The beauty of this blog is being able to write about anything. Recently I’ve covered topics ranging from cats to social stereotypes. I’ve even rambled incoherently for paragraphs about social media. Nevertheless, a public forum is a public forum and I feel very privileged to have people willing to read what I’ve got to say. I’ve also recently hired Henry Rollins as my personal hate-mail response enforcer; so if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t worry… Hank will just throw it back at you twice as hard and you guys can get into it for days/weeks/months/years. Today’s episode features somewhat new territory for me, as I’ve never reviewed a film before. I can only hope to convey even a fraction of the amount of legitimate excitement I felt upon leaving the (kinda shitty) Regal Cinema’s near Union Square at 12:45am last night.
I would like to make it abundantly clear that I don’t consider myself a fan of Harmony Korine’s work. I respect him for what he’s done, but tend to agree with the “enfant terrible” moniker the general media has bestowed upon him and find some of his most famous work to be overly gratuitous and directionless Werner Herzog emulations. That being said, his impact on the world of cinema is undeniable and the casting and premise of his latest film, Spring Breakers, was enough to lure me into the potentially bed bug infested theater after getting off of work at the tender hour of 10 pm. I’m also a proud Tampa Bay area native, so when I found out that Korine had been filming his latest mind-fuck in the area and that it featured tween heart throbs Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens (alongside Gucci Mane), my mind was made up and the ticket was purchased.
Skrillex was tasked and credited with scoring this film, which is rather appropriate considering his influence on the current young generation of party goers depicted in Spring Breakers. His partner on the score was long time studio wiz and former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Cliff Martinez. Other artists with music featured in the film include: Waka Flocka Flame, Birdy Nam Nam, Meek Mill, The Weeknd, Britney Spears, Ellie Goulding, and The Black Keys.
The movie begins with a dreamy beach inspired font of what looked to be flamingos spelling out basic credits. Once they ended, we were immediately transported to a raging beach scene of scantly clad and nude college people pouring alcohol on each other’s bodies while the (regrettably) familiar intro to Grammy Award winning producer Skrillex’s monster hit “Scary Monsters…” set the tone with its tranquil trance melody followed by its signature abrasive mid range bass growls so often associated with the producer’s sound.
As the scene ends, we are transported to a Christian College campus somewhere, presumably out of Florida, though one that I immediately recognized as Sarasota’s New College. Without continuing any further and spoiling anymore of the film, I will simply say debauchery ensues for a crazy and unforgettable Spring Break weekend for four young and almost jokingly naïve girls.
Among the myriad of enjoyable aspects of this movie is its random cameos. We are quickly treated to one right off the bat, as one of Selena Gomez’s teacher/preachers is former WWE Intercontinental Champion Double J Jeff Jarret. Houston based NFL writer and columnist Jon McClain is also given a speaking role as a judge. The latter of cameos I found to be considerably more random than the former.
The casting that had everyone buzzing, was the debut performance of Radric Davis, better known to the world as rapper Gucci Mane. James Franco portrays hustler/rapper/lunatic. “Alien,” his loveably deranged adversary. It is immediately obvious that Franco’s character’s likeness had to have been largely, if not completely based upon former reality tv star turned internet sensation turned rapper Riff-Raff, as Franco boasts corn-rows, location oriented tattoos, and a platinum grill similar to his. While I’ve typically found myself to be rather indifferent towards Franco’s previous performances, his overall creepiness and execution of the role was very impressive. It is largely known that Korine prefers a less linear storytelling approach and the majority of his dialogue isn’t scripted. The improvisational aspect of Franco’s performance was exceptional, which clearly speaks volumes of his ability.
The other buzz worthy casting was that of the newest perverted Internet sensation, the Atl Twins- Sidney and Thurman Sewell. Much has been said about their recent VICE magazine articles and features highlighting their absurd existence as twins who are virtually inseparable and share the same girlfriends. As the movie progressed, their casting also struck me as brilliant. The Twins completely personified the characters they portrayed, reinforcing a hallmark of Korine’s films in relation to their implied authenticity. Such casting and subsequent filmmaking has always been considered a revelation, dating back to his (along with Larry Clarke’s) critically acclaimed debut, Kids.
I wanted to hate this movie, honestly. It just wasn’t feasible. The surrealist improvisational cinematography Korine has always drawn from Herzog and Cassavets, coupled with the amazing usage of vibrant neon colors had me completely enthralled throughout the entire ninety-minute duration of the film. The combination of production, casting and Skrillex and Martinez’s score made this easily my favorite of Korine’s films and one of the most engaging movies I’ve seen in the theater for many years. His goal has always been to take to the viewer out of his or her comfort zone, but if that’s not your cup of tea, go for the gratuitous sensuality presented throughout the movie in a completely unapologetic and almost Caligula-like manner. Sure to be a conversation piece for months, I recommend Spring Breakers for your water cooler discussions and second/third dates.