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.


Repo Man – DE LEON, Pristine

The film Repo Man, at first, seemed to me, a movie about punks. Throughout the movie, I couldn’t exactly understand anything beyond the idea of punk rebellion. The lead character Otto displayed a lot of teenage angst even from the beginning, when he quitted his job at a supermarket in a very brash and boorish manner.

Otto was in his teens. Popular culture characterizes the years of being a teen as an age of instability. It usually associates being a teen with having an unexplainable anguish towards a specific order and consequently having an irrational desire for rebellion, a desire to overthrow that order. Repo Man, on the other hand, somehow justifies this irrationality as it calls to attention some aspects of society that are exceedingly problematic, thereby giving justification to the rebelliousness of the teen.

It took me a while to understand what it was about society against which they found it right to rebel. Reading a few blogs or interpretations about the film, I had the impression that the movie employed certain elements of satire. In general, it poses a commentary on problematic issues present in modern day society— consumerism and people’s fixation with material commodities. Thus, it was the duty of a Repo Man to, quite literally, “repossess” one of these objects which is the car.

To some extent, whenever these men take away the car, they return what the material object has taken away from their previous owners. Some people who have become fixated with their possessions have experienced a kind of trance that dehumanizes the owner of the object, producing a sense of alienation. One case is Otto’s parents whose minds have been numbed and hypnotized by a TV set. They stare blankly into it, deeply attached to the object and tragically disconnected from the world and from their own humanity. This numbing of the consciousness even recasts religion and beliefs as physical commodity. It is almost as though there is a cost to religion, as though it should be paid for or it can be bought. There is somewhat a commodification of an abstract ideal which is religion or belief.

The Repo Men here are depicted as the heroes who remove the mind numbing craze inflicted by consumerist products. Also, they embody that vitality that has been lost from those more attached to material objects. Their way of life is in itself a form of rebellion against society, or more likely, against the consumerist ideas that altered and dehumanized society. Exhibiting a radical contrast to those like Otto’s parents who are in a state of entrapment, the repo men are free and ecstatic as they live out their everyday adventures. As Bud had said to Otto, “the life of a repo man is always intense.”

One objective of the Repo Man, quite philosophically, is to break free from society while simultaneously setting society free from its own entrapment generated by a ridiculous attachment to material commodities.

The ending of the movie is an interesting subject to discuss. It is open to a multiplicity of interpretations and if I were to give it one, I would say that the ending may perhaps suggest that an energy beyond this world had ultimately liberated the Repo Man. The idea of extra terrestrials denotes that although they are radioactive, they are at the same time free from the corruptions inflicted by this world and society in particular. They represent an “other world” in which consumerism is not a widespread phenomenon. They contain a certain otherworldly essence that transcends and usurps our highly material and commoditized world.

Otto and Miller’s flight through the radioactive car could indicate that their rejection of the system grants them a transcendental experience, allowing them to escape from the dehumanizing threats of the material and into a freer, higher state of life.

Repo Man – CANLAS, Punky

As much as I would hate to admit it, I really enjoyed watching Repo Man in class. It was my first time to see this, but I was immediately drawn to its “punk” theme — and no, my liking of this has nothing to do with my name being Punky. Honestly,  this film reminded me so much of the hit movie Grease, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John — most probably because of the similar themes, costumes, and settings in which both take place. Adding to that, and this may seem quite odd, the film also seemed reminiscent of some of the late Michael Jackson’s music videos (specifically, the video of “Bad”) because of its punk-rebel story.

The story was pretty simple, and easy to follow; Otto, a “suburban punk” filled with teenage angst, was tricked into joining a car repossession group — then everything normal followed after that, until they found out about a car running around with a supposed “alien” stored in its trunk (shown during the beginning of the movie). Oh, and before I forget, everyone who opens the trunk to take a look at the “alien” eventually gets zapped into oblivion — one of the reasons why I liked Repo Man so much, even if the zapping (and many other effects in this movie) was extremely unrealistic. Without a doubt, Repo Man would probably make it into the top-3 of my Movies-with-Awful-Effects list (if such a list existed), but instead of being annoyed by this, I was actually entertained.

It was mentioned during our discussion that Repo Man was considered a cult film, and I did not understand why. However, when I took time to think about it (and read a bit into it), I guess such was said because of how the film was in relation to people and their obsession with material things — as said by some reviews, the human’s obsession with consumerism. That was when it all made sense to me; Otto’s parents glued to their television screen watching some religion channel, all those random air-fresheners, the generic-labelled products found in the stores, and even the cars in general — all are kind of human obsessions. A lot of this movie’s weight comes from how we (humans) not just in Repo Man, but also in real life, tend to get so immersed in the whole idea of consumerism. That we are all drowning in a pool of material possession, as well as obsession. From this, I was able to get why some online reviews talked about Repo Man being a film also related to religion. The want and need for all the material things shown in the film is too much, that these become objects of “worship” — in result, these become “sacred” to the consumer/person.

I’m not quite sure about how I understood the end of Repo Man, but seeing how Otto got in the car with Miller (the mechanic) sort of gave me this impression that they were the two (in the movie) who didn’t really get too caught up in the whole consumerism idea. It kind of seemed to me like they “left everything behind,” but I may be wrong. Repo Man was a pretty weird film, but I really enjoyed it.

Repo Man – YAP, Alaine

Out of all the films we’ve viewed in class, this one is by far my favorite. Despite its low quality effects, I loved the film because it was very light compared to the other movies we’ve watched. I didn’t have to rack my brain so much. After having watched Barton Fink, this movie was really a huge reliever for me.

This film was more relatable for most of us, I guess, since the main character was a teenager going through those rebellious years. Otto had a fake ID, drinks, gets into trouble, cusses, and talks back, typical of most teenagers. Most people say that this is when kids are at a lost and try to “find” themselves. I guess it is true. Being eighteen most of us had to already prepare for our future: find a good college, pick a course that we want to focus on, sometimes we go into something we’re not even sure about yet and just hope it sticks. I think this is what Otto did in the film, went into the repossession business unsure. But it was a fast way of earning money. Isn’t that what most teens want? A faster, easier way? Otto was a great representation of teenage angst. Doing all things illegal or forbidden thinking he doesn’t need anybody else but himself. Funny is despite trying to put up a tough exterior, there are parts in the film where his “kid” side shows. Like when the going gets tough, the shoot out, whenever they try to steal cars, and all that, Otto would panic and cry out like a little kid, not knowing what to do.

Eventually in the film, Otto starts to trust in other people, in his repo family. You can say that he’s starting to grow up and understand the world better. That life is better with relationships. You can see this in the way he cared for his friend Bud, and when Debbi was in trouble in the office. But of course, he was still a kid. In the end of the film, he had a choice between a woman vs. aliens, he chose the aliens. So funny.

A detail I found to be hilarious in the film is how their consumable are all generically labeled. I first noticed it during the supermarket scene when Otto and his friend were stacking cans. All the products in the grocery were packaged similarly – white and blue. I’m not really sure why this is, but my theory would be in relation to it being a low-budget film. Maybe they didn’t have any sponsors?

Though I don’t really know how Alex Cox could make such a movie concerning repo men and aliens, I mean the two are just way different to even think about at the same time. I admire his imagination for it. I’m not really sure if I’m supposed to learn something regarding the whole aliens at the back of the trunk thing, they weren’t even shown in the movie. I’m guessing it’s just something to help keep the audience at the edge of their seats. Drag them along through the whole film hoping these aliens would have some sort of major significance. But I really didn’t find any. I mean it’s a significant part of the film, but anything deeper than that I got none.