Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence

The Man Who Fell to Earth

Last week, David Bowie released The Next Day, his first album of entirely original music in a decade. That the seemingly retired former glam-space alien suddenly revealed himself to have laid down a full album’s worth of studio sessions in complete secrecy shocked rock journalists and fans of the shape-shifting pop star, inspiring many assessments of Bowie’s career at large and what this album means with respect to it. The Thin White Duke himself seems to be engaging in that exact same conversation, as promotional materials around the album incorporate Bowie’s past iconography: the cover for The Next Day appropriates the 1977 cover of Heroes with a block of white text over it and the word “Heroes” marked out, and the video for the aptly-titled single “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” features a model imitating 1976-era Bowie and a magazine cover featuring a still of Bowie from the film The Man Who Fell to Earth from the same year. Bowie’s multifaceted personae have become manifest through album covers, live performances, and, of course, his diverse and shifting musical stylings. But Bowie, while hardly a traditional rock star/film star hybrid, has also exercised much of his persona through his selective cinematic appearances, which exhibit his chameleonesque performance capabilities across media. Whether playing a WWI veteran in David Hemmings’s Just a Gigolo, a vampire in Tony Scott’s The Hunger, the Goblin King in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth (my childhood introduction to Bowie), Andy Warhol in Julian Schnabel’s Basquiat, or Nikola Tesla in Christopher […]


Alternative Top Ten List

This time last month, critics across the web and in print were compiling their mandatory best-of lists. While I often get annoyed when some lists with grander goals are given a degree of resonance they don’t in fact deserve (I’m looking at you, AFI), I do see the fun of the end-of year list ritual and honestly enjoy reading and writing such lists myself. But the thing is, I’m not primarily a critic for FSR, I’m a columnist. Thus, it’s nowhere near mandatory that I see everything released in a given year. I’ve been generously given the privileged position here of seeing what I want to see and writing about what I find interesting to write about week-in and week-out. While I receive occasional screeners for indie flicks and docs, I no longer live in a town that holds press screenings, so any new releases I choose to write about come into fruition because I, like your average cinephile (take note, Kevin Smith), have paid to see a movie that I think deserves my time, words, and money. This long digression is to ultimately say that my critical opinion of a given year at the end of that calendar year doesn’t ultimately mean all that much. My annual Top 5 contributions are based on comparatively few films seen by December 31. It’s typically not until sometime in February that I have anything resembling a top 10 list of my own that I can stand by, having finally seen former limited […]



Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence is a truly unique film by several definitions. Japanese master filmmaker Nagisa Oshima’s first English-language film (and it is worth noting here that much of it is in Japanese) embodies some dense discourses about Japanese identity, yet in many respects this is a film without a nation. But that’s exactly the point, for Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence embodies a host of contradictions in terms of how we’re used to experiencing films of its relative ilk: it is a film about war, yet it is never about patriotism or combat; it is a film about an intersection of cultures, yet it never seeks to deliver a message of sameness of common ground; and it is a film about sexual tensions between males, yet homosexuality is never explicitly addressed in a way that would place it fittingly in the canon of “queer cinema.”

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published: 01.26.2015
published: 01.25.2015
published: 01.25.2015

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