Glam and the stage/screen have a symbiotic relationship.
While music and fashion are the fundemental arts of the idiom, theater and film have been the inspiration for, and have been inspired by Glam for ages. There are a handful of productions directly *about* Glam , but most of these productions simply embody the look, the sound, and/or the spirit of Glam. Like the idiom itself, they are all over the map -
high art to low art, musicals to dramas, epics to indies.
All of these flicks have some form of cult status, but they
range from mass-hysteria to obscure fetish
. Some have enormous web presences, others are only referenced by the fearfully resourceful Internet Movie Database (IMDB).
I would love to review every single play/film listed here, but for sanity's sake, I've only commented on my absolute favorites. However,
being a bigger filmwhore than I am a glamwhore
(heavens!) I will give you my opinion on any item listed here at the proverbial drop of the hat.
A cult phenomenon, and really,
the only fictional film *about* Glam ever made. Whether you love it or hate it, something about this film just permeates and radiates. Probobly the single biggest factor in the resurgence of the idiom, though it took us a while to come around...
If you've seen the film, look here for my *constructive* criticism.
Velvet Goldmine tells the story of the troubled relationship between self-invented glam superstar Brian Slade (Johnathan Rhys-Meyers) and deviant cult rocker Curt Wild (Ewan McGregor).
Yes kids, VG *is* a slash fanfiction rendering of David Bowie and Iggy Pop.
The story is presented in a Citizen Kane framework by Arthur (Christian Bale), a young journalist in the 80s looking back at his own coming of age during the explosive 70s.
But as is said about many visionary films, the plot, in itself, hardly matters. It's a hackneyed phrase, but VG was the ever-brilliant Todd Haynes' love-letter to an era. The film threads in an inexplicable, campy mysticism -
like all else in glam, it has moments that transcend the pervasive irony and dwell in pure beauty. Themes from Oscar Wilde merge with the postmodern ideologies on constructions vs. "nature" and all the other shite I ramble on about in posture. The wall-to-wall music in VG comes from soundtrack-as-score, and also from the actors performing as their characters. As you've seen in other areas of this site, VG's music is simply
some of the best Glam ever conconcted.
The film definitely has it's faults, but the scintillating energy is simply overpowering. Like the Motherage itself, all the glaring miscalculations fall away when you take a step back and pose it. Above all, you are left with a
perfect veneer of atmosphere, that intimates something deeper, and that's really the whole point, isn't it
A cult phenomenon, and
the only play and soon-to-be-film relaying the curious life and times of a German transexual wanna-be Glam Star ever made. And if nothing else can recommend it, though everything else can,Hedwig and the Angry Inch serves up genuine, explosive, tear-it-up glam rock, as opposed to the usual alien hybrid we've come to know and love as rock opera.
The musical has left NYC and is currently touring the world. Though everyone chatters on about the genderfucks, merged characters, and fantasmagoric costuming, the real icing on the big slab of bittersweet German Chocolate cake that is Hedwig's story is the the
complete removal of the fourth wall. .
In Hedwig, the audience plays the role of the audience coming to see the band. And very much
like Ziggy Stardust (one of Hedwig's earliest influences) the history is invented, but the moment is real.
Hedwig relays her life to us through the most "natural" between-songs banter, like a VH1 Storytellers session - only perfectly crafted, raucous, terribly poignant, and infinitely witty. Only in the final spectacular moments of the show does the confected reality melt down, leaving the audience licking it's lips, and coming back for more. Again, and again, and again...
The film version - release date undisclosed - takes the form of a Spinal Tap-esque
rockumentary as Hedwig takes it on the road. Perhaps it will lose the immediacy and intimacy of the show, but the backstory will be brought to life, we'll see the present story from all angles, and perhaps, maybe, possibly, the rather complex love story will finally resolve itself?
We can't give anything away because we don't know!
A cult phenomenon, and the only good movie Mick Jagger was ever a part of.
Nicholas Roeg created three legendary films in his career - The Man Who Fell to Earth, Don't Look Now (a brilliant, shocking thriller with Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland), and Performance, his directing debut after a reknown career as cinematographer.
Performance is a cult film,, but with a very small, rather erudite following. It's one of those Movies of Importance your filmschool friends feel superior for recognizing. It's also
one of the strangest, most exhilirating, most titillating, and most confounding films ever made.
Performance was created at the literal end of the 60s, 1970, and represents the death and deconstruction of the Swinging 60s in London. The film focuses on two seemingly opposing underground scenes : the
vicious criminal underworld, and the deviant bohemian counterculture. Our protagonist, Chas (played brilliantly by James Fox) is a thug hitman for a powerful crime syndicate. We follow him as he performs his job with quite ingenious artistry, and perhaps too much personal enjoyment. He ends up killing someone he shouldn't have, and goes on the lamb.
Chas winds up taking a room in the house of young retired rock god Turner-
played with absolutely indescribable sexual magnetism by Mick Jagger
, looking more beautiful than is humanly possible. Turner, who feels he has lost the violent energy that founded his music, is transfixed with Chas's exuding evil, and he and his lovers (the androgynous Lucy, and the scene-stealing Pherber, played brilliantly by Anita Pallenberg) pull Chas deeper and deeper into identity crisis, decadance and debauchery. The ending of the film is shocking, totally inexplicable, and absolutely perfect.
Now, unlike most movies that attempted to be "psychadelic", Performance is NOT CAMPY! The atmosphere here is dark and intense, psychological and psychotropic, with delicious sexual experimentation and genderplay that must have truly shocked the audience at its original release. Performance is widely regarded as the film that most literally appropriates the experience of being on drugs. Roeg's signature cinematography has been liberally pinched by every "hip" director in the world, yet his work still manages to be disorienting and provocative. And to top it all off, the film features what is likely the first "music video" ever made, for the song "Memo from Turner, you will know it when you see it.
Cult status resulted mainly from constant HBO airplay during my genration's impressionable youth in the early 80s, and the
only featured film that belongs squarely on the Kitsch Cult shelf
. This is not a good movie. It's a *fucking great* movie. The best rock-animation movie ever, inexpressibly better than the inexplicably overappreciated peice of crap they call Heavy Metal. Not only is the animation superior, but
RnR has a soundtrack, with *original songs* by IGGY POP, LOU REED, BLONDIE, EARTH WIND & FIRE and CHEAP TRICK!!!!!!
And the songs don't score the movie, they are written in the voice of and "performed" by the animated characters.
The short version of the plot summary is this: In a postapacolyptic world, an Evil Rock God Magician named Mock (a fabulous mix between Bowie, Iggy and Mick) needs the voice of this chick singer named Angel (totally Deborah Harry) in a struggling rock group (very much Cheap Trick) to
raise a demon from another dimension.
(Yeah, I know. How fabulous.) Will Angel be wooed into this evil plot? Or will she stay with the band, and more importantly, with Omar the prick lead singer with whom she shares a love/hate relationship?
It ain't anime, but the illustration is very accomplished. The flick is full of sex drugs, and rock n' roll, but it's also very campy and acerbic.
It is best appreciated by wasted gen-xers, not 14-year-old RPG geeks looking for maturbation material
(unlike other films already mentioned). And OK, some of the songs sound like they were penned in the bathroom after a long gig and a lot of (or not enough) heroin, but that is just why they are
See it with many many people, preferably under the influence. You will thank me!!!
*Five* versions of these indelable stories are litterd over the cultural landscape, making this the only franchise of it's size never to spawn action figures.
The whole thing started out in the late 30s with Christopher Isherwood's legendary Berlin Stories, (my favorite book of all time, featured in the fiction section of derivation)
which, in breif, tells the autobiographical story of a progressive English expatriate living in turbulant pre-war Berlin, and his relationships with a
host of fascinating degenerates, innocents, drifters and locals.
"I Am a Camera" was a straight stage play and then a film both based on the somewhat-brief section focusing on the aspiring femme-fatale Sally Bowles. Both were created in the early 50s, and both have faded away in the publics memory (the film, in any case, deservedly -
a *tremendous bore*).
But the real cult classics are naturally the decadent, poignant 70s musical film and raucous 90s musical play by the name of Cabaret. The dark, lush film version is directed by the incomparable Bob Fosse, with phenomenal peformances by Joel Grey, Liza Minelli and Michael York. The film focuses again on the relationship between the Isherwood character and Sally, and the centerfuge is the Kit Kat Club, where the mysterious M.C. holds reign. The plot bears very little resemblence to the original stories, instead it takes a handful of characters and rearranges their relationships to bring out a
new and equally fascinating narrative which fits the medium *perfectly*. The raunchy, subversive musical numbers, naturalisticly portrayed at the cabaret, are astonishingly evocative, delightful and disturbing. The exagerrated, if not fabricated (Isherwood was strictly for the boys)
love triangle between Brian, Sally, and sugar-daddy Maxmillian, is possibly the most eroticly charged ever put on film. I would have to say that if you can even call it an adaptation, it's the<
best adaptation of a novel in history.
The recent broadway production play is
set in the infamous Studio 54, remodeled after a Berlin cabaret. It's a blast, but don't bother paying top dollar for the table seats and dining, the atmosphere is broken eating cafeteria-quality food from gladware and sipping crap champagne from plastic cups.
Calling on elements and narratives from the book and the Fosse film, shedding the characters invented for the film and giving a more even treatment to sidelined characters, putting a kabosh on the love triangle but still focusing the invented romantic relationship between the Iserhwoodesque Clifford and Sally and is overseen by the cabaret's polylibidinous M.C. The musical numbers, both naturalistic and break-into-song fantastical, are a mix of old and new, successfull and not-so-much,
the best borrowing liberally from Fosse-signature choreography. Salley Bowles has been portrayed by a string of actors from the impeccable Natasha Richardson to the inane Lea Thopson, and the M.C. has been played by a number of lovely men, including some Hedwig alumni, but
no one has been able to compare to the definitive performance by Alan Cummings.
A cult phenomenon (durrrrr...), and the only film here where
fandom can be likened to an Identity Group. Depending on your generation and your sexual maturity, you were most likely introduced, and then immediately overexposed to the Rocky Horror Picture Show somewhere between the ages of 12 and 17. If you attended screenings, in any form of costume, with any regularity, after you left high school, you basically became a card-carrying member of a community full of love, support, and cuddly cartoon perversion that is more mocked than misunderstood by the outside world - much of which consists of former fans who have moved on, or are
filled to the brim with post-geek paranoia that leaves them floating down a river in Egypt.
I will just come out and say it.
I love Rocky Horror. I saw it for my 14th birthday party [yay hippy parents]. I'd discovered Bowie a year before so I already knew I was a freak, but Rocky Horror was...well, you know. Anyway I haven't gone to a screening in about 8 years (see post-geek paranoia, above), but
fucked if I'm going back in the closet. Tim Curry was sex personafied, Richard O'Brian is a genius, and the whole shebang is the living end.
Oh yeah, the boring info shit. So in the 70s, Richard O'Brian (Riff in the film), wrote the Rocky Horror Show which mixed
campy horror movies and campy queerness - two great tastes that taste great together.
Rocky unsubs the subtext in Frankenstein by making Frankenstein the monster (i.e. evil bisexual transexual alien) , and the Monster an innocent (i.e. dumb reanimated blond himbo). Throw in the whitest of the white-bread sci-fi romantic leads,
a half-assed plot for world domination and a full-assed plan for decadent deviant hedonism at all costs, and musical numbers ranging plastic soul to torch-songs, and you have one hell of a beautiful mess. The musical was a huge hit in London, and a tremendous flop in the dumb, reanimated, blond U.S. Richard somehow still got contracted to make a film with almost all the original London cast, plus virgins Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick. The movie was a disaster, everywhere, until