Tag Archives: Gummo

Film Review: Trash Humpers

Full Title: Trash Humpers
Director: Harmony Korine
Year: 2009
Comments: Humping. Shagging. Forincating. Fucking. Whatever you wish to call it; it is a perpetual aspect of our American lifestyle. Trash: our ubiquitous used condom, the leftover, the thrown away, the skeleton of us. What happens when these two social phenomenas meet? The latest work of director, Harmful Korine. Being a massive fan of Korine’s first motion picture, Gummo (1997) I greatly anticipated seeing this film, in fact this was arguably the highest anticpated film for me in ages and certainly of this year. Having missed out on the various screenings of Trash from the past two years I put forth a valiant effort to order it from Amazon (it has been banned from Netflix!) and after a lengthy process it finally arrived. Quietly, I locked myself in my room and zoned out for a good hour and half (or whatever the running time is). As viewers we are presented with an “artifact,” as Korine has called it, this found footage, old school, raw, analog, VHS looking piece of work. And yes, right from the beginning, we watch thee miscreants hump trash like there’s no tomorrow. With no real dialogue or explanation we see non-linear scene after scene of the trio’s pastime, which include, but are certainly not limited to partying, setting off firecrackers, coercing their “slaves” to eat certain things and entertain for them, and of course murder. Of course. As can be expected with old Harmful’s cinematic experimentations, convential movie standards are obliterated and when we get any sense of insight about who these people are what their story is, this insight is severed. The film is completely chaotic, but amidst this bedlam, real emotion is communicated. As wildy and wacky as Trash can be, Korine manages to connect with his audience and even feel for the savage stars on screen with a unique finesse, unmatched in the undeground or aboveground film circuit. I honestly don’t know what it is sometimes. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Korine is clearly talented, but I feel like in someone else’s hands, I would view this as, well nothing more than trash. But, instead he takes the lowest of the low and transforms this filth fest into a genuine artistic expression, albeit a harsh, relentless, visual and audio assault on the viewer. This is extreme, fringe cinema; out of all the found footage films I have seen, this one has struck me the hardest. It looks very real (though it is totally ficticious) and never lets up. Not once does it feel like a film… ehhh, one or two exceptions, but I don’t want to delve into those scenes in this review. I will say, I am hesitant to call it a masterpiece, just yet, but it is an original, challenging, piece of art that is easily one of the most thought provoking films I have ever seen. With comparison to other Korine films, let me say I don not enjoy this nearly as much as Gummo. I found that to be far more entertaining and I loved the way it swtiched things up constantly, with never a dull moment, even mixing the conventional with the unconventional. Now, I do prefer Trash over Mister Lonely (2007), Korine’s last film, which moved closer in the direction of a more mainstream/conventional film. Trash is akin to Harmful returning to his old form, so I’m glad about that. With that being said, at times I feel a bit bored, or like the film has run its course. This only happens a few times, but that’s enough to note. The film simply lacks the constant barrage of lurid images that Gummo contains. Don’t misconstrue me, it has a plethora of nasty, shocking, and definitely impressionable images, but not consistent enough for my taste. I feel like the film’s length could use a little truncating. But, it really doesn’t matter what I think, Korine made his film, the Great American Movie. If you are intrigued by the art of trash humping, I recommend it.

Grade: To slap a letter grade on this is kind of pointless, considering the criteria I usually require for films, by and large, cannot be applied here. So, I will judge it on an emotional level (and it certainly is filled with emotion- the last fifteen minutes is one of the most unsettling scenes/endings my eyes have ever witnessed). In the words of Anthony Fantano, I am going to give this a strong 7 to light 8, probably leaning more towards 8.

“I TOLD YOU I’D KILL IT!” For one of the KLYAMers, this is one of the best scenes in all of film. I agree it is great and it is definitely one of the funniest/most disturbing scenes in the the feature and perhaps of all time for that matter.

Harmful For All Ages

“I just wanted to make a sequel to Caddy Shack (1980).” That was the explanation Harmony “Harmful” Korine offered David Letterman and his audience for why he wrote the screenplay for the controversial film Kids (1995). Anyone who has seen Kids knows that clearly Harmony was pulling a fast one on the Late Show viewers. Kids follows twenty-four hours in the lives of a few teenagers in New York City as they have unprotected sex, consume copious amounts of alcohol and drugs, and commit various acts of anti-social behavior. Suffice to say both films share the common trait of having people in them, and that is about it. It is fifteen years later and Harmony is still perplexing us with his bizarre, groundbreaking films; in fact his latest feature, Trash Humpers (2009) could be his most notorious, and yes the title is to be taken literally, just watch the trailer. Before we dissect Trash, let’s take a look at what makes Harmony the unique filmmaker that he is and why his work has caused so much debate in film circles.
Harmony Korine’s career began as a screenwriter for the cult classic Kids (1995); the film was simultaneously praised and condemned for its brutally honest portrayal of urban life in America. Harmony depicted a side of America most folks would rather avoid, this trend was further augmented in Harmony’s next film, his directorial debut, Gummo (1997). Gummo was an altogether new kind of film with images and sounds coming from everywhere. The movie has no real linear plot, but rather serves as a collection of highly impressionable and memorable scenes/vignettes. What we see and hear is almost always unsettling and more often than not downright vile. Like Kids Gummo was extremely controversial and most critics walked away from the film feeling deeply shocked and offended. Most viewers criticized Harmony for exploiting his (non) actors as well as the issues of mental illness and poverty, amongst others.
With Harmony’s past film Mister Lonely (2007) he pulled back a little bit and made a somewhat more conventional film. This time there was a narrative, in the traditional sense of the word, and more professional actors participated. Do not worry though, Harmony still maintained his peculiar aesthetic as the story followed the life of a Michael Jackson look-alike living in Paris. Now, with his new film Trash Humpers he is in some ways returning to his old form. Mister Lonely was a bigger budget production and visually speaking looked like a more accessible film by his standards. Most artists would have moved further in this direction, but Harmony is not like most artists. Trash Humpers is evidence that he is still making the films he wants to make. As self-indulgent as ever, the trailer shows various clips of masked individuals literally humping trash, vandalizing, and mumbling disturbing lullabies. The film has an old VHS look to it, which adds to its raw, analog quality. In an interview with The Stranger Video, Harmony stated that “in some ways it’s the most American movie ever made… I was hoping it would get showed in public schools and become part of like a mandatory viewing, because I feel like it clues you in to what is great about America.” Once again, the theme of the ugly side of America plays a prominent role in Harmony’s works and the motive of those works. Now, I agree with Mr. Korine that his film does show us how great America can be, but I would bet my entire life and the lives of my loved ones that Trash Humpers will not become mandatory viewing for public school students.

A review of Trash Humpers (2009) will be arriving in the near future…

Chris On…

The Work of Harmony Korine : Recently I have had a growing fascination for the work of writer, director, producer, actor, etc, Harmony Korine. I’ll be up front right now, I have only seen one of his feature films: Gummo (1997), his directorial debut, which I reviewd a couple of months back. I have also been a huge fan of the film Kids (1995) for years, but Korine only wrote the script, it was directed by Larry Clark, nonetheless a classic that highly recommend y’all check out. Since, viewing the bizarre (to say the least) Gummo I wanted to dig more into the psyche of its creator. Why does he make such strange, really distubring films? and more importantly how does he do it?! Well, reading up a bit more on Korine and seeing some hilarious interviews of him, especially on Letterman :), I discovered the man believes that film as an art is dead and that there has been very little progression in its history. Therefore, he makes films that he has never seen done before. His tactics include non linear storylines (Gummo had no real plot, but consisted of various vignettes), using non actors (often asking random folks if they wanted to be in his flick), and giving his actors (or non actors lol) different scripts, so they are confused with what they are working with, to the extent that they believe they are working on different films, as well as other unconventional methods. Two particular qualities stand out to me about his work. Once again, I have only seen Gummo , but even based on trailers of Mister Lonely (2007) and Trash Humpers (2009), you get a feel for what his films are like in general; previews are enough! Anyway, firstly, imagery is incredibly strong in his movies. Usually for me, one thing that makes a film really great is how memorable it is. With Korine you are bombarded with numerous, highly memorable images. Even if you don’t want to remember them! He simply has a knack for capturing off kilter, unsettling, images that burn deep in your brain for months and more. Even with his trailers, the images are so unusual that they are etched in your psyche for an undetermined amount of time. Every now and then I view a trailer and as time goes by, I vaguely remember what I saw. The images of goons literally humping trash and driving around wearing weird masks from his latest picture, Trash Humpers (2009) is still on my mind and will be for quite some time, I imagine. I’ve read that Korine sees his films as successful, if someone walks away with a lasting image. Well, I guess he has succeeded admirably. Secondly, I really dig the way he does not create intentional meanings behind his works. Most artists intentionally develop some morals and themes in their stories, but not old Harmony. He sees this as “belittling” to the viewer. Thus, the audience can sit back and interpret whatever they like from the mess (I mean that in the best possible sense of the word, which I suppose is ironic, considering I am now explaining my intentions on how awesome it is for an artist not to explain their intentions, go figure). Unlike, most other films, his works do not comfortably hold your hand and cross the street with you. It’s more like you’re dodging oncoming traffic during Rush Hour! Overall, if you are a fan of film, especially, unique, artsy films, then it is a must for you to see at least one of Korine’s films. But, I will give you a heads up, they are not your average “indie” flick that serves as a minor departure from the mainstream, like Eternal Sunshine (2004), which don’t get me wrong, is a great and strange film, but still maintains a mainstream quality, at least compared to Korine’s work. His movies are totally devoid of anything mainstream. Therefore, some people might be turned off by their intense, sometimes, morbid nature. Well, too bad for those poor souls cause they will be missing out on some of the most original art I have ever seen.

Classic Film Reviw: Gummo

Full Title: Gummo
Director: Harmony Korine (first timer)
Year: 1997
Grade: A
Comments: Chilling. Distubring. Haunting. These are some of the words that best describe Korine’s cult masterpiece. In more simple terms, however, FUCKED UP! describes it more accurately. Truly fucked up. Not strange. Not weird. Not bizarre. FUCKED UP. To be blunt, if you were trying to be polite and didn’t want to curse, so instead you replaced it with “screwed up,” I do not think you would be getting the picture across or doing the film justice for that matter. So, why is it so FUCKED UP? now, that I have mentioned it 500 times. Well, Korine does not present us with a story or a plot in any linear or normal sense. But, rather he takes us on a journey to a town “we would never want to call home,” as the tagline states (I may be paraphrasing) through documentary style, vivid, eerie shots of peculiar (to say the least) images and characters living their day to day lives. The characters are residents of a small, tornado struck town in Ohio, and their activities include killing (sometimes beating) cats and selling their remains, burglarizing, wrestling with chairs, amongst other antisocial behavior. And yes, that was not a joke about the chair wrestling! It is humorous in its odd nature, but at its heart, highly disturbng and really sad. These characters are bored and simply have nothing else to do, but wait to die or be the subject matter of a Steve Albini creation. Korine said he wanted to make a completely different kind of film, with shots coming from any (or every) direction and he did just that, so kudos to him. Gummo may not be the kind of movie you sit back and stuff popcorn down your throat and play over and over again for the giggles, but rather a totally unique experience worth at least one voyeursistic endeavour for those that can handle a completely (for the final time!) FUCKED UP film and want to challenge their psyche to something new; it’s nothing like I have ever seen before.

Here’s the trailer-

Fun Fact!: It was this trailer that specifically got me into Madonna’s “Like A Prayer,” as it is the only song by her that I like.