20,000 Days on Earth

This is a sort-of biography of Nick Cave, ex Brithday Party, Bad Seed, Grinderman and, well, rock icon. It is shaped as if it is a day in his life, but it is far more complex than that. It begins with him lying in bed waiting for the alarm clock to go. He emerges, in trousers and not a shade of stubble, into the glaring light of his bathroom to start this ‘day’.

He is interviewed – or examined? – by philosopher Alain de Botton- and talks of his passion for wearing dresses as a teen, and of growing up in an Australian country town. He drives around, talking to friends Ray Winstone, about getting old, Blixa Bargeld about leaving the Bad Seeds because he couldn’t be in so many bands, and pop princess Kylie chats from the back seat of her fear of being alone. He talks of his terror at the impending arrival of his kids as he didn’t know what to do. He goes through his archive, of how the Birthday Party were reputed to be the most dangerous band in the world, so they attracted the most violent audiences. He talks of his time in Berlin in a tiny flat writing his first novel, working with Wim Wenders. We see him composing, we see him rehearsing both in England and Provence, with long time friend and collaborator Warren Ellis, we see the build up to his big concert at the Sydney Opera house, then the day ends watching tv with his kids.

The man is intriguing, but then that’s as given; there are times when I wished there was more, for the conversation would continue longer, but that would have ruined it. That would be making straight lines out of … of things that are not meant to be straight. At the core of it is the energy, the drive of this uniquely talented writer, musician/performer. Of how he claims to live for his performances. Of how memory is what life is about, that his greatest fear is that of losing his memory.

It is a passionate, noisy, intense fascinating documentary, ending with him standing on the beach at night at his home town of Brighton as the camera moves out to sea.

I was exhausted and inspired by this film, I had no idea I emerged from the theatre grinning, which inspired a man to start talking to me, who turned out to be a former priest, now a homeless alcoholic who was desperate for intelligent conversation. We talked of life and music and film and oh, I don’t know what else. He told me of his fear of death. I couldn’t connect with that at all. In fact, I found it a bit annoying. Trifling even. We all have to die. What is there to talk about or to fear? We can’t change it. After such a great film, I felt like even death was a tiny foot note to the incredible thing that is life, that is art

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