06 June 2010

Things I Liked Last Week 060610

01: Last Days [2005]: Writer and director Gus Van Sant goes out of his way to inform us that Last Days is NOT a Kurt Cobain biopic, but rather a "meditation on isolation, death and loss", but one only needs look at the poster to know this is mostly bullshit. Michael Pitt (as Blake, the protagonist of this film) has an uncanny resemblance to Cobain, helped in great part by the cinematography, in which we rarely see Blake close-up, and almost never see his face full-on. Instead, we see him stumbling around the large wooded estate surrounding his decaying "castle" in the woods, or shuffling aimlessly around the house, always on the verge of passing out. While we never actually see Blake doing drugs, the heroin use is certainly implied. Aside from the stumbling, Blake is nearly incapable of speech, and what does come out of his mouth is muffled and largely incoherent. Drugs or not, Blake is obviously a man with a serious, likely undiagnosed, mental illness. A mental illness that presumably doesn't matter to anybody else in the film because Blake is a huge rock star, and all those people around him have something to gain from his fame, whether it's bandmates needing him for a huge European tour and the wealth and fame it provides, his sycophantic housemates, who need him for money or lyrical help for their own songs for their own demo, or even the Yellow Pages salesman who simply needs another account, completely ignoring the near-catatonic Blake who sits across from him in the decrepit house. Yet somewhere beneath Blake's surface incoherence, it's quite obvious that he's aware of these leeches, because the entire film is really nothing more than a snapshot of Blake attempting to ignore, avoid, and escape them all, and when a friend brings a private eye hired by Blake's wife to find the rockstar, recently escaped from a drug rehap center, suddenly Blake doesn't stumble, but quickly and effectively escapes the house and evades the two. In the end, what Van Sant presents us is a portrait of a ghost, whether by choice or circumstance, who seemingly moves in a parallel world where everyone around him is incapable of seeing him for who he truly is, and more literally, often can't find him at all. It's a slow, haunting film, with little dialogue or plot, a strange audio track full of sounds that have absolutely nothing to do with what we see on the screen (ghosts, again), and even in the end, as the police stand over Blake's dead body in the greenhouse, one can't help but think he was gone long before he took his life.

02: Girl Eating Hotdog: Is it wrong that this photo turns me on? Yeah, it probably is.

03: Wolfguin: They can't fly, but they waddle rather fast. Long story short, you may want to laugh at the wolfguin, but once they clamp onto your leg, the joke's on you.

04: Whoomp! There Obama is!: The big question/conspiracy this week is that President Barack Obama appeared briefly in Tag Team's 1993 video for their hit, "Whoomp There It Is". True or not, the likeness is certainly uncanny, and I, for one, hope it's true.

05: Music & Lyrics by Stewie Griffin: I must admit, I don't like Family Guy all that much, but I happened to catch a syndicated rerun of this particular episode. "Things are a little more complicated than they seemed at first." Indeed, Stewie, life is often a stone-cold bitch, and yes, writing songs isn't very difficult, although writing good songs is something else entirely.

06: Milios' "Charlie The Tuna" Sub: Milios is a midwest-based sub shop chain, and aside from the absolute best French bread rolls I've ever had anywhere, their sub sandwiches are second to none. Now, usually I go with their Italian Club, but sometimes, as I did this past week, I opted for their Charlie The Tuna, which is most excellent for two reasons - Milios' secret gourmet sauce, and the fact that they don't use too much tuna. That might seem counter-intuitive, but think for a moment of a tuna sub that had too much tuna salad - it's dry, chewy, and ultimately, not very satisfying. The fine folks at Milios have found the exact right amount of tuna for their sandwich, and it makes all the difference. Just make sure to hold the bean sprouts. Sprouts suck.

Hotcha! Hank

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