Monday, August 01, 2005


I finally made it to see Last Days on Saturday.

first, news from the trailers:

2046 looks amazing.

Pretty Persuasion also looks awesome. I think Evan Rachel Wood is fantastic, and it co-stars Ron Livingston and James Woods. Plus, Liz Harnois has a major role. You may remember Liz as the lead from the (since cancelled) show Point Pleasant on Fox, which spent some time last season in the clutch post-OC timeslot. I haven't seen Liz since college but I have tried to keep track of her career, which seems to be really taking off. I thought she was an awesome filmmaker when she was behind the camera, and it's been great to see her grow as an actress since then. (She acted then but I never caught much of it; the one exception was when she played a boy growing out of a flower pot, but that role didn't show off much of her range).
I'd say something about the movie but no words can beat the contrasting images of Evan Rachel Wood as seductress and faux-naif. Just go watch the trailer now.

Last Days

I love Gus van Sant. A lot. Elephant was one of the most poetic works of cinema I've ever seen. I hated Gerry, but it's clear that it's unwatchable because he's diving into formal experimentation without having the content to match it (I wonder if I'd still hold this opinion after repeat viewings). Last Days, for all it's formal similarities, isn't anything like those other two (which aren't anything like each other).

Lots of the movie is Blake (played by Michael Pitt) walking through the woods, stumbling around his house, passing out in various rooms, nodding off in mid-conversation, and avoiding the other characters. Actually, that's pretty much all that happens. He plays some music... including two Pagoda songs (i.e. Mike's original compositions). Lukas Haas, Kim Gordon, Scott Green, and Asia Argento are among those with smaller roles (I'm still not sure that was even Asia... I know she's listed in the cast but she looks really different than I've ever seen her. It's also hard because Gus doesn't really film faces in this movie at all).
So little happens in the film that we spend maybe 2 uninterrupted minutes watching a Boyz II Men video play on the television while Blake lies on the floor passed out. It's one of those moments that makes me think Gus is more interested in the passage of time than he is in action.

Every film universe is made up of three continuities: space, time, and action (narrative). Editing creates these continuities in our minds as viewer's but is really a myth. You could film half of a room in Hollywood and the other half in London as long as they appear the same. The same goes for time and action; obviously we all know that a 96-minute movie isn't shot in 96 minutes, but sitting in the cinema each scene appears to take place in something like real time ("real" time and space being subservient to "narrative" time and space in most films). Van Sant is more interested in exploring temporal continuities than narrative ones (and if you've seen any of my work, recent or otherwise, you'd know that so am I). The best deconstruction of these cinematic cheats is to not construct them in the first place.

I'm reposting those Pagoda mp3s I put up a while ago, this time with (semi-)permanent links. For newcomers, this is the Pagoda demo I picked up when I saw Mike play at Pianos in June. Read about it here. If you've seen the movie, you'll recognize Death to Birth and Fetus, though these are full-band Pagoda versions instead of Mike acoustic or Mike overdubbing himself (are all those tracks really him?):

Death to Birth
Song 1
I Do
(if these links don't work, you can hear the songs on the terrific Michael Pitt fansite Beautifully Scarred. Let me know if they don't and I'll post them again as yousendits.)

After the movie I came out in sort of a daze. I guess I identified too much with Blake, because I literally felt like I was wandering around in the woods (though it was actually the LES). I walked into a restaurant where my friend S-J was working but couldn't really function on a normal conversational level so I continued my walk to clear my head. I sat on a bench that I like to read on near a school park on Rivington and continued my Blake reenactment. I'm sure the people sitting around me thought I was on heroin. I sat there drugged up (but not) for a while before actually laying down as if passed out on the bench. After a while like that I felt fairly un-Blaked and so I went back to Ini Ani (where S-J works) and sat down for a drink. The music at Ini Ani was pretty awful - mellow jazzy stuff but not in a good way, really soulless yuppie Starbucks wallpaper music - but once S-J's boss left I put together a playlist on my iPod and plugged that in instead. I made it through some Killers B-sides, obscure Fluxblog finds, an OMD Peel Session track and New Order's Ceremony before bossguy came back during a Lady Sov song, which he promptly vetoed with a touch of venom. It made me want to leave (because the music was bad, not because bossguy is obnoxious - though he is), but I stayed long enough to drink wine until I was tired and it was late. I got home with the intention of going out (MisShapes anyone?) but JFro was in Long Island and I was tired and I ended up passing out, Blake-style, lying on my couch holding a bowl of pasta.

I loved the movie, I think it's a terrific mood piece, I would definitely see it again. I also think I'd love to have it playing on my TV while I my attention to it waxed and waned... or maybe while I pass in and out of consciousness.

Speaking of musician biopics, I finally read that Giant article about the forthcoming Ian Curtis movie Control (based on Deborah Curtis' book Touching From a Distance). It's really an article about Ian and Joy Division, and it's really informative and well-written. check it out.

1 comment:

rayna said...

Hey- Just thought I'd swing by and see if you had seen the film yet. Glad to hear you enjoyed it. There have been so many mixed reviews don't ya know. I look forward to seeing it on the big screen when it comes to my town.

I tested out the mp3 links and they seem to be holding up, so that's a plus.

Not sure if you've seen it yet, but someone claiming to be "a friend of Mike's" put up a Myspace profile for Pagoda. ( They've got 4 of the 5 tracks up for download along with some lyrics. I question how official it is, but for what it's worth, it's there.

Take care.