A found-footage film (oh no) but improved by the sci-fi aspect. Thomasina “Tom” and Martha “Mars” are happy with their time-television, dancing to David Bowie in 1940. Military agent Sebastian locates and joins them after they start broadcasting warnings about near-future nazi bombings, and inevitably one girl (Mars) falls for him. Some cute multiverse moments: they sing “You Really Got Me” and a ragtime version becomes the theme song and slogan of the war effort. But the girls aren’t great war strategists and botch a couple important things leading to (in order of increasing horror): the USA dropping support for Britain, the nazis winning the war, and erasure of David Bowie’s career. No longer trusted by anyone, the back half of the movie is all running around spy/escape scenes. Mars shooting nazis while hanging from a noose isn’t the movie’s strong suit, the early cross-timeline TV stuff is. Finally they leave messages from their alt-present to their unspoiled past selves and manage to undo the damage.

Tom (the serious, dark-haired sister, whose large eyes get put to good use) is also in a netflix fantasy show, Mars in that horrorish movie Make Up, and Seb in that movie about the Bronte sisters.

Jimi Plays Monterey (1967/1986, Pennebaker & Chris Hegedus)

Ten minutes of intro fluff and and opening title painting before the performance starts, but once it gets there, it’s as good as the boomers promised it would be. Lighting the guitar on fire gave us a terrific poster image, didn’t do much else. This was the band’s U.S. debut, having made their career in England.

“Speed painter” Denny Dent:

Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1973/1979, Pennebaker)

Unexpectedly, we hear Wendy Carlos music before Bowie. Low-detail blur, the light not high enough to make a proper film. Great singing, sometimes some nice guitar. Fun scene when we see a big guitar solo after Bowie leaves the stage, then rewind to another camera following Bowie through a costume change as the solo plays again. I love the idea of Bowie, and was hoping that blasting this movie through the soundbar and pretending I was at his career-peak concert would help me enjoy the music, but the costumes beat the songs. “White Light/White Heat” was cool at least!

The artistic life of Bowie. Good interview bits, ok visuals – Morgen’s free-association clips of computer graphics and classic film clips don’t usually work for me (the Sparks doc was more coherent). Surprisingly the interview segments were better than the concerts, and both have horrible lighting.

In a WWII prison camp, Beat Takeshi is a sadistic guard led by humorless youngish Capt. Yonoi (the film’s composer, Ryuichi Sakamoto). Lawrence (Paddington 2‘s Tom Conti) is a prisoner who speaks some Japanese and represents the Brits, a bunch of sensible dudes until David Bowie (same year as The Hunger) comes along.

Cruel Story of Middle Age. A classy-looking narrative movie with tricky subject matter, feeling more like a prestige 80’s international coproduction than those late 60’s Oshima youth films. Cool rumbling music, and lots of singing, never as fun as the pub songs in the Terence Davies movies. The story is mostly survival tactics, power games, betrayals and brutality – strange that the lead actors were two rock stars and a comedian.

I have mixed feelings about this one. Felt like Lynch already reclaimed Twin Peaks for himself in the final episode of the series. Sheryl Lee is great, and it’s a good movie about her increasingly troubled youth, dodging her upright boyfriend James to hang out with drug-supplying Bobby (who kills a guy in the woods), and grappling with her realization that her tormentor “Bob” is actually her father. Lynch’s heart may have been on poor Laura’s side, wanting to spend time with her while she was alive, but it comes off as a redundant prequel, full of fan-servicing cameos by the show’s cast and decisions based more on actor availability than artistic concerns.

Lynch practically writes Agent Cooper out of the show, replacing him with Chris Isaak (and wonderful sidekick Kiefer Sutherland) in a long opening segment about the disappearance of Laura’s associate Teresa Banks and her mysterious ring, but he can’t write out Laura’s best friend Donna. Lara Flynn Boyle was a superstar in 1992, appearing in Wayne’s World and Matthew Modine identical-twin thriller Equinox, so Moira Kelly (With Honors, The Cutting Edge) is the new Donna. The whole Horne family is missing too (Sherilyn Fenn was costarring with Danny Aiello in a movie about the JFK assassination from Jack Ruby’s point of view) though they’re mentioned in the deleted scenes.

Peaceful domestic scene:

Rewatched this the night Bowie died. He has a tiny role in the movie, but fits into Lynch’s netherworld perfectly. I forget some of the Twin Peaks mythology (planning to rewatch some episodes before the new one comes out), but I’m into this brigade Lynch was building of dimension-hopping special agents: Kyle, Bowie and Isaak. Re-reading a Cinema Scope article from when the deleted scenes came out, there are plenty of interesting connections to the series that I missed from not having watched it in 14 years.

Who can identify all the people in Whatever Lodge This Is? There’s Bob and MJ Anderson up front, then we’ve got papier-mache-face, cane fella, old woman, suit kid, and the fake beard brothers. According to a Twin Peaks-dedicated wiki, the old woman is Mrs. Tremond and “her intentions are unclear”.

Thanks, Wikipedia… so the red-curtained, zigzag-floored place is The Black Lodge, and that’s one-armed Mike sitting with MJ Anderson (who refers to himself as “the arm” in the film) facing Bob and Leland.

Same ending as Orlando?

Checked out Tony Scott’s The Hunger for the first time in lovely HD, then watched his brother Ridley’s Alien on blu-ray the same night for a SCOTtober double-feature.

The Hunger (1983)

Cool looking movie with Nic Roegian editing – and I noticed this before listening to Tony Scott’s commentary, where he admits to being Roeg-obsessed. Scott worked in commercials, and brings their slick-as-snails visuals to a noirish vampire flick, opening with a Bahuaus video intercut with agitated lab monkeys. If that sounds like something that might not fly with the public, it apparently didn’t.

The eternally-youthful Catherine Deneuve is a centuries-old vampire living with true love David Bowie. Bowie seems like perfect casting for a vampire movie, but something goes wrong and he starts rapidly growing older (it’s perverse to hide Bowie under age-makeup), trying at the last minute to get help from blood specialist Susan Sarandon, and eating a neighbor kid (soap star Beth Ehlers) in a panic.

Aged Bowie:

Master vampire Deneuve is used to this sort of thing, stashes Bowie in the attic with the other aged corpses of former lovers, and begins seducing Sarandon. But Dr. Susan is too self-aware for vampire life, kills herself, and the zombie lovers rise up to destroy Catherine.

No fangs – our vampires use ankh-shaped knives to bleed their victims. A bit too many slow-motion doves flying but mostly the style works in the movie’s favor. Not according to Ebert, who called it “agonizingly bad” but enjoyed the sex scene. Played out-of-competition at Cannes, where Bowie’s Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence was competing with L’Argent, The King of Comedy and Nostalghia.

Scott later directed two episodes of the 1990’s anthology horror series The Hunger, hosted by Bowie. Enjoyed seeing Dan Hedaya as a cop but I missed Willem Dafoe’s cameo. Sarandon’s lab coworker Rufus Collins had previous vampire-film experience in Warhol’s Batman Dracula, and her other coworker Cliff De Young starred in Pulse and Dr. Giggles. Writer Whitley Streiber explored werewolves in Wolfen and aliens in Communion.

Alien (1979)

Has that Star Trek: The Motion Picture tendency to slowly bask in its models and space effects. The creature puppets weren’t as dodgy-looking as I remember them (though there’s such a bad edit right before Ian Holm’s disembodied head starts talking).

Spaceship control room looks like a sound booth with Christmas lights:

After watching this and Prometheus on blu-ray within a couple months of each other, I don’t get why people think there needs to be more connection between the two – one seems to be referencing the other pretty clearly to me.

There’s this thing:

And this guy:

And dudes who touch things they should not be touching:

And an android who does not appear to have everyone’s best interests at heart (his orders end with “crew expendable”).

You don’t think of Tom Skerritt as being the first-billed star of Alien, but I guess Weaver was an unknown at the time (or they didn’t want to telegraph who will survive from the opening credits). Veronica Cartwright had been in Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake the year before. Harry Dean Stanton doesn’t do much horror but Wise Blood and Fire Walk With Me might count. Yaphet Kotto starred in Larry Cohen’s Bone and lived through Freddy’s Dead. And John Hurt has appeared in Hellboy, Only Lovers Left Alive, and something called The Ghoul.

Stephen Chbosky adapted a novel by Stephen Chbosky (based partly on the life of Stephen Chbosky) for director (and executive producer) Stephen Chbosky. Sounds like a recipe for a bland, safe movie made by someone too close to the material, but it turned out very well, and features the best cinematic use of David Bowie’s Heroes to date (plus a fair amount of Morrissey).

Charlie (Lightning Thief star Logan Lerman), a high school freshman in the early 90’s had only one friend, who just died, so Charlie spent the summer in an institution having dark thoughts. He’s a nerdy loner at school, only ever talking to English teacher Paul Rudd, but greatly improves when he starts hanging out with Patrick (Ezra Miller, title murderer in We Need to Talk About Kevin) and Mary Elizabeth (Mae Whitman, Ann from Arrested Development, also in Scott Pilgrim) and hottie Emma Watson (of those Harry Potter movies).

Much high-school drama ensues. Charlie joins the older kids’ Rocky Horror show and defends Patrick from homophobes, but doesn’t go after Emma because he is too shy. Belated plot thread when the other kids graduate and Charlie reveals to cast latecomer Joan Cusack that his dead aunt touched him inappropriately. We get a good feeling at the end, like Charlie (an aspiring writer) will be alright, possibly write a memoir-novel of these experiences, adapt it to a screenplay, maybe executive-produce and direct a film version full of Bowie and Morrissey songs.

Forgot what a sad movie this is. Bowie falls to earth, finds a patent lawyer (Get Smart creator Buck Henry), makes more money than Steve Jobs, but the government interferes in his plan to return home with water for his desert planet and he ends up a secluded musician, discovered in hiding by his stalker/employee Rip Torn.

The 1970’s were the kind of ridiculous time when Rip Torn could be a sex symbol, starring as Henry Miller in Tropic of Cancer – that I’ve come to accept. And I can accept Bowie as a sex symbol, too. But seeing them both naked in the same movie is just confounding. I suppose that’s Roeg’s point, making Bowie that much more alien by casting him with Torn. Also somewhat confounding is Candy Clark (of Q: The Winged Serpent) as Bowie’s earth girl. She’s a housekeeper at a bad hotel who becomes Bowie’s main source of human comfort – not the brightest bulb but maybe he decides that makes her less of a threat.

Good variety of music – only one Bowie song. The old-age makeup is markedly better than Julie Christie’s in The Go-Between. Hard to imagine how this got released without copious explanatory voiceover added. For instance, shots of Bowie’s home planet/family seem to be subjective, their present situation as Bowie imagines/hopes/fears, but of course this is never discussed. Not that I’m complaining – I like it the way it is, full of Roegian trickery. Bowie gives a blankly contemplative look almost all time, detached, Bowie-like, in other words. Why is Buck Henry thrown through a window at the end, and Bowie imprisoned in a mansionous hotel suite by badmen who don’t seem to know what they want from him? Something to do with Bernie Casey, I think.

One program Bowie watches on his array of TVs is lions fucking, which I found funny since the night before I’d watched The Lion King. Remade for 1980’s television with Wil Wheaton and Beverly D’Angelo. Bowie failed to grab an oscar nomination for playing his thin white alien self, but picked up a golden scroll from the sci-fi academy.

G. Fuller:

As critic Tom Milne has suggested, [Bowie’s] defenselessness is central to the exchanging of identities and the shifting of power dynamics between the characters in The Man Who Fell to Earth. This also occurs in Performance, Walkabout, Don’t Look Now, Bad Timing, and Track 29, the other films on which Roeg’s reputation as an auteur is based. As Newton becomes progressively more human, he becomes susceptible to the same vices that taint his intimates: the aggrandizement of power and wealth (Farnsworth), alcoholism and emotional dependency (Mary-Lou), abusive sexual behavior (Bryce). They, in turn, in Milne’s words, “rediscover something of that vulnerability,” shedding their protective carapaces even as they variously let Newton down, because, as humans, that is what they are fated to do.

We rented this on the drive home from “August Rush”. It had a dual purpose: Katy could watch another, hopefully better movie where Jonathan Rhys Meyers sings, and I could try again to join the growing legion of Todd Haynes fans before seeing “I’m Not There”.

Given a second chance (first time it totally lost me), it’s an interesting movie with an awesome look to it. Good music but not my favorite (I never got glam – the music’s not exciting when you take away the clothes). Another thing I noticed this time is how the story is a big ol’ ripoff/tribute to Citizen Kane, with Christian Bale in the reporter/interviewer role.


Jonathan RM is an illegal bootleg of David Bowie and Ewan McGregor is a semi-legit Iggy Pop.

Toni Collette (of nothing I’m likely to see except maybe “the dead girl”) plays RM’s wife and I got her confused a lot, and Eddie Izzard (of “across the universe” and his own bad self) is RM’s manager.

What is going on?, most of the time, still, especially towards the end, but with the lovely glammy visuals, who cares either? RM and Iggy Pop have a hot affair and half-fuel half-wreck each other’s careers, and there’s booze and such. I felt really on top of things while watching this, but just a few days later I’m lost in a drug haze of cool shots and floaty feathers and got nothing to say.