The world lost one of its true creators this weekend. David Bowie was a perpetual outsider, ahead of the curve. He made a career and a life out of living outside the norm as an alien, a misfit, a sexual adventurer, a faraway astronaut. His first film, The Man Who Fell to Earth has become a cult classic. I regret to say that I have not seen it, but hope to rectify that shortly. In the film, he plays an alien from a drought-stricken planet who journeys to Earth in search of water. Ebert remarks, “Bowie, slender, elegant, remote, evokes this alien so successfully that one could say, without irony, this was a role he was born to play.” Ebert remarked about meeting David Bowie and about his quality as an actor.
[He] has an enviable urbane charm. I met him once, and rarely have been so impressed by someone’s poise. If he hadn’t been a rock star he could have had success as an actor, playing roles such as those given to James Fox or William Hurt. Bowie demonstrated that in such films as “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence,” “Absolute Beginners,” “The Hunger” and “Labyrinth.” … He is … Other. Apart. Defined within himself.
Besides his progressive, challenging, and remarkable body of work, Bowie also gifted us with his son with Mary Angela Barnett, Duncan Jones, who I believe is one of the most promising up and coming directors working today. He directed two sci-fi thrillers, Moon (2009) and Source Code (2011). Bowie has had such an impact on our popular culture and he held such respect from such a wide array of people, receiving memorial tweets from people like Madonna, Astronaut Tim Peake, Kanye West, and even the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. The world will be a slightly less interesting place with him gone.
As I have read and heard so many people speaking fondly of him, I felt compelled to share my first memory of David Bowie. It was in the 1986 film Labyrinth, I was too young to remember seeing it when it first was released, but I recall renting the film from our local video store and watching raptly as a Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) struggled on a magical adventure to rescue her brother from Bowie’s deceptions as the goblin king Jareth.
Bowie joined forces with Muppet creator Jim Henson, special-effects guru George Lucas, and screenwriter Terry Jones of Monty Python fame to produce this fantasy which reminds me of a strange blend of The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, and Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.
It was a great work of Jim Henson and very ambitious. To my young mind it was a swirling and thrilling adventure. Unfortunately, I think I may have lost some of the youthful exuberance that I once possessed, because upon a re-watching a year or two ago, I was amazed at how meandering and drawn out the film is without good reason. It is longer than it should be and is lacking enough of a coherent plot to keep me attached. However, I may still dust it off again, if just to hear the soundtrack as Jareth himself composed and performed a number of songs for the film. Farewell Major Tom, God’s love be with you.
I have no particular rhyme or reason by which I am choosing these movies. I wish that Ebert’s website had a random review button, but since it doesn’t, I am looking through them alphabetically and then grabbing one that catches my eye. Today I choose the 22nd installment of the James Bond Series from 2008, Quantum of Solace. Ebert was not a fan of this film. He pretty much eviscerates it because it fell short of what he believes a Bond film is supposed to be. 2 stars.
What did you think of the film?
In honor of Robin Williams passing this week, I wanted to share my favorite of Mr. Williams’ films. His humor and exuberance was contagious. I don’t know what took him down the road of taking his own life, I only know that I am saddened to hear of his departure and know that the world is a little less happy with him out of it. Let his life and death be a reminder that even those with the largest smiles on their faces may be dealing with the darkest matters on the inside. If you are dealing with depression, please tell someone about it, get help, you are not alone.
Dead Poets Society takes place in the halls and fields of Welton Academy, a straight-laced prep school. During the opening ceremony, we see students carrying banners displaying the principles of Tradition, Honor, Discipline, and Excellence. This serves two major purposes: it introduces the main characters and establishes the rigid environment which they are about to enter. Robin Williams plays John Keating a bright eyed literature teacher returning to his alma mater, he bucks against the traditions and conservative administrators and parents when he encourages his literature students to “Carpe Diem!”
Before I go any further, I should make it clear that there will be SPOILERS AHEAD. If you have somehow missed this classic, then stop here and go watch it. Bring tissues and be prepared to be moved.