

One of things I will say is hats off to Velvet Goldmine director Todd Haynes who had me at a little film released in 1995 called Safe. Now, I am not one who likes artsy films for the sake of doing so, as my tastes tend to skew far more popcorny, but Safe is really an awesome movie.

In Safe’s most iconic scene, Julianne Moore coughed herself from what appeared to be Sherman Oaks all the way to her home in Northridge! Having coughed that route myself once or twice in my life, I found the whole scene quite chilling. Every time I coughed after having seen that film, I worried I would be unable to stop until I relocated to a community where people don’t really shower, clean with vinegar, are afraid of deodorant and eat bland foods.

Damn, I wish spring would come to Vermont! I’m about tired of all this cold and winter residue.

the force is strong with this one

Velvet Goldmine has fantastic music, gorgeous costuming and for some odd reason Eddie Izzard in an dizzying array of Austin Powers looking suits. How cruel to have a movie all about glitter, glamour and deprive his character of both! Christian Bale spends much of the movie running around looking Harrison Ford confused, which was par for the course at that point in his career. I see you, Metroland. Ewan is always a bit bonks in this era of his career and wouldn’t really settle down until he started wearing drapey fabrics and started talking like Sir Alec Guinness. The most inspired acting – and I should be clear, everyone is terrific in this film – comes from Toni “Muriel” Collette2 who had me LOLing with her American girl moves to London and affects a British accent thing, which is pitch perfect. Ms. Collette (who is Australian), like Bale and Blanchett are masters at not only accents, but convincing dialects as well. I don’t think I’ve ever heard either Bale or Collette do the same dialect twice. I don’t even think Bale sounds the same from Batman Begins to Dark Knight.

My favorite songs from the film:

  • The Whole Shebang
  • Ballad of Maxwell Demon
  • Virginia Plain
  • The Hot One

There are some clunkers. Namely, Ladytron – a song I have never liked no matter who happens to be singing it – and 20th Century Boy, which is often covered and rarely improved. Every cover of 20th Century Boy sounds like The Wallflowers making Bowie’s Heroes into a more boring song that I believed was possible.

But in the end, Velvet Goldmine’s a big, wonderful glittery mess of a film and that is not a bad thing at all.

1 when promoting films Bale nearly always uses some flat nondescript mid American accent because of insipid views like the one I expressed at that point in my life. We aren’t ready for that jelly, it seems. Though I’m pretty sure he used his real voice to accept an MTV award for Batman, thus causing everyone to throw tomatoes at him. Or maybe I’m just confusing him with someone else.

2 if I don’t say Muriel La Mommie won’t know which Aussie I’m referring to.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. evmaroon permalink
    May 13, 2010 10:13 am

    I don’t have HBO so I can’t watch the Tudors on a real-time basis, but the ones I’ve seen I’ve loved, inexplicably. It’s not in any way accurate to history, and we all know Henry VIII was a dog, but Rhys-Myers had me rooting for him anyway, even as he’s condemning yet another wife to death. Takes some pretty good acting and writing to get an audience to like despicable…

  2. Kaynek permalink
    May 13, 2010 10:19 am

    Velvet Goldmine is one of my guilty pleasure films. I admit it! What’s not to love? Got a Scotsman, an Irishman and a Welshman all in one flick with tight pants, make up and glitter! What could be better?

  3. araymondjohnson permalink
    May 13, 2010 12:24 pm

    the preview for Safe was so awesome, thanks for the link. I’ve been meaning to rewatch that movie since pretty much 1996 when I first saw it. it’s the White Lady In Peril role that got Julianne Moore started! she is my favorite to do that role! i’m not being facetious despite my overuse of exclamation points!!

    I also just mentioned Todd Haynes Superstar at a party last weekend. What is that guy doing? Oh yeah, I’m Not There. Eh. When’s his comeback project coming out?

  4. May 13, 2010 1:21 pm

    I’m hoping it’s Safe II: Chemical Free Zone or some kind of Mash up of Far From Home and Safe.

    I also love Julianne Moore in her WLiP movies too! She’s got gravitas and a face that hold’s the camera’s attention.

  5. May 13, 2010 10:30 pm

    Ohmigosh this is one of my favorite movies ever. EVAR.

    One of my besties brought me the VHS of this at the end of our first year of college. She handed it to me, said “Dude. This movie is about glitter, glam music, and Ewan McGregor’s junk. It made me think of you.” I took that as a compliment.

    It’s one of the movies my SO and I claim as one of “our movies.” Also on the list are “To Wong Foo,” “Still Crazy,” and “Silence of the Hams” (the last one was the soundtrack of night together. There’s something so romantic about the line “Hams are always silent. Except when they fall down stairs. Then they go ‘bump-diddy-bump-diddy-bump!'” Yep, we’re classy.).

    Also, agreed on Toni Collette’s performance. She was perfect as Mandy Slade, and captured the American-in-London “innocent” girl who transforms into the jaded, slightly bitter (but with every reason to be) wife of a crazy musician.

    I loved the use of new and old music in the movie. The circus/love scene set to “Satellite of Love” by The Velvet Underground has made me want to use that as the song for my first dance when I get married. “The Whole Shebang” is a fantastic song, and I will always love the songs “Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me),” “Virginia Plain,” and “Needle in the Camel’s Eye.” But I agree, the Placebo cover of “20th Century Boy” was…meh.

    Damnit, I haven’t watched this movie in forever. Time for glittery Ewan McGregor man-junk!

  6. May 18, 2010 11:09 am

    i have a massive, life long crush on christian bale and have often wondered about his accent in interviews. it almost sounds to me like he’s mostly lost his welsh accent and really does have a vaguely mid-western american accent.

    that said, yes. i fucking LOVED this film and need to watch it again. i remember being similarly blown away by “muriel” and just overwhelmed by the overall acting and visual candy the movie provides. gorgeous piece of art, at the very least.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: