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.

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.

Trash Humpers

This is a trailer for the latest Harmony Korine (Kids, Gummo) flick. Really Fucking Bizarre as usual. I second what someone commented on Youtube that this looks like a parody of Korine films. It really does!