Sunday, Mar 02, 2014 7:00p -
Harvard Film Archive
24 Quincy St
Cambridge, MA 02138
Film, Lectures & Conferences
Harmony Korine's latest film is a subversive and exhilarating ride through the adjacent Florida underworlds of spring break saturnalias and drug smuggling gangsters, starring James Franco as Alien, a suave rapper bandit intent on corrupting four college women, runaways with a growing attraction to dangerous thrills. Poised as a teensploitation film, Spring Breakers tears to shreds the mainstream mantle of its "girls gone wild" theme by pushing to a bold extreme the film's sex and violence, brazenly highlighting its raciest moments in the bright neon of the girls' scanty bikinis and the flash of Franco's metal-clad teeth. The vertiginous cinematography by Gaspar Noé's regular DP, Benoît Debie, only accelerates the ambiguously spiraling course of the morally liberated Spring Breakers as they blaze a trail of gleeful destruction and set ablaze the candy colored fantasy kingdom constructed by Korine.
Harmony Korine (b. 1973) counts among the few authentic artists working within American cinema today. Admired by Werner Herzog, who has named Korine a “warrior of cinema” and acted in two of his films, Korine has remained true to the promise of his acclaimed and controversial 1997 debut Gummo, a visually dazzling and richly archaic film poem about untamed, misfit youth made with a cast of principally non-actors and following an oneiric and associational collage structure. Channeling the creative spirit and visionary film language of Jean Vigo, Béla Tarr and Leos Carax, Gummo also announced Korine’s abiding preoccupation with radically dysfunctional families which has remained a major theme of his work and has made him, arguably, a secret heir of sorts to Nicholas Ray.
In subsequent work such as julien donkey-boy and Mister Lonely, Korine has continued to define a brand of high art film quite unlike any other, alternately injected with melancholy and whimsy and pervaded throughout by a trance inducing, indeed at times almost hallucinatory, quality. A true independent in an age when “indie” filmmaking has become a deliberately false label and cover for formulaic mainstream pabulum, Korine’s films offer a sustained critique of the artistic vacuity effecting so much of contemporary American cinema.
With his latest film, Spring Breakers, Korine offers a full-on siege of Hollywood with a delirious, ribald and ultra-violent teensploitation picture that upturns and explodes every rule of the genre, its extreme characters cartoon versions of sexual nymphs and villains that horrifically and hilariously embody the worst Bacchanalian and narcissistic tendencies in American youth and pop culture today.