From the Jaws of Victory

By clarencecarter | REVERSEBLOG: the reverse shot blog July 25, 2005 at 4:55AM

From the Jaws of Victory
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robbiefreeling: i saw Last Days
robbiefreeling: for a while, I was ready to proclaim it his best film
robbiefreeling: and then....I didn't
clarencecarter: wow, at what point did you change your mind?
robbiefreeling: towards the end when i realized it was just more of the same bullshit mythologizing
clarencecarter: at the beginning I thought he might have been on to something.
robbiefreeling: but up until then, when it just reduces him to a bag of bones wandering around like a ghost, I found it enormously moving
robbiefreeling: i thought it was going to be all about anti-idolatry
robbiefreeling: but i should have known better....the last 10 minutes are terrible
clarencecarter: as soon as he put the dress on and sat down with the phone book salesman...
robbiefreeling: Michael Pitt is great
clarencecarter: mmm
clarencecarter: I'm still not on that bandwagon
robbiefreeling: phone book scene is awful....mormons scene is AWFUL
robbiefreeling: spirit rising is awful
robbiefreeling: but i really hated everything AFTER his spirit rises
robbiefreeling: when it lays responsibility on the friends, therefore sanctifying him again, making him a rock martyr. same old crap
robbiefreeling: but it could have been staggering
robbiefreeling: but the stuff i loved i really loved
robbiefreeling: the scene through the window.....wow, the scene with Kim Gordon, Boyz II Men video
robbiefreeling: again, if his "thesis" (of which there ultimately is none) had been looking at this shell of a burnt out human being, taken the Cobain out of it and reduced it to tragic human spectacle, it could have been truly special
robbiefreeling: but still confronted us with iconic imagery, playing on our assumptions
robbiefreeling: i gave him too much credit though, and then he pulled his stupid shit
clarencecarter: exactly - the whole thing's a coy little game. in the end you realize that whatever "assumption playing" he's engaging in is only at the level of say a Chuck Palahniuk - he's smart enough to calculate an effect, but too dunderheaded to really follow through
robbiefreeling: agreed
robbiefreeling: have to admit i loved looking at every second of it, as usual
clarencecarter: its gorgeous, of course
robbiefreeling: could have gone another hour for me
clarencecarter: if it had gone another hour, it might have had something
clarencecarter: have him wander in the woods - as soon as it hits the house it comes back to Earth
robbiefreeling: Gus is VERY good at establishing foreboding...so good in fact that the films never measure up
robbiefreeling: they're never "about" anything much so critics project so much onto them
clarencecarter: I'm sure if we wanted to, we could relate the phone book salesman to jesus's visitation in the garden of Gethsemane
clarencecarter: and then there are the apostles, the Judas character coming with his agent
clarencecarter: but I refuse to buy into Kurt Cobain as the rock Jesus
clarencecarter: I think too many critics of a certain age are still sitting shiva for the last rock star
clarencecarter: his music is great and important, and we may never have another (I can't think of any mainstream rock since that's seemed as epochal - the 90s were kinda of wash after that)
robbiefreeling: exactly...when i found it was another martyr movie, I got really pissed
clarencecarter: Kim Gordon nails it - he's a cliche, left unplayed with by his filmmakers
robbiefreeling: I like the Kim Gordon part a lot
robbiefreeling: Thurston Moore said in Interview magazine that it was an excuse for her to say things to Kurt she never could have said
robbiefreeling: and I found that enormously moving
robbiefreeling: the film is such a disparity between reality and unreality, and her obvious wish to connect with past regrets was the film's truly genuine moment
robbiefreeling: it lifted it into the least forced transcendent realm
clarencecarter: ooh, my least favorite word
robbiefreeling: yes....well Gus's oeuvre has always tried desperately for the T word
robbiefreeling: Elephant being the most suspect of them all
clarencecarter: these two almost make me look back fondly on the halcyon days of GERRY
clarencecarter: at least there he wasn't tried to be the pop-cult divining rod
robbiefreeling: i really think that if Gus had trusted the corporeality of the material, he would have been saying something really strong
clarencecarter: or is it more that he doesn't trust his audience to go with him - so he injects legibility at every possible point
robbiefreeling: just witnessing Michael Pitt's "Blake" curled up into a ball, ignored and used by everyone, was a sort of crushing experience....
robbiefreeling: for most of the running time I was taken out of the Cobain mystique and it was revelatory
robbiefreeling: it was just sad sad flesh
clarencecarter: I could never really make the leap after he gets back into the house - the dress, the sunglasses, the shirt are all signifiers
robbiefreeling: damnit the more i think about the madder i get....this could have been so great...
robbiefreeling: i know but the signifiers make it interesting....
robbiefreeling: he's confronting you with all the iconic imagery
robbiefreeling: and then you're taking yourself out of it, looking at the waste beneath
clarencecarter: he's just building an altar and asking us to worship at it
clarencecarter: I think if it had been more abstracted it would have been more successful
robbiefreeling: if it continued a stripping down process and by the end he was sincerely reduced, rather than ascended to heaven, it could have been the apotheosis of what he tries to do in his career
robbiefreeling: this "trilogy" of the walking dead
robbiefreeling: and surely this concept is more wedded to this subject matter than ELEPHANT, which was severely opportunistic
clarencecarter: to an extent, but still this whole probing of unknowability through visionary aesthetics still strikes me as little more than a way to tell sordid stories and get the highbrow folks to listen
clarencecarter: I like it applied in Gerry where there's so little frame of reference
clarencecarter: did I just say I liked something about Gerry?
robbiefreeling: yes, but that's why this could have been so different...the abstraction applied to pop culture iconography is really interesting...for most of the running time, I thought it very nearly was tearing down the altar. But how wrong I was.
robbiefreeling: i still think it's a worthy assignment, just done poorly
clarencecarter: how about that choir at the end
robbiefreeling: ugh
clarencecarter: "holy shit"

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