DRAMA LAST DAYS (15) 96min on
Following on from Gerry and Elephant, Last Days is another Gus Van Sant film inspired by a real life death and told in the elliptical style of Bela Tarr’s Sa’nta’ngo. Whereas Elephant took its lead from the Colombine school massacre, Last Days has its roots in the suicide of Nirvana’s lead singer Kurt Cobain.
In choosing an icon to essay, Van Sant’s task is all the more great, as he has to overcome the preconceptions of the audience. The death of Cobain has been analysed in infinite detail and everyone has an opinion. For this reason Van Sant does well to make it immediately clear that Last Days is about a fictional lead singer called Blake (Michael Pitt) and not Cobain. This is not a biography and cannot be viewed as such.
We first see Blake bathing naked in a lake. The next morning he returns to his house in upstate New York, where he lives with friends and fellow musicians. They are all off their heads and Blake hardly interacts with them, remaining practically mute for most of the movie.
Van Sant once again employs the looping time technique to show multiple perspectives, and the device that worked so well in Elephant seems superfluous in this existential character study of one man. The strength of Last Days is found in the nihilistic performance of Pitt. He even contributes two decidedly ropey songs to the soundtrack. Through his non-action we see a man at odds with the world and realising that the promised land of sex, drugs and rock’n'roll is more great in theory than practice. Compounding Pitt’s performance is Van Sant’s use of elliptical narrative to suggest motive rather than offer a definitive account of Blake’s state of mind in his last days. The result is fascinating rather than engrossing. (Kaleem Aftab)
I Selected release from Fri 2 Sep.
DRAMA LE CLAN (15) 90min .0.
provnicial France where three brothers struggle to cope With their drunken father and memories of their recently dead mother. The bored. rebellious Marc (Nicolas Ca/ale) channels his rage into narcissistic posturing and Winding up the local thugs. and goes off the rails when his role model. older brother Christophe (Stephane Rideau). leaves prison and decides to go straight working in a meat packing factoiy The youngest. OliVier (Thomas Dumercher/l. initially retreats into himself but finds peace in capoeira and a relationship With Marc's friend Hicliaiii (Salim Kecliiouclie).
With its locus on alienated masculinity Violently taking itself apart. Le C/an recalls La Harrie. Beau Travail and even Rumb/ef/sh but possesses
A homoerotic spectacle that barely concerns itself with plot. Le Clan is a lowngly shot study of men set in
26 THE LIST 75) Aug 8 Set) 7005;
none of their narrative flair. director Gael Morel seems content to let everything drift along in a lyrically dreamy manner. offering a lingering shot of a toned torso every two minutes. That the film retains any interest at all is entirely due to the performances. Cazale brooding like a
wounded bull every second on screen.
(Jay Richardson) I GFT. Glasgow. Sun 28— Tue 30 Aug only.
ADVENTURE COMEDY/DRAMA SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELLING PANTS (PG) 118min 00.
Four 16 year-old girls spend the summer apart for the first time in their lives. Lena (Alexis Bledel) goes to see her extended family in Greece. Bridget (Blake Lively) heads to a soccer camp in Mexico. Tibby (Amber Tamblyn) stays at home to stack shelves in a supermarket. Carmen (America Ferrera). the film‘s narrator. is heading out of state to spend summer with her father. Just before they set off. the friends find a pair of jeans that mira0ulously fit all four of the girls and they decide to share them over the summer.
In fact. the travelling pants gimmick contributes very little to Ken Kwapis' (He Said, She Said) well-intentioned adaptation of Anne Brashares‘ novel. The four stories intertwine and whether the girls are in possession of the pants or not. each story has equal screen time. As a result. half the film is good and the other half sucks. That's because the cliched romances on foreign soil are not a patch on the two tear-jerking episodes taking place in America. Best of the bunch and carrying the movie is Tibby's attempt at making a 'suckumentary’ in the vein of Richard Linklater's Slacker. A half- hearted pant swinger. (Kaleem Aftab) I General release from Fri 26 Aug.
FAMILY DRAMA THE MIGHTY CELT (12A) 82min 0000
When Pearse Elliott‘s The Mighty Celt debuted at this year's Berlin Film Festival. it played in the ‘Kinderfest‘. Yet if this is a family film. it is only one in the same way that Ken Loach's Kes is. In this case. Belfast lad Donal (Tyrone McKenna) is not interested in birds of prey. but greyhounds — namely. the eponymous mutt belonging to the grumpy Good Joe (Ken Stott). After saving the dog from being put down. Donal is promised ownership if he can turn it into a winner. But with the return to the area of former IRA member 0 (Robert Carlyle). events change. notably when
it‘s revealed that he is a former flame of Donal's mother. Kate (Gillian Anderson).
Aside from Elliott's sprightly direction and unsentirnental soript. The Mighty Ce/t's chief pleasure is the quality of the performances. While you might expect committed turns from the likes of veteran character actors Carlyle and Stott. it is Gillian Anderson that surprises the most. with a faultless Northern Irish accent coupled with a dowdy makeover that plays down her looks. But perhaps what is most impressive is the film's ability to blend the residue of the Irish conflicts into the everyday. Whether this will appeal to children raised on Harry Potter remains to be seen. (James Mottram). I General release from Fri 26 Aug.
COMEDY, ROMANCE THE 40-YEAR OLD VIRGIN (15) 116min .00
Steve Carell's timing is impeccable. Just as movie audiences appear ready once again to embrace raunchier adult humour. and the relentless omnipresence of the Frat Pack — Stiller. Ferrell. the Wilson brothers et al — is starting to grate. up he pops as lead and co-writer of the summer‘s best mainstream comedy.
Sweet-natured sad-sack Andy Stitzer (Carell) has lived two score years without sex. th0ugh. as an early. hilarious montage shows. not through lack of trying. When he inadvertently gives the game away to his work colleagues by describing female breasts as feeling like 'bags of sand'. they embark on a mission to get Andy laid. This is complicated by his burgeoning. chaste relationship with divorced single mother Trish (Catherine Keenen.
The scatological skits (nauseous drunk drivers. transvestite prostitutes. an agonising chest-waxing session) are predictany outrageous but it‘s the attention to detail that really pays off. The raucous buddy banter is packed with throwaway gems and Stitzer himself — potentially highly creepy a is