Tonight’s Summerscreen: The Greatest Movie Ever Made, Velvet Goldmine (To Be Played at Maximum Volume)

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08/19/2008 11:00 AM |

Look, let’s just cast aside all pretenses of objectivity for a minute and talk about tonight’s Summerscreen selection, which was my favorite movie when I was fifteen. Velvet Goldmine, Todd Haynes’s unauthorized David Bowie biopic/Glam rock Citizen Kane is, we know now, a secret-historical pastiche from noted pop semiotician Todd Haynes, a useful precursor to I’m Not There‘s dizzying mix of discography, apocrypha, political-social-sexual theory, and so on.

It’s a fun movie to footnote, but, as many of you know, it’s also a movie featuring pretty British boys (then-21-year-old Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Christian Bale, Ewan McGregor) wearing makeup and platforms and making out with one another. (And the soundtrack kicks fucking ass; you should probably thank Haynes every time “Needle in the Camel’s Eye” comes on in your local coffee shop or bar or whatever.)

But it’s also, and this is I think what appealed to me about this movie when I was a teenager, even if I’ve only recently gotten good at articulating it, an ecstatic, extravagant, foolish, romantic celebration of pop culture as a venue for self-fashioning, self-expression, self-definition, and belonging (and not just belonging, but thriving, among people as convinced of your specialness as you are of theirs).

This is, in other words, a giddy, joyous, campy, sepia-tinted movie, and we’re screening it tonight, for free, at McCarren Park Pool .

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