A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
There sits a man at a typewriter. He is tall and sleek in his seated stature, sharply dressed and poised, ready to write and create. With his slicked, jet black hair and fierce, menacing brows facing me, it clicks; “That’s Nick Cave!”, I say to myself, seeing a promotional image for “20,000 Days on Earth” for the very first time.
I click the link immediately, wondering if Cave had transitioned into acting, and after seeing the intriguing and rather impressive trailer unravel, I was unsure at the end of it whether this was intact a documentary or a fictitious narrative.
After seeing the picture in full, I’m still not sure what was genuine and what was staged as a way of feeding Cave’s ego, poetically blanketing the fact that the picture possesses little substance, far less than the trailer alluded to at least…
For those who have seen the trailer, or the film for that matter, the introduction was attempted to be written in the narrative style exhibited every five minutes within “20,000 Days on Earth” through the voice of protagonist and ageing rocker Nick Cave. “20,000 Days on Earth” has the appearance and feel of a documentary overall, but scattered within the picture are references to a characterised, artificial portrayal of seemingly real life people, places and moments in time.
Watching a featurette on the picture, Cave states that he wanted to “do it differently” when asked about the creative process and overall idea. It is a picture with a documentary facade, as well as a documentary foundation, but the features within this documentary structure are slightly different to what we’d expect.
So, in answer to my question upon watching the strange and confusing trailer for the picture, yes, in a way, Cave has turned to acting for “20,000 Days on Earth”, playing the hardest character of them all, himself.
Exploring his 20,000th day on Planet Earth, the documentary/drama follows Nick Cave as he has in depth conversations with and about friends, family, fellow musicians and professional associates alike. They reflect on certain periods in time, sometimes focusing on the earliest of childhood memories and deeply emotional periods in Cave’s upbringing.
Memory is a big part of the picture, in fact the underlying theme of “20,000 Days on Earth” is reflection, memory and the past.
Cave narrates the songwriting process in a poetic, slightly chichi, present tense, but apart from the ostentatiousness, most of the dialogue is past tense, consisting of lines beginning with “I remember when” or “Remember the time…”.
There are a few scenes that see Cave in the recording studio with his band, singing various tunes. These are good for the progression of the piece as well as a deeper exploration of Cave as a musician, however they tend to become slightly tedious as they show each song from start to finish.
Segments here and there would have been a better way of keeping attention and interest in the picture.
Ironically, the previous criticism falls under the category of the film’s best element; editing. “20,000 Days on Earth” is edited and shot beautifully. It’s structure is fantastic and some of the shots are really cleverly crafted, making for some excellent visuals to accompany the narration.
For Nick Cave fans, this should satisfy, for creative people, this may satisfy, but for those who don’t take kindly to stylistic pieces, overbearing language and a slight sense of self-congratulation, it most definitely will dissatisfy.
Personally, I can appreciate it for what it is, but from the interest and excitement generated from the promotional material, I was expecting more.