307 Great Directors: Harmony Korine

“You can be inspired by other movies but not be derivative. I think that’s a problem with a lot of the video kids. I don’t even like video. I think you should see movies on the big screen. Because if you look at their movies, all these video brats, their movies to me look like … television, you know what I’m saying?”

Why This Director?
: Well, one must form an opinion on him in this post Spring Breakers world. (That, and I needed to form an opinion on Gummo.)

My Last Experience Was…: Spriiiing Break. Spprrrrriiing Break forever, bitches.

What Did I Watch: Gummo and Julien Donkey-Boy.

Where Does He Fit: One of the most bizarre credits in history appears in Gummo when Chloe Sevigny is credited as the costume designer, with the infamous Bunny Boy doing lewd things on an overpass while a woman sings a rather sad farm song. Everything about Gummo is meant to be sad, disgusting, not happy…whatever. If there’s one thing this man is good at, besides making his deep seated pretensions approachable, it’s skirting all criticisms and preventing them from sticking. When you criticize someone terrible like Zack Snyder for his ugly visuals and misogyny, the charge mostly sticks even if he continues to get money. Korine has had plenty of adjectives thrown at him, and the evidence cuts both ways, useful for both declaring that he is a misogynistic brat and that he is a thoughtful dissector of certain aspects of American culture. The formalism of Spring Breakers was fun to watch, however, whereas this movie was shot by a man who did Leos Carax’s Lovers on the Bridge, a film notorious for making Juliette Binoche look terrifying. Does it matter? Hell if I know. It’s like nothing else out there, and I admire that Korine wants to cut down cinema so much and make it look…well, silly’s probably the wrong word, and he probably takes his jokes too seriously, but they’re still potent. Certain aspects are pretty unsavory and cheap, though, and at least Spring Breakers took the commentary to what I’m pretty sure were more intelligent places.


Gummo’s sense of humor, as unpleasant as it may be at times, exists throughout thanks to the abundance of footage Korine shot. Julien Donkey Boy is a much less successful endeavor, in that it looks gorgeous (between Korine and Last of England, we need more 8 mm films) but relies on a whole lot of screaming and something that can only be called anti-jokes. Props for starting a new form of the most well known cinematic manifesto, I suppose, and I did laugh at Werner Herzog yelling that if the water sunk into his son’s skin maybe he’d be stronger, but the titular character is pretty much only viewable as a character and not a genuine person.


Most Valuable Asset: I think he’s getting more mature and that’s a good thing.
Most Excited For: His next film…or Mister Lonely.

Coming Up Next: Andrzej Zuwalski, whose passing is tragic but also gives me the opportunity to see four of his films on the big screen for this retrospective!


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