' Cinema Romantico: (Over) Speculating on Kylie Minogue's Role in Flammable Children

Thursday, October 27, 2016

(Over) Speculating on Kylie Minogue's Role in Flammable Children

So many in the film blogosphere were once again recently set into an uproar by the latest “Rogue One” trailer, scouring the edge and background of every frame to pick out easter eggs, or pouring over what was in the center of the frame to speculate on how this connects to that and what this character is doing in relation to that character and whether x is still y after it has been obliterated by an Ion cannon, etc. This might be my cue to make fun, to lob insults, to fire off tweets about this dumbing down of movie discourse, or some such. But to do so would make a hypocrite. It would make me a hypocrite not because I have any interest in speculating on the deeper meaning of the “Rouge One” trailer; it would make me a hypocrite because I have a lot of interest in speculating on the deeper meaning of the recent photos snapped of universal empress Kylie Minogue on set of her latest film de cinema venture, Stephan Elliot’s “Flammable Children.”

A synopsis for “Flammable Children” at the site for the film’s distributor, WestEnd Films, explains: “Australia, 1975. The beach suburb of Dee Why is a place that revolves around surf mats, baby oil, boxed wine and the new miracle of Kentucky Fried Chicken. 14 year-old Jeff tries to find his feet in a world changing faster than his hormones, and deal with his crush on shy and sensitive girl-next-door Melly. When the beach town suddenly hits the spotlight after the body of a 200-ton whale is washed ashore, Jeff and Melly think it’s the biggest thing that ever happened in their lives.” That sounds all well and good, a little nostalgic, a little quirky, but promising. But then it gets really good. “Meanwhile, their eccentric parents are catching up with the sexual revolution that has also washed up on Australia’s beaches. And just like the decaying whale, it’s all about to go spectacularly wrong.” I mean, look at this photo that recently caught Kylie on set; that looks like everything going spectacularly wrong. That Kylie suggests Sigourney Weaver of “The Ice Storm” as Allison Janney of “The Way Way Back” wrapped up in the essence of Gena Rowlands of “A Woman Under the Influence” with subtle notes of Naomi Watts when she really dials up her peerless version of indignation.


I remember when my friend Daryl and I were talking about my theoretical Kylie roles for “San Andreas” and I realized that when I dream up parts for Kylie I unintentionally stifle any possibility of those parts possessing actual dimension because actual dimension suggests flaws and Kylie Minogue’s universal empressness suggests flawlessness. When I see Kylie I see angelic pop perfection, I do not see the doubts that must lurk inside, as they lurk inside all of us. Indeed, those doubts do lurk inside Kylie, as her brief indie period in the 90s showed, which was sandwiched between her more famous and prosperous bouts of unassailable disco pop positivism. And look, we Kylie-ites need that disco pop positivism. Her music washes the sins from our hands. Still, that does not mean we are unaware that she is human, that she puts on her gold hotpants one leg at a time just like the rest of us. We get it. We love to lose ourselves in her grooves so much that we cannot help but double over in pain when we hear her on the “Impossible Princess” opener “Too Far” when singing “Can I smash all of this open / Can I pass the hurt with a little pain / I wanna see all of it crumble.” I wanna see all of it crumble. Boy is that different from “Step Back In Time” Kylie expressing I want to funk.

Crumbling is what Kylie looks like she is doing in that photo. Aside from “Holy Motors”, where she was more Eliza Day than Impossible Princess, on screen Kylie has never been asked to do much of anything. This photo suggests less nothing and more something, and good for her, just so long as after she crumbles, she puts herself right back together again. We, the hapless, will always need Kylie of magical moonbeams and purifying exultation.

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