Velvet Goldmine (1998)
Reviewed by Feb 24th, 2004

Quite possibly the biggest-budget fanfilm ever made, Velvet Goldmine is a bizarre pastiche of the fictionalized lives of David Bowie, Mick Jagger and Iggy Pop, among others. If you know nothing about any of these folks, you may be able to mistake it for a fairly original film, and I have met people who have made this error.

Rhys Meyers plays a character plagiarized from Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust/Aladdin Sane era, but with nicer teeth and worse music. He ends up getting shot onstage, then magically appears in the 1980s with Bowie Let’s Dance-style bad hair, and no one detects the sellout until Christian Bale’s character, who used to beat off to pictures of him when he was younger while wearing platform shoes and tight shirts, figures it all out and exposes him, which a little help from a fictionalized Angie Bowie (Toni Colette).

Not surprisingly, Bowie didn’t allow any of his music to be used in the movie, so, even though the film is named after one his B-sides, they had to use crap music for the Bowie-based character. Ewan McGregor pulls off a Kurt Cobain-ish looking Iggy Pop reasonably well, and sings a couple of Stooges songs while pulling his pants down and dumping glitter on himself. The acting is probably as good as these people could manage in a film like this, but this is probably also the reason I am unable to watch anything with Christian Bale in it anymore.

There are a lot of nonsense references to UFOs and Oscar Wilde, and the though costumes, while stolen from real people, and the sets are fairly nice looking, this feels like something that would fit better in text format on than on a DVD.

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