Just last month Rolling Stone magazine named their 40 greatest rock documentaries of all time. Don't Look Back - a documentary about Bob Dylan's 1965 tour - was their number one.
However, a new documentary about Nick Cave, called 20,000 Days on Earth, is now out at the cinemas, and will surely be amongst the top ten the next time Rolling Stone magazine compiles their list.
20,000 Days on Earth is the number of days that Nick Cave has been alive (at the time of filming) - 54 years old. He is now nearing 56 but looks and acting nothing like it in this new documentary, which is a thrilling ride, both visually and musically, of this Australian-born musician who sings all sorts of songs, including rock, punk, alternative, gothic and experimental. Known mostly to the general public as Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, they have recorded 15 albums over the last 30 years, and Cave, separately, has composed the score to several films, including 2012's Lawless and 2009's The Road. And while they are not known for producing commercially successful music, they have been consistent in record sales throughout their career and their popularity amongst their fans has never waned.
20,000 Days on Earth is a unique vision of a staged day in the life of the iconic Cave - a fictitious 24 hours in the life of. In one scene, he gives an interview to a psychoanalyst, talking about his life, including the death of his father when he was 19. We see Cave driving through the streets of Brighton, his adopted home, and a city he loves so much. In the film he tells us he eats, sleeps, shits, plays music, watches television - ah, the life of a musician. We get to see him in his studio, creating music with his band, which includes his longtime collaborator Warren Ellis, who is prominently featured in the film (including a scene shot at his home which overlooks the white cliffs of Dover). Cave also extolls the love that he has for his wife Susie. He says that when he first saw her she was a vision, and he just knew then (1997) that they were meant to be together. While she does not appear in the film, Cave's extreme love for her is present throughout. Roy Winstone appears in the film, discussing with Cave, while he drives, the merits of being rich and famous. We also get to see Cave drive around Kylie Minogue, as she sits in the back seat of his car they reminisce about their 1996 hit song "Where the Wild Roses Grow." It's a special moment in the film as they reminisce about their past like it was just yesterday, when Minogue was dating the late Michael Hutchence
The film blends storytelling with performance and visualization which makes it neither a music documentary nor a concert film - it's more than that. We see songs that get begin as an idea and then get hatched onstage; we join him on a journey through his personal archive; and we see him with his two young boys on their sofa watching Scarface and eating pizza - it's a moment near the end of the film that brings Cave back to Earth.
The debut feature film by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, 20,000 Days on Earth is a fictional narrative on Nick's 20,000th day. Using his notebooks and having complete accessibility to Cave, they are able to construct a film that is unique in every way, and a film which shows a side of Cave that not many people have been privy to. And we get treated to, at the end, a performance by Cave and the Bad Seeds at the Sydney Opera House. Seeing him perform makes the hair on the back of your neck stick up, and this film will do the same. 20,000 Days on Earth will stand as one of the best rock n roll documentaries ever.