While scouring a glam rock abyss, if one were to survey a velvet goldmine, he or she is likely to uncover a bounty of sex, drugs and, without a doubt, rock and roll.
Taking it’s title from the B-side of a David Bowie single, Velvet Goldmine is largely based on his early career, more specifically, Bowie’s alter-ego “Ziggy Stardust.” The film also suggests that nineteenth century playwright Oscar Wilde laid the foundation for the glam-rock explosion of the 1970’s and 80’s.
In his breakout role as bisexual musician Brian Slade, Jonathan Rys-Meyers brings a sense of British style and sophistication to an otherwise highly Americanized role, making much of the potential vulgarity seem rather epicurean. His mildly feminine features were perfectly cast to truly bring a sense of pansexuality to the role.
By far the most memorable character in the film, Curt Wild is widely speculated to be based on infamous performer Iggy Pop. Played by Ewan McGregor, Wild’s blatant sexuality and devil-may-care attitude define the erotically hedonistic world of rock music, particularly the austere glam rock genre. Wild’s character development is immediately epitomized by a scene in which McGregor strips off leather pants, and slathers glue and glitter over his naked carnality during a stage performance.
While the action is often interrupted by arbitrary interviews, the film as a whole translates well. The connections made between Oscar Wilde and glam rock are unarguably innovative for a relatively fictional rock movie and the seamless combination of sequins and sexuality are raw eye candy for the viewer.
Hailed by all diehard Strokes fans as the single most innovative documentary in musical history, In Transit, a compilation of obscure and arbitrary clips of The Strokes, has one constant theme, rock stardom.
Julian, Fabrizio, Nickolai, Albert and Nick take viewers around the world through incessant boozing and an ever-present subliminal sexuality. The film is laced with constant innuendos and ironic sexual situations including a scene in which Nickolai Fraiture approaches the hotel room door of folk rocker Adam Green proposing “room service” for the room’s inhabitants. Furthermore, on the re-released edition of the film, bonus features included a clip of front man Julian Casablancas carrying wood, literally.
The band members’ drunken stupor and callous verbiage show the effects of youthful exuberance when mixed with sudden global renown. The boys, along side friends such as Ryan Gentles, Matt Romano, HarMar Superstar and The Moldy Peaches, wreck havoc upon overseas flights and international cities like Dublin, Ireland and London, England.
Although unintentional, In Transit is slightly misogynistic. Aside from Kimya Dawson, of Moldy Peaches fame, the only other women throughout the film are used for physical satisfaction and make nothing more than brief cameos as one-night stands. Similar sentiments are also expressed or hinted throughout the course of the film.
Overall, the documentary does an outstanding job and translating the excitement and allure of New York’s biggest “indie” scene band into the basic silliness of any other group of twenty-something males in America.