The Nick Cave movie

SIMON SWEETMAN
Last updated 11:00 28/08/2014

So I checked out that Nick Cave Movie - 20,000 Days on Earth. I really liked it, I had missed it at the Film Festival and, actually, I was a bit up in the air on it, a bit unsure at first about whether I should see it - but I loved it. I'm so glad I got along to it. It speaks to his aesthetic; the film is sharp-looking and smart. And it's worth it for the musical performances.Nick Cave

Long-time readers will remember I tend to come and go with Cave. I'm most certainly a fan - but a couple of years ago I was feeling very bored by his output. That all changed with the Push The Sky Away album. And even reading a book of interviews across the years helped.

It's always nice to step back from the artists you spend a lot of time listening to - and then revisit with fresh ears.

20,000 Days on Earth is an impressionistic tale - never quite a documentary but not a feature film. Detractors will tell you that it's pretentious, calling Nick Cave pretentious is a bit like complaining about all the food being on the table at a buffet - if this film is what makes you think that Cave is pretentious you're a fair-weather fan only. Those of us who have read the King Ink volumes of poetry and prose - florid, sometimes just silly - and hung in for the novels, hung on for the movies and the movie soundtracks as well as the Bad Seeds and Grinderman albums - and those waiting, excited, about his return to New Zealand later this year - should find plenty to like in 20,000 Days on Earth. It's also full of insight - it isn't just vague pondering and silly puffed up acting. A portrait of the artist (as aesthete) emerges.20,000 Days on Earth

The great strength I took from the film was Cave's willingness to do the work. Here's a guy at the top of his game - pretty much, anyway - and he's still compelled to get up and pound those keys, to clack at the typewriter, strike at the piano. I like that.

He's moved beyond junkie-dom, he's a happily married family man. He's (presumably) wealthy, most certainly successful. But he's showing no signs of slowing down. And some of his recent work - even if you just take the song Jubilee Street (most songwriters should feel lucky if they ever come close to creating something like that) - is among his very best.

I also had a chance to speak with the film's directors this past weekend. They were lovely to chat with - and it was interesting to hear about the way the film was made. What might seem like heavily scripted scenes when you watch the film...well, that's not always the case. As I found out, only after I'd seen the film.

So here's my review of 20,000 Days on Earth.


And here's my interview with Jane Pollard and Iain Forsyth.

Have any of you seen the film yet? Or are you intending to see it? 

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