Saturday, December 18, 2010
Written by Paul Mayersberg, Walter Tevis (book)
Directed by Nicolas Roeg
Starring David Bowie, Candy Clark, Buck Henry, Rip Torn
Alien creature falls to earth somehow. Employing a lawyer as a mouthpiece he uses his alien knowledge to build something of a corporate empire. He meets and marries (?) a woman and builds a company town in the middle of nowhere. The government becomes wary of the success of the company and then some shit hits one fan or another.
this made me realize how sick of movies that end in long sequences that make no sense. this whole movie was difficult to follow and maybe by the end i was just tired from thinking. it was incredibly long. i was beginning to think it would never end. that said it wasn't a horrible movie. it was very deliberate. so i guess that's something. it was restored beautifully by criterion. at least i'm pretty sure it was. it looked like it was filmed last year instead of 1976. david bowie is fantastic. you get to see his penis.
This film tells a pretty typical alien-on-Earth tale in a way which is slightly to greatly atypical for any point in cinematic history which I've experienced so far. The story itself begins simply and it expands organically until everything and everybody unhinghes to a greater or lesser degree.
The movie is far less an obvious product of the 70s than The Lathe of Heaven, but it's fairly easy to tell from a point 30 years in the future. That said, a top-notch restoration presents a very smooth, consistent production in which regardless of setting everything appears to be of a piece, and not in a Transformers way. Direction here was beautiful all around, from performance-instruction to some excellent, unassuming shots. One of the easy telltales that this is not an American film is that nobody seems to care if the audio and video are perfectly synchronized. Another easy way to tell is that there are boobies when there should be boobies.
There are few missteps in the other departments, either. Characters are fully-realized, even if you never quite know what Bowie's deal is. They do many inscrutable things but we never believe that they do them for simple reasons of moving the plot along. This is evident because there is some ambiguity built in to the long end a slow second act and while some of my conclusions have less confidence than I would like I don't think that this is nearly as big a problem as my woman does. There are plenty of "how" questions which aren't answered; but it's the "why" questions which are important, and those are never misunderstood. This movie made me think, but more importantly it made me want to think.
Finally, I--especially I--would be remiss in telling you that your anticipation of viewing Mr. Bowie's penis will not go unrequited.