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20,000 Days on Earth

Correct me if I’m wrong, but in his 37 years as a performing artist, with The Boys Next Door, The Birthday Party and the Bad Seeds, I don’t think Nick Cave has ever played Buffalo. I know that his Toronto shows always increase the amount of north-bound traffic on the Peace Bridge the nights he plays, at least for those who are lucky enough to get tickets. (Despite playing at sizeable venues, Bad Seeds shows sell out soon after they’re announced.) This new “documentary” about Cave is hardly a substitute for seeing one of his intense, theatrical performances, but it’s a hell of a lot cheaper and you only have to get to downtown Buffalo.

Framed as the singer-songwriter’s experiences sometime in June 2012—his 20,000th day on earth—this film by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard is hardly cinema verite. Cave is seen beginning his day, musing on his routine and the influence of his wife on his work. (“Every secret sacred moment between a husband and wife is cannibalized, turned into a song, inflated and monstrous.” What Mrs. Cave thinks about this is not revealed to us.) Cave also writes poetry, novels and screenplays, and he makes the point that this is the loneliest art, “tapping and scratching away day and night sometimes.”

Of course watching him tapping and scratching would make for an awfully dull film, so we see rehearsal sessions for the recording of his most recent album, Push the Sky Away; meetings with his current chief collaborator, Warren Ellis, fanciful meetings in his car with past collobrators Ray Winstone, guitarist Blixa Bargeld (who assures us there was no rancor in his leaving what some of us felt was Cave’s best band) and Kylie Minogue, whose appearance on his 1996 single “Where the Wild Roses Grow” briefly made him a pop star in England. At the piano he performs a new song, “Give us a Kiss,” and the “day” concludes with snippets from a concert at the Sydney Opera House. If you’re not already a Cave fan it won’t make you one, but if you are you wouldn’t want to miss it.

20,000 Days on Earth will have one screening on 7 pm Wed (10/22) at Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Arts Center (712 Main Street) Tickets are $7.


Watch the trailer for 20,000 Days on Earth

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