Mister Lonely (2007) Poster


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This film is good
buonanotte16 March 2008
Well, I don't really understand why Mister Lonely has such a low rate on IMDb.com... I guess that if you go and see an Harmony Korine film you should expect a bit of noncontinuous plot and a considerable touch of black humour. People were laughing all the time yesterday at the cinema, actually it is pretty funny to see the Pope holding a glass of wine in his hand or simply a: man imitating Micheal Jackson riding a tiny motorcycle dragging a monkey puppet that floats in the air... This film has the finest unreal set I've ever seen in a movie (Check the plot summary too get an idea). Even if doesn't have the complexity of Dogville or American Beaty, it's a perfect representation of the eternal question "Who are we?". Are we what we represent? Are we what we try or wish to be? And finally: Is there a god? To be honest, I think that a film about this kind of stuff deserves a decent rate. Also because it is absolutely well crafted and good-looking. It has got everything Korine is all about: weirdness, uncomfortable situations, disappointment and spirituality. If you are in the mood for a proper "art" movie, check it out.
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Korine's latest has a likable quality to it, the actors are on mark... but something is "off"
Quinoa198430 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Harmony Korine - he strips the audience into camps that get ravenous at each other. I remember being in film school and knowing people who *loved* Gummo, loved it to death (one girl even did an homage picture of herself like the one boy with his face turns to the side in profile), and would defend it with... I don't know what logic, that (in good argument) that Korine had a vision, that he had a great eye at such a young age (21 or 22) at the outcasts of the world. Fine. Then on the other camp, people *hated* the work of him, couldn't stand it, couldn't get it. Understandable as well: Gummo is, I should add, a freak-show, Jerry Springer shot with the camera of Sven Nykvist on holiday. As for Julien Donkey Boy, well, that's a whole other story.

The reason perhaps that I have a whole paragraph about Korine's reputation is that Mister Lonely, his latest film, is also his first in over eight years. Whatever it was that spurred him and his brother Avi to get to work on this after such a hiatus from the director's chair is beyond me, but it is admittedly nothing else if not fascinating - both in how it works wonders and charms and, frankly, how it can bore and act like it's God's gift to the lives of celebrity impersonators. It's the kind of film where things happen but they kind of don't at the same time; it has Michael Jackson (Diego Luna) and Marilyn Monroe (Samantha Morton) meet in Paris, Monroe takes Michael to a Scottish castle where a family of celebrity impersonators (i.e. Chaplin, Stooges, Buckwheat, the Pope, the Queen) all are gathered to do... what? Well, put on a show for the locals, perhaps, even if they don't show up much, at all.

And in the meantime, Werner Herzog - yes, Werner Herzog, stay tuned - is in the picture as a Latin American priest who has a plane full of nuns dropping rice on villagers and then, shock of shocks, one of the nun falls out of the plane and can fly. This may be, for me, one of the only times I can remember when Herzog has been not used to his full potential on screen. Perhaps there's a symbolic/Christian/belief connection that I did not get at all, but the rhythm of film-making that Korine had suddenly would shift gears every so often to this unrelated-to-the-celebrity-people to Herzog and the nuns (at one point Herzog, with big goggle/glasses on, rambles on camera about this or that, which usually is enormously gratifying but here is not), and it's as if we're plopped into one of Herzog's docu-fiction films filled with ecstatic truth. This would be fine - if there was *more* of this throughout the film, which there isn't (I'd say %10 of the running time has Herzog and/or flying nuns), or if they had been used for a whole other project and Korine had focused on just the family of celebrities.

And yet, it's hard for me not to recommend the picture on some gut-level. There is invention here, and daring, and some kind of intuition with a personal aesthetic that makes Mister Lonely come alive in some unpredictable ways. But on the flip-side to Korine's inspirational coin are some hard truths to face: he finds all of this so self-important, so much like we're seeing something that we *must* find amazing and deep that he gets ahead of his own material. Some scenes end up rambling, others like Marilyn Monroe dancing slowly to herself and then it fading to black and the words "Thriller" streaming across the scene are beautiful and totally perplexing and pretentious in one fell swoop. There's also something of an easy out with the tragic part after the big performance is given (I wont mention it as it is a good spoiler), and it too leads to a conclusion that has some meaning but not enough. Some of this is very funny (hard not to laugh at cussing Abe Lincoln or smelly Pope), some of it weird in a good way... and some of it may make you wonder why you rented it in the first place.

Again, as with Gummo, Mister Lonely will divide it's audience (frankly, I'm sort of divided among my own thoughts), but if you need that challenge of a director saying "this is what celebrity, the idea of being someone or doing something you care about that has f***-all to do with the rest of 'ordinary' humanity", or just some remarkable cinematography with art-house tattooed on its eyelids, check it out. If it's a disappointment, it was worth a shot. And if it's the best movie of the year, well, more power to you.
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Bright Moments in a Patchy Film
gradyharp29 November 2008
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
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Something very different from Korine - must-see cinema!
paulmartin-212 August 2007
In spite of mixed early reviews of Mister Lonely, the latest film by wunderkind Harmony Korine was not only one of the stand-out films for me at the Melbourne International Film Festival, but one of my favourites of 2007. My experience of his work to date is limited to the writing of Larry Clark's Kids and his directorial debut Gummo. The former I saw relatively recently and impressed me with its gritty realism, while the latter surprised me on its theatrical release with its bleakness.

Mister Lonely is a much more colourful film than anything associated with Korine. Its visuals (such as set design, camera angles and cinematography) are very pleasing, accentuated by its seemingly unrelated parallel narratives and absurdist premise. A Michael Jackson impersonator in France meets a Marilyn Monroe impersonator, who introduces him to a Scottish commune full of various impersonators. While superficially the film appears to be frivolous, clearly it has deeper social comments to make about identity, loneliness and alienation, issues the director has been reportedly grappling with personally.

The other narrative relates to a group of missionaries in Panama, with Werner Herzog portraying a priest, Father Umbrillo, delivering food aid by plane, assisted by various nuns. While the connection between the dual narratives is unclear, this story is strangely surreal, visually alluring and entertaining.

There is a small flat spot towards the end of the film, but for most of the film's 112 minutes, I had a big smile that was hard to wipe off my face. Charlie Chaplin, Shirley Temple, James Dean, Little Red Riding Hood, Queen Elizabeth, the Pope, The Three Stooges, Abraham Lincoln, Madonna and Buckwheat are all there.

The humour and irony are used with a clever and skillful blend of under- and over-statement. There is an underlying subtle sadness to some of the characters who, in spite of their eccentric alter egos, remain ordinary people that an audience can relate to. The film is intelligent and emotionally honest. One part is particularly close to the bone for me and brought tears to my eyes. This is Korine's most accessible and enjoyable film. It is full of originality and I highly recommend it.
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Korine quirky poetry worth the effort
tjackson1 September 2008
Since no one makes movies like Harmony Korine, I'm not sure what the standard for critique is. So suffice to say it's really beautiful, unsettling, rambling, and actually kind of spiritual. Love his movies or not he is an honest filmmaker with a true sense of the surreal and the poetry that lurks in the strangest details. The casting is brilliant and the structure unique and pure Korine. The premise is the wacky goings on at a retreat for celebrity and historical impersonators tucked away in (where?) the Scottish Highlands. They are rehearsing a "play" of some kind. It makes for some beautiful moments.

This story is told against another story of nuns who want to jump without parachutes from an airplane to prove the possibility of miracles (as legend claims did happen once) Needless to say this has ripe opportunities,especially when you have Werner Herzog playing the pilot. (Korine says the scene with the man waiting for his wife to return to the airport is an actual caught conversation. THIS you have to see to believe). At the screening I attended, an very odd fan's comment to Korine was simply; "Nuns floating dead on a beach. Awesome image man.Dude you rock". Korine says the two stories are really the same thing. Hmmm - I guess so.

Putting the great, great Samantha Morton together with Herzog, Richard Strange, Leos Carax (Pola X), Anita Pallenberg, Diego Luna, and James Fox - matches any casting coup by John Waters. The story may be criticized as forced and ridiculous, but Korine is willing to take bold chances, to mix it up and. with the help of great actors and wonderful cinematography he create of a work of real cinema poetry.
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Mister Lonely
cultfilmfan7 June 2008
Mister Lonely is one of the most original films of this year, or any year and with a plot consisting of a young man who makes a living as a Michael Jackson impersonator, you would have to agree. Michael soon meets a woman who impersonates Marilyn Monroe and she invites him back to a commune in the hills where in a secluded village, everyone there lives as someone else and pretends to be them and their big delight comes from putting on talent shows for the other villages. Mister Lonely really made an impression on me when I watched it for more reasons than I can probably think of, so I will do my best to list all of them. First of all, the script and film itself is really unlike anything I have seen before because of it's original storytelling and concept. It is also one of the best looking films I have ever seen with luscious landscapes and backgrounds to gritty and natural settings as well. Whatever the film is capturing with it's lens, it looks fantastic. The performances were all right on key and the whole ensemble cast needs to be recognized for that. The film with it's music, slower pace and images of beauty and sometimes shots of absurd things going on, are shot in such a particular way and with the background music and the cinematography, I found a lot of the film to be peaceful, harmonious and quite something to behold. The story itself is an excellent character study and from my past reviews, you may be able to tell that those are the particular type of films that I enjoy. This look at characters who are unhappy with their own lives, so they have to resort to being someone else to make themselves feel significant is something I know I have dealt with in my life and I'm sure many readers of this have in their lifetime as well. The way the film dealt with these characters trying to cover up their sadness by putting on a different face and being someone else and concluding with a message that I truly found touching, inspirational and a brilliant way to end a film like this. The last part of this film, just like the rest of the film is poetic in it's style and beauty and I truly felt moved by emotions of happiness and sorrow with this film, but they were never bad feelings and were always totally appropriate to what was going on in the film. What an interesting concept of people having to be someone else in order to please themselves and what a wonderful message to get across in such a unique and creative way. Visually this film is stunning, the storytelling and pace as well as the acting all work out perfectly and create a fable that is truly one of a kind and probably has to be seen to be believed and it should definitely be seen. I know a lot of critics have not given this film all that positive reviews, but I think they missed the film's point completely because on an artistic level there is so much to admire here and if you are anything like me you are probably tired of all the same old clichéd story lines coming out of Hollywood and now we have this inventive, touching and truly unique film to come along and critics don't get it. Something is definitely wrong there. If you have ever been interested in independent, or experimental films then this film is a great place to start and for those tired of the same old Hollywood stuff that we see each week then definitely give this one a try as well. I only wished I lived in a bigger city where I got to review films like this all the time. A moving, beautiful and completely artistic overwhelming treat for your mind and eyes, Mister Lonely is the best film I have seen so far this year and one of the most important films of this decade, or any decade and deserves to be seen and studied by film students and film buffs for years to come. A wonderful achievement.
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That's Show Business, Folks.
MacAindrais23 October 2008
Mister Lonely (2008) ****

Well, it's been 8 years since Harmony Korine made a film. The last time we saw him was in Julien Donkey-Boy, before that Gummo. Both those movies passed through eyes of which the majority had no understanding. Roger Ebert, in his review of Julien Donkey Boy, referred to Korine as on a list with such names as Herzog, Cassevetes, Tarkovsky, Brakhage, Godard, etc. The reason: because he smashed the boundaries of how a conventional filmmaker would have told such tales. He also pointed out the near death of the underground film scene. There once was a time when if you were a film buff, you sought out films like these, and sat willfully in old one screen cinemas. And you were not alone: It's hard to believe now, but yes people lined up around street corners to see the Godard's or Tarkovsky's. Now those lineups are reserved for the likes of Pirates of the Caribbean and Spiderman.

That kind of film buff is now a rare breed. We exist, and gleefully buy our tickets and run to the theatres, but we're no longer shoulder to shoulder or lined up around the corner. Take as an anecdote a few trips made to my local film festival. I saw a Bela Tarr film, and in my idealism rushed to get there early so i could get a seat. Though later I realized that the auditorium was only maybe half full, at best, in one of the smallest auditoriums in the city. When I first saw Mister Lonely, it was of course the same.

But I digress. The point? Mister Lonely, like Korine's two previous directorial outings, dare to be different, dare to be bold, and so are destined to go unappreciated. Even Ebert, who praised Julien Donkey-Boy only gave the film 2 stars - though he did wish he could give a 2 star positive review. The problem with making a film like Mister Lonely is that its so odd that everyone gets caught up on the oddity. A common gripe: "sure its original, but what's the point?" Mister Lonely, written by Korine and his brother Avi, sets its sights on the world of celebrity impersonators. Mainly are Michael Jackson (Luna) and Marilyn Monroe (Morton). He meets her while working a bizarre gig at an old folks home, as they sit half amused, half catatonic. She invites him back to her commune in the highlands of Scotland, inhabited by their kind: Abe Lincoln, James Dean, Madonna, the Queen, the Pope, Little Red Riding Hood, the Three Stooges, and Charlie Chaplin and Shirley Temple, who are her husband and daughter, respectively of course. They live in their own world. The only thing that ties them to the real world is a flock of sheep. To them, their world seems as perfect as they want it to be, for they are the truest souls of all as they cloak themselves in the lives and manners of others. Or so that is their claim. To showcase their talents and philosophy, they build a theatre where they will put on shows for themselves, and the townsfolk.

Although their is light heartedness and tender sweetness, something else seems to be sinister. Charlie Chaplin is an egomaniac, and emotionally abusive towards his wife, Marylin Monroe. To everyone else he is courteous and, well, Chaplin-esquire. She tells him that sometimes he looks more like Hitler than Chaplin.

Though the film retains its tenderness, its big shift comes with the slaughter of sheep. They are infected, and even the living must be killed. All gather round as Larry, Curly and Moe pull the triggers of double barrel shotguns. In a way, their fantasy reality is not so much shattered, but breached.

Punctuating this is a story about flying nuns, who believe that they can jump from the priests plane (played with absurd hilarity by Werner Herzog himself) and land safely on the ground below.

Although Korine has always found the beauty in his own chaos, Mister Lonely is a much more aesthetic film than his others. It has a certain level of visual prestige that few others would even strive to. Many images are quite simply breathtaking. The sequences of Nuns, accentuated in their sky blue robes against the sky blue skies are some of my favorite in any film.

And, yes, there is a point. What is it? I think I know, though I'm positive its up to some personal interpretation. And for that matter, a review is not the proper place for such a discussion. This much can be said though, its poignant, touching, and genuinely heartbreaking and life affirming at once.

Films like this exist to be based solely upon their own merit. Even though Mister Lonely has some thematic similarities to, say, Sweet Movie (which Korine has said was an influence on his career), it is still something all together unique.The problem with films like Mister Lonely, though, is that they must be taken totally literally or not at all, or maybe both at the same time. That is a lot to ask of an audience, especially now. But, I ask, is that not the point of good film-making? And Besides, where else can you see the Pope sleeping with the Queen? The Three Stooges killing sheep? Michal Jackson play ping pong with Charlie Chaplin? Or maybe James Dean hang out by a swing with Madonna and Shirley Temple? Where I ask you, where!
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a breath of fresh air from the nostrils of zeus?
Chris_Docker25 March 2008
A mask can be a disguise or an aspiration. An instrument of ritual. An imitation of greater hopes, that we might become more like our image. Magical, incantatory. The earliest theory of art itself, as Susan Sontag has pointed out, is one of mimesis, an imitation of reality (or 'a reality').

Who doesn't know that feeling, after putting on a new suit and tie, or perfecting one's make-up. Feeling like a new person. Going out to face the world with refreshed persona. Thomas Carlyle, that great Scottish author of Heroes and Superheroes, champion of the value of role models, suggested that, "A man lives by believing something." By believing in something we can become more than what we are, or become a different type of person. Or we can simply find ourselves out of place, wearing a suit that doesn't fit. Pretending to be someone we're not.

Mister Lonely has two main threads. There is Diego Luna – best known for his great performance in Y Tu Mamá También – who is a Michael Jackson impersonator and hangs out with other impersonators. Then there is Werner Herzog – best known for his work behind the camera – who leads a troupe of nuns in Africa. The impersonators stay in character 24 hrs a day. They include Samantha Morton as Marilyn Monroe (in an awesome dress by celebrated fashion designer agnès b.) and other people impersonating the likes of Charlie Chaplin, James Dean and Abe Lincoln (we never learn the characters' real names).

If you haven't twigged the connection, perhaps you are familiar with some devout Christians who ask themselves, in a difficult situation, "What would Jesus do?" That maybe works better as a role model in determining a moral dilemma than it would, say, if the answer might involve walking on water. And while impersonators might do well in street theatre, how excited would you be to see the 'Greatest Show on Earth' that starred not Michael, Charlie or HM the Queen but . . . impersonators? I can't tell you more about the story without giving away the ending, which again points up the similarity of inspiration and obsession in both narratives but, if you are a lover of quirky cinema, Mister Lonely might well be for you.

Mister Lonely has quirky written all over it. It is directed by Harmony Korine, who won awards for his Dogme95 feature, Julien Donkey-Boy, and for his screenplay for Larry Clark's Kids. Korine once tried to make a film by engaging random people in actual street fights - until he was hospitalised. Something to do with being prepared to die for his art. He seems interested in mental illness, dysfunctional childhoods, symbolism, and an innovative approached to film. Hopefully that will put off people who don't like films like that. Indeed, Mister Lonely can easily be read as disconnected and insubstantial if you like more solid fare.

Mister Lonely is deeply original, strange and yet accessible. There are points of touching emotion – in an old people's home, for instance, as Michael and Marilyn evoke unfeigned warmth from what are most probably non-actors. Then there is the threefold face – the actor, the character and the impersonation – and we search for the glimmers of sadness or the 'real person' behind the manufactured facade. As they strive never to act in any way other than their alter-egos, it forms a tender bond with the audience when their feelings become apparent.

I particularly enjoyed Samantha Morton's performance. I had never been a big fan of her early work, but she seems to have injected new life and vigour into every project she has tackled since her reported stroke in 2006. Although she was always a competent actress, it is her work in films such as this, or Control, that has moved me to the core and left me speechless. It is as if she has somehow scaled the heights of her own aspiration as an actress and achieves something that is beyond her own mortal limits.
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Horizons small and large
chaos-rampant9 May 2014
Don't be put off by the man's reputation: the film is about dreams, the illusions our selves weave to tangle with things.

The first admission is that the film is the precursor to Trash and Spring but the vision is not refined yet. Contrary to various misconceptions, Korine is not a nihilist, about nothing, though he flirts with provocation. This has all manner of that, in its main thrust however it is about beauty and meaning as much as any Malick.

The provocation is as in his other works about the ways we consume culture, as biting as Godard in his time and at least here as superficial. The image always reflects your view of the thing pictured, so when you perceive superficial things to rail against it's going to be a superficial perception. Here an example is the segment in the retirement home with senile old people gawking at Michael Jackson, one of them tapping his head with a hammer.

Now about the thing that matters here.

The film is centered on people acting roles - in Trash they were pretending to be old people, in Spring it's even more subtle and deep. Here impersonators of cultural icons; Jackson, Marilyn, Chaplin. Among them, Abe Lincoln, Queen Elizabeth and the Pope so he can have opportunity to provoke later on; a Pope who stinks and so on.

So this is about people who are not content to be who they are, who have to adopt an image that lets them go out and do things, opening up a horizon of life as performance with the complexities of self more evident than just people on the street.

Part of the fun is to see the famous faces in all sorts of hijinks, the faces picked because they're so recognizable; Jackson, Marilyn, Chaplin, each one's demons as famous as their glamorous light. But more, it's an opportunity to conjure our preconceptions ahead of us, show the complexity of that image we know: where we expected the neurotic self, we find people doing things, happily drinking in a pond or playing pingpong, where we expected glamorous light, we find the same troubled souls as the rest of us, feeling small or neglected.

It falters for me in that Korine decided to have this play out in a separate stage, a castle in Scotland, removed from life. It is his way of hitting up against the problem: an inner life of dreams as the desire to be someone else, as an escape to a stage that has no life to gracefully perform for no one (seen as a performance they stage for an audience of three people), so in the end when Jackson sheds the artificial self and returns to the world an ordinary guy, we see that it's this world and your own self that has to be lived. (Korine must have realized that if it is to pose a real question, the stage of dreams has to be seen around us, accessible; ordinary middle America in Trash, the this-worldly illusion of Florida.)

So a mild failure from this view, but with hindsight a necessary one to move beyond it. The gamble is to not be stuck grooming a view.

There's a great image here where we see the man cultivate the intuitive reach. In a separate subplot Herzog packs nuns in a plane to fly over the tropics and drop parcels of food, a nun finds herself airborne; the ecstatic rush of sky, the apprehension of god as the swirl of the whole horizon, everywhere light and air.
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Basking in glow of it.
jbels20 May 2009
Just got through watching this and had to comment on how wonderful it is. I am a big fan of Harmony Korine but if I hadn't known he had made this, I would have never guessed it was his film (I probably would have guessed John Sayles first).

So many amazing sequences in this film--the first Flying Nun sequence is unbelievable and I cannot get it out of my mind, brilliantly edited. The "Singing Egg" sequence almost had me crying and I don't normally get choked up. The stage show was also very poignant. And Werner Herzog's performance was pitch perfect.

I normally don't gush over movies, but Mister Lonely was so original, I need to gush. My one peccadillo? Not sure the title fits the movie.

(P.S. I hate critics and the ones on Rotten Tomatoes who called this a chore to sit through suck the most).
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Simply, or not so simply, delightful
agmccrea12 May 2008
Criticising Harmony Korine for failing to provide a "story," as at least one reviewer here does, is like complaining that Kurt Vonnegut didn't write soap operas. Perhaps these people ought to confine themselves to commenting on things they understand. While Mister Lonely is no Gummo (imho one of the greatest films ever made), it is enthralling. It is radically different from anything else Korine has done: full of whimsy and color, humor and peculiar optimism. It is a mark of his genius that he is able to pull off something so profoundly different from his earlier work. Yet it retains his signature. Casting Werner Herzog as the priest was particularly inspired.
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Korine Pursues the Elusiveness of Identity But Falls Short Despite Morton's Heartfelt Marilyn
EUyeshima8 June 2008
There is a certain idiosyncratic appeal to this small 2008 piece of strange whimsy thanks to Harmony Korine's ("Gummo") wholly individualistic film-making style. Co-written with his brother Avi, he has created an admittedly weird if visually arresting film that opens with a slow-motion shot of a man in a Michael Jackson outfit, complete with white mask, riding a bicycle with a stuffed monkey attached by a wire flying in the tailwind. This is all accompanied by Bobby Vinton's 1964 falsetto-tinged pop hit, which shares the film's title. However, the movie itself is hamstrung by a disjointed narrative, thinly developed characters, and lethargic pacing that makes the film seem much longer than its 112-minute running time. That's too bad because Korine explores the fallacies of identity with a surprising dexterity. It's just that he can't consistently maintain the uniqueness of his story concept beyond the original set-up.

The protagonist is indeed a Michael Jackson impersonator who performs for change on the streets of Paris. Actually a reticent Mexican expatriate who paints faces on eggs to pass the time in his room, he gets excited when asked to entertain at a rest home. There he meets a kindred spirit in a curvaceous Marilyn Monroe impersonator, who promptly invites him to a castle and farm commune in the Scottish Highlands inhabited by a motley crew of fellow celebrity impersonators. We meet Marilyn's husband, a Charlie Chaplin impersonator, and their moppet daughter, who pretends to be Shirley Temple. Surprisingly, just when you expect Korine to take us on a flight of random fancy, the story takes a more predictable turn into a love triangle of sorts and moves slowly toward a downbeat resolution. In a completely separate storyline, a group of nuns in a Latin American village are given a sense of eternal purpose when one accidentally falls out of a plane and miraculously survives. Korine doesn't bother to show us how one storyline relates to the other, nor does he explain why the diverse array of impersonators would congregate in such an isolated spot. Priority is placed on presenting these strange tableaux rather than building narrative coherence.

The resulting emotional disconnect from the characters makes the cast work that much harder to maintain our interest. At minimum, the principals give sympathetic portrayals despite the challenges. Diego Luna (Tenoch in "Y Tu Mama Tambien") does a dynamite impression of Jackson's 80's-era dance moves and even more, captures the innate diffidence of the eccentric superstar's offstage behavior. But it's the chameleonic Samantha Morton ("In America"), sporting a convincing American accent, who brings heart and vulnerability to her breathy faux-Marilyn. In the other story, renowned German director Werner Herzog ("Fitzcarraldo") seems to be improvising as he plays the priest who wrangles the nuns into their higher calling. Except for Denis Lavant's desultory turn as Chaplin, the rest of the cast fails to make much of an impression beyond their various guises. I just wish the audacity of Korine's venture could have been matched by a gift for storytelling.
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More Rubbish from Mr Overrated
avavnow1 May 2008
Harmony Korrine - hate him or hate him? On this evidence, loathe might be a better word. Not him of course, just everything he does. But it could've been so different because the first ten minutes of this film promises so much including a fantastic idea of a Michael Jackson impersonator falling in love with a Marilyn Monroe impersonator. Fantastic. And set in Paris! This could be great. But unfortunately, Korrine may spark the odd decent idea but because he is an awful writer, the story fails on every level and the audience walkout I witnessed about an hour in is proof positive that he is the most boring and pretentious film-making out there. Apparently the walk-out rate at its premiere in last years Cannes festival was quite shocking. Instead of focusing on the two protagonists, he switches the story stupidly to the confines of a château to introduce a bunch of other impersonators making the whole experience tedious and narratively barren. When will the independent cinema stop funding this upstart?
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no no no no no....!
ptb-811 January 2010
Too fractured to be enjoyable, too loose to be interesting and too clumsily photographed to be tolerable MR LONELY is an interesting idea ruined by really bad film making. Like a Ken Russell film at its worst, or DAY OF THE LOCUST remade by amateurs, MR LONELY might have seemed like a good idea on a few scraps of paper (no script, you see) and a free holiday to somewhere, but in the end we have a widescreen film that seems as if it was made by film students whose parents told them that EVERYTHING they did was a brilliant creation. Or did I get the film maker right? MR LONELY is a waste of resources, trying to be (gawd!) quirky and deliberately off kilter. It ends up being annoying and indulgent.. and pointless. What's the point of going to a commune in Scotland? What a stupid idea in this film about Hollywood delusion. Maybe Korine wanted to remake GODSPELL ... well the result is GOD-AWFUL. Oh and there is some subplot like leftover footage from FITZCARRALDO including Werner Herzog, nuns and a plane. Add slo-mo drifting and violin music all wistful and melancholy, add James Fox who seems to hope he might be seen as daring (like in PERFORMANCE) and the result is amphetamine fantasy alphabet soup in widescreen. It might have been fun to film but the result on the screen is a mess. Imagine American PIE BAND CAMP with food poisoning.
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Feeling of disgust
t35555b6 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Harmony Korine. I'm not sure what he was trying to do with this film. If it was to turn my good day feeling into a night of disturbing memories than I guess he succeeded.

I know that there were big questions raised in this movie like, who are we really, what are we here for, is there really a God. All great questions, But I really don't think that is funny when you have the questions along side such tragedy. I'm all for real life being portrayed but come on. It's never funny when a wife is being raped, someone killing themselves (and family and friends find the body) and people die for unexplained and unnecessary reasons.

The only good thing about this movie was the location it was filmed. There is a lot of beautiful places.

I'm not a film student or even know all that much on the subject I admit this, but I do know that when I leave the theater with a feeling of disgust, then it was not a film I would recommend to anyone.
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Greatly flawed, but mesmerizing and with moments of absolute genius
Klickberg12 May 2008
As a long-time fan of Harmony Korine--his films (sans script for KIDS), his photographs, his music videos, writings, music, and (let's face it) "performance art" known as his inimitable interviews over the years--I, as with so many others a part of the HK cult, have been waiting almost a decade for the return of this erstwhile enfante terrible who amazed the most important modern filmmakers alive along with the rest of us with his stirring explosion onto the independent film and art scene back when we ourselves were all but kids.

I can't say that I was necessarily disappointed with MISTER LONELY, but there are definitely as many aspects about it that I did not like as those that I enjoyed immensely. When I did my best to corral a few friends into the screening, everyone inevitably asked what the critics had said--strangely enough--and all the reviews seemed to say the same thing about the film: "a beautiful and meandering mess." Not only did that sound exactly like the kind of film I wanted to see, but it pretty much nails the film to the letter.

Unquestionably, the film is stunning in visual beauty.

Harmony has a preternatural knack for the visual form; he is in essence a photographer who thinks himself a bit better of a storyteller than he is. His stories are surely fascinating, but certainly being a raconteur of sorts is his least strong talent. His concepts are always fantastic, but his execution can become irritating and frankly gimcrack. Even in his interviews, when he goes on a tirade about talking to Orthodox Jews who are dentists and play basketball, calling him a sinner, you chuckle and can almost see the image in your head of such a scene... then you grow bored and wish he would just answer the damn question about where he got his idea for such-and-such a film, etc.

As most other reviewers on IMDb and in the press have stated, you could see this film for strictly the "nun footage" alone. Those specific ethereal scenes certainly are a true breath of fresh air, and of course Harmony also has a terrific ear for the discovery and use of the best music to go along with his dreamy "surreal realism" style.

The two largest problems for me with this one: 1) The dialogue was at time so sappy and sentimental that it made me wonder how such a contrarian critic such as Mr. K could come up with or employ such hackneyed and cloying material (especially an "epilogue" sequence of sorts involving talking eggs that is probably one of the worst scenes in all of American film history), 2) The acting could have been punched up a bit, especially with Diego Luna who had the physical style of Jackson down pat, but just couldn't pull off the voice, the "hee-hee," or an acting performance that transcended a frightened, timid child of 13 (and, yes, I did catch that this was somewhat the "point," but the whole film's ensemble seemed a bit too pedomorphic this time round... rather like the characters, dialogue, and even narrative of Bret Easton Ellis' last novel in which you almost want to grab the guy and say, "Hey, you're better than this. You're not a kid anymore. And your characters aren't kids anymore. Time to move on and evolve.")

The Chaplin character was also such a wooden villain, so despicable in every way, that I believed his development suffered the same kind of flatness one would see in a late 90's romantic-comedy.

It will be difficult for me to recommend MISTER LONELY to even my most staunch artistic cineaste friends; but, I'm personally glad I saw it, and--again--there was imagery that I will never see anywhere else.

Looking forward to his next piece.
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The Korine Formula
frankenbenz13 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers

With his new film Mister Lonely, Harmony Korine boldly declares what many have suspected since his first feature Gummo: that's it, that's all folks. Korine is by no means status quo and his fixations have little range outside of what can best be described as: odd. At the time it debuted, Gummo was visionary, a white trash masterpiece, a spectacle of filth, oddities, nastiness and depravity. There wasn't much of a story behind Gummo, but because it was loosely structured and resembled a documentary, it was more like watching sideshow freaks at the zoo than it was watching a movie. Nevertheless, Gummo felt far ahead of its time and proved to be an incredibly entertaining circus. Korine proved Hollywood wrong, that story was not always required, just as long as you provide viewers with a collection of fascinating oddballs and entrancingly unorthodox visuals.

But Korine's formula dated itself prematurely and his second feature, Julien Donkey-Boy, tried unsuccessfully to recapture the rapture of staring at freaks. JDB did nothing to dispel the suspicion that Korine was a one trick pony, a director more interested in parading before us a series of exhausting vignettes intent on using shock as a substitute for depth. In the seven year absence between JDB and ML, hope amongst fans of Korine grew, with expectations of Korine reclaiming his title as the infant terrible of American cinema. Unfortunately for Korine fans, ML does nothing more than confirm the director is an outdated, one trick pony.

Mr Lonely involves a Michael Jackson impersonator (Diego Luna), adrift in Paris until he crosses paths with a Marilyn Monroe impersonator (Samantha Morton). Monroe invites Michael to an impersonator's Shangri-La in the Scottish highlands where she and a handful of other impersonators live free from the intervention of the outside world. In essence this is a place where outsiders can feel at home by completely letting go of who they really are, affording them the ability to completely inhabit their pseudo-selves. Inexplicably intercut into the primary story is the very un-subtle tale of a group of blue nuns in South America who can miraculously fall from the sky without parachutes. Flying nuns...how ironic (wait until you see their denouement).

No surprise, Korine milks both story lines for every ounce of spectacle he can squeeze out of their unusual premises, their unusual settings and their unusual cast of characters. But few of these moments ring true, they instead come across as painfully contrived and purposefully profound. When watching you get the feeling the director is trying very hard to be different, unique and penetrating and instead comes across as a first year fine arts student wanting to stand out from the crowd.Despite being a blunt, boring, predictable and a shameless parade of eccentrics and odd behavior, ML does possess a handful of beautiful cinematic moments, where arresting visuals are married to hypnotic and reflective music. What elevates ML above JDB is the simple fact Korine and his cinematographer are no longer bound to the overly simplistic, fascist and pretentious rules demanded of Lars Von Trier's Dogme 95 manifesto (as was the case for JDB). With Dogme in the trash, so is miserable lighting, bad camera work, diegetic music and an overall lack of patience. In their place ML provides viewers with just enough visual and romantic charm to avoid being a complete turn off, yet sadly, still remains a challenge for viewers to not turn off their TVs to do something more rewarding...like washing their hair.
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Oddball parlour
p-stepien25 September 2012
Harmony Korine returned to the cinematographic circuit after a 8-year long hiatus, no longer a prolific and controversial teenager, now evolved in style, subtlety, film language and self-conscience. Apparently inspired by his own failings in life Korine delves into the wacky world of celebrity impersonators - of people not satisfied with who they are and acquisitioning the personas of others in a search for betterment and happiness. Michael Jackson (Diego Luna of "Y Tu Mamá También" fame) does the moonwalk on the streets of London, dancing and acting his part in front of passerby's while the boom-box stays conspicuously silent. Upon a chance meeting with Marilyn Monroe (Samantha Morton) he decide to join an impersonator community living off the land on a island near the Scottish coast. There amidst Charlie Chaplin, Abraham Lincoln, the Stooges, Madonna and James Dean he finds an idyllic bubble of happiness. The catalyst for the Utopian self-destruction comes in the form of a sheep disease, which forces the motley band to kill and burn their carcasses. With it burning the feeling of safety and detachment from worry.

"Mister Lonely" also features a second thread running parallel and seemingly unconnected with the main storyline. It tells the story of a group of nuns, who believe that through the power of faith they are able to fly. Their pilot - a catholic priest Father Umbrillo is adorably played by Werner Herzog, a adequate comrade in arms for Korine given the strong metaphysical essence of his work. Albeit seemingly disparate, the two interloping stories basically deal with the same issue of striving to become an ideal - through faith fulfilling the will of god or by imitating the semblance of perfection of the impersonated celebrity.

The theme chosen for his career reboot seems like very fortuitous and ripe for the picking by a avantgarde artist such as Corine. Dealing with a relatively abundant production budget Corine pulls no stops to deliver a visually perfect movie, proving beyond a doubt his immaculate taste for picture and music, seamlessly constructing beautiful albeit absurd imagery (Michael Jackson riding a mini bike to the song "Mister Lonely", flying nuns of BMXs or face-covered yoga training). Astounding vivid and mesmeric with a strong premise the overall artistic success is pretty obvious, especially in comparison the the raw predecessors. Albeit not entirely style over substance Corine fails to balance the ideas and images with a passable story. No longer a chaotic collage of relatively unconnected scenes ("Gummo"), structured around the island community "Mister Lonely" feels overly improvisational and uninspiring, as if guided by a belief that populating the movie with oddballs (in true Wes Anderson hollowness) and quirking up the ante will suffice to keep the audience intrigued for two hours. The characters themselves are uninspiring, once the novelty of their wackiness wears off becoming a group of doubly faceless individual (neither truly the personas they attempt to recreate nor fleshed out individuals behind the mask).

The grading for Corine is somewhat generous given my issues with his efforts, much owed to the admiration of topics touched as well as some utterly magnificent scenes. To some extent the flying-nuns storyline offers just compensation for the ramblings on in other sequences. A well toned, beautifully portrayed effort with a grim overtone, featuring an unbelievable entry scene, where Werner Herzog donned as a priest confronts a man over his unfaithfulness. Apparently a true event it transcends the overall value of the movie, however capturing an unmistakable feel of Herzog's documentary endeavours and strictly pointing in which direction Corine seems intent on heading.

The biggest misstep however is a pretty ridiculous reinvention of Paul Thomas Anderson's "Wise Up" sequence... albeit with a different song and sung by a bunch of talking eggs...
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"Mister Lonely" premiere at Tribeca Film Festival
slazes1 May 2008
I snuck into the premiere of "Mister Lonely" at Tribeca on Tuesday, and although it was mostly what I expected, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. Korine is masterful at invoking emotion in his audiences, and this film was no exception. I understand why this film has such a low score: because it doesn't carry a "message," which film nerds insist upon, but the images are beautifully captured, and the story is CRAZY. Come on, a Michael Jackson impersonator who meets a Marilyn Monroe impersonator in Paris and follows her to a celebrity impersonator commune in Scotland? You can't lose with this one, people.
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A movie for a specific kind of viewer.
atomiccomandant1 July 2019
This movie was far better than the premise or some other reviewers were able to understand or articulate.

I wont go over the plot since every other review does so. This movie isnt about the characters the actors are portraying its more about the lives of the people escaping into these characters and how and why someone would want to do that. This movie is very emotional in many different ways.

The sub plot about the nuns and their "leap of faith" meant nothing to me. If you are religious or open to the supernatural then there may have been something for you in that sub plot. Though i did enjoy Werner Herzog in the role of the priest, He had little screen time but still was able to deliver a beleivable performance.

Most of the characters dont get much if any development, but thats just it they dont need it. Its not about each person in the commune, Its more about why they choose to stay there and the lives they lead as their characters.

In short, I loved this movie. I may be the only one. This is a bleak film, with a few laughs. Contemplative films like this require a downer ending, though thats personal preference.

Honest rating 8 stars. I did rate it 10 just to give it more credit.
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Lonely Not Lonely
meganperry323 March 2019
Absolutely charming - my favorite Harmony film. The only negatives: scenes which were obviously improvised; the actors broke character and the continuity was briefly lost., also Samantha Morton's performance was mildly irritating. But the rest of the cast, particularly the lead, were mesmerizing.

A great work of existential-magical-drama. Highly philosophical with just the right amount of humor!
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Beautiful - absolutely beautiful.
shenandoah_jones22 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This film was one of the most touching I've seen in a long time. When it started out, I had no idea what to expect - in fact, it was funny and pretty sad to see Michael dancing in the street, and on the motorbike with the monkey. But this film really developed into something more when he got to Scotland with Marilyn. It became magical. I don't know how they managed to make the film feel so raw and natural, since it was so surreal. It just...worked. Everything about the characters made them seem so down to earth and human. I especially liked how they made mistakes- how unlike in other films where everything was "one take and perfect", this had a charming quality that completely blew me away. The whole movie represented the world, and life, and the people who reside in it. The times when Michael was introspective, and discussed the meaning of everything gave me shivers. What he said really resonated with me. Also, I loved how the nun scenes always came in at the right time, and really helped the story and the moments that were had. The imagery was FANTASTIC. The way it was filmed was wonderful and engaging. The soundtrack was beyond perfect. The ending was...wow. It just completely made sense to me, the whole movie just came into context - I found myself saying "Wow, this is truly the glory of the universe, this is life." I came to an epiphany - and that's what I look for in a film. It was beautiful, sad, happy, wonderful, meaningful, and it's a must see. Mister Lonely definitely deserves a watch.
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Terrific moments, messy big picture.
Indie_Locker13 July 2013
A vast departure from anything Harmony Korine has done, Mister Lonely is certainly a film one has to think about. Like all other Korine films, there is a lot going on. Sometimes we have to accept that certain decisions of his have meaning and certain ones do not, the just exist. This film also simply exists, but we can't watch it without getting curious as to what it is actually trying to say.

The film is about a lot of ordinary people who are celebrity impersonators. The film mainly follows Michael Jackson (Diego Luna) and Marilyn Monroe (Samatha Morton), but there are other ones, such as Charlie Chaplin, James Dean, Little Red Riding Hood, Abraham Lincoln, The Three Stooges, so on and so forth. And they all live together in a desolate mansion and they own sheep, who eventually get infected.

The impersonators live on their own and clearly have aspirations about what they're doing. They don't have much of an audience, although they like to think that they do. Since this is a Harmony Korine film, we can't expect the storyline to carry the film. There are a lot of other elements at play here and the story is merely the background or the canvas for which he uses to paint all over. There is clearly some Malick and Herzog influence at work here and its nice to see dashes of the Harmony Korine we've all come to know.

Unfortunately when the film concludes we're not exactly sure what to take from it, or we felt while we viewed it. While there were certainly some gorgeous shots and some haunting and lasting images, its difficult not to feel that as a film, not everything worked. With a film like Gummo, Korine was able to explore a vast amount of characters and dialog among the backdrop of a fictionalized Xenia, Ohio. Here, we have the celebrity impersonators as well as a priest and a group of nuns in a plane.

What seems to be at play here are a combination of Korine's views of famous American figures, his brief thoughts on religion and fate and who we are as people. As Roger Ebert pointed out, there is this tragic feeling beneath the surface in regards to humans. Are these impersonators going nowhere in life or is this all they can get out of life? Should they learn to love this or shall they die seeking more? These questions are evoked but not completely answered and its nice to think about these things.

Werner Herzog, who actually plays the priest in the film, has the brightest presence and elevates the film whenever he's in it. The actors don't have too much to do, other than stand there and impersonate whoever it is they're impersonating. We can't relate to the characters themselves but merely just the idea of them, and perhaps that makes the viewing experience a little less pleasant. Why is Chaplin acting the way he is towards Marilyn? Why does Buckweat pretend to raise chickens? Do these things have meaning or do they not? What stops this film from being a complete mess are the ideas behind it and the images contained within it. While this can safely be acknowledged as an original and provoking experience, it offers little in entertainment value to the viewer and if anything, complicates our ability to process the film. It is worth watching just for the beautiful moments, such as a nun falling out of the sky and Marilyn Monroe standing in the forest, holding her dress down. But does that shape an entire experience? Not necessarily. There are things to admire here but it's hard to completely admire the picture as a whole.
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This movie is lonely because not a lot of people saw it. While it's still a mess of a movie, it's one creative mess. A great watch.
ironhorse_iv3 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
While, it might not be the greatest movie of all time and the plot might be so out there that the mass audience wouldn't get or understand it. There is something about this movie; that has me liking it. Mister Lonely is directed and written by Harmonie Korine. It's an underrated yet innovative and creative story coming from the same guy who wrote 1995's 'Kids' script. The guy is very clever and witty in what he does. His other works are variants on this. While Korine's past films have always been about raw ugliness transcending into something beautiful. In my opinion, it's a hit or miss. He is a director to try and make his films overtly experimental and anti-mainstream, that's why I think his experimentation in film fails most of the time. They are so immersed in his own confused ideas that end up just being too pretentious. So I don't find him to be a great filmmaker. I didn't like his other films 2009's Trash Humpers or 1997's Gummo, but this is different from them because it's easier to watch. Mister Lonely is about a young American Michael (Diego Luna) living in Paris, making a living as a Michael Jackson lookalike impersonator. Diego Luna is an incredible Mexican actor with great physical performance, because he's obviously a great dancer. While, I think he's great, I might if a stronger actor had been given this part, it would have a stronger following. By co-incidence, he meets another impersonator named Marilyn Monroe (Samantha Morton) who lives in an imitator commune in Scotland with her French husband Charlie Chaplin (Denis Lavant) and her daughter Shirley Temple (Esme Creed-Miles who in real life is really Samantha Morton's daughter). Samantha Morton is outstanding as Marilyn. I love her response to his question so how long have you been Marilyn and she says since I got my boobs. Very bold answer. it sounds so sexy and different. Others residents include The English Pope (James Fox), Italian Queen of England (Anita Pallenberg), and a James Dean from Wales (James Morgan). Also living there are; Abraham Lincoln (Richard Strange), Madonna (Medita Morgan) and Sammy Davis JR. (Jason Pennycooke). There are numerous other celebs lookalike that even more questionable like fictionist characters such as Red Riding Hood (Harmonie's wife Rachel Korine) and Buckwheat (Michael-Joel David Stuart) that makes you ask, why are they, there? Anyways, all of them are pretty great actors. At the commune, Michael and Marilyn prepare alongside her overzealous husband Charlie and a host of other impersonators for a star-studded stage show that will brighten and astonish their admirers, bringing them great fame. The first 15 minutes were great and then the story between Michael and Marilyn are thrown out the window. What follows is terrible filler scenes where the characters does not really do anything relate to the show. Then the story takes another odd turn, as the drama shifts to the Brazilian forest where a community of missionary nuns bring aid to the locals. While, on the airplane, a Nun fall out, and somehow survives the fall by praying. It was a miracle, and Latin American priest, Father Umbrillo (the legendary Director Werner Herzog) capitalize on it, and sent his missionary of nuns literally soar through the sky in search of their own answers. I like how Harmony Korine combines a skydiving nun on a BMX bike with a super poignant post rock song. I love the sound of the wind in this video as the nun is falling. I do like the movie soundtrack with "My Life" by Iris Dement, "Cheek to Cheek" by Fred Estaire and last Bobby Vinton - Mr. Lonely. I love the whole absurd meets poignant aspect of it. I wish you could find that in more movies! I thought it was hilarious, and poetic visually beautiful. Each frame is like a painting. There are a lot of dumb scenes; that was purposely done that way. A good example is the talking to the eggs scene. It has some clunky bits which feel awkwardly improvised but it was so wonderfully strange and very sad. It still upsets me to see the Three Stooges putting down the infected sheep even though you see nothing, nor need to. The story is funny and heartbreaking at the same time. Only Harmony Korine could weave Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe, her daughter Shirley Temple, and flying nuns into a hypnotically funny and truly poignant tale of the instability behind fanaticism and the redemption we can hope to find in one another. I think the title Mr. Lonely doesn't work. I think 'The Impostors' might have been a better title and suited the dual plot line of the celebrity impersonators as well as the nuns who have the idea that they birds and can fly. It about a group of people trying to make a miracle out of their lives. The plot line which works around two seemingly unrelated narrative threads leaves something to be desired, and ends up being a strangely conventional film filled with outcasts in search of love and community. Overall: a good one time watch. It seems like one of those films where if you just go along with the ride even if it's a bit stupid.
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michael_heming3 February 2012
I've slowly become a big fan of Harmony Korine for one reason or another. I understand he's not the greatest of directors to ever exist and many people will sit there and say to those who don't enjoy his films "you simply don't get him". I don't think there's much to get though, he has an odd idea and makes a film.

Mister Lonely is different to his other films. For one, it has a story line. Films like Trash Humpers just didn't. Mister Lonely is pretty surreal and in some places, it's funny. Flying nuns on BMX bikes is so very odd. There's something hugely likable about this film though and it could be the different lives of each character. "Have you ever wanted to be someone else?" etcetc. This is people taking wanting to be someone else to the extreme. All the actors do a very good job of making their parts believable and for fans of Korine who haven't seen it - it is something different. But it does work.

The only downside is, it is quite slow going and at times a little bit pointless. But watch it if you get the chance, it's an interesting film to say the least.
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