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The Birthday Party (#110 of 2)

Berlinale 2014 20,000 Days on Earth

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Berlinale 2014: 20,000 Days on Earth
Berlinale 2014: 20,000 Days on Earth

20,000 Days on Earth is a highly polished, carefully constructed docu-fiction hybrid about singer-songwriter Nick Cave, an artist who’s all about construction, polish (dig those dapper suits), and self-invention. Directors Jane Pollard and Iain Forsyth were previously commissioned by Cave to film 14 short making-of documentaries packaged with the recent reissue of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds’ discography. So they have, in their way, already made their definitive-ish biographical portrait of Cave, his band, and his music. This is not that.

Instead, 20,000 Days takes the form of an imagined day in the life of Cave, as he drives his luxury car to his therapist, has lunch with bandmate Warren Ellis, heads to an archive loaded with bric-à-brac from his past (a scene that includes a hilariously detailed breakdown on an instance when a German concertgoer urinated on Birthday Party bassist Tracey Pew that plays like a deconstruction scene from JFK), and snacks on pizza while watching Scarface with his twin sons. In between, we’re treated to scenes of Cave working through material for his latest Bad Seeds album, Push the Sky Away, live concert footage, and chats with past collaborators Ray Winstone and Kylie Minogue.

Interview: Ian McKellen and Sean Mathias on Waiting for Godot and No Man’s Land

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Interview: Ian McKellen and Sean Mathias on Waiting for Godot and No Man’s Land
Interview: Ian McKellen and Sean Mathias on Waiting for Godot and No Man’s Land

The paired productions of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land, currently on Broadway, offer the rare treat of seeing two 20th-century classics back to back in repertory, and the opportunity to see Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart give virtuoso displays of their considerable theatrical skills. The knighted English actors, of course, started their careers on the stage, long before they became international screen stars, best known, respectively, for the Lord of the Rings and Star Trek franchises, and, together, for their characters with super powers in the X-Men series. On Broadway, Sir Ian is collaborating with Sean Mathias, the Welsh-born director, with whom he’s enjoyed a personal, artistic, and professional relationship for over three decades. I recently talked to the actor and director about their long-term friendship, and about the two plays at the Cort Theatre.