The Life Aquatic

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 […]


Criterion Files

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Moonrise Kingdom. Wes Anderson is known for getting his inspiration from a variety of sources. While Anderson’s signature visual quirks make his films unquestionably his own, the director’s images, themes, and characters also emerge through an amalgamation of materials that inspire him, whether the source be the stories of J.D. Salinger or the pathos of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts. But most of Anderson’s references are to other works of cinema, as detailed in this five-part video essay by Matt Zoller Seitz, which details Anderson’s particular influence by auteurs ranging from Orson Welles to Hal Ashby. However, certain films anchor their influence more directly than others. For instance, The Life Aquatic was greatly inspired by Federico Fellini’s post-Dolce Vita work, and The Darjeeling Limited is dedicated to celebrated Indian auteur Stayajit Ray. In the weeks since the Cannes premiere and commercial release of Anderson’s latest, Moonrise Kingdom, several critics have noted that only does the film seem to be directly influenced by a specific director, but one particular film by that director. Pierrot le Fou, Jean-Luc Godard’s colorful, whimsically anarchistic couple-on-the-run film from 1965 seems to bear a great deal of similarity to Moonrise Kingdom, which takes place the year that Godard’s film was originally released in France (Pierrot’s US release was delayed until 1969, where it stood curiously opposite Godard’s polemical late-60s work). Having read several reviews that cite Pierrot‘s influence on Moonrise, I reflected back on both films, and here are some of the […]

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published: 12.23.2014
published: 12.22.2014
published: 12.19.2014

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