Oct 10, 2008

Mister Lonely

Mister Lonely is the long awaited third film from director Harmony Korine. Former straight-edger Harmony Korine has had some problems with heroin addiction over the years, which also resulted in the dissolution of his relationship with actress Chloe Sevigny. One could say that over the past few years, Korine has been extra lonely. I don’t think that it would be far fetched to say that the Michael Jackson impersonator featured in Mister Lonely is modeled after Korine and his own life.

A Michael Jackson impersonator meets a Marilyn Monroe impersonator after one of his performances at a French old folks home. Despite being in France, this pseudo-MJ could care less about learning the language of a bunch of over pretentious frogs. Naturally, Michael feels alone in France so being an impersonator is not a bad way to make a living. The Marilyn Monroe impersonator soon invites MJ to her home full of other impersonators. Her husband impersonates Charlie Chaplin (but acts more like Uncle Adolf) and the couple has a Shirley Temple impersonator for a daughter.

A feisty and borderline belligerent Abraham Lincoln impersonator is the strongest of impersonators. A young black boy who sings about his love for women’s breasts and chickens stars as Buckwheat. Other notable impersonators are the three stooges, Madonna, Queen of England, Little Red Riding Hood (how can one impersonate her?), and of course the pope. It would be interesting to know why Harmony and his brother Avi decided to pick these individuals to be impersonated. Harmony Korine deciding to have a Michael Jackson impersonator for a protagonist was no surprise to me.

It is quite apparent that Harmony Korine has mellowed out over the years. Whether it’s just age or too many euphoric drugs is unknown, but I suspect a combination of both. After viewing Mister Lonely, I can easily say that Gummo is still Korine’s masterpiece. Like David Lynch’s Eraserhead, Gummo is a debut from a director that needed to unleash his artistic urges. Gummo is also easily Korine’s most ambitious film. For Korine, Mister Lonely is a lighthearted and dare I say sometimes dull film. Mister Lonely is certainly Korine’s most intimate film in the director’s analysis of self. But is that always a good thing?

Mister Lonely also has a subplot featuring Werner Herzog as a “holier than holy” priest out to save the world. He takes a group of multicultural nuns on a flight to drop rice down for starving third worlders. One of the nuns accidentally falls out of the plane and somehow manages to land on the ground without a mark to her body. Due to this miracle, priest Herzog promotes other nuns jumping out of planes. The sequences featuring the skydiving nuns are beautiful to say the least. In typical Jewish tradition, Korine mocks the catholic church which is never a bad thing.

Mister Lonely features quite possibly the most heartbreaking scenes of all Harmony Korine’s films. Although heartbreaking for the Michael Jackson impersonator, he realizes that he is an individual and should live as that individual. For Harmony Korine, I think Mister Lonely is a film about hope. I just wish I could have seen priest Werner Herzog have a beer with the Bavarian pope.

-Ty E

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really want to see this film now. I think "Gummo" is surrealism at its best. "Julien Donkey Boy" had nothing profound or meaningful in it. Korine was just making mean-spirited nonsense for awhile. Really obnoxious.

But this film seems to have more heart to its self-awareness. I was tired of him using white trash, blacks and schitzos and saying "Look how crazy this is!" and finally say "Try and relate to this"

I think the heroin might have helped him out.