Thursday, September 13, 2012


Harmony Korine is a lot smarter than people give him credit for. He may never appeal to the widest of movie audiences but he does know how to make the kind of movie that sounds too good to pass up. Just listen to plot of Spring Breakers - Three young girls rob a chicken shack with a realistic looking water gun (and a hammer) to get money to go on spring break in Miami. The robbery turns out to be a success, they go to spring break and have the time of their lives but end up getting arrested after they’re caught with a bunch of cocaine on them at a party. To the girls' surprise they end up getting bailed out by local drug kingpin/rapper: "Alien" (played by James Franco in an amazingly awesome performance) out of the kindness of his heart. As it turns out Alien is just a nice guy and has no ulterior motive for bailing the girls out other than wanting them to stay, hang out and have a good time with him. Due to Alien's gangster lifestyle some of the girls are frightened of the world they're being exposed too (guns, drugs, strippers, thugs) and over time two of the girls leave and go home (one actually gets shot in the arm from Alien's drug rival played by Gucci Maine). But the two girls who do end up staying with Alien are loyal and gung-ho. Together they decide to retaliate against Gucci Maine in a Scarface style shootout finale. There's a cameo from professional wrestler Jeff Jarrett, James Franco sings a Brittany Spears Cover and performs fellatio on a gun. This film will also probably get mentioned in the same breath as Pussy Riot because the girls wear a similar ski-mask style outfit towards the end of the film (but if I’m not mistaken Spring Breakers was in post production long before the Pussy Riot business). Harmony Korine fan or not, are you honestly gonna tell me you aren't the least bit curious to see this after what I just told you?? Even train wrecks (which some people may consider this film to be) can be fun to watch, right? Oh and just to be clear I don't consider Spring Breakers a train wreck at all. I thought it was great. At first you may think the person responsible for such a ridiculous sounding plot must be insane but in my opinion this was all carefully crafted by Korine. And when you actually watch the film and how it was executed you'll see it was done with care and wasn't just randomly slapped together in an effort to get some cheap shock value. There's a maturity in Korine's post-Julien Donkey Boy work that gets better and better with each film.

If you're gonna see this movie for anything (or need another selling point) see it for James Franco and his show stealing, K-Fed/Riff-Raff inspired performance (I'm not a fan of Franco, K-Fed & Riff-Raff, but the fact that I get to laugh at all them rolled in to one character makes me happy). His sinister yet goofy platinum filled grin will be embedded in your mind long after the movie is over. And sadly I have to report there is no Werner Herzog cameo. Actually, had Werner Herzog been cast in this movie it would put Spring Breakers on a level of awesomeness that no one would be able to comprehend so maybe that was a good thing. These days with the rise of all that random cartoon network/Tim & Eric-esque humor, Harmony Korine's style seems to be a little more accepted & appreciated by people than it was in the 90's (I guess that makes Gummo & Julien Donkey Boy ahead of their time?). Having James Franco as well as Skrillex involved in this movie may expose Korine to slightly wider audience.

This film isn’t without a few faults I have to nitpick at. For some reason I’ve been extra critical of my current favorite directors and their most recent work these days (Lynne Ramsay/We Need To Talk About Kevin, Todd Solondz/Dark Horse, Michael Mann/Public Enemies, etc) and Harmony Korine is no exception. I have two beefs with Spring Breakers. First is the repetitive dialogue - For a 100 minute movie there’s about 20 minutes worth of an actual script in the film. The characters constantly say the same lines over & over to point where it gets really annoying. I enjoyed Spring Breaks a lot but part of me felt like it coulda easily been 30-45 minutes long (then the other part of me quickly checks that negative part and I’m reminded of how awesome Spring Breakers is). With the exception of Trash Bumpers, Korine has been doing nothing but short films for the last couple of years. Is he just having a hard time adjusting back to the feature length format after all these years of doing shorts? My next issue is the soundtrack. This is more of a personal problem, but whatever. I don't like dubstep music and Spring Breakers is chock full of that shit courtesy of Skrillex. But what's weird is that it goes perfectly with the movie so that creates a strange paradox for me. I also hope Harmony Korine is done with his obvious parodying of materialistic, gangsta culture now. We've seen it in his Cat Power Music video and his last two short films. Don't get me wrong it was fine in Spring Breakers but at this point to continue down that path is like beating a dead horse. We get it: mixing predominantly "white" things with stereotypically "black" things is ironic and funny. Let’s move on.
But putting all that aside, I’m sure you guys reading this had already made this film a priority on your must-see lists half way in to reading this write-up.


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