Last Days (film)

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Last Days
Lastdaysposter.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Gus Van Sant
Produced by Gus Van Sant
Dany Wolf
Written by Gus Van Sant
Starring Michael Pitt
Lukas Haas
Asia Argento
Scott Patrick Green
Music by Rodrigo Lopresti
Michael Pitt
Cinematography Harris Savides
Edited by Gus Van Sant
Production
  company
HBO Films
Distributed by Picturehouse Films
Release date(s)
  • July 22, 2005 (2005-07-22)
Running time 96 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Box office $2,456,454[2]

Last Days is a 2005 American semi-biographical drama film directed, produced, and written by Gus Van Sant, and is a fictionalized account of the last days of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. It was released to theaters in the United States on July 22, 2005, and was produced by HBO. The film stars Michael Pitt as the character Blake, based on Kurt Cobain. Lukas Haas, Asia Argento, and Scott Patrick Green also star in the film. This is the first film from Picturehouse, a joint venture between Time Warner's New Line Cinema and HBO Films subsidiaries to release art house, independent, foreign and documentary films.

Plot[edit]

Introspective artist Blake is buckling under the weight of fame, professional obligations and a mounting feeling of isolation. Dwarfed by towering trees, Blake slowly makes his way through dense woods. He scrambles down an embankment to a fresh spring and undresses for a short swim. The next morning he returns to his house, an elegant, if neglected, stone mansion. Many people are looking for Blake—his friends, his managers and record label, even a private detective—but he does not want to be found. In the haze of his final hours, Blake will spend most of his time by himself. He avoids the people who are living in his house, who approach him only when they want something, be it money or help with a song. He hides from one concerned friend and turns away another. He visits politely with a stranger from the Yellow Pages sales department, and he ducks into an underground rock club. He wanders through the woods and later plays a new song, one last rock and roll blowout. Finally, he stumbles into the greenhouse next to his mansion. Soon after his friends leave, while looking back into the greenhouse one of the friends looks in from the car to notice a man in an orange jumpsuit. The next morning he is found dead by a worker. A spectre of the musician, naked, slowly climbs out of his dead body and up the ladder possibly to the "nirvana" waiting above.

Cast[edit]

(Parentheses indicate the person each character is most likely based on)

Relation to other Van Sant films[edit]

Harmony Korine as Guy In Club

Last Days is the third and final installment in what Van Sant has frequently called his "Death Trilogy", which began with Gerry and continued with Elephant. The dialogue and narration in all three films are minimal, and scenes do not proceed linearly. As in Elephant, scenes are revisited from new angles, starting at differing points in time, without a signal to viewers that the clock has been turned back and a previous scene is being revisited. In Paranoid Park, a later film by Van Sant, the same technique is used.

Production[edit]

Background[edit]

Van Sant has stated he had contemplated the project for nearly a decade.[citation needed] At one time, he wanted to do a biographical film about Cobain, but decided against the idea out of concern over the potential of a lawsuit by Cobain's widow, Courtney Love. He was not sure how Cobain's fans and family would react to the film. He spoke to Love several times over the years about his project and recently expressed his concern that it may be painful for her to see the film. Actress Asia Argento, who plays a character reminiscent of Jessica Hopper (Michael 'Cali' Dewitt's girlfriend) in the film, stated, "It's been written that I play Courtney Love, and it's not true. I'm so upset. I don't know why people say that. I feel very sorry for her. She's been demonized and I feel sorry for anybody that's lost like that. But no, I play a character that's very dorky.[3]"

Music[edit]

Last Days features two original compositions by Michael Pitt, an acoustic song entitled "Death to Birth", and an electric jam called "That Day". Another piece, "Untitled", is by Lukas Haas. Rodrigo Lopresti composed "Seen as None," and "Pointless Ride." The character of Scott listens to "Venus in Furs" by The Velvet Underground. Blake, in one scene, watches the music video for "On Bended Knee" by Boyz II Men on television (anachronistically, if Blake parallels Cobain exactly: the song was not released as a single until November 1994, 6 months after Cobain's death). "Venus In Furs" contains the lyric "...on bended knee". A soundscape piece called "Doors of Perception" ("Türen der Wahrnehmung") was composed by Hildegard Westerkamp.

Filming[edit]

The film was shot in the Hudson Valley region of New York, which, due in part to cinematographer Harris Savides' specialized treatment of the film stock, suggests the Pacific Northwest, where Van Sant is from.[citation needed]

Reception[edit]

Last Days received mixed to positive reviews, including The Village Voice and The New York Times. It currently holds a 57% approval rating on the website Rotten Tomatoes.[4] The Guardian gave the film 5 out of 5, calling it "brilliant", Empire called it "a modern masterpiece".[5] In its review, Total Film gave the movie 4 out of 5, saying "Gus Van Sant's thoughtful exploration of the death of an icon will haunt you. Make time for it". Much of the positive feedback went to Pitt's performance, with Time Out saying "Pitt's performance is a masterclass". Time Out also made Last Days their film of the month.[6][7][8]

Awards[edit]

The film was entered in the 2005 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Technical Grand Prize.[9] It was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography, but failed to win any awards at the festival.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "LAST DAYS (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 2005-06-17. Retrieved 2013-04-13. 
  2. ^ Last Days at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ Argento: 'I Don't Play Love'
  4. ^ Last Days at Rotten Tomatoes Retrieved April 13, 2013
  5. ^ "Last Days" The Guardian 2 September 2005 Retrieved 4 January 2012
  6. ^ Nelson, Rob (2005-07-05). "His Own Private Biopic". The Village Voice. 
  7. ^ Burr, Ty (2005-12-08). "'Last Days' moves slowly, but it is intensely moving". The Boston Globe. 
  8. ^ Dargis, Manohla (2005-07-22). "Sorrow in Harmony With the Sublime". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Last Days". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-12-06. 

External links[edit]