David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth at the Jean Cocteau Cinema

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPO - — Michael Abatemarco

As a trib­ute to David Bowie, who died of liver can­cer in New York on Jan. 10 at age six­ty­nine, the Jean Cocteau Cinema presents The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), which opens on Fri­day, Jan. 15. Ni­co­las Roeg’s sci-fi clas­sic, based on the 1963 novel by Wal­ter Te­vis, stars Bowie as Thomas Jerome New­ton, an in­ter­stel­lar trav­eler who is stuck on Earth and try­ing to get back to his fam­ily. The film — which also stars Candy Clark, Buck Henry, and Rip Torn — is a sur­real odyssey that tells a very hu­man story. New­ton’s al­le­gor­i­cal fall is tragic, leav­ing view­ers to ques­tion his very na­ture. Bowie was en­am­ored of the char­ac­ter enough to in­clude New­ton on the cov­ers for his 1976 al­bum Sta­tion to Sta­tion and on 1977’s Low. He re­vis­ited New­ton for the 2015 off-Broad­way mu­si­cal Lazarus, a se­quel to The Man Who Fell to Earth that Bowie co-wrote with Enda Walsh. Lazarus is also the name of one of the tracks on Black­star, Bowie’s last stu­dio al­bum, which was re­leased on his birth­day this year (Jan. 8).

The Man Who Fell to Earth is a fit­ting pick with which to honor the rock star’s long movie ca­reer. Bowie played mem­o­rable roles in Basquiat, Merry Christ­mas Mr. Lawrence, The Pres­tige, Labyrinth, and other films, but New­ton, an alien who suc­cumbs to hu­man vice, is per­haps his most iconic. New Mex­ico is among the film’s set­tings (Fen­ton Lake is where New­ton crash-lands at the film’s start) and much of the movie was shot at lo­ca­tions in Je­mez Springs, Madrid, Be­len, Arte­sia, Alam­ogordo, and Roswell, among other places. The cinema is show­ing a brand new, high qual­ity DCP dig­i­tal print of the film. Ap­pro­r­i­ately enough, it opens on the same day as The Amaz­ing Nina Si­mone, Jeff Lieber­man’s new doc­u­men­tary on the jazz great who was a friend and in­flu­ence on Bowie. All ticket sales for the 6:30 p.m. show­ing of The Man Who Fell to Earth on Sun­day, Jan. 17, go to sup­port the Amer­i­can Can­cer So­ci­ety. A free Bowie sin­ga­long, karaoke, and live mu­sic fol­low at 9 p.m.

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