Velvet Goldmine 1999 ****

Music biopics are often ham-strung by their own issues in respecting the memory of the rights to the songs; Johnny Cash and Ray Charles both got reverent, wholesome and not that cinematically interesting treatment. But when David Bowie decided he didn’t want any part of Todd Haynes’s 1970’s glam rock extravaganza, he opened a pandora’s box in the director’s imagination. From the opening sequence, in which Oscar Wilde comes into contact with a spaceship, it’s clear that Velvet Goldmine isn’t going to follow a beaten path. Christian Bale is Arthur Brown, a reporter trying to uncover the truth behind the seeming death of star Bryan Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), with Ewan McGregor as a Kurt Cobain fore-runner Curt Wild, and support from Toni Collette and Eddie Izzard. Weird, wonderful and poetic, Velvet Goldmine is the black sheep of the music biopic genre, unofficial, unclassifiable, and defiantly original.


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