Sunday, March 24, 2013

Wild Things--I Mean, Spring Breakers

Okay, to be fair there's only one scene that specifically evokes the infamous threesome between Matt Dillon, Denise Richards, and Neve Campbell, but there's still a good-girls-gone-bad mentality that connects the two thematically. Spring Breakers does distinguish itself in other ways, despite playing with some familiar scenarios.

As usual, Korine can't help but be Korine stylistically--he plays around with the camera's built-in special effects like it's his first film (these kinds of things always seem fresh to Korine, and it's something I like about his style), moving from stationary to handheld shots to extreme closeups to intentional blurring like he's never tried them out before. Despite this, there are some beautifully shot scenes--the drive-by where we witness the robbery through the windows and the penultimate scene where the girls kiss Franco's dead body and the camera follows them upside down as they walk down the pier into the darkness. So, visually, it's definitely got his mark on it.

The plot weaves in and out of focus, which seems understandable to me since Korine tends not to bother much with plot in his other films I've seen (I have not seen Mister Lonely or Trash Humpers), so I would think a traditional narrative would be something that he might be less interested in. When Spring Breakers starts out, we think it's going to focus on Selena Gomez's character, and indeed it does for a good long while. Until Gomez decides she's had enough and is on a bus home and we never see or hear from her again. There were some interesting threads that had to do with faith and decision-making that Korine just leaves dangling. Korine then moves his attention to Franco, whose performance is both hilarious and terrifying, and his feud with his former best friend, a gangsta who thinks Franco's moved too far onto his turf. The three remaining girls get caught up in this lifestyle, but for the one who ultimately gets shot and goes home herself, it's still spring break. That is, until it isn't and, well, she goes home. Up until that point, I was struggling to find the structure of the film and I was able to settle a little easier knowing that he was going somewhere with the plot. He ultimately didn't finish that thread, but it was nice of him to have James Franco singing the plot repeatedly in case we missed how clever his story was.

During this second segment--the spring-break-for-those-not-faint-of-heart (to be contrasted with spring-break-as-an-escape-from-a-dead-end-existence, what we'll call the first segment of the film)--was my favorite scene and perhaps the most memorable. I am, of course, referring to James Franco pretending to play the piano and singing a Britney Spears song while the gangsta girls twirl around with guns in tier pink ski masks.

Wait, there was actually a much more memorable scene in the film, but I'll probably spend the rest of my life trying to get the image of James Franco giving a blow job to a couple of gun barrels out of my head.

Anyway, I thought there was something very clever about the Britney Spears scene, what with the Disney girls and their loss of innocence. I won't be able to phrase it right, but the whole Disney actresses do gritty gangstas was the most deliberately focused Korine was with this whole project. I'm guessing the point he's trying to make is somewhere in the vicinity of the whole innocence thing being an illusion to begin with, or maybe something about taking the symbols of late adolescent female innocence and deconstructing them as symbolizing nothing but the idea of innocence which is a fallacy to begin with. Except of course in the case of Gomez's character, who didn't really buy into that scene anyway. Something along those lines, but I can't word it right.

Ah, I started this right after I watched the movie and am coming back to it more than a day later, so I don't have my thoughts together as well. What else can I say...?

Overall, I liked it. No surprise there. But I think I liked it for some good reasons--arresting imagery (boy oh boy), a vastly entertaining performance by Franco, and what I think is some smart commentary about adolescent ennui. Though on that last point, I'm not sure whether or not I'm giving Korine too much credit. Actually it's something about his films that is frustrating and keeps me coming back for more--is he saying something important, or just trying to be shocking? It's really hard to tell. Does he have his finger in the pulse of teenaged restlessness, or is he just projecting his own inability to grow up--a unquenched desire for the freedom of an amoral youth that he himself never had? Or didn't have enough of?

There were some things that were ridiculous, too--elements of Franco's performance went beyond brilliant to silly and overdone. Spriiiiiing Breaaaaaak.... Spriiiiiiing Breaaaaaaak... What the hell was all that?

I loved that Franco got shot in the head before the big shootout took place. That was unexpected. Girl power, yo. But I'd never believe those two girls could take out all those gangstas without dying themselves.

Okay, enough of my rambling mess. Now to see what you all have written.

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