Alex Cox’s Repo Man isn’t quite as cool as it makes itself out to be. A hodgepodge compendium of prankish antics on the fringes of the Los Angeles slums, Repo Man constantly goes off in all directions with some funny bits and with lots of weirdness tied into a punk rock sensibility and a general malaise with the life and times of Reagan’s America. For the generation who made it and grew up loving it, it’s likely nirvana, but all others will likely find its charms fleeting at best.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English PCM 1.0 (Mono)
Subtitles: English SDH
Run Time: 1 Hr. 32 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-raycardboard case with slipcover
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 04/16/2013
When eighteen-year old Otto (Emilio Estevez) quits his job, he’s scooped up off the streets by middle-aged repo man Bud (Harry Dean Stanton) and brought into the business. Otto quickly learns to enjoy the work even though he finds rival repossession agents (Del Zamora, Eddie Velez) and some former acquaintances-turned-robbers (Dick Rude, Jennifer Balgobin, Miguel Sandoval) a pain to deal with while doing his job while his few friends find his new line of work crazy. Otto and the rest of the repo junkies are hot on the trail of a Chevy Malibu which has a high sticker reward for its capture, but little do they know that the rundown vehicle currently being driven by the spaced-out J. Frank Parnell (Fox Harris) has something radioactively alien in the trunk which can incinerate a person instantly who stares directly into it.
The Production Rating: 3/5
Alex Cox’s wacky take on the fringe element in L.A. certainly has more than a grain of truth going for it as Otto and Bud’s various exploits run them into a host of strange and subversive character types. The very idea that government agents are traipsing around Los Angeles in hazmat suits isn’t even given a second glance in the L.A. pictured in the movie, and everyone’s singular ideas about what’s moral and what’s corrupt seems to work in his own individual mindset even if it conflicts with those around each of them. Cox revels in his weird cast of characters: the repo yard inhabitants include the loony philosophical Miller (Tracey Walter), the no-nonsense Lite (Sy Richardson), and the former cop Plettschner (Richard Foronjy) who sits and knits on the job. He gets his digs in at television evangelists who continually beg for donations and the enigmatic CIA operatives who expect instant cooperation without offering any explanation and directs a crackerjack shootout at a local liquor store that takes one aback. But while the tone is whacked-out whimsy, the movie remains a rather exhausting mess of ideas without much organization and clearly no satisfactory ending.
Harry Dean Stanton is his usual nobly deluded self spouting homilies and fighting to maintain his dignity as he steals his next car. Emilio Estevez matches him as a young middle class punk learning the streets with an acknowledged master. Dick Rude, Miguel Sandoval, and Jennifer Balgobin are the essence of punk as the three hopped-up street kids earning their cred by robbing indiscriminately. Olivia Barash as a fleeting love interest and Fox Harris as the driver of the car carrying the hot alien substance and dying a little bit throughout the movie also make notable appearances.
The film has been framed at the director’s preferred 1.78:1 aspect ratio and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. This does not look like a film that was made almost three decades ago: sharpness is superb, and color throughout is wonderfully saturated without blooming (except when it’s meant to as the trunk gets opened occasionally to incinerate whoever is unlucky enough to be standing in its path). Black levels are excellent, and detail throughout is spot-on. The film has been divided into 18 chapters.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The PCM 1.0 (1.1 Mbps) sound mix delivers a near-perfect rendition of a mono film from this era with no age-related artifacts interrupting one’s enjoyment of the audio. Dialogue is also clear and clean, and sound effects and the notable punk rock score by Steven Hufsteter and Tito Larriva (title song by Iggy Pop) has excellent fidelity.
Audio Rating: 4.5/5
Audio Commentary: director Alex Cox, executive producer Michael Nesmith, casting director Victoria Thomas, and actors Del Zamora, Zander Schloss, and Sy Richardson have a lively conversation while watching the film. Fans will enjoy their comments as the long, winding saga of the film’s production is unveiled.
Special Features Rating: 5/5
Plate o’ Shrimp (19:19, HD): actors Dick Rude, Olivia Barash, and Miguel Sandoval along with musician Keith Morris talk about the punk rock influences on the film’s sensibility and soundtrack.
Iggy Pop Interview (11:57, HD): a 2012 interview with the legendary punk rock musician explains how he came to the project and how he was given a free hand to do as he pleased with the music.
Repossessed (25:31, HD): a 2005 roundtable discussion between director Alex Cox and producers Peter McCarthy and Jonathan Wacks. Their comments are abetted by additional interviews with actors Dick Rude, Del Zamora, and Sy Richardson.
Harry Zen Stanton (21:21, HD): the character actor espouses his philosophy of life interviewed in 2005 by film producer Peter McCarthy.
The Missing Scenes (25:11, HD): a montage of outtakes from the film with comments on them from producer Michael Nesmith, director Alex Cox, scientist Sam Cohen, and actor Fox Harris.
The TV Version (1:36:54, HD): the “cleaned-up” broadcast version of the film with profanity removed and outtakes added back in assembled by the director and actor Dick Rude. It’s presented in 4:3.
Theatrical Trailers (4:05, HD): two trailers presented in montage form.
69-Page Booklet: contains the chapter listing, cast and crew lists, Alex Cox’s illustrative “The Repo Code,” author Sam McPheeters’ critical history of the film and of Cox’s career, and an interview with real-life repo man Mark Lewis.
Timeline: can be pulled up from the menu or by pushing the red button on the remote. It shows you your progress on the disc, the title of the chapter you’re now in, and index markers for the commentary that goes along with the film, all of which can be switched on the fly. Additionally, two other buttons on the remote can place or remove bookmarks if you decide to stop viewing before reaching the end of the film or want to mark specific places for later reference.
Another in this month’s cult items from Criterion, Alex Cox’s Repo Man offers some satirical comedy in the guise of a sci-fi punk film which has a loyal and devoted audience. A generous collection of extras add substance to an elaborate Criterion Blu-ray release.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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