Daily Archives: August 12, 2005

The Aristocrats

A gimmicky documentary by Penn Gillette and Paul Provenza built around the ultimate obscene joke, which depends on a performer’s style and a certain amount of embroidery to achieve maximum impact. The idea is to set about 100 stand-up comics loose on this material, but the results are predictably so sound-bitey that only a few of them get to tell the joke all the way through, and many just offer commentaries. One sympathizes with Don Rickles’s complaint that this is the sort of movie whose performers don’t get paid. But with such participants as Hank Azaria, Shelley Berman, George Carlin, Carrie Fisher, Whoopi Goldberg, Eric Idle, Bill Maher, Michael McKean, Chris Rock, Jon Stewart, Dave Thomas, and Robin Williams, you won’t be too bored. R, 92 min. (JR)… Read more »

Last Days

Following the last hours of a junkie rock star (Michael Pitt) doing nothing in particular in and around his country mansion before he kills himself, Gus Van Sant’s experimental feature, nicely shot by Harris Savides, purports to be inspired by the death of Kurt Cobain, though mainly it’s a shrewd invitation to the audience to fill in the hagiographic blanks. Less dreary than Van Sant’s Gerry but far less interesting than Elephant, this suggests both of its predecessors in its mannerist doggedness; even the time overlaps of Elephant are pointlessly reprised. The best moments come when other characters turn up (Lukas Haas, Asia Argento, Ricky Jay, and Thadeus A. Thomas as a door-to-door salesman) or the camera becomes as indifferent as the hero, slowly backing away from it all. R, 97 min. (JR)… Read more »