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Finally a new review. I've been slacking, I know. Well, I do work 48 hours a week, and manage to write and draw a soon to be published comic strip, so...heh.


Last Days (2005, Directed by Gus Van Sant)

5 out of 5 stars

Gus Van Sant's latest, Last Days takes a very minimalist look at the final days in the life of a drug addicted rock star named Blake, who is very obviously meant to be Kurt Cobain. Blake, who's run away from the hospital, returns to his home to find that he isn't alone. A group of "friends," parasites who want something, be it money or advice or help with their demos, have taken up residence in his guest rooms, and his estranged wife has hired a private detective to look for him. He wanders around mumbling to himself in a druggy stupor, trying to avoid contact with his guests, dead inside, lurching sickly towards the film's already foregone conclusion.

Michael Pitt plays Blake, and what an oddly hypnotic performance it is. He is painfully withdrawn, his dialogue almost impossible to understand, his hair obscuring his face most of the time. When we're given a good look at him, you can see all the pain and depression and lonliness in his eyes, and it's heartbreaking. Despite the good work by the other actors in the film, it really is his show. He wisely underplays everything, and is haunting. I'd say that he deserves an Oscar for it, but everyone knows that the Academy has no time for subtlety, and rewards the showier performances every time. Its a shame, really.

The film was largely improvised by Van Sant and his actors, and it seems more real than any Hollywood film about this same subject would. There are moments of humour, like Ricky Jay's monologue about a magician who could catch a bullet in his teeth, or Harmony Korrine's cameo as a deadhead who played D & D with Jerry Garcia, and theres the awkwardly funny scene where Blake, wearing his wife's clothes, has a conversation with a yellow pages salesman, but mostly, the film is serious. Van Sant shows the events but refuses to make any sense of them, he leaves a lot to audience interpretation, and it's actually kind of freeing. You never feel manipulated into feeling a certain way about the things you're shown. It seems more like a documentary than a fictional film, it seems like you're actually watching the final moments of someone's life.

A bit of a warning. This film is extremely minimalist. There are no real plot points, there are no themes or foreshadowing or writing devices of any kind to make the grim proceedings go down easier. If you think that you are going to be bored by a 97 minute film where there isn't much in the way of dialogue, no action, and where you leave with more questions than answers, then yes, you are. Go watch something you will enjoy more than this. Last Days is mesmerizing, but either you buy into it's slow, deliberate pace, or you don't. It meanders, it spends a lot of time showing mundane things. It's more like an art piece than a movie. But I think that if, like me, you had any affection for Kurt Cobain when he was alive, you will be moved. I honestly cried for awhile after this ended, because I still remember the day Kurt was found dead in his home vividly.

Last Days is a disturbing, funny, sad, and ultimately unforgettable film that I give my highest possible recommendation.