Classic 80s Movie: “Repo Man”

December 30th, 2013 by

Today’s Classic 80s Movie guest post comes from Matt Clarke.

Movie Title: Repo Man

Year: 1984

Writer/Director: Alex Cox

Lead Actors: Emilio Estevez, Harry Dean Stanton.

Plot Summary: Young punk Otto becomes a repo man after helping to steal a car, and stumbles into a world of wackiness as a result.

Why I Think This Is A Classic 80s Movie: I’ve been a big fan of Repo Man since I first watched it in a locked study room at the library in my old University. If you asked me what I liked about it right after that first viewing, I’d probably tell you about the oddball 50s comic serial vibe, the cool surf punk soundtrack and the surprisingly spiritual themes that run throughout. Overall, It is a story that wouldn’t be able to exist without the world that was created for it, right down to the agents with metal hands or the nihilisitc punks taking on one liquor store at a time – a classic example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

Conning TV evangelists, smooth Hispanic repo rivals, men in black style feds; Repo Man bubbles in its own mythology. This will give you a good idea of what I mean:

But my love of Repo Man only grew upon discovering Alex Cox’s website. His extensive library of screenplays (check it out if you haven’t – it’s a fucking goldmine), prove that the themes on discussion here are apparent in his entire body of work. From the pulp trash style and the channeling of contemporary zeitgeists, Cox recycles as much as he innovates. The cypher may change, but the cores stay true to himself.

So why don’t I think his other films have made the same impression as Repo Man? For one, the performances. Emilio Estevez might have nailed the dissolute loner drifiting aimlessly in a punk apocalypse but it is the ecclectic cast of sardonic repo people that have it down. Harry Dean Stanton has never been better as Otto’s mentor, the speed-snorting, perenially pissed off Bud; his pitch-perfect performance hitting us in the face as soon as he coaxes his prodige-to-be to help get his wife’s car out of ‘this bad area’. And then there is the horrendously overlooked Sy Richardson as Lite, the gun-toting Dirty Harry of the repo game. On top of that you still need to add Tracy Walter as junkyard philosopher Miller, Olivia Barash as Otto’s geeky squeeze and Fox Harris who puts in one helluva demented stab as lobotomised scientist/alien corpse courier J Frank Parnell.

The icing on the proverbial cake, however, is the ending. Suddenly all this talk of time machines and flying saucers makes sense as the now luminous Chevy Malibu takes off. With one last gasp, the film transcends its trash genre trappings and enters into the pantheon of greatness. If you don’t believe me, take a look for yourself:

My Favorite Moment In The Movie: Despite being Otto’s story, Harry Dean Stanton’s Bud is the one you’ve come to see. Their mentor-mentee relationship is the best thing about the film. Here’s why:

My Favorite Dialogue In the Movie:

Duke: “The lights are growing dim Otto. I know a life of crime has led me to this sorry fate, and yet, I blame society. Society made me what I am.”
J Frank Parnell: “Eveyone could stand a hundred x-rays a year!”
Miller: “The life of a repo man is always intense.”
Bud: “Look at those assholes, ordinary fucking people.”
Agent Rogersz: “ It happens sometimes. People just explode. Natural causes.”
Bud: “You know, kid, uh, usually when when someone pulls shit like that, my first reaction is, I wanna punch his fuckin’ lights out. But you know something? YOU’RE ALL RIGHT.”
Oly: “Best goddamn car on the lot”
Bud: “…and that’s why I don’t know a repo man that don’t do speed.”

And then there’s this gem from Miller. It’s theme time everybody!

Key Things You Should Look For When Watching This Movie: I could go on and on about the fun visual flourishes that Repo Man basques in or how the film sizzles in its own satire but, for me, it is the soundtrack that pulls the whole thing together. Whether we are careening through an aqueduct repo race or pondering on Otto’s melacholia, The Plugz mould their own particular brand of soulful surf punk into a fitting, and often powerful, score to set the mood.

As well as this, Repo Man boasts a crop of tracks from the burgeoning LA scene that, again, helps to weave the tapesty in place. From Black Flag’s ‘TV Party’ to Suicidal Tendencies ‘Institutionalized’ and even the inclusion of a live Circle Jerks performance, Repo Man has an awesomely solid musical accompaniment from beginning to end. And that’s not even mentioning Iggy Pop’s inclusion of the film’s title track and this fucking great piece of rugged pop by Jonathan Richman and his Modern Lovers:

Thanks, Matt! To show our gratitude for your guest post, here’s a dash of creative juju for you. Whoosh!

Tomorrow: Two more Classic 80s Movies!

Hidden Movie Gem: “Repo Man”

October 15th, 2013 by

Today’s Hidden Movie Gem guest post comes from David Joyner.

Movie Title: Repo Man

Year: 1984

Writer: Alex Cox

Lead Actors: Harry Dean Stanton and Emilio Estevez.

Director: Alex Cox

Plot Summary: Young punk Otto becomes a repo man after helping to steal a car, and stumbles into a world of wackiness as a result.

Why I Think This Movie Is A Hidden Gem: This movie stands out as an example of a story with lots of interesting characters, unusual plot twists, and comic dialog. It mixes the punk rock culture with the repo men culture, with the LA crime scene, with
science fiction and aliens, with government conspiracy theories. Extremely well-done low budget sci-fi comedy with a good punk rock music sound-track.

My Favorite Moment In The Movie: The grocery store scene: The scene where Otto gets fired from the supermarket (Kevin sings a 7-Up jingle, Otto tells him to shut up, gets into an argument, Otto gets fired; it is in fact a combination of 2 different scenes in the online script).

KEVIN
Feelin’ 7-Up, I’m feelin’ 7-Up,
Feelin’ 7-Up, I’m feelin’ 7-Up,
It’s a crisp refreshing feelin’, crystal clear and light,
Ameria’s drinkin’ 7-Up and it sure feels right,
Feelin’ like a 7-

OTTO
Kevin, stop singing, man!

KEVIN
Huh? I wasn’t singing, guy.

Otto puts a price sticker on Kevin’s glasses with his sticker gun.

OTTO
I’m standing right next to you and you’re fuckin’ singing.
Now, cut it out!

Mr Humphries (his boss) walks up and Otto ends up getting fired.

It is a very funny scene.

My Favorite Dialogue In the Movie: “John Wayne was a fag” scene

MILLER :John Wayne was a fag
ALL: The hell he was!
MILLER: He was, too, you guys. I installed two-sided mirrors at his pad in Brentwood and he came to the door in a dress.

Then there is an argument whether dressing in women’s clothing and watching your buddies have sex makes you a “homo”.  Again, very funny. See page 39 in script, online.

Key Things You Should Look For When Watching This Movie:

A very young Miguel Sandoval as Archie.

Emilio Estevez and Harry Dean Stanton in one of their best roles.

Some say the performance of Zander Schloss (who, in real life, was the bassist for the band who performed in the movie) as Kevin inspired the Napolean Dynamite character.

Move Trailer:

“John Wayne was a fag” scene:

Repo Man can also be found on Nicolas Winding Refn’s DVD Picks (see the 1:20 point):

There is a Criterion version available:

Criterion

See also:

Alex Cox

Repo Man: The 79 page script, 13 page production proposal, 3 pages of sketches/comics/storyboards,  all in one pdf

Thanks, David! To show our gratitude for your guest post, here’s a dash of creative juju for you. Whoosh!

Tomorrow: Another Hidden Movie Gem!

Note: At this point, we have 29 guest posts. We are shooting for 31. If you’d like to submit a post for one of your favorite Hidden Movie Gems, please use the above template and email to me.

Also I’m looking for a special horror gem to post on Halloween Day.

You’ve done a great job so far, folks. Let’s finish this series strong!

October: Hidden Gem Month?

September 17th, 2013 by

Note: I intend this post to gauge your interest in taking on what I think could be a cool series, but I take my damn sweet time getting to that point, so please be patient and read through my musings until you hit the payoff toward the end. Thanks!

Here in the Wonderful World of GITS, I’m always trying to think of ways to provide information, inspiration and insight for readers. That was the driving force behind my commitment to doing interviews with screenwriters on a regular basis, a weekly series that judging from the email and Tweets I get, is quite popular. As well it should be. What better way to learn about how to write and think like a professional screenwriter than hearing first-hand from professional screenwriters.

Another thing that emerged this year is a rotating monthly series of daily posts occupying the Noon (Eastern) 9AM (Pacific) slot. Thus far this year, we have had the following:

April: Story Idea Each Day for a Month

May: Movies You Made

June: 30 Days of Screenplays

July: Movie Story Types

August: Scene Description Spotlight

September: Scene-Writing Exercises

I look at that list and I think that’s pretty good, as it c0vers a lot of ground. But what to do for October?

Then it hit me: In my never ending quest to motivate folks to watch movies, why not a Hidden Gem Month? What’s more, what if I reached out to the GITS community and offered any of you interested to write a guest blog post? Do you have a favorite movie that deserves more attention than it gets?

Perhaps an older film hidden in the shadows of time.

Maybe a cult classic.

How about a foreign film.

I’d like to gauge your interest in taking this on. If I can get 25 people to commit to writing a brief Hidden Gems guest post, I think that would be totally cool. Imagine the variety of movies we could amass. I would create a post template to make it easy on you, all you’d have to do is plug in the information, provide a couple of paragraphs about why you love the movie so much and why we should all watch it, and you’d not only be doing a public service, you’d also get your name in some bright bloggy lights!

So who’s up for PROJECT HIDDEN GEMS?

I can think of so many hidden gems I’d love to promote. Here’s one:

That’s right, Repo Man, a cult classic if there ever was one, the 1984 movie written and directed by Alex Cox, starring a who’s who of great character actors including Harry Dean Stanton and Tracey Walter, where many of the key characters are named after beer (Oly, Bud, Miller, Lite), and featuring a musical appearance by none other than The Circle Jerks doing an acoustic version of “When the Shit Hits the Fan.”

How about you? Surely you’ve got a hidden gem you would love to brag on. Here’s your chance.

Can I get 25 movie loving souls to step up for this project? And to sweeten the pot, each one who participates will receive a special batch of GITS creative juju!

So whaddya say? Are you in… or are you in?

Daily Dialogue — April 3, 2013

April 3rd, 2013 by

DUKE: Otto?
OTTO: Yeah, I’m here, man.
DUKE: The lights are growing dim. I know a life of crime led me to this sorry fate. And yet… I blame society. Society made me what I am.
OTTO: That’s bullshit. You’re a white suburban punk just like me.
DUKE: But it. Still. HURTS.
OTTO: You’re gonna be alright, man. Maybe not.

Repo Man (1984), written by Alex Cox

The Daily Dialogue theme for the week is death suggested by SandbaggerOne. Today’s suggestion by JasperLamarCrab.

Trivia: The Repo Man’s code is based on an amalgamation of wisdom given to director Alex Cox when he was serving in real life as a repo man.

Dialogue On Dialogue: Commentary by Jasper: “Dialogue take-away: This heartless and hilarious scene shows two deaths – a physical death, and the death of a ‘white suburban punk’s’ illusions about his life and his responsibility for it.”

Daily Dialogue — February 27, 2012

February 27th, 2012 by

Otto and Kevin, in the supermarket, facing cans of generic yellow cling sliced peaches.

KEVIN Do Do Do De Do De Do De Do De Do Feeling Do De Da Do De Do De Do Feeling seven-up. I’m feeling seven-up. Feeling seven up. I’m feeling seven up. It’s a crisp refreshing feeling crystal clear and light. America’s drinking seven-up and it sure feels right. Feeling lucky seven.

Otto puts price sticker on Kevin’s glasses.

OTTO Kevin stop singing man.

KEVIN Feeling seven eleven.

KEVIN Hum. I wasn’t singing guy.

OTTO I’m standing right next to you and you’re fucking (flippin) singing. Cut it out.

KEVIN Jeeze. Why so tense guy?

MR. HUMPHRIES Otto?

KEVIN Mister Humphries!

MR. HUMPHRIES You were late again this morning. Now normally I’d let it go but it’s been brought to my attention that you’re not paying attention to the way you space the cans. Many young men of your age in these uncertain times-

MR. HUMPHRIES Otto! Are you paying attention to me?

LOUIE Hey! He’s talking to you!

Kevin chuckles

Otto grabs Kevin by the front of his shirt, steps around him, and pushes him into the stack of cans (this has been described as a goof but it’s clearly just a case of awkward staging used to make the shot work).

Louie pulls his gun.

LOUIE (Basta!)

KEVIN You gotta love getting fired from your job in a big way, Otto.

MR. HUMPHRIES What are you laughing at? Louie, throw him out too.

LOUIE Come on you worm. Get out of here.

Louie shoves Kevin down aisle where Otto is walking out. Otto takes off his clip-on bow tie and tosses it back towards Louie. Louie twirls his gun and puts it away. Note that the store aisle is lined with nothing but generic products, plain black lettering on white background. All products in movie from now on will have this appearance.

— Otto (Emilio Estevez), Kevin (Zander Schloss), Mr. Humphries (Charles Hopkins), Repo Man (1984), written by Alex Cox

The Daily Dialogue theme for the week is getting fired, suggested by lizswan. Today’s suggestion by pliny the elder.

Trivia: All the repo men (except Otto) are named after beers.