To mark the release of Last Days, MOMA is screening Gus Van Sant’s good-looking-corpse trilogy in its entirety. Shot in a semi-improvised style with a small crew, all three films are open-ended mysteries, radical attempts to mesh form and content with elastic manipulations of time and space. Gerry (2002), a road to nowhere that led the director out of a creative dead end, is a nightmare wilderness hike indebted to Béla Tarr, Chantal Akerman, and Andy Warhol. The Palme d’Or–winning Elephant (2003), like Gerry
, watches spellbound as its protagonists walk—and walk and walk—toward a terrible fate, and draws on another set of influences: William Eggleston, Alan Clarke, and Frederick Wiseman. Last Days synthesizes the lessons of the first two into an organic aesthetic that is entirely Van Sant’s own: It’s the crowning achievement in the most remarkable career reinvention in modern movies.