Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Great Moments in Film Featuring the Music of David Bowie

When used correctly, music can be a powerful tool to help drive a film or a scene. It can enlighten a scene or set a mood for something sinister or dramatic. If there was anyone whose music was not just the ultimate soundtrack for the world of music but also can make a film probably more special than it is. It was David Bowie. For anyone who had listen to his music would probably feel something when watching a scene or be introduced to something that is just cool. For this list in tribute to Bowie, this list would include films that featured Bowie’s music to great effect. Yet, it would not count films that featured Bowie in the film as that is for another list. Here is the list of 15 films moments featuring the music of Bowie:

1. Mauvais Sang/Frances Ha-Modern Love

The first pick is a tie as one film does something original while the latter is a homage to that film. Yet, both Leos Carax and Noah Baumbach are aware of the power of music and how something like Modern Love can be used as an expression of love and joy. In Carax’s Mauvais Sang, it’s a scene where Denis Lavant expresses his own pain and anguish in his love for Juliette Binoche as it showcases a sense of passion through that song. In Baumbach’s Frances Ha, the scene isn’t just a homage of sorts to Mauvais Sang but it’s also something of its own which play into Greta Gerwig’s Frances’ in a new home but still in a state of transition while trying to remain upbeat. Though both films are very different, the way they used this song proves that it displays not just a sense of passion and determination for both characters but also to display the song’s message on the fallacy of modern love.

2. A Knight’s Tale-Golden Years

There are moments that just makes a scene all cool and such but this one is one of the most enjoyable in cinema. Here’s Heath Ledger’s William aka Sir Ulrich at a ball where he is trying to get people to learn his dance from his fictional land. Ledger’s performance is so perfect in how awkward he tries to present his dance to the many people at the ball as he looked lost until Shannyn Sossaman’s character comes in and helps. While the film is set during medieval times and the music starts off as being very folk with its flutes and woodwinds, the strains from Golden Years would emerge little by little as it manages to fit in with the period of the film. Then Bowie’s vocals come in and everyone starts to dance to the song as it has this sense of exuberance and joy that makes life worth living. Plus, why would anyone not want to dance to a song as funky as Golden Years?

3. Cat People/Inglourious Basterds-Cat People

One of the darkest tracks Bowie has created in the 1980s was a collaboration he made with Giorgio Moroder as is considered one of his finest songs. It was first used in Paul Schrader’s remake of the 1940s noir film of the same name as Bowie’s song just fits in with the tone of that film. Especially for a film that is very sexually provocative and filled with a lot of dread and terror. When it was used for Quentin Tarantino’s 2009 war film Inglourious Basterds, it plays into a great montage where Melanie Laurent’s Shoshanna gets ready for her own revenge against the Nazis. It is one of the most powerful usages of that film as it showcases Tarantino’s mastery in blending music and image.

4. Intimacy-Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing (Reprise) & The Motel

Patrice Chereau’s 2001 film is one of the most raw portraits of adultery as it plays into a man and a woman who have sex with each other and that’s it without the need to know who they are. From the 1974 Diamond Dogs album, the medley of Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing (Reprise) plays into Mark Rylance’s character and the sense of abandonment he has created for himself as it plays into flashbacks of the life he once had until he fucked it up. From 1995’s Outside is The Motel as it plays during the final credits as it plays into the severity of not just the affair but also what Rylance and Kerry Fox know about each other as it’s a film that many people need to see as Bowie’s music helps give the film some depth.

5. Lost Highway-I’m Deranged

Also from 1995’s Outside is I’m Deranged as the song is used to open and close David Lynch’s 1997 film as it definitely sets the tone for the film in its ode to noir and identity. After all, it is the perfect song to open and close that film where it is like this wild rider of who is who and what is going on. Lynch’s usage of the song that is given some editing by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails for its soundtrack would help play into many of the things that goes on in the film.

6. The Ice Storm-I Can’t Read

For anyone that is a super Bowie fan, this song is probably one of its most obscure because the song doesn’t originate from Bowie but from his late 80s/early 90s band Tin Machine. For Ang Lee’s 1997 film, Bowie would do a re-recording of the song with Tin Machine guitarist Reeves Gabrels in a stripped-down acoustic presentation. There, the song is given a more direct feel than its blazing rock version as it adds to the melancholia of the film and the events that had happened which is played during the film’s final credits.

7. Guardians of the Galaxy-Moonage Daydream

With rumors that Bowie was supposed to be in the upcoming sequel to the 2014 blockbuster hit in a cameo, it’s sad that it will never happen as it probably would’ve been cool. Among the many awesome tunes in Starlord’s Awesome Mix Vol. 1 is a song from 1972’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. The song is played just as the Guardians are set to arrive in the mining planet where they would meet the Collector about this artifact Starlord had stolen. It is definitely the perfect song for that moment as it plays into the world that is the galaxy as it indicates that one cannot have a movie set in the galaxy and not use David Bowie.

8. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story-Starman

OK, this is sort of a cheat considering that Bowie doesn’t actually contribute a song into the soundtrack. In fact, Starman is presented in the form of a kooky cover by John C. Reilly as Dewey Cox. It is actually one of the finest covers ever as Reilly definitely does the song justice as it plays into the world that Cox is in during the 1970s where he is hosting his own variety show. It is also hilarious considering what Cox is doing as he would sort of turn it into a disco song.

9. Kinky Boots-The Prettiest Star

From one of 2005’s finest films definitely plays true to Bowie’s spirit as someone who was willing to embrace sexual identities and what it means to be one’s true self. The song is used where Chiwetel Ejifor’s Lola character reminisces hearing the song as he dances around in high heels like he did when he was a child until his father tells him to stop that. It is probably one of the most effective usage of the song yet the version that is presented is the original 1970 version that features Marc Bolan on lead guitar instead of the 1973 re-recording from Aladdin Sane with Mick Ronson playing the solo note-for-note with saxophones. Yet, the one with Bolan is the definitive version of that song.

10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower-”Heroes”

From the 1977 album of the same name comes one of Bowie’s best songs as it plays into a scene where Logan Lerman’s Charlie is coming from a party with Emma Watson’s Sam and Ezra Miller’s Patrick are about to enter this tunnel. Yet, the moment is where they hear this song that they have no idea what it was but it is very powerful as Sam would go behind the truck and just free herself with that song playing. The trio would eventually found out what the song is and who is it by as it is one of the powerful moments in film and shows how many generations Bowie has managed to touch for so many years.

11. The Runaways-Lady Grinning Soul

While the film itself isn’t great as it took too many liberties with the real story about the influential all-women rock band. There are moments in the film that are still interesting which gave Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning some excellent work. Especially in the latter as Cherie Currie where she plays a song from 1973’s Aladdin Sane for her high school talent show performance. It’s a moment where Fanning really got to display a moment that is just powerful despite being booed and heckled where she had a great response to her classmates. After all, anyone who boos Bowie is a jabroni.

12. Hanna-Kooks

While the scene is only very brief, it is probably one of the most effective moments in film where Saoirse Ronan’s titular character has just escaped and is on the run. She would encounter a couple of kids and a family where she would hide in their RV as she sees them singing along to a song that is actually appropriate. A song by Bowie from 1971’s Hunky Dory that he wrote for his son as it plays into the idea of family and Hanna’s encounter with this strange and kooky family as if she is the alien. It makes total sense since Bowie was considered an alien and he played an alien rock star.

13. Juno-All the Young Dudes

OK, this is another cheat as it’s a film that doesn’t feature a song by David Bowie but it is a song written by David Bowie for Mott the Hoople. The song which is considered a glam rock anthem and a big fuck you to 1960s idealism serves as a fitting moment where the titular character goes to meet Mark Loring where the two share a dance to the song. It’s a moment where Juno believes that she had found the ideal father for her baby while having a crush on this man because he listens to cool music and watches cool films but it’s also this sort of sad moment when Mark gives her some very startling news.

14. Cool World-Real Cool World

While the Ralph Bashki live action/animated film was an OK film, the song that Bowie contributed to its soundtrack which played in the final credits is a fitting one considering that it plays into that strange mix of off-the-wall animation with strange reality. Especially for a song that mixes rock, electronic music, jazz, and bits of hip-hop as the film itself has that strange mix of jazz, rock, and industrial music which adds to the weirdness of the film. It’s really one of Bowie’s more overlooked gems just as he was starting to return to make music that mattered in the 1990s.

15. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou-Queen Bitch

Wes Anderson’s 2004 prominently featured Bowie’s music through a few of the originals while much of Bowie’s songs were covered and translated into Portuguese by Seu Jorge for what would be an incredible album. In the film’s final moments and credits, Anderson closes the film with a great sequence to the tune of a classic cut from Hunky Dory as it would showcase some of the cast members. After that, the credits would continue with Seu Jorge’s cover of the song as it is one of the finest covers of the film.

© thevoid99 2016


Brittani Burnham said...

I love this post! So many great moments. The one from A Knight's Tale is my favorite.

Dell said...

Great list. I forgot just how many films used his music. The man will be sorely missed.

ruth said...

Oh these are great! His music are distinctive and iconic, and it will certainly live on. Love that one in A Knight's Tale and Inglourious Basterds. I think A Knight's Tale also featured a great song by Queen.

Courtney said...

Such a good post! I especially love the Frances Ha scene and Inglorious Basterds!!

thevoid99 said...

@Brittani-Whenever that film is on and that scene is coming, I stop whatever I'm doing and just watch it and sing along to that song.

@Wendell-I'm still in disbelief in the idea of a world without him. It doesn't feel right. If he's on Mars right now, I hope to go there.

@ruth-Yes, A Knight's Tale featured 2 songs by Queen. "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions" as the latter is sung with Robbie Williams who should be fronting that band instead of that ugly ass-clown Adam Lamebert.

@Courtney-Thank you. It wouldn't be a list of Bowie w/o those films.

Chris said...

Great post! Love those scenes in Frances Ha and Perks of Being a Wallflower, both so joyful. The opening to Lost Highway is one of my favorite movie intros ever.
I know you already have Starman on your list. An honorable mention is The Martian (2015) which I’m told also uses David Bowie’s Starman in a memorable way, I’ll be checking it out on dvd soon.

thevoid99 said...

@Chris-The reason I didn't use that scene in The Martian is because I haven't seen it. There's no point in putting something that I haven't seen but if I had, it might've been on the list.

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