"Much Ado About Nothing"
What You Need To Know:
LAST DAYS is shot in an indirect, ambiguous way that offers few answers regarding any of the characters, much less the protagonist. Clearly, Blake’s fame and isolation has driven him mad, but why should viewers care? LAST DAYS also contains a pagan worldview, foul language and a kissing scene between two men.
(PaPa, HoHo, FR, C, LLL, V, SS, N, AA, DD, MM) Strong pagan worldview about a depressed rock musician and his band and groupies, with a strong homosexual kissing scene and a visit by two young Mormon evangelists trying to win converts, who mention Jesus Christ, but in a Mormon context, as well as some church bells and what appears to be a hymn are heard in the background off screen; 25 obscenities including some “f” words, one light profanity and one possible light profanity; stoned man falls down a couple times and possible suicide; strong sexual content includes depicted homosexual kissing in bed, man who later kisses another man talks about fornicating with a beautiful woman, cross dressing where stoned protagonist puts on a dress and wears it in a few scenes, heterosexual couple lies in bed sleeping, and another couple lies in bed but it’s hard to tell if one of the two people is a man or a woman with short hair; upper and rear male nudity; alcohol use and drunkenness; smoking and implied drug use; and, girlfriend or wife of rock star berates him for not visiting his child and talking to child on phone, laziness, apathy, protagonist is irresponsible regarding his business associates, and spirit of dead person leaves dead body and starts climbing a ghostly stairway to heaven, but to what kind of heaven is left unsaid.
LAST DAYS is an experimental independent movie inspired by the 1994 suicide of Kurt Cobain, the lead singer for the extremely popular grunge rock band of the early 1990s, Nirvana.
Most of the plot of LAST DAYS, if you can call it that, consists of just following around a drunken rock star named Blake as he mumbles and plays his way through an emotional depression at his wooded home. Blake politely listens to a Yellow Pages ad salesman and his angry girlfriend, runs away from a couple visitors, turns down an offer of drugs from a burned out drug dealer at an underground rock club, plays two songs by himself, and eventually finds peace and death alone in the greenhouse next to his home. Some of the scenes involve moments with Blake’s band members and one or two groupies. There is also a scene where one of the band members politely listens to two young Mormon evangelists.
LAST DAYS is shot in an indirect, ambiguous way that offers few answers regarding any of the characters, much less the rock star protagonist. For example, the camera just dollies back slowly outside the window when Blake plays a loud instrumental song in one room. Clearly, Blake’s fame and isolation has driven him mad, but why should viewers care?
Ultimately, LAST DAYS seems to have a pagan worldview, but it offers few explicit judgments, even against the visiting Mormon evangelists. Church bells are actually heard in the background two or three times, including just before Blake’s apparent suicide. In fact, the movie even shows Blake’s spirit leaving his body and climbing a ladder to heaven, but to what kind of heaven, it doesn’t say.
It should also be noted that one of the male band members appears to be bisexual and one appears to be homosexual. The two men retire to a bedroom, where they take off their shirts and start to kiss. In an earlier scene, the bisexual man talks about the desirability of women’s bodies. Also, at one point, a seriously stoned Blake puts on a dress and wears it in a few scenes.
Some of the elements listed above may have been more compelling if Gus Van Sant, the writer/director (ELEPHANT and DRUGSTORE COWBOY), had decided to link these scenes with some kind of real story with real dialogue. Most of the time, the protagonist just angrily mumbles to himself, but nearly all of his words are incomprehensible. A lot of the editing and camerawork is just as incomprehensible. The scenes play like emotional set pieces, but the emotions are extremely elusive because there is no real story context, premise or character arc to connect them.
Experimental movies like this work better as short films, like one might see at an avant-garde or experimental film festival, or as short segments of feature-length movies, as in the ending to Jean Luc Godard’s influential Marxist film, WEEKEND (released in 1967), which influenced the shorter New Orleans scenes at the end of 1969’s cult classic EASY RIDER, by Dennis Hopper (even then, the disappointing ending of WEEKEND is one of the most frustrating, boring endings to a narrative movie you will ever see, especially since the rest of the movie is thematically dense and dramatically compelling).