Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Film Review: MISTER LONELY (2008, Harmony Korine)

Stars: 1 of 5.
Running Time: 112 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Samantha Morton, Werner Herzog, Diego Luna (Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN, MILK), Anita Pallenberg (BARBARELLA, PERFORMANCE, romantically linked to three Rolling Stones), James Fox (PERFORMANCE), Denis Lavant.
Awards: Screened at Cannes, and at IFC all summer.

I really, really thought that I would find myself in the minority of people who love MISTER LONELY. Instead, I found myself...well, perhaps I'll limit myself to constructive comments. Here are five pieces of advice for Mr. Korine:

#1. Write a script. Don't rely on bad improv. This is a great premise. (Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe, and a host of other impersonators in France; and we even got Werner Herzog.) How do you ruin a premise this great? By not writing a script. Diego Luna and Samantha Morton are fantastic. They can ALMOST sell it to me. But as soon as the bad actors show up, the cat's out of the bag, and I'm pissed off.

#2. Don't have two COMPLETELY disparate storylines for no good reason. In fact, try and have a good reason for everything you do.

#3. Limit the corny stuff. Try and limit yourself to one corny moment per film. This is a veritable shitstorm of corniness. The sun turning into a frowny face?! Characters' heads appearing on painted eggs?!

Perhaps the cheapest portrayal of a miracle ever committed to celluloid?! That awful sound you're hearing is the collective gnashing of teeth. Angry teeth.

#4. Don't waste Werner Herzog. DON'T WASTE WERNER HERZOG. Herzog is one of the most magical and amazing people on this planet, and you're having him do, basically, unedited improv with non-actors... in a Herzogian setting, to be sure, but in your hands, it's just a boring setting.

#5. Don't confuse yourself with better directors. You can try to be weird like David Lynch, but you'll never match him. The fact that you're TRYING to be weird defeats this aspiration before it can even commence. You can show eccentrics, but you will never wring the truth from them that Herzog can. And anyone can unleash improv Dogme 95 lunacy, and if you have money for a good cinematographer, you can have pleasing, carefully composed visuals. This does not mean you are Lars von Trier. This is not THE IDIOTS. If it was THE IDIOTS, there would be emotional stakes.

And now, Mr. Korine, you butt-horn, even looking at the extent of your folly, I STILL don't understand how you blew so great a premise. In the category of great, missed opportunities, also see: FLESHBURN.

-Sean Gill


Anonymous said...

hey sean,
what was the last movie YOU made?

that's what i thought.

Sean Gill said...