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Spring Break forever. Spring Break forever. Spring Break forever. Spring
March 23, 2013 6:19 AM   Subscribe

Harmony Korine's new film Spring Breakers [trailer] is "an outrage and an abomination. It’s also some kind of masterpiece." Or maybe it's swill, or just plain old racist. In any event, the movie looks gorgeous, courtesy of cinematographer Benoît Debie, best known for his work on his work on Gaspar Noe's Irreversible and Enter the Void. Actress Ashley Benson thinks the sex scenes were beautiful: "It wasn't raunchy. It was telling a story." Actor Gucci Mane, meanwhile, fell asleep during his sex scene. Korine showed up on Reddit to answer questions, but his responses were somewhat incoherent.
posted by Rory Marinich (115 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Korine on reddit:

cinema has changed. cinema is now a 30 second youtube clip. clear your mind. think of different now. make it bend to you. never use a walking stick, it looks doper to limp. catch my drift?
posted by sammyo at 6:27 AM on March 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


I will see this movie, tomorrow. I do not hold much hope that it will be worth the time and money I will invest. It seems like a meticulously crafted and packaged disaster, and I want to see Franco and company fail miserably.
posted by broadway bill at 6:28 AM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Harmony Korine + Benoît Debie? Gotto see it even if Criticker tells me not to.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 6:30 AM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, I thought it was incredible, and I'll be going back again to see it next week. This is a film you will either think failed utterly or succeeded beyond your wildest dreams; depends on what you're looking to get out of it, really.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:32 AM on March 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


There's been buzz about this film for months and months. It's likely to do well at the box office no matter what, why argue over its artistic merits?
posted by tommasz at 6:33 AM on March 23, 2013


I will see this movie, tomorrow. I do not hold much hope that it will be worth the time and money I will invest. It seems like a meticulously crafted and packaged disaster, and I want to see Franco and company fail miserably.

I haven't seen it, but it looks like a fairly critic-proof proposition. It could fail commercially (it seems to be making a lot of money, though), but artistically, it can't fail. Korine, et al have the all-purpose get-out-of-jail-free card: "I meant to do that!" If it's trashy and shallow, they meant to do that; if it seems to transcend itself, they meant to do that; if it's a parody or satire or scathing social commentary or cynical cash-in or t&a beat-off reel, they meant to do that.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:39 AM on March 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


That's a pretty cynical take, kittens for breakfast-- and one which seems to have much more to do with reacting to the film's reception than to the film itself. I generally find Korine's stuff pretty interesting on its own merits, not just because someone may or may not say 'I meant to do that.' What was intended has little to do with how interesting something actually is.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:43 AM on March 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


This may or may not be justified but I was watching some interviews about the Making Of on the Vice youtube channel and there was this shot of Korine sat on a couch with one of the young female actresses and doing the whole 'I'm gonna put my arm awkwardly on the couch backrest behind you and kinda gradually creep my way closer while going over these notes with you and grinning like an anxious hyena" thing. It was serious creepy uncle territory. And it just put me completely off the man and this film. I'm probably missing out -- I loved Gummo and Kids. But something about that, and the rest of the Vice coverage, just gives me the 'ugh, Vice jerks' feeling even though I've been enjoying a lot of their documentary stuff recently and even coming round to the idea that they might have some pretty good articles in there from time to time.

Could be I'm just getting old.
posted by Drexen at 6:50 AM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I saw it last night and I loved it. I'm not the biggest fan of korine's films, but I want to see it again.

Also, a woman at the theater last night did one of the funniest hands-in-the-air "that's it I quit" walkouts that I've ever seen during the ski mask/piano scene.

On preview: Drexen, he is married to one of the actresses. You could have been misinterpreting what you saw.
posted by Bookhouse at 6:53 AM on March 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


I haven't seen it, but it looks like a fairly critic-proof proposition. It could fail commercially (it seems to be making a lot of money, though), but artistically, it can't fail. Korine, et al have the all-purpose get-out-of-jail-free card: "I meant to do that!" If it's trashy and shallow, they meant to do that; if it seems to transcend itself, they meant to do that; if it's a parody or satire or scathing social commentary or cynical cash-in or t&a beat-off reel, they meant to do that.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:39 AM on March 23 [1 favorite +] [!]


Just like metafilter posts.
posted by Fizz at 6:57 AM on March 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Manohla Dargis' review at the NY Times is, as usual, super-interesting, and has some insightful things to say about how the movie approaches race.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:02 AM on March 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


That's a pretty cynical take, kittens for breakfast-- and one which seems to have much more to do with reacting to the film's reception than to the film itself. I generally find Korine's stuff pretty interesting on its own merits, not just because someone may or may not say 'I meant to do that.' What was intended has little to do with how interesting something actually is.

It looks like a pretty cynical movie. I thought the trailer was hilarious, but I couldn't tell whether I was supposed to think it was or what; I can't imagine it's meant to be taken seriously. I'm not at all a Harmony Korine fan, but it's something I would see, sure. But it does kinda look like Irony: The Movie, and make of that what you will, I guess.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:07 AM on March 23, 2013


It is drenched in irony, but not in the sneering cynical sense that I think you mean, kittens. For one thing, it is a gorgeous film, tasteful on a number of levels that I wasn't expecting it to be. The pacing is calm, almost surreally so; there are a number of scenes that other similar films might blow through to get to more "interesting" plot bits which get lingered on here. There's one lovely scene in particular where two of the girls are mocking the most naive of their group, but in a loving friendly way, and the camera keeps bobbing up and down in the water, alternating between showing their heads and showing their bikini'd bodies, severed from their heads but in an eerie blue light.

That's the other thing: this movie revolves around naked and nearly-naked bodies (women, of course; it explicitly avoids showing penises), but rather than using them as a crude punch line, it alternates between trying to make you feel uncomfortable in a number of ways, and going for something sweeter and more genuine. The discomfort is pretty impressive – while most scenes are some variety of erotic, usually it's the strange and scary sort. The one scene that seemed more traditionally "sexy" came in such an unusual context and such an odd scenario that a lot of the audience seemed even more discomforted that it was happening when it did.

But the sweetness and genuineness, I think, are the parts where the movie is truly being ironic, not in a "let's laugh at these girls trying to be genuine", but because it's always willing to portray them as actually sweet and sincere, on a level that has nothing to do with coke-snorting or murder. There are lots of scenes where they feel like, well, young girls, innocent in a way that does not at all conflict with the horrible shit that surrounds them. This isn't a "loss of innocence" movie, because they're violent and over-sexed right from the start; it's a movie wherein innocence and "maturity" exist pretty much hand-in-hand with each other.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:18 AM on March 23, 2013 [12 favorites]


this shot of Korine sat on a couch with one of the young female actresses ... It was serious creepy uncle territory ...

If the "young female actress" is Rachel Korine, is that still creepy?
posted by Mothlight at 7:21 AM on March 23, 2013


Korine continually comes across as somebody who has a career thanks to being in the same room as much smarter, better people. Film making is, of course, the natural place for such a talented manager.
posted by The River Ivel at 7:22 AM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why are so many people unwilling to talk about the actual films when criticizing Harmony Korine? Is it because they haven't actually seen any?
posted by shakespeherian at 7:26 AM on March 23, 2013 [12 favorites]


On preview: Drexen, he is married to one of the actresses. You could have been misinterpreting what you saw.

Ah! I did not know that. I don't know who was on the couch but I daresay it was her.
posted by Drexen at 7:29 AM on March 23, 2013


It's likely to do well at the box office no matter what, why argue over its artistic merits?

Is this meant to be as clinically weird as it sounds?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:30 AM on March 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I saw this last night and absolutely loved it. The audience at the theater mostly seemed to hate it or were bewildered by it. No one has really focused on this, but above all it is a really funny film, I laughed a lot. Being a Korine film, I am not even sure whether some of what I laughed at was supposed to be funny or not, but James Franco's repeated voice over where he drawls "Spreeeng break, y'all. Spreeeng break." cracked me up repeatedly.
posted by Falconetti at 7:30 AM on March 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Korine may intend the obviousness of the racial divide to be provocative, but he fails to comment in any interesting way on this so-called “hyper-reality,” instead merely reproducing a racist vision of the world in which black lives matter less than white ones.

I don't understand what this means. Is the author meaning to suggest that racism doesn't really exist? In Florida?
posted by Sys Rq at 7:32 AM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why are so many people unwilling to talk about the actual films when criticizing Harmony Korine?

I don't think Harmony Korine is a good filmmaker. Or perhaps, he's a potentially talented filmmaker who makes uninteresting films. I think this because of his films, not because of his personality or his acquaintances. This is my opinion, and I don't think people who do like Korine's films are "wrong" or "don't get it" or anything like that. I think Korine is excellent at creating compelling scenarios and characters, then finds nothing to do with them. That's my largest complaint with his work. Even other filmmakers who are in the business of making vignette films do it so much better than Korine. What's missing in the Korine films I've seen is an underlying why -- and I do find that very important. Filmmaking is a narrative art -- and even when a film doesn't have a narrative, a collection of images and sounds spooling before us over time will inevitably convey, at the least, an emotion, an idea, a concept. You can set up a camera and film a wonderful scene, but if you can't go deep on the other stuff, then forget it, there are too many good movies out there to watch. I thought Kids was interesting but I thought Gummo was a very poorly conceived film. Here are a bunch of dirt poor white people. Okay, individual scenes are compelling or great. But why did you make this film? What are you trying to say? The pieces don't add up to anything because they're not supposed to add up to anything. That's fine but that's not compelling. Korine reminds me a film student who comes up with some great ideas but has nothing better to do with them once he collects and arranges them. The problem is that the idea of being a poor white person, for example, is not compelling enough in and of itself to create a "day in the life of" or a "week in the life of" film that grabs me and holds my attention. I know poor white people. I know they do strange things to entertain themselves, they can be brutal, they kill small animals, they pick fights with each other. If you film scenes of desperate poverty with no greater intent than to film scenes of desperate poverty, then you're just ogling. It's not attractive and it's not interesting.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:45 AM on March 23, 2013 [13 favorites]


Someone retweeted this into my time line this morning, which I thought was quite amusing: America has seen its first Harmony Korine film.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:49 AM on March 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Personally I want to see David Lynch's Spring Breakers, or possibly Cronenberg's
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:51 AM on March 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


All that said above, if Dargis thinks it's good, I'll probably make the effort to go see it.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:52 AM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mothlight: "this shot of Korine sat on a couch with one of the young female actresses ... It was serious creepy uncle territory ...

If the "young female actress" is Rachel Korine, is that still creepy?
"

If Rachel is the name of his niece, yeah. I kid!

I had mixed thoughts seeing the trailer here just now. I liked (well... that's not the right word) Kids. Never saw any of his other work, admittedly. The thing that got me was the cinematography here. It looked very well done, almost in a classic sense, and so I looked up the other guy's name (Benoit something?) and see he's a cinematographer, so clearly he must know what the fuck he's doing.

I'm not really keen on oversaturated colors, at the same time I will take that over the teal/orange bullshit anyday. So - from that interview with that one actor, that main dude was James Franco? Fer realz? Damn, that's good. I honestly like that guy, I'm not sure why some would wish ill upon him. I mean, yeah, ok, stoner movies, yada yada... But he does have a quality taste, I think, if you read interviews with him, he's not just a dumb frat boy or anything.

Also? I kept waiting for Richard D. James to squeel up in a limo and crash the party.
posted by symbioid at 7:53 AM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Disney Princesses Spring Breakers
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:55 AM on March 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


I'm going to see it, but I would've waited in line to see it if it starred Riff Raff instead of James Franco.
posted by cloeburner at 7:56 AM on March 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's likely to do well at the box office no matter what, why argue over its artistic merits?

Because that's the only thing you can argue over.
posted by IndigoJones at 8:00 AM on March 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


It seems like a meticulously crafted and packaged disaster, and I want to see Franco and company fail miserably.

Because nothing says, "You have failed," to a deliberately provocative moviemaker like handing them money?
posted by Candleman at 8:15 AM on March 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is this the guy who recently said, of his younger 26 year old wife "I met her 10...er...8! 8 years ago." And then changed the subject?
posted by vitabellosi at 8:16 AM on March 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Tom Scharpling said that going to see this movie would be like going to one of those restaurants where they provide men with a dinner jacket, except at the theatre they give you a raincoat.
posted by Beardman at 8:18 AM on March 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've been enjoying the local media's tempest in a teapot reaction to this movie. They go to great pains and interview everyone they can think of to reiterate that St. Pete is absolutely not like that.

Then in related news, and this is absolutely the real headline, they go into comprehensive detail about how Tampa Bay area has a long history of violent, heinous crimes.

In local terms, it might well be a hurricane in a moka pot instead.
posted by cmyk at 8:29 AM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I saw the trailer for this, it pretty much seemed like a remake of The Violent Years (screenplay by Ed Wood), but mixed with a alternate universe version of Natural Born Killers that had no Oliver Stone to direct it, but did star Kevin Federline.

So, I think I'll just wait for the Rifftrax version.
posted by chambers at 8:36 AM on March 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


James Franco is very good. The character in many ways resembles Gary Oldman's Drexel from True Romance. Franco is not that good, but who is?
posted by Bookhouse at 8:43 AM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Go see it. It's an excellent film, although certain viewers probably aren't going to get past the over-the-top sex-drugs-party stuff and the intentional shallowness of the characters. But I found it to be a unique, almost musical experience. Very much about rhythms and repetition. And breaking down the sort of MTV Spring Break fantasy into its uglier constituent parts.
posted by chasing at 8:43 AM on March 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


if it starred Riff Raff instead of James Franco

I seriously thought that was Riff Raff for a hot second. I guess he thought so too.
posted by bobobox at 8:50 AM on March 23, 2013


I found it interesting to read recently that both of the Disney girls, Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez, were encouraged to do this film by their parents, who in both cases are fans of Korine. At first I was like "wha?" but then I realized that their parents are really about my age, and that it makes a lot of sense that they would have been really affected by Kids or whatever.

Having tweenaged daughters, I'm extremely familiar with the work of Hudgens and Gomez, such as it has been to date, so seeing this film would be a no brainer for me even if I wasn't somewhat fond of Korine's work in general. I am always going to be the one who wants to see what happens when the homecoming queen goes off the rails.
posted by padraigin at 8:52 AM on March 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I might mention... Skrillex.
posted by nrobertson at 8:59 AM on March 23, 2013


(Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates: "What's missing in the Korine films I've seen is an underlying why -- and I do find that very important. Filmmaking is a narrative art -- and even when a film doesn't have a narrative, a collection of images and sounds spooling before us over time will inevitably convey, at the least, an emotion, an idea, a concept."

With Spring Breakers, I wondered about this a bit. Then I realized, the hero of the film was "Spring Break", it was "Spring Break" that we were introduced to, which had its joys and its tribulations, and had it's unexpected twists and depth and triumph. The humans were just there to illustrate that.
posted by idiopath at 8:59 AM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think Korine is a hack, and this looks like trash.
posted by starvingartist at 9:04 AM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think Korine is a hack, and this looks like trash.

Thanks for contributing!
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:06 AM on March 23, 2013 [14 favorites]


Harmony Korine Then and Now. He was in Sassy magazine once.
posted by discopolo at 9:09 AM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you go see this at The Alamo in Austin, James Franco does not want you to talk or text during the movie.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:09 AM on March 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's not quite trash. It isn't winking and proud and shallow in the full sense that a Waters film is. I came in expecting it to be, but then the characters kept showing far too much real vulnerability and depth. It shares the nihilism of trash (a genre I am fond of), but not its uncomplicated exuberance. It is like a Satanic version of a morality tale: the narrative tells you what is right and wrong, but its values don't really mesh with the rest of the world.
posted by idiopath at 9:10 AM on March 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Filmmaking is a narrative art -- and even when a film doesn't have a narrative, a collection of images and sounds spooling before us over time will inevitably convey, at the least, an emotion, an idea, a concept.

Un Chien Andalou attacked this idea 80 years ago.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:17 AM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


We are lucky enough to be seeing this at the drive-in tonight, which is I think the most perfect perfect possible way to see it. This is also how we saw Drive.

In fact, this has all the earmarks of being this year's Drive: a supposedly dumb thing made smartly by smart people which dumb people that like dumb movies don't like because "it was stupid".
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:22 AM on March 23, 2013 [22 favorites]


Un Chien Andalou attacked this idea 80 years ago.

LOL. Sorry, what? Un Chien Andalou didn't convey an idea or a concept? UCA -- well, probably Kuleshov before then -- proved that the combination of certain disparate moving images would produce distinct ideas/emotions in the viewer. It like completely proves what you're saying it attacks.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:24 AM on March 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


But I don't think Spring Breakers rejects conventional narrative at all. It is just that the hero that goes through that narrative happens to be an abstraction, spring break itself. The film is at least as coherent as Baraka / Samsara were for example. Literally every moment of every scene is about the decadence of spring break.

Regarding Drive - Drive had a hero who was a good person with a good heart. Someone you unambiguously root for. Spring Breakers instead has an uncaring and sometimes violent hedonistic ritual in the place of a hero (Selena Gomez's character looks like she will be the hero, but she is just the weak one who wasn't really strong enough to hang with spring break).
posted by idiopath at 9:27 AM on March 23, 2013


wpoznan22: Is Harmony short for Harmonica?

HarmonyKorine: Yourmommica


This man understands Reddit way better than Reddit.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:34 AM on March 23, 2013 [20 favorites]


I guess I misunderstood your point, then, which I took to be that film by definition must convey some sense of narrative (whether emotive, thematic, or whatever), then Korine's films are obligated to embrace this aspect of film and 'go deep' into an 'underlying why.'

If all you're talking about is the Kuleshov Effect, then how are Korine's films failing their narrative imperative any more than Un Chien Andalou?
posted by shakespeherian at 9:38 AM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Riff Raff is an actor now? I hope he tickles that ass with some Charmin.
posted by Brocktoon at 9:39 AM on March 23, 2013


In fact, this has all the earmarks of being this year's Drive: a supposedly dumb thing made smartly by smart people which dumb people that like dumb movies don't like because "it was stupid".

I nominate this for Metafilter comment of the century
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:42 AM on March 23, 2013 [19 favorites]


I've not seen the movie, I probably won't. But the level of obfuscation here is amazingly dense. Hell, it's one thing to criticize the art, but to disenfranchise the artist because of how he sits on a couch (or whatever else) is some pure ivory-tower bullshit. It's a weird movie, made by a weird person. If you want some same-old same-old shit manufactured by someone that is exactly like you then go watch some Friends reruns.
posted by Blue_Villain at 9:44 AM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


GUCCI!!! BURRRRRRRR!

The Pitchfork review of the soundtrack is notable for it's attempts at wringing meaning from Skrillex and Waka Flocka tracks. Good soundtrack, btw.
posted by raihan_ at 9:45 AM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


cinema has changed. cinema is now a 30 second youtube clip. clear your mind. think of different now. make it bend to you. never use a walking stick, it looks doper to limp. catch my drift?

I don't really like Korine, but this comment makes perfect sense in and of itself. "The cinema", especially independent movies, has nowhere near the cachet that it once did, in large part due to things like YouTube, which condense imagery, comedy, trends, etc. into 30 second bursts. You could try to approach cinema as a self-consciously old-fashioned auteur who ignores trends, or even as a professional trying to adopt new technology and memes, but it's better to just clear your mind and try to hobble through with something cool and creative, something that you've made with your own fresh perspective that, a perspective that is not trying too hard.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:47 AM on March 23, 2013


Actually, I'm glad you brought up Un Chien Andalou. In a way, it's a great film to use to reinforce why I find Korine's work so uninteresting, so incurious and inartful. Dali and Bunuel knew that the mind is essentially incapable of not being able to assemble a collection of images into a narrative. So presenting mismatched images, disassembling time, juxtaposing seemingly incongruous vignettes would produce something more surreal than just random odd images. There was great intent and thought put into how the different images and scenes were pieced together -- if I cut together ants emerging from a dudes hand with a woman's hairy armpit -- and especially if those images look similar, what am I saying? Maybe nothing, maybe something, and that's the point -- the brain is essentially incapable of not trying to make a connection between the two, so it doesn't matter what their intent was. They succeeded in provoking the viewer into considering what connection there was, if any. Dali and Bunuel were playing with that idea, taking it as far as they could.

Korine, on the other hand, displays no such artistic or personal insight, imho. I'll continue to poke at Gummo, since I think it's such a poor film. It pieces together vignettes with no interest or curiosity. Here is a scene. Here is another scene. In what way do the two scenes, together, contribute to something more than the parts? My guess, while watching it, is that Korine would say something to the effect of, it doesn't matter, each scene on its own is interesting enough that there isn't or doesn't need to be a greater point to the film than simply what is presented. Again, uninteresting. Incurious about his own taste. Lazy. You cut two scenes together, I'm going to try to make a connection. So either build on that idea, or play with my expectations and take me in another direction. If you don't, that's fine, but I'm not going to consider you a very talented filmmaker.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:48 AM on March 23, 2013


I thought Gummo was a very poorly conceived film. Here are a bunch of dirt poor white people. Okay, individual scenes are compelling or great. But why did you make this film? What are you trying to say? The pieces don't add up to anything because they're not supposed to add up to anything.

I just watched Gummo last week and I have to strongly disagree with this. It's very much a film about victim/victimizer duality, about people feeling powerless and helpless, and taking it out on the even more powerless and helpless. It's also a film that dares its middle/upper-middle class audiences to not look at its subjects with revulsion, or to at least process and understand that revulsion. The pieces add up to quite a bit for me!

Spring Breakers was gorgeous, moving and thought-provoking. I'm still working out what I saw, and plan to see it again soon. The theater was PACKED, and the audience was a curious mix of giggly teens, college party types, and 20-30 something hipsters - can't remember the last time this particular crowd ended up in the same room together. To me the movie dealt very consciously with things like male gaze, woman as subject/object, the tragic arc of innocence and corruption of young women in and out of our media, and how we even crave and delight in that corruption (Britney Spears is brilliant archetype of this; the scene set to Spears' "Everytime" might be one of the greatest things I've seen.) There's also quite a bit about victim/victimizer, power dynamics, class and race, and probably more but I'd brought in a flask of bourbon and the movie got increasingly hazy. I just have a stream of images in my head now that are haunting and beautiful. People looked a bit shellshocked coming out of it. Curious to see if this actually does become a blockbuster and what audiences think. Basically a tone-poetic art movie intended to be seen by people who'd never watch that sort of thing. Reminds me a bit in this sense of that underrated, beautiful trainwreck of a movie, Southland Tales, except this is really quite well-done in every way.
posted by naju at 9:48 AM on March 23, 2013 [12 favorites]


Gummo is also the only of Korine's films I've seen that could be described as having a vignette structure rather than linear narrative, also.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:51 AM on March 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's also a film that dares its middle/upper-middle class audiences to not look at its subjects with revulsion

What is it doing to its lower-class audiences?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:52 AM on March 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


I recently spent a few nights watching Enter the Void in bits and pieces and when I heard the cinematography on this was by the same guy I was instantly sold. I admire both Kids and Gummo as well (although I recall being actively irritated by the cinematography in those films), so I guess I would have to say I am looking forward to this film.

Which is just weird.
posted by mwhybark at 9:58 AM on March 23, 2013


Also, "I dare you not to look at this [insert sexual degradation, extreme poverty, historical atrocity, physical abuse] with revulsion!" strikes me as a distinctly easy/lazy type of filmmaking. Really not hard to pull that one off.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:58 AM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think you all are overthinking a movie about a simple boy who just wants people to look at his shiiiiiiiit.
posted by joechip at 10:02 AM on March 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


I don't read Gummo as either haphazardly sequenced or as I-dare-you-to-look-at-poor-people, although I can see where both ideas come from. But for me-- and, sure, maybe only for me-- the film seems deeply interested in and sympathetic to its characters while simultaneously imagining and envisioning a pretty shitty existence for them while exploring who they are in isolation and together in this environment.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:02 AM on March 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


This reminds me ot the Bill Hicks screenplay pitch bit:

will it have titties?
posted by bukvich at 10:04 AM on March 23, 2013


Here's my Harmony Korine story:

When I lived in Portland, Oregon, I went to see Trash Humpers with a couple friends at at the Hollywood Theater, which had Korine there for a Q&A after the movie. The audience had a lot of good questions afterward, trying to coax something meaningful out of Korine and connect somehow with the work that he'd just shown. But instead of intelligent answers he responded with pithy sarcasm, which was pretty plainly just posturing to seem cooler than the audience.

Waiting in line for the restroom after the Q&A let out, I though of a really good question, and mentioned it to my friends in the lobby. "He's right over there, why don't you ask him?" So I walked across the lobby and politely interrupted his conversation with a guy my friends later told me was Gus van Sant. Once acknowledged, I asked him my question, and I could see that Gus liked the question and was interested in the answer. Korine thought about it for a moment, shrugged his shoulders, and said, "That's a good question. I don't know," his tone of voice clearly meaning, "I don't care." I think Gus was almost as disappointed as I was.

That for me is Harmony Korine in a nutshell: interested in posing as a provocative artist, but not in the implications of creating provocative art. I'd be happy if he made something that would prove me wrong, but for the time being I think I've given him enough money already.
posted by DanielK at 10:14 AM on March 23, 2013 [14 favorites]


What is it doing to its lower-class audiences?

I guess they might like his movies because he doesn't try and do anything with or to them. The movies aren't simplistic cautionary tales and the characters aren't neat plot devices. For some people this means Korine lacks vision, talent or ambition. The people he represents like his movies because they don't often get to see their own stories told. I haven't actually seen his movies but this is what his fans tell me, and tbh, it's kinda obvious to anybody with any cursory knowledge of Harmony Korine.

There was a thread yesterday linking to a piece of music criticism about Nirvana and Kurt Cobain that covers very similar ground.
posted by quosimosaur at 10:17 AM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I haven't actually seen his movies but this is what his fans tell me, and tbh, it's kinda obvious to anybody with any cursory knowledge of Harmony Korine.

This is an amazing sentence.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 10:19 AM on March 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


Let me clarify: the obvious thing is that Korine makes movies for and about people who feel chronically misunderstood by middle class America. This is a pretty powerful thing in and of itself. This is a basic truth that anybody should be able to understand. Also, see shakespeherian's comment upthread.
posted by quosimosaur at 10:28 AM on March 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you think Korine's films are made for, marketed to, and speak on behalf of the people who populate his films, then I'm not really too sure what to say. Until I see some sort of contradictory evidence, I'll just go on thinking that that notion is pretty absurd. Also, to state what is clearly and obviously true about films that you have not yourself seen -- I mean, you can see how that sounds pretty silly, right?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 10:33 AM on March 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I approve of this filmmaker even if I haven't always felt compelled to actually see his movies. I'm just glad they exist, stirring shit up, getting people talking. In the case of Gummo, that means talking about form and content, the whole nature of that thing we've come to call a "movie".

I remember when it was new (in the local video store), renting it, starting to watch it, realizing that it had no interest in being what I'd call a normal cinematic experience (working an easily definable narrative spine, good guys and bad guys, clear conflict etc). So I started doing some much needed cleaning in the TV room, just left it on in the background. And when it was over, I just started it again, continued with the cleaning etc, looking up every now and then when things just got too weird not to (I was probably alphabetizing my record collection by this point). And then I started it again, because I was really starting to love the experience, the weird empathy I was feeling for these mostly young people (mostly children actually), and the chaos of their lives.

Interesting that it came out in 1997, the same year as Titantic, Good Will Hunting, Life Is Beautiful -- I'd take Gummo any day in terms of what I got from it, learned from it, felt.
posted by philip-random at 10:34 AM on March 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


I saw publicity stills for this last year, and my first thought was "oh look, it's Bridesmaids/The Hangover for teenagers." After seeing the trailer it's a little harder to dismiss.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:37 AM on March 23, 2013


OK, so I understand that the reason we are talking about Gummo is that it is the reason (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates will not see Harmony Korine films. But the two films are so fucking different. Spring Breakers is not a vignette film. It doesn't follow the characters you expect in the ways you expect by the time you get to the end, but it does have a straightforward narrative (it is the character development that happens strangely, but a story is definitely told).

If what you want is a narrative that manipulates you to the conclusions and values of mainstream post-christian morality, Korine's films will be disappointing.

Personally, I am of the opinion that an artist has no imperative to manipulate their audience in a specific way, that it is not necessary for the artist to be able to articulate (or even understand) their own work. I will go further and say that if your baseline expectation of cinema is that in the end good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people and everybody knows which the director thinks was which, you are what is wrong with cinema today.
posted by idiopath at 10:48 AM on March 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


it is the reason (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates will not see Harmony Korine films

Earlier in the thread I said I'm going to try to go see Spring Breakers??

If what you want is a narrative that manipulates you to the conclusions and values of mainstream post-christian morality, Korine's films will be disappointing.

This thread, man.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 10:52 AM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates: "Earlier in the thread I said I'm going to try to go see Spring Breakers??"

DUDE! what are we even arguing about?

What I was trying to get at but articulated poorly, is I see certain accusations of "incoherence" or "looseness" about films that make perfect sense to me. And what the films that attract these accusations have in common is that while a story is told and characters develop etc. etc. the moral assumptions of the reviewer were not flattered. And instead of seeing this as a creative choice, the reviewers see this as a structural failing.

Do see the film, it is worth it.
posted by idiopath at 11:01 AM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Twitter search: "spring breakers sucked"

Twitter search: "spring breakers"
posted by mwhybark at 11:08 AM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


'Spring Breakers' Is A 'Fever Dream'; Or, The Most Common Description Of Harmony Korine's New Film
"Spring Breakers," that cultural phenomenon about scantily clad college co-eds and James Franco's "sh-t," may also have another name: "fever dream."

From The New York Times and Rolling Stone to right here at HuffPost Entertainment, it seems that writing about "Spring Breakers" without also mentioning illness-caused hallucinations is forbidden. Calling Harmony Korine's film a fever dream is, to quote the film, constant, y'all. Ahead, the 17 best uses of fever dream as shorthand for the fever dream that is "Spring Breakers." ...
posted by ericb at 11:09 AM on March 23, 2013


I'm just really excited for anybody who is new to Harmony Korine movies and really loves Spring Breakers. Imagine how many people are going to go and track down Gummo and Trash Humpers because of this.

Also, regarding "I meant to do that" criticisms, which the AV Club throws around too: I'm not sure why that's such a shitty response. I'd rather have a director say that instead of saying, "Oh I'm sorry, that's not what I meant."
posted by dogwalker at 11:13 AM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


rave NYT review

(New Yorker review was mixed (or maybe negative - one of those "inherently flawed" kind of deals) & is behind paywall)
posted by Bwithh at 11:34 AM on March 23, 2013


The New York Mag review was so prudish it made me think the writer was a villain in a John Waters movie "They show butts BUTTS I TELL YOU but i cant tell you about the butts becuz you may want to see them you gross perv DONT LOOK ATTHE BUUTTS eek"
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:42 AM on March 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wild Things II: Twice the Hotties
posted by kirkaracha at 11:50 AM on March 23, 2013


I can't help but feel that there was a missed opportunity here. With all those Disney actresses, why wasn't this a musical?

Look at my shit!
Isn't it whack?
Wouldn't you think my collection's on crack?
Wouldn't you think I'm the guy,
The guy who has everything?
Look at these shorts!
Look at these sais!
This bed is a fuckin' art piece, and it flies!
Looking around here you think,
Sure, he's got everything.
I've got t-shirts and nunchucks a-plenty!
I've got Scarface and Kool-Aid galore!
You want gold bullets? Well, I've got twenty!
Take a bunch, no big deal.
I've got more ...
posted by kyrademon at 11:53 AM on March 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


"That's a good question. I don't know," his tone of voice clearly meaning, "I don't care."

That's actually kind of interesting. Does an artist have to be able to talk intelligently about their work for us to appreciate it? I've always felt the opposite: that we put too much weight into how well an artist talks about art instead of just looking at their art.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 12:31 PM on March 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


The VICE videos are ostensibly tie-in promotions, I guess.

Partying in Panama City Beach Presented by Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers

Spring Break in Daytona Beach Presented by Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers

They both highlight divergent views of what spring break is, mostly delineated by how the person being interviewed is involved in the whole thing. The mayor talks about what a great experience spring break is for the kids, the bartender talks about all the sketchy shit that happens, the evangelist talks about sinful it all is, etc. That guy's outfit really is something.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 12:59 PM on March 23, 2013


Also, I really thought for some reason everyone was talking about Riff Raff from Rocky Horror in relation to this movie, and I did not understand that at all.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 1:00 PM on March 23, 2013 [12 favorites]


. Filmmaking is a narrative art -- and even when a film doesn't have a narrative, a collection of images and sounds spooling before us over time will inevitably convey, at the least, an emotion, an idea, a concept. You can set up a camera and film a wonderful scene, but if you can't go deep on the other stuff, then forget it, there are too many good movies out there to watch. I thought Kids was interesting but I thought Gummo was a very poorly conceived film. Here are a bunch of dirt poor white people. Okay, individual scenes are compelling or great. But why did you make this film? What are you trying to say?

We are dealing with movies from a person who has said, "Plot disgusts me. Real life doesn’t have plots," and "All I remember from movies - from life even - are certain characters and scenes." So we're starting with someone where we both know what we're in for in his movies and also someone who has an idiosyncratic view of storytelling and film experience, at least compared to all but a few moviegoers. But I suppose that people who have his same idiosyncratic experience when it comes to watching movies deserve a filmmaker to make movies for them, too.
posted by deanc at 1:05 PM on March 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


For what it's worth, I thought it was incredible, and I'll be going back again to see it next week. This is a film you will either think failed utterly or succeeded beyond your wildest dreams; depends on what you're looking to get out of it, really.

Taking into account everything I've read on the internet over the past 6 months, what the single largest group commenting on the film is looking to get out of it is seeing former Disney stars (Hudgens, Gomez, etc) dressing scantily and getting down. My guess is that they will fall in the "succeeded beyond their wildest dreams" camp.
posted by Justinian at 1:16 PM on March 23, 2013


But I suppose that people who have his same idiosyncratic experience when it comes to watching movies deserve a filmmaker to make movies for them, too.

Yes, and for those people I'd recommend someone like Roy Andersson or even some of Jane Campion's films. Can't state enough that it's not the type of films that Korine makes but how he makes them that leaves me feeling really disappointed in his work.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:24 PM on March 23, 2013


I'll just feel slightly remiss if Mr. Lonely isn't mentioned here. I thought it was a really good movie. Lots of good scenes, anyway. Images and scenes that stick in your head. I didn't feel manipulated or put upon or 'look at me' d. It seemed sympathetic and outsidery and quiet and quite lovely. And from the outside, anyway, much easier and more beautiful to approach than trashhumping or wobbly vhs herzog-abuse or getting strangers to get in fights with you or norwegian black metal fixations or etc etc...

secretly I've always just wanted to use the herzog monologue as the intro to a dj set somewhere... (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qt-oK0jCrMM)
posted by notesondismantling at 4:10 PM on March 23, 2013


Honest to god, people, I haven't seen half the movies I've wanted to this year but I can pretty confidently say it's been a good year for movies because about once a week I don't go to the movie but I do think:

"Hot damn! I have got to go see this so I can participate on this Metafilter discussion."
posted by sendai sleep master at 4:12 PM on March 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Filmed partly in Sarasota, where a wild night means stopping by the Daiquiri Deck on the way home from the Ringling museum.
posted by dephlogisticated at 5:26 PM on March 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Harmony Korine Just Did The Best Reddit AMA Ever
posted by homunculus at 5:50 PM on March 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Everyone keeps quoting that "You're welcome herpes" answer, without the context that the user who asked the question he was responding to had the username "probably_has_herpes".
posted by idiopath at 6:59 PM on March 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Justinian, for the most part that group will leave – well, not disappointed exactly, but strongly unsettled.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:10 PM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


No one drops non sequiturs like Harmony Korine. (On Letterman 1995.)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:37 PM on March 23, 2013


You may be right, Rory! People are complaining about it being a bait and switch. Hah! Good for Korine.
posted by Justinian at 7:56 PM on March 23, 2013


Wait.... Trash Humpers?

I saw Kids and enjoyed it, skipped Gummo like a case of herpes, but this thread as convinced me to see Spring Breakers.

If nothing else it's been years since I saw a T&A beach movie. This seems like it might be more than that.
posted by Mezentian at 8:41 PM on March 23, 2013


DanielK: "That for me is Harmony Korine in a nutshell: interested in posing as a provocative artist, but not in the implications of creating provocative art."

I'm not sure I'd interpret it that way. I know some brilliant artists who have great difficulty talking about their work. I try to take the work on its own merits first, otherwise there are often many character flaws within the artists themselves that lead to disappointment.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:51 PM on March 23, 2013


There are also a great many terrible artists who will go on at length about the nuanced thematic resonances of their works.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:14 PM on March 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


ants emerging from a dudes hand

The French expression for "pins and needles" is "I have ants in my hand".
posted by Wolof at 10:10 PM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


"J'ai des fourmis dans ma main" does sound so much more refined.
posted by Mezentian at 10:41 PM on March 23, 2013


I just saw it and was stunned by it. It's hard to get a read on it, but that's not surprising -- Korine isn't interested in one tone, one idea, one motif. He constantly unsettles in this film, and it feels very deliberate. Many of the early scenes are shot with a supersaturated Girls Gone Wild quality, and that sort of is the theme of this film -- it's not a fever dream, but a nightmare, in which Disney girls go wild and their idea of getting away for vacation keeps getting madder and madder until it leads to bloodletting. The NYTimes review is right -- it is very much like a horror film, and there is a dazzling moment when the film reveals who the actual antagonists are, and just how dangerous they are, and then it goes mad for the remainder of the film. I dare not say more, but there was not a frame of this film that did not feel deliberate and filled with criticism, analysis, satire, parody, and menace. As I said, it's constantly unsettling itself -- there are monologues from the girls about how their vacation is spiritual, how it is fulfilling, how it is expanding their world, how it is deeply moving, and we revisit these monologues repeatedly, and they are always paired with images that at first seem to mock the monologues, (but then, sometimes, followed by genuinely images of peace and calm and beauty and tranquility) and then, at the end of the film when we realize the actual moment the monologues happen in the narrative, they are breathtaking.

I feel like this is like Magic Mike. Harmony Korine has tricked America into seeing an art film. I loved it. But I was also unsettled by it, and feel there is a lot in the film that is very troubling, and I loved that too, because I don't think it was ever meant as exploitation, or as a dodge, or was lazy, or was thoughtless.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:40 PM on March 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


Spoilers.

I saw it and was simultaneously pleased and disgusted. Pleased in that that the frame of the film provides a space in which these women are absolutely free to express their desires without the threat of harm in a way that is usually only open to those who assume a masculine identity (which two of the women do, later in the film). Though their desires are socially constructed and you know, horrific, nothing appears to happen without the consent of the four women involved. One of the women flaunts her sexuality, declaring "you're never gonna get this pussy," and so it is. One of the characters decides she is uncomfortable and finds that she is not, after all, trapped in her situation, she is free to go. This masculine fantasy-space remains open to the remaining women, who pursue it to the logical ends. The final scenes, however, make it explicit that this space is absolutely not liberating, obviously.

SPRANG BREAK.
posted by sibboleth at 8:14 AM on March 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


I could not stop laughing at the orchestral interpretation of Skrillex at the end of the movie. That was amazing.
posted by azarbayejani at 9:13 AM on March 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


All I'm going to say is this turned out to be a great first date movie.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 12:32 PM on March 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


James Franco's repeated voice over where he drawls "Spreeeng break, y'all. Spreeeng break." cracked me up repeatedly

Franco never actually says this (It's actually "Spring break 4-eva"), but I must admit it's my been new catchphrase, anyway.
posted by dgaicun at 7:46 PM on March 24, 2013


Q: WHY ARE YOUR MOVIES SO HORRIBLE!?

A: why is your face like a douche


to be fair i've wondered that myself
posted by Sebmojo at 9:00 PM on March 24, 2013


I met Harmony at a Bonnie "Prince" Billy show way back in the day. He was very nice, and even seemed to agree when my friend told him that his novel was bad.

I, however, was more excited about meeting Chloe Sevigny. She asked me where the bathroom was. I then got drunk and sang along way too loud to "New Partner."
posted by dayton2600 at 12:08 PM on March 25, 2013


He was very nice, and even seemed to agree when my friend told him that his novel was bad.

Assuming you're referring to "A Crackup at the Race Riots," it wasn't a novel. It was just a book of random one-page stuff.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:30 PM on March 25, 2013


a nihlistic dismantling of the american creed of fuckedupness. the shortest forever
posted by SomaSoda at 7:00 PM on March 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Franco never actually says this (It's actually "Spring break 4-eva"), but I must admit it's my been new catchphrase, anyway.

It my own personal "Play it again, Sam" now, I suppose.
posted by Falconetti at 4:34 PM on March 26, 2013


Haha. David Letterman tells Franco the story of why Korine got banned from Late Night.

Apparently Letterman caught him rummaging through Meryl Streep's purse backstage.

Stealing money from Meryl Streep's purse to buy drugs = hardcore = Spraaaang breeeeak, y'aaawwwll
posted by dgaicun at 2:45 AM on March 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Secret Genius Of Spring Breakers Is ...
Every generation has movies that showcase the idiocy of youth, though. What Korine's film makes a haunting case for, among several other things, is that the current generation has absolutely nothing to say themselves.
via Bitch Magazine: Beyond its Candy-Coated Outer Shell, "Spring Breakers" Critiques a Nasty Culture
Don’t let the sandy beaches and brightly colored bikini suits fool you, Korine’s not in the business of sloppy moviemaking. Behind the film’s vacuous candy-colored outer shell are ambiguous and morally challenging concepts.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:40 PM on March 27, 2013


The consensus I'm reading from reviews so far: "the candy-colored bikinis and party-hard vibes are ironic and under the surface is a critique of the vapidity and nastiness of American youth culture."

I find this to be a facile, surface viewing. We can acknowledge that this is part of the movie, but there's much more going on here that contradicts such a reading, including some real sympathy for the characters and celebration of their agency. It's interesting to see critics patting themselves on the back for seeing "under the surface" when they're maybe just seeing an additional surface. It's like there's inception-like layers: The Spring Breakers that trolls teens, the Spring Breakers that trolls critics...
posted by naju at 9:49 AM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why Spring Breakers is the only American movie that matters right now
For my generation (I’m 27), having that kind of rad “personal brand” is the neoliberal American dream. Now it goes dark. In and after that double-barrelled sequence, our gun molls-turned-gangsters are filmed to appear as interchangeable as possible. Brit and Candy, Candy and Brit, are a new, impersonal brand of girl. They don’t sell flesh for money, or anything else, nope. They are money made flesh.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:24 PM on March 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Millions: The Rapist Next Door: On Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers
This is precisely what makes the film work, the very thing that will threaten to drive you from the theater in protest: Korine presents this culture, not for the assessment of knowing outsider — within, for example, ironic quotes marks or a moralizing narrative — but through the eyes of its most ecstatic participants, the camera roaming through the seas of anonymous dancing body parts, palpably elated by the unhinged, unparented energy. When Faith (Selena Gomez), the film’s vague outline of a moral center, begs in confusion and panic, “I feel uncomfortable, I want to go home,” it’s like having one’s mind read: Yes, I feel uncomfortable and want to go home. But when these four girls sing Spears’s well-loved “Hit Me Baby One More Time” in a convenience store parking lot, you realize, of course, you are home, this is home turned up.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:23 PM on April 4, 2013


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