Bowie’s music video (or short film as it’s being described) for his new single Where Are We Now? might take a few plays to absorb for the less broad minded individuals out there. Indeed, take Bowie out of the equation for a moment, and you may assume you’ve stumbled on an art house film uploaded to YouTube by a stoned student.
The studio set, with the bizarre props, the retrospective shots of Berlin making reference to Bowie’s work there in the 70’s, all compliment the song and the story, but the real magic in this work exists in atmosphere and understatement. Sensitively guided by director, Tony Oursler, it’s rough around the edges, mournful and gritty, and somehow heightens the curiosity on each play.
Bowie’s presence and gravitas no doubt add to the intrigue, not to mention the bonkers nature of the visuals - a two headed puppet in an art studio with Bowie’s and the director’s Björk look-alike wife’s face superimposed upon it - has to be nuts by any measure. And yet, the delivery is beautiful, unpretentious. Critics of Bowie may baulk at this, but one has to remember that a man in his position could have imposed the highest production values on the film - lighting, make up, expensive suits, choreographed dancing girls, might all have been thrown into the standard music video mix. Bowie, however, is prepared to put vanity aside here and stand against a bare wall in unflattering light wearing a T-shirt; this grasp of the original - the offbeat - is perhaps the genius behind it all.
Review by @jsmithwriter