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.