Author Archives: Aaron

TIFF PREMIERE INTRODUCTION/Q&A

A member of the forum part of the site managed to snap this 20 minute video of the Toronto premiere of Spring Breakers. In attendance were Harmony Korine, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, co-composer Sonny “Skrillex”  Moore and The ATL Twinz. View the video below:

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INDIEWIRE INTERVIEW WITH HARMONY KORINE

IndieWire caught up with “Spring Breakers” director Harmony Korine recently, here’s what he had to say to them:

You’ve said this was the hardest production of your career. How did the experience differ from your other movies?

It was the most difficult shoot in the sense that I had very little time. The look of the film was very central to it, so there were certain things I needed, like various equipment and cameras, so I could make the visuals the way I wanted them. I had to compensate for that, which affected the schedule, which affected the pace. And then you had these girls shooting on location, mostly in real places with people around them who weren’t actors. We put them in an environment they weren’t used to being in. Obviously, very quickly people found out about that. Sometimes there were more paparazzi than crew members. It can get weird very quickly. It was a whole set of problems I had never dealt with.

Nevertheless, it’s not like you sold out and made a conventional narrative feature. Where did the concept for “Spring Breakers” come from?

Early on, I had wanted to make a film in this style, and had been trying to develop in other ways — through short films and advertisements — this idea of microscenes. The movie to me is closer to electronic music. My idea for the film is more music-based than cinema-based. Music now is mostly loop and sample-based. A lot of stuff I like is more tracey and physical. I was hoping to develop a film style with this movie that could mimic that in some way. That’s where the liquid narrative comes from, this boozy-jazzy thing.

It’s an incredible soundtrack that combines compositions by Cliff Martinez and Skrillex, but sometimes you can’t tell which is which.

That was the idea. I love them both and wanted to take a certain element of what each does best and have them merge. I wanted the music to have a physical presence.

There are also a number of big pop songs. How on earth did you get the rights to Britney Spears music?

The movie was always meant to work like a violent, beautiful pop ballad, something very polished that disappears into the night. Everyone was really cool about it. I’ve gotten to a point in my life that’s pretty cool where musicians are accepting and wanting to be part of what I do.

Even more impressive is the cast. What did it take to cast these young women, who are best known in teen-oriented fare, in a movie so subversive?

When I was thinking about the cast, I was thinking about who could play these parts, and was wondering who the girls are in this generation that best represent a certain ideology. There was something intriguing about the idea of using girls primarily known from a Disney-type reality. Immediately, instinctively, I said it would be great if Selena Gomez would do this. It’s pretty crazy that they were all pretty receptive to it.

Why do you think they were receptive?

A lot of them knew my films, which always surprises me. I got an email that Selena was going to hop on a plane and come to my living room in Nashville to audition, and that her mom was coming with her, and that she would be there the next morning. It was pretty crazy. Her mom is younger than I am and she had grown up watching my films and said she had been a fan of them.

So you now have an audience that grew up with your work.

Yeah, it’s pretty weird. I still feel like a kid, but really I’ve been making movies now for almost 20 years. It’s nice also knowing that you’re accepted by the culture in some way. When you’re out in the wilderness making movies, sometimes you don’t know where you live. It can be difficult to gauge who knows what, who sees what, and I try not to think about it too much.

And yet every time you make a new movie, the media focuses on how it reflects your public persona.

That’s the other thing. I’m not sure I like that. Sometimes, when I read things, I feel like my narrative or whatever the fuck it is, becomes too prominent. Every film is not a stealth move. It’s not a game of chess. I make films because I have ideas about certain characters or images. It feels like it’s part of the moment. This movie felt like something intangible, difficult to articulate, but I had to pluck it out of the air.

Do you think you would work on this scale again?

Monetarily, it wasn’t that big of a film. But I only want to go harder and bigger. I only want to push myself and make things more spectacular. It’s exciting for me to try to do things I never thought I would do and go places I never thought I would go. I want to experiment. At the same time, making movies is so hard that it can feel like warfare. A lot of the energy of the battles are fought about things that have nothing to do with the creative element.

Do you think this is your angriest film?

I don’t know if it’s angry, but it’s certainly the most aggressive. I wanted to make a film that feels like there’s no air in the room. I never wanted the audience to be comfortable or complacent. I never even wanted it to seem like they were watching a movie in the traditional sense. I wanted it to be something different. So there’s not that much dialogue. Words get in the way. I wanted the film to have a very physical presence.

What’s your overall take on the idea of spring break?

Spring break is a rite of passage, an American pastime. In the film, it’s more metaphorical, the idea of losing yourself. I don’t feel like the soul is gone in this country but that it has morphed into something else. Everything is experienced thorough screens and through views and technology. Sometimes the act of watching is like nothing. I just wanted to show how it’s all the same.

In the opening montage, a spring break beach party starts out like some kind of reality show before it turns increasingly depraved and tribal.

And I also wanted it to involve a kind of gangster mysticism. Everything has become so corporatized and boring so real outlaw culture or criminal culture feels like the last vestige of American rebellion. These girls have grown up on world star hip-hop and Gucci Man.

How did you decide on the structure? The story itself is pretty thin.

I wanted to run all through the idea of clips, like YouTube stuff, through a filmic filter. I wanted it to seem like the images were just flying or falling from outer space. I wanted to develop a new vernacular, at least for myself. It was an appropriation of images and ideas that were familiar and iconic to people, but I ran it through this fucked-up filter that spit them out in a new way. The movie is about energy more than anything, a feeling, what happens when you get lost. It’s not about spring break; it’s about when you drive a couple of miles away from spring break and you’re out on the boardwalk by the beach in this weird, fucked up, drunk place. It’s like beach noir. I really wanted the film to be about surfaces. I told [cinematographer] Benoit [Debie] at the beginning that I wanted it to look like candy — like he had lit the movie with Skittles. It was about this dance of surfaces. The meaning is the residue that drips down below the surface.

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FULL TIFF PRESS CONFERENCE FOR “SPRING BREAKERS”

Courtesy of TIFF’s official YouTube channel.

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ANOTHER SNEAK PEEK AT “SPRING BREAKERS”

Along with some more press from Venice (The second video is dubbed in Italian but shows more clips from the film aswell as another interview with Harmony Korine and the cast, albeit foreign audio):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImcBHdLZclg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57aAhsQMZHY

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SPRING BREAKERS REVIEW ROUND-UP

PressPlay (IndieWire)ThePlaylist (IndieWire)The Hollywood Reporter, The GuardianTime OutThe Telegraph and Variety have all posted up reviews for Spring Breakers. View at will. And also a new video from Venice’s official YouTube channel:

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HARMONY KORINE AND CAST SPEAKING AT VENICE FILM FESTIVAL

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SPRING BREAKERS REVIEW: INDIEWIRE

The first press screening of Spring Breakers was earlier today and IndieWire had the opportunity to see it. They have posted their review on their site, click to read or see below:

This will make you feel old: it has been 18 years since Harmony Korine wrote “Kids” at the age of 21, with the Larry Clark directed film proving to be something of a firecracker in the midst of mid-90s indie cinema, by turns controversial, seedy, and honest. Korine made his own directorial debut with 1998’s “Gummo,” and over the last 15 or so years has made films that (with the possible exception of “Mister Lonely”), push aesthetic & critical boundaries further and further, culminating in 2009’s “Trash Humpers,” a film shot on a VHS camcorder, featuring a cast in old-people masks generally trying to provoke the audience into walking out. So where could he possibly go from there?

By making “Spring Breakers,” a curiously mainstream (at least by Korine’s standards) crime/exploitation picture — that could be described as “Drive” by way of Russ Meyer, Terry Richardson and “Point Blank” — featuring a bevy of teen starlets best known for wholesome work on the Disney Channel, and a performance from restless A-lister James Franco that might just be one of the actor’s best to date.

The plot is fairly simple, all told. Faith (Selena Gomez), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson) and Cotty (Rachel Korine) are four lifelong friends at the same college campus. Lone brunette Faith is more straight-laced, and nominally Christian, while the others have more fearsome, hard-partying reputations.

They’re planning on heading to Florida for Spring Break, but are short on cash, and so to raise the additional funds, Candy, Brit and Cotty knock over a fast-food restaurant. The job goes off without a hitch, and they’re soon down south partying with the other boys and girls gone wild. The dream looks to be over, however, when they’re picked up on drugs charges by the cops.

But fortunately, they’ve come to the attention of local gangster/would-be-rapper Alien (Franco), who pays off their fines, and takes them under his wing, falling for Brit and Candy in the process. But when he comes into conflict with another dealer, his former best friend Archie (rapper Gucci Mane), which of the girls will stick out spring break by his side, and which will head back to college – or worse?

It’s clear from the off that this is going to be something very different for Korine, with a slow-motion opening sequence of topless co-eds drinking beer bongs on the beach that could be lifted straight from a “Girls Gone Wild” tape or a sleazy music video, albeit one with high production values.

The director’s working with a whole new style here, and thanks to DoP Benoit Debie, the film looks legitimately fantastic – a colourful, neon-lit nighttime aesthetic highly reminiscent of this summer’s other Florida-set picture, “Magic Mike” (the two will make a hell of a double bill one day). There’s also some dazzling camerawork, including a genuinely awe-inspiring crane shot of a pool party with what looks like thousands of extras, and a brilliantly choreographed tracking shot of the robbery seen through the window of the getaway car.

It’s also different because, if it’s art, and it probably is, it’s firmly a piece of pop art. The soundtrack (when not driven by the score from Cliff Martinez and Skillrex) is for the most part up-to-the-minute hi-NRG teen pop and hip-hop, with Nicki Minaj, Ellie Goulding, The Weeknd, and Waka Flocka Flame all making appearances, along with a robbery montage scored, brilliantly, to Britney Spears.

The colors, the thin character development, the movie references (Alien has “Scarface” playing permanently on repeat), all add up to the cinematic equivalent of something by Jeff Koons – glossy, bright and ultimately disposable. Korine nudges towards saying things about the American dream, materialism, and the need to escape as you break out into your his teens, but never really lets anything of substance emerge. He’s much happier, in this case, making an immaculately stylish exploitation picture. Those looking for something as genuinely shocking as his other work should go elsewhere – there are moments that’ll grab TMZ headlines (coke, some nudity mostly from Mrs. Korine, a “Wild Things” style swimming pool threesome), but nothing truly dangerous.

Which isn’t to say that it’s uninteresting, cinematically speaking. The mood (again, as with “Magic Mike”) is curiously downbeat and sad for much of the film – even as the girls have the best time of their lives, they know it’s coming to an end. Even as they enter a life of crime, they know it can only end badly. And the phenomenal editing by Douglas Crise (a former assistant editor for Sodebergh, who also cut “Babel” and “Arbitrage,” among others) really pushes that to the forefront, rarely letting the viewer settle in to a “present,” constantly hopping around in time, and even repeating fragments and shots.

It’s probably the single aspect that’ll stop the film from becoming a crossover hit, although you never know. Certainly the star appeal of the young cast should be potent, and they actually acquit themselves as well as they could with such thin characters, with the exception of Rachel Korine, who never feels comfortable on screen. Gomez has the best-defined role, but probably the least screen time, while Hudgens and Benson are charismatic, but essentially joined at the hip in the film.

But really, it’s Franco’s film. He doesn’t appear in any substance until nearly halfway through, but his Florida Fagin is enormously entertaining. Buried under corn-rows and metal teeth, Franco plays Alien like Matthew McConaughey doing an impression of Lil ‘Jon (it’ll make sense when you see us, trust us…), a curiously charming and childlike gangster. We’ve grown increasingly tired of Franco’s self-regarding art projects of late, but this served as a much-needed reminder of how much fun he can be on screen.

We mentioned “Drive” earlier, and in many ways this feels like the 2012 equivalent of last year’s crime cult picture (though certainly not as good), and not just because of the neon-lit cityscapes and Cliff Martinez score – it’s ultimately a fairly thin, pulpy crime tale, given more substance than it should have on paper thanks to some excellent filmmaking. It’s unlikely to make Korine’s hardcore fans happy (it almost feels like a statement from the director, for better or worse, that he’s ready to stop dicking around and make “proper” films), but midnight movie programmers of the future will undoubtedly give it a long life years after it’s gone from first-run theaters. [B]

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MAKING HARMONY KORINE’S “SUNDAY” MUSIC VIDEO

A user in the forum has dug out a 2 year old upload of a video detailing the making of Harmony Korine’s “Sunday” music video for Sonic Youth. The song appears on their 1998 album “A Thousand Leaves” and the video features Macaulay Culkin and Rachel Milner. Below you can see the making of featurette and the music video itself.

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SPRING BREAKERS: VARIETY REVIEW

Variety have posted the first review of “Spring Breakers”, click here to read it or read below:

Korine revamps teen dream
By ANTHONY KAUFMAN

Has Harmony Korine, the enfant terrible who wrote “Kids,” and directed “Julian Donkey-Boy” and “Gummo,” grown up?

With his latest film, “Spring Breakers” — premiering in Venice on Sept. 5 — the provocative filmmaker has tackled his most ambitious and possibly most commercial project to date: A girls-gone-wild Florida-s et adventure, starring James Franco and former Disney Channel stalwarts Selena Gomez (“Wizards of Waverly Place”), Vanessa Hudgens (“High School Musical”) and ABC Family vet Ashley Benson (“Pretty Little Liars”).

“Technically, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” says the filmmaker, now 39. “We had 12 cameras break; cranes collapsing; boats sinking; at some points, there would be more paparazzi than crew members; you’d have news helicopters entering the shot; 1,000 screaming teenagers with signs trying to destroy the campers — every day felt like some mild form of warfare.”

Korine, who shot on 35mm film, added that he wanted huge production values. “I wanted things to look and feel incredible. It would have been much easier if I didn’t have ambition.”

The last time Korine was on the festival circuit, in 2009, he was promoting a far different project. Called “Trash Humpers,” the 78-minute experimental movie, shot entirely on a VHS camcorder, chronicled the creepy escapades of a family of masked maniacs engaged in objectionable, lewd or just plain weird behavior, including yes, humping garbage. “It was a provocation,” Korine admits.

But with “Spring Breakers,” it wasn’t just about creating something “shocking or seductive,” as he says, referring to the original image that sparked the idea of teenage girls in bikinis, wearing ski masks and carrying guns. “This film is different from anything I’ve done,” he explains. “It’s the narrative: It’s very liquid and boozy, and freed up. It’s more like a pop poem.”

Another big difference is the cast, of course. With Disney Channel icon Gomez in one of the key roles, along with “High School Musical’s” Hudgens, the film is drawing far more attention than Korine’s previous work, increasing the stakes for the filmmaker.

For Gomez, the more risque project also presents a potential hazard.

“Obviously, I have a younger generation (of fans), and I really appreciate that,” says the 22-year-old actress, who got her start on “Barney & Friends.” “I want to respect that and I still want to do things that will earn me that respect. But I also want to do things that challenge me and put me out of my element.”

Korine had always wanted Gomez and the other young female stars for the movie. “I liked the idea of having these girls in the film specifically,” he says. “They are of this pop culture, and that added a whole new element that was exciting for me.”

Entrusting Korine, a director known for his glue-sniffing, date-raping outcasts, with America’s next top starlets on an indie budget, might appear like a risky move. But the director says, surprisingly, he was fully encouraged by his team, including CAA, which packaged the project.

“There was no lack of confidence (in Korine),” says Muse Films’ Chris Hanley, who has known the director since the mid-’90s, and had been talking to him for two years about exploring, he says, “a more pop, and therefore commercial” side of his aesthetic.

“Even as the intention was to make a pop commercial bikini movie,” continues Hanley, “it has its intelligent side, (which) shows there is an underworld to every seemingly perfect and happy setting. So while it is commercial, it makes you think a lot too — this is something Harmony does very well.”

According to Hanley, the investors were kindred spirits, including former members of the Andy Warhol Factory (“Baby” Jane Holzer) as well as Stella Schnabel, daughter of artist Julian Schnabel, and designer Agnes B., who backed Korine’s 2007 feature “Mister Lonely.”

Korine, himself, is upbeat about the results.

“I can’t wait for people to see it,” he says. “As a filmmaker, I did things I’ve never done before that I’ve always wanted to do, that I couldn’t have done five years ago or 10 years ago. I just didn’t understand moviemaking in this way. This one feels special.”

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FIRST FOOTAGE FROM “SPRING BREAKERS”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48gq3Z30MUA

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