Buried Credits, a column that deep dives into the IMDB pages of favorite actors, directors, and writers to find their lost, forgotten, or unknown film and TV credits, continues this week with works featuring David Bowie.
Mr. Rice’s Secret (2000)
Directed by Nicholas Kendall
Written by J. H. Wyman
I didn’t preorder Blackstar. That had been my plan all along but for some reason I’d never gotten around to it. Released on a Friday (Bowie’s birthday), that coming Tuesday Mr. Robot was coming out on DVD, so I figured I’d pick up the album when I went to Target.
Waking up to the trending topic “David Bowie” Monday morning, it was like the rug had been pulled out from under me. I was supposed to be working on my thesis. That didn’t happen. My mind went to a lot of stupid, consumer places. Like the new Bowie shirt I had gotten for Christmas. Would people think I had bought it because of his death? I picked up the last copy of Blackstar that Tuesday, having been certain it would be sold out, like it was on Amazon. I ordered every Bowie themed magazine I could find.
Buying things. That was my solution, while the real question of when to listen to Blackstar kept running around in my head. When do you listen to the last album of the man who had been your hero, an album he had released with the knowledge it would be his last? The genius and generosity of David Bowie, that he created this CD.
Mr. Rice’s Secret came out in 2000, and I hope death was the farthest thing from Bowie’s mind that year, but watching this movie sprung up a lot of the same feelings Blackstar did. It’s essentially Bowie, in the titular role of Mr. Rice, helping a young boy with cancer who’s afraid he’s going to die. He has to do the comforting in flashback, because Mr. Rice’s funeral is one of the first scenes, but this is Bowie and he prepared for that, setting Owen (Bill Switzer) up with a decoder ring and clues to follow in his absence.
With a title sequence reminiscent of Labyrinth‘s, except giant animated ring instead of snowy owl, Mr. Rice’s Secret is pretty heavy. While Mr. Rice’s treasure hunt seems like an A story it’s often treated like the B story, and speeches are what run for dialogue throughout. Yet there’s nothing hokey about these speeches to Bowie. Crisp, calm voice in full sooth mood, he takes Owen’s fears seriously. If you’ve got Bowie in your corner, everything is going to be ok.
Verdict: Bowie is the best.
In a galaxy far, far away, Lucas Wagner prepares a special, three week series of Star Wars Buried Credits. Stay Tuned.