MOONAGE DAYDREAM – A Review by Cynthia Flores
The title of this film is only seen at the very end of it before the credits roll. The actual beginning of the film is a quote by the musician and a mixture of floating in space followed by images of iconic and mundane bits and pieces of everyday life wheezing by on the screen and splattered all over you. Then in giant letters, one single word appears over all this mess BOWIE.
David Bowie has been moving culture for over 50 years and is considered one of the greatest artists of our time. This film illuminates his life and genius. He is one of the most prolific and influential artists of our time. Moonage Daydream is also the first film to be supported by the David Bowie Estate, which granted the director Brett Morgen unprecedented access to their collection. As a result, we see performances and art that Bowie created that no one has ever seen.
What I liked most was that there was no disembodied voice-over by a famous actor telling us what was happening. Instead, we get to figure it out for ourselves. Anchored only by David Bowie’s own music and words. The film’s narrative is told through kaleidoscopic imagery, personal archived footage, and unseen performances, including live concert reels. Moonage Daydream illuminates his life and genius.
The reason to go out and see this documentary in IMAX is the sound mix. For the film, the sound team, featuring Bowie’s long-time collaborator, friend, and music producer Tony Visconti and Academy Award-winning sound mixer Paul Massey, make for the perfect team to handle Bowie’s soundscapes. In the movie, you feel like you are on a psychedelic trip, and then at other times, you are in the front row of one of his concerts. This team remixed and translated Bowie’s original stems (those are files in an open multi-track audio format. Stems enhance creative possibilities for musicians, producers, and live performers. A Stem file contains a track split into four musical elements: A drum stem, a bassline stem, a melody stem, and a vocal stem, for example). The team remixed the stems for a theatrical environment that will be presented in 12.0, 5.0, Atmos, and 7.1/5.1. This film’s soundscape puts you in the action of a supercharged concert you were not born yet to see. Then places you as a fellow traveler with Bowie as he wanders the world incognito, looking for inspiration. You have to experience this in this format to get the full effect of the film.
Writer/director Brett Morgen is known for making intimate and unique documentary films about iconic people. Such as The Kid Stays in the Picture, Cobain: Montage of Heck, and Jane about Jane Goodall. I think this latest film is his best and will give him a shot at an Oscar nod this season. His film Moonage Daydream affords the audience the gift of learning more about their rock star idol. His processes and growth in a way that leaves them feeling closer than ever to their Bowie.
I give Moonage Daydream 4.5-stars. It’s a trippy and beautiful homage to the one and only David Bowie. In this film, Bowie provides us with his roadmap of how to survive the 21st century.
Directed by: Brett Morgen
Written by: Brett Morgen
Selig Rating: 4.5 Stars
Running Time: 140min
Release: Only in IMAX theaters Sept 16th
Starring: David Bowie
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
4 Stars – Good movie
3 Stars – OK movie
2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.