This is the special David Bowie edition. I review a review of his first movie, The Man Who Fell to Earth, regale you with a story about when I made a special connection with him (I kid you not), and delight you with two videos on youtube: 1. an exposé of the changing of Bowie’s teeth 2. a scene from Extras, which he appeared in. Extras was a British TV sitcom developed by and starring Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.
But I digress. Let’s begin with a film review by an icon:
The Man Who Fell to Earth
Review by Roger Ebert. This review was written in 2011, when the movie, made in 1976, was re-released.
Plot: David Bowie is an alien whose planet has run out of water. He jumps into his spaceship in search of water on other planets, which he plans to bring back. He ends up on earth. His character’s name is Newton. (Get it–gravity and falling down to earth?)
Spoilers skimmable? Not really, but I saw the movie two weeks ago and it is my pleasure to skim it for you.
Bottom line: He originally gave it a 2.5 in 1976, but in 2011, he bumped it up to 3 stars, because films aren’t made like this anymore–it is a science fiction film without the sci-fi effects. Instead it relies on Bowie’s acting to establish that he’s an alien, especially with his body language. “It’s a role that he was born to play.”
Ebert then says that Bowie would have been a great actor had he gone into film instead of music–as proven by all of the movies he was in.
I beg to disagree: The film is “unique,” Ebert opines, because we learn the story through character development and implication. He doesn’t think that a movie like this can be made today–it is quintessential 1970’s, when “idiosyncratic directors deliberately tried to make great films.” He deems audiences in the 21st Century unsophisticated simpletons. They can’t handle a film like this, he states, because “it requires too much thinking.”
Well, excuuuuse me.
Unexpected delight: Ebert talks about meeting Bowie: “Bowie has an enviable urbane charm. I met him once, and rarely have been so impressed by someone’s poise.”
My Brush with David Bowie
It was fall of my junior year abroad in London. On a Saturday morning, I had a hangover from Friday night debauchery, but still went to the library to study. Inside the building, I had to climb the stairs to the library because the elevator was out-of-order. There was a gigantic light shining into it and I thought it was being repaired.
I went upstairs, but was too woozy to study. So I go back down and, as I am about to exit, I see people standing in a semi-circle around the elevator. It wasn’t a huge crowd. None of the students might have bothered to ask what was going on because they were mostly British and reserved. But I was an American in London–so I asked someone what was happening. Imagine my ineffable joy upon hearing the answer:
“They’re filming a scene from a movie. David Bowie’s in the elevator.”
The movie was The Hunger, about vampires. The stairs were next to the exit from the building, by one corner of the semi-circle of people. I shuffled over to where I could take a good look inside the elevator: in the middle of the semi-circle, behind the director and other people working on the film. Inside the elevator was a man covered in grotesque makeup that made him look dead-ish. But there was no mistaking the shape of the visage underneath: it was David Bowie. Before I knew it, someone must have yelled “Cut!” because he was leaving the elevator and coming towards the camera and me behind it. He turned his head to the left, and slowly scanned the crowd; as he turned towards where I was standing, our eyes locked. So help me God, I was locking eyes with DAVID BOWIE. And in that instant, in less than a split second, I had one thought–
“I look horrible!” I had rolled out of bed that morning and went directly to the Tube to the library–no shower. Horrified, I ran out the door, not stopping until I was showering in a nearby health club that I had joined. I hopped out of the shower, blow-dried my hair, ran back, and…
…The lobby was empty; the elevator was working.
What was I thinking? As if I’d have a date with him if I had showered that morning? Not to mention what HE looked like!
Vanity. Extra Deluxe.
It doesn’t matter really. Because I had locked eyes with David Bowie. It was 1981 and that is where our love affair in my head had begun.
And Now for something completely different:
Don’t ask me how I found it, but this is on youtube. It is an exposé about David Bowie’s dental-correction surgery. A dental surgeon shows us photos of Bowie’s smiling teeth pre-and post-surgery. Using a red marker, he circles the changed areas in Bowie’s bite. We learn that he had more than one operation. Go over and watch this six-minute video and get ready to learn technical terms like “recessed gums.”
Bowie in Ricky Gervais’ Extras
This was posted on Facebook. It is a hilarious scene of an episode of Extras, in which David Bowie guest starred. Extras is a British a sitcom developed by Ricky Gervais, post Office, written with his pal Stephen Merchant, starring both of them. This nine-minute video is worth watching.