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Jameson Price
Jameson Price

20,000 Days On Earth

20,000 Days on Earth is a 2014 British musical documentarydrama film co-written and directed by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard.[3][4] Nick Cave also co-wrote the script with Forsyth and Pollard. The film premiered in-competition in the World Cinema Documentary Competition at 2014 Sundance Film Festival on 20 January 2014.[5][6] It won two Awards at the festival.[7][8]

20,000 Days on Earth

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20,000 Days on Earth received general acclaim upon its premiere at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 97% of 38 film critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 7.4 out of 10.[20] On Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 reviews from film critics, the film holds an average score of 84, based on 15 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[21]

David Rooney in his review for The Hollywood Reporter said that "What makes 20,000 Days on Earth distinctive is that it provides an overview of the man and his art while creating the illusion that this has come together organically -- out of poetic ruminations, casual encounters, ghost-like visitations and good old Freudian psychoanalysis."[25]

The film, called 20,000 Days on Earth, creates a collage of fictionalized (but mostly unscripted) scenes that are meant to add up to a day in the life of Cave. His 20,000th day, to be exact-- an idea pulled from an unused line in Cave's songwriting notebook. The scenes, according to The Guardian, have been described by Forsyth and Pollard "as kind of constructed real situations in which Nick can improvise." He's pictured writing in his office, going to a therapy session, eating with collaborator Warren Ellis and watching Scarface with his sons, among other things. He narrates throughout.

Sound familiar? You might be thinking about Leos Carax's experimental 2012 film Holy Motors, which is quite similar, structurally, to the film described by The Guardian. Like Holy Motors, 20,000 Days on Earth even features Kylie Minogue for a brief bit. She rides in the car with Cave, as does actor Ray Winstone (who appeared in the film The Proposition, written by Cave).

20,000 Days On Earth suggests a diary of the rock tour from hell, a subject that Cave knows very well. Instead, most of the hybrid doc/drama is intimate, with enough performance and fireworks to remind you of the subject who happens to be speaking softly about his parents and his childhood.

It makes perfect sense then, that his 2014 scripted documentary 20,000 Days on Earth would be directed by artist duo Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, who also nimbly straddle the worlds of sound, music and contemporary art. The resulting film, which Cave retained a high level of creative control over, reads less like a typical warts-and-all music documentary, and more a highly considered and stylised glimpse into a rigorous creative process.

This has been my shortest review in some time, because the documentary is such an odd thing to critique. You can criticize a poor performance or a poorly character, but you can judge a real person, a human life, by such a metric? I think it would be best to say that 20,000 Days on Earth is an ideal portrait of Nick Cave because its style so completely matches his style. It is neither a biography nor a concert film, simply a portrait. And an excellent one at that.

20,000 DAYS ON EARTH is a bold and unique look at one of music's most mysterious and charismatic figures, the iconic musician and writer Nick Cave. Directors Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard present a vision of an artist in a way that is unconventional yet undeniably intimate, while also exploring more universal themes of creativity and how we choose to spend our time on the Earth.

Part bona-fide documentary, part staged narrative, 20,000 Days on Earth is an odd duck that blurs the lines between reality and fiction in innovative ways. After winning both the World Cinema Documentary Directing and Editing awards at its Sundance premiere, the film has been garnering extremely positive critical attention for first-time directors Forsyth and Pollard. We sat down with the pair to discuss their transition from the art world to the feature-film realm and how much input Cave had into their process, as well as the ins and outs of telling a compelling story around such an important artist.

20,000 Days on Earth: Starts Friday at the Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., S.F. (415) 863-1087. Also plays at 6 p.m. Sunday as part of the Oakland Underground Film Festival (see Rep Picks on this page) at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. (510) 451-5818.

Legendary musician Nick Cave's life is examined in director Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard's pseudo-documentary, 20,000 Days on Earth. Go behind the scenes with the filmmakers as they describe the unconventional approach they used to explore the myth-making of a musician as well as larger themes such as memory, the creative spirit, and what it means to be a human being.

In the very Nabokovian documentary 20,000 Days on Earth, Nick Cave recalls the very earliest memory of his dad: Him reading Lolita to him, admiring the writing, and Cave admiring his father. "He became a greater thing," Cave says. Lolita recurs in the movie -- it pops up briefly in the opening sequence and will return at crucial moments. Some screencaps below. 041b061a72


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