DOCUMENTARY; 2hr 15min
DIRECTED BY: Brett Morgen
Starmen: the man
Even for the relatively uninitiated, the 1970s incarnation of David Bowie who blasts docu-meister Brett Morgen’s painstaking history into being is one fabulous act. “I wanted to use art in a different way,” Bowie explains in the voice-overs that link his assorted narrative threads. It was through this exotic, androgynous, shape-shifting difference that the multi-hyphenate singer-songwriter-painter-actor found his essential being, one who lived to create and re-create.
His chameleonic brilliance was already rock history when Bowie, born David Robert Jones in Brixton, London, died in 2016 at age 69 of the liver cancer most people were unaware he had. In a kinetic tribute to his mercurial subject, Morgen (The Kid Stays in the Picture, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck ) jettisons a rollout of facts and stats for a mosaic of performance, interview and vérité footage that dives into the psyche of a seeker. The effect is prismatic, saturated with the jazzy theatricality worshipped by fans of Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, the Thin White Duke et al.
The man behind them comes across in interviews as a soft-spoken and cerebral conduit for the “inexhaustible supply of extracurricular thoughts” that manifest in his music (Moonage Daydream is named for a 1971 Bowie song; all up, 25 tracks are featured), in his art and in the dizzying spectrum of characters he daydreamed up. “I’ve had an incredible life,” he says gratefully, and which nobody can deny. “I’d love to do it again.”