Last Days Review
By Shawn McKenzie 08/05/2005
Are most critics on crack now? Are they so tired of seeing big budget sequels and remakes this year that they will praise anything original? It’s the only reason I can come up with when I see that most critics are praising Gus Van Sant’s extremely boring Last Days.
To describe the plot is an exercise in futility, but I’ll give it a shot. Blake (Michael Pitt) is a rock star who apparently just escaped from his rehab and has decided to wander around his mansion located in a forest. He mumbles to himself throughout the movie, camps outside, takes his clothes off and takes a leak in the river, eats some cereal, makes some macaroni and cheese, watches half of Boyz II Men’s “On Bended Knee” video, plays a couple of original songs, and does other stuff…not necessarily in that order. His only contact from others is a friend named Luke (Lukas Haas) seeking his musical advice, a record executive (Kim Gordon) who thinks that he has become a cliché, a visit from a Yellow Pages salesman (Thadeus A. Thomas), and a guy (Harmony Korine) in an underground club while a band called The Hermitt is playing. Others are looking for him though. Aside from Blake’s wife and daughter, whom are living in L.A. (they are never seen or identified), he has a private investigator (Ricky Jay), his friend Donovan (Ryan Orion), his dealer Scott (Scott Green), and two local girls named Asia (Asia Argento) and Nicole (Nicole Vicius) trying to find him. There is a long pointless scene where Luke receives a visit from a pair of Church of the Latter Day Saints elders (Andy and Adam Friberg), which does nothing except for the purpose of stretching out the movie. Oh…then Blake kills himself, and a tree trimmer (Chip Marks) finds him the next day in his garden house. Did I mention that this movie was inspired by the last days of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain?
While they acknowledge the inspiration in the closing credits, it is not a biopic. It’s too bad…because physically, Pitt might have played a good Cobain in a proper movie. He wears the same flannel and striped sweaters as Cobain, and has that same mop-top blonde hair. Aside from the physical, Pitt’s performance of his own original song “Death to Birth” sounds like an outtake from Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged in New York album.
If this really was how it was during Cobain’s last days, those days must have been dull. Van Sant films almost everything in long extended scenes where nothing happens. During a performance of another original instrumental Pitt song named “That Day,” the audience has to squirm as the camera does a long shot into a wing of the house and sits there forever. Another shot has Luke performing some other song in the back of a car, which is not interesting in the slightest. Sometimes Van Sant will just focus on trees for like 20 seconds before going onto the next scene. Is this art? Watching paint dry would be more interesting. When we finally get to the part where he kills himself, we don’t even get that morbid pleasure, because you don’t see or hear the gun blast going off. If it did, at least that would mean that something was going to happen!
I will admit that I haven’t seen Van Sant’s last two movies, 2002’s Gerry and 2003’s Elephant, but I heard that Last Days was the third in his “death trilogy.” If they are as boring as this movie was, I’d almost rather watch his version of Psycho again (that 1998 film is widely considered to be one of the worst remakes in history, and I agree with that.) I heard that Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, gave her approval to this movie, which shows that she was smoking the same crack as the critics mentioned above (that shouldn’t be a surprise though.) Van Sant has apparently given up even trying to be entertaining, but if studios are willing to cough up money for him to make his movies…then they can go right ahead. I just won’t watch a new Van Sant movie anymore.
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