20,000 Days on Earth

20,000 Days on Earth ★★★★★

I have to admit right away that I am not at all impartial when it comes to Nick Cave. The guy can pretty much do no wrong in my eyes. What I would say is that even if you aren't a Nick Cave fan, either of his music, novels, screenplays or film scores; what this documentary does is give a real insight into the creative process.

Offering a fictionalised day-in-the-life (his 20,000th) from rising in the morning to performing a show with The Bad Seeds, we follow Cave he goes about his business. He visits his psychiatrist, the home of his longtime collaborator Warren Ellis, reminisces over old photos and paraphernalia at his archives, records in the studio, and talks to the 'ghosts' of collaborators past, Kylie Minogue and Einsturzende Neubaten and ex Bad Seeds guitarist Blixa Bargeld.

Cave provides a witty and interesting voiceover. In interviews he is occasionally defensive and reticent, but on his own terms he is forthright about his past and on his methods of working. It could comes across as self-aggrandising and solipsistic if you were inclined to be critical (but what performer isn't to a certain extent?), but what he has to say is genuinely interesting. Besides, if the man who wrote 'The Mercy Seat', 'From Her to Eternity', 'The Ship Song', 'Into My Arms', And the Ass Saw the Angel, and The Proposition decides to give an insight into how he went about it, then I'm going to listen.

The film is also a masterclass of editing. Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard have created something beautiful; from a frenetic montage over a recorded recollection from Cave of how he met his wife Suzie; to a live performance of 'Jubilee Street' at Sydney Opera House intercut immaculately with performance footage from his thirty-odd years as a musician.

Having seen him in concert twice last year I can attest to what an electrifying prospect The Bad Seeds are live, and 20,000 Days on Earth gets this across admirably. Undoubtedly a film I will return to again and again, this is not just a portrait of an artist I really admire (hell, as close to a hero as I have), but an imaginative and exhilarating collage about one man's relationship with his nebulous muse.

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