Tag Archives: Harmony Korine

Great Scene from Kids (1995)

This is truly one of my all time favorite movie scenes. On the surface it appears to be nothing, just random shots, but within the context of the whole film it serves a purpose- a sort of bizarre PSA, like this is what will happen to you if you get too fucked up beyond repair. There’s also an eerie calmness to the scene (perfectly complemented by the music, incredible soundtrack) that stood out to me from my initial viewing nearly five years ago. The shots that linger on the various, “lost,” homeless residents of NYC are tragically beautiful. It should be noted to those have not seen Kids (1995) (a high crime indeed WATCH IT NOW!) that this is the second to last scene in the film and it serves as a transitional scene; it sets the audience up for the eye opening, disturbing finale. This is probably my favorite scene in the entire picture because it exists on its own, but it also ties in with the work as a whole. Lastly, the fact that the scene is set in the early hours of the morning not only gives a certain quiet aesthetic to it as I mentioned earlier, but also makes the images we see in front of us feel routine, like this is normal, this is how it always is and always will be. Sad, but true.

OR “A wake up call to the world!” as Janet Maslin said in her New York Times review. Here’s a link: http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/134786/Kids/overview

Anybody else affected by this scene? Love Kids? Hate it? Post a comment.

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.

Initial Reaction To Trash Humpers

IMDB reviewer OChrist’s feelings on this piece of work are pretty much mine exactly:

(LINK) So Harmony Korine (a great name for a gangster’s moll) was able to replicate the look of a crappy 8th generation VHS videotape? That’s some feat. So he got a bunch of irritating exhibitionists to unconvincingly disguise themselves as old people and then set them loose to hump trashcans and break old TV sets? Bravo. The only true accomplishment here is getting intelligent people to A) masochistically sit through this non-movie and then B) actually try to critique and interpret it like it’s something more than the pathetic indulgence of someone who has so much contempt for his audience that he makes Marguerite Duras look like Nora Ephron.

So when Chris ends up doing his review for this, he’ll be attempting B).

Classic Film Review: Mister Lonely

Full Title: Mister Lonely
Director: Harmony Korine
Year: 2007
Comments:”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 Korine 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. His next film Gummo (1997) was even more notorious. 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. Following Gummo, Korine made one more full length feature film, Julien Donkey Boy (1999) before falling into a nasty drug habit and overall feeling of disenchantment. Eight years later, Korine bounces back with his biggest film yet, Mister Lonely (2007). With this work he pulls back a little bit and makes somewhat of a more conventional film. This time there is a narrative, in the traditional sense of the word, and more professional actors participate. Do not worry though, Korine still maintains his peculiar aesthetic as the story follows the life of a Michael Jackson look-alike (Diego Luna) living in Paris. One day the celebrity impersonator meets a fellow impersonator in the form of Marilyn Monroe (Samantha Morton), who invites him to live with her and other celebrity impersonators at a commune in the hills, where everything seems to be perfect.
I would wager that for Harmony Korine, making Mister Lonely is akin to a bizarre, obscure band finally making that album that is more commercially viable and not as strange, but still retains its weirdness. The album may hook in some new fans, it may push away long time devotees, but overall not much changes because the band is still too bizarre for most mainstream fans. Well, this sums up what ML does for Korine. Unlike his previous works, ML does not rely on the shock factor, but instead takes a more sensitive path, conveying an extreme care for its characters. Overall, the film displays themes related to isolation, self-hatred, withdrawal from reality, search for one’s dreams and one’s purpose in life, America’s obsession with fame and Hollywood, and ultimately the desire to be someone else. These issues are affectionately communicated to the audience, in stark contrast from the brutal, sometimes offensive nature of his previous films. There is far less ambiguity here and as a big fan of Korine, I cannot say this is a positive attribute. What I precisely loved about films like Gummo was the chaotic, seemingly message-less tone of the movie. In other words, one creates their own message, whatever is presented is there, but everyone is free to interpret their own meaning. This true of ML, but the film has far too much of a linear story for this to have the same effect. It feels as if Korine is attempting to make a more mainstream film and this is somewhat obvious because of the larger budget and so forth.
The look of the film is a significant departure from his previous works. The cinematography is mostly conventional and does not stand out as anything different, which is not necessarily a bad thing and perhaps will appeal to viewers that detest Korine’s usual style. His camerawork is as top notch as ever and certainly one of the strengths of the film. There are dazzling shots of nuns flying in the air and riding bicycles through the clouds. These shots offer strong imagery, but not nearly as evocative or as memorable as in the past.
Overall, this is a really good film with fascinating characters, excellent shot selection, and incredible use of music. The film has more strengths than weaknesses, but it is surely not without its share of flaws. It lacks cohesion and not in the good old Harmful sense for you fans out there. We have a (comparatively) normal structured film with a clear narrative, so when some randomness is tossed in, it does not quite fit, at least for my taste. In his previous movies, the scenes were filled to the brim with randomness to the point that it would be pointless for me to bring up cohesion as a flaw. Lastly, I will say I mostly found myself invested in the story and the characters, but at times I felt like it dragged on or appeared aimless, so for most viewers there is a good chance this will be far too vapid. With that being said, I recommend this to fans and non fans alike and I dare everyone to challenge themselves with a film they may otherwise overlook.

Grade: B

The background information in this review was taken from one of my past posts “Harmful For All Ages.”

Mini Classic Film Reviews: Halloween…

Full Title: Halloween
Director: John Carpenter
Year: 1978
Comments: Halloween gave us the classic teen slasher flick. Sure, Texas Chainsaw and others came before this, but Halloween cemented the staple in cinema. Essentially if you drink, smoke, and fuck when you can you will perish at the hands of the killer, in this case the ruthless Micheal Myers. Sure, he may not speak… at all, but that’s precisely what makes the character/film chilling. Not to mention, John Carpenter’s eerie music, easily one of the finest/scariest themes of all time. This is a classic and essential for the Halloween season every year.

Grade: A

Full Title: Dazed and Confused
Director: Richard Linklater
Year: 1993
Comments: If you have read my previous list of ABSOLUTE Favorite Films, then you would know this is number two for this guy. Dazed is the kind of film that gets better each time you see it until you have seen it a gazillion times like me, but I still appreciate it nonetheless. I associate this film with time, joy, and one’s perception of how much you enjoy your stay on earth and how this perception alters overtime. True, this is a party/hangout flick, the best of it’s kind as one Quentin Tarantino would agree. But, there is so much more going on than that. The tone of this film may be light hearted and certainly euphoria inducing (always cheers me up and makes me ready to party hardy!), but if you look closely the characters themselves do not realize this or outright disagree with this. At one point, Pink pronounces “if I ever refer to these as the best days of my life, then remind me to kill myself.” Their attiude toward life seems to contrast the tone of the film itself. It’s as if the film is speaking to us, saying: these were the good old days when you had no responsibilities and your only worry was which party you were going to next. Top priorities? Getting Aerosmith tickets, when they were still cool. But the characters do not realize this and sadly we never do either in our own lives. We don’t appreciate the good times until their long gone. Perhaps even editing out the bad stuff! It’s funny when I first saw this flick I was ten, way too young to appreciate or understand the significance of the story or should I say the insignificance of the story. I often hear Dazed Detractors (poor souls) comment that the film has no point or purpose, that the movie simply ends. This is true, but that is the point exactly. Dazed perfectly captures a slice of teenage life and in most days, nothing out of the ordinary occurs. At age ten this simply went over my precious skull and while watching the first half of the film I actually thought it was supposed to be some sort of afternoon DARE TV special against drugs! A few years later (age 13) I saw it again and I loved it. I would say this is the best time to turn people on to this flick, just as they are finishing up Junior High and becoming Highschoolers, just like Mitch. This got me so excited for HS. Sadly, as much fun as I had, it was never as righetous as the activity presented in Dazed, is anybody’s? Now I am in college and not too far from “That’s what I love about this High School girls, I get older they stay the same age.”

Grade: A+

Full Title: Kids
Director: Larry Clark
Year: 1995
Comments: Much like Dazed, Kids focuses on one day in the lives of the youth of America, where drinking, smoking, and fucking seems to be their only concerns. Yet, while Dazed has an atmosphere of joy and let the good times roll, this film has anything but. Most likely the characters in Dazed will go on to lead fine lives as upstanding citizens, but these kids are doomed for failure, incarceration, and certainly death. Clark takes then teen Harmony Korine’s painfully accurate screenplay and gives it the adult perspective we see in the film. As with Dazed the tone of the film seems to contrast with the attitude of most of the characters. The main players (literally) are Telly (Leo Fitzpatrick) and Casper (Justin Pierce) and both are quite satisfied as total assholes that will take advantage of anyone they can, they see nothing wrong with this, yet the film never approves of their behavior nor does it totally condemn them either. Instead, the film simply speaks for itself. Lastly, for my money, Kids has some of the most natural dialogue ever written. Most folks believe it is improvised, but in fact it is nearly all scripted. The fact that it appears ad libbed only speaks to the brilliance of Korine’s script. After all, as Clark stated, Korine’s screenplay is “from the inside, from the point of view of the kids.”

Grade: A

Three classic youth oriented films.

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.