The Starman has ascended to the heavens. On Sunday, the legendary David Bowie passed away from cancer, days after releasing his final album, Blackstar. He was 69. His legacy will be timeless.
Planet Earth will be a little bluer in the Thin White Duke's absence, and while his impact on film wasn't nearly as prolific as his time spent transforming music and fashion, it is a fascinating legacy.
Bowie as a TV-addicted alien in the 1976 drama The Man Who Fell to Earth happens to be showing at the Academy, booked originally as a celebration of Bowie's new album and now serving as a memorial.
More big-screen Bowie is sure to come. In the meantime, here are the Bowie films to play for your own personal tributes. RIP, Davy Jones. Your space face will always be in our hearts.
Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (1973) and Cracked Actor (1975)
D.A. Pennebaker's Ziggy Stardust is the quintessential Bowie concert film, featuring the last show of the Aladdin Sane tour and the death of Bowie's Ziggy Stardust character. Though tougher to find, the BBC doc Cracked Actor is essential viewing as a follow-up. It shows a cocaine-addled Bowie lost among all the characters in his head, meditating on life as an insect and jilted at the prospect of his legendary Diamond Dogs tour. Together, the films play like a double feature about the heights of fame and its toll on the artist.
The Hunger (1983)
In Tony Scott's sexed-up horror classic, Bowie is a classical musician who also happens to be a vampire maintaining his youthfulness by feasting on blood. So is that how Bowie stayed looking so young?
On a list of greatest Muppets of all time, Bowie without that wig would rank high. So would the enormous bulge in his pants, which appears to be sentient.
The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
How the hell does Bowie as Pontius fucking Pilate somehow come across as the least eccentric thing in a biblical epic? Well, there's Harvey Keitel as Judas and Willem Dafoe as Jesus, taking whitewashing to new extremes.
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)
Bowie barely appears in David Lynch's maligned Twin Peaks, but goddamn it if he doesn't make an impression, playing a deranged Southern agent in a David Byrne suit. Had the two Davids ever made a full-on film together, the world might have imploded.
Many actors have played Warhol—from Crispin Glover to Bill Hader to Warhol himself. Bowie's is the most layered and nuanced characterization to date, playing up the tics of the famous artist under a stringy mane in Julian Schnabel's uneven biopic. Perhaps it takes somebody who's lived as an eccentric artist in the spotlight to really nail it.
The Prestige (2006)
Christopher Nolan's bizarro dueling magician mystery receives a dose of much-needed levity from Bowie, here playing a pensive Nikola Tesla who's getting fucked over by Thomas Edison. It's an understated role as a man who made science fiction a reality, only to be swept under the rug.
SEE IT: The Man Who Fell to Earth screens at the Academy Theater on Jan. 13-21.
Kidnapped scientists! Evil humanoid robots! 2.7/10 stars on IMDB! 1978's War of the Robots really has it all. Joy Cinema. 9 pm Wednesday, Jan. 13.
Church of Film's Late Weimer Glam series struts on with the 1932 operetta The Congress Dances, a post-Napoleonic romantic comedy, though the definition of romantic comedy was very different in 1932 than in our post-Witherspoon society. North Star Ballroom. 8 pm Wednesday, Jan. 13.
OMSI's Studio Ghibli retrospective gets around to showcasing some of the greatest animated films of all time—the surreal fantasy Spirited Away, the rollicking adventure Princess Mononoke and the whimsical Kiki's Delivery Service—along with still-better-than-most fare like Porco Rosso and the environmentalist Castle in the Sky. OMSI. Wednesday-Monday, Jan 13-18. See OMSI.edu for full listings.
Watching Tom Hanks' breakout performance in Big, it's easy to see how he became one of America's most beloved actors. But it's also hard not to pine for an era of a more comedic Hanks. Here, you never doubt for a minute that he's a kid trapped in a man's body, from his awkward body language to his sense of wonder. It remains the best performance of his celebrated career. Laurelhurst Theater. Friday-Thursday, Jan. 15-21.
Back in in 1976, the members of Led Zeppelin could do whatever the hell they wanted (just ask that mud shark), so when they were asked to do fantasy sequences for their The Song Remains the Same concert film, they got weird, acting out medieval and Tolkein-esque fantasies. Except for legendary wild one John Bonham, who used his camera time to depict himself, um, working on a farm and hanging with his wife. Look, it's a weird movie. But for stoners and music fans, it's essential. Clinton Street Theater. 7 pm Saturday, Jan. 16.
It's the third week of the year, and I am already officially out of things to say about screenings of the Final Cut of Blade Runner. This is a good thing, since the film should just kind of be playing on an infinite loop. Academy Theater. Friday-Thursday, Jan. 15.21.
The Portland Geek Council has lured prolific science-fiction author William F. Nolan to the Clinton for a Q&A paired with the trippy, enduring 1978 adaptation of Logan's Run, in which dystopian folks live in an idyllic society where nobody is older than 30. Considering Nolan is 88, it's a good thing his vision wasn't prophetic. Clinton Street Theater. 2 pm Sunday, Jan. 17.
Instead of, you know, shopping and drinking all day, maybe consider spending Martin Luther King Jr. Day with the Sidney Lumet-directed King: A Filmed Record… From Montgomery to Memphis. Oh, wait… it's a night screening. So you can drink, shop then pay respect. Clinton Street Theater. 7 pm Monday, Jan. 18.
B-Movie Bingo gets radical with the incredib(ly stupid), bombastic 1989 slugfest Robot Jox, in which gigantic robot gladiators duke it out in a story conceived by none other than the psychopath who directed Re-Animator. Hollywood Theatre. 7:30 pm Tuesday, Jan. 19.