Saturday, 15 December 2018

A musical icon who deserves to be on your list of movie Heroes

A musical icon who deserves to be on your list of movie Heroes

“I KNOW when to go out / And when to stay in.”

The well-known words uttered at the beginning of Modern Love, the opening track of David Bowie’s 15th album Let’s Dance, which was released in the early Eighties — an era with no YouTube or Spotify and where a pre-teen relied on the radio to introduce them to pop music.

But those words also define Bowie’s skill in deciding which direction to go in next and which boundary in art he should push — right up to the time of his death a year ago, aged 69, as it turned out.

Everything he did was atypical and the set of short films introduced to the audience as part of this screening — the latest in the Regal’s ongoing series of “Discover Tuesdays” — show how flexible and inventive he was as technology and society changed.

He started out as the art school kid in Michael Armstrong’s 1967 film The Image, acting as an early “Freddy Krueger”, haunting an artist who tries to kill him, in the distinctive format of a late Sixties Pinewood black and white movie, complete with scratchy film frames and no dialogue.

He then used his ability to pull the most amazing array of faces and to subtly change his appearance, resulting in the mini-movie that was Jazzin’ for Blue Jean (1984).

This was a precursor of the modern pop video — a medium of delivery that is sometimes more hotly anticipated than the actual song from the artist. It was clever and crisp and funny, despite the relatively low-tech filming by modern standards.

Finally, in Steve Lipmann’s 2003 film Reality, Bowie takes on a Max Headroom-style persona to interview himself, blurring the boundary between man and machine and using his distinctive eyes to great effect.

Interspersing questions with tracks, he hints at mortality and faith, producing music that again can’t be pigeonholed as “Bowie”.

The one thing these three short films highlight is that he never seemed to get old and ragged. Always the thin white man with the amazing hair — something that in his last interview he said he wanted to be remembered for — he managed to use the technology available to push forward art, by always telling a story and fulfilling the basic requirement of being entertaining.

Given the history of 2016, it seems David Bowie knew when to go out — before everyone else did.

Anna Smith

n NEXT week’s Discover Tuesdays screening (January 17) is James Schamus’s 2016 film Indignation.

Adapted from Philip Roth’s 2008 novel of the same name, a gifted Jewish teenager flees his overbearing parents in New Jersey, only to struggle with anti-Semitism and sexual repression in his small college in Fifties Ohio.

Tickets for Indignation are £11.50 for adults — with concessions, family tickets and membership discounts available. To book, call 0871 902 5738 or visit

More News:

Latest video from

VIDEO: Tributes paid after rugby player's death

POLL: Have your say