Cinematical writer Kim Voynar already reviewed Last Days for us after catching it at SIFF, but upon seeing the movie in general release this weekend, I had some alternate ideas that I thought were worth throwing into the fire.
At one point in Gus Van Sant's Last Days, his alternately satisfying and maddening elliptical watercolor of the demise of Kurt Cobain, Michael Pitt's Cobain doppelganger Blake creeps into a bedroom in a hunting cap and a slip, and aims a shotgun at two sleeping hangerson. With Pitt's hunched junkie stumble and unintelligible murmer, the scene has an undeniable Elmer Fudd quality to it, and despite the unquestionably powerful text of a stoned, pre-suicidal rock star aiming a gun at friends unawares, it's the loony comic subtext to the scene that struck me as more available. I'm not the only one - a good three-quarters of the audience I watched that scene with chuckled throughout.
Pitt's performance in this scene and certain others would be read in a different film as a comic tour de force. The ultimate problem with Last Days is the way Van Sant contrasts scenes of labored pathos (Pitt in the corner of one long shot, acheiving his sole act of articulation in the film through a wrenching acoustic guitar performance that constantly doubles in intensity as if made up as he went along) with out-and-out slapstick comedy. It's as though the director simply doesn't have a full grasp on the equation he's working with. The fact is, there's a fundamental disconnect, in Last Days, between what is slavishly recreated (the post-mortem image of Cobain's sneakers, as seen through from outside the greenhouse window, is replicated in all concievable detail) and imaginatively reconstructed. The gaps where the two don't match up create comic tension, intentionally or otherwise.