David Bowie Is
screenplay by Philip Kerr
directed by Hamish Hamilton and Katy Mullen
I saw the film "David Bowie Is" at the Piccadilly cinema in Shinjuku on Sunday, January 25, 2016. Based on a 2013 Victoria and Albert Museum exhibit of the same title, the movie is a documentary made before Bowie's death on January 10, 2016 at age 69, so maybe that hastened its release in theatres. I was disappointed. Frist, I thought it was kind of grotesque to produce such an exhibit about a living man. Second, while I respect and admire Bowie for his longevity and accomplishment, I was never a Bowie fan. His music is not particularly appealing to me and his penchant for perpetual self-reinvention seemed excessively self-indulgent to me. Furthermore, while I love music and music is important to me, I don't want to be force-fed someone's effete philosophy in concert.
Thirdly, this British film exercised typically British traits that I dislike. For example, speakers gazed off camera as if they were answering questions from an off-camera interviewer. I hate that. Look at the camera, you dolts!! In addition (I may be nit-picking here), the accents of the speakers are atrocious. It sounds like uneducated English slum-talk to me. But then, maybe I’ve just experienced too narrow a range of English speech.
Fourthly, even though Bowie was alive when the film and the museum exhibit were made, he does not participate in them. There are no Bowie interviews, no interviews with his musical contemporaries - important collaborators like Iggy Pop and Brian Eno, or other contemporary music stars like Paul McCartney, or music producers - and virtually no concert footage. The guest speakers who do appear are something pathetic: a flamboyantly gay fashion professor fawning about how Bowie saved him because he was ‘different;’ a visual artist who has no connection whatsoever with Bowie; a contemporary historian reaching to make Bowie sound more important that he probably was.
It was kind of a silly movie, really. It felt more like a sycophantic fan club homage than a proper documentary. There is so much more about Bowie that I would have liked to know, and opinions from much more qualitied people that I would have like to have heard. I fell asleep three times during it.
s music is not particularly appealing to me and his penchant for perpetual self-reinvention seemed excessively self-indulgent to me. Furthermore, while I love music and music is important to me, I don't want to be force-fed someone's effete philosophy in concert.