Velvet Goldmine [Blu-Ray] Todd Haynes

Velvet Goldmine [Blu-Ray] Todd Haynes
Consistent throughout the works of the theoretically and culturally preoccupied Todd Haynes is a tendency to prioritize the analytical over the emotional or connective. His films have all tackled the notion of image performance as a construct of social expectation and as a necessity for inclusion and/or identity. Typically, they integrate and link female subjugation and homosexuality, suggesting the "other" as suppressed monstrosity, according to dominant norms. Although, with Velvet Goldmine, the role of women is mostly limited to the male presentation of the perverse or culturally abject in the vacuum of glam rock, positing an ersatz David Bowie persona –Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) – as an appropriating, opportunistic thief of cultural trends, somewhat like a musical Andy Warhol, only linked to Oscar Wilde within the text of the film His proposed homosexual relationship with Curt Wild (Ewan McGregor) – an Iggy Pop-like, drug-infused mess of a human being – is what generates the ire, or controversy, despite the fact that this work is more about metaphors and distancing techniques than shock or allegations. Amidst the presentation of gaudy, stylistically apropos musical numbers and performances, the stale framing device of journalist Arthur Stuart (Christian Bale) provides our eye, which is one of intrigue and assumptions, but never engagement. We understand that our researching protagonist was himself merely a vessel of teen insecurities, similarly appropriating image from populist modes of media thrall, dressing up like Brian Slade and masturbating to newspaper articles to drive the metaphor home. But his perspective is limited to that of conjecture and analysis, simultaneously idealizing and criticizing the subject, which in turn leaves us cold and curious, with the notion that glam rock was all a bunch of posturing bullshit, much like every other fad. This honest perspective does give clout to the film, since trying to give a sure identity to celebrity is missing the point, but it keeps the narrative at a distance – respected rather than enjoyed. Included with the Blu-Ray is a commentary track with Todd Haynes and producer Christine Vachon, which expands upon the techniques and behind-the-scenes experiences, noting the challenges of getting this film made. (Alliance)