Directed by Harmony Korine and released in its home country of the USA in 2013.
After following Harmony Korine’s career for quite some time his move into the mainstream didn’t surprise. He took a leave from filmmaking after making the Dogme 95 film Julien Donkey-Boy (1999) – heavy drug use was the reason for his absence – then he made Mister Lonely (2007) which was his most accessible piece to date while still retaining the oddities of many of his previous efforts. Around this time he married Rachel Korine and had a child together more recently – she is the star of his last three features – and I think that really helped his ideas formulate.
Korine has always been the most articulate American filmmaker in the past 20 years and Trash Humpers (2009) was an abrasive and brash film that is hard to even take in. During an interview for the film he said he’d have loved to see it open in shopping malls and he expressed a want to work with the likes of Miley Cyrus. So, from my point of view leading up to this I could see what direction he was going with this. His short films Umshini Wam (2010) and Lotus Community Workshop – part of The Fourth Dimension (2010) – were stepping stones to this. In these films he began to experiment more with new digital cameras, an exact opposite of the format for Trash Humpers (VHS).
The film itself is a dreary and twisted telling of The American Dream – while simultaneously poking fun at both spring break and gangster rap culture. The spring break setting really isn’t important and as Korine says is moreso a symbol of these girls’ Dreams. The repetitive use of specific shots aswell as the hypnotizing voices on the soundtrack (mostly those of James Franco and Rachel Korine) and, which is now becoming somewhat of a trademark for Korine, the use of a host of different cameras which make for good mindfucking.
The film is entertaining but I do have some qualms. The soundtrack – I just hate this commercial dubstep shit – is hard to sit through and by around the 45 minute mark the repetition becomes boring. This film could’ve easily ended at least 10 minutes earlier if it just cut out all of those shots of either three or four of the girls just staring into space for elongated periods of time. Going into this I was most excited to see these four hot chicks in a movie done by Korine. I was somewhat disappointed by the performances delivered by Gomez especially (the screenplay did call for her to be a drag but not to this extent surely) and Rachel Korine does not fit this type of role either. I saw her in the Harmony-produced short film The Dirty Ones (2008) and her performance in that was incredible.
I have to commend Gucci Mane for managing to stay as gutta as possible while getting rode by a black chick with a fat ass. It was easily the funniest moment in the film. Franco’s accent really was irritating however, but by the time he’s stopped screaming “Look at my shit!” I’m already looking at a subliminally placed shot of a set of tits or some chick shaking her butt.
The director said that he sees the film as a sort of “pop-poem” and I praise the new “liquid-narrative” which he has carved perfectly with this film and the short films that I mentioned before. There are really no filmmakers alive any more that toy around with the medium as much as Harmony does. At the box office these days, it’s either the convoluted and lifeless film made for big bucks or the quiet indie film that no one ever sees that cost nothing. Spring Breakers sits comfortably in between those two and still manages to encapsulate the youth of the time that it shows and is aimed directly at.
All I can say to top it all off is that I didn’t expect to love it as I do for the majority of Harmony Korine’s other works but it’s decent and I’m very interested to see what his next film is going to be seeing as I haven’t heard anything on the radar so far.
Directed by Aleksei Fedorchenko, Harmony Korine & Jan Kwiecinski, the film made the festival rounds in early 2012 and was released via Vice’s YouTube Channel earlier today for streaming.
A portmanteau piece from three directors from different countries. Each short takes notes from a manifesto of sorts created by Harmony Korine and the films producer; Vice’s Eddy Moretti. The three segments are distinguished only by quotes from the manifesto itself that basically say you have to forget everything you know about making a film and start from scratch making a film that challenges the idea of the fourth dimension.
The first piece – The Lotus Community Center – stars Val Kilmer as a warped version of himself and is directed by cult indie filmmaker Harmony Korine (who’s wife Rachel also stars). The film is lit like liquid and is clearly a pre-cursor to Korine’s next film Spring Breakers, although I’ve not seen it, as many quotes from the film have formed into how he approached the filming of that. The short piece switches back and forth between Val riding through the streets of Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife Rachel and a motivational speech he is giving at the titular community center. There are also scenes in a video store (which was pretty pointless), telling a story to two shirtless old men and the married couple playing Kill Freak 2 for the Xbox. Definitely a culmination of Korine’s foray into commercial cinema and it looks like he’s finally achieved the look he’s been striving for for years with television commercials for the likes of Thorntons and Budweiser.
The second piece – Chroneye – is directed by the Russian Aleksei Fedorchenko and while it is in a completely different language and aspect ratio from the first piece, they flow together very well. It touches on many similar themes as the first place – mostly focusing on reaching a higher place in your life aswell as trying to reach other planets and beings on those planets. The cinematography is often static and scarce of cuts – a Russian trademark ever since the days of Tarkovsky. There is also a much more vibrant soundtrack that sucks you into it’s surroundings and characters. While there are also songs in the first piece, they aren’t as striking or oftenly placed as they are here. The lead role of Grigory the time-travel-experimenting pervert is played very well, by Igor Sergeev. Without fear but with much trepidation; much like Kilmer’s in the first part.
The third and final piece – Fawns – is directed by the Polish Jan Kwiecinski and tells the story of four teens, three guys and a girl. These characters are all by themselves in a barren landscape which gives you the feeling that they live in their own fourth dimension, away from everyone else on the planet – but it’s not the case as we see planes flying overhead and the sounds of klaxon and sirens blaring sporadically. The water levels are rising and everyone is being evacuated as we are told over radio and television signals. Most of the kids really don’t care to begin with but as the film draws to a close however each of the characters slowly begin to accept their fate while still trying to live out the last days of their ever-so-fragile lives to the fullest. This final part to this film is undeniably the most loyal to manifesto on which the films were created and it shows deeply. Another thing I find interesting is that Kwiecinski clearly saw Korine’s recent short film Snowballs; as the female character in this wears almost identical headgear to the girls in that short film by Korine.
The Fourth Dimension is a clear reminder that portmeanteau films can and do work when the essential themes at the heart are abided by. It’s rare in this day and age that you get a film like this so you really have to embrace it, take it at face value and appreciate the sporadic-ness of each story – all three of which are shot beautifully and play out just the opposite of what you expect them to.