Directed by Harmony Korine
This is a film that demands to be talked about and for a variety of reasons. The film poses as cheap exploitation trash, and in many instances embraces the attributes that come with it: gratuitous nudity, plentiful lesbianism, drug and alcohol abuse, and a substantial amount of violence. However, unlike traditional exploitation, this film is heavily vested in arthouse roots even going to far as to evoke Terrance Malick in many unforeseen and, as far as I’ve noticed, unmentioned ways. Just as Malick employs images of nature and juxtaposes it with the philosophical musings of it’s protagonists in an effort to generate feelings of profundity. However, much in the way that Kitano uses Ozu’s techniques to subvert the meaning Ozu attempted with them, so does Korine opt from Malick. His overlaying of dialogue, such as Gomez proclaiming to have “found herself” and wax on about how this is authentic life to images that can only be described as hedonistic rampages. By focusing in on how this subculture, one many would argue has permeated to such a degree that it is simply “culture” now, celebrates and lauds the vapid and shallow as something more, as something enlightening, Korine makes the reality of this lifestyle appear as nothing more than a self perpetuating vacuous hole that drains an individual of identity.
Throughout the film themes regarding identity are perpetual. The girls are identified quickly by through their clothing, each having a distinct bikini (ya know, depth and art and stuff) but gradually, as they dive deeper and deeper into the party world before them, they are robbed of individuality, eventually winding up in matching bikinis and pink ski masks. They are no longer partiers, they have truly objectified themselves and are complete fabrications of the world around them.
So, even though the film does attempt to have it’s cake and eat it by indulging in the very behavior it decries, the film is a great success and one of the better films of the year. Due to these indulgences purely meant to titillate (pretty fortunate we’ve been discussing DePalma so much) the film is far more entertaining than it should be and much of that can be attributed to James Franco’s incredible performance. Franco is a fascinating actor because he’s so uneven. Some performances he seems to sleep walk through, like this years Oz: The Great and Powerful, which make me question why I even like him as much as I do. Yet other performances are of such a high caliber that I can’t help but look forward to his next. His performance here as Alien is one of his very best and definitely his most out there as he completely transforms to a despicable but all too entertaining piece of trash. The girls also do a good job, with Gomez and Hudgens looking great and making a fantastic effort to accomplish their goal- To make us completely forget about their Disney roots. Considering this is the avenue they chose, they’re off to a far more interesting and successful start of washing the D out of their mouths than most (cough, I’m looking at you Miley, cough).
Part trash, part art, fully entertaining, ya’ll.