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Last Days Reviews

Page 1 of 74
cosmo313
cosmo313

Super Reviewer

June 26, 2008
This is the final film in Gus Van Sant's so-called "death trilogy", and it's a tough one to sit through. But that could be said about several of his films, so I'm not sure why I'm stating it. Maybe as a disclaimer or something. This is basically a non-narrative, minimalist (plot, dialogue) piece about a burned out, lonely, and mentally isolated rock musician named Blake, and the last few days he spends alive before dying in a very ambiguous manner. The film is only very loosely based upon/inspired by Kurt Cobain, and what his last few days very may have been like. The pacing of this film is extremely slow, and very deliberate, Having a slow pace makes the film seem far longer than 96 minutes and a chore to sit through, and while that is true, it is also a good thing. The audience is forced to sit through the wandering, dull, random and basically pointless activities like laying around, walking around, mumbling to oneself, and doing nothing really in particular. This is a tedious film that's not for everyone, but it was purposefully made this way. It's an indie/arthouse film, not a Michael Bay blockbuster. It's hard to relate to Blake personally, but not his experience and the pain, loneliness, despair he feels. I applaud Van Sant for being bold enough to make this kind of movie just for the sake of making it. For me, the best parts come from the technical end (directing, editing, acting, camera work and music). This is not really that fun or pleasant an experience, but it's one that should be experienced at least once.
Graham J

Super Reviewer

October 27, 2011
Van Sant's meditation loosely based on the last days of Kurt Cobain is captivating though in the end there is not much there.
stevenecarrier
stevenecarrier

Super Reviewer

May 23, 2011
Gus Van Sant's "Last Days" was bound to be be misunderstood from the get go. While the film is directly influenced by the death of Kurt Cobain, "Last Days" is a fictional story. It's also a film drenched in ennui, something that automatically turns off nearly 3/4 of viewers. Films like this are also destined to be commercial failures. Fortunately for viewers who are willing to trust in the picture and let it's spell take hold, "Last Days" is an effecting little film. Michael Pitt as Blake is very interesting here. The physical tolls his depression (and subsequent and mostly implied drug addiction) inflicts on him are uncanny. Pitt also understands that depression is unique to each individual and he does not go out of his way to help the audience understand Blake's actions. We are merely voyeurs in this house (just like his friends), we don't need to understand the 'why?' Van Sant understands this as well, and confidently guides us through this tour of depressions deadly effects- playing with the time frame, only showing us certain character interactions etc. "Last Days" is a film very few people will have the patience to embrace due to it's structure, tone and theme- three things that contemporary audiences rarely care about to begin with. But trust me, there is plenty of good here.
Lucas M

Super Reviewer

May 7, 2011
Boring....Make the audience leave the room.
Conner R

Super Reviewer

November 16, 2009
The last entry in Gus Van Sant's Death Trilogy, this features a great parallel to the last days of Kurt Kobain and truly captures a human being. You spend over 90 minutes with a character and begin to really understand him. While there are large non-dialogue gaps, the imagery and physical acting keeps you completely memorized. I think it's probably the smartest way to go about making a movie about a beloved Rock Star, instead of fabricating events and relationships it is done in a very realistic way. You can believe the characters and the setting.
Carlos M

Super Reviewer

February 12, 2010
If Gus Van Sant's intention was to depict Kurt Cobain's last days as tedious and devoid of meaning as possible, his biggest presumption was to believe the viewers would all fall for this equally boring, self-indulgent hoax.
Lady D

Super Reviewer

January 27, 2007
The appeal for this film is that, although it?s not based on the actual events of the last few days of Cobain?s life, it was at least inspired by them and therefore seemed an interesting topic to me.

Here?s where it all goes horribly wrong. The DVD cover describes the film as ?Brilliant? and ?A Modern Masterpiece?, strangely I can?t identify with either of these descriptions. Unlike (I?m sure) many, I was utterly bored by the whole film, the whole thing was a huge disappointment to me.

I can?t quite work out how this was an award winning film, honestly I think I would have had more fun watching paint dry.

I definitely feel like I?m missing something here!!!
Jens S

Super Reviewer

June 14, 2006
Ever wanted to watch paint dry on film? That's how this "movie" feels. We follow around this drugged up musician, who is reminiscent of the late Kurt Cobain, without being entirely accurate as far as his last days are concerned. So we follow him run through the forest, take a piss in a lake, play his guitar, walk through the house with a gun and see his moronic friends do similarly mundane things. In the end he finally shoots himself. That's all there is to it. Whatever the point of this was, it is boring, pretentious and not even remotely interesting. Maybe a documentary showing the real scenes would have been, but this was just pointless. In fact I was fast forwarding through several scenes of this. Unfair, I know. Just like the 90 minutes this "movie" stole from me. Gus Van Sant, go back to making real films, please.
Michael G

Super Reviewer

November 19, 2006
Watching this movie is like going on a date with a bipolar low-talker. Van Sant is either berating you with genius or showering you with bullshit. He pulls a lot of the same tricks he did with Elephant as far as events overlapping and seeing Asia Argento's bare ass (twice!) is always a treat. I was very happy to see a movie with takes lasting longer than mere seconds, but whoever Van Sant's sound guy was should be kicked until they're dead. And Kim Gordon was a very nice surprise.
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

September 1, 2006
[font=Century Gothic]Directed by Gus van Sant, "Last Days" is an agonizing, unintelligent, thoughtless, pointless movie about a rock star, Blake(Michael Pitt), a mumbling wreck, who is on the run from rehab(funny, I didn't notice any drugs) and returns to his chateau(which is a main stop for solicitors) where people he may or may not know are living there.(Yes, I know the back story but that does not excuse the sloppiness.) Apparently, the movie wants to show the life of a musician when he is not playing for an audience, but I much prefer the onstage, public performances. Ricky Jay playing a private investigator steals the movie by being able to talk in complete sentences. [/font]
Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron W. Johnson

Super Reviewer

May 30, 2014
I'd imagine plenty of nerds would say that this isn't the only time the story behind Kurt Cobain's death has been fabricated, and quite frankly, I don't really care enough to add to that, and I don't think that this film helped, and it's supposed to make you think or something. The title to "Elephant" was too abstract for folks to get its relevance... which pertained to a drawing of an elephant on one of the shooter's room (Ah, so you did ignore the elephant in the room), and we never found out if the guys in "Gerry" were really named Gerry, but don't worry, because Gus Van Sant has finally decided to give up on subtlety and just call this film about a guy living out his last days "Last Days". It's a fitting end for the ironically also lazily titled "Death Trilogy"... unless, of course, you feel that the "Death Trilogy" is defined by its style, in which case, wouldn't "Paranoid Park" be part of a "Death Tetralogy"? This series is about as convoluted as it is oversimplified, because if it's not defined by its stupid abstractionist style, then it's still a tetralogy, because the remake of "Psycho" was also a story about death that was loosely inspired by notorious true events. No, I wouldn't even shame Gus Van Sant's "Psycho" by bunching it in with these films, and I would hope that the majority would agree with me, even if they didn't like Van Sant's "Psycho", but alas, people can get way too celebratory of "art" that actually doesn't do anything outside something different, as Kurt Cobain taught me. I guess that an abstract art film, even one that actively changes its focus' name and certain events surrounding its focus, is the proper way to interpret the story of Cobain's death, except where Cobain just made a bunch of noise, this film is too quiet for its own good. Yeah, forget Nirvana, and forget this film, although I must admit that Nirvana had their occasions, not unlike this film.

A typically ethereally quiet drama, this film underplays its soundtrack, which, upon being played upon, delivers on some dynamic, yet consistently decent (Well, Michael Pitt's "The Day" is some nonsense) tunes and compositions that, on top of being aesthetically engaging, help in defining to tone of this very independent and abstractionist drama. Visual style is also a commendable, more recurrent aristic touch, for although Harris Savides' cinematography, while not quite as distinguished as it was in something like "Elephant", often gets to be flat with coloration and lighting, when it really shines on through, it all but immerses by celebrating distinguished environments and imagery. Just as it has throughout the "Death Trilogy", when style works in the context of substance, it's because of Gus Van Sant's directorial thoughtfulness, which is generally seriously detrimental to the cold final product, but with genuinely effective occasions that are near-hypnotic in their drawing on the heart of this minimalist drama. A loose interpretation of Kurt Cobain's falling into mental instability and eventually to death supposedly by his own hand, this film's subject matter is executed in a manner so thinned down that the final product borders on plotless, but there is a narrative, at least on paper, it's intriguing, with thematic and dramatic value as an intimate human portrait. What most endears you to the human depths of this film more than the storytelling is, of course, the acting, at least that of leading man Michael Pitt, whose performance isn't written too much less thinly than those of Pitt's peers, but is more challenging, crafting a role of a mentally unstable celebrity brought to a breaking point by pressure and addiction that Pitt sells every step of the way by nailing an awkward intensity, punctuated by some powerful, subtle dramatic notes that define the dramatic highlights of this generally flat opus. If the film aims to be subtle, I would at least hope that it would be as inspired as Pitt's performance, and yet, that's not to say that the final product is as unnerving as its predecessors, being a sloppy affair whose highlights shine brightly enough for the final product to all but achieve decency. Still, in the end, this is yet more misguided artistic ambition from Van Sant, and it viciously betrays worthy subject matter whose well is still admittedly limited by its own right.

As I said, this film's story concept is pretty interesting, but it's not as though it's substantially less minimalist than its naturalist interpretation, being set within a relatively brief time frame and a relatively light scale as a character study whose conceptually minimalism doesn't even leave all that much room for exposition. Well, perhaps the film shouldn't be quite as underdeveloped as it ultimately is, for Gus Van Sant, as screenwriter, follows the tradition for the supposedly humanly intimate "Death Trilogy" of abandoning immediate character development and making the drama's expository value all the more frustrating by paying very, very little attention to gradual characterization within all of the aimless meditations. Really, this film's storytelling doesn't pay much attention to anything of substance, because as if the subject matter itself isn't thin enough, there's hardly any narrative focus to storytelling that ultimately places style over substance. I guess I'd be a little more willing to accept this overstylization if the style wasn't questionable enough to begin with, thriving on ethereal meditations on thematic meanderings, if not pure nothingness, until the film falls flat thematically and dramatically. Of course, if Van Sant does settle down the bloated overplay of his artistic license as a storyteller, he still never quite gets past all of the dragging, because even though the film only runs about 96 minutes, considering that substance is so thin, filler goes padded out to the point of an aimlessness which makes it about as difficult for viewers to focus on the direction of this drama as the narrative itself, while stiffening pacing that is ultimately all but brought to a halt by a cripplingly cold atmosphere. As if Van Sant doesn't shake momentum enough as screenwriter, as director, he really slows things down with a thoughtfulness that so very rarely has anything to draw upon with all of its subtlety, which is therefore predominantly nothing more than tediously dry and empty, and when Van Sant does pick up something to his directorial atmosphere, it's typically a sense of pretense. I don't know if the film feels as pretentious as "Gerry" or "Elephant", and that might be what makes the final product relatively superior, but this overblown artistic expression is still pretty demanding of your respect, while doing only so much to earn it, betraying potential, no matter how limited, with a questionably overwrought and tedious style that bores much more than it aesthetically impresses.

Once the days run out, the final product finds itself driven by a fair soundtrack, handsome visual style, and highlights to direction and acting - especially by worthy leading man Michael Pitt - to the brink of decency, ultimately lost in the midst of natural shortcomings to reasonably worthy subject matter which is further thinned out by the developmental emptiness, unfocused storytelling, exhausting overstylization, aimless dragging and tediously cold, if not pretentious atmosphere which render Gus Van Sant's "Last Days" a fittingly misguided and mediocre conclusion to the "Death Trilogy".

2.25/5 - Mediocre
Joey S

Super Reviewer

November 2, 2013
It's hard for me to say I didn't like Last Days, because I feel like I should. It looks stunningly beautiful from beginning to end, it aims to explore the darkest depths of fame and celebrity, and it's directed by one of my favorite directors, Gus Van Sant. But I didn't like it. It's not awful, but it's devoid of any real substance. Over the course of the movie, the camera follows Blake, the blonde-haired lead singer of a successful grunge band and a not-so-subtle fictionalized version of Kurt Cobain. If the pairing of a Kurt Cobain-based protagonist and the title Last Days wasn't enough to foreshadow what the movie is building up to, well, Blake is fed up with stardom and is planning to commit suicide. The movie is 93 minutes of Blake going through his menial day-to-day routine; he makes breakfast, two Mormon missionaries show up at the door, a phone book salesman stops by, and he practices a song with his band. There is minimal dialogue from all characters, but especially from Blake, who spends nearly all of the film in complete silence. All of his might sound like the formula for an insightful look at alienation and depression, but instead it just feels like a movie in which nothing happens. There isn't any kind of emotion in the movie, it's just a stoic character going about his day for an hour and a half. The movie wants to make a serious impact on the viewer by letting us into the mind of its broken protagonist, but its overly minimalistic style is mind-numbingly dull and empty. Gus Van Sant's previous movie Elephant, which focused on a Columbine-like school shooting, also had a minimalist style, and it succeeded in being not only fascinating but also unforgettably haunting film. Elephant gave faces to the victims of a school shooting and showed it from all angles, while Last Days is simply a hollow but pretty-looking series of daily chores performed by its protagonist. It's beautiful cinematography is undeniably impressive, but it's not enough to make up for the startling lack of substance or purpose in Last Days.
Sean G

Super Reviewer

August 20, 2010
Kim Gordon's (Sonic Youth) appearance is this movies only saving grace.
John B

Super Reviewer

April 18, 2010
It takes a lot for a biopic of a musician to entertain me especially when cliches hop off the screen in bunches. Not a proud moment for Gus Van Sant.
Mike T

Super Reviewer

July 2, 2006
Devastating, haunting, beautiful, poetic, unforgettable... the more I watch this film, the more I adore it. It still gets under my skin and lingers with me for days after I watch it, and I have seen it over ten times. This quiet, unsettling character study demands a lot of the audience and, in some ways, is about as subtle as films get. Having said that, I think it is obvious that none of the directorial decisions are made without clear intent. Van Sant's abstract, minimalist approach to the story is disarming at first but ultimately effective. It provides us with a depiction of silent degradation as opposed to a forcefully emotional presentation. The stylistic nature works beautifully as an illustration of loneliness, but it is Michael Pitt's chillingly convincing work on the focal character that brings it all together so well. This is one of his finest performances; nuanced, complex and textured. It is rare that a story can say so much without directly spelling anything out. I think this is one of the saddest, most expertly engineered studies of depression I have seen.
Adam M

Super Reviewer

April 14, 2009
Interesting look at the final days of a rock star, who is based on Kurt Cobain. Blake is a very quiet, seemingly strange man, little do people know whats going on in his head, even the people around him. Whether this is what Kurt Cobain was exactly like during his final days is unknown but Blakes demise mirror's Cobain's. There's very little dialogue and like Gus Van Sant's other films, this is more like a character study of a lost and lonely person who just happened to be the world's biggest rock star. It's a bit random and you'll either get it or not but it's still an interesting film, worth a look.
Angela A

Super Reviewer

December 28, 2008
This was definitely a mood piece. There's hardly any dialogue with loads of great music and imagery. Just grab a brew and let the movie wash over you, getting you right into the depressive, eccentric mood that it brings.
broadwaymo
broadwaymo

Super Reviewer

June 8, 2007
Allegedly, the unauthorized depiction of the "Last Days" of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain. If this is true, all I can say is what a waste...of 97 minutes of my life! Garbage...
Janice :

Super Reviewer

October 24, 2007
Wow.
Michael Pitt gives an excellent performance. EXCELLENT. And it's also a great tribute to Kurt Cobain whom I hold deeply in my heart.

There are vitually no real dialogue that lasts over 4 minutes. It's mainly a series of mumbling and unintelligible words from Blake (which ultimately emphasize Blake's condition). But then again, I loved sitting back and watching Blake slowly evolve, doing strange things that foreshadowed his eventual death.

Okay I also won't hide the fact that it's quite lengthy but you can last 1h37 minutes, trust me (especially if you've seen The Aura or LOTR or some other lengthy movie), because ultimately we all await the end with never-ending patience. And even if the ending is quite mediocre, it was subjective; hence I could make of it what I thought (based solely on what I saw and the facts).

And before I go, if ever you rent this, keep a close watch (more like ear) to the sounds. Because even if there's no concrete dialogue, the sounds are sharp and exact. A wooden door opening, a fire crackling, a river flowing...

I strongly recommend to fans of KC, drama and unconventional films. Probably a cult classic.
Hellshocked
Hellshocked

Super Reviewer

March 24, 2007
Fantastic take on the final days of a man in the last throes of addiction. Michael Pitt makes an excelent Kurt Cobain stand-in and it is truly harrowing watching how far gone he is. His bandmates and his manager exploits him, his friends try to save him, a man tries to convince him to subscribe to the yellow pages and all are met with the same, blank, mumbling, wall. It is clear that, by this point, he has already given up.

The scene where he picks up a guitar and plays (Death to Birth, a song by Pagoda, Michael Pitt's band) is incredibly moving and crucial to the film: it serves both to remind the audience of how talented this man truly is and as his swan song, his farewell.

Some scenes don't fully work, and we spend either too little time with Blake's friends or too much (as they are not developped at all) but the film is nonetheless a desolate, deppressing and organic work of art. Cobain fans might bitch about some of the inaccuracies (as if it matters, this is Blake after all) but this is quite a moving experience.
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