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Returning from his Nashville put-on (or was it really?) of the globe’s cultural gate-keepers, Trash Humpers, middle-ager enfant terrible  Harmony Korine has returned to grace our silver screens once more after his haut culture detour of Mister Lonely, shot in France. That was his largest film with a budget of $8.2 million; it received mixed reviews and earned a whole $386,915 in its first 9 months – proving that fame trumps economic wisdom nearly every time, whether in the hiring and firing of Wall Street CEOs or lame Hollywood.  This time around it is a less well-budgeted affair (5M) of candy colored fame-drenched T&A, celebrating one of America’s more mindless traditions, the Florida suck and fuck fest of “Spring Break.”

With Trash Humpers Korine managed to certify that the hoity-toities of the film festival world would program a piece of unmitigated pure shit if a famous name came attached to it, and hence his willfully idiotic and stupid work displaced doubtless many a far more interesting, serious or artful work from being seen by audiences, so that festival programmers could imagine themselves so so hip and with it with today’s misguided aging would-be youths.  He also conned the former doyen of the Village Voice critics into calling it Korine’s “masterpiece.”  [See this  and this or this.]  Mr Korine is 40 years old this year, though one would be very hard-pressed to figure that out from his films.

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With Spring Breakers Mr. Korine jumps again into the juvenile cess-pool of mindless American adolescence, though with some ham-handed seeming intent to critique it with labored voice-overs trying to introduce a slight distance or hint of discipline.  These though, as with an early-on professor’s discourse on racism in America being trumped by sexual innuendo and drawings of cocks, are readily dismissed, and aside from being embarrassingly klutzy seem a post-facto lay-over intended to induce the stupid (critics) into imagining there just might be something serious going on here.  From my cursory glances at the writings of said critics, it seems they took the bait.

We are instead introduced into lamely acted improvisations around a few of America’s itch points, with inept send-ups of religious fundamentalists, of compulsive texting, and boys-will-be-boyz and girlz-will-be-gurls in the form of an endless avalanche of gyrating crotches, booties, boobies, and guys spewing beer-ad cum all over the place.  This is done with similarly MTV-style gyrating camera movements from the myriad second-unit guys sent out to memorialize the parade of youthful T & A cavorting on the beaches and balconies of St. Pete.    As in Korine’s other works, the evident lack of anything one might call “style” becomes its style, duly celebrated by our writers who seem to have lost their minds to Harmony’s cum-on.  In his earlier Gummo and Julien Donkey Boy, which I liked, though each was grievously flawed in one manner or another, I found myself wondering if what was interesting and good in those was just lucky accident, or conscious – the later films have confirmed my hunch it was serendipitous.

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I won’t summarize the Breakers’ story – which in fact I did not see, since I left after about an hour of mind-numbingly boring editorial cover-up trying frantically to disguise the emptiness on the screen, which was about 40 minutes after the inept spectacle in front of me had my eyes glazed with tedium.  I am not a prude, and the only thing really offensive I was watching was the utter lack of anything one might mistake for art, for any cinematic anything, or for any meaningful social satire/critique or anything else that might warrant one’s time.   Like Trash Humpers, this film was itself real trash.   That it was funded, received press attention, distribution and the nod of (some) critics, merely underlines the demise of any kind of seriousness in our (film) culture.

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The “story” was as uncredible as the nubile young actresses supposedly out to break the Disney-bondage in which the biz had locked them  – this would be their breakout into “mature” little stars.  Well, forget it girls – while perhaps you can shake your booties and jiggle the jugs, you apparently can’t act your way out of a wet paper bag.  Though I do sympathize that the direction was probably no help at all.  Korine’s endeavors to elicit any conviction at all to his juvenile cartoon set-ups, resulted in the usual improv vice of actors repeating the same lame lines again and again, as if saying “but it wasn’t supposed to be like this” or “just look at this stuff” 20 times would improve on aging.  It doesn’t – it merely proves there’s a vacuum between the ears of the actors, and in this case also the director.  Were it not for his “fame” Korine’s film would have slipped straight to the now defunct DVD or on-line streaming owing to its Z-grade level “acting.”  (Particularly painful in the broadbrushed “nigger” scenes which I am sure our critics have nimbly found some virtue in aside from blatant racism – I am no PC person, but the presentation of black brothers in this film is pure white-racist propaganda.)

An hour in it was rather clear where this stultifying film was heading, to a grand denouement shoot-out of some kind, emblematic of its utterly one-note level.  That some allegedly serious critics imagined this as some kind of critique of the one-note culture it was all about is a very missed boat.  That they cooed about the pastel candy coated coloring, and the ever-so-lame little video fucking around injections that attempted to spice the boredom of it all suggests that watching too many movies can be dangerous to your mental health.   Irritated at being gulled into spending some bucks on this, Ryan, who joined me in the nearly empty Long Beach cinema we saw it in, went and asked for a refund.  He got it, and was told a lot of other refunds had been issued for the film.  Perhaps Harmony can retire to Nashville and grow up a little.

Ah, but in our corrupted society, like a 20 times failed CEO, he’ll surely be back, doubtless to be lauded by the culturati.

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"Spring Breakers" SXSW After Party

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Twenty thumbs down.  Suck it, Harmony !

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9 Comments

  1. Haven’t seen it yet. Being stuck in Florida at the moment I think it’d be a least a nice respite from dealing with my grandparents.

    I still stand by Gummo and Julien Donkey Boy, but I think Korine might’ve done himself in with too many drugs during that ten year dry spell.

  2. I am not so sure you would find it a respite. It was really really boring. As I guess mindless adolescents are. Why I fled HS and then college. Institutions full of them. As said I liked Gummo and Julien Donkey Boy but I think their interest was an accident. A broken clock is right twice a day. His day has run out.

    • I guess I’ll just go back to hitting the books then. Almost done with Eric Hobsbawm’s “The Age of Extremes”, which to take it from the reviews I’ve seen so far, was probably a better use of my time than seeing Spring Breakers.

  3. I think Korine may be stuck in a rut, except for maybe Mr. Lonely, which it sounds to me was a little different. But I have over the years come to distrust critical reviews more and more. This one seems to have really fooled the critics you cited above so much that I found myself laughing when I read it. It’s almost like they’re afraid to call it stupid for fear that they will be criticized for wasting their time.

  4. you mad, bro?

    • i real mad, wastin fkn hour of my life on pure shit. and all that money spent by idiots cuz the dude is fkn famous (even if he don’t got a clue). fkn shit!

  5. Hey, the timing is right for some awesome T&A— respectable editing and postcard photography—-Korine is dancing his way to the bank. I’m 88 and I loved the bouncing boobs and raunchiness. An epic film for our time, no doubt.

  6. You all sound like dirty old men!

    • I think you are sort of correct; I think Korine, despite the claims of some of some higher purpose/critique in this film, is a dirty not-quite-so-old man.


One Trackback/Pingback

  1. […] “As in Korine’s other works, the evident lack of anything one might call “style” becomes its style, duly celebrated by our writers who seem to have lost their minds to Harmony’s [come]-on.” Jon Jost On Getting A Refund For Spring Breakers […]

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