Grok My Enthusiasm (17)
May 4, 2016
One in a weekly series of enthusiastic posts contributed by HILOBROW friends and regulars.
Whenever I think about David Bowie, I hear his voice saying, “Tomorrow’s watch. Today.”
I was a teenager when I first saw Absolute Beginners, the 1986 musical about teens and their role in changing London in 1958. Directed by Julien Temple and based on the book of the same title by Colin MacInnes, the film was a flop that was blamed by many for the demise of the British film studio, Goldcrest. But whatever shortcomings you may find in Absolute Beginners, it also has so much to offer.
From the striking choreography, sets, and costumes, to its willingness to address the 1958 Notting Hill race riots, to musical performances by Sade (“Killer Blow”), Ray Davies (“Quiet Life”), Paul Weller (“Have You Ever Had It Blue?”), Jerry Dammers (“Riot City”), Gil Evans (“Va Va Voom”), Slim Gaillard (“Selling Out”), Patsy Kensit (“Having It All”), Smiley Culture (“So What?”), and of course, David Bowie, Absolute Beginners is a film worth revisiting.
Initially, Temple had approached Bowie to contribute the title song — but Bowie asked if he could also play a role. Temple cast him as the villainous Vendice Partners, the quintessential adman. Speaking only in ad-speak and sales-pitch platitudes, Partners pulls our young hero, Colin Davis (Eddie O’Connell), who is trying to win back the affections of his lost love, Suzette (Patsy Kensit), into a world of corruption and commercialism.
Bowie recorded three songs for Absolute Beginners at Abbey Road Studios, including the theme. Unlike the film, the title song was widely acclaimed. Bowie’s romantic sensibilities are on full display:
As long as we’re together
The rest can go to hell
I absolutely love you
But we’re absolute beginners
With eyes completely open
But nervous all the same
It’s when we first see Partners and Davis together at a party that Partners flashes his timepiece, proclaiming, “Tomorrow’s watch. Today.” Bowie was ahead of his time — as ever.
GROK MY ENTHUSIASM: Rob Wringham on THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF LUNCH | Gordon Dahlquist on WEEKEND | Joe Alterio on MILLION YEAR PICNIC | Adrienne Crew on LA BARONNE EMILE D’ERLANGER | Josh Glenn on THE SURVIVAL SAMPLER | Alix Lambert on THE SKIES BELONG TO US | Adam McGovern on PENELOPE and CHAVEZ RAVINE | Rob Wringham on THE LYKE WAKE WALK | Mark Kingwell on NORTH STAR SNEAKERS & GWG JEANS | Gordon Dahlquist on FELLINI SATYRICON | Erik Davis on AH! | Devin McKinney on WHISPERING AFRAID | Mimi Lipson on 1973 SEARS ROEBUCK CATALOG | Jessamyn West on MOSS | Josh Glenn on THE SCOUT HOW BOOK | Brian Berger on SLACKER | Alix Lambert on ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS | Chelsey Johnson on MONOTREMES | Devin McKinney on THE BUTCHER COVER | Flourish Klink on ONE DIRECTION | Gordon Dahlquist on FULL METAL JACKET | Allegra Huston on CLOTHESLINE | Jenny Davidson on POWERLIFTING | Evan Narcisse on REZ | Deborah Wassertzug on VEGETARIAN MEATBALLS | Chris Spurgeon on WALLACE AND GROMIT | Mandy Keifetz on BENEFICIAL MICROBES | Annie Nocenti on MARKS ON WALLS | Molly Sauter on THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF | William Nericcio on LAND OF THE LOST | Dan Fox on “VOICE OF GOD” RADIO DJS | Brandi Brown on WIKIPEDIA TALK | Claire Lehmann on THE APPARATUS REVEAL | Alice Boone on COSTUME JEWELRY | Colin Dickey on WIDESPREAD PANIC | Anshuman Iddamsetty on THE FULL BODY PROJECT | John Hilgart on MAKING GRATEFUL DEAD ALBUMS | Rob Wringham on STEVEN UNIVERSE | John Overholt on DECKLE EDGES | James Hannaham on HABIT PATTERNS | Jessamyn West on THE PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEM | Adam McGovern on THE SPACE GIANTS | Brian Berger on MEDIUM COOL | Chris Spurgeon on THE DUNNING-KRUGER EFFECT | Joe Alterio on TABLETOP WARGAMING | Mimi Lipson on TRASH PICKING | Jason Grote on CZECH CINEMA | Roxane Gay on AUTOMATED CAR WASH | Dan Fox on JULIA DAVIS | Amy Thielen on BINGO | Steph Burt on FEIJOA.
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