Memory is never linear. We can't go back and play our memory like an old film reel. We skip backwards and forwards through our mental diary. We pause on moments that stand out. We think about the breakfast we just ate before hurtling back to a first kiss or embarrassment (more on that later).
As an artist that has been creating since the early seventies Nick Cave is still as prolific artist as he has even been. After 21 albums with his many bands and also as a solo artist, 5 books and a few cinema credits to his name it's time for a documentary on the tall, dark, moody one.
20,000 day on earth is a feature length film telling 24 fictitious hours in the life of Nick Cave. Poet, musician, father and collaborator. He wakes, writes, eats and watches TV.
I mention the word fictitious because Cave will have to skip the width and breadth of time and space of his own history in these 24 hours condensed then into the films 97min running time. That would be impossible even for someone with that much creativity. So this approach is fresh and very well employed.
This aspect of the documentary I absolutely loved. It wasn't present like most muso retrospectives. It also was very lite on archival footage and interviews. We'll let Cave speak it out to us himself in his own memory recall. Edited and presented the way most of us would love our own story to be told. It's also a great way of us the viewer to then go and fill in the blank spaces through our own research.
It's not to say that the content is fictitious, his recollections we have to believe are true, though we know artist like to embellish truth and lies. But I trust in his explanations about childhood and his various adventures while here on earth.
The film opens with Cave in his office stacked with books, pages ripped straight from books and photos tacked over photos tacked to the wall.
In this, we can see his muses and thought processes collaged around him. Like an ozone to allow him to breathe and create.
We learn in a staged analysis what he fears the most, how he fell in love with his current wife, his early relationship with his father how his childhood produced the man we see seated before us. Some fascinating anecdotes of a fascinating character.
In the 24 hours presented we see him drive his memories from town to town. Along the way meeting persons of note like long time collaborator Warren Ellis (a fascinating character in his own right and amazing musician) Blixa Bargeld (Bad seed) and Kylie Minogue (did the Locomotion and was that bird who married Shane on Neighbours) and a truly surprising cameo from Ray Winstone.
Visiting recording studios during the recording of the latest release Push the sky away we witness the various methods Cave uses in the creative process. From typed lyrics to notes scribbled on pages to even reminders recorded on his phone. His recording style seems mostly relaxed and allows himself the time that I imagine most other recording artists do not have the budget for. Free from overbearing record executives and groupies, this looks to be the way to do it.
During a visit to an archive he delves into times that must have been bleak and ruled by his well documented drug use. While this aspect is noted, it would distract from the story to delve too deep. Lets remember kids, he's a rock star. There will usually be drugs in the mix somewhere. Hell, even the Carpenters had drug problems. And so we move on.
Peppered between hours are live engagements where, over blisteringly performed songs, Cave will explain the connection to his audience. HINT: get to the front of the crowd. He can't see much further than that and he will perform to the reaction the audience gives back from the proximity.
Cave and Ellis also provide the music score for the film (I mean why wouldn't you...)
Unfortunately not everything is covered here, while he does mention film scores there is little mention of his process shared with Warren Ellis on projects such as The Proposition (which he also wrote the screenplay for) or his acting work. Most notably in Ghosts.... of the civil dead. Great film, check it out!
There simply isn't enough hours in a fictitious day to soak up all of Nick Cave. We'll have to create our own memories through exploring his huge creative output and revisit them from time to time.
VIDEO: Great looking blu ray disc. Director of photography Erik Wilson has captured a great look for this documentary. Here it's presented in a 2.35:1 ratio in full 1080p.
AUDIO: Lush and pure, as any musical film should be. It sounds fantastic big and loud!!!
EXTRAS: A making of, a tonne of extended interviews and studio rehearsals and demos sessions. Archive outtakes and a live Kylie performance with Cave!! PACKED!!!
Personal Cave memory:
I have known of Cave for years and years. Close friends of mine are well versed in his output and seem to scratch their heads when I'd say it wasn't for me. You see, i saw a ballet based around his songs in 2005 and was all but dumped by my girlfriend DURING the damned thing. I wasn't a fan.....mention of his name transported me back to that night and the smashed beer glass I threw in sheer frustration.... Great memories. Still friends would constantly tell me I must catch him live. Well, December 2014 I did and was not disappointed. I'm currently listening to him as we read.