Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spring Breakers (2013, Harmony Korine)

Ever since his most expensive film, "Mister Lonely", came out in '07, auteur film-maker and eccentric "visionary" extraordinaire, Harmony Korine, has been seemingly alternating from his more signature brand of experimental strangeness to more 'commercial' features. He's gone from the truly bizarre 2009, shot-on-tape freak-fest "Trash Humpers" - a film clearly made with NO money - to "Spring Breakers" which I would say contains the most coherent narrative of any of his prior works...

Three college girls hold up a fast food restaurant - armed with hatchets and squirt guns - and make off with a wad of cash that they plan to use to fund their spring break vacation to Miami. They bring along their ultra-religious friend and after some hard partying, they're busted in a drug raid and are completely out of money to pay the fine. So a helpful drug dealer/rapper/wigger spots them in the courthouse and comes to rescue and bails 'em out. They start hanging out with him and his 'crew' of professional criminals. The girls quickly become his BITCHES and soon find themselves mixed up in some shady drug ring and a potentially deadly feud with a rival thug.

As you can surely guess, you should NOT go into this expecting anything along the lines of "Gummo", "Julien Donkey-Boy" or especially "Humpers". It's safe to say that "Spring Breakers" is the most conventional film that Korine has done to date, though that is certainly not a bad thing. I enjoyed this film for the most part, finding that Korine's 'style' shined through, despite the uncharacteristically linear storyline. Even though this flick didn't feature the randomness and radically offbeat nature of many of his past films, it still contained elements of savory strangeness and unpredictability that I would definitely associate with Korine's very interesting body of work. For instance, the restaurant robbery scene is shot entirely from outside; from the point-of-view of the passenger's seat of the getaway car as it circles the building. The film is also intermittently broken up with reoccurring shots of sunny spring break beaches and slow-motion party kids which makes for a weird contrast between the happy, fun time these girls were hoping for on their trip, to the degenerate 'underground' immersion that eventually befalls them.

The actresses are all decent. I guess the big "draw" here was seeing these Disney channel stars (Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson) completely shed their squeaky clean, family-friendly image, which... worked! These chicks are slutty, violent, coke-snorting, gun toting bitches. Hell, it was cool to see. I'd say, the best way to show the world that you've officially become a 'big girl' star is to either make a sex-tape and send it in to TMZ or be in a Harmony Korine flick. The fourth girl is actually Rachel Korine, Harm's significantly younger wifey who's been popping up in much of his recent stuff. If I didn't know any better, I'd say that Korine graduated from the Rob Zombie Film Academy. Meh, but she does alright, though. James Franco plays the ridiculous drug dealer character. Sporting a flashy, silver "grill" and infuriating white guy cornrows - he's just a complete caricature of the "wigger", personified. When he's not being hilariously annoying, he's just being annoying.

I guess my main gripes with the film are just the slow, laggy moments that often involve people repeating themselves and some fairly shallow characters. But overall, I dug the film for Korine's 'style' whenever it popped up and for some unique cinematography here n' there. I would say, overall, that "Spring Breakers" - while not Korine's strongest film - delivers some rather striking visuals (the girls dancing in pink, unicorn ski masks to a Britney Spears song stands out, in my opinion), a subtle, yet gritty tone and a nice, artistic 'flair' thanks to, what I would consider, Korine's finest example of directing. Check out this ANTI-"spring break" film.

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