Movie Review
Gus Van Sant's Last Days
Last Days poster
By Scott Sycamore     Published August 10, 2005
US Release: July 22, 2005

Directed by: Gus Van Sant
Starring: Michael Pitt , Lukas Haas , Asia Argento

Running Time: 97 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $454,711
There is absolutely nothing going on here.
I haven't seen the last two films by Gus Van Sant (Gerry and Elephant), with which this movie apparently shares its stylistic ethic. After viewing Last Days, I can say for sure that I don?t care to watch those films if they are even close to similar. And I even enjoyed Vincent Gallo's "The Brown Bunny" (B), which is the only immediate movie I can think of that is nearest to this one in terms of tone; slowness and abstraction are the order of the day.

I have been accused - without cause - of only liking "fruity indie/Oscar-bait movies." Well, Last Days could be called the very definition of an art-house film, and I've hardly been more bored with a movie in any theater, ever. I was squirming in my seat, waiting to make some connection with the slow dirge unfolding on the screen in front of me. If you are a regular, non-critical person who just wants to have some fun with movies, stay as far away from this flick as you can. Everyone else should also avoid it, but there's always gonna be those hyper-pretentious critic types who jump to praise something like this for sheer virtue of its "difference." Shame on them, trying to steer unsuspecting folks into a cinematic ditch.

I would talk about the plot, but there is none. Really, there is absolutely nothing going on here. The movie purports to be a loose biopic about the "last days" of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, culminating in his eventual drug overdose and liberation from Samsara (the opposite of Nirvana in Buddhist mythology)? If you didn't know who Cobain was, this movie would be even more baffling, as it gives no character insight or history, and doesn't even show drugs being used. Instead, all we get is actor Michael Pitt stumbling and mumbling, peeing in a river and making mac n'cheese. There are a couple scenes in which he plays music for a reeeeeeeeally long time, which do nothing except emphasize how little energy the movie has overall.

I can't stress enough just how little happens in this film. Rock Star guy mopes around his woodsy estate looking like he could be blown away by a strong gust of wind. Random "friends" of his sleep and have gay encounters around the house. People speak in extremely minimalist dialogue, if at all. Pointless characters come and go, affecting nothing. If this movie represents the current state of alternative cinema, every art-house theater should make an appointment with a wrecking ball. This flick is "edgy" in the sense that it makes you want to cut yourself.

What's the point of making a movie about Cobain, anyway? Do people still care that much about his death? I understand that his music touched a nerve in the Grunge generation, but that was then and this is now. I never liked his songwriting that much and I don't see the immediate relevance of this film. If it would have been done several years ago, fine, but now it?s way past due, and this doesn't even do justice to its subject. I can see how Van Sant may be trying to match the movie?s feel with Cobain?s world view: a blank void. But, this is a MOVIE, and requires some actual content and message for the AUDIENCE. This is a work made for critics and film students only, leaving those who are actually going to pay for it in the dust.
Scott's Grade: D
Scott's Overall Grading: 417 graded movies
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  • Lee's review C+
    August 11, 2005    Some people will brand this experiment as brilliant or visionary and others a complete waste of time, but I simply found it mediocre. -- Lee Tistaert