Tag Archives: beliefs

Velvet Goldmine: “G” Stands for Glam and Gay

To be honest, I had no idea what this movie was going to be about when I first started it. I searched Netflix for movies starring Christian Bale and/or Ewan McGregor and

The perfect glamster couple. (Collette + Meyers)

found this little gem. (I think gem’s the right word to use for this movie in particular.) Not a strong runner in the money department, this movie has a star studded cast but boasts the time and effort of an independent film with a message to put across. I was perfectly okay with all the homosexuality as well. And trust me, there was a lot.

And it wasn’t even a gay vibe from the outfits.

This movie exudes glam and glitter more than any other film I’ve ever seen. In the same documentary/journalistic vein of Party Monster (review a few entries back), this movie handles the earlier era of Glam Rock (back in the 70’s). Knowing not much about glam rock other than David Bowie, it was interesting to see a character based on him. This movie performs as an homage to David Bowie and Iggy Pop, but with less of a focus on the drugs and more on the sex. I wasn’t expecting as much of a straight edge film, but this movie doesn’t leave out the Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll.

And here’s something even weirder. I’m not that huge of a fan of glam rock. Sure, I have Gary Glitter’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Pt. II on my iPod, but that’s about as far as it goes. Oh, and this:

That’s the extent of my glam rock knowledge. But what surprised me about this film is how much I enjoyed the musical soundtrack of the film. The movie was right in informing me from the very beginning that I should turn up the volume on my T.V. I thoroughly enjoyed the songs of the 70’s, and had no idea how much I would enjoy glam rock. John Rhys Meyers and Ewan McGregor both lent their vocals to the soundtrack to give it a truer feel to the film, something I always

The fantastical outfits.

appreciate.

But let’s get into the story a little bit. Structured after what is considered by every film student as the greatest film of all time, Citizen Kane, this movie attempts to uncover the glittery veil on who Brian Slade (John Rhys Meyers) truly was. Arthur Stewart (Christian Bale) is a journalist and former glam enthusiast who has come full circle in what used to be his glory days. He has been charged with unearthing the truth on Slade/Persona known as Maxwell Demon. After he pulled a fake assassination stunt at one of his concerts, he fell from grace and landed in obscurity. Meanwhile, everyone around him give their opinion of what their lives were like with Brian Slade around.

The Glam-man Rises.

It’s interesting to see how involved Christian Bale’s character was with the glam scene and those who surrounded Brian Slade. In a world of blossoming bisexuality, all of the characters explore just what it means to be human through sexual interaction. At the same time that it could be discomforting to someone who is against abnormal sexual acts, this movie doesn’t play it up to more than it is, human interaction on a very base and carnal level. It is always amazing to see actors perform onscreen what they truly aren’t in real life. All three (Bale, Meyers, and McGregor) are straight men. They all simulate homosexual acts (kissing, suggestive thrusting, etc) on camera in front of what I would expect is a mixed morals cast and crew. When you slip into something you’re not and sell it, I give you props for that.

The costumes and personalities flair onscreen creating something pretty to look at as well as substance for a story about a form of music that swept both the U.K. and America. With this clash of countries (Ewan McGregor plays Curtis Wild, a glam rocker from Michigan) and love all over, this movie

Ewan McGregor, showin’ it all.

professes love and understanding, no matter what beliefs, morals, or nationality. I was impressed with John Rhys Meyers haunted acting (just as I was with Culkins in Party Monster) and everyone did their share. Christian Bale created a character conflicted with his sexual identity and his confused past, while Ewan staged an opposite character that embraced all life offers. It was a dazzling performance by everyone, including Toni Collette. Throw in Eddie Izzard to add some pizzazz and you have yourself a great cast of rockers.

A side you’ll never see of John Rhys Meyers.

And that’s what I loved about this movie. This isn’t your average film. Combining the worlds of musical and sexual liberation created something that an outsider like myself wouldn’t be able to acquire otherwise. The actors deliver superbly and the songs and colors create a fantastical cosmic journey you don’t want to end. If they couldn’t strung a series of glam rock music videos together, I wouldn’t have complained. So I say anyone looking for a change of pace to life should check out this film. It’s fab. 8.4 out of 10.

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Bodyguards and Assassins: Poetry in Revolution

This foreign film from Hong Kong is a diamond in the rough on Netflix. I really gotta hand it to the foreign film section of Netflix in general. Whenever I wanna go for a movie that I didn’t even know was critically acclaimed, I check that shizz out. This movie surprised me. Me and my roommate Ian (that infamous Ian of my other blog posts) we love foreign martial arts films. We absolutely lose our shit when we watch these. And this one was like, “Okay, I’ll deliver that. But guess what. You’re going to feel like a G.D. revolutionary after you watch this film. Just wait.”

And wait we did. With a sweeping and dramatic 2hr. 20min. dramatic climax into some dramatic action scenes, this movie delivers intellectually and

There's definitely some of this.

emotionally. You may think, “Hm, Bodyguards and Assassins huh? Sounds like a straight ahead martial arts mind destruction machine.” And it should make you think that. Because that does happen. It teases you with a bit about 45 minutes in, but the last hour of the film really gives it to you on a grand scale.  In a historic context (they mention actual people and death dates in the movie, so many non-fiction?) this movie enters Hong Kong in a time of revolution and a call to action. This wonderful film pushes just what it means to sacrifice for your beliefs and what needs to be done to do so.

A time of revolution.

The plot of the film, as me and my friends struggled to understand at first, is that of a man named Sun Wen. This intellectual revolutionary intends to head to Hong Kong and debate on the issue of China’s corrupt Qing dynasty. With no safety and no secure way to get him into the city, a handful of citizens take up the call and arms in order to safeguard their country’s future. Headed by Chen Shaobai (Tony Leung Ka-fai) and Li Yutang (Wang Xueqi), these two older men who finance and head the revolution place their lifelihoods and lives on the line in order to see justice delievered.

The rickshaw driver makes his worth known.

With a unique cast with so many characters from so many parts of this small section of Hong Kong, it can be a hassle to try to keep them all straight. I had trouble myself, but I felt that the individual attention to storylines and amazing costumes and design really individualized each character. With each character came a heartful angle and allows audiences to connect. Not in a sappy way but in a way like… Black Hawk Down. You know they may not all survive, but you have hope and the want for them to do so. Everybody can have their favorite character, and it all works out.

And finally! Here comes a cinematographic film with great fight scenes not

What a picturesque scene.

directed or relating to Ang Lee. And no John Woo doves either. From director Teddy Chan (this guy has been busy since 1981…) and writer Peter Chan and Huang Jianxin (related? Not gonna assume due to racism…) comes a film that was worth the hype I didn’t hear and the Hong Kong Awards I didn’t know it won. 35 nominations and 13 wins from 4 different award affairs? Word. The action scenes though! Leave it to the Asians to make a hooked and metal linked harpoon into a deadly assassin weapon. Some of the fighting may have appeared overdramatic, but it led to a movie I would consider to be worth every minute.

What a great cast. Word.

I can’t talk specifically about the acting, but for most of the cast to be nominated for best actor or best supporting actor, I think, speaks for itself. As in most foreign films, I take the emotions I see through the characters actions and faces to be the true bridge between the gap in language. Another thought goes out to a good subtitled translation. It better sound more poetic than what they’re actually saying to work. If it sounds to corny of colloquial for even an American audience, it won’t cut it.

But this movie is definitely worth the watch. The beginning is slow with development, but it is well worth it by movie’s end. For those who love a good period piece that really has the feeling of the time its set in, check this out. And for those who love a damn good thrashing when it comes to action, be patient. It’s coming. Seeing as this is acclaimed and I loved the shit out of it, 9.3 out of 10 for a movie about Bodyguards and Assassins. Get some. 

Really. Get some.