So this has pretty much turned into a film blog recently. I'm okay with this, but I will get some fashion posts in here just to spice it up soon enough.
If you aren't a regular follower of my Youtube channel, Lauren Rose, I just posted two new videos:
Alright. Today we are going to be doing a Film Muse on Spring Breakers (2012) dir. Harmony Korine. I've been meaning to do this post for a long time because so many people disliked this film. I saw this movie in theaters when it first came out and honestly wasn't quite sure how to feel about it. I thought the Skrillex music placement was a bit past it's time, the acting was a bit uneasy, and it looked like a really expensive film for a indie director like Korine. But after watching it again, I can no longer deny that I LOVE THIS FILM.
~THERE WILL BE SPOILERS~
One of the biggest reasons why I love this film is because of the cinematic genius of Korine and Benoît Debie (cinematographer) combined. The shots are so beautiful that I took over 100 screen shots of this film when preparing for this post. If that doesn't convince you enough to watch it, I do not know what will. Each frame is treated with this amazing artistic respect when it comes to lighting, gels, and placement. Like Korine said in one of his interviews, he wanted it to look like a bag of Skittles exploded. Congrats dude- you made it happen.
When I heard that Korine was directing another movie, I was beyond psyched. He always has a way of making the audience feel moved, yet also very uncomfortable (Gummo, Trash Humpers). What terrified me so much was the cast - Ashley Benson (Pretty Little Liars), Selena Gomez (Disney), and Vanessa Hudgens (Disney). Now that's not a dig at child actors under big corporations, in fact, I think they are some of the smartest actresses out there because they are making BANK. What I was worried about was the outside attention it would bring to the film. Parents would throw their arms up in revolt and Hollywood would pretend to be concerned. It sort of ruins how even YOU see the movie - you expect it to be insanely provocative (which it pretty much was), and you begin to critique every Disney girl's line. If this was shot on a more independent scale with no name actresses, it would have had a totally different response. More on the actors' and actresses' performances later.
If you haven't seen the film, you might want to skip this paragraph.
I really loved the opening scenes, a sleepy college, dodgy house party, and empty dorms. These few images set up the plot for the girls' robbery in such a seamless way. It just felt so still there. The robbery scene was again - PURE CINEMATIC GENIUS. We initially see a left to right tracking shot of the robbery from inside the getaway car. Later we get a peek of the actual event through flashbacks of Ashley and Vanessa's characters. The placement of Nicki Minaj's "Moment For Life" song plus the illuminated neon signs made me SUPER invested for some reason. This scene was insane.
As a feminist, I'm sure many of you are wondering how I can enjoy this film. I don't think I even saw any of the girls wear a T-shirt during the whole film. I agree that Korine's take of "the college girl" is perverted - just like the industry that we as a society have created (Girls Gone Wild, Spring Break as a holiday, etc). I do acknowledge this "male gaze" of the film, yet I still enjoy it nonetheless. Most people seem to be upset because most of the girls have no back story, no emotional involvement (except Faith). But since when did it become necessary for directors to go so complex into the psyche of all of the characters? Korine chose to give us Faith (Gomez) as reference point of their morality - which I think is enough to understand the rest of the girls. Korine even stated that there was a ranking when it came to morality of his characters: Faith, Cotty (sort of a mother figure to Faith), and then Brit and Candy who were supposed to be on the psychotic and unpredictable spectrum. I think once you understand Korine's glimpse into the characters, their relationships and situations seem a lot more understandable.
Faith (Gomez): I thought Selena did a great job in this film. She plays a cute southern and slightly sheltered girl who gets more than she bargains for. It's sort of a shame that her presence on set overshadowed everyone else though. Her character is only in 1/3 of the movie. I think she really took a chance with Korine and successfully shed her Disney quality. She also picked the right character to play, you never really see her in sexual situations.
Cotty (Rachel Korine): AMAZING. Again, Rachel (married to Korine) was overshadowed by her fellow actresses' star value. She was the only one of the girls (except Hudgens) who did nude scenes as well. I felt like her acting was impeccable with some exceptions of some awkward voice over loops. She really protected Selena not only as her character but in real life as well. She wedges herself between Selena and real life horny party dudes to help her feel comfortable. Did anyone else notice this?
Brit (Benson): One of my favorites as well. We've all seen her on Pretty Little Liars, so I didn't worry too much about her acting (she is great on the show). She has a really great face for acting and showing emotions. Even though her character was "psychotic", she brought a side of venerability which I really appreciated.
Candy (Hudgens): Better than expected to be quite honest. I think Hudgens is really comfortable with her stage presence and sexuality. At times I felt that she was a bit too overpowering in terms of ad libbing with Benson. I wish she brought more depth to her character, because most of the time she just acted straight up crazy. If that's the way Korine wanted it - then she did an amazing job.
Alien (James Franco): Very interesting character. I think Franco did a really cool character study for this film. He was a comedic relief, yet also made the audience feel an alliance with him instead of seeing him as a total creep. If it had been anyone else playing the role, I think I would have viewed his character differently. But when it comes down to he, he is by far the most QUOTABLE person in this film.
"I got my tannin' oil, for when I wanna tan out by the POOL"
"This is my fuckin' dream y'all. I got shit! I got fuckin' shorts y'all! I got 'Scarface' on repeat y'all! I got Calvin Klein Escape!"
"Sprinng Breaaak Forevaaa"
(ATL Twins- actually really cool people - check out their interview on Vice)
One thing that I HAVE to talk about is the criticism of Selena Gomez's performance in the scene below. I heard some rumors about how she actually broke down on set (which actually fit her character) because she felt overwhelmed by the setting. Someone close to me at the time complained how racist she was because she was surrounded by a bunch of black people and couldn't handle it. Now let me explain something - what you see on screen in Korine's films is sometimes 100% real. The drugs, the entourages, the town locals who are cast, everything. I'd even go as far to say that some if it is almost like a documentary (filming Gummo for example). Apparently Korine surprised Selena with this scene in order to get a maximum performance (genius by the way). So how would you feel as a straight edge teen, being PLOPPED into a scene surrounded by real drugs and real people (probably) whispering stuff to you while you're in a skimpy bathing suit? Especially when people only know you as a Disney girl? No, you wouldn't be peachy-fucking-keen - you'd feel terrified- no matter what race the people were. As you can probably tell, Selena was NOT prepared for this - but it brought the most heartbreaking and true performance from her. I thought she was brilliant. Moving on.
Some people also mentioned how they thought the characters weren't "real" - like teens today. I've already talked about the Spring Break industry, but I have to disagree with the statement above. These girls, although simplified, show the intense desire for life, and the mundane aspects of repetition. It is reinforced into our brains through the voice over loops of the girls. Some people thought this was stupid (partly because the acting wasn't amazing during the voice overs), but it really just tries to show the desperation that the girls have. I've met people like this, I've even felt like this myself, when you're so desperate for change you don't even care about the consequences. There are people out there without filters. Some of the more "civilized" people won't understand this.
THE IMAGES AND PARAGRAPH BELOW MIGHT BE A SPOILER.
Before I finish, I need to dedicate a paragraph to Rachel Korine and her amazing performance. When she got shot by Gucci's entourage (by the way, forgot to talk about Gucci- his performance was hilariously bad but endearing), she had the most heartbreaking scene after. I loved the gels that they used to tint the shower scenes. Seeing her naked slumped down in the shower and NOT in a sexual way was the most beautiful scene. You feel her pain, her regret, her realizations. It all comes crashing down at this point.
The ending was a bit interesting. It was abrupt, and a little absurd (guy falling into the fountain after being shot, Gucci, etc). It leaves you wondering - will this be the last of it? I notice that Brit looked the most conflicted and changed towards the end, while Hudgens still looked unfazed. I'm not sure if that was supposed to be that way or not, but I thought I'd mention it.
My final thoughts are this: I enjoyed the movie, but you have to "come in the right way" when you see it. You can't try to pick apart the Disney girls' performances, or you will just miss the characters' developments. I was actually talking to a manager at one of my favorite theatres about this movie, and he bashfully said that he loved it (he was probably in his late 30s). His perspective was different than mine because he had no idea who the Disney stars were, with an exception to Gomez. Can you image that? Watching a movie in an unbiased way? Yep. Anyways, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, it's a good time.
Keep it cool,