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Director Harmony Korine Talks About His Newest Film 'Spring Breakers' and Being a 'Soldier of Cinema'

03.21.13 @ 5:26PM Tags : , , ,

Writer/Director Harmony Korine started out his filmmaking journey as a teenager, penning the screenplay for the 1995 breakout film Kids when he was just 19 years old. With his most recent release Spring Breakers, Korine continues to destroy expectations and come into his own as an innovative and radical filmmaker. In this short clip from Tumblr’s new editorial feature project Storyboard, Korine talks about his process and what it means for him to be a self-described ‘solider of cinema.’ Check it out after the jump.

When I first heard of Spring Breakers I got excited, not only because I love his previous work (Mister Lonely is one of my top 5 favorite films), but because he seems to pick projects with an earnestness, and is able to achieve a special tone, somewhere bordering on irreverence, child-like curiosity, and modest irony. He seems to remain youthful, even reckless in his choices, which is something I admire. As we get older it becomes harder to hold on to that, and Korine drenches us in it, allows us a piece of that feeling; the ‘stay hungry, stay foolish’ sensibility of the enfant terrible.

The film is described by Korine as a sort of cultural mashup, a pop poem that he discovered after reading between the lines and finding a language, a collective narrative behind teenage MTV culture and coed-pornography websites. Korine endeavors to create a “peak experience,” a very specific type of film –”pure energy” — like a drug experience. In his candid, broken voice (due to a cold) at the Q&A at an Arclight Theater in Hollywood last week, he recounted:

You know me, I don’t give a shit about the truth. I don’t care about what’s real. I want something unreal.

Korine explores, in what he calls the “liquid narrative,” a hope to showcase a physical, dripping bombardment of image and sound, a place where the audience is never comfortable:

You create an atmosphere where anything can happen — you put different chemicals in and document the explosion.

He told his DP, Benoît Debie, to light the film as if the light sources were Skittles — he wanted to it look like candy, something you could reach out and taste. His infusion of improvised (or more specifically, written only in his head) dialogue, and an editing and sound design scheme that makes use of looping dialogue and imagery, makes for something approximating a cinematic remix that falls abrasively between humor & poetry.

In this great article from the Mubi Notebook, the Celluloid Liberation Front investigates:

In Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers this duality coalesces into an magmatic whole, the (American) dream is broke and can no longer afford its preposterous innocence. Good and evil, so to speak, are part of the same generational experience, two hearts beating as one. From this perspective Korine comprehends all the grandiose and empty tragedy that adolescence is, that liminal, painful interval between wide-eyed stupor and jaded cynicism. He undresses the modern Disney icons to expose the rot they usually conceal. Spring Breakers is the last(ing) beach party of a country too terrified of adult life to grow up while inevitably having to come to terms with its dark side.

Korine’s latest film has often been equated to a ploy for commercial success, or to break into the Hollywood market, but it’s not that simple. As a “soldier of cinema” he explains his method:

I never really cared that much about seeking people’s approval for things, it didn’t matter to me so much if you loved something that I did or if you disliked it. Obviously I want to entertain and I want to bring joy and I want people to love what I’m doing, but in the end I have a purpose beyond that. All I ever wanted to be was bold, and to just try things. Even if it they don’t work, if it’s an experiment where you’re trying things and they don’t work and  people don’t like it, so what? Why does everything have to work all the time? There’s merit and beauty in failure, and that’s how I live my life.

In this clip on Letterman as a young man promoting his 1997 film Gummo, Korine talks about some of the same ethics over 16 years ago:

To all you kids out there, go and make some good movies. Go and invent a new language, go and blow the place up — I’m looking forward to that.

What do you think about Korine’s process and work?



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Description image 25 COMMENTS

  • Gavin Kilduff on 03.21.13 @ 5:31PM

    Very excited to see this and actually catch up on all his past work. Franco’s performance is getting across the board raves.

  • john jeffreys on 03.21.13 @ 5:51PM

    gummo changed my life

  • “There is merit and beauty in failure…” Profound and/or crazy?

  • SydneyBlue120d on 03.21.13 @ 6:15PM

    Another interesting thing is that Spring Breakers DPC is 4K ;-)

  • Gummo was a real shock. I like Korine’s way of filmmaking, and “Spring Breakers” is really good, creative, experimental; although the way that has been chosen to advertise the film like a new American Pie with Disney girls, even if it was funny, wasn’t really a good idea… Check the french avant-premiere in youtube after watching the film, you’ll understand.

  • I love Korine’s body of work and his fearlessness in pursuing his ideas for good or ill. He expressed some of that when I spoke to him for Trash Humpers and we briefly discussed the abandoned Fight Harm film:

  • He sounded like he was on drugs. Bikinis, drugs and guns. No inspiration here. Where do these guys get the money? ” He tried to do the right thing”?

    • yeah I’m getting tired of artists who take drugs. let me just sign my check over to William so we can get back to some good wholesome mundanity

  • There’s a lot of wisdom in this tiny clip. You definitely see what he might call ‘cowardly’ filmmaking everywhere these days. That kindof attitude where you just set out to please the most people possible. I always try to make it okay for people to fail, I’d much rather see what you can learn from a glorious failure than a pitch perfect facsimile of something everyone else. We have to encourage the rough edges, the difficult corners and stop trying to sand everything down to perfectly polished perfection. It’s good to see HK still pushing for that. Not really a fan myself but respect to the man anyway.

  • Good debate brewing. I love to see people takes chances and go out on a limb but they are also taking a chance. Placing a film in a movie theater makes it become a business. A filmmaker has to approach a studio or investors for his next project so if his current project is not making any money…. investors/studios will give him the cold shoulder. Bikini, drugs and guns seems like all the good keywords for the 16-24 audience but they really don’t go together. Will people go see it? Time will tell. “Bridemaids” came out a number of months ago with all the right elements, names etc. After the reviewers panned it for stupidity and drug use, I don’t think it was ever released nationally. It can now be found on Netflix for $4.99. Ang Lee took a chance with “Life of Pi” and he hit a home run.

  • We’ll be right back with Smash Mouth.

  • …never heard of this guy, so I watched the trailer of spring breakers, ehm, either it`s an awfully boring movie or someone messed up during editing…and btw, if the birth date on imdb is correct he must have been 22 in 1995, not 19…

    • …sorry, misread the year, he was 19 when he wrote the script but the film came out 3 years later…

  • He did a pretty hilarious AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit today for all those who wanna check that out too.

  • 4:45 – I like the phonebook. It’s good.

  • I became a Harmony Korine super-fan a few months ago, and I’m really excited to see his latest movie! No wonder he and Gaspar Noe are friends…

  • I immediately lost respect for this movie when I watched the trailer and heard the incredibly overdone Skrillex music.

    • Strangely enough this film was pretty much the only context in which I’ve actually enjoyed dubstep. Ironic wouldn’t be the right way to describe its use in Spring Breakers, but it’s in the ballpark. It’s revealing.

  • Wonder kid was just banned from Letterman for going through Meryl Streep purse in the dressing room.

  • Spring Breakers is ridiculously BAD. When I saw it last Sunday, about a third of the small audience ended up walking out before it was over. People were laughing in all the wrong places and a teenaged girl behind me ask about James Franco, “Who is this idiot? He can’t act a lick,” then said, “Who made this piece of $hit?” I almost left myself, but decided to stay just to see how bad and how far it could go. If there is a coherent theme, it seems to be that black guys deserve to be killed for lusting after young white babes. If taken seriously, it would be racist. As it is, it is just absurd. And how any aspiring filmmaker could look up to it in any way is beyond my comprehension. It just shows how far cinema has sunk in the 21st century.

  • It’s call “drugs”. Spent 15 years in Hollywood late 70′s to mid 90′s there was some cocaine use but not that out in the open. Today I would guess 40 percent or more of creative people in LA are on drugs. Today’s drug induced scripts and films are labeled “edgy”. Go figure–

    The positive, this opens the door for independents to sell their good work through the internet.

  • *Rasta* Barb on 03.29.13 @ 4:39AM

    Flash of brilliance..but then smashs of illiance..
    Just saying..He real.

  • 自然への尊敬と「人」「自然」「自分」に優しく「人を思いやる」精神を想起させるショップです。そして「ものを大事にする」「ものにこだわる」「ゆっくり生きる」大人のアウトドアライフスタイルをフィールドから日常までのラインナップで提供しています。