Brett Morgen is a brilliant documentarian as seen in The Kid Stays in the Picture, Jane, and Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck – the last flick mentioned being, what I believe, is one of the best movies ever made about a musician. His latest endeavour Moonage Daydream, a documentary about enigmatic artist David Bowie, is cut from the same cloth as Montage of Heck with the movie resembling a mixture of mediums but, this time, it’s billed as more of a “cinematic experience”. It appears that more focus has been applied to the audio/visual elements of its presentation, which also explains why Moonage Daydream is being presented in the IMAX format. Morgen’s doc (which has also been officially sanctioned by Bowie’s estate) certainly deserves an immersive treatment, though my interest with this “cinematic experience” couldn’t stop wavering.
Moonage Daydream offers lots of stimulation. It’s a film not only made for those who adore the work of David Bowie, but those who also enjoy taking “sensory-enhancing hallucinogens” and seeing art in “a new light”. While the movie lacks a direct narrative, I believe it fits the arbitrary and ambiguous nature of Bowie’s catalogue and stage persona. As someone who was wanting a more traditional approach to this material (and was previously disappointed with the sneaky biopic Stardust), I was frustrated that, yet again, I still was kept at a distance to gather information on Bowie. However, I don’t believe the movie was necessarily “trolling” viewers like me. Moonage Daydream is an ambitiously made movie that makes specific aesthetic choices to transcend tradition; to make an effort to match the same artistic wavelength David Bowie seemed to always be dialled in to.
Moonage Daydream is an overwhelming, lucid experiment that wants to find ways to alternatively educate and enlighten movie goers on the artist. And while it wasn’t always my cup of tea, I can respect its bold approach. As for someone who is still curious to learn more about David Bowie, I don’t know, maybe I just need to read a book.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie