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Overall Rating
2.65

Awesome: 12.73%
Worth A Look: 27.27%
Average: 12.73%
Pretty Bad: 7.27%
Total Crap40%

6 reviews, 19 user ratings


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Last Days
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by brianorndorf

"Another Gus Van Sant Lombardi slap"
1 stars

Oh, Gus Van Sant, did “Finding Forrester” piss you off that badly? “Last Days” is Van Sant’s third jaunt down unintelligible, tedious cinema, this time pissing all over the legacy of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain without admitting it. Cineastes and movie message board freaks will have a field day trying to pry open the symbolism and stubborn vision for the film, while the rest of us try not to scream when faced with such pretentious drivel.

Blake (a vacant Michael Pitt) is a musician struggling to keep his inner peace as mental illness, drug abuse, and constant interference from groupies and friends (including Lukas Haas and Asia Argento) take their toll on his fragile psyche. In the last few hours of his life, Blake lurches around his property, rambling to himself and responding to nothing as he heads toward suicide.

Abandoning “mainstream” filmmaking for greener creative pastures, filmmaker Gus Van Sant has found his happy place. Exploring experimental cinema with films of long, unbroken takes, dubious character development, and abrupt, interpretive endings, “Last Days” is his latest dive into the pool of pretension. After skating by with the lukewarm “Gerry” (which, gasp, actually had structure), and indulging his every last whim with the insulting “Elephant,” Van Sant now turns his dial to the final moments of Kurt Cobain.

Of course, “Last Days” isn’t exactly about Cobain, for that would bring about a swarm of litigation and expectations. So the main “character” here is Blake, and he wears the same clothes as Cobain, has the same hair and beard as Cobain, sings like Cobain, and even owns the same northwestern house as the late singer of Nirvana. But here he’s just Blake, a random rock mental case. “Last Days” is the leisurely tale of Blake’s last weekend before his suicide, concentrating on the minutiae of his life before the final journey. Much like the previous two Van Sant films, “Days” is nothing but extended takes (most minutes long) observing random human behavior. The audience watches as Blake limps through his backyard forest, stumbles around his house in a dress, makes macaroni & cheese (I’m not kidding, we see the whole process), urinates into a river (apparently, after “The Dreamers,” this is a Michael Pitt specialty), is sold a yellow pages ad, and occasionally stares blankly at walls. At the film’s lowest point, Van Sant actually turns his camera to a television screen where a Boyz II Men video is playing, and we end up watching half of the song! The merit of that scene is unfortunately never revealed. In essence, entire sections of the film pass where nothing happens at all. What Van Sant and thesaurus-scanning film scholars might suggest is that all this is a construction of atmosphere. I call it stalling, torturous, and abusive.

With the film taking such strides to distance itself from the Cobain name, I feel sorry for any unsuspecting audience member that wanders into the theater not knowing a lick about Cobain’s life. “Last Days” rests entirely on Cobain lore, from the pleading of band members to clean up his act to his eager adventures ditching human connection at every turn. Of course, there’s no Courtney Love character (that would invite the lawyers as well), but everything else about Cobain is front and center in “Days,” leaving the film with an uneasy core of exploiting the late singer’s fragile life and suicide for profit, while denying these intentions in the very same breath.

Van Sant’s indulgences extend to the supporting characters too, for not one of them is clearly introduced or explained. Are they simple groupies? Caring friends? Sonic Youth singer Kim Gordon shows up in a cameo midway through the film to plead her case for living with Blake. Is she his mother? An angel? In fact, nothing is ever really understood about Blake. Outside of one single scene showing his lethargic creative process, he’s mostly a zombie who staggers around, falls a lot, and commits suicide for unknown reasons. At least with Cobain you knew why the end came, and his personality and imagination showed to the very end. Blake just slumps into a corner, and Van Sant’s assumption of artistic integrity is supposed to take over from there. How I wish.

The Cobain allusions really stack up in the finale with Van Sant faithfully recreating the suicide locale, though he stops for some unseen reason at detailing the act itself.

“Last Days” might play as a curiosity to Cobain fans and those that love their cinema difficult to penetrate, but outside of those thin niches, the picture shows that Van Sant is now straining to appear artistically compelling to his peers, with the ferociously tedious and ostentatious “Last Days” an insult to the sad life of a rock legend.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=12289&reviewer=404
originally posted: 07/22/05 14:26:30
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 CineVegas Film Festival For more in the 2005 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/03/10 User Name For those patient enough to give ti a chance, Last Days is a capitvating piece of art. 3 stars
8/21/09 trash well, im at one hour now and i cant help thinking. why does he have to mumble so much... 2 stars
12/24/07 mm artsy. its decent, but Elephant was better 4 stars
9/14/06 Ash Watching a horse take a dump is more interesting than this garbage BOOOOO! 1 stars
7/21/06 Jen This guy needs a good whooping, where's Dave? 2 stars
4/11/06 Indrid Cold Excrutiatingly boring and pretentious, but I guess it achevies what it sets out to do. 2 stars
11/21/05 tatum About as entertaining as Nirvana's "music" 2 stars
10/31/05 ALBERT a piece of shit. 1 stars
9/26/05 a. kurlovs interesting meditation. some scenes are psychologically amusing 4 stars
9/22/05 nirvana rules that faggot screw everything, he's a sick man that make sick movies. sickening. 1 stars
9/09/05 Robert artsy,hypnotic, Must see at least twice. 5 stars
9/05/05 Green Gremlin Dust off your copy of "Nevermind" and give this arty farty mess a miss !!! 1 stars
9/02/05 Just Mike Was I watching a movie or a nature documentary? 1 stars
9/02/05 VoRn Hilariously Boring 1 stars
9/01/05 VoRn A masterpeice of shit. 1 stars
8/24/05 Michael Stoner A really bad way to lose two hours of your life. Waste of time. 1 stars
8/16/05 Dylan How dare they! 1 stars
8/04/05 Rob Not entertaining, but a plausable portrayal of that scene 4 stars
7/30/05 josh terrible, horrible movie. I love Nirvana. I hate Van Sant. 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  22-Jul-2005 (R)
  DVD: 25-Oct-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  01-Sep-2005


Directed by
  Gus Van Sant

Written by
  Gus Van Sant

Cast
  Michael Pitt
  Asia Argento
  Lukas Haas
  Ricky Jay
  Harmony Korine
  Nicole Vicius



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