With the release of a new David Bowie album early last year after a ten-year hiatus, the life of the prolific artist has been celebrated enthusiastically the world over. Adding fuel to the fire are Bowie’s new Nothing Has Changed career retrospective and the David Bowie Is exhibit that’s currently at the MCA Chicago. In addition to his music career, Bowie is a film actor; this month the Trylon Microcinema, located in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis, has slated a film series titled “Space Oddity: The Films of David Bowie,” highlighting the variety of acting roles Bowie has had.
Though the Trylon has “been eyeing a Bowie film series for a while,” said Barry Kryshka, repertory programmer at the Trylon, “the David Bowie Is exhibit got the idea back in front of us.” The films chosen for the series, while only four out of almost 30 that Bowie has acted in, are meant to reflect his skill in working with a wide range of other artists. “It’s always a kick to spotlight an actor with good taste in directors: Ôshima, Nicholas Roeg, and Jim Henson is quite a mix,” Kryshka said. Descriptions and showtimes of the selected films are below. Tickets can be purchased at the Trylon’s website or at the box office.
The Hunger (1983)
Fri., Dec. 5 at 7:00 & 9:00
Sat., Dec. 6 at 7:00 & 9:00
Sun., Dec. 7 at 5:00 & 7:00
The second film ever directed by Tony Scott, The Hunger features Bowie opposite Catherine Deneuve, both of whom play vampire lovers John and Miriam in 1980s New York. Upon turning two hundred years old, John’s youthful body begins to age rapidly and he reaches out to gerontologist Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon) for help. As she is clued in to the vampiric underworld, Sarah is forced to consider the benefits of immortality at the cost of an addiction to human blood. Given the film’s position as a cult classic of a pre-vampire-fanaticism era, Kryshka noted that the staff “especially wanted to grab the chance to run a 35mm print of The Hunger.”
The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976)
Fri., Dec. 12 at 7:00 & 9:45
Sat., Dec. 13 at 7:00 & 9:45
Sun., Dec. 14 at 5:00 & 7:45
In this sci-fi critique of consumerism laden with fantastic imagery, Bowie plays extraterrestrial Thomas Jerome Newton, who has come in search of water to bring back to his home planet experiencing a devastating drought. Quiet and seemingly impervious to temptation at the beginning of the film, Newton patents a number of inventions and becomes the CEO of a omnipresent corporation in order to fund a return journey home. As he is exposed to sex and booze (largely due to a doe-eyed Mary-Lou, played by Candy Clark), Newton lets them become vices that threaten his entire plan as well as his hidden alien identity.
Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983)
Fri., Dec. 19 at 7:00 & 9:15
Sat., Dec. 20 at 7:00 & 9:15
Sun., Dec. 21 at 5:00 & 7:15
Based on a novel about a British military officer in a Japanese POW camp during WWII, Nagisa Oshima’s film examines human bonds across cultural boundaries as Major Jack Celliers (David Bowie, in an atypical role) executes a series of insurrections against the camp officers and guards. His rebelliousness piques the interest of the young Captain Yanoi in particular, and the pair’s relationship becomes a large focus for the remainder of the film. Lacking much of the glamour of other Bowie films, Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence stands as a testament to Bowie’s taste in diverse roles and directors.
Fri., Dec. 26 at 7:00 & 9:00
Sat., Dec. 27 at 7:00 & 9:00
Sun., Dec. 28 at 5:00 & 7:00
Perhaps Bowie’s best-known film—if only because it’s one of the strangest children’s movies ever made—Labyrinth also features songs written and performed by Bowie. A 15-year-old Jennifer Connelly—later to become an Oscar-winning film star—plays a girl who must journey into the Labyrinth to rescue her baby brother from Jareth the Goblin King (Bowie). This eclectic fantasy flick features Jim Henson puppetry and a game of hot potato played with an infant, but its most eye-popping visual effect might be the sock stuffed in Bowie’s pants.
Paul Schmitt is a literature major at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. He’s inspired by bass lines, metafiction, and lengthy mealtime conversation.