"Don't Die" ~ Fantasy, Reality And The Myths We Live By
Brian E. Erland | Brea, CA - USA | 10/26/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Synopsis: If the famous 20th century existentialist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre were to produce a film the '07 cinematic release `Mister Lonely' would be that film. This is a surreal tale of alienation and disconnectedness as played out by a group of impersonators living in a rural mansion estate in France. Michael Jackson (Diego Luna) is the newest arrival to the commune joining; Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin, Abe Lincoln, the Pope, the Queen of England, Sammy Davis Jr., Madonna, James Dean, the Three Stooges, Little Red Riding Hood and the diminutive Shirley Temple and Buckwheat. They all live out there celebrity delusions 24/7 and for all intents and purposes have become who they idolize thus losing the ability to re-connect with their true selves.
While living and relating to this community of would-be-celebrities Michael slowly begins to see the folly of it all and contemplates leaving the safe confines of the commune and face the harsh world outside without the guise and pretense of being someone else. The question is whether he is strong enough to put aside his celebrity persona and enter the mainstream unknown and alone.
There is also an intermittent secondary storyline concerning a Catholic Priest and a group of Nuns working in a remote area of Latin America. During a flight in a small plane piloted by the Priest one of the Sisters falls out the open cargo door and somehow survives without injury. She believes God has performed a miracle and convinces the other Sisters to test their faith by jumping out of the plane without a parachute, telling them if they truly believe "God will be your parachute". This aspect of the movie initially seems out of place with the main storyline but upon further examination the thoughtful viewer will come to see that it's examining the same existential angst which accompanies feelings of alienation and disconnectedness as the primary storyline. The only difference is here the subplot is dealing with the broken spiritual relationship between God and man instead of man and society.
Critique: The beginning and end are exceptional, the first part successfully drawing the audience into the films highly unorthodox landscape, the last part providing the viewer not so much with a clear cut conclusion but positing a number of existential musings that will stay with you long after viewing. The soundtrack is amazing, especially the music of Silver Mount Zion which accompanies the skydiving Nuns sequence. Be forewarned, the movie is excessively slow and the story is told through images, dialogue and music. If you're looking for action and adventure pass on this one. However if you're someone who enjoys something thoughtful and challenging, you know something you can discuss and decipher over a cup of coffee, this is your film.
My Rating: -3 1/2 Stars-."
To own a different face, to dance a different dance, and sin
Snow White | Orange County | 10/26/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
Our scene opens with the crooning of Mister Lonely, the classic 1960's tune by Bobby Vinton whilst our young Michael Jackson impersonator glides slowly across the blue sky on a bike with a dangling plush monkey, darting about behind him. Trying to make a living as Michael Jackson(Diego Luna) on the streets of Paris seems to be uneasy, and we see our Michael frustrated although he's quite a ringer. A job booked for him at a senior citizens home gives him some enjoyment as he tells them not to die, and dances his way into meeting a new acquaintance, Marilyn Monroe(Samantha Morton).
Now that he's met Marilyn, there has been new life breathed into him, as she invites him to live along with her and around twenty other impersonators like themselves, in a beautiful castle far from the rest of the world. Though hesitant to leave the comfortability of his room with all the things that have served him well, Michael agrees to move to the commune.
Michael arrives to a warm welcome by his fellow celebrities Charlie Chaplin, Abraham Lincoln, Madonna, James Dean, Sammy Davis Jr., The Pope, The Queen of England, Little Red Riding Hood, the Three Stooges and Buckwheat, although many of them wonder 'why is he here?'
Mister Lonely is surreal, and beautiful with a soundtrack including gorgeous '13 angels standing guard 'round the side of your bed' by A Silver Mt. Zion, and the ethnic 'Mulima Hale' by Salome Nolega & Girls. With images that will re-enter your head for days and weeks after viewing, and a brilliant subplot to reconsider upon.
While watching this film, especially scenes toward the middle involving tense and off-the-wall scenes from the commune I found myself uncomfortable and my attention waning, but in retrospect that is exactly the way it should be. The mood is captured so well, and the personalities and flaws of these celebrities was dealt with a great deal of thought, respect and creativity.
A film that is still entertaining me days later, if you're willing to sit through something a little different, that may result in you asking yourself some of the same questions.
"Who am I? Am I willing to let others see who I really am? Is there a God? What am I doing here?""
Korine is back after an eight year absence, and I'm glad he
Grigory's Girl | NYC | 10/05/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this film when it played at the IFC Theater in NYC, and it's a wonderful, moving, touching, and beautiful. It's arguably Korine's best film, and it's remarkable that Korine hasn't made a film in 8 years, yet he doesn't miss a beat here.
This is the most surreal of Korine's work. It's about a commune of celebrity impersonators living in this far off chateau somewhere off the coast of Scotland. Many directors might treat these people like freaks and mock them, but Korine doesn't. He treats them with a dignity and a humanity that is sorely lacking in moviemaking today (in both "indie" cinema and mainstream moviemaking). It's the most visually accomplished of Korine's work (it's beautifully shot in widescreen, a vast improvement over the digital video of julien donkey-boy), and it's really sad and moving by the end of the film. Korine's choice of music is exemplary, mixing old time gospel songs with Bobby Vinton ballads. It all seems to work with him.
The performances are the best in any Korine film. The best performance here is the befuddled Pope impersonator, portrayed by the great British actor James Fox. Anita Pallenberg plays the Queen impersonator, and if one remembers classic British cinema, they both appeared in Donald Cammell and Nicholas Roeg's Performance. Werner Herzog is wonderful here as a priest overseeing a group of flying nuns (yes, you read that right, flying nuns). The sequences when they are in flight are beguiling and quite astounding. Samatha Morton is a gorgeous Marilyn Monroe. Diego Luna as Michael Jackson is a little weak here, but not enough to hurt the film or his character at all. The only complaint I can have is some of the dialogue is a little obvious at times. But that's it. It's a small complaint for a film that is really quite special. Many people were surprised at the genuine tenderness in this film, but I wasn't. There was tenderness in julien donkey-boy and even Gummo, but it's underneath the surface.
Korine is one of the best filmmakers America has right now. He is an "independent" director, but in the old fashioned sense of an auteur, like Herzog, Cassavettes, etc., etc.. His films are his own. I'm glad he's back. I missed him."
Bright Moments in a Patchy Film
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 11/29/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"MISTER LONELY is that sort of film that pleads to be loved. It has an original concept for a plot, it takes many visual and surreal chances, and it is populated with a lovable cast who seem to be having fun with the process. Harmony Korine both wrote (with Avi Korine) and directed this pastiche about people who, frustrated with reality, live their lives as impersonators of famous people. When it works it is delightful: when it gets bogged down with a self-conscious script it falls flat.
'Mister Lonely' (beautifully depicted in the opening sequences under the credits as a child who cannot be what he is told to be) is a young man who takes on the persona of Michael Jackson (Diego Luna), performing dance movements on the streets of Paris as a busker. He encounters a like person who lives impersonating Marilyn Monroe (Samantha Morton) and before long the two are off to a Highlands commune in Scotland, populated with full time impersonators such as a foul-mouthed Abraham Lincoln (Richard Strange), Charlie Chaplin (Denis Lavant), The Pope (James Fox), Father Umbrillo (Werner Herzog), Sammy Davis, Jr. (Jason Pennycooke), the current Queen Elizabeth (Anita Palenberg), Little Red Riding Hood (Rachel Korine), James Dean (Joseph Morgan), Madonna (Melita Morgan), and flying nuns among others. The story is less a plot than a celebration touched with a bit a angst of how the unnoticed people in the world find a source of belonging by embracing imagination.
The film is choppy and loses some of its potential allure from the editing. The cinematography by Marcel Zyskind captures some truly beautiful moments and the musical score by Jason Spaceman with the Sun City Girls adds a lyrical air to this surreal romp. For lovers of Harmony Korine this movie will please. For viewers with limited attention spans (running time is 112 minutes) the film begs indulgence. Grady Harp, November 08"