A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Repo Man

March 1, 2011

Repo Man

I really wanted to watch this movie right after we reviewed Southland Tales, but at the time we didn’t own it. I had seen Repo Man many years ago – some time in the eighties – and it made an impression on me. In particular the iconic crazy ending sequence stuck in my mind and Southland Tales reminded me of it in a lot of ways.

I freely admit that I missed the entire punk scene in the eighties. I knew only the kind of distilled cliche of punk that made it to the mainstream media. Like the annoying guy on the bus in Star Trek IV that Spock does the nerve pinch on. I get the feeling that this movie is a lot closer to the real world of punk, even though it spends most of its time poking fun at the stereotypes. But the whole attitude of the movie, which is kind of a giant raised middle finger to “the man” and the notion of normality, has that rebel air to it. There’s also a kind of edgy zero budget guerrilla film feel to the movie.

It’s a movie about people living on the fringes of society. Our anti-hero “Otto” is a slacker who at the start of the movie gives up on his menial stock-boy job and doesn’t really have any plan for his life. He encounters a repo-man named Bud who believes in a code and has a work ethic, but is using every con and trick he knows to steal cars from deadbeats who are behind on their payments. Bud takes Otto under his wing and tries to show him how to make it in the edgy, fast paced, dangerous world of the professional car repossession business.

All that is fairly normal. But there’s something else going on in this movie. For one thing the world Otto inhabits is one of odd co-incidences. There are running gags like the trio of punks (led by a friend and ex-girlfriend of Otto’s) who rob every convenience store Otto goes in to. There’s Otto’s nerdy friend Kevin who seems to show up in all the oddest places. There’s the fact that all the groceries and consumer products in this world are generic items with white labels and bold blue print. Miller, the mechanic at the lot where Bud and all his repo buddies work, seems well aware of just how strange the world they live in is. He has it all figured out.

Of course the coolest, and strangest, thing in this movie is contained in the trunk of a ‘64 Chevy Malibu that everybody wants to get their hands on. There’s a group of UFO freaks that wants it. There’s a shady MiB group with geiger counters, hazmat suits and a sinister cyborg leader. And there’s a $20,000 bounty on the car so naturally every repo man in LA wants it was well.

The whole charm of this movie is that it’s so incoherent. It is far more lucid than Southland Tales of course (though I still maintain that Southland Tales was in part inspired by this film) but it revels in its own sense of farce. There’s a good deal of wry comedy to the film, but it’s not necessarily played for laughs. Instead it tries to be funny by messing with your head, which is a much cooler way to do it. There are a lot of subtle gags that you won’t necessarily catch on the first viewing, which is cool as well because when your watching this movie you don’t necessarily think of it as subtle.

I miss the drugged out head-trip sci-fi of the eighties. This movie fits right in with Videodrome and The Naked Lunch. Just with a much smaller budget. It’s an edgy, weird micro genre that I don’t think exists any more. That’s kind of too bad.

March 1, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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