THE LIFE AND TIMES OF A REPO MAN

“Look at those assholes over there. Ordinary fucking people. I hate `em…………The American way of life is under threat from commies abroad and liberal capitalism at home. I don`t want no commies in my car. No Christians either……Nor any Goddamn dipshit-Rodriguez-gypsy-dildo-punks. I`l get your ass”

Very few movie scripts ever get mentioned in the same breath as great literature, which is not only a shameful oversight, but is also one which needs to be addressed. Repo Man is one of the great seminal independent movies of the 80`s. Written and directed by Brit Alex Cox, and starring Harry Dean Stanton and Emilio Estevez, it`s ostensibly a sci-fi movie with around a minute of sci-fi at best, but the rest is simply a glorious and vicious satire on the morally corrosive effects of Reaganomics on the American psyche, with it`s get rich quick, fuck-the-rest, greed is good attitude, which created great wealth, but also great poverty. It`s a mad, frenetic, weird, Breugelesque , hallucinogenic, modern wild west of a movie which rips along at lightning pace , culminating in a classic old Chevrolet turning into a time travelling star ship and taking our heroes on the trip of a life time.

 

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“Ever been to Utah? Ra-di-a-tion. Yes, indeed. You hear the most outrageous lies about it. Half-baked goggle -box do -gooders telling everybody it`s bad for you. Pernicious nonsense. Everybody could stand a hundred chest X-rays a year. They ought to have them, too. When they cancelled the project it almost did me in. One day my mind was full to bursting. The next day – nothing. Swept away. But I`l show them. I had a lobotomy in the end”

L.A. is at the vanguard of a world living on borrowed time; people throw plastic crap out of the windows of their cars, mountainous heaps of trash are piled up in cans bursting with the useless detritus of a failing consumerist civilisation. All is observed by Cox`s razor sharp screenplay, as kids fresh out of school aim to make it big in the new winner-takes-all society which has already failed them………….“There`s fucking room to move as a fry cook. I could be manager in two years. King. God”.

 

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Even when the whole pointlessness of existence is exposed, people still cling to myths. The day to day concerns of the little folk just trying to survive in the severe Reaganite furnace are overshadowed by the sinister behaviour of the ruling classes – the people who really pull the strings around here. Nuclear annihilation and the social moral vacuum are the central concerns of the movie: a scientist, unable to come to terms with developing the immorality of a bomb which kills people but leaves buildings standing, has undergone a lobotomy to ease the pain. It sums up the sickness and pain of a society which doesn`t recognize the boundaries of morality having been breached; the vaporizing of individuals as they open the trunk of his Chevy Malibu and find out first hand what it means to be embraced in the arms of neutron love, must have made real the wet dreams of Reaganite hawks.

 

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As the Malibu cruises aimlessly down the streets, spreading deadly radiation poisoning, people are unable to see what is going on under their noses because of their terminally limited world view. Everyone is immune to the reality, blinded by the dollar and their own ignorance of everything beyond their own concerns. The concern is making a buck, and then another as fast as possible – it doesn`t matter how. This is a world in the bottom of the trash can. Alex Cox`s script is highly literate and perceptive of a specific time and place; everyone is chasing the monetary Holy Grail which this car represents, a way out of the sink hole, even the guys who bragged they wouldn`t get killed over a car are putting themselves on the line, blinded by the dollars it represents. Even the flimsiest principles are gossamer when there`s money to be made. The dialogue is as sharp as an ice pick; and even as it cuts to the bone, it gives a glimmer of hope for us all at the very end…….If we`ve got the cahoonas to take the chance.

 

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