Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

The Nomi Song

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
5 out of 10
Extras Rating:
8 out of 10
Movie Details:
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Rating: Not Rated

Starring:
Klaus Nomi as Himself (archive footage)
Ann Magnuson as Herself
Gabriele Lafari as Herself
David McDermott as Himself
Page Wood as Himself
Tony Frere as Himself
Man Parrish as Himself
Kristian Hoffman as Himself
Ron Johnsen as Himself
Kenny Scharf as Himself
Anthony Scibelli as Himself
Alan Platt as Himself
Adrian as Himself
Joseph Arias as Himself
Calvin Churchman as Himself
Jay Jay French as Himself
Michael Halsband as Himself
Janus as Herself
Pamela Rosenthal as Herself
Ira Siff as Himself
Trude Sperber as Herself (voice)

Special Features:
Commentary by The Director

Deleted scenes

Full Performances of "The Cold Song" and "After The Fall"

Two exclusive audio tracks featuring remixes of "Total Eclipse" and "Samson & Delila"

Theatrical trailer

Interviews with songwriters Kristian Hoffman, Lou Chrisitie, and other artists

How to bake the Klaus Nomi lime tart

Other Info:
Dolby Digital Sound
Running Time: 96 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following is the official synopsis of the film:

"He came from outer space to save the human race!

Looks like an alien, sings like a diva - Klaus Nomi was one of 1980's most profoundly bizarre appearances. He was a cult figure in the New Wave Underground scene who sang pop music like opera and brought opera to club audiences. He was a performer with a "look" so strong, that his first audiences went wild before he even opened his mouth. On the verge of international fame as a singer, he instead became one of the first prominent artists to die of AIDS. But the reaction Klaus Nomi provoked was so strong, that he is still unforgettable, even 20 years after his death.

Nomi constructed his own myth out of elements so completely "wrong", yet so deliberate, that it all seemed oddly possible. He was an alien amongst the outcasts, a tortured soul who also radiated optimism at a time when optimism was "officially" out of fashion. He was as much a genuine talent as he was the engine of his own destruction. His appeal is not easy to explain in words. He has to be seen - and heard - to be believed.

It is hard to limit this film to being called a documentary. It is rather a non-fiction film, maybe even an oral history. But it's also visual, partly because Nomi himself was so visual, someone who's main concern was putting forth an image of himself in everything he did - literally illustrated by the photos, films, videos and artworks that go with it.

What unifies the various stylistic elements is Klaus Nomi himself, not only the all pervasive image he put out, but more importantly, his effect on others. It's a story that grows out of a group of people who influenced him, loved him, felt pity for him or betrayed by him, yet above all, were inspired by him.

The Nomi Song is a story of love of music and love of performing at a time when it seemed as though everyone was struck by a sense of urgency to make something - anything - simply because "somewhere in the great cosmic plan we all knew that we only had a finite amount of time together and we had to make the most of it."

The Nomi Song is not rated.

The Movie:
If you even know who Klaus Nomi is, then you're probably a prime candidate to buy this DVD. He's such an obscure musical figure that I think the only people who have ever heard of him are his fans. If you fall into that category you might as well stop reading now and buy the DVD. For those that don't know who he is, Nomi was a performance artist / new wave singer from the late 70's / early 80's. The German Nomi would dress up in freaky alien attire, walk out on stage like a robot, and sing oldie songs like "Lightning Strikes" and "Falling In Love Again" in falsetto. He also looked like the love child of Pee Wee Herman and Boy George. If that interests you, then you're also a prime candidate to buy the DVD. If not, then you might as well stop reading and get on with your life.

As I watched this documentary, I was interested in hearing the life story of this emerging artist. However, I kept waiting to 'get' what the real appeal of him was and it never happened. Sure, it's intriguing to hear a man sing in falsetto, but none of the songs or performances that they showed gave me a clue why he was so revered. I guess it's a matter of personal tastes. And while I thought it was really interesting to see him as a backup singer for David Bowie on SNL in the 70's, that seemed to be the main high point of his career. Seeing his bizarre act on stage has pretty much the same appeal as seeing a freak show. It's mostly morbid curiosity.

But The Nomi Song takes a particularly poignant turn when Klaus contracts AIDS. This was in the early days when they knew nothing about the disease. People didn't know how it was transmitted or how to treat it. As Klaus grows weaker and weaker, all of his friends abandon him. For noble or selfish reasons, they leave their friend in the hospital to die alone. The lack of compassion is pretty heart wrenching.

I would really only recommend The Nomi Song to fans of Klaus Nomi and anybody that's into performance art. This documentary, though intriguing at times, is too off the wall to appeal to broader audiences.

The Extras:
This DVD is absolutely jam packed with bonus features. There are a lot of deleted scenes and additional interviews that expand on the film greatly. There's an interview with the guy who wrote "Lightning Strikes", the song that Nomi revamped and used to launch his career. There are also interviews with his fan club members, one of whom made a moving dummy of him. Photographer David Godlis also recounts taking photos of Klaus in the hospital on his deathbed (apparently he's one of the few people that actually visited Nomi there). For fans of Nomi's music, there are complete videos of some of his performances as well as remixes of some of his songs. The commentary by Andrew Horn also adds significantly to the film. Having him explain a lot of the scenes is almost like having a whole new account of Nomi's life. If you liked the movie, you'll really enjoy the bonus features.

The Bottom Line:
If you're into weird music and performance art, then The Nomi Song is right up your alley. Everyone else should probably avoid this one.

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