Now complete: The Dissolve's 2014 Movies To See Checklist
20,000 Days on Earth
A semi-fictionalized documentary about a day in the life of Australian musician Nick Cave's persona.
Came in with no real relationship to Nick Cave or his music and loved this trip... It doesn't exactly enter F FOR FAKE territory, but it's just contrived and calibrated enough, with Cave openly musing about his fascination with narratives and instinctive need to embellish his own experiences, that it wouldn't shock me to learn that the "documentary's" only bit of truth – so far as these things go – is what I came in already knowing: Cave is a fringe rock star who spends a lot of time writing and recording songs. Maybe he doesn't live in Brighton, isn't married to a (stunning) woman named Suzie, doesn't have twin boys, doesn't see a therapist, and there's no team of…
"I am transforming, I am vibrating - I'm glowing - I'm flying! Look at me now!"
I used to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. It's much better now - I'm miserable all the year round these days - and one of the ways I used to get it under control was to take photos and videos of grey, rainy skies. If I could take the weather that was troubling me and turn it into a matter of exposure lengths and f-stops, I could control it.
One of the many, many, many revelations of Jane Pollard and Iain Forsyth's new film about Nick Cave is that he used to do the same thing. Although Cave never struck me as the sort…
Nick Cave plays Nick Cave in a 'documentary' that at times seems to encompass larger cinematic proportions than you would typically associate with the genre. The film is presented as his 20,000 day alive since birth, 24 hours in the life of an artist, a husband, a Dad, a dreamer, a realist and a middle-age man living in Brighton. To call this a documentary is not really true in the strictest sense, regularly drifting into the fictional realm so often inhabited by its subjects songs.
Certainly if you are turned on by the idea of delving into an artists creative process, being taken into the confusing, restless mind that attempts to make sense of their life and world around them…
Memories don’t matter so much to me for I often tend to recall the bad ones: those in which I did something embarrassing or which are dominated by disappointment. Not that I am unhappy about the things I do, it’s just that the good ones fade much faster. Watching a guy recall his memories therefore doesn’t appeal to me as a concept for a ‘documentary’, especially since I’m not a Nick Cave fan per se, although this film fortunately centred on his latest album - Push the Sky Away - that I’ve acquainted more than the rest of his back catalogue. There way too much semi-philosophical mumbling that may work for his spoken-words style of song writing, but which, as…
When I talk about editing as a creative art form, I'm thinking of things like showing Nick Cave kicking the air, then cutting in mid-movement to his younger self completing the same move. Poetry, commentary and emotion in one cut.
This is still brilliant.
Imagine if a really talented writer would get the opportunity to make his/or hers biography in movie format, with the help from two really talented people. Imagine it being poetic without feeling overly pretentious. Imagine it being totally staged but not without loosing the essence of what is being told. This is 20,000 Days on Earth
Personally I'm not a huge fan of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. I have a huge respect for Nick Cave as a songwriter though, and there's some songs I really really like. But the thing is that I have a couple of close friends that must be one of Cave's biggest fans. They took me to a Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds…
For Nick Cave fans this is golden.
For Nick Cave fans this is golden
This is a fascinating piece of art. It's engaging in parts and moving in others. It's weird and strange and a lot like a Nick Cave album. I don't like him as a person and find some of his behaviour reprehensible but damn the man is a hell of an artist and this captures a little bit of what that means.
Less a documentary in any actual sense than a chamber drama which uses the concept of celebrity as a wedge to examine memory and experience as the raw materials of life. Cave is the lure here, and his public history allows for interesting subject matter, famous guests who can elucidate his past and a wealth of footage to draw from. It also gives him an excuse for the hedged pomposity he engages in (he’s a rock star after all) but once you dig past the posturing there’s an interesting idea here about life and performance, as a means of continued engagement with the past, with the tokens of that vanished time (Elvis snapshots, old stories, Nina Simone’s chewing gum) functioning as symbolic trinkets of the lived experience Cave seems intent on preserving, structuring his music as a means for spinning those memories into something capable of being consumed and remembered by others.
I enjoyed this more than I thought I would, mostly through the filmmakers avoiding all the typical music biodoc tropes, and also from Cave being a fairly interesting person. (The former allows the latter to shine through better than the typical anecdotes-from-former-bandmates Behind the Music eyewash.) That said, not having kept up with his actual music, I was appalled at how feeble and indulgent it is now.
Is this fact? Is this fiction? Is it even a documentary? I'm not really sure, but none of that fucking matters when you're so caught up in whatever or whoever Nick Cave is. 20,000 DAYS ON EARTH is a surreal, strange dip into the creative process and inner machinations of Mr. Cave. I can't say I know all that much about him, but it didn't really matter, to be honest. I'm sure there's some stuff in here that makes more sense to his die-hard followers, but this was accessible enough for me to extract something meaningful from it.
It's hard to even describe this, or even articulate what its point or message is, but I enjoyed the ninety minute dip…
Beautiful - sonically and visually. 20,000 Days on Earth had some of the best cinematography I've ever had the pleasure of viewing.
Nick Cave: "My biggest fear is losing memory because memory is what we are. Your very soul and your very reason to be alive is tied up in memory."
Essentially Nick Cave having a ninety minute wank.
But if anybody deserves to have a movie made about themselves masturbating into the camera, It's Nick Cave.
Interesting look at Nick Cave's creative process. Starts off very strong, but fizzles out a bit towards the end. Cave proves to be particularly watchable, and I wish he would act more, but he is busy writing/performing/being God.
- Stranger by the Lake
- The Lego Movie
- The Grand Budapest Hotel
- The One I Love
- The Babadook
- Under the Skin
Taken from this Slashfilm article and Letterboxd-erized here, for my convenience (and yours).
Edit: I re-ordered them so the films…
- Apocalypse Now
- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of…
- There Will Be Blood
- The Big Lebowski
As of 28th February 2015.