One of the many things I liked about Gus Van Sant's Last Days was the sound design, which was mixed high and hyper-sensitive in a way similar to Martha Stewart's cooking shows. (Oh, the late-night wonder of flipping upon Martha slathering some sort of spread on a cracker or bread wedge and being assaulted by the ear-tickling hiss and slurp of it all! I always guessed there was a contact microphone fitted right there on her spatula, but I asked someone who works at The Food Network once and he was tight-lipped to say the least.) The aural sensation is different in Van Sant's film, of course, but it has a similar synesthetic effect in the way it draws out the tension between internal and external worlds. You can hear the sounds most of us hardly even notice gradually turn to unbearable noise in the mind of the film's "Kurt Cobain," whose ears wrap like parentheses around the feedback in his head.

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