Harmony Korine

Spring Breakers sequel

Spranng breaaak. Spranng breaaak foreeeeva. The vacation isn’t over – and neither are the criminal activities, the mischief, the interpretative dances to Britney Spears, the shorts assortments or the just plain bad decisions. Screen Daily reports that the sort-of-hinted-at and possibly-anticipated sequel to Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers is a go, but that doesn’t mean we can expect the gang to get back together for it. In fact, it’s safe to assume that Spring Breakers: The Second Coming is going to like a lot like, well, its own coming, and that’s a damn shame.

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James Franco

It’s been no secret that A24, the distributor behind Harmony Korine’s bonkers blast of pure adrenaline (and, like, a lot of drugs), Spring Breakers, has been stumping for some awards acknowledgement for co-star James Franco for quite some time now (he’s wisely been touted for a Best Supporting Actor role). What started as a bit of a laugh and a lark has now blossomed into what appears to be an actual campaign, albeit one that stays true to the grilled-up idiocy of Franco’s Alien, a low-tier gangster who demands that we “consider his shit.” The distributor has now released a For Your Consideration video (fine, a Consider This Shit video) touting some of the major praise heaped on Franco in the role alongside some of his greatest hits in the film. It’s a relatively straightforward FYC vid, much like the type we’ve seen for other, more traditional work from this year’s finest actors, but because it’s so serious and, yes, straightforward and traditional, it’s also something else entirely – it’s totally brilliant. After one minute of this video, you’ll be sold on nominating Franco for any and all awards for his work as Alien or, at the very least, you’ll be sold on the idea that this is work worth considering for the most prestigious awards in Hollywood, despite how low-brow this all looks (at least on the surface). Give it a look and get ready to consider some shit:

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springbreakers-commentary1

Harmony Korine caused a bit of a stir with Spring Breakers. Not only did it feature former Disney Channel stars Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens cutting loose in a wild sequence of debauchery in Florida, it also touched on various taboo subjects like racism, rape culture, and adolescent violence. Korine gives his sometimes pretentious insight into his film on the DVD and Blu-ray commentary, describing the origins of the film in hedonistic modern American imagery from frat parties and real spring break excursions. Much of the filmmaking techniques are pretty obvious from watching the film, but he also offers stories from the set, including Gomez’s nervousness about the ever-present paparazzi and how he brought elements from his own colorful childhood into the film. The movie wasn’t for everyone, but Korine’s commentary adds to the notoriety with information that ranges from the esoteric to the rustic.

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Gummo1

Larry Clark’s 1995 film Kids wasn’t a big hit in its day, but it’s managed to stick around and get passed down from one generation of teen punk to the next over the course of the last two decades. Teenagers don’t tend to acknowledge anything that came out more than a few years before they got into high school, but they can still quote Kids, and that has to largely be thanks to Harmony Korine’s screenplay. The content of Kids sticks with people, because not only is it a shocking reminder to parents about how trashy teenage party culture gets, but it also blows kids’ hair back by reflecting the people they know in an honest way that few things in the media do, and it takes those glimmers of recognition and amps them up to maximum degradation in order to give the more impressionable members of the audience something to aspire to. Youth culture moves fast, but almost twenty years after its release, kids can still watch Kids and be shocked at how sick it is—and that’s why you can still periodically hear them quoting that they want to buy ladies corn dogs, when most of them probably aren’t even aware that Hollywood actor Justin Timberlake used to be in a band called ‘N Sync. Less people remember Korine’s debut as a director, Gummo, and that’s kind of a shame, because not only is it quite a bit more shocking than Kids, it’s also far more interesting and experimental […]

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Where the Boys Are

The American independent cinema that came to form in the 1990s seems to carry fewer and fewer visionaries untainted by the magnetic promises of Hollywood success. Some directors have “used the system” to shell out sequels and remakes in exchange for passion projects, while others have said goodbye to independent production altogether. Love or hate his movies (assuming that watching them falls into either experiential category), Harmony Korine is an uncompromising enfant terrible and a connoisseur of gutter Americana, the likes of which are increasingly rare. Sure, ever since he became famous as a result of the publicity around his Kids screenplay, his personality has largely exceeded any attention it may have generated towards his filmmaking. But that’s part of the point. I won’t go so far as to call Korine’s public persona an “act,” but (genuine or calculated, as if it can’t be both) Korine notably and consistently performs a character that is unique and familiar: a person obsessed with superficial pleasures, who exercises instinct over contemplation, and who lives in a perpetual state of kinetic energy combined with a hazy experience of reality, yet at the same time acutely and perceptively finding aesthetic value in the lowest rungs of American culture. This latter aspect makes Korine an artist, but it’s the combination that makes him an enigma. It’s striking that Korine’s most mainstream work, Spring Breakers, is also one of his most ambiguous. Does the film force a generation built on the exchange of immediate pleasure, automatic celebrity, constant […]

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Harmony Korine

“Poetry” and “video games” aren’t two sensibilities we see meshed together in cinema often. Harmony Korine, perhaps one of the most divisive figures in the indie world of the past two decades, set out to do just that: make a poetic video game. When we spoke to him for his crime comedy, Spring Breakers, he told us how he wanted his movie to have the immersive quality of a game, where the viewer is actively participating. Based on the film’s reactions, both positive and negative, Korine definitely avoided anything coming close to a passive experience. Here’s what else the writer and director of Spring Breakers had to say about his latest work:

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Harmony Korine

That fuzzy guy on the end there came up in filmmaking with Kids when he was just a kid. With that, and with his following projects, Harmony Korine has awed a rotating audience while confounding all the people that his audience convinces to  please, please, please just watch for fifteen minutes. He’s the fresh voice most people claim they want in filmmaking, but he doesn’t fit in with any grand tradition. It’s not like others have made Korine-style movies while orbiting around a shared stylistic vision. At least, if they have, they haven’t reached his stature. Since there won’t be a Weird Wave that grows out of what he’s doing, he remains a vibrant loner and a wonderful army of one. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from Mister Lonely.

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Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers…is not the film people are expecting. Even cinephiles familiar with Harmony Korine‘s polarizing nature will be taken aback by the man’s newest creation. For one thing, it’s Korine’s most entertaining film to date, and “fun” isn’t exactly his forte. His usual strength is his willingness to write reprehensible people, and here, he shows them off with blinding neon lights, particularly James Franco sporting corn rows and a higher energy than he’s ever attempted before. Korine has made a movie about one of the scariest, funniest, and most subversive vacations in recent memory. The vacation involves four college girls: Faith (Selena Gomez), Brit (Ashley Benson), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), and Cotty (Rachel Korine). This year they don’t want to stay in their small town for spring break again. They’re desperate to leave. So desperate that  Brit, Candy, and Cotty get the idea to rob a restaurant to fund their trip. They succeed, leading the four girls to a hellish place called “Florida.” Faith — the religious girl of the group — describes the place as spiritual to her grandmother both before and after Korine shows bros and bro-ish girls partying at their most obnoxious. Spiritual and peaceful this place, and film, are not.

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Spring Breakers

So far, the decade-long advertising campaign for Spring Breakers has felt a little twee. A little tongue-in-cheek. The Harmony Korine pedigree fully in tact, it still felt a bit like the gimmick of fitting former Disney stars for bikinis was all it really had going for it in the attention grabbing department. James Franco playing a cartoon character with bad cornrows didn’t help too much either. Fortunately, the official international trailer has a bit more bite to it. It might be the freedom found in foul language, but the focus on ennui and violence makes this feel a lot more like, well, a Harmony Korine film. Check it out for yourself:

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Spring Breakers

There’s finally a trailer for Harmony Korine‘s Spring Breakers, proving that it wasn’t just an elaborate hoax to turn paparazzi-style beach photos into a development story while watching media outlets figure out the best way to talk about girls in swimwear as if it was the greatest, sluttiest sin they could ever commit. Of course, since the movie isn’t out yet, that’s still a possibility. Every film festival audience is in on it. As if we haven’t been talking about it since what seems like the original spring break, the film stars Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Amber Benson and Rachel Korine in a tale of young women looking for excitement, robbing a restaurant, going to jail and getting bailed out by James Franco with a platinum grill. In other words, it’s America shoved into a projector, and it’s a good thing the full trailer is finally here because it does more to make the movie look exciting than any of the faux-titillating screen shots could:

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Spring Breakers

Youthful angst. Is it a worthwhile topic? Maybe, but the ratio of excellent examinations to abject failures is a daunting one. Every writer who’s ever felt isolated in high school (read: every writer) has taken a stab at writing a story about the boredom of being young and unhappy, but few have captured it in a way that makes young people sound interesting. After Kids, Harmony Korine earned full faith and credit when it comes to the topic, but this first clip for Spring Breakers – featuring Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine – is about as exciting as watching the brown grass grow. What does it all mean, man?

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There’s no way that a project called The Fourth Dimension, being billed as three movies in one, being directed in part by Harmony Korine, starring Val Kilmer could be self-indulgent could it? The movie is also directed by Aleksei Fedorchenko and Jan Kwiecinksi and defies easy definition. Themes of identity and enlightenment come together (apparently with Kilmer shouting at people in a roller rink) to try to grope at higher planes of existence. At any rate, it looks just as out there as it sounds. Self-indulgent, perhaps. But maybe it should also be celebrated. Check it out for yourself:

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The newest development in Selena Gomez’s career is by far the most insane. According to MTV, she’s going to be working with director Harmony Korine on his next film Spring Breakers. If you don’t know who Gomez is, she’s the sugary sweet teen idol best known either for coming out of the Disney factory of loud-talking and sassy tween actors or for dating a twelve-year-old kid named Justin Bieber. If you don’t know who Harmony Korine is, he’s the certifiable weirdo who’s responsible for directing movies like Gummo and Julian Donkey Boy, films that could be described as shock fodder at best, and pure exploitation at worst. Korine is always digging into the darkest facets of the human psyche and them gleefully shining a spotlight on the sick behavior that he finds. So, you know, this is pretty much a match made in heaven. Spring Breakers is about a group of college kids who rob a restaurant to get money to go on spring break, but eventually wind up jailed and at the mercy of a skeezy drug dealer. According to Gomez, “It’s a different character than I have ever played before. It’s a different kind of vibe I think than people are used to seeing me in. What you’re going to see is more raw, I think. It’s going to be raw and more about acting.” Of course, to Gomez’s young eyes this looks like a chance at credibility, but for us more seasoned film aficionados it looks more […]

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You might know Harmony Korine as the writer of Kids, which was a disturbingly frank and exploitive look at urban adolescence. Maybe you know him from his direction of Gummo, a disturbingly frank and exploitive look at poor, white culture in Middle America. Maybe you remember his Julien Donkey Boy, which had Werner Herzog spraying a kid with a hose for five minutes and doing Tai Chi while wearing a gas mask. Or maybe you would even recognize him as the weird little guy who asks Matt Damon if he wants any of his ass in Good Will Hunting. Regardless, Harmony Korine is someone who is constantly exploring the weird, always living on the edge of what society will accept; and now he’s hanging out with James Franco. Uh-oh. So what have these two been coming up with while spending time together? They’ve decided they want to make an art film about street fights that will include a real gang brawl. A New York Post source was quoted as saying, “They are looking to film two actual street gangs doing a fight scene. The twist is they want the two gangs to fight, using real knives. The production team is panicked that they’ll end up with blood, injuries and potentially dead bodies on set.” Somebody should probably separate these two before something bad happens. Or go the other way and have them work on something with Charlie Sheen and Nic Cage that will blow all of our minds.

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Criterion Files

Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence is a truly unique film by several definitions. Japanese master filmmaker Nagisa Oshima’s first English-language film (and it is worth noting here that much of it is in Japanese) embodies some dense discourses about Japanese identity, yet in many respects this is a film without a nation. But that’s exactly the point, for Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence embodies a host of contradictions in terms of how we’re used to experiencing films of its relative ilk: it is a film about war, yet it is never about patriotism or combat; it is a film about an intersection of cultures, yet it never seeks to deliver a message of sameness of common ground; and it is a film about sexual tensions between males, yet homosexuality is never explicitly addressed in a way that would place it fittingly in the canon of “queer cinema.”

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Harmony Korine

Like his films, Harmony Korine himself possesses a spontaneous, incomparable personality. I sat down for a phone interview with the filmmaker last week to talk Trash Humpers, ‘mistakist’ filmmaking, Ricky Martin, Jonas guts film distribution, and the nice rack on the state of Tennessee.

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Trash Humpers

It’s difficult to know exactly what to do with Trash Humpers. It seems irrelevant and futile to take out my critical toolbox and attempt an assessment of character development, story, and visual style for a film that so clearly intends to pursue none of these things.

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SXSW Film 2010

I’ve always known that there’s something wrong with filmmaker Harmony Korine. If you’ve seen either Mister Lonely or Gummo, you have an idea of what I’m talking about. The talent is certainly there — and so is the weird. Both seem to be coming out in the film he’s brought to SXSW 2010, Trash Humpers.

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