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I Like to Watch (Instantly): Repo Man

Notable titles from the Netflix Watch Instantly world

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Directed by Alex Cox

Cast: Olivia Barash, Harry Dean Stanton, Fox Harris, Tracey Walter, Emilio Estevez, Sy Richardson

Repo Man
Repo Man

In 1984, British director and self-proclaimed "radical filmmaker" Alex Cox managed to get the backing of Mike Nesmith and Universal Studios to make what is probably one of the great American satires. By Cox's account, nobody was watching over his shoulder as he hand-assembled an eclectic dream cast and shot his highly subversive, anti-nuclear, magical-realist, science fiction, punk rock black comedy until a new studio boss came in and almost scuttled the whole project. The cult-favorite soundtrack and a highly successful New York run saved the film from direct-to-video obscurity, and for this the world can be thankful.

Our story begins in New Mexico as J. Frank Parnell, inventor of the neutron bomb, begins his woozy trek across the desert to Los Angeles in a Chevy Malibu with a trunk full of instant death. At the same time in suburban L.A., our hero Otto (Emilio Estevez, in what is easily his finest screen role) finds himself at a crossroads, unfulfilled by work or home life and unrelieved by bouts of anti-social behavior. Happenstance lands him a job as an automobile repossessor. Will these two narrative vectors eventually intersect? Of course they will. What Repo Man has going for it (in spades) is an impressive take-no-prisoners attitude. Everything in '80s Los Angeles gets the shaft, from Dianetics to new age alien conspiracy theories to drugs to vapid consumer culture. And somehow there's even a True Grit-like coming-of-age character arc as Otto learns the "repo code" from crusty old Bud (Harry Dean Stanton). It's profane, energetic, hilarious and a goddamn cinematic pleasure; if you haven't tasted the delights of Repo Man, now is the time. HD available.