Repo Man – FELIX, Victor

Repo Man was, and I think most of the class would agree with me, the most familiar film we have seen this semester. It dealt with youth culture in a not so distant time and in an intimate setting. It dealt with world problems from a different era, yet it is easily equitable to problems that we experience in our own world today.
Right off the bat, the Repo Man theme hooks the viewer and also gives him a sense of the film’s vibe. It was a pleasant surprise when I found that it was performed by Iggy Pop, reminiscent of the time where artists like Morrissey and Blur and were at their peak. Although we were told prior to our viewing that it was a punk rock film of sorts, and the main character himself is a self-proclaimed ‘suburban punk’, it didn’t completely have punk rock overtones. I actually found it to have a lot of classic rock & roll undertones, as personified by Bud and Miller.
The first thing I noticed is that almost everyone in Repo Man is rude, tactless, or unmannerly. This clearly indicates that life is hard, and this is reinforced when the film shows excessive use of alcohol, drugs, and crime as a form of escapism. The people in the film stick and move, they act uncivilly, and they forget their actions easily. It is not hard to see that the youth, represented by Otto, have a disdain of and are alienated from what they consider as ‘normal people’.
I found it interesting that Otto was initially from a punk culture, has stoner parents from what is assumed to be the hippie generation, and he slowly transforms into a working man of society. It is ironic that he used to have anti-establishment tendencies, in that his job as a repossession man is leaning towards a conventional lifestyle but it also has the implicit disposition of being anti-consumerist. Repo men work for the bank in that they collect mortgages from unpaid loans. Unpaid loans, in turn, stem from excessive consumerism and lax debt management, all of which come from irresponsible spending.
The movie also plays on the themes of collective fear. As was mentioned, the problems and fears of the world in Repo Men such as aliens, nuclear winter, and war can easily translate to problems we have today, like global warming, large-scale natural disaster, nuclear war, and the collapse of the market. The ‘conspirator’ vibe imbibed by Miller is evocative of the commonplace fears the common man might have. This imbedded fear can affect the collective consciousness in unimaginative ways, and this is severely depicted in the scenes like where Otto’s parents squander off his college fund for tithing, or when Otto’s friends nonchalantly live a life of crime.
I would say that my favorite characters would be between Bud, since he portrays an unorthodox and maverick-like mentor, and Miller, in that his zaniness exceeds no one else, to the point of him seeming either ahead of his time or just plain insane. Bud is central to Otto’s character, since he introduces him to the life of a repo man and convinces him that this is the life Otto wants. True enough, Otto realizes that the life of a white punk is nothing compared to the ridiculous and adventure-filled endeavor that is repossessing: there is car chases, gun fights, deception, intrigue, and an authentic sense of danger and risk. It is too enjoyable and compatible that Otto cannot help but join the real world.
The character of Miller is not only important in the development of the character of Otto, but for the entire film as well. He speaks of ‘the plate of shrimp’ representing the ‘lattice of coincidences’, in that we are connected by one entire cosmic unconsciousness. I think he is referring to Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, wherein one chances upon an opaque piece of information, oftentimes an unfamiliar one, and then that person encounters the same subject again. This phenomenon is very interesting, since it has a lot to do with the patterns of our mind, wherein we place significance on information whenever such information repeats itself, thereby conforming to a cognizable pattern. This is very much related to what Miller is saying, because our minds perceive these occasions as coincidences when in reality, it is just one point in our mind-map which resurfaces, thereby creating the illusion of happenstance.
What I noticed about the film is its spot-on comedic timing. I think that one of the funnier scenes we have seen this semester is that of Duke and his gang. Lines like “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…” and “Yeah! Let’s go get sushi and not pay…” just left me bawling in laughter. Indeed, what makes this film so good is that these jokes can only come from this particular world.
The film achieves multifariousness and, oddly, some depth: I haven’t even touched on the subject of aliens and the Chevrolet Malibu! These two are recurring motifs in the film which both flesh it out and provides the build up for the punch line of an ending. It entices a second viewing and compels the viewer into delving deeper into the movie. All in all, the film provides a wild ride (literally) into the heart of derisory concurrence, the meeting of minds, and the collective anxiety of a people.


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