Last Days Reviews
The film's Rosetta Stone is its own slow pace, allowing a viewer adequate space to observe the more subtle on-screen details (the medical wristband still worn by the suffering protagonist, Blake; almost discarded dialogue to which Blake barely responds; the aimless wardrobe changes), along with the non-linear chronology of the scenes. In several instances, a silent scene is cut short to invite another character's point of view onscreen, only to be revisited from another angle, or a seemingly insignificant development is placed under scrutiny by being "book-ended" between two indirectly related scenes.
This is not a film which meanders without reason, contrary to what transpires on its surface. Observing (even experiencing) the excruciating degeneration of a lonely, black-hearted blonde boy unfold from the impenetrable distance from beyond the screen, the conscientious viewer is either revolted by the complex monotony of the film's trajectory, or oppressed by the insights deflected ny the characters' sealed (even selfish?) motives. It is, for either of these reasons, an exceptionally difficult film to watch, but it does reward the dedicated viewer by providing a sense of mood (even, at points, a gallery of dark, sublime and subtle, humour) within the viewer's own experience.
"Last Days" neither judges nor reveals its secrets by means of conventional movie tropes. It remains poignant, if not profound, and deserves to be seen by anyone who looks to absorb some modicum of the despair encapsulated by substance abuse and severe depression.
In a sense, it is through witnessing events through the passive, objective, unblinking eye of the camera that brings a sense of comprehension - although, the deeper personal questions remain enigmatic. But then, that's how things go in life, isn't it?
This film is very good, I like the music tunes in them and I advise anyone to watch it especially if you like Nirvana.
Don't expect a reconstitution to the last detail of Kurt's death of course but still, bloody good film.
Yeah, and then you can also listen to Pagoda. Good music. They're the band that represents Nirvana in the film and the actors actually made an album together.
Each character is a sterile puppet, a purely symbolic entity that we cannot see into or interpret thought from. They're like place mat cards, a coffee-coaster, representative version of people. It feels like he's given them a set of rote tasks to perform, and in having to remember them, they have little time to emote. The only sense of emotion in this film is a sense of laconic depressiveness - much like The Virgin Suicides, Elephant, etc. Is this the only trick this one pony can do? Having seen Good Will, I don't think so, but Gus is quite happy retreading the same ground, hoping for recognition, without realizing that a failing approach is a potentially flawed approach. If there were some sense of progress, contrast in mood or form, there would be some sense of this being a film. Instead we get a film trying to be reality. As depressing as that is, as depressing as reality is, it's not a worthwhile approach. Because film never represents reality as well as reality does.
His films certainly Look pretty, but they leave you with no conclusion, no easy resolution, no lesson, and a deep feeling of emptiness. What, then, is their point? To make people feel worse? Sorry Gus, you've lost me. As for the biopic content of this film, I have no deep feelings either way. It's possible it would've had more impact if it'd been actually based on Kurt's life, but without that it's left feeling a little bit fragile.
Occasionally Gus will just focus on some bit of scenery and force the viewer to just Calm Down and just watch something peaceful for a while, which comes across a little bit patronizing. I can watch scenery all the time - I don't need to be instructed. Overall the film comes off as a whim, and an expensive one. It's irritating and intense and stupid. But at least the ending is tastefully and well done.
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