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  • rooee14 November 2014
    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 exposé. 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.

    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.
  • 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.

    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.
  • 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.

    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.
  • Let me preface by saying that I am a Nick Cave fan. I see a lot of live music and a Grinderman concert I saw a few years ago is by far the best show I have ever seen in my life. Cave is a force, he has people around him who fit and compliment his energy.

    I understand the poor reviews. I get it. Especially when you watch the special features clip about Nick Cave at one point wanting to erect a bronze statue of himself on a horse in his home town in Australia, a town that he says doesn't really mean much to him now. Even the "archivist" asked if Cave was joking. Cave said he was/is serious.

    It doesn't matter if he was/is serious.

    My take-away from this film, beautifully constructed and filmed (and yes, there's a lot of self-serving and navel-gazing, some eye-rolling monologue) is this: keep making and keep doing to create a life with any meaning, no matter what it is you make/do. None of this, nothing anyone writes or sings or creates will really matter decades or (if lucky/effective/memorable) centuries from now.

    I tend to be really embarrassed for people who think too much of themselves or who lay it all out for everyone to see (I can't even watch an episode of American Idol, I get so uncomfortable). But this film helped me put it all in perspective. The days are counting on for all of us. So go on, get it done, get your bronze butt up on that horse and ride.
  • I really like Nick Cave. He has cameos in two of my all-time favourite films, The Assassination of Jesse James and Wings of Desire. His score for the former is my all-time favourite too, a collaboration with Warren Ellis of whom he's seen hanging out together here. This documentary, 20,000 Days On Earth, is perhaps coming a little too late or early to paint the most fascinating portrait of the rock artist, though it would have been a less catchy title. His last album is good, not great, perhaps played a little too safe. Nevertheless, his creative process is still interesting to watch as we're allowed access into the recording studio. But this isn't a straightforward documentary. It has bits of verite, fiction and interviews.

    It's a shame the fiction isn't as well handled and it comes off as contrived and stilted, including when the mystical celebrity cameos keep Cave company in car journeys. It's the way the film is shot too which uses the type of photography that's fit for HD TV rather than cinema though it has its moments. However, it makes up for all that for being very insightful. The interviews are no holds barred with penetratingly honest questions. Cave explains that his biggest fear is losing his memory, and I wish the film took that as its primary thesis, looking into Cave's memory instead of an irreverent day in the life. It does have its trips into nostalgia and excels in those moments. 20,000 Days On Earth is still a very good doc thanks to its subject matter, but it needed more focus and guidance.

    7/10
  • ". . . The never-ending drip feed of eroticism" Nick Cave

    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
  • Warning: Spoilers
    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.

    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 Einstürzende 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.
  • Nick Cave is a very special musician. In fact musician may be the wrong descriptor.

    He's a very special writer that specialises in music. He has Warren Ellis and his many collaborators to dial up the music side of the equation.

    in this documentary, that looks like a movie, that, yes, he co-wrote, you find yourself immersed in the mind of a genius for an hour and a half as he discusses his life, his loves, his inspirations and his deep internal psychology in something approaching forensic detail.

    He is a very beautiful man.

    He talks painfully honestly at times about everything that is true to him. His 'muse' - his wife Susie who lies, back turned to camera in bed with him as the film opens.

    We see half glimpses, stolen moments, of her off and on through the film but little more. We see a photo of her projected on the wall of his archivist's office.

    She is as beautiful as he is.

    Later we see Cave guzzle pizza with their twin sons, arm around the shoulders of one of them, devoid of comment/emotion, almost voyeuristically. It also spells L.O.V.E.

    We see him kiss Warren Ellis full square on the lips as he visits his musical 'muse' on the occasion of a casual lunch of eels in black pasta. More love.

    Cave carries an aura of love around with him. Yet he's often labelled with hate (partly because of the baggage of The Birthday Party have burdened him with. Grinderman, in this respect cannot help.)

    We see him in the recording studio.

    Gold dust. (Watching drummer Thomas Wydler as he twitches and mouths the rhythms is mesmeric.)

    We see him crafting lyrics.

    Gold dust. (His notebooks are works of art in their own right.)

    We see him performing live.

    Now, this is the thing. Anyone who has been to a Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds gig knows that no band on earth put in the same level of emotional commitment to their music; (perhaps with the exception of his faux-misogyny project Grinderman) Ellis all crazy violin fury, Cave all emotional connection.

    It's this latter point that made the movie for me. He talks about how he ensnares individual audience members and then demonstrates it with a live performance of Higgs Boson Blues that reduced his female 'victim' to tears.

    Me too. It was all too much. All too emotionally engrossing.

    And then there's the craft...the soundtrack (obviously) the direction and the cinematography are all sublime. A special shout out has to go for editor, Jonathan Amos.

    And the cameos; Kylie, Ray Winstone and Blixa Bargeld.

    I'm left with a tantalising question. Is this the greatest film ever made about music?

    I think it has claims on that. Notwithstanding School of Rock.

    Nick Cave. {I love you man.)
  • The world abounds with concert films and other documentaries with no greater ambition than following a famous person around for a while. These films are usually easy to put in the "superfans only" category. But maybe that wouldn't be the case if they were more like 20, 000 Days on Earth. All I can say is that, as someone who has one Nick Cave album but no vast devotion to the guy, I was entertained throughout.

    Part of this is simply the beauty of the images -- the directors make even the most mundane scene stun on the screen. The film takes place across one mostly ordinary day in Nick Cave's life, purportedly the 20000th, and much of the runtime is taken up by fascinating conversations Cave has with friends and collaborators. There are a lot of stagey scenes that don't hide their constructedness, such as a filmed therapy session, or a meta- cinematic moment where at the behest of the film's producers Cage goes through old pictures that will soon become part of the opening montage. And then there is the obligatory concert footage, shot in a dynamic fashion that manages to pick up all of Cave's subtle interactions with the front row and the looks of desperate adoration on the audience's faces.

    All of this would be for naught if Cave wasn't a fascinating subject. He plays the brooding poet here, providing ominous narration throughout the film, but there are also humanizing scenes where he watches TV with his sons or grumpily bosses around a children's choir (one of the more surreal moments here). It may be more charisma than intellect, but damn if I couldn't listen to Nick Cave talk for days. For all the directorial skill brought to 20, 000 Days on Earth, its greatest virtue may be in simply allowing us to experience two hours of Cave.
  • Dull. Incredibly dull. It just goes to prove that the art is far greater than the artist. In this rockumentary, Nick Cave is seen as tedious, self-justifying, self-absorbed, self-aggrandising, but above all dull. Long - endless actually - conversations and monologues tell us virtually nothing we need to know, though droning on about one's childhood may appeal to some. The 'celebrities' are little but extra listening posts. I am STUNNED that someone can actually think they are so important that we should be so interested in a museum of their lives. The very little we learn about the song-writing process amounts to nothing more than a series of platitudes.

    As a fan, and a sincere one, I am stricken to the core.
  • The only thing I've been introduced with when it comes to Nick Cave is his score for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, which is pretty much my favorite film score ever. Such soothing, haunting, mesmerizing music. In many ways, this film is exactly like that. I always find it interesting when filmmakers play around with what a documentary really is, and this does just that. It's very melancholic in its tone, very introspective. It has fascinating examples of music being created and just how much Cave puts himself into his music, while still balancing it all and not coming off like an ego project. Even for non-fans this is recommended.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This pseudo documentary about a fictional day in the life of musician and author Nick Cave is a windbag of a film made for fans and the subject himself only. As a non-fan I came out of the film not wiser about Nick Cave and not as in awe of music as the filmmakers would expect of me. At the very least, the film's concept deserves credit for attempting to reshape the documentary format into a cinematic concept. It recalls the way that Todd Haynes dramatised Bob Dylan's whole career, poetics and artistry in the film I'm Not There. These films remind us of the essence of cinema which is to create artificial memories and imagined time and space. Cinema also shares symmetry with dreaming because of the artificiality of what is created and what is experienced and seen. 20,000 Days adheres to this cinematic quality by blending real people with fictional spaces and time. It is purposely a made-up representation of Cave's twenty-thousandth day on Earth. The aim of the film is to combine drama and reality to show Cave's own artistic process. The directors Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard said they wanted to portray the Nick Cave that tells stories and demonstrate both the importance of art and creativity and the relationship between an artifice and a truth. Yet their aims are limited to telling us what we already know about Cave's broad range of skills. Nick Cave's reputation stands glowingly without a documentary reiterating his creativity. His music for the band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds has a sizeable following and that he has co-written film scripts for the well-regarded Australian film The Proposition and the Hollywood thriller Lawless. These two films were violent but they didn't exhibit some of Cave's currently visible pretensions. One example is his voice over, which supplies the film with florid prose more suited to a novel, including ruminations about being a cannibal or talking about contrasting images like Mongolians, clowns and children.

    On top of laborious and overlong rehearsal scenes, the main pillar for this film is the imagined spaces filled with real people. A number of famous people throughout Cave's career like Ray Winstone and Kylie Minogue appear beside him in his car showing how he is hallucinating or daydreaming. Less successful are the self-indulgent moments that attempt to intellectualise the aura of the singer, like Cave talking to British psychoanalyst Darian Leader. They apparently spoke for two days for over ten hours. Extracted from the discussion are some immensely boring conversations about how Cave's father read the first page of Lolita to him as a child so he would understand the power of the author's prose. The interview is meant to represent Cave's desire to preserve his memories. It is a gift to him from the filmmakers to record and store his experiences. In the end, who cares when this preservation is only important to one person? As much as the film goes to great lengths to stress Cave's creativity and imagination the direction employed is static at crucial times. The discussions with Leader are framed with simple reserve shots while they sit in chairs opposite each other, thereby reducing the film's scale to that of a television style interview. Another episode suffers from the same lethargy. One of the fictional spaces in the film is Brighton Town Hall where the filmmakers decided to take items from the Nick Cave Collection in Melbourne and re- imagine the space overseas. I found these scenes dull especially in the microscopic examination of Cave's photos from his childhood as well as a pointless discussion about a photograph of someone urinating on a stage. The feel of the documentary is one of self-importance as it tries very hard to reach a philosophical outlook about memories. It is an attempt to try and reshape the documentary format but with slow pacing and a reduced cinematic style of shooting this might only be interesting to hardcore fans or as a documentary found on television. If you ever wanted to learn more about Nick Cave's weather diary, this is your lucky day. I struggled to find a reason to care.
  • I struggled to become involved in this. It seemed to me that Nick Cave is involved enough in himself for both of us. I found the film pretentious & self indulgent. Some of the musical themes were good, but the lyrics were repetitive and boring. Personally I don't think this is singing.

    Cave seems to have created a mesmerising persona, which, for some reason beyond my comprehension, garners him thousands of ecstatic fans. As for this film elucidating the creative process, I doubt anyone would be able to learn how to be creative from this.

    It's probably a generational thing, but this seemed to me like the "Emperors new Clothes".
  • tiggersuk13 February 2015
    i can't even begin to express my disappointment with this movie, it is just shameless self indulgent self promotion where the camera follows Nick about with him waffling on and hinting at how talented and what a creative genius he is when in fact it's actually all rather dull and boring and ultimately very poor indeed! i really did think he would be better then that!

    i actually found that live concert scene with him on stage and all those 'Q' magazine, guardian reader types swooning to be so cringe worthy and embarrassing it was almost laughable... and as for scene with his therapist i presume that was some sort of joke but without a punch line... after watching this i am genuinely amazed at the love some people have for Nick cave...

    don't get me wrong Nick cave has done some great songs in his career, some truly beautiful pieces but he has also in his time done a lot and i mean a lot of very average second rate rubbish... and this movie is second rate at best! 2/10
  • sadiemellow23 October 2014
    Warning: Spoilers
    Nick Cave is an interesting character. I had heard of him and his music for a couple of years. It wasn't until recently that I fell in love with his album "Push The Sky Away". This is documentary about Nick Cave so I expected the documentary to be about him. It's a bit shocking to read that he was portrayed as "pretentious". I find that a bit comical actually. This man is a musical genius!

    Nick Cave is an amazing performer , as I've seen him live a couple of times, so seeing this documentary put the pieces together and gives the audience a sneak peak into his personal life. First of all, the scenery where the documentary was shot is jaw dropping. The live performance in the documentary are pretty amazing . The documentary overall was shot beautifully.

    I'd describe this documentary as a really good lyrically pleasing song. It's inspiring . ****TINY SPOILER BUT NOT REALLY******My favorite scene was towards the end where he's walking through the dark tree-bush filled garden. What he says brought love to my ears. Nick Cave finds the words you've been thinking and meaning to say, but hard to describe in words.

    If you don't fully know the artist, I don't really recommend you watching it. I don't really see the purpose, you'd just be lost.

    This documentary isn't awful or average by far.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I'll be the first to admit, other than the duet Nick Cave did with Kylie Minogue I've never really heard of him and after sitting through this film I hope never to hear of him again. This was such self indulgent vomit. "Hey I'm Nick Cave, I want attention, how about I invite all the famous people I know and get them to tell me how awesome I am and make a movie!". There were moments when he was jamming poetically that seemed to go on for days and his lyrics were laughable at times (probably not meant to be).

    I watched this at the Sydney Film Festival at the Opening night which I am still shaking my head as to why they would open with it. I was however with a friend who was a semi-fan and she quite enjoyed it. So I guess the demographic this movie aims at is solely Nick Cave fans, which I was not at the time and this movie just solidified that I would never be. Just let it go.
  • mac294610 November 2014
    This might have been the worst movie I've ever seen. It was certainly the least entertaining. Of course, the world is full of egotistical people who think the world hangs (or should hang) on their every word, but movie makers don't usually indulge them. The ONLY interesting thing about this soporific film is why it was made -- and why anyone would sit through it. I initially thought the scene between Mr. Cave (self-indulgent) and his therapist (pompous) must be a joke, a la Spinal Tap, but alas no. After 30 minutes I began to doze. When I awoke to more of the same (Mr. Cave riding around in a car -- really?), I walked out of the theater.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Documentary profiles of famous musicians are ubiquitous and they are mostly rather repetitive, but this is a breath of fresh air. This unique and challenging gem goes for a different approach about the much celebrated Australian musician and writer, Nick Cave, who in this film is marking his 20,000th day on Earth. One of the unique things about this documentary is that in many ways, it is not a documentary as some of it is fictional and scripted. It is generally difficult to tell if it is fictional or if it is genuine Nick Cave. I cannot imagine this kind of approach suiting any other musician other than Nick Cave as he is a rather odd character who probably sees a world where fiction and reality blur.

    On the 20,000th day, we see Nick Cave playing a version of himself going about his day in a nicely shot and artful account of what is routine. He drives around Brighton first going to an interview, then visiting his friend and band mate, Warren Ellis, in his idyllic seaside home for a seafood lunch. He has what seems like imagined conversations with random celebrities who appear in his passenger seat as he drives and he goes to his archive studio where he examines photos and bits of writing he did in the past. Interspersed between these scenes are a mixture of studio performances and live concert footage of Nick Cave performing mainly new material from his last album 'Push the Sky Away' with the Bad Seeds.

    The documentary starts off with a surreally beautiful timeline of Cave's life filled with quick appearances of personal stock footage and various pop culture since 1955 all edited at a rapid fire pace. As it progresses, we see Nick Cave ponder many things like existence, the creative process, inspiration, memories and other philosophical and poetic musings. This coming out of the mouth of a less experienced musician would sound like a pretentious fart, but since Cave is notorious for his dark eccentricity, it is pretty much expected from him. The interview near the start shows this very well as it is a revelatory and candid conversation as he talks about very personal memories which make him who he is today. Nick Cave does have a darkly poetic perspective, and the imagery supporting his powerful voice make this experiment something of a cinematic experience. One chief example in particular is a spoken word piece which he wrote many years ago. I remember reading it when it was on display at the Nick Cave Exhibition in Perth, Australia and thinking it was a particularly well worded expression of love at first sight which stuck in my head. It is about how he first met his wife and the feelings experienced at that moment completely exceeded any other experience of women through real life and pop culture (Cave worded it far better). It was interesting to see this written text come to life with the rapid edit of stock footage with Cave's voice reading it.

    The scenes in Cave's car are surreal, especially when notorious British actor, Ray Winston appears in his passenger seat to discuss performing art. Cave discusses his form of expression from a musicians perspective while Ray Winston makes comparisons to his acting experience and complaining about the weather! Also, Kylie Minogue, a one time collaborator with Nick Cave, appears in Cave's rear view mirror much like the character Betsy in the closing scene of 'Taxi Driver'. Her and Cave discuss audience connection.

    It may be a partially fictional documentary but somehow it seems less self-aggrandizing with this approach as Cave seems to be playing a version of himself where he could only be perceived as weird and interesting, playing up to an image which already exists. In my opinion, I think it helps to appreciate his music in order to enjoy the film as there are extended performances of what is an acquired taste. I generally find his music interesting, but that was not the most interesting thing about it. I felt it was not just a film about Nick Cave, but about existence in this convoluted, manic and complex world and how one fits into and draws inspiration from it. It can be seen as unique and original, albeit a little pretentious in parts, but I have never seen any profile of a musician done this way.

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  • Warning: Spoilers
    I've been a huge fan of Nick Cave since 1994 when he and The Bad Seeds released their album 'Let Love In'. And over the past twenty years, I have purchased his music on vinyl, CD, and digitally. Nick Cave is not only one of the coolest people on the planet and a legendary musician and singer, but he is also a filmmaker who often collaborates with the amazing Warren Ellis.

    For those of you who are unfamiliar with Nick Cave, he looks like what Spock would look like if he went goth in the Wild West and had feelings. You might have heard a song of his in a variety of horror films called 'Red Right Hand', which was featured in the hit Wes Craven movie 'Scream'. And I was upset I missed his amazing show from his recent album 'Push The Sky Away' when it came to Dallas, but a friend and fellow writer went to the show, got first row, and shot a a few clips for the site, which you can see HERE (Amazing, right?).

    But when I realized Drafthouse Films was releasing a documentary about Cave, I thought I had just won the lottery, because it's not every day where we get an in depth look at the man behind the music. But like all of Cave's work, this is not your standard format documentary. It's an acid trip and fantasy ride through a patch in Cave's mysterious life. The Australian rock legend's fan base has multiplied over the years and he still has one of the biggest cult followings ever in the music industry. This new film called '20,000 Days on Earth' is a breath of fresh air in the documentary world, as Nick Cave plays a very real version of himself as his surroundings coax information out of him.

    The film opens up with a montage of dozens of screens, displaying things from history, which segues into clips of Cave (similar to how Michael Jackson started his last concert tour), and has Cave waking up in his bed next to his wife, narrating that he is an alien and has been on Earth for 19,999 days. He then goes to the window and opens the curtain to reveal a bright never ending light, which is similar to the cover of 'Push The Sky Away'. And it only gets better from there. Instead of having talking head interviews with Cave, his bandmates, and friends and family, we take a journey with cave as he drives his luxury car and is visited by hallucinations, friendly encounters, poems, and even a fictional therapist played by Darian Leader who has Cave talk about his childhood and career.

    It's quite brilliant really, but you can't expect anything less than brilliant from Nick Cave. The film is constructed in such a way, that you feel like you received all the information you ever wanted to know about Cave himself, but are also treated to one of the most stylish films to come out this year. And don't worry, you'll get a healthy does of Cave playing instruments, singing, and even a few songs from a live performance where he sings his version of Stagger Lee. It was epic. One of the funniest parts was where Cave was writing and playing the piano, coming up with sounds and lyrics that was eerily similar to a famous Lionel Richie tune. It was quite humorous.

    Whether you are a Nick Cave fan or not, this film delivers the goods on every level both stylistically and story-wise. And it once again proves that Nick Cave is still a creative genius, mad scientist, and one hell of a musician.
  • "Who knows their own story? Certainly, it makes no sense when we live in the midst of it. It's all just clamour and confusion. It only becomes a story when we tell it and retell it. Our small precious recollections that we speak again and again to ourselves or to others. First creating the narrative of our lives and then keeping the story from dissolving into darkness."

    Occupying a gray zone between documentary and autobiographical fiction film '20,000 Days on Earth' opens with a counter that, you guessed it, starts at zero and rapidly counts up to 20,000 in a mere 1 1/2 minutes all the while on a couple of screens we see Nick Cave in various stages of his life as well as TV footage that corresponds with the number of days (e.g. a boy smoking pot around day 5,000) or people that apparently were of significance to him around that particular time (so in the early days we for example see Johnny Cash, Elvis and of course Barbara Eden). It's a loud and chaotic montage that simultaneously serves as the opening credits. The first scene stands in stark contrast to it, through the storm of the past we have arrived in the present day. We see an alarm clock without a seconds hand giving the impression of time virtually standing still. Nick Cave lies in bed staring at his clock before it starts to ring to officially herald the start of day 20,000.

    The film that follows feels thorough, self-contained and complete.

    Thorough because it keeps returning to the same memories. First Nick Cave has a session with his psychoanalyst which feels as much like an interview with a journalist as it does like a couch session, for there is no couch but the "interviewer" asks more psychoanalyst type of questions that very often go back to Cave's childhood days. Questions like: "What's your earliest memory of a female body?" or "What's your earliest memory of your father?", each question being answered with a story. Later Cave exchanges memories about the Nina Simone concert that he earlier talked about to his psychiatrist with a colleague who was at the concert as well which of course transforms the same story, it becomes fuller, the atmosphere surrounding it changes, etc. Or at another point Nick Cave goes to the Nick Cave archive because of course when you are somebody like Nick Cave you don't keep your old junk in boxes, you get other people to do that for you...anyway. Objects from the stories he told his psycho-guy pop up again or rather he asks for them, like the copy of "Lo-li-ta" from which his father read to him one day and that made little Nick see a side of his father that he hadn't known before. Or a picture of Susie, who became his wife, which leads into a dazzling multimedia collage of sight, sound and spoken word about Nick Cave's erotic fantasies that climaxes where all good erotic fantasies climax, with Jackie Kennedy at JFK's funeral. Songs come back also, he writes a song, practices a song, records a song, records a background track with a children's choir, and finally performs it in the Sydney Opera House in front of a big audience.

    Self-contained it feels because there is a clear core theme which always is a challenge in an (auto)biographical film, because how can a human life be summed up to one idea? Here that idea is that Nick Cave basically lives as a vessel for his memories, to acquire them, to put them into a narrative in order not to forget them, and to use them to create songs. His greatest fear, he says, is losing his memory. "...in some way that's really what the process of songwriting is for me. It's the retelling of these stories and the mythologizing of these stories." The people in those stories become mere figures, figures that he, as he puts it, cannibalizes for his creations.

    Unsurprisingly, Cave in the film comes across as self-absorbed and to call the product navel-gazing I think would be a pretty fair assessment. For the sake of context it bears reminding that this film doesn't show much of Nick Cave the private person and instead is much more about Nick Cave the musician and the public person. No doubt his profession is what enables and I think at least to an extent also excuses his constant self-examination, after all he made a successful career out of it.

    And finally, complete it feels because the ending, a live-performance of a song we have seen and heard played several times throughout, is aided by footage of old live performances from the band history that often show him making the same movements on stage, reminding not only of the start of the film, but also that this performance that currently is the unfathomable now, will soon become a part of this man's memory turned life narrative. Put on film it shows one version of the event as it happened, something that will help Nick Cave keep the story from dissolving into darkness. But it also doesn't need a Nick Cave anymore to write a song about it, as a film it already is a mythologized narrative and it exists independent of any self-absorbed musicians that may happen to be the subject of '20,000 Days on Earth'.
  • For better or worse, I've always placed Nick Cave within my "men in black" subgenre. Defining characteristics of these musicians include distinctive baritones, poetic lyrics, sunglasses, cool detachment, interesting hair and - of course - black clothing. Other members include Roy Orbison, Scott Walker, The Doors, Echo & the Bunnymen, The Stranglers, The Sisters of Mercy, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Tindersticks, and the genre godfather - Johnny Cash. Troubled troubadours, drugs, fisticuffs, rivalries, commercial suicide and near self-destruction are unfortunate traits of this motley crew. If you're not a fan, you may consider these artists inaccessible, pretentious, self- indulgent doom-mongers. What's surprising about 20,000 Days On Earth is that directors Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard have managed to peel back layer after layer of Nick Cave's dark, mysterious facade to reveal an open, honest, sympathetic, and refreshingly down-to-Earth artist. Even more surprising is the way they go about it.

    The press kit heralds their "inventive, lyrical ode to creativity and an intimate examination of the artistic process of musician and cultural icon Nick Cave" fusing "drama and documentary, weaving a staged day in Cave's life with never-before-seen verité observation of his creative cycle." This threatens pretension à la Jean Luc Godard's misguided Sympathy For The Devil. However, the film remains remarkably accessible despite these lofty claims. More surprising still, Cave manages to make Brighton seem cool - by his presence alone.

    The opening scene of Cave awakening next to his wife may look familiar; it's shot in the same bedroom gracing the cover of his most recent release - the eerie, atmospheric Push The Sky Away (the distinctive blinds give it away). The film captures several souls who have walked the line with Cave. While she is not interviewed, Cave's wife Susie Bick is very much present. She appeared nude on the striking black and white cover of Push The Sky Away. Perhaps Cave marrying a model is the one rock and roll cliché we can allow this otherwise elusive, unpredictable man; although Bick's past as the cover model on The Damned's LP Phantasmagoria suggests that she was always the perfect match for Cave. Cave's sons also appear briefly (enjoying pizza and a film with their gothfather). While access to Cave's family is limited, the film spends ample time with Cave's regular musical collaborator Warren Ellis; actor Ray Winstone; and one-time collaborator Kylie Minogue, who could use more exposure. Some of these souls join Cave on subtly surreal car rides along the streets of Brighton. Surprising omissions from the world of international cinema include Cave fan Wim Wenders (e.g. Wings of Desire) and regular Cave collaborator John Hillcoat (stretching from 1988's Ghosts... of the Civil Dead to 2012's Lawless); but this breezy film is already packed with more than enough character detail. Still, would have been great to revisit Cave's thoughts on his scene-stealing turn as Freak Storm in Johnny Suede - the directorial debut of Tom DiCillo and one of Brad Pitt's early starring roles.

    Avoiding the obvious and predictable, Forsyth and Pollard take us on a journey through Cave's memories via mementos from his personal archive - almost Kubrick-like in its scope and attention to detail. One of the film's best moments is Cave's droll, matter-of-fact account of a 'transformative' Nina Simone performance. Placed on the mercy seat, Cave opens up to a psychoanalyst as he discusses how his early years continue to inform his work. Here 20,000 Days dives 20,000 leagues into Cave's subconscious. Expecting a dark descent into a swirling, solipsistic maelstrom of madness and regret? Think again. On this occasion, Cave is relaxed, genial, and forthright. Of course, in addition to the Cave exploring, 20,000 Days On Earth contains electrifying performances and behind-the-scenes studio footage that will delight die-hard fans of both Nick Cave and Lionel Richie.

    The degree of intimacy throughout 20,000 Days On Earth would not have been possible with a more mainstream artist. Cave is the perfect subject - popular enough to be interesting, yet mysterious enough to warrant further exploration. The film's unique approach and sensitivity to its subject may be due to the man and woman directorial team, offering us a more balanced view of Cave. Of course, it also helps that Forsyth and Pollard worked with Cave in the past.

    Ultimately, the mark of a great music documentary is what you do when the film ends. If you start rummaging through old vinyl, CDs, or digital files to satisfy a certain curiosity - then it worked. 20,000 Days on Earth made me crave some Cave. Thus, as I listen to Push The Sky Away, I recall that mesmerising final image of Nick Cave, alone on the darkened Brighton shoreline. The camera gently floats away, leaving Cave behind. Lucky for us, he missed the boatman's call. Brighton remains cool.
  • Review: I really liked the documentary about the weird and wonderful mind behind Nick Cave's work which began in 1973, when I was born, and he is still coming out with music today. He became a chart topping artist when he made the song with Kylie Minogue called Where The Wild Roses Grow but he has mostly stayed underground with a selective audience. The Australian born 57 year old has a very a different look in life, which you will see in this documentary and his music comes from a place which is unique and very complex. This documentary is extremely well put together and it shows different sides of his life, even though it's only based on one day. I must admit, I had only heard a couple of songs from this artist before I watched this documentary but now that I have seen it, I am intrigued about his earlier work. The epic ending song, which I can't help rewinding, is really impressive because of the violins and kids singing. It made me laugh when he was sitting with his young kids, eating a pizza and watching Scarface, which is politically incorrect for this day and age but that just shows that Nick Cave really isn't bothered with those type of things. I wish that more artist would come out with documentaries like this because it will make them seem more human and you'll be able to see the process behind there writing and musical methods. There is a part in the documentary were he goes through his personal pictures which would also be great to see from other artists at different periods of there life. Personally, I watched this movie on TV and then I rented it the next day because I couldn't get the ending song out of my mind so I'm obviously impressed with this film. You don't have to be a Nick Cave fan to enjoy this documentary because of the different elements that it covers so I will highly recommend it to people who want to see a day in a life of an artist . Enjoyable.

    Round-Up: I was shocked to see Ray Winstone in this movie. I couldn't really see why he was in this film and it was a bit strange when he was asking Nick Cave some questions and he wasn't answering them but the natural conversation in the car seemed very realistic. I was also surprised to see Kylie Minogue in the film and the conversation between the two of them in the car was a great insight into a period in his life when there collaboration exploded on the music scene. The interview with the psychologist, also gives you an insight into his strange upbringing and the relationship with his father which shows a more personal side to Nick Cave. I do find his lyrics a bit weird and very Jim Morrison like but he is an unique artist who doesn't get the recognition that he deserves because he doesn't follow trends and he stays true to his music.

    Budget: N/A Worldwide Gross: $2million

    I recommend this movie to people who are into their biopics about a day in the life of Nick Cave. 7/10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    With Easter coming up,I started searching round for a music documentary that a friend could watch during the Easter holiday.Searching round on Amazon UK,I was surprised to find a doc on Nick Cave,which led to me picking up a bunch of bad seeds.

    The plot:

    Waking up on his 20,000th day alive,musician Nick Cave begins recording a new album with regular collaborator Warren Ellis.Along with recording a new album,Cave begins to talk to friends about why they do particular professions.Whilst making music & talking to friends,Cave begins reflecting on memories,and the meaning of his existence.

    View on the film:

    Opening with an atmospheric shot which has Nick Cave's life flash before the viewers eyes,co-writers/(along with Nick Cave)directors Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard take a fascinating,partly-staged improvisation /partly- real approach to the movie,with Cave being kept driving in a car, (to a destination that is never revealed)whilst talking to friends who disappear like ghosts.Staging scenes of Cave talking to a shrink,Forsyth and Pollard use the fictional moments (such as Cave talking to a fan who is playing his shrink,and 2 archivists pretending to be working on a Nick Cave archive) to superbly emphasis the psychological connection that Cave makes with his audience in the thrilling concert footage.

    Appearing like a preacher in the concert footage,Nick Cave gives an excellent performance as himself,with Cave giving the movie strong mythical vibes during his car journeys.Cave also gives the movie a hauntingly deep melancholy streak,as Cave attempts to piece together fading memories with the film makers,on his 20,000th birthday party.
  • First, I'm 22 years old. I've never once wrote a review but this wasted a huge amount of time being two full hours long.

    Secondly, the music left me wondering "Is this movie a joke?". I'm assuming this man made a film about his lifestyle? honestly, I don't know who he is, or what makes anyone like him, but I simply don't care to find out.

    I didn't know what to expect, and it was the worst movie I've ever seen in my life hands down. all i got from it was "the feels on stage" Dem feels man. Jesus, that's all he says repetitively. He seems narcissistic to me.

    It may just be my generation being born in the 1990's everyone in my generation I want to let you know Begin Again was an excellent film about music! check it out.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I know a few women who profess to like Nick Cave. I know no men who do. Maybe that's because on this evidence Nick is a bit of a Mummy's boy. He's also been a junkie and a university lecturer so obviously he KNOWS A LOT OF STUFF, and we mere mortals should listen because he HAS THE ELIXIR, IE he's read The Hero's Journey.

    Can't sing. Can't write anything meaningful. Plays the piano clumsily. He talks to his therapist, who asks, 'What is your first memory of the female body?' Nick proceeds to talk about when he was fifteen and didn't have sex. This is the man who remembers a 'happy childhood', but he has no memory of his mother's body - or any aunt - or any primary school classmate, sister or grandmother. That's why women like him; he really does miss his Mum and he's lonely.

    But beware - he draws lots of pictures of naked women. In between pretending to drive cars, writing terrible poetry and talking about himself to a coterie of employees, over and over and over and over and over and over again.

    I used to not really care about Nick Cave. Now I loathe him. He's the sort of hipster's Neil Diamond.
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