NOT long ago the LA Times put together a Sunday package on the best films about Los Angeles. I was lucky enough to draw “Repo Man,” a movie I watched so many times, with two different posses of high school friends, that the film’s dialogue became a kind of subcultural code.
The film is being screened tonight at New York’s Lincoln Center, in an honor we would not have expected as we shouted lines back to the TV screen while drinking pilfered beer back in the ’80s.
And of course I was pleased to see “Repo Man” screened at the Guadalajara International Book Fair a few weeks ago as a canonical LA film — alongside more obvious choices like “Chinatown” and “LA Confidential.” (The latter was the number one movie in the Times piece, by the way.)
Returning to the film as a nearly 40-year-old adult, I was struck by both how well the film had stood up and by the sense of lost promise of its director and stars. (Alex Cox, who now lives in Oregon, like a lot of people who burn out on LA, released a memoir in 2008.) Much of the soundtrack — Circle Jerks, Plugz, Black Flag doing “TV Party” — still sounds excellent to my ears. This movie captured something — culturally, and in terms of the talent assembled — that didn’t last long. But it’s now a rich and complex part of LA history.
Here is my little note on the film.