March 9, 2014

Indie Movie Review: Velvet Goldmine

I occasionally search for movies based on an actor/actress I want to watch. When I was looking for movies starring the rakishly gorgeous Jonathan Rhys Meyers (of The Tudors and Dracula TV series), I found this 1998 movie called "Velvet Goldmine", also co-starring Ewan McGregor and Christian Bale. 

yi wei lim, yiweilim, velvet goldmine, david bowie, christian bale, jonathan rhys meyers, ewan mcgregor, glam rock, david bowie velvet goldmine, ziggy stardust, 2hb, roxy music, brit rock

"Velvet Goldmine" is a loose adaptation of British musician David Bowie's life during the height of the British glam rock era. Glam rock, also known as glitter rock, was a music genre that gained popularity in the mid-1970's, featuring singers and musicians who wore flamboyant makeup and clothes with a camp or androgynous twist. The glam rock era is also associated with the blurring of gender roles. 

yi wei lim, yiweilim, david bowie, ziggy stardust, david bowie ziggy stardust, aladdin sane, glam rock, bowie, velvet goldmine, space oddity
David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust persona
yi wei lim, yiweilim, lou reed, glam rock, velvet goldmine, lou reed transformer, david bowie, ziggy stardust
Lou Reed

Rhys Meyers plays protagonist British glam rock star Brian Slade, whose career abruptly ended from a backlash towards a publicity stunt during one of his concerts and subsequently faded away from the public eye. The film follows journalist Arthur Stuart (Christian Bale), who is assigned to find out what happened to Slade after. The narrative is non-linear, interspersed with Stuart's interviews with people who once knew Slade and vignettes of the glam rock scene in Britain. 

If you're a 1970's music fan, you may enjoy this film. References are heavy to the artists of old: Bowie, Andy Warhol, Iggy Pop, and Lou Reed. The movie is also peppered with Oscar Wilde quotes (I adore Wilde!). Even if you're not a fan of glam rock or Wilde, the actors' performances are quite engaging: Rhys Meyers and McGregor playing off against each other as the androgynous British glam rock personality vs. the raw American grunge rocker respectively, and Bale as the (closet?) bisexual journalist who retraces Slade's and his own journey within the glam rock world. 

yi wei lim, yiweilim, christian bale, velvet goldmine, patrick bateman, david bowie, glam rock, todd haynes, british, christian bale velvet goldmine

Besides that, I really enjoyed the soundtrack; some of the tracks were done superbly by Radiohead vocalist Thom Yorke. One of my favourite songs from the movie is "2HB" by 1960's English art rock band Roxy Music, sung by Yorke.

To cap it off: if you're a music fan or interested in socio-cultural phases, or enjoy watching any of these three actors, OR are looking for a more unusual / non-mainstream movie (to quote Lou Reed, "Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side..."), do check it out! For me, the equation of too many good things e.g. JRM + Ewan McGregor + Christian Bale + Oscar Wilde quotes + Thom Yorke + glam rock was too good to pass up.


  1. That's a great choice of movie....

    1. It is quite unusual but I love it! Watched it a second time, and definitely in love with the soundtrack.