Spring Breakers

tn_springbreakersI have this dumb joke that always amuses me: whenever they’re looking for a director to do a new MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE or a Marvel Comics movie or something I suggest Harmony Korine. It’s funny to picture the director of GUMMO and TRASH HUMPERS selling out or deciding to do a normal mainstream movie, because it just seems like something he would never be interested in. I picture him as a smartass New York art kid for life.

So it was pretty funny to see his new one at a multiplex with an IRON MAN 3 trailer playing before it. I think this was by accident. In style and substance it’s not that much more normal than MISTER LONELY (the one about the commune of celebrity impersonators), it just happens that it focuses on a topic that can be very commercial: young girls in bikinis spraying beer on each other and jumping up and down and sometimes they have guns. And one of the stars is James Franco, who seems to have alot of interests in common with Korine, but is also the star of a $215 million Disney 3D fantasy movie that was #1 at the box office just last week.

The opening scene is an uncomfortably long slo-mo of a line of seemingly authentic Spring Breakers on a beach dancing, shaking their tits and drinking beer and Red Bull in suggestive ways to an aggressive computery dance song. (The score is credited to Cliff Martinez, composer of many Steven Soderbergh films, and Skrillex. Now I know what a Skrillex is!) The scene poetically captures what the movie is gonna be like because what you’re seeing is 100% decadence and sexuality and still not at all hot. I’m sure some dudes will pop a boner, and you know me, I wouldn’t lie about it. But to me it’s aggressively sexual and completely un-sexy. Korine shows them as a more MTV friendly version of the two brothers wrestling in the kitchen in GUMMO.

The plot (there is one after the first couple scenes) involves four college girls who desperately want to go to St. Petersburg, Florida for Spring Break. They don’t have enough money for the trip, so three of them commit an armed robbery. It’s a cleverly staged scene where we stay in the El Camino with the getaway driver as she slowly circles around to the front, Rihanna playing on the radio, and through the windows we see the other two girls pointing their fake guns, smashing things with a sledge hammer and taking the money. As they drive away they pull off their ski masks, look to the sky and scream like they just spotted the popular child singer Justin Bieber.

So they go to Florida, they ride around on scooters, they drink, they dance to more Skrillex. There are many, many dreamily photographed scenes of these hypersexual kewpie dolls shaking their asses, deep throating red white and blue popsicles, drinking beer out of long rubber tubes and squirt guns, etc.

mp_springbreakersExcept for Korine’s wife Rachel, the actors playing the four girls were cast partly for their histories, I think. Vanessa Hudgens is from Disney’s HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL, Selena Gomez was on Barney and a Disney Channel show called Wizards of Waverly Place, Ashley Benson is from an ABC Family Channel show called Pretty Little Liars. Also, according to wikipedia, “In 2011, Benson started dating Justin Bieber’s former swagger coach Ryan Good.” Of course this brings up two questions, WHAT THE FUCK IS A SWAGGER COACH? and did he stop working for Bieber because he taught him everything he needed to know about swagger, or because he was replaced by a higher ranking swagger master?

Further research revealed Bieber’s answer to question number #1: “I have a swagger coach that helps me and teaches me different swaggerific things to do. He has helped me with my style and just putting different pieces together and being able to layer and stuff like that.”

His manager answered #2: “All u asking..ryan is going to pursue some of his dreams…we encourage him 2 go after his. he will always b a part of this family. always.”

(Confidential to manager: put me on salary as a typing coach. Lesson 1 is about the shift key. Lesson 2 is about how you really don’t save very much time by abbreviating two and three letter words.)

I think most people read this casting as trying to subvert the actress’s squeaky clean teen star images for shock value, but I don’t think that’s exactly it. I don’t know these specific shows but I think there’s a certain sexualizing that happens to young girls in entertainment even in kids shows (Bratz Hoochification Syndrome), and SPRING BREAKERS is an exaggerated extension of that. Even if all their shows are completely chaste, it’s pretty standard that the child actresses eventually graduate to the Maxim photo shoot, the she’s-not-a-little-girl-anymore racy movie role, maybe the leaked nude photos and sex videos. The Disney Princesses that grow up to be Anne Hathaway are the exception to the rule, aren’t they? And even she did HAVOC first.

Eventually (later in the movie than I expected) the girls get arrested for cocaine possession and a local white rapper and gangster who calls himself Alien (Franco) decides to bail them out. At this point the movie turns from girls trying to re-create an old MTV beach party show to hanging out with men trying to live SCARFACE. Two different types of idiots bouncing off each other. Mostly in a swimming pool.

I like that until they meet Alien they don’t actually have sex. They draw dicks and talk about their pussies being wet and they get naked and shake their asses and flaunt it but there is no “hooking up,” they never split up to go home with boys, or have eyes for somebody in particular. They’re the embodiment of this Britney Spears generation, taught to be outwardly sexual to attract the attention of boys, and they don’t seem to know where to go from there. It’s not sexuality, it’s self-objectification.

The most remembered scene is probly gonna be the “look at my shit” scene where Alien jumps on his bed and monologues about the American Dream and “all this shit” that he owns. He’s so proud that he has “SCARFACE on repeat. On repeat!” even though he probly could’ve achieved that mowing lawns or something. His walls are covered in not just every type of gun imaginable but also, he’s proud to point out, shurikens and “num chucks.” I love picturing him trying to use those in a the-end-of-SCARFACE type siege situation.

My favorite piece of idiot opulence in his beachfront mansion is the white piano he has in back next to the pool, where he sits down to play a Britney Spears ballad for the girls while they fondle guns and wear the pink ski masks with unicorn patches on the foreheads that he apparently bought them to wear during robberies.

It does have an arc to it, but like other Korine movies it’s more about imagery and individual incidents than about story. It’s about strange people with little quirks doing odd things. Alien thinks he has a deep philosophy, and we often hear his poetry as a voiceover, repeating the same annoying phrases over and over again. It’s not a big thing but my biggest problem with the movie is that some of this has a bit of a BULWORTH effect, where you know it’s supposed to be bad but that doesn’t mean it’s not annoying to keep hearing it.

But unlike Alien’s poems I really enjoyed deciphering the symbolism and subtext of SPRING BREAKERS. I see it as a neon-colored, bubble-butted portrait of the shallow end of our culture.

All the girls have their hair bleached except for one, and she’s also the good girl who bows out before shit gets too bad. She’s the one who’s introduced going to a small church group (by herself, not with family, it seems to be her own choice). And in case you want to be sure she’s symbolic her name is Faith.

You could definitely read a paean-to-old-fashioned-values type angle into this story. I’m sure Faith’s Christian friends who stayed home and prayed for her had better lives than her when school started up again. But she’s not some judgmental prude or even a cautionary tale. She smokes weed at least once, she drinks alot, she doesn’t back away from her friends when she finds out they robbed the restaurant, she calls up her grandma and lies to her, and the movie doesn’t punish her or (arguably) judge her for these sins. But she’s the most soulful of the group. Faith tries to find meaning in St. Petersburg, and talk about their trip in the context of their lives and friendships, the others make fun of her for it. She’s the one that takes it the hardest when they go to jail, and is the most suspicious of some guy they don’t know putting up their bail. She’s the one who articulates her need for Spring Break as an escape from her banal small town life. Her friend does it by writing “I want penis” inside a heart and showing it to her friend while ignoring a lecture about Reconstruction and Jim Crow laws. That pretty much sums them up, doesn’t it?

If I may offer one criticism of Faith’s character, I notice that she only cries and wants to go home when she’s surrounded by black scumbags. When it was white scumbags she was having the time of her life! Still, Faith is the closest thing to sensible and thoughtful in this group, so when she goes home it’s trouble. It’s Pinocchio without Jiminy Cricket.

I think that’s important to SPRING BREAKERS’ cultural criticism. It would be easy to see the movie as blaming our idiocy on pop culture. The girls like to joke around and sing pop songs together, and we see them sing “Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears and “Hot In Herre” by Nelly, popular songs about sex that came out when these actresses were between 7 and 16 years old. On their TVs we see My Little Pony cartoons and, in one scene, a Kimbo Slice backyard fight video. Getting psyched up for the robbery they talk about pretending they’re in a video game or a movie. And Alien is a sometime-rapper (although he hasn’t quit his day job as “hustla” and “G”). His rival Archie is played by Gucci Mane, a rapper in the real world.

(If you’re not familiar, yes, the face tattoo of an ice cream cone is real. He really chose to do that intentionally!)

I see a racial element here too. Alien is a white guy who models his life after the most cartoonish stereotypes of black culture. He’s covered in shitty tattoos (including a dollar sign on his neck), wears hideous corn rows and platinum teeth, throws in extra “y’alls” and an occasional n-bomb, in a Drexl Spivey way, not a David Duke way. He explains that he was the only white person where he grew up, but come on man, like there weren’t any smart black people in your neighborhood? I find that hard to believe. The girls, as far as we see, don’t have any love for hip hop, but when they re-enact what they said during the robbery what accent do you think they suddenly take on?

Alien’s world is sprinkled with the type of real life characters you expect to see in a movie by Korine, but mostly the director just uses young partiers as his gummos and donkey-boys. It’s somewhat freak show, somewhat anthropological, somewhat appreciative. He sure doesn’t make the lifestyle look appealing, they look like fucking morons, but there’s gotta be some part of him that is reveling in this. He’s got the Skrillex music, he knew who Gucci Mane was to put him in the movie, he must enjoy some of this stuff. I think it’s okay to have fun with sleaze and fluff and ignorance sometimes, you just gotta have other stuff too. Faith has dreams and concerns and ideas. And she wants to have some perspective to bring back to school with her. Her friends want, as Alien repeats an obnoxious number of times, “Spring Break forever.”

I like to think that the movie says you can have Spring Break if you want. Just not forever, you nitwits. Go learn about the post civil-war period, please.

One thing weirdly left out of the movie: cell phones. You don’t see them fiddling with their computer bullshit or taking pictures and videos. I feel like that is not an accurate depiction of modern life, but it must’ve been an intentional choice. Maybe it’s because this isn’t Old Man Harmony waving his finger at Kids Today. Keep in mind he’s been making movies about teen decadence since he was an actual teen.

I really loved this movie, a new favorite from a weirdo director I’ve always enjoyed. It’s been stuck in my brain for four days now. Not everybody is gonna react that way, and willful inaccessibility has always been part of the fun of the Korine pictures. But I have actually talked to four other people who saw it and they all loved it and had alot to say about its contents. I predict it will be a bit of a cult favorite, and that Franco will be mentioned in many end of the year critic’s polls.

Ah, fuck it, I’m going big. This will be such a smash that they’ll try to get Korine for RETURN OF OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL. He’ll end up just writing, not directing, and the poster will say “From the author of A Crack-Up At the Race Riots.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 26th, 2013 at 2:27 am and is filed under Comedy/Laffs, Crime, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

53 Responses to “Spring Breakers”

  1. I loved this movie. It has a B-movie storyline with a Terrence Malick aesthetic, which is such a strange, perfect combination. SPOILER: I don’t think the film had any big message to it, but I found it interesting that the middle class “white” girls were able to undo all of these terrible things with a simple phone call while all of the lower class (and mostly black) characters paid with their lives. Like I said, I don’t necessarily think Korine was going for any real message, but there’s still a lot to chew on. It was also (most importantly) entertaining as hell.

  2. “I think it’s okay to have fun with sleaze and fluff and ignorance sometimes, you just gotta have other stuff too.”

    that’s how I feel about these sort of things too, I think there’s actually a reason why party culture is so huge in the modern day, it’s tough times we live with a lot of problems, a lot of stress and the vast majority of jobs people have are mind numbingly dull, I think it makes people feel the need to blow off steam all the time

    anyway, this movie sounds awesome, I will check it out on blu ray for sure, I know I’ve said negative things about Harmony Korine before, but you know what? I’ve changed my mind, I will check out his movies in the future, starting with this one

    also, confession time, I…..I….kind of like Skrillex, I mean I’m not a HUGE fan or anything, I’ve only heard a handful of his songs, but I like what I’ve heard, what can I say? I’ve always had a bit of a weakness for techno and electronic types of music, when there’s no lyrics there’s a limit to how stupid they can be, in my opinion, even at it’s worst it’s not as insulting to your intelligence as a terrible song with lyrics

    p.s. is the My Little Pony it shows on the TV the new one creepy guys on the internet are obsessed with?

  3. “The Disney Princesses that grow up to be Anne Hathaway are the exception to the rule, aren’t they? And even she did HAVOC first”.


    And Brokeback Mountain. And Love And Other Drugs. All had explicit nudity. :) One Day and Rachel Getting Married also had brief nipple shots and full frontals, respectively.

    Of course Anna is a very beautiful, talented and classy girl, with a lot of good choices on her career. But there aren’t too many ex-Disney girls who would love to expose their body quite as much as she does. Good on her.

  4. Has anyone read A Crackup at the Race Riots? Is it any good?

  5. This is at the top of my must see list.

  6. The original Paul

    March 26th, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    Mine too, Charles.

  7. Bratz Hoochification Syndrome, or BHS for short?

    This is actually my first Harmony Korine directed movie and I loved it. I’m told the others aren’t so aggressive, so which ones should I start with?

  8. I actually went to go see this on Friday, mostly because of my curiosity to see how these actresses would fare in a movie like this. I went in knowing that this movie was going to be a dark and gritty tale about some girls who go on Spring Break and get involved in some dangerous stuff. I actually thought that Selena Gomez did well in her role and I think she has what it takes to go farther as an actress and to break out of her Disney image.

    Also, there was a decent turnout at the showing I went to, especially for a 1:15p.m. showing on a Friday.

    One more thing, you mentioned Anne Hathaway breaking out of the Disney image. “Havoc” was a really bad movie and the movies that tuukka mentioned were WAY better than that one and I still have yet to see them, though I have read positive things about them. I still can’t believe I sat through “Havoc” and that was seven years ago when I first watched it.

  9. Fred, I think you should just go in order. Start with GUMMO, which is his least narrative. JULIEN-DONKEY BOY is probly the least interesting, but totally worth it if you like his stuff and an interesting attempt at making early digital look good. And then MISTER LONELY is kinda sweet and it has skydiving nuns. (Both JULIEN and LONELY have Werner Herzog in them, too. You know, the bad guy from JACK REACHER.)

    I’ll have to re-watch KIDS (which he wrote but Larry Clark directed). I guess you could easily start with that one. If you want to go completist I can’t imagine KEN PARK is on any of the corporate movie streaming things since it has hardcore parts in it. And not in a way that anybody is gonna enjoy. (guy jerking off while watching tennis match)

  10. Vern: What about TRASH HUMPERS? Or is that only for Advanced Korine Studies?

  11. I’m ashamed to say I have not seen TRASH HUMPERS yet. I will review it as soon as I have.

  12. Crack up on the way to the race riots is an interesting book. So interesting that I stole it from a library. It’s out of print and no one had checked it of in 5 years. Also, Korine would certainly approve.

    You should watch kids, bully and ken park (not available in the us) and then move on to watching Korine’s bizarre David letterman bits to get the context of his films “humor.” Then watch Gummo like 6 times. The watch julien-donkey boy once. Then watch mister lonely twice. Then serif you can find trash humpers.

    I haven’t been this pumped for a new movie in years and years. Maybe since matrix reloaded. Except this time the movie totally was mindblowing and totally exceeded my expectations.

    By the way, the “lookit all my she-it!” Scene is a recreation of a worldstarhiphop classic.

  13. This gets into spoiler territory a bit, so you’ve been warned.

    I liked this movie a lot, and I actually got a clear read on a central message, whether or not it was intended. See, a lot of reviews made a big a thing about Faith going home after she goes to prison, but I was surprised when Cotty went home before the big event. Then I realized something might be going on, and this feeling got confirmed at the end, when Candy and Brit call home after their bloodbath to say that they’re ready to be good people again.

    In a nutshell, the movie presents Spring Break as this cathartic bacchanal where people escape the regular trappings of life by cutting loose and letting out with their inner Dionysus. What’s interesting is that the film seems to say that you can take this experience as far as you can stomach it, and once you’ve hit your limit (Faith: tons of parties, but no prison; Cotty: crime but no killing; and Candy and Brit: everything including massacre) there’s a bus waiting to take you home. I don’t know if this is a joke, but the lack of consequence for the girls involved really plays at this notion that you can have a Scarface bloodbath in a mansion and still get away and return home with your inner devil fulfilled. In other words, the ultimate Spring Break wish fulfillment.

  14. Mouth is going to love this one. His homegirl Vanessa is like pure sex all throughout it. Franco’s character is a goddamn classic. I really did enjoy this one a lot. I was afraid Korine would compromise but NOPE it’s a Harmony Korine joint through and through.

  15. I guess it’s cool that you guys can appreciate both schlocky 80’s actioners with awful acting/production values and artsy-fartsy movies that only 50 people ever see. I can handle the former but not the latter. When I see movies like ‘Gummo’ or ‘Eraserhead’ I just want to kick the filmmakers in the balls for wasting my time and money. I also find James Franco to be a Super-Duper Douche (a feeling that was roundly reinforced by his appearance on Stern this week) so watching him play an affected pants-sagger would be interminable.

    Whew…felt good to get that off my chest! Ok, Vern…I am eagerly awaiting your review of ‘The Tomb’ when it is released.

  16. I can’t disagree more on this film, V.

    I thought I liked HK.. even though generally his movies usually leave me with that obscure feeling of why the fuck did I just watch that?

    I saw this on the strength of Mister Lonely & Trash Humpers. Going into it, I thought it was actually a clever move to mask a Harmony Korine style film in that 1992 MTV beach party style. Essentially luring a whole generation of vapid people who would never watch a HK film into the theater seats. However it just turned out to be exactly what i didn’t want it be.

    Another example of sell out bullshit that wastes my time.

    At moments it is visually one of his best films, but content wise this is just regular old soft porn at best. The movie had absolutely no moral base, and the story had even less to say. It felt like being in a conversation with someone who talks just to talk, and constantly brings up a lot of ideas but never finishes them.

    Realizing this director is actually just some 40 year old yuppie, and one of the girls who flashes her tits and gets beer poured all over is also his actual wife. This dude is plainly out of touch with culture and reality, but somehow was able to sell this bullshit to a studio & enlist Skrillex to help him make the ultimate MTV Generation White-sploitation film.

    So, hey good for him, I guess.. Everybody’s gotta make money somehow. Right?

    I mean how can you not make money off of half naked white celebrities (former Disney girls) running around spring break. At no point was the story compelling. Watching a 3-way with white “IT” celebrities in a swimming pool essentially mocking characters within a class of white people they would never actually associate themselves is not sexy. It’s just revolting. Alien and Gucci’s characters were like the lightest possible caricatures of fake gangsters you’ll ever see in a movie next to Malibu’s most wanted. Then at the end you’re watching the 2 least interesting girls (not even human beings at this point) victoriously drive away in a bright orange convertible at the end of the flick.

    You’re thinking: Come on now, Was this created purely as a piece of fodder for our collective horny inner 14 year old boy that plays too many video games to torrent and masturbate to?

    Personally, I would never recommend any person on this planet watch this bullshit ever for any reason. Overall it felt like being in a bubble gum eating contest and throwing up at the end. Where you clearly knew it was a bad idea going into it, and you should’ve known better.

    Fuck everyone involved with this film.

  17. The original Paul

    March 29th, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    I can’t comment on “Spring Breakers” yet, because I haven’t seen it. But “Kids” is one of the more disturbing films I’ve ever seen. In a good way. I had no idea who wrote it – heck, I hadn’t heard of Korine before I read about him in this forum, so his name wouldn’t have meant anything to me anyway.

  18. Diego, could you explain more specifically what it is that you think is out of touch, or why you think it’s “sellout bullshit”? And I’m not clear if you’re saying it’s bad because it isn’t sexy or because it is. What do you think about all the stuff I talked about in my review about the racial politics and the philosophy of “Spring Break forever” and the girls drawing penises while ignoring a lecture about the post Civil War era? Do you think I’m reading too much into it?

    I can appreciate that you didn’t like it but I don’t buy your argument that it’s a “sell out.” If Korine knew that it was going to be seen by more people than his other movies he sure didn’t let it change the style and content of the movie that he made. And if somehow he magically figured it out and then made THAT movie then again, that can’t be called a sell out. That’s called give me a high five for doing that Harmony Korine. Reading kids reactions on Twitter while writing this review was enjoyable.

    Also they had pink ski masks with unicorn patches.

  19. “This movie is going to be the movie that combines both worlds, the commercial world with the Harmony Korine world. Once you do some shit like that, then everybody’s interested in trying to make the next biggest thing and they’re gonna come to him to do it”
    – RiFF RAFF

    This film was a slothful study in a truly distasteful American subculture while also unapologetically pandering for the money and attention of the very real fan bases of Skrillex, Riff Raff, Gucci Mane, Die Antwoord, Britney Spears, and Selena Gomez.

    This film succeeds only at being Korine’s best attempt at creating an extended music video. Yet ultimately, it is just bad art, an instantly forgettable piece of mainstream trash. It reveals Harmony Korine to be the superficial exploitative hack that doesn’t fully comprehend how to tell a logical narrative story that he probably always was. Any imagery in it’s subtext that brings up any real points of conversation are purely coincidental.

    Honestly Vern, the Civil War lecture could’ve been any other school subject, and it wouldn’t have made a difference to the film. There’s definitely something to be said about MTV, RAP music, Britney Spears and Girls Gone Wild’s influence leading to the overt sexualization of today’s young girls in America, which then forces them into their own self-objectification. Yet, that’s not what this movie is truly trying to say. I’m sure there could also possibly be an interesting story about the underbelly of Panama City’s drug culture intersecting with superficial Spring Break obsessed Americans.

    However Korine is simply not clever or smart enough to actually tell any of those stories. It’s not enough to just merely bring up the ideas, and leave the conversation. We’d do far better to look towards a director like Spike Jonze who actually knows how to interact with subcultures, and tell a coherent story.

    Anyways man, I’ve wasted enough brain cells by sitting through this film, which looking back probably should have been called Trash Humpers part 2.

    “I feel like the most pure human being that’s ever existed … the most pure human being of all time.” – Harmony Korine



  21. Diego:

    Considering that Harmony Korine goes out of his way to make a (brilliant) step-n-fetchit reference in his Letterman interview from 20 years ago, AND he wrote a book called, “A Crack Up on the Way to the Race Riots”AND he constantly discusses issues of race and class in interviews instead of answering any questions, I seem to think that the obscure details of the lecture on Jim Crowe laws might not be a completely random choice…

    Also, as a 24-year old not far removed from a top 10 party school, I can tell you that Korine got it pretty much right on the nose.

  22. Oh, and Die Antwoord is a pretty good piece of pop art satire.

  23. The main weakness here is the James Franco Character. It’s not developed enough. He is not enough of a villein, he is not sympathetic in any way, he is just a stupid asshole. More of a Vanilla Ice than an Eminem. And this Vnilla Ice is obviously Korine’s alter-ego, offering a shallow and condescending ‘satire’ on Hip Hop culture.
    Other then that the movie appears to be super cool.
    He has the visual eye for coolness Tarantino, Rodriguez, Lynch or Wong Kar Wai have, but he is not as sophisticated as them when it comes to story, character and subtext.

  24. Trash Humpers is almost like a direct lead-in to Breakers. It’s like somebody gave Korine $5 mil and said “we want you to remake that, but with James Franco and these Disney Channel ladies.” Which of course makes all the difference, but there’s not as much daylight between the two as you would guess from a straight description.

    Ken Park has never been distributed in the U.S., supposedly because of music rights issues. Korine wrote the screenplay (on a commission from Clark) right after Kids, and IIRC he was very unhappy when Clark actually turned it into a movie all those years later.

  25. Great review, Vern. I interviewed Korine about the movie. It’s hard to believe that anyone could think it’s accidental that the film begins with the girls ignoring that specific lecture and ends the way it ends with those specific people dead.

  26. Thomas Caniglia

    April 3rd, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    This movie lost me in the first ten minutes. The opening scene of the partyers on the beach would have been fine for about 30 seconds, but not 3 minutes of it. I felt like I was trapped watching the kind of thing I wouldn’t watch on TV. Then it’s followed by a bunch of random scenes at the university, which also goes on too long because it’s not interesting, and I got tired of waiting for a character to appear.

    When characters do finally appear, it was the two girls ignoring the lecture. The one girl writes down, “I love penis”. I know girls who would write something like that, but they would be being ironic, and that’s why they would laugh. They’d be writing that as if they were laughing at the mentality of someone who would write it and think it was funny on its own. So, at first I thought that’s what was happening.

    But then the other girl, instead of just laughing, draws a cock and pretends to lick it, and they both think it’s hilarious, and not ironically. I now realized that they weren’t being ironic, or making fun of anything.

    Then that’s followed by a girl in a shack smoking a bong, and the first girl drinking whisky out of a flask that looks like a gun, and of course she fellates it.

    The reason I’m repeating all this is that this entire sequence was entirely unentertaining to me, without any brief flash of being enjoyable. So by this point, the movie had lost me.

    I stuck around, though, waiting for the plot to kick into gear. From there, there was the robbery, the bus trip to the beach, and even though the photography was beautiful and the musical score was really good the movie kept repeating it’s scenes and voice overs and showing people making an endless series of obscene gestures, and still I found none of this interesting or entertaining. It just seemed to go on and on. Dancing in the rain. Dancing on a porch. Getting groped by three guys at once. Looking at balls. Hugging on the beach.

    All of this could have set a mood, but the redundancy was jarring and any warm feelings the music and scenery were developing were disrupted by sudden obscene gestures.

    Again, I only point all this out by way of saying that even all this way into the movie, my interest wasn’t piqued and I was not feeling engrossed or entertained.

    I left after the scene where the girls described their robbery to Selena Gomez. I left because I felt like I had been annoyed for long enough, and because I felt like even if the plot got interesting, it wasn’t going to be executed in an entertaining way.

    I know a lot of people enjpyed this film, which really surprised me, because the half that I watched had no appeal at all for me. I think that’s exactly how it went a few years a go when I tried to watch KIDS. I DID get through GUMMO, however.


  27. I agree with everything Diego said except the part where he didn’t like it.

  28. What’s all this complaining about a lack of story? Not all movies are about plot (do I really have to say this?). I find complaints about lack of plot completely limiting to what movies can do and therefore invalid. TREE OF LIFE didn’t have much plot either and that movie’s my shit (“Look at ma sheeyit! TREE OF LIFE playin on repeat!”). Lets narrow our focus on the things the film was trying to do (like creating a certain mood) and why or why not it succeeded in doing those things. Bitching about things the filmmakers weren’t concerned about is just nonsensical (“this ice cream isn’t spicy enough!”). And anyone who ever complains about someone “selling out” should be fed to wolves.

  29. The original Paul

    April 8th, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    Seeing this one tomorrow (or, I guess, today). So for those of you clamouring to hear my take on it, it will come as late as usual. Seriously, UK release schedules suck.

  30. The original Paul

    April 9th, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Ok I don’t think I can add anything more to what anybody else has said. Again, UK release schedules suck.

    Well, maybe two things:

    1) Do bikinis have magical bullet-deflecting powers?


    2) James Franco is officially the new Robert Carlyle.

    That is all.

  31. The original Paul

    April 9th, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Ok, I got one more thing.

    “This money makes my pussy wet”.

    Anybody else find this line slightly bizarre? It’s a little too straight for parody of over-sexualisation/male fantasy, yet for the life of me I can’t see any guy getting turned on by it, except maybe one who lives in a swimming pool full of hundred-pound notes. (Or whatever the American equivalent of that is.) It doesn’t seem to be meant to be taken as realism, satire, or objectification. So what is it…?

  32. so I also wrote about Spring Breakers

    But I think there was supposed to be an overt spiritual tone to the whole thing. The movie, after all, starts out with a chick named Faith going to weird church and getting crazy for Jesus.

    BUT, your point about how the girls were specifically ignoring a lecture about Jim Crow laws kind of ties it all together in a really freakish way, good call on that I had completely forgotten about that detail.

  33. Been too busy to add something substantive here on SPRING BREAKERS, but I’d like to clarify that this is very likely to make my top 5 list for 2013. Maybe #1. I encourage all to see it in the cinema while you have the chance.

    I dislike James Franco almost as much as I dislike Harmony Korine, and I’m as resistant to this film’s semi-grating semi-narrative & its icky ethos as anyone who’s seen with condescendingly sober eyes more than his/her fair share of stupidly drunk party girls shouting “Whoooooo!” & karaokeing Foreigner or top 40 bubblegum b.s. while allowing dongs in board shorts to grope them in a spray of tragically cheap suds, but this movie is some great shit (despite & b/c of all that stuff — the cake Korine & I own is delicious).

    The big criminal set pieces are about as good as anything in recent Michael Mann or the robbery/hit scenes in Andrew Dominik’s KILLING THEM SOFTLY, so there’s a couple BADASS CINEMA-related reasons to see SPRING BREAKERS right there.


    -The powerful, rich Alien dies and the little, relatively poor girls flourish. More degrading than the gun fellatio scene is the fact that Candy & Brit (indistinguishable in their pink masks) don’t even pause to glance at Alien’s dead/wounded body.

    -Neither does the camera.

    -Alien has the piano, the skills, and the inroads to be their alpha, but the girls are the talent, the chorus, and his omega.

    -Their only remaining power rival, Archie (Gucci Mane), almost literally sleeps through their invasion & destruction of his home turf & empire, while his oversized sex partners/entertainers hump (HUMPERS!) & shower uselessly, juxtaposed with armed & dangerously active lil Vanessa Hudgens & Ashley Benson (who we get to know most intimately while fully immersed in a pool, the camera prodding their nether regions in a way much more skeevy but more loving than the shots of Archie’s shower girls (Probably a water-affection-motif-metaphor in here somewhere)).

    -The American Dream: Shorts, *every* fuckin’ color! And SCARFACE on repeat!

    -Seriously, can there be a moratorium on critics using the phrase “fever dream”?

    -This is Vanessa’s 2nd best movie.

  34. The original Paul

    April 10th, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    Caitlin – maybe this is just the hardcore atheist in me talking, but my thought on that scene near the start was that Faith’s “reality” is no less insanely fractured than the Spring Break party itself. The people at the start of the movie are like the hobbits in “Lord of the Rings”, stagnating in their self-denying utopia while the real world collapses around it. Franco’s character in his mansion is pretty much the same thing. Everybody is “faking it” in this movie.

  35. The original Paul

    April 11th, 2013 at 4:13 am

    Also, the real world is represented by black people. For some reason.

    Django Unchained, Truck Turner, Wesley Snipes, and now this… I should just join the Welsh chapter of the KKK or something. I obviously have unresolved race “issues” here. Fuck.

  36. I think it’s an incredible film. Terrence Malick-directed shlocky b-movie is an appropriate description as someone said. It actually reminds me more of Days of Heaven than any of Korine’s other films, somehow. It’s dreamlike to a degree that makes you wish “dreamlike” wasn’t an overapplied adjective.

    “she calls up her grandma and lies to her” is maybe a bit of an oversimplification of one of the film’s more interesting conceits; I wrestled with whether or not the film was mocking Faith when she says how “spiritual” it is out there and how they’re all “finding themselves” or if there’s more too it than that.

    I…don’t really have a counterargument I guess, I’m still reeling from the experience of watching it. Faith’s first monologue where she talks about how they’re always seeing the same things every day and need to escape that really entranced me; I was lost in these girls’ world from that point onwards.

    I was perhaps a bit bummed out when the film got down to brass tacks for it’s gangsta act, but some of the imagery was so iconic that it made up for it (ski masks and bikinis and uzis and blacklights, fuck me).

    Also, it’s nice to imagine the sort of suckers who were baited into seeing this film for the wrong reasons. You know what I’m talking about I think. I wish I had something more substantive to say but, hard not to share some thoughts after such an experience you know?

  37. Still the best film of 2013.

  38. So far I agree. As far as I can tell the only films that have a hope of supplanting it are ONLY GOD FORGIVES and GRAVITY.

  39. Spring Breakers is a goddamned masterpiece.

  40. Korine is into Dior and Die Antwoord now:


    This makes sense. This all makes sense.

  41. Here’s the shitty 2011 precursor/warm-up/trial-run to SPRING BREAKERS:


    That’s his stint in AA honing his slider before embracing a call-up to the majors.
    That’s his L.A. TAKEDOWN before he had the means to make HEAT.

    Weed leaf icon, alien head icon, and floating, near-nonsensical images/montage of careless gunplay, camera mobility, & dreamlike perspectives all make an appearance (as well as shitty rappers), but by the time Korine inserted these ideas into a longer-length (calling it “full length” seems presumptuous and judgmental) feature he had also figured out how to make them part of a suspenseful, engaging, horrific-beautiful whole instead of just a blah, semi-interesting doodle.

    Or his editor figured it out.

    SPRING BREAKERS might be little more than a series of blah, semi-interesting doodles patched together in an overlapping bit of barely filmatistically valid quiltwork of music-n-violence-n-sex. Bloody great movie, though.

  42. re-watched this for the umpteenth time yesterday and have nothing of additional value or insight to add apart from the observation that when Alien pulls the bullet out of Cotty’s arm with a pair of tweezers, he drops the slug straight onto a porcelain sink top and *not* into a metal canister.

  43. Well I’m glad I saw The Beach Bum the other night since my theater is now giving it the “1 showing a day at 10:30am” treatment in it second week. I’ll keep my thoughts brief in case Vern decides to review it, but I think it’s a bonafide masterpiece. It’s basically “Terrence Malick’s The Wrestler”, except it’s a comedy. Now if that sounds terrible to you or you’re not a McConaughey fan, then yeah, you should probably not see it. But if you’re intrigued by this in any way, I think you’ll find it’s one of the warmest and most affable character studies in a while, anchored by a tour de force lead performance. It also has one of the most effective tear-jerker scenes I’ve seen, and also some of the biggest laughs. I actually think I was crying with laughter during the Martin Lawrence scenes which is not something I’ve felt in a long time. I’ve never seen a Harmony Korine movie before but I think I’m going to have to see them all now.

  44. Are you sure you want to because most are nothing like this one or Spring Breakers?

  45. Oh shit, I didn’t know it had been released.

  46. Sterny: I’ve only seen clips of Korrine’s movies, but it is my understanding that it would be similar to someone watching THE STRAIGHT STORY and saying “I think I’m really on this Lynch guy’s wavelength. I should check out LOST HIGHWAY.”

    Or taking a deep dive into Eli Roth’s filmography after seeing his children’s movie.

  47. Oh don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard horrible things about Gummo and Trash Humpers(?) and shit for years. I probably won’t end up liking them. But it’s pretty evident from The Beach Bum that Korine is a writer/director like Malick who cares more about how a scene looks and how it makes you feel emotionally, rather than advancing a story, which is totally on my wavelength. So yeah, I’ll totally give these “unwatchable” movies a shot. Btw, after the movie my wife actually said “That was a lot like Tree of Life” which made me feel happy since I figured I’d be the only one who would make such an insane comparison.

    Re: the terrible reviews, I think it’s a little odd that so many of them point out the lack of story or plot like it’s this new, alien concept since you figure most professional critics have to watch a ton of insufferable indie movies with no fucking plot. I mean, what most consider McConaughey’s best movie (Dazed and Confused) is 25 years old and as plotless as it comes. Also, NON-SPOILER – The Beach Bum totally has a plot. In fact, it has a very sitcom-y, very crowd-pleasing plot that with a few rewrites could have easily been a PG-13 Adam Sandler movie or something. But the way it’s structured and the way information is carefully divvied out makes all the difference in the world. If this wasn’t limited to one showing a day I would totally see this again in a theater.

  48. Based on your description I think you should give them a try, at least SPRING BREAKERS. It’s a good mix of arty pretentiousness, insane comedy and intense crime movie (approximately in that order, with much more emphasis on the first one). I haven’t seen TRASH HUMPERS (yet), but his other movies range from random vignettes to semi-coherent stream of consciousness character pieces. They all show an eye for interesting visuals (often finding the beauty in ugliness), a non-judgmental but arguably exploitative fascination with various weirdos, and a mischievous preference for experimentation over traditional expectations of entertainment. I pretty much haven’t seen any of them since they came out but found them all worth watching upon release. (Not that most people would.)

  49. I find most of his movies gross.

  50. Yeah, I’m sure you would.

  51. Trash Humlers can’t be unseen.

  52. i don’t think i’ve ever laughed as much or as hard during any movie as i did during my first viewing of TRASH HUMPERS.

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