Blu-ray Review: Velvet Goldmine

Velvet Goldmine Blu-ray coverSTUDIO: Lionsgate | DIRECTOR: Todd Haynes | CAST: Christian Bale, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Ewan McGregor, Toni Collette, Eddie Izzard, Emily Woof
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 12/24/2011 | PRICE: Blu-ray $19.99
BONUSES: commentary
SPECS: R | 119 min. | Music drama | aspect ratio | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

The Blu-ray edition of 1998’s glam-rock collage Velvet Goldmine arrives with a solid high-definition rendering and an equally impressive new commentary track by director Todd Haynes (Poison) and producer Christine Vachon.

The movie, which tells the dual stories of the spectacular, meteoric career of a glam-rock superstar named Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers, From Paris With Love) and the investigation into his chameleon-like stardom by a reflective journalist (Christian Bale, The Fighter), positively glitters in its Blu-ray adaptation. And that’s cool, because there’s a lot glitter going around between Maryse Alberti’s luxurious cinematography, Andre Munro’s glamorous art direction and Sandy Powell’s appropriately fabulous period wardrobe designs.

Velvet Goldmine movie scene

Jonathan Rhys Meyers goes glam in Velvet Goldmine.

The film is packed with a wall-to-wall selection of glam rock numbers, including original tracks, covers versions and new songs, not to mention a spacey original score by Coen Brothers’ mainstay Carter Burwell and Craig Wedren. That said, it’s nice to hear a 5.1 audio mix that does its job in separating the soundtrack from the dialogue so that each are heard with clarity and richness.

As for the commentary track, Haynes has done his homework. Sitting down for the recording session with well-researched notes and insights (he acknowledges that much of what he discusses on the track was culled from websites dedicated to the film), Haynes speaks with candor and enthusiasm about his movie, which he describes as “a valentine to the sounds and images that erupted in and around London in the early 1970s.” As Haynes matches up the film’s fictionalized characters and incidents with the real life artists on which they were based (David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Angela Bowie, Coco Schwab), it’s almost as if he’s delivering a second version of Velvet Goldmine, the one that takes a look behind the conjuror’s curtain. Vachon is much more low-key, offering the occasional comment or personal opinion on a scene from a production point of view. It’s primarily Haynes’ show, particularly when it comes to discussing the film’s all-important musical aspects.

“Whatever people thought of the film, we created a fucking brilliant soundtrack,” Haynes declares at one point.

He’s right.


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.