David Bowie died today following an 18 month illness. It is a very sad day and an event that like all bereavement renders the subject matter of this article somewhat redundant.
What a sad way to start the new year with this article. This article being as it is concerned with all things art, the death of Mr David Bowie cannot go unnoticed. He was Mr Art.
Before I discuss the film up for review this year I thought it only proper to give a brief overview of the wonderful moments the white duke has given us throughout his eventful life. (I would need a Ulysses size space to do any sort of justice to such a detail so please accept this as nothing more than a tiny obituary tribute to a massive talent and dare we say genius? Yes we do. For once. )
David Bowie was born David Robert Jones on 8 January 1947 in Brixton, south London, to his mother Margaret “Peggy”, a waitress, and his father charity worker Haywood “John” Jones. His older brother’s record collection introduced him to rock music at an early age.
The Bowie family moved to south-east London and he graduated from Bromley technical high school at 16, he formed a number of bands and leading a group. He started calling himself Davy Jones, later changing his name to David Bowie to avoid confusion with Davy Jones of The Monkees. His new moniker was reportedly inspired by a knife developed by the 19th century American pioneer Jim Bowie and the US was to become his kingdom.
Bowie initially released three singles as a solo artist for Pye Records, and a debut album entitled David Bowie, but did not achieve the success he wanted and bruised, retreated to a Buddhist monastery in Scotland in 1967. As you do.
After returning to London he started the arts troupe Feathers in 1968, then helped create the Beckenham Arts Lab in 1969 before releasing Space Oddity later that year, which was his first UK No 1. The release the following year of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars made him an international star, and he conquered the US not long afterwards.
As well as being a prolific artist Bowie also produced albums for Lou Reed and Iggy Pop, as well as writing All the Young Dudes, for Mott The Hoople who had a huge international hit with it.
In the late 1970s he produced a three-album collaboration with Brian Eno, known as the Berlin trilogy.
Bowie combined his rock career with appearances in films. His acting career took off with his performance in Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth, followed by roles in films such as Labyrinth, The Last Temptation of Christ and Absolute Beginners. More recently, he appeared as himself in the films the Prestige and rubbish like Zoolander.
Bowie was a master of reinvention throughout his career and constantly returned with a new musical direction, themes and concerns. Often described as a chameleon of sorts he was in fact the very opposite, a chameleon blends into his surroundings, becoming indistinguishable from the environment he is inhabiting at any one time, David Bowie was if anything the complete opposite of that, he always stood out from the crowd, his genius a forever blossoming flower and one which has left us a body of work which is unsurpassed in our culture. Bowie changed the world we live in, like no one has since. We owe him a lot and we thank him. He was one of the best. RIP.
David Bowies last album was released last week on his 69th birthday and comes highly reccomended. Indeed it proves that he was as restless an artist as one come imagine right up to the very end. The record is both a celebration of and a break with his musical past. It's also a dark record which many will read goodbyes in given his subsequent passing.
The track Lazarus in particular being stark in its forewarning of sorts of today's news. The last smoke signal from a huge musical and artistic talent.
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Running time: 3 hr 7 minutes
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason-Leigh, Kurt Russell, Tim Roth, Demián Bichir, Walton Goggins, Michael Madsen, and Bruce Dern.
This week also saw the release of the new film from Quentin Tarantino the one time darling of Hollywood and Enfant terrible all in one.
He returns with the Hateful Eight, a western set pretty much in one location in the snowbound mountains of Wyoming sometime after the American Civil War. Travelling by stagecoach Bounty Hunter John Ruth, played by a grizzly Kurt Douglas and his prisoner the mentally murderous Daisy Donergue played by a frantic Jennifer Jason Leigh, are stopped by another mercenary Major Marquis Warren, (Smauel L Jackson) who negotiates a ride with them.
After picking up yet another young straggler, who claims to be the new sherif of the town they are both heading to, Red Rock, the party are forced to retreat to a cabin inn until the weather subsides. There they meet another four men who are also stranded. What unfurls is like Reservoir Dogs shot by a demented John Ford with David Leans camera.
I won't give away any spoilers here but what follows is both completely unexpected and expected in that usual Tarantino way. I'm not sure if I find his later films boring or exciting. The problem here is that no matter how much the director wants us to think this is all something new and fresh there is the distinct whiff of an artists who has lost touch with his muse and is now caught on repeat. Jackie Brown remains his best film but there is much to enjoy here and fans of his work will not be disappointed. Even its lengthy running time zips by quickly enough. It's just that for all its intense dialogue that really wants to bequeath importance to the film one comes away with the feeling that this is all noise signifying not much at all.
The violence is explosive and this is provocative stuff, it's just we've seen it all before.
Tarantino is either the auteur genius of the American cinema or a hipster phoney dealing in cheap tricks or perhaps the answer lies somewhere between the two.