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Absolute Beginners
Absolute Beginners
Actors: Patsy Kensit, Eddie O'Connell, David Bowie, James Fox, Ray Davies
Director: Julien Temple
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Music Video & Concerts, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Cult Movies, Musicals & Performing Arts
PG-13     2003     1hr 48min

Colin is a brazen 19-year-old with his finger on the pulse of Soho's burgeoning scene of artists. But when his beautiful girlfriend Suzette tires of their poor and struggling existence, Colin finds himself losing touch wit...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Patsy Kensit, Eddie O'Connell, David Bowie, James Fox, Ray Davies
Director: Julien Temple
Creators: Al Clark, Christopher Wicking, Colin MacInnes, Don MacPherson, Michael Hamlyn, Richard Burridge, Terry Johnson
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Music Video & Concerts, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Cult Movies, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance, Bowie, David, Classic Rock, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Drama, Musicals
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 04/15/2003
Original Release Date: 04/18/1986
Theatrical Release Date: 04/18/1986
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 48min
Screens: Color,Full Screen,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 5
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

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Movie Reviews

Spectacular representation of 1950's British pop culture
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 08/08/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

""I remember that hot wonderful summer, when the teenage miracle reached full bloom, and everyone in England stopped what they were doing to stare at what had happened."--opening narrationI also remember the number of times I tuned into MTV for David Bowie's video, which included clips from that movie. I finally saw it on TV and I was blown away.Colin is the main character and narrator of this story. It's the long hot summer of 1958. Rationing was over, and Britain was rebuilt, thanks to the Marshall Plan--now it was time for Britain to have fun with their own pop culture explosion. Colin has a lot of colourful friends. There's Wizard, pickpocket and entrepreneur out for a fast pound, Cool, the African trumpet player, the flamboyant Fabulous Hotlife, described as "our own Oscar Wilde," Dean Swift, "a modern jazz creation," and Big Jill, a hefty but friendly lesbian. And yes, there's the luscious Suzette, Colin's love interest, whose wanting to make it to the fashion big-time causes a rift between them.Suzette does make it big, attracting the attention of her boss, Henley of Mayfair (James Fox). She comes onstage in a daring glittering black mini, and does the hot jazz number "Va Va Voom" with some African dancers.Colin spends time taking snaps at the neon glitter and sights of the London nightlife, but doesn't want to go mainstream. "It's not that I've got anything against money. It's just what you have to do to get it." He eventually does pictures for Harry Charms (Lionel Blair), an oily talent searcher and agent with a penchant for young boys. It's actually gratifying when his protege Baby Boom shoves a microphone full force in his happy sacks. And I don't know if anyone noticed, but early in the movie, BB's the schoolboy who ends up picking up Charms' card that Colin throws away. It took me a while to finally realize.Kinks frontman Ray Davies plays Colin's father, a man who lives with his "pre-war photo albums and sad memories." Colin's half-brother Vern is a disgusting, barely human cretin. And his mother (Mandy Rice-Davies of Christine Keeler fame), disillusioned with life, has affairs with the numerous lodgers. The cutaway tenement for the "Quiet Life" number is a brilliant touch, as is the chaos going on in there.David Bowie has only a small role as Vendice Partners, that seller of dreams, but his musical number "That's Motivation," where he successfully tempts Colin into selling out has a wowser of a set including giant typewriters, a globes with an airplane attached at the equator, an Everest mockup marketing frozen vegetables, and a floor painted to look like a giant 78 record.
Speaking of musicians, Sade doesn't look out of place singing "Killer Blow." She's simply exquisite!Patsy Kensit is so much more ravishing here than she ever was before she went on to Lethal Weapon 2 and Angels And Insects. Eve Ferrett is wonderful as the bubbly Big Jill.Notable cameos include Steven Berkoff (Clockwork Orange, Beverly Hills Cop) as a Neo-Nazi fanatic presumably modelled after Enoch Powell, Colin Jeavons (House of Cards) as the fanatic's pamphleteer, Julian Firth (Brother Jerome in the Cadfael series) is the Misery Kid, dressed in the skeleton suit, and Robbie Coltrane (Krull, Harry Potter) as Mario the store owner.The hot swing jazz sets the pace of the movie, replicating a slice of England sadly long gone. A real blast of a movie."
Mindblowing classic!
L. Alper | Englewood CO | 03/15/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I recently spent weeks trying to dig up a copy of "Absolute Beginners" on VHS. Needless to say, it was out of print, so it's exciting to see it available again. Julien Temple, the director of "A.B" is one of the architects of the rock video. In the early days of MTV, he was "the" director of all the best videos including Duran Duran's "Rio". Needless to say, "A.B" is chock-full of 80's music stars, & the colors & editing are fabulous. There are some sequences in this film that should be required viewing for film students. The opening 10 minutes is the longest uninterrupted, uncut sequence in modern film & it's complexity is staggering. The musical number "Selling Out" will leave you gasping at it's audaciousness. The set-piece "A Quiet House" featuring Ray Davies (the Kinks) could be a music video in it's own right. I could go on and on listing wonderful bits of film-making, clever visual asides, amazing sets but I'd rather you saw the film for itself. Please, give "Absolute Beginners" a viewing & see if you agree this film is a must-see!"
Visually Stunning Musical Directed by Julien Temple
Ibochild | Los Angeles, CA USA | 11/08/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"When you watch the opening sequence from ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS, the first thought that might come to your mind is that it's shot a lot like Janet Jackson's "When I Think of You" video. There is a reason for that -- they were both directed by Julien Temple. His background as one of the top music video directors comes to good use here. All of the musical sequences are superbly staged and choreographed. As an added benefit, you get a rare chance to see both Sade and R&B pioneer Slim Gaillard perform in a motion picture. Sade is absolutely stunning as she sings "Killer Blow," a song which she also co-wrote. The soundtrack is filled with other great songs including Slim Gaillard's "Selling Out," "Having it All" (performed by Patsy Kensit), "That's Motivation" and the title cut. The latter two songs were performed by David Bowie. In terms of plot, the makers of the film took a big chance by going beyond the basic boy-meets-girl story found in most classic musicals. The romance is still there, but it also attempts to deal with some serious social issues, including the gentrification of a community. For the most part the film succeeds in its somewhat lofty ambitions. Overall, the cast gives credible, if somewhat broad performances, but this is to be expected within the musical genre. An initial hurdle for American audiences will be to decipher the thick British accents. However, with the second viewing that shouldn't be a problem, particularly given the fact that this release comes closed captioned. Thank God for closed captioning! I previously purchased the earlier, non-captioned version, but because the film has been so popular with my friends, I had no choice, but to buy a second copy. You know how it is when you loan things, sometimes it takes a l-o-n-g time to get things back -- especially with a movie as entertaining as this one. Rather than keep waiting, I simply purchased another copy (now with closed captioning) and I'm so glad I did. If you're looking for a musical with something on it's mind, you need to look no further. You will also be hard pressed to find a musical as visually stunning as this one with great music to match. This all for just a bit more than the price of a movie ticket. In short, ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS is an absolute must see."
A stinker...NOT!
Jack Dempsey | 05/16/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"As the former Mr. Zimmerman opined, "don't criticize what you can't understand." At least that's my take on Henna's slam at Absolute Beginners, which echoes the slagging the movie suffered when it was released. For moviegoers who bought their tickets expecting a new Bowie video, the movie surely must have been bewildering: no slo-mo martini glasses, New Romantic geometric updos, or other soon-to-be MTV cliches. Instead, Julien Temple actually tried to make a modern musical with '50s, '60s, and '80s musical styles while taking a hard look at prejudice and greed in London B. B. (Before the Beatles). Pundits might have pointed out that Broadway itself was already overrun with revivals and special effects, and that Hollywood had given up the ghost on true screen musicals 15 years earlier. When I caught the movie on its first weekend, the crowds were thin. And when we went back for another showing a few days later, the crowd was...well, just US. But artistic bravery does count for something, and Temple won me over in those first breathless minutes as his camera flew through twisting nighttime streets with classic, brassy Mingus wailing from the speakers. If Bowie's slick shtick was diluted by his attempt at an American accent, the rest of the cast was stronger, and Temple earned bonus points for capturing Ray Davies' bittersweet sense of middle class English life in his sequence as Arthur, plus a music scholar's merit badge for slipping in Slim Gaillard as a cameo."