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20,000 Days on Earth

20,000 Days on Earth
Directed by: Iain Forsyth, Jane Pollard
Released on: January 20th, 2014 | Sundance Film Festival 2014
Grade: 4 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

If you enjoy the music of Nick Cave, co-directors Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard’s 20,000 Days on Earth is for you. If you are a serious fan of the iconic musician’s music, writing, etc., 20,000 Days on Earth will be musical mana from the cosmos for you.

Commencing with a multifaceted, complex, impossible-to-decode-during-a-single-view opening montage of agents signifying influences, aspects, artists, phenomena, and events impacting the first 19,999 days of Cave’s life, this Sundance Film Festival World Documentary selection follows Cave during his 20,000th day on Earth. During this special day, the camera follows Cave as he visits a psychologist; drives around in his Jaguar with, separately, actor Ray Winstone, musician Blixa Bargeld and singer Kylie Minogue; rehearses songs in the studio; waxes poetic about the artistic process, his childhood, and his relationship with his fans, his family, past drug addiction, great literature (primarily Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita) and with the ephemeral. He even has time to sit and eat pizza and watch the 1983 version of Scarface with his two sons.

Complimenting Cave’s 24-hour sojourn, Forsyth and Pollard — who have both collaborated with Cave in the past — include clips from concerts, family albums, and other sources over the past 19,999 days of Cave’s life. Fortunately, these images do not dominate the documentary, but are merely there to support the titular day.

As a result, the documentarians, as well as co-writer Cave, have fashioned a well-crafted biopic of Cave as both man, artist and myth; and as a person and artist who is perfectly aware and comfortable maintaining that myth. Cave may sing about the god and devil in his art, but he admits he is a non-believer. Known for his stylish fashion, Cave and his sons look better groomed for a film premiere than lounging around on the couch eating pizza watching a movie.

Hardly critical of Cave (and why should it be?), this nonfiction film of an artist who is hardly adaptable for mass consumption will probably not see an audience beyond his fans, but those who already appreciate Cave are in for a real treat.

Bringing the man and myth beyond the 24 seconds per frame, Cave also performed a short concert in Park City, Utah, to promote the nonfiction film.

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