Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley
Tipping the Velvet – 4 Stars (Excellent)
“Tipping the Velvet” is what some viewers would consider a terrible film about a sinful, raunchy lifestyle, and what I would consider an excellent film despite any apparent raunchiness.
After writing 135 reviews, including what I would consider 8 alternative lifestyle films, Tipping the Velvet is the absolute best film and only the second film among the 8 in this genre that I would recommend seeing.
Here are the films I considered terrible and the reasons why. I gave a “1 Star – Terrible Rating” to these 6 films:
“Boys Don’t Cry” which won Hilary Swank a Best Actress Oscar for her performance as Brandon Teena, a transgendered teen who was born a woman named Teena Brandon who preferred life as a male and lived as a male until it was discovered that “he” was born female. This film had a very tragic ending.
“Ed Wood” which was the real life story of Ed Wood, known as the worst film director in Hollywood history. He liked to dress in women’s clothes while directing low-budget, absolutely terrible films.
“Imagine Me & You” shows a bride at the altar simply looking at another woman and starting an awakening that leads to the destruction of her marriage and living happily ever after with her new lesbian partner.
“Myra Breckenridge” is Gore Vidal’s controversial film about Myron Breckenridge, a man who goes to Europe for a sex change operation and comes back as Myra Breckenridge, a man-hating woman.
“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” finds a newly engaged couple whose car breaks down and they seek help from a Transylvanian transvestite involved in a bizarre lifestyle.
This was one of Susan Sarandon’s early films; she would later earn 4 Academy Award nominations for Best Actress, and an Oscar for her role in “Dead Man Walking”.
“Transamerica” which won Felicity Huffman a Best Actress Oscar nomination and a Best Actress Golden Globe Award for her performance as Bree, a pre-operative male-to-female transsexual who takes an unexpected journey from Los Angeles to New York when she learns that she fathered a son earlier in life.
Receiving my “2 Star – Average Rating” were:
“The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” which has two drag queens and a transsexual driving a lavender bus named Priscilla across the Australian desert to a gig at an isolated resort.
“Breakfast on Pluto” is a gender preference movie about a boy who really wants to be a girl, and settles for being a transvestite trying to find a place in a world that curses his very existence.
The best of these 8 films is Breakfast on Pluto, which has Irish actor Cillian Murphy in the role of Patrick “Kitten” Braden. I recommend seeing Breakfast on Pluto as it is far better than the other 7 films, and Cillian Murphy proves passable as a woman and gives a great performance.
All of these films are controversial due to their subject matter.
It is very difficult to make a great film.
It is difficult to make a good film.
It is almost impossible to make a good film when the subject matter is not even on the radar acceptance screen of the average viewer.
Alternative lifestyle films do not win awards even if the actors involved get an Oscar (as Hilary Swank did in Boys Don’t Cry), get nominated for an Oscar (as Felicity Huffman did in Transamerica) or get nominated for a Golden Globe (as Cillian Murphy did in Breakfast on Pluto).
The typical moviegoer does not want to talk about alternative lifestyles much less see them. We are uncomfortable with what we do not know or understand.
There will be no great acceptance for alternative films now or in the distant future. Hollywood is OK with accepting alternative lifestyles, but Hollywood is generally far more liberal, permissive and self-absorbed than mainstream America.
A big part of the acceptance problem is the Hollywood filmmakers. Producers of alternative lifestyle films have millions of moviegoers glued to their presentation, but they continually fail to deliver an important message involving understanding and knowledge.
With a laser beam on sensationalism and the cash register, Hollywood filmmakers would have us believe that it is impossible to tell a good alternative lifestyle story with significant meaning without using intensely brutal rape scenes, sexuality, filthy language, drug usage and murder.
All of these aforementioned events only reinforce all of the stereotypes, prejudices, bigotry, stupidity and transphobia already present in our society and culture.
I am not sure what the phobia is for transgendered people so I simply created transphobia because homophobia means an extreme and irrational aversion to homosexuality and homosexual people, which is not what we are talking about here.
And then there is Tipping the Velvet which does exactly that: tell a good alternative lifestyle story with significant meaning.
Just as Breakfast on Pluto is a good film made in Ireland, Tipping the Velvet is an excellent film produced in England for the BBC (British Broadcasting Company) by Sally Head Production.
The BBC brought this controversial movie to a 5-millon strong mainstream television audience. An American filmmaker has not yet been able to produce a quality alternative lifestyle film for television. Tipping the Velvet is really three stories in one as it was originally aired in three parts and runs 2 hours and 57 minutes.
(Editor’s Note: This is Part 1 of a 2-Part Review. )