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Last Days Movie Review

August 3rd 2005

The Last Days Movie

Last Days

When a movie like Last Days hits theatres a very select few people stand up and take notice. Usually it's the same band of kids who see all of the obscure indie flicks that, during a conversation at some later date, can somehow make them feel superior to their other film viewing buddies.  Most of the time the effort it takes to find such a film rewards it's viewers with a small enjoyable film which, despite lacking a large budget and special effects, entertains beyond reasonable expectations.  Last Days is not such a film.  On the contrary, it's quite difficult to tell what audience this film is attempting to reach or if it's just an experiment by Gus Van Sant to test the audience’s patience.

From the beginning we are greeted with several long takes featuring the lone main character, Blake, a rock star who is loosely based on Kurt Cobain.  At first these seemed like an effective tool to pull us into his mind in these last final days of madness.  Blake roams about in the forest, takes a swim, and lights a camp fire, all making him seem real to us and most definitely on the verge of insanity as he mumbles to himself throughout the process.  After twenty minutes of this we begin to grow weary.  Blake walks around what we assume is his house, or at least where he is staying during the duration of the film.  He goes into the house.  He comes out the house.  All the while we are practically pleading for something to happen.

 

It's almost as if the editor forgot that he was trying to make a film and just began to slap footage together.  Long takes are followed by long pauses focusing on absolutely nothing with no dialogue and no plot.  Eventually new characters are introduced, but the dialogue between them teaches us nothing about them or the story at hand.  All we learn is that Blake should be playing in a concert in a few days, he appears to be on drugs all the time, and then he dies.  Other than that it seems to be footage that was shot just for the hell of it disguised as clever commentary on insanity.

For the lack of substance, there are a few good scenes that stand out among the rest.  The first interesting scene is merely Blake beating away on a drum set and switching off to a guitar, which could actually be commentary on his insanity and not just random footage.  Finally there is hope for this little film.  As interesting as this is, it lasts too long to keep us enjoying it.  We want to shout at the screen "ok! We get it!  He's mad!  Move on!"  A scene that had just the opposite effect has Blake walking into his daughter’s room, who we assume is now in the custody of her mother, and picking up tiny kitten

that are roaming about on the floor.  Finally we get some insight into this mans life before the beginning of the film.  However, this scene is far too brief.  Once more we are stuck with Blake, the madman, with no indication as to how we should feel about him.

In a sudden reversal of film clichés, we are greeted with another unique scene.  Two of the male character begins chatting and undressing.  Suddenly they mount each other and begin making out.  Typically, if a scene of homosexuality is depicted in such a film, its two hot young females meant to drag in the male viewer-ship.  Kudos to Gus for at least defying our expectations here.  However, this scene still comes out of nowhere and goes nowhere.  All we have learned were these two characters like to make out.  That is all. 

 

The final interesting scene is merely Blake's death.  He lays in a shed with glass windows, motionless and beautiful.  We can see in the reflection of the windows trees, a building, and the gardener walking away.  Then slowly we see the reflection of Blake emerge from his own body, completely nude, but serene and gorgeous.  He stands up and climbs an invisible ladder up into the sky, beyond this troubled mess of a film we have been forced to sit through.  Somehow I wish I could have died with him just to escape this miserable film.

This film focuses on the madness, not the cause of or the process of going mad.  It's merely Blake, the madman, with no motivation or inspiration.  Perhaps Gus Van Sant didn't think we'd want to know this character better.  I can assure you, we do.  He seems like an interesting fellow, but without presenting any information prior to the madness, we feel left out cold.  This film is not for the kids who enjoy indie flicks.  It doesn't even appear to be for Kurt Cobain fans.  Instead this seems to have been created for that small handful of Van Sant fans that cling to his every creation thinking that if they enjoy something obscure, perhaps they are superior.  You are wrong.

This film is flawed.

Grade: D  (saved from an F by the cute kittens)


By Stephanie Wilson
Freelance Writer

  Other Spielberg Movies
 

Keywords and misspellings: Speilburg Spielburg Zant Day's


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