I try to avoid writing about sensational (in the pejorative sense) movies that are going to get so much more than their fair share of ink…movies like “Spring Breakers.” But a week’s gone by since I sat, slack-jawed, through a screening of Harmony Korine’s all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of young sex, drugs and violence and I can’t stop thinking that, despite the hype, and despite my first reactions and the sick feeling in my stomach, I really, really liked it.
“Spring Breakers” is the story of four girls who want desperately to go on vacation and become (wait for it) desperados. Scantily-clad desperados, of course – the director admits he created the film “with a singular image in mind – girls in bikinis with guns” and stayed true to that original f’ed-up vision.
I call Korine one of America’s finest teen pornographers and “Spring Breakers” is a truly worthy addition to his oeuvre. For lovers of sexy girls gone very bad, this movie is for you. The PR materials call it a “youthquake,” but that’s implies social commentary. I’d call it a boobquake for the long, repeated scenes of naked breasts bouncing up and down and up and down in slo-mo. But I also can’t help admire the dystopian universe Korine created and amazingly executed; a universe that is informed by real world places, people and ideas but is ultimately a total creation of his sick, wonderful imagination.
This is the kind of movie that sociologists and the media love to use as proof that the younger generation has gone to hell in a naked, drug and booze filled basket. Although it’s fun to talk about (and yes there is something deeply disturbing about drunk young women showing their Brazilians for a pair of Girls Gone Wild panties), I would strongly argue with anyone who thinks this film reflects the social mores of modern kids, or those (@JennyKCRW!) who ascribe any other deeper meaning to it. By slathering the whole thing in a whore’s face full of neon paint, scoring it with edgy but ultimately poppy tunes and casting virginal stars who just can’t quite pull off the tough-guy shtick, Korine gives us a wink and a nod that he knows that we know that he knows that it’s all just for down and dirty fun.
The biggest compliment I can give “Spring Breakers” is that it reminds me of De Palma’s “Scarface” in a thousand weird ways. It’s an equally dyspeptic vision – equally violent, misanthropic (misogynistic? discuss) and off-kilter. And kitschy, don’t forget kitschy.
And unforgettable. It’s a trifle that will do what trifles aren’t supposed to do – stand the test of time.
When I was in college, my roommates and I watched “Scarface” so many times (stoned – and on stolen cable – ’cause we was gangstas like dat at UCSB) that we could quote it line for line with the sound off. I imagine kids will do the same thing now with “Spring Breakers.” I know the KCRW office is already echoing with the sound of James Franco saying sprrrring breeeeak in his ridiculous Florida ghetto twang.
And in that way, the film does have meaning. Like “Scarface”and “White Heat” and all the great, over-the-top gangster movies, reveling in utter debauchery on screen and rooting for the anti-hero allows us nice people to temporarily shake off the shackles of our civility and feel good feeling bad – and no one gets hurt.