Bikinis. Boobs. Bongs. Booze. Blasphemy. Bullets. Bloodshed. Bad bitches.
Welcome to Harmony Korine’s vision of that great week of brainless college self-indulgence, Spring Breakers. By now, you’ve seen some kind of viral marketing – Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, and Selena Gomez with Rachel Korine (Harmony’s wife) in neon-colored bikinis, holding guns or wearing pink masks with the great tagline, “A coming-of-rage story.” Disney girls gone wild and batshit crazy, with a little help from mysterious James Franco and weirdo auteur filmmaker Korine. This group’s camaraderie is intoxicating.
Here’s the setup: Faith (Gomez), Brit (Benson), Candy (Hudgens), and Cotty (Korine) are in college, bored as hell, and ready to take off for a soberless week of fun in the sun – SPRING BREAAAAK. But here lies a big, big problem: they’re four very broke college girls. To get to the place where inebriated dreams come to true, they need a lot of cash.
Like any desperate college kids in the movies who need a lot of cash and quick, they steal a professor’s car and rob a diner. The girls are now off for a week of debauchery, madness, and more chaos than they could ever imagine. After a few days of raging, the girls land in jail, only to be quickly bailed out by Alien (James Franco), who sees potential in these four misfits aching for chaos. They’d be good help for his business. He’s in the robbing clueless-college-bros-on-spring-break-vacation business and, dear reader, business is booming.
When going into a Harmony Korine movie, one should know this is one of the most unconventional filmmakers of our time. At 19, he wrote a very controversial feature called Kids, surrounding skateboarders and the AIDS epidemic. He followed that up with his directorial debut centered on a bunch of white trash kids (starring Chloë Sevigny) doing white trash things called Gummo. And before Spring Breakers, he released a shot-on-VHS movie called Trash Humpers, about a group of misfits that, yep, hump trash, break in and destroy homes, and wreak havoc in their town. Korine doesn’t live by Hollywood rules. He smashes the shit out of them and makes the films he wants to make. He’s not weird for the sake of being weird. He’s just fucking weird. Take it or leave it. This man knows exactly what he’s doing.
I’ve been saving the best part for last – James Franco as the dreadlocked, tattooed up, silver grill-wearing rapper-gangster, Alien. Let’s get this out of the way – Franco’s Alien isn’t based on the popular real life rapper Riff Raff. According to Franco himself, he’s based off an underground rapper named Dangeruss, who does look like Riff Raff. (But if us girls are going to get real for a minute, we can all agree the best white gangster with dreads is Gary Oldman’s Drexl Spivey from True Romance.) This what I love about Franco – his brain is a mountain of curiosity. That’s why you see him in so many diverse roles: “General Hospital,” playing a scientist in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a stoner in Pineapple Express, and all of the other odd roles you’ve seen him in. The dude really wants to challenge himself and take on projects and roles that are not something he’d normally do. It’s beautiful.
If this review hasn’t sold you yet, here are five more important reasons why you need to see Spring Breakers: it comes with an adrenaline-fueled soundtrack by Skrillex and Cliff Martinez (the brilliant mind behind Drive’s score), there’s a hypnotic scene of Britney Spears’ “Everytime” performed by Alien and the girls, real life gangster rapper Gucci Mane stars as the film’s villain, and there’s as much balls to the wall madness as one can really, honestly, truly expect to see on spring break. And a lot of boobs. I’m going to write the first nine words of this review again, and in bold, to really drive it home: Bikinis. Boobs. Bongs. Booze. Blasphemy. Bullets. Bloodshed. Bad bitches. Spring Breakers is the rawest (and perhaps greatest) movie about spring break ever.
Interviewing Harmony Korine is a rare treat. The 37-year-old writer/director/actor has lived a very strange and interesting life which shows through his work (books, photographs and films). Two years ago we spoke at SXSW’s 2008 festival for his film, MISTER LONELY, which went on to become one of my top films of 2008. This year he’s returned to promote his latest weird fest, TRASH HUMPERS (review can be found HERE), a VHS shot and edited film about three elderly sociopaths who trash (and hump) their town.
Before we got into the interview, Harmony brought out the awesome and drew and narrated a strange but thought-provoking poem on a whiteboard in the room we were in (see pic. above!). We also spoke about possible future projects which include vomiting dogs and a comedy that Celine Dion, Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers would want to see. This is without a doubt the most interesting part of my SXSW 2010 trip. Enjoy!