Alex Cox

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Repo Man Review


Excellent
Repo Man is 20 years old now, and time's given it the look feel of a documentary. Not because it's factually accurate about anything - this is a movie about a space alien glowing in the trunk of an elderly Malibu, after all. But it has an earnest feel for its particular place (underclass L.A.), time (early '80s), and subculture (punk-rock underground) that gives it an aura of truth. Willfully absurd and rich with ironic joking, it was released by Universal but had a spirited indie feel that even most indie films a decade later couldn't match. L.A. punk's moment as a defining part of youth culture is long past, but wherever you see young snotbags and anti-authoritarian pranking today on film and TV, you can bet somebody working on the script was cribbing from Repo Man.

In one of his first leading roles, Emelio Estevez plays Otto, a young punker who's found himself stuck in a dead-end spiral: A cheating girlfriend, zombified parents who live under the hypnotic spell of a televangelist, and crummy job at a supermarket where his best friend is the geeky Kevin (Zander Schloss), who's a sort of proto-Napoleon Dynamite. Lured in by Bud (Harry Dean Stanton), a dissipated, disjointed, and cranked-up repo man, Otto begins a new life freeing cars from delinquent owners. Nobody in the repo shop is particularly likeable, but they have the benefit of non-mainstream quirkiness, particularly Miller (Tracy Walter), a half-homeless hanger-on who expounds on a variety of deep matters: John Wayne's sexual proclivities, the ubiquity of tree-shaped air fresheners, and the synchronicities of everyday life.

Continue reading: Repo Man Review

Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas Review


Very Good
You might be tempted to dismiss Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as a curiosity, an attempt to exploit the pockets of fame enjoyed by Hunter S. Thompson and director Terry Gilliam.

When I first saw the film in 1998, that's what I did.

Continue reading: Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas Review

Breakfast With Hunter Review


Very Good
"Breakfast" for Hunter S. Thompson means a tray full of uneaten food and a large glass of ice filled with Chivas Regal.

With the meal out of the way, we can sit down to the rest of this documentary, a rough and unpolished chronicle of a few years in Thompson's life, roughly 1996-1998, during the planning and making of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Director Wayne Ewing must be great friends with the notorious writer, as he appears to have unhindered access to the minutiae of Hunter's life. In addition to the various meetings (lots of honorary dinners, lots of speeches in his honor, a handful of public appearances), we go behind the scenes -- most notably to bear witness to his squabbles with Repo Man director Alex Cox, the original director of Fear and Loathing, who wants to have a cartoon opening to the movie.

Continue reading: Breakfast With Hunter Review

Death And The Compass Review


Good
The director of Repo Man takes an Argentinian short story by Jorge Luis Borges and brings it to the screen with his curious style. Surrealistic and considerably detailed considering its low budget, the cryptic tale may give you a headache if the jarring editing and fish-eye lenses don't. Peter Boyle is always fun, here as a detective in a city filled with nothing but cops and robbers and few people in between, but Cox's tale isn't nearly the goofy thrill that Repo Man was.
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