There are many ways to approach Nicolas Roeg's 1976 cult classic starring David Bowie as a copper-haired space alien; perhaps the readiest is as a grandiose parable of rock-star degeneration (with loud echoes of Citizen Kane).
In one reel, Bowie's mysterious Mr. Newton goes from solitary nobody to technology tycoon. All he really wants is water for his arid home planet. He lives reclusively: "My life is not secret, but it's private," he tells his mystified lawyer (played by Buck Henry). But eventually the distractions of affluence drag him down: The ascetic Newton turns to gin, sex and the comfortably numbing pleasures of 20 TVs to watch at once.
But those are just the bare narrative bones of this iconic film from the director of Walkabout and Don't Look Now. This gorgeous new 140-minute director's cut (to be screened in a new 35-mm print) showcases Roeg's visionary widescreen style, stuffed with symbol, implication, crazy sets and memorably surreal interludes. Other pleasures include: the suitably enigmatic Bowie, in his first star turn; Rip Torn as a philandering scientist; Roeg's witty use of pop music; and the grandeur of Western landscapes. Fri., Sept. 9-Thu., Sept. 15. Regent Square