Mister Lonely Reviews
Sure, it lacks any sort of cohesion or common logic, but every now and then a film can throw these staples of cinema out the window and still deliver a worthwhile and enjoyable experience. This film does just that, and that's no easy feat.
After he made "Julien Donkey-Boy" in 1999, writer-director/provocateur Harmony Korine's already unstable life came crashing down upon him like a big ol' wave. A tragically large fire burned down his house, destroying a script that he had been working on via his computer - prompting him to spend good money to try and recover it, only emerging with a single sentence - and better yet, he descended deeper into drug abuse. Also, Korine's girlfriend Chloe Sevigny broke up with him, presumably over his rapid drug use over the years among other things, and he lost the passion to want to make films any longer all-together. With that, he started touring various countries - drugs always at his side - waiting for...something, a miracle perhaps. Suicide was a possibility, given his current mental and emotional state. Korine was hopelessly lost and depressed. Then, along came Agnes B; a fashion designer who took a liking to Korine and his filmography. She agreed to help Korine get back on his feet as both a filmmaker and a human being; eventually helping to produce what would be his next film, "Mister Lonely".
Indeed, there was an eight year gap between this and Korine's previous feature. One can tell; everything Korine has done up to this point is so different from what he's accomplished here. "Mister Lonely" - while as odd, beautiful, and insanely sublime as the director's other films - is easily his most accessible (?) feature to date. That is to say that if there was ever a Harmony Korine picture that a particularly large group of people had the potential to shamelessly admit they like, this would be it. It is, like the last two films from Korine, imperfect and far from indulgent to everyone's personal taste when it comes to cinema; but it's also an assault on the senses, complete with absolutely spellbinding images and music that is at one moment foreboding, and at another evocative of the loneliness cropped up inside of us all. This is, more or less, the director's most personal project yet.
So what is the plot? You might be thinking, "Oh boy, here we go" if you've seen any of Korine's other films - most of which a good majority of critics deem virtually "plotless" - but hold on, like I said; this one's a bit different in comparison to "Gummo" and "Julien Donkey-Boy". It concerns a Michael Jackson impersonator (Diego Luna) who works and lives in Paris, forever alone, as the great internet meme goes. He goes unnoticed most days, and would get a better and perhaps even higher-paying job, if the thought would cross his mind to begin with, which is doesn't. He believes he was born a Michael Jackson, and that impersonating the legendary musical figure is what he was created to do. One day, while on the job, he meets a rather lovely Marilyn Monroe impersonator (Samantha Morton) who opens up new doors for the isolated and loveless (but nonetheless friendly) being that is Michael. Just like that, the two are friends, and Marilyn invites Michael to come with her to a commune in the Scottish Highlands, where she lives.
Here's the catch: everyone else on the commune is also an impersonator. You've got Abe Lincoln, Charlie Chaplin (who is married to Marilyn Monroe), Madonna, Shirley Temple, The Queen, The Pope, Sammy Davis Jr, Little Red Riding Hood, James Dean, Buckwheat, and the Three Stooges. Of course, they welcome Michael with open-arms and elaborate hospitality; even though they have a great many issues on their minds at the moment. For example, the impersonators are all pitching in to try and create a grand show, where they will perform (hopefully) in front of a large crowd. Not many people even know of their existence, most likely, but they assume with much confidence that by the time they're through with the show, they will rise to stardom. Another more problematic topic is sickly livestock, which causes emotional panic amongst the commute residents. Meanwhile, there's a strange but undeniably whimsical sub-plot that involves a priest (Werner Herzog), located in some Third World Country, who tries to convince a convent of nuns that God shall protect them from death, and therefore they must skydive. If you think you know what that looks like, think again.
Yes, he's a little bit special - not to mention down-right whacked from time to time - but there's no denying that Korine is an exceptional talent in the world of the visual medium. Nearly every frame in "Mister Lonely" is jam-packed with message-making beauty. I don't know the story behind everything I saw, but the background research that I did do served me well. Take, for instance, a scene where Diego Luna's Michael Jackson character paints eggs and hallucinates upholding a conversation with an entire row of them near the end; where he is even lonelier than he was before. The scene was inspired by one of Korine's very own personal hobbies - during his own times of loneliness - which was, yes, painting the faces of celebrities and people onto eggs. Only the most heartless of people will say that there is nothing to such scenes - or images - and that the film is completely devoid of merit. It will not affect everyone, and it didn't necessarily resonate with me too much on a purely emotional level, but I understand and admire the aims and intents.
Odd, delicate, surreal, and whimsical in every way imaginable; "Mister Lonely" is certainly no classic, but the images that Korine brings to the screen are as forgettable as ever. Here, he ditches his signature low-budget technical aspects but keeps his imagination in-tact. He seeks to provide a sympathetic portrayal of celebrity impersonators, and so he does. Luna and Morton play their roles honestly - even if some of the dialogue seems just a tad silly at times - and who can resist Herzog's insightful - but slightly overlong - philosophical ramblings as a priest lost deep in the jungle regions of who knows where? This is a film of subtle, simple charms; not for everyone - not for a lot of people - but nevertheless, I'm just glad it signifies a return-to-form for Korine. With every minute spent watching the film, you can sense the recovery of the director. He may never be Mister Coherant - or Mister Mainstream - and he's still Mister Lonely, but at least he's not Mister Druggie (anymore); that I will give him right off the bat.
PS: Samantha Morton's breasts... how'd that happen?!
The thing is it kind of works, at least I think it does. Korine can't ever go too long without trying your patience by, well, going too long, but mostly it's worth it because it actually leads somewhere. "Mister Lonely" is wonderfully shot and dreamlike, with more than a few talented character actors (Diego Luna, Denis Lavant, Werner fucking Herzog) always at its disposal. "Lonely" may not be much more than a trippy ride through an island of misfit toys, but for all its avant-garde kitsch Korine explores the highs and perils of life lived skin deep with outrageous soul.
In my opinion, that movie is very confusing: the two stories are mixed in a very strange way and I don't see an exact connection between the two - it looks like two movies in one! However, I liked how Diego Luna (Michael Jackson impersonator in the movie) and Samantha Morton (Marilyn Monroe impersonator in the movie) played their characters - I would even say most of the casting were rather good in their roles. But, the story is slow and not that interesting... The message of this movie seems too personal and because of that, it is very hard to decipher or understand.
I would say it is somehow a depressive movie with a strange coallition of two stories... I somehow enjoy some parts of the movie and I would consider it OK.
A lonely Michael Jackson impersonator (Diego Luna) is not having a lot of success. He goes out into the town square, does all of his moves, and waits for people to throw quarters into his bucket. They rarely do. Michael is ready for a change. One day, he meets a Marilyn Monroe impersonator (Samantha Morton). Marilyn invites Michael to come away with her to a very special place, a place where only impersonators can live. The residents of this place include Charlie Chaplin (Denis Lavant), The Pope (James Fox), Abraham Lincoln (Richard Strange), Sammy Davis Jr. (Jason Pennycooke), James Dean (Joseph Morgan), Little Red Riding Hood (Rachel Korine), Madonna (Melita Morgan), Buckwheat (Michael-Joel Stuart), Shirley Temple (Esme Creed-Miles), and others. Michael reluctantly agrees to go along with Marilyn, and soon finds himself in a strange and intoxicating new world. Meanwhile, somewhere in South America, something very strange has happened. A priest (Werner Herzog) and a group of nuns were flying over starving villages, dropping bags of rice down on them from the sky. Unfortunately, one of the nuns accidentally fell out of the plane during the trip. Rather than falling to her death, the nun prayed that she would have the ability to fly, and she was able to do so. Now she is attempting to convince the other nuns that they can fly, and the priest is hoping that this miracle will give him a chance to drink beer with the Pope. The performances are acceptable under the circumstances, with most of the actors hanging on for dear life as the picture moves from comedy to forbidding drama to a full-out musical with breakneck speed. Morton and Luna are perhaps the most compelling, being the only two cast members to achieve a rounded presentation of solitude. The pleasure of Korine's films is in their free-form narrative style, but once we're on the island, Mister Lonely gets stuck and begins to feel repetitive. "Mister Lonely" stays faithful to the filmmaker's taste for the fringe, only now the objects of social isolation are endearing souls who have separated themselves from the world to live in a communal fantasyland where ridicule is unable to plague their daily existence.
a new film from Harmony Korine, opened this weekend - the mad man behind GUMMO - one of my all time favorite films.
Harmony Korine (writer of KIDS, director of GUMMO, JULIEN DONKEY-BOY) weaves Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe, her daughter Shirley Temple and flying nuns into a hypnotically funny and truly poignant tale of the instability behind fanaticism and the redemption we can hope to find in one another. In a parallel story line, the incomparable Werner Herzog plays a Latin American priest who learns his missionary of nuns can literally fly.
This was a hit at Tribeca Film Festival 2008, and I saw a screening finally this week.
not to reveal much about the script at one point, the story seems to strain toward one of those Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney romps where they put on a show in the barn for the whole town. But Judy and Mickey never turn up, and the commune's theatre piece is hilariously ramshackle. As is the film as a whole: worth the price of admission, but only if you leave your expectations at the door.
Harmony has been gone for almost 8 years.. including some year in Rehab this is his return to the line. I think is amazing work and most will dislike and not feel good about. But avoid IFC's cable cast and see this master on a screen.
Vmedia Berkeley ca.