Where is Brian Slade, front man of glam rock band Venus in Furs? In 1974 he was a teen idol in Britain and together with his wife Mandy (Toni Colette) and American rocker Curt Wild and his band Wylde Ratttz created an outrageous storm. Until he disappears .
Ten years later, journalist Arthur Stuart (an adorable Christian Bale), is set the task of tracking him down. As his investigation progresses vignettes of the characters involved in his career are interwoven with Arthur’s own memories of being a fan, glam rock and youth culture in Britain in the ’70’s.
Written and directed by Todd Haynes in 1998, Velvet Goldmine is a carnival of costumes (Sandy Powell) and music. Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Ewan McGregor are gaspingly, shockingly, sensational as Brian Slade and Curt Wild. But the wildness stops, often abruptly, when the memories are Arthur’s own. The dreary streets, getting on a bus, feeling an outsider as he remembers being a teenager and idolising Brian Slade, his sexually fluid, androgynous hero who gives him the strength to come out to his dismally repressed parents and leave them in their living room, with their backs to the wall. While I laughed and gasped at Slade and Wild, it was Arthur Stuart and his quest for excitement in the hum-drum, boring ’70’s that resonated with me!
Continue reading “A Film For June: Velvet Goldmine” →
Set at the beginning of the twentieth century, Maurice follows Maurice Hall through his school days and adolescents, to his time as an undergraduate at Cambridge and into early adulthood. It follows his loneliness and confusion, his sexual awakening and acceptance of his homosexuality and his eventual happiness.
Forster wrote Maurice in 1913 directly after a visit to Milthorpe, the home of Edward Carpenter (who I did a brief post on here) and his ‘comrade’ George Merrill. He calls Carpenter his ‘saviour’ and Milthorpe a ‘shrine’ and says that they ‘combined to make a profound impression on me and to touch a creative spring. . . The general plan, the three characters, the happy ending for two of them, all rushed into my pen.’ I think this is important because I found Maurice the most intensely personal book I think I’ve ever read.
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‘It was the beginning of a June afternoon. The springlike transparent sky shed a rain of silver sunshine on the roofs of the village, and on the pastures and larchwoods surrounding it.’
Seventeen year old Charity Royall lives with her adoptive father in the small town of North Dormer in New England. Born into a community of outlaws who live in the surrounding mountains, Lawyer Royall brought her down into the valley town when she was five years old and named her Charity ‘to keep alive in her a becoming sense of her dependence’. She knows she’s lucky but she feels stifled by the quietness of the town and increasingly disturbed by the behaviour of her guardian. So she takes a job in the library to save money for her escape, when suddenly one day the library door opens and Lucius Harney a young architect from New York arrives and sparks begin to fly.
Continue reading “Summer” →
Four women in four intersecting time lines. Jeannine is a 29 year old librarian living with her cat in 1969 but the Great Depression is still going on, hers is still a world where her goal is to marry and have a home; Janet is a police-officer from the future utopian planet of Whileaway, where only women have survived a plague and Joanna is the author Joanna Russ, a fired up angry feminist in 1969.
When Janet arrives on Broadway at two o’clock in the afternoon in her underwear she becomes an instant celebrity and Joanna who is fascinated by her goes to a parade given in her honour – picked out of the crowd she gets into Janet’s car. Sitting in the back seat is Jeannine, having been found at a Chinese new year festival, terrified she puts her hands over her ears repeating to herself ‘I’m not here, I’m not here’ but she is there and then the three find themselves on Whileaway.
And then Jael arrives, the shadowy dark side of the future. She comes from a future where the battle between the sexes has divided into two armed camps – Womanland and Manland. Manland constructs its own women from weakling men and Womenland has pretty mindless men who are wired into their high tech houses, objectified males. A ‘rosy, wholesome, single-minded assassin’ it’s she who has got them together because she needs their help to win the war.
Continue reading “The Female Man” →