Movie Reviews (such as they are)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Last Days

I have been looking forward to this movie and putting it off in equal measure for quite some time. My opinion of Kurt Cobain -- drug-addled loser that he may have been at times -- is pretty fucking high, and I wasn't sure I was ready to see some schmo rip off his likeness in the name of art and/or entertainment. Still, Gus van Sant movies are often interesting with some worthwhile elements to them.

Last Days, though, is not one of van Sant's finest hours. Indeed, I found the film to be disappointing, perhaps because of my inherent interest in the subject. But beyond that, it was also frustratingly disjointed. We see actions that take place simultaneously in different rooms: that is, a scene is played out, and then a few scenes later we cut to the beginning of that earlier same scene and see what was happening in a different location at that same time. But ultimately these gimmicks achieve very little in terms of informing the viewer.

The lyrics that the seemingly ever-mumbling "Kurt" composes while writing on his own in a room are simply shit. That's not to say that some of Cobain's darkest moments may not have produced unpublishable drivel, but never on any Nirvana record have I heard words as banal and contrived as "It's a long lonely journey from death to birth". And that refrain is repeated ad nauseam.

The oddity of "Cobain" being left-handed when writing but right-handed when playing guitar is annoying, too. I know this can happen, that people aren't as straightforward as we want them to be when it comes to manual dexterity, but since we know Cobain played guitar left-handed, it would have been nice to see that in this pseudo-fictional character, too, especially since he writes left-handed.

I guess all of the above leads me to mention that I feel too much of this story was obviously fictionalized. As such, perhaps van Sant should never have made any claim for it to be "inspired by the last days" of Cobain. He should have cast a dark-haired fat guy, or a black bloke with a crewcut, anything to get as far away from the look of Cobain. As such, what we are left with is a non-event, a film that is rendered of no value in documentary terms, when it could have been so much more insightful and interesting. Indeed, much of what we do know about Cobain's last days -- burger bars and heroin buys -- was conspicuously absent. Why?

And the last scene -- SPOILER ALERT! -- when the spirit of the dead "Cobain" comes out of his body and climbs the wall (to Heaven?)... Ugghh, do me a fucking favour!

Not even the presence of the great Ricky Jay, "Black Parade" video star Lukas Hass, and cute horrormeister offspring Asia Argento could lift this film from its eternal slumber. It pains me to say it, but this film should be avoided at all costs.

The scores:
Acting: 12
Story: 7
Direction: 8
Enjoyment: 5
Cerebral pleasure: 3
Total: 35