Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Repo Man (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] Review

Outer cover
So it turns out the fringe cult film that helped define my 14+ onward youth is now getting the recognition it deserves. I can't help but think, too, of A Clockwork Orange, which I also discovered as a kid and worshipped as well. As I grew older and acquired some semblance of a brain, I realized that there was more going on in both films than just apathetic youth stumbling around causing truble.

Repo Man was, first and foremost, completely hilarious. Its irreverence for everything and everyone, particularly authority, was what drew me to it in the first place. When I watch the film I am reminded of going out skating in the parking lot of a dry cleaners after hours, as well as aimlessly roaming around with my friends. Aimlessly. That pretty much sums it up. I may not have been able to put my finger on what it was about the film back then that made it great, but complex, pseudo-intellectual explanations were not high on my list as a kid. It was just a "great film" or "funny as hell" and above all, extremely quotable. Quoting films has pretty much caught on as a sort of sub-language now within our culture. Back then, well, spouting off quotes from a film my parents had no idea existed was almost like speaking a secret code.

Many of the films from back when I was a teen faded. Crap like Commando and Die Hard, that I thought were "the best films ever made," kinda seem like dog shit now, and aside from the nostalgia factor, hold little substance. Not so with Repo Man. It's not even bad-good—like some of my youthful sinful pleasure films are. Films I still personally enjoy, like Time Rider (also produced by Michale Nesmith) and Vision Quest (dont judge me), dont stand out as particularly important in the history of cinema. I doubt they'll even garner a blurb in future film books. Not so with Repo Man. The film has stood the test of time, and exposes—kinda—sociological trends of the time in a not-so-obvious way. It's wacky, zany, science fiction sub-story seems utterly ridiculous, but it turns out we have become an extremely ultra, consumer-driven, paranoid society today. Looking back, Repo Man is clearly shedding a light from out of a Chevy Malibu trunk on this. Miller's rant about UFOs, time machines, Myans, plates of shrimp, and more, holds some possible truths about coincidences—perhaps being more than random—as well as the significance of contemporary paranoia, and wraps it all up in one well-acted, poetic verse. Turns out, after watching the commentary, Cox just wrote that monologue up to have something for auditioning actors to read. It seems even more important after hearing that. Yes, it's true! Everything brilliant is not always mulled over and rewritten 1,000 times. Sometimes, great stuff just pours out of people.

The Blu-ray Criterion has just released, is pretty much the finest work they have done to date. The phone pole neon green & ink flier art is exquisite, and nails the punk rock aesthetic from the film and the 80s. I only wish it came with a few posters of the art for me to hang on my bedroom wall just like when I was a kid.

Aside from a beautiful transfer of the film, there is also a crazy trove of information. A wacky commentary with Cox and others, as well as interviews with Iggy Pop, Micheal Nesmith, and even Sam Cohen, the actual inventor of the neutron bomb! Cox sits and shows him some deleted scenes from the film and asks him what he thinks. Classic! Also trailers and the complete version of the edited for-TV-cut of the film.
Inside cover
Spine Art

Even the sides of this Blu-ray are amazing. Every square inch. Grab this off Amazon now. Call your friends over and stop acting like you've got something better to do than watch T.V. and have a couple of brews.