I've been sitting here for a while now, staring at the blinking cursor on my blank screen, trying to think of something to say about the collector's edition--out this week--of the 1984 Alex Cox film, Repo Man. What do you say about a film that is quoted, still to this very day and largely unknowingly, by young punk wannabes, suburban potheads, and 30-something film nerds, but probably would elicit a "what?" from this decade's stock of yawning teenagers? Let alone that Repo Man couldn't get made in this decade, or the next, or the next after that. It's too political, satirical, and absurd; it reaches way beyond any current measuring stick we have for political, satirical, absurdist films--beyond Mean Girls, beyond Election, beyond whatever's dubbed the newest "piercing look at today's youth." Bah. Piercing look my ass.
Maybe I'll use some kind of joke for an introduction, something political and absurd, you know, just to mirror what I feel about this film? How about this: "So, a British guy wearing a headband and the inventor of the neutron bomb are sitting around one afternoon watching clips from the film Repo Man..." That's the start of a pretty great joke, no? Except, right then when you were thinking, "Hey, great joke!" I was chuckling because what you don't know is that the British guy is director Alex Cox and the inventor of the neutron bomb is Sam Cohen, inventor of the neutron bomb, and yes, they really are sitting around watching Repo Man--in fact, they're part of a bonus featurette on the disc. Cohen is relaxing in a barcalounger, his feet up. He wonders aloud in a gravelly voice, "What's that Emilio Estevez--that is his name?--up to these days?" Alex Cox doesn't know. He thinks Emilio might be trying his hand at directing, but he's not sure.
That's so obviously punk rock, right? A winking put-on by Cox for the DVD release, the disheveled scientist an unwitting stand-in for The Man. You think, "Poor guy's gonna get eviscerated by this aging punk rocker!" But it turns out that Sam Cohen called Alex Cox--essentially invited himself over--because next to Dr. Strangelove, Repo Man is his favorite film.