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Compelling insight into the creative process
8/10 I had an interesting opportunity to attend the L.A. premier of the new film "20,000 Days on Earth", a sort of stylish documentary film about Bad Seeds front man, Nick Cave. We were shown the film, then Nick Cave came out and did a Q&A mixed with a solo performance, that yielded some interesting insight into the film itself. The primary take away from the Q&A is that this film isn't precisely a documentary, and if it were a typical "rock 'n roll" documentary, Cave would not have agreed to do it.2 years ago
Instead, the film is an intimate view into Nick Cave's creative process, done in a way as to not de-mystify the Nick Cave persona. There are a few interesting scenes where it shows Cave driving with old collaborators in the car with him, and they're candidly discussing various topics. Notably, he was visited by Kylie Minogue and his former Bad Seeds guitarist, Blixa Bargeld from Einsturzende Neubauten. This film also has one of the best title sequences ever, showing a montage of Cave's life alongside the number of days passing in his life from 1 to 20,000.
The film apparently was built around a studio recording the director did of The Bad Seeds recording "Higgs Boson Blues" from the latest album "Push the Sky Away". It was very well filmed and showed incredible insight into how Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds work as a band and put together their songs. Hearing this cut before it went through the mixing / mastering process, and watching Cave sort of play conductor to his orchestra is quite compelling, and honestly I could probably watch an entire film of them recording the entire album. The film also shows a lot of footage of the band jamming and feeling out new songs, showing Warren Ellis fiddling with electronic gear and effects, and Nick Cave working to get his lyrics a musical canvas.
"20,000 Days on Earth" is absolutely worth watching if you're interested in getting a glimpse into the creative process of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. It certainly does not go too deep into Nick Cave's personal life, as it seems he is very protective of his creative brand and persona, but that works as an asset to this film which is focused on the creative process. Nothing is demystified, but we are treated with an interesting narrative.
Learn about the artistic process and a gifted writer/rocker.
5/10 ". . . The never-ending drip feed of eroticism" Nick Cave2 years ago
I'm not sure either what that quote means, but what you may get is a sense of writer/musician Nick Cave's poetic inclinations and the sensuality of his life, encapsulated in a fictional day, his 20,000 day on earth to be specific. Starring him, of course, because he is the center of his universe, and he believes, maybe a deity or an angel. He once said about his creations: "I can't explain that dividing line between nothing and something that happens within a song, where you have absolutely nothing, and then suddenly you have something. It's like the origin of the universe."
This smooth fictional biography, partially narrated by Cave, first takes us in his fine car, which he always drives, to visit his therapist (scene so relaxed and interesting I wish we could have heard the results). Then lunching with band mate Warren Ellis, where the talk is mostly music, and over to an archive brimming with his memorabilia.
Interspersed are performances with The Bad Seeds, from his almost Leonard Cohen-like poetic music to his Jagger-like rocking in Sydney (he's an Aussie), where the capacity crowd is fully under his spell. As he speaks through the music about its transforming power, he also shows us his struggle to bring poems and lyrics together. He once said about author vs. musician: "Musicians are at the bottom of the creative pyramid and authors are at the top, and many people think it's unacceptable for someone to attempt to jump from the bottom to the top of the pyramid."
Along the way we see him and his sons eat pizza and watch Scarface. Although he seems to have little time for his family, when he does, it's relaxed just the way he presents himself to us in a film that gives much more insight into an artist's creative process than we usually get with bios.
"My music has to do with beauty, and it's intended to, if not lift the spirits, then be a kind of a balm to the spirits." Nick Cave
Any creative person needs to watch this film
10/10 Any creative person needs to see this. Musician, writer, anything, if this film doesn't inspire you, then it will surely influence. Personally, Cave's very frank and fascinating philosophies on the creative process were stirring, moving even, especially when one of these ideas is laid out in the narration and followed by a very up close and personal live performance. Or, a ten minute, uninterrupted sequence of the band jamming out a song. It was in that latter scene you can see the conducting skills Cave possesses, as while playing the piano he is leading the band into the song's dips and crescendos. This look into the journey an idea goes on until it becomes a story, or a song in this instance, is almost intimate and extremely honest, while still managing not to spill too many beans. The unconventional nature of the film helps this aspect.2 years ago
I really do think that if you write or create in any way, watch this film as soon as you can. I'm having to stop myself from going to see it again three days after i saw it. Note: this is not a documentary, but it isn't a movie either, as you'd normally think of it anyways. This film is most certainly unique, and one of the most thought provoking pieces of art that I ever ever seen, read or heard. Even his conversation with pop-singer Kylie Minogue (sp?) was interesting, as they candidly discuss different issues related to performing on a stage.
Not much action physically, but the way Cave is so spiritual about how he see and treats the creative process makes every second riveting. I didn't want it to end. For me, this was inspiring on a level that I have never felt before.
He came along this road
7/10 We open with Nick Cave in bed. Soon he's half-naked before the mirror. But this semi-staged documentary is no warts-and-all expose. The lighting is kind to Cave's boyish body, and his voice-over is as precisely prepared as it is passionate and poetic. This rehearsed vulnerability sets the tone for how directors Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard will portray their elusive subject.2 years ago
Their approach provides Cave with an appropriate level of control. Control is essential to the process of self-mythologising. Cave is aware that myth is what gives popular artists their enduring legacy. It's not dishonesty. Myth contains truth: the truth of how art (and the artist) makes us feel, the senses it triggers and the images it conjures. And what images Cave has conjured over the decades; from surreal punk, through broken Americana, through dark ballads and blaring gospel rock and a parade of delicious dirges.
The focus on the recording of Push the Sky Away means we hear very little of The Bad Seeds' earlier work. We glimpse The Birthday Party (and a very amusing vignette it is). But Cave and his myriad members have gone through various phases, and we get no sense of these because we hear nothing of them. Do not go into this film expecting a retrospective. Do not expect chronology, or even much revelation. Do not expect to bring a virginal friend and open their eyes to the strange, bleak, sentimental narratives of Brighton's finest immigrant. And yet it is a film for virtually everyone; for those harbouring an idea and a glimmer of interest in the creative method.
You'll know from the trailer that Ray Winstone and Kylie Minogue drop by for a ride in Cave's car. These scenes are more than just elaborate name-drops. They're framed as natural exchanges perhaps imagined or drawn from memory. Most moving is the conversation with ex-Bad Seed Blixa Bargeld, which has the air of some latent regret being cauterised.
Toward the beginning of the film there are a number of intense dialogues between Cave and the psychoanalyst Darian Leader. These scenes are deeply intimate and engaging, and it's a pity they fall away. It's indicative of the broader sense that 20,000 Days is truncated. Surely there's more footage. There is, surely, a three-hour edit of this movie, just as compelling and original and humorous. Yes, this is a double-edged criticism.
Elegantly shot and exquisitely edited, there's warmth in every frame of this movie, whether we're in the archives, scouring scuzzy photographs from Cave's youth, or in the pleasingly chaotic space surrounding the typewriter of dreams. Forsyth and Pollard carefully walk the line between hagiography and dehumanisation: Cave comes off as neither a fallen angel nor a mad recluse. But he does emerge an enigma. And that's okay, because that's how the man himself reckons we like our rock stars: slightly unreal, swaggering and contradictory, and bigger than God. I'm inclined to agree.
Masterfully written, sequenced and shot. Gripping and powerful
8/10 The movie had a raw feel about it, an honest look at the creative process from the perspective of Nick Cave. It opened up a line of thoughts (as an aspiring musician) that transformed, inspired, questioned and transcended my way of writing. The pace of the movie was far from slow, (though obviously nor was it fast paced), it almost reflected Cave's musical writing style, a kind of creeping epic crescendo. The movie didn't fail to completely grip my friend, who I'd rate highly in terms of his cinematic knowledge (working in the industry), despite the fact that he hasn't really been exposed to much of Cave's work.2 years ago
The cinematography was beautiful, with extremely unique transitions that somehow flowed scene to scene. The soundtrack was obviously excellent, with some stirring performances, I'm fairly certain there were a few slightly teary eyes in the cinema. Nick Cave was simultaneously eccentric, enigmatic yet very down to earth and heartfelt. I did feel his heartbeat.