Saturday, August 9, 2014

Revolutionary Road

Year 6, Day 221 - 8/9/14 - Movie #1,812

BEFORE: I suppose I could have saved this one for February, since it looks all relationship-oriented.  But since I'm in the Leo DiCaprio chain, let's get it off the list.

THE PLOT:  A young couple living in a Connecticut suburb during the mid-1950s struggle to come to terms with their personal problems while trying to raise their two children.

AFTER: This was a bit of a struggle to get through, because it seems to focus on only the negative aspects of marriage.  For some reason, filmmakers feel like they need to keep setting films in the 1950's and in so doing, focus on pointing out how much of a different time it was.  I think in the 1970's and 1980's people tended to romanticize the 1950's when they reflected on them, and nowadays it's usually a much darker portrayal.  That seems to be the last decade where it was "OK" for a man to hit his wife, to "keep her in line" - so that sort of thing pops up, again and again, basically for shock value.  The last decade where men were prominent in the workplace, and women were mostly secretaries or housewives.

Then there's the sexual aspect - before birth control came in pill form, or before the use birth control was even considered acceptable for married couples, because that would go against the will of God, I guess that was the argument.  So this didn't leave married couples with a great number of choices - either have more kids than they could support, or stop having sex, or wear a condom and make Jesus cry.  Or get an abortion, but then you just might as well throw yourself into the fires of Hell, right?  

It really makes you wonder why people lived under these parameters for so long, when the solutions were right THERE, they were just considered less than ideal or stigmatized in some way.  I'm also wondering WHY everyone seems so intent on destroying nostalgia, proving that the good old days weren't so good after all - does that make people feel better about the present?  Because we've got our own problems these days, too.  Will someone make movies about the 2010's someday, and point out how our lives sucked because we didn't have flying cars and time machines and sex robots?

It's also a little spurious that the great insights in this film come from a person who's certifiably insane - that doesn't mean his insights are false, however.  On the contrary, it enables him to speak openly, to say things that maybe everyone else is thinking but not saying out loud.  I'm not sure what this says about people, or relationships, in fact I'm not sure I got any real point out of the proceedings tonight, the film seemed to go out of its way to be obtuse and not make some sense out of it all.  Unless that was the point, that life is ultimately senseless and disappointing.

Also starring Kate Winslet (last seen in "Contagion"), Kathy Bates (last seen in "Midnight in Paris"), Michael Shannon (last seen in "8 Mile"), David Harbour, Kathryn Hahn (last seen in "Wanderlust"), Zoe Kazan (last seen in "Me and Orson Welles"), Max Casella (last seen in "Killing Them Softly"), Jay O. Sanders (last seen in "Daylight")

RATING: 4 out of 10 egg salad sandwiches

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Beach

Year 6, Day 220 - 8/8/14 - Movie #1,811

BEFORE: It occurs to me that a lot of people are going on vacation right about now, and my films this week have so far represented some very bad vacation choices - first I was hiding out in the California desert in "A Life Less Ordinary", and then the tsumani struck Thailand on Tuesday.  In "The Island", the big, beautiful tropical island was merely theoretical, and "Shutter Island" wasn't the ideal summer getaway it sounded like, not at all.  So I'm all set for a nice, relaxing trip to the beach tonight.  We'll take a dip in the ocean, catch some rays - sounds great, what could possibly go wrong?

Leo carries over from "Shutter Island".

THE PLOT:  Twenty-something Richard travels to Thailand and finds himself in possession of a strange map. Rumors state that it leads to a solitary beach paradise, a tropical bliss - excited and intrigued, he sets out to find it.

AFTER: We're back in Thailand tonight - because the trip there earlier this week in "The Impossible" went SO well...(Now I wish I'd put those two films back-to-back, instead of just playing off the word "island" in two titles...oh, well.)  This is also from the same director as "A Life Less Ordinary", Danny Boyle.

Like "Shutter Island", this film suffers from a fair amount of rug-pulling, by that I mean it sets up a set of parameters in the first half, and then spends the 2nd half negating them.  The island is impossible to find, yet people keep turning up there.  It's an ideal place to be, until it isn't.  We've got an agreement with the local marijuana farmers, until they change their minds about it.  Our community is all about peace and free love, and jealousy doesn't exist.  Umm, yeah, let me know how that goes.  We've got everything here you could possibly want - wait, are you going on a supply run?  I only need a few dozen items...

Consistency may be the "hobgoblin of little minds", but I still prefer to have some in a movie script.  Otherwise the conflict seems forced - what if you found out halfway through "Ghostbusters" that the ghosts were really aliens?  OK, bad example.  What if Rocky trained half of the movie for a fight, and then suddenly decided to become a graphic designer?  God, I'm terrible at this, but you get the idea.

This is, however, a great reminder that "Shark Week" is coming up - why they program that during a month where many people are trying to enjoy their vacations is beyond me.  For that matter, I don't really get the appeal of going to the beach, maybe that's because I don't swim.  So all I can really do there is get a sunburn, get covered in sand, and get sand in my food.  I suppose I've been to some pretty nice beaches in the Caribbean, but to me they're just nice to look at.  Last year we were on a cruise and the stop in the Bahamas had a nice beach - but all I did there was have a couple drinks and sit in a beach chair.  (Seriously, what else is there to do?)  At the other stops on the cruise (Aruba, Curacao, Cartagena, Panama Canal) we found much more interesting things to do. 

Also starring Virginie Ledoyen, Guillaume Canet, Robert Carlyle (last seen in "The World Is Not Enough"), Tilda Swinton (last seen in "The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader")

RATING: 4 out of 10 boxes of tampons

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Shutter Island

Year 6, Day 219 - 8/7/14 - Movie #1,810

BEFORE:  I've decided to add two currently airing films to this year's chain, instead of next year's - "Frozen" and "American Hustle".  But this means I have to select two films to push into 2015, and I think to preserve the chain it will have to be the versions of "Hamlet" and "Othello" starring Laurence Olivier.  Those are the breaks.

Linking from "The Island", Scarlett Johansson was also in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" with Patricia Clarkson - and I kick off a 5-film Leonardo DiCaprio chain.

THE PLOT:  In 1954, U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels is investigating the disappearance of a murderess who escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane and is presumed to be hiding near-by.

AFTER:  First, a word about my process.  I tape movies of the premium channels and burn them to DVD, usually in themed pairs.  While checking my dub, I sometimes see images from the films, and that makes me vulnerable to seeing "twist" endings, and in fact endings in general, before I'm ready to watch the entire film.  With tonight's film, I didn't really have to worry because it's so full of random dream-like, or perhaps nightmare-like, images that anything I seen couldn't possibly have been understood. 

But the other issue was - why did it take so long for me to track this film down?  I think I was looking for it for a long while, and none of the premium channels wanted to run it while I was searching for it.  I think I eventually had to get it off PPV for a couple of bucks, but it does make me wonder why it was so hard to find.  Sometimes that's a bad sign, if the film isn't airing for some reason.

So finally I've watched it and I found it very obtuse - in that it seemed to be heading in a particular direction (umm, sort of?) for most of the film, and then it switched tracks at nearly the last minute.  There are twist endings, and there are shock endings, and then there are massive u-turns.  Once I started to feel that things as portrayed on the screen might not be reality, I started wondering where the film was ultimately going to go.  Was this something akin to "The Sixth Sense" crammed into "Fight Club", "Inception"-style?  Were there different levels of "reality" in this film? 

There is an explanation for why the film gets progressively weirder, but obviously it's nothing I can talk about without spoilers.  But I certainly don't appreciate having the rug pulled out from under me at the last minute, and I'm guessing that other people who've seen the film might feel the same way.  This is my way of saying that I'm not convinced that all of the pieces presented in this film came together in the most satisfactory way.

Also starring Leonardo DiCaprio (last seen in "The Man in the Iron Mask"), Mark Ruffalo (last seen in "Iron Man 3"), Ben Kingsley (last seen in "Hugo"), Michelle Williams (last seen in "My Week With Marilyn"), Emily Mortimer, Max Von Sydow (last seen in "Conan the Barbarian"), Jackie Earle Haley (last seen in "Lincoln"), Elias Koteas (last seen in "Apt Pupil"), Ted Levine (last seen in "The Manchurian Candidate"), John Carroll Lynch (last seen in "Anywhere But Here")

RATING: 5 out of 10 migraines

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Island

Year 6, Day 218 - 8/6/14 - Movie #1,809

BEFORE: Last Ewan McGregor film in the chain.  Why this one?  That will be a little clearer after I link to tomorrow's film.  There is a plan in place.

THE PLOT: A man goes on the run after he discovers that he is actually a "harvestable being", and is being kept as a source of replacement parts, along with others, in a Utopian facility.

FOLLOW-UP TO: "Cloud Atlas" (Movie #1,795)

AFTER: So funny that I'm back to another story about a clone revolt, of sorts.  This film was able to get more into it than "Cloud Atlas" did, which glossed over a lot of the details and mechanics (except, for some reason, the icky ones...) and was really only interested in the flashy, sensationalist part of cloning.  If all the clones in your story are hot Korean women, I wonder how much you're really interested in the science of it all...

The science and logistics here seem to make a bit more sense - to the point where it makes me wonder why people aren't already growing themselves clones to get a new liver or a new heart.  My guess would be that the process is too time-consuming - if you need a new heart, you probably can't wait the 15-16 years required to grow a new one to adulthood, so your best option is still to be on a donor list.  Right now, the only way technology has to birth a clone is to put it inside of another human, right?  So theoretically a woman could give birth to her own clone, as I understand it, and that wouldn't be strange or awkward at all.

The problem, according to this film, is that clones raised without sentience are defective somehow, so although the company has promised its investors that their clones are never technically alive, what they're promising and what they're delivering are two very different things.  The clones are raised in an underground facility and told that the outside world is a terrible, dead, post-apocalyptic place, except for one very small island, and slowly people will be chosen to go to the island and re-populate the planet.

It's a great scam, if you want to get people to look forward to something, just turn it into a lottery.  You could probably sell raffle tickets to get punched in the face if you spun it right - some people would probably just buy the raffle tickets and not even ask what it's for.  Or just be really whimsical about it - didn't someone just raise thousands of dollars on Kickstarter to make potato salad?

I'm proud to be an organ donor - provided that all I have to do is check that box on my driver's license form, and never think about it again.  If I have to sign a DNR or think about it any further, I'd probably balk.  My wife is convinced that if you check the organ donor box, and you're in an accident or something, the doctors won't work really hard to save your life, because they need your heart for the person down the hall that they like better.

There's still a lot that took place in this film that I wasn't clear on - one character notably switches sides, for example, and I'm not sure I understood his motivation for doing so.  I also didn't really see how this facility worked in terms of financial strategy, if a slight defect in a small portion of the clones could bring the whole thing tumbling down.  Was it structured like some giant cloning Ponzi scheme?  Why would a recall of (let's say) 10% of the clones make the whole thing non-viable?  Didn't they have some kind of insurance, or a back-up plan in place?

Plus, why didn't the fact that hundreds of people paid millions of dollars for clones buy them some better security?  Billionaires have private islands, private golf courses, etc. and even though tight security is a constant expense, it's not impossible.  This cloning place took in billions from its clients and hired the cheapest security imaginable.  First rule of business - always protect your assets.

It's a funny thing when a film tries to predict the future - it ends up saying more about the time it was created, rather than the future period.  I think they're still finding out things that "Minority Report" got right about the future, as opposed to a film like "A.I.", which had more misses than hits in that regard.  We've got the interactive billboards and ad-walls seen in "Minority Report", but we don't have the pleasure robots seen in "A.I." - someone in Japan is probably working on that, though.  Since this film was made in 2005, it's worth noting that people still drive cars in the future - if this film were made today, the cars in the future would probably drive themselves. 

EDIT: But from a writing standpoint, I'm not sure sci-fi writers know exactly what to do with clones just yet.  That's probably because we've never grown one to adulthood - we've cloned a sheep, but we couldn't exactly ask the sheep if it felt like its own individual or if it remembered the donor sheep experiences.  Some of the Star Wars fiction that followed Episodes II and III got into some of this, like the Republic Commando series, that showed clones developing different specialties and personalities, while still trying to embrace the Mandalorian heritage of their progenitor, Jango Fett.

I also just read a Star Wars book titled "Riptide", in which a Jedi came face to face with a clone of himself, and that's the whole nature vs. nurture argument right there.  If the clone of a good man is raised to be evil, is he inherently good or evil?   And if you could transplant the consciousness of the good man into the evil clone, what happens then?  I don't have the answers here, but I'm fascinated by the questions.

Also starring Scarlett Johansson (last seen in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier"), Djimon Hounsou (last seen in "Push"), Steve Buscemi (last seen in "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry"), Sean Bean (last seen in "Troy"), Ethan Phillips (last seen in "Wagons East"), Michael Clarke Duncan (last seen in "The Whole Nine Yards"), Brian Stepanek, with cameos from Shawnee Smith (last seen in "Armageddon"), Eric Stonestreet (last seen in "Identity Thief"), Mary Pat Gleason.

RATING: 6 out of 10 tracksuits 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Impossible

Year 6, Day 217 - 8/5/14 - Movie #1,808

BEFORE: A last-minute addition to the Ewan McGregor chain, which is going to force another movie into next year.  Those are the breaks of having a set plan, it's got to remain flexible in case of this sort of thing.  Tonight I've got my pina coladas ready, I'm all set to sit and relax and watch a movie about people taking a relaxing vacation.  Wait a minute...

THE PLOT:  The story of a tourist family in Thailand caught in the destruction and chaotic aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

AFTER: It might be hard to fathom the concept of over 100,000 people concentrated in a very small area, wandering around in a daze, looking for lost friends, not knowing where to turn next - some are disfigured, some are covered in blood, and they have to survive under the most horrible conditions, with inadequate food and clean water, limited hospital facilities, and unsanitary bathrooms.  No one has any money, it's a struggle to survive, and most people haven't had a shower or a decent night's rest in several days.
But, enough about the San Diego Comic-Con.  (See, some people there dress like zombies, so they're covered in fake blood.  Oh, forget it.  If I have to explain the joke, it's not worth it.)  Now, I could have made comparisons to the recent "Sharknado 2" attack on NYC, but I held back.

Seriously, this is a gripping story of a family separated by a disaster, and though I'm sure the temptation was there to jump between the stories of the different family members, the use of longer-than-usual segments really succeeded in creating tension - it's a long time before the audience knows everyone's status, which mirrors the events after the disaster.  In our ADHD world of fast cuts, spoon-fed plot points and instant gratification, the NOT knowing is almost strikingly original. 

While I was growing up, my mother was the master of the worst-case scenario.  I couldn't play any organized sport because I WOULD break my glasses, or possibly an arm.  (Not "might" break, "would" break...)  I was the only kid in 6th grade NOT allowed to go away to camp for a week, because I'd probably drown or get eaten by a bear or something.  This kind of thing can stick with you, and as an adult I often anticipate that the worst possible thing is going to happen.  It's a great skill when it comes to running a professional event, but it makes it tougher to enjoy personal vacations. When I took my first cruise, I thought, "Well, I could drown, or end up on a sinking ship, or on one of those cruises where the toilets stop working and the lido deck becomes the "poop" deck."  I sort of had to force myself to relax and appreciate it when things failed to go wrong.

Still, it's hard for me to fly in a plane and not be aware that the most dangerous times are during take-off and landing.  And I went and created my own karmic rules for travel - last year I missed my flight back from San Diego, so I analyzed what I had done wrong that day, eliminated breakfast, and tried again.  This year I shipped packages back via UPS, packed my bags, paid my hotel bill, got 9 quarters for the bus to the airport, and made it to my plane's gate 2 hours ahead of boarding.  While enjoying a nice sit-down lunch, I almost wished something small had gone wrong that morning, because since everything went my way, I felt like maybe I'd used up all my luck, and my plane was now more likely to crash.

And I think you can see a bit of this "travel karma" (or in this case "disaster karma") reflected in the film.  The family gets an upgrade to a coastal villa - SEE!   Then comes the tsunami!  Right there, they clearly didn't deserve that upgrade.  I bet they regretted that.  So, to the MTV dickwad executive who I saw carry FOUR bags onto the plane without checking any, in clear violation of Delta's ONE carry-on bag rule, I want you to know that travel karma's a bitch, and I hope you die in a plane crash someday.

Right, the film...  When separated from most of his family, the oldest boy takes down names of strangers' missing family members, and roams the hospital wards calling out their names, in the hopes of reuniting loved ones.  Other times people share their cell phones, or look out for each other's kids, or just take the time to lend an ear, because even in the midst of a disaster, there's a feeling that what comes around, goes around.  That's a sentiment I can get behind.

This is sort of a medical drama as well.  So far in life I've endured toe surgeries, a head wound, acid reflux, TB and kidney stones - and I consider myself lucky that I've never needed to spend a night in a hospital.  (Seriously, because that's where all the sick people are...)  Again, the balance of karma comes into play, because if I hadn't had ANY health problems, then I'd always fear that some huge injury or disaster was looming in the future.  

Speaking of which, it's almost hurricane season again, which means the entire East Coast will be on alert every time the wind picks up in the Caribbean.  It will soon be two years since Hurricane Sandy, and I wonder what's been done in NYC to prevent or lessen a future disaster, or to curtail or even prepare for similar damages?  I'm willing to wager that the answer is nothing...  A little web research tells me that so far, they've changed the number of evacuation zones in NYC from three to six.  So, I was right, nothing constructive's been done.  Way to go.

Also starring Naomi Watts (last seen in "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger"), Tom Holland, Geraldine Chaplin (last seen in "The Age of Innocence")

RATING:  6 out of 10 tourniquets

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Life Less Ordinary

Year 6, Day 216 - 8/4/14 - Movie #1,807

BEFORE: The second of four Ewan McGregor films, Ewan carries over from "Velvet Goldmine".  I've got quite a large collection of signed 8x10 photos of Star Wars actors, but I don't have Mr. McGregor's.  I should probably rectify that ASAP. 

THE PLOT:  A janitor in L.A. takes his boss' daughter hostage after being fired and replaced by a robot. Two "angels" who are in charge of human relationships on earth offer some unsolicited help to bring this unlikely couple together.

AFTER: Yeah, this is a weird one.  Part of me just doesn't know what to say, or what to do with this one.  It takes some processing - I can't even think of a film to compare it to, maybe "Nurse Betty" or "Joe Under the Volcano"?  "Heaven Can Wait"?  Once in a while you just find a film that doesn't follow any of the usual rules, or perhaps tries to make up a few new ones - and sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn't. 

I could think of it as vaguely Hitchcock-like, what with the couple on the run, working together and slowly falling in love with each other despite their differences and semi-hatred for each other.  But that could just be due to the fact that I watched all those early Hitchcock films not too long ago.  Anyway, I think comparing this plot to Hitchcock would be giving it too much credit.

This was made by Danny Boyle, who also directed "Trainspotting", another film that tried to break all the rules and just be random, but he also directed "Slumdog Millionaire", which had a lot of flashbacks, but was also put together in a very particular order to demonstrate a point.  So, where does this one fit on that scale?  Closer to "Trainspotting", I'm afraid - maybe Boyle learned how to organize a storyline as his career progressed.

What am I supposed to make of the "angels" in this film?  They work among the humans, first as collection agents, then as bounty hunters tracking down a kidnapper, then they sort of become ruthless kidnappers themselves - are angels supposed to act this way?  I'm assuming everything they do is to bring the male + female leads together, but is this really the best way to do this?  Plus, if it's so difficult to bring them together, and so many things have to go right (wrong?) for this to happen, how can anyone say that they're meant for each other?

Everything about this plot is so confusing - what, exactly, is accomplished in the big picture by bringing these two people together?  Will they someday have a child that will save the world, or cure some disease?  And why is this relationship so important, when there's been such a run lately (or so it's mentioned) of relationships falling apart?  Why couldn't the angels save THOSE relationships - and if they couldn't, are they good at their jobs, or not?  Can an angel be fired, or disciplined by their boss?  

On top of that, do the ends justify the means?  Is kidnapping someone (or pretending to) OK if it brings about an acceptable result?  What about shooting someone (which happens quite a bit in this film)?  Are the angels really sure that shooting this person at this time has an ultimately positive result, or are they just "winging it"?  So many questions, and so few answers.  And if angels control who falls in love with each other, what does that say about destiny vs. free will?  Or am I over-thinking things again?

The ending is weirdest of all - both lead characters talk to each other (but face the audience) and have a discussion about the meaning of love and fate.  This is followed by a stop-motion animated sequence of them blasting off in a car like it's a rocket, flying to Scotland and entering a castle.  Was this always the intended way to wrap up this story, or was this animation an add-on to cover up a different live-action ending that didn't test well?  Were the male and female leads not available at the same time to film this ending, and therefore were they filmed separately stating their beliefs about the meaning of it all?

Also starring Cameron Diaz (last seen in "Bad Teacher"), Delroy Lindo (last seen in "The Hard Way"), Holly Hunter (last seen in "Once Around"), Ian Holm (last seen in "Another Woman"), Dan Hedaya (last seen in "The Extreme Adventures of Super Dave"), Stanley Tucci (last seen in "A Midsummer Night's Dream"), Tony Shalhoub (last seen in "Searching for Bobby Fischer"), Maury Chaykin (last seen in "The Mask of Zorro"), Ian McNeice, with a cameo from Timothy Olyphant (last heard in "Rango").

RATING: 3 out of 10 karaoke songs

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Velvet Goldmine

Year 6, Day 215 - 8/3/14 - Movie #1,806

BEFORE: This will wrap up the musical portion of the Movie Year, but it also kicks off a 5-film chain featuring everyone's favorite Jedi, the young Obi-Wan, Ewan McGregor.  Linking from "Quadrophenia", Timothy Spall was also in a 2010 film titled "Jackboots on Whitehall" with Ewan McGregor (last seen in "Cassandra's Dream") - I'm afraid that's the best I can manage.
THE PLOT:  British journalist Arthur Stuart investigates the career of 1970s glam superstar Brian Slade, who was heavily influenced in his early years by hard-living and rebellious American singer Curt Wild.

FOLLOW-UP TO: "I'm Not There" (Movie #375)

AFTER: If I were to refer to this film as "Citizen Bowie", I don't think I'd be that far off.  With a reporter investigating the life of a vanished 1970's glam-rocker, one that everyone seems to know but no one seems to know well, of course the connections to Orson Welles thinly-veiled portrait of William Randolph Hearst are quite obviously being evoked here.  And as far as I can tell, the only difference between the fictional Brian Slade and the actual David Bowie is that Bowie never went away, he merely morphed into another persona every decade or so.  

Right away, I started wondering, if Slade is Bowie, then who is Curt Wild supposed to represent?  My first thought was Mick Jagger, since Bowie's first wife allegedly caught them in bed together, but the pieces don't add up.  A little research on Wikipedia tells me that Bowie produced the first solo albums for both Lou Reed and Iggy Pop, so my best guess would be that Wild is a sort of amalgam of the two - Lou Reed for his orientation at the time, and Iggy Pop for his on-stage nudity and overall "Wild"ness.  Most reviews of the film that I could find seem to agree with this theory.  

This is a tack that Hollywood has been taking lately, if they can't get the rights to a performer's story, or they can't clear the rights to particular Janis Joplin or Jimi Hendrix songs, the filmmakers just forge ahead anyway, changing whatever names or songs they need to for the legal department to be satisfied.  Unfortunately in the end, they just don't tell anything close to reality.  I suppose here with ALL of the names changed, the attempt is to make a portrait of a Bowie-like singer who oozes Bowie-ness, without being Ziggy Stardust himself.  

We live in a strange time, one where straight actors + musicians pretend to be gay (if they think it will get them an Oscar) and gay ones pretend to be straight (if they think it will keep them employed) so we should probably learn to celebrate the people who make their private lives public, even if they're  not living the lifestyle we ourselves are accustomed to.  And it's interesting to note that there was a time in the past where being bisexual wasn't just more acceptable, it was also a brilliant career move.  A rocker could have a foot in both worlds, and appeal to both the young and old audiences, at least in theory.  

I've talked to younger music fans who know who Bowie is, but were unaware that when he first hit the scene, he wore dresses and a ton of makeup.  Naturally everyone made some "obvious" assumptions about his orientation, and then when he did that famous "Little Drummer Boy" duet with Bing Crosby and mentioned his son, a lot of fans had to check their hearing - wait, he's married with a kid?  What's going on here?  I think I first noticed Bowie in 1983 when "Let's Dance" was released, and I didn't realize that the most radical thing about the music video was that he was wearing men's clothing.  

But here's the thing - people change over time, something people in both the straight and gay communities often have trouble understanding.  You're either one thing or another, right?  You're in or you're "out" - well, not exactly.  Rules are meant to be broken, especially for famous people, and what is a homosexual relationship but another construct, another set of rules to break?  Most sexperts now favor a 7-point scale, where "1" is completely straight and "7" is totally gay, "4" is bisexual - meaning there are degrees in-between on either side.  Bowie identified as gay in 1972, then as bisexual in a 1976 interview, and by 1983 was calling himself a "closet heterosexual", a term that probably few people could get away with.  Maybe some people should just check the box that says "whatever" and we should just let them do exactly that. 

Lou Reed's another great example, someone who identified as gay in the early days of the Velvet Underground, knew Warhol and all of that NYC art scene, then he went solo with help from Bowie, who evidently acted as his producer/mentor/boyfriend (?) and then later had relationships with a transgender woman, an actual woman, and then Laurie Anderson.  Meanwhile Bowie ended up married to Iman, one of the world's most beautiful women.  Again, people's preferences can change over time, and I don't put myself in a position to judge.  

Anyway, the film is about that place and time where famous Brit rockers were re-writing all the old rules, living as out and as proudly as they wanted, while being wildly creative at the intersection of music, film and art. I didn't really get the Oscar Wilde references, or the bits with the UFO's, but there's no question that the glam rockers of the 1970's changed the world, or at least forced people to question what they knew about sexuality.

The movie, however, falls just short of answering its own proposed questions, I feel this is probably a problem that stems from how it was made - turns out the filmmakers did option two unauthorized biographies, then just changed all the names to prevent a lawsuit.  Since they couldn't come up with an ending for Slade's story that was too close to Bowie's, they instead just never got around to providing one, which seems like a huge cop-out.

Also starring Christian Bale (last seen in "A Midsummer Night's Dream"), Jonathan Rhys Meyers (last seen in "Match Point"), Toni Collette (last seen in "Hitchcock"), Eddie Izzard (last heard in "Igor"), Michael Feast, Emily Woof, Micko Westmoreland.

RATING: 5 out of 10 blow-up dolls