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All DVDs set for Release 10/25/05

 

GUS VAN SANT'S LAST DAYS

 

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CAST: Michael Pitt, Lukas Haas, Asia Argento, Scott Green, Nicole Vicius, Ricky Jay, Harmony Korine, Kim Gordon

DIRECTOR: Gus Van Sant

WRITER: Gus Van Sant

AUDIO: English 5.1, English 2.0, French 2.0

SUBTITLES: English, Spanish

ASPECT RATIO: 16:9, 4:3

RATING: R for language and some sexual content

SPECIAL FEATURES: The Making of Gus Van Sant's Last Days, On the set of Gust Van Sant's Last Days: The Long Dolly Shot, Exclusive music video "Happy Song" by Pagoda, Deleted Scene 38X

 

THE MOVIE:

 

Gus Van Sant is a hit or miss director. When he hits the mark his work is amazing, think "To Die For" or "Drugstore Cowboy", however when he misses think the ill-fated remake of "Psycho" or the "Good Will Hunting"-lite "Finding Forrester" it is a shame. In the last few years, perhaps after the latter films, he has veered into a more artsy territory. In 2002 he made "Gerry" with Matt Damon and Casey Affleck, a sort of existential road trip flick then in 2003 he made the Cannes Palme d'Or winning "Elephant", a Colombine-inspired tale.

 

"Last Days" is another of Van Sant's art house specials. Inspired by the last days of Kurt Cobain we are introduced to Blake, an unhappy musician who mumbles and stumbles from scene to scene. Although the film is beautifully shot, no matter how structurally sound the piece is it has a habit of dragging. For the first twenty minutes the only words spoken are by Michael Pitt's Blake singing "Home on the Range" to the sky as he sits by a camp fire. There are uncomfortable silences that go on forever, most of which broken by Blake’s uncomprehensible mumbles. Subtitles on or off you're getting nothing from this.

 

Then again, there are many really good scenes. The Yellow Pages sales man coming to see if Blake wants to renew the listing for his steam-train store that was listed last year, the Mormons that come to visit the house and are greeted by Blake's hanger-oners, the PI who is hired to find him and a wonderful exchange between Blake and Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon playing a music executive.

 

"Last Days" is a film that I am torn about. On one side I am completely in love with it, any shot in the film could be freeze-framed and taken as a beautiful photo. As with "Gerry" and "Elephant" there are the homoerotic scenes that seem lost.

 

This is a film that is much more suited to DVD than it was on the big screen, for a reason that I'm ashamed to say, but you can fast-forward through many scenes (do we really need to watch Blake's 8 minutes of walking down to the river?). When it is good it is a sublime piece of work on a par with "Elephant", but where "Elephant" had a build up that ended with a brilliant final set-piece the death of Blake leaves you numb.

 

Even if you cared for Cobain, you will more than likely not care for Blake and his eventual anti-climactic demise. The supporting cast however were all good, though, especially Ricky Jay as the PI and Thadeus A. Thomas as the Yellow Pages salesman.

 

Torn as I am I must commend Van Sant and his director of photography Harris Savides. The beauty of this film takes makes it something that is worth a watch.

 

THE SPECIAL FEATURES:

 

The Making of Gus Van Sant's Last Days:

A piece of fluff that seems like it was made for a HBO first-look feature (indeed the film was bankrolled by the cable company), nothing really interesting here.

 

On the set of Gust Van Sant's Last Days: The Long Dolly Shot:

A behind the scenes look at the shooting of one of the strongest dialogue less scenes of the film. Still nothing to write home about.

 

Exclusive music video "Happy Song" by Pagoda:

A Nirvana-lite video with Pitt trying to out-Cobain Cobain.

 

Deleted Scene 38X:

A scene that didn't make it into the film, an overhead of Blake during "The Long Dolly Shot". As with the rest of the supplements nothing special.

 

FILM: ***/*****

DISC: */*****

 

RIZE

 

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DIRECTOR: David LaChapelle

AUDIO: English 5.1, English 2.0

SUBTITLES: English, Spanish

ASPECT RATIO: 1:33

RATING: PG-13 for Suggestive Content, Drug References, Language and Brief Nudity

SPECIAL FEATURES: DVD introduction with Cast and Director, Film making insight with Director and Director of Photography, New Dancer interviews with David LaChapelle, Tribecca Film Festival Q&A with Cast and Crew, David LaChapelle photo gallery, Dance Moves by Rize dancers, Extended dances, Deleted scenes, Director commentary

 

THE MOVIE:

 

"Go shorty, it's you're birthday. We're gonna party like it's your birthday. We're gonna sip Bacar..."

 

Tommy the Clown slips in before the young girl can finish her words with a "Hold on baby, hold on, we're not gonna sip any Bacardi, sweetheart!". Inspite off all the urban themed pictures that been made in the past while, LaChapelle's "Rize" a documentary which on the outside is based around the clowning and krumping dance styles in the Los Angeles area,

 

Spectacularly filmed, in fact a disclaimer at the start of the film tells you that none of the scenes have been sped up, "Rize" explores the clown dancing and krumping phenomenon. For a first-time film-maker LaChapelle is brilliant, "Rize" is comparable with photographer Larry Clarke's "Kids", albeit with large differences. To tell you about "Rize" would be to ruin it for you. I implore you to watch this film, it is a masterpiece.

 

Inspiring, heart breaking and unlike anything I've seen in a long time.

 

THE SPECIAL FEATURES:

 

DVD introduction with Cast and Director:

It is what it is.

 

Film making insight with Director and Director of Photography:

Basically mutal-blowjobs abound. On top of that LaChapelle gives one of the most embarrasing "You can do it if you set your mind to it" speaches ever.

 

New Dancer interviews with David LaChapelle:

15 minutes of where are they now pieces with too much LaChapelle.

 

Tribecca Film Festival Q&A with Cast and Crew:

It is interesting to hear Tommy the Clown talk about the aftermath of the film, but other than that it is fluff.

 

David LaChapelle photo gallery:

Not his best work, 99% of the photos could be VIBE magazine fodder.

 

Dance Moves by Rize dancers:

More of the dancer's hypnotic work, this time with short sound bites from the artists.

 

Extended dances:

Longer versions of the dance sequences. Most certainly the diamond in the rough. Yes, the emotional impact of the stories are hard hitting, but the dancing is what it's about and therefore what draws you to the film.

 

Deleted Scenes:

Deleted? For a reason.

 

FILM: ****/*****

DISC: ***/*****

 

coming up next "Melinda and Melinda", "Dominion: A Prequel to the Exorcist" and "Mysterous Skin"

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