Sunday, January 29, 2006

Repo Man (1984)

Otto (Emilio Estevez) is disaffected, ambitious but dulled by empty opportunities, disconnected from his burned-out parents, and bored with his dead-end supermarket job, shelving generic products for zombie consumers. Like all good monomyth heroes, he enters an underworld to ultimately emerge a Repo Man -- where the life is "always intense." Loosely strung vignettes detailing Otto's education as a repossession artist at the hands of old pros Bud (Harry Dean Stanton) and Lite (Sy Richardson) are bisected by scenes featuring a rogue 1964 Chevy Malibu. Seems J. Frank Parnell, the raving crack-up aimlessly piloting the Malibu, is keeping a secret in the trunk. The secret might have to do with aliens, or with neutron bombs, or maybe with time machines, nobody knows and to a great extent it doesn't matter -- but the Government is for sure trying to retrieve it. So too are the repo men, because there's a $10,000 bounty attached to the car. Dioretix, anyone? 

Alex Cox's first feature film, shot guerilla-style around Los Angeles, features many players (Dick Rude, Zander Schloss, Miguel Sandoval) who would grace his later classics Walker (1987) and Straight to Hell (1987). Like Gilliam and Romero, Cox is an underappreciated (and usually underfunded) master of subversion. A savvy social satire, with allusions ranging from Kiss Me Deadly (1955) to Close Encounters (1977), not to mention enough inside jokes, sly cultural references, and running gags to make Thomas Pynchon's head spin. A cult classic, totally.


  1. This is one of my all time favorite films. The best line for me is when Bud and Otto are driving through a run-down part of town and Bud, looking in disgust at the homeless people/winos on the sidewalks, says to Otto, "Fucking trash! Makes you wonder how much they owe!" Classic!

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