Sunday, October 05, 2014

20,000 Days on Earth

The thing about Nick Cave is everything.

The voice, the lankly thin rock star body, the hair, the voice. The voice.

The lyrical storytelling, amazing music, and life story that makes for a movie are really only icing on the cake. And what a life story.

20,000 Days on Earth ends up being more than a documentary about a rock star. This film is all about documenting the things that haunt the artist. Cave in particular, but it would resonate with any artist. The need to create, how every waking moment is part and parcel of the next moment of creativity.

The film doesn’t make Nick Cave out to be a god, or a misunderstood genius; he does not appear as a good man or a bad man. He doesn’t come out as a tortured genius, but rather someone who needs to create. Nick Cave’s well-documented life story shows that he was lucky to have survived himself, his own sort of delusional madness, his self-medication, the pains of being so far outside of a place that losing your mind in sex, drugs, and rock and roll seem like a good thing. Fortunately, there is a lot of creative genius in there, and somehow that, more than anything else, pushed him to survive.

The film looks at the space of a few months while reflecting on his past, his present and his future. The music mostly comes from the creation of the album Push the Sky Away, which as his most recent is also one of his most haunting at times. A slow, quiet album that thrums and pulses under the surface, entirely opposite of Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, which is upfront with the loud, screaming, jangly abrasiveness of the human story. I love both these albums, as I do nearly everything else Cave has done, but this was a prefect album for the film.

Cave, just turning 57, is still as dynamic as ever, and in his reflective mode there is something that is personal, and yet superhuman about him. The film was brilliant, and watching it, knowing that Cave was sitting somewhere nearby watching it, made it even more wonderful. Following though, was what made the ticket price worth it.

The film wrapped, giving the audience a moment to breathe, before a giant piano was wheeled onto stage, with two chairs.

The chairs were for the director. The piano was for Nick.

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