Karina Longworth / Spout / May 1, 2008

We’re bringing back The Media Diet, our long-dormant series of interviews with filmmakers and indie industry people about the movies, music and assorted pop cultural detritus that they like to consume. This week we’re talking to Harmony Korine, whose incredible Mister Lonely comes out in NY and on IFC On Demand tomorrow. After the jump, Harmony talks about his favorite YouTube videos, his (questionably sincere) love for Patrick Swayze and Triple Six Mafia, and explains why he refused to watch Marilyn Monroe movies in the run up to making a movie about a Marilyn Monroe impersonator.

Karina Longworth: Who would be your desert island filmmakers, filmmakers whose work you think is just indispensable?

Harmony Korine: You know, the thing about a desert island is, like, how do you get the DVD player there?

Longworth: This is a special desert island that has been tricked out just for you, with a full entertainment center.

Korine: OK. Yeah. I like Clint Eastwood. Patrick Swayze, any of the movies that he’s in.

Longworth: More like Dirty Dancing or more like Roadhouse?

Korine: Well, actually, I don’t like any of those movies. I like, I would say… I’d probably watch Rumble Fish, Over the Edge, The Passion of Joan of Arc, Ghostbusters, I don’t know.

Longworth: Do you watch television?

Korine: Yeah. I like, let’s see, what do I like? Sometimes, just like boxing matches, or I like watching… let’s see, I’m trying to think of a show that I would tune in to see on a regular basis. I thought The Wire was really great. I loved that show. The rest of it, I just kind of flick around.

Longworth: Do you watch any reality television?

Korine: Well, usually that’s all that’s on anymore. I’ll check that out on occasion, yeah.

Longworth: Some of the shows are getting really baroque, they have really complicated premises.

Korine: Right, right, right. I don’t know, I’ve seen some episodes of that show Intervention. That was pretty funny. [laughs] That’s about it. The rest is like news or something. Keith Olbermann every once in a while.

Longworth: What do you like about Keith Olbermann?

Korine: I just think he seems like a decent guy.

Mister Lonely (2007)

Longworth: Where there any specific films that you watched when you were thinking about the celebrities to have impersonated in Mister Lonely?

Korine: No, not really. I stopped watching movies, on purpose, before that I… I just didn’t want anything to kind of like… I didn’t want to be influenced this way or that way. I just wanted to kind of have my head up my own ass and to be within myself, and to kind of blow with the wind. I wanted to just film each scene on its own, to invent it as I went.

Longworth: And I figured all those movies, their films, the movies that I loved; they kind of live inside me. And so that was it.

Longworth: Which were the movies that you loved that you blocked out of your head that already lived inside of you?

Korine: You mean in dealing specifically with this film? I don’t know. Because it was like I was working from a place that was more, like, unconscious. What I’m saying is there were no real direct references. I didn’t say, “Let’s make this look like Tarkovsky and not look like Cassavetes.”

Longworth: No, I’m just wondering, for instance, what Marilyn Monroe films did you look to, and stuff like that.

Korine: Oh, right, right. None, really.

Longworth: At all?

Korine: Oh, I guess, The Misfits, I think, is a good movie. Outside of that, I always found her movies really annoying. I don’t think I could sit through any of her films.

Longworth: Really? Why?

Korine: Because they’re annoying.

Longworth: What’s annoying about them? Is it she that’s annoying? Is it the way that she’s shot that’s annoying?

Korine: Yes. All that stuff. I don’t really know.

Longworth: Okay. Do you watch videos on the Internet?

Korine: Yeah. Like, what kind of videos?

Longworth: Like on YouTube.

Korine: Sure, definitely. I love it. That can be fun.

There was this one I was watching, I forget, it was this black guy on Halloween, just walking up to the door trick-or-treating and someone jumps out of a pumpkin and he just bashes his face. It’s only like 15 seconds, but I probably watched that for like six or seven days straight.

I got into this weird period in my life where I was just sitting in my room watching videos of people getting hit in the face. And then, around the same time, I started tap dancing on the sidewalk curbs.

Longworth: For money?

Korine: No, just for a hobby.

Longworth: Did you document it at all?

Korine: Some of it, yeah - through pictures and things.

Longworth: Are you ever going to show those to people?

Korine: Sure. Definitely.

Longworth: Have you seen this video of somebody dressed up like a mummy, wrapped in toilet paper, and he’s feeding ducks?

Korine: No, no.

Longworth: That one’s a really good one, and I think you should check it out. What music are you into right now?

Korine: Pretty much just like a lot of mainstream music. I listen to what’s on the radio. I live in Tennessee, so I listen to a lot of local rap, Southern rap. Whatever the really dirty shit is, I pretty much like that… pretty much that kind of stuff.

Longworth: What’s the dirtiest?

Korine: The dirtiest? I don’t know. I listen to a lot of, like old Triple Six Mafia and Lord Infamous, Coops Denicka, Gangsta Boo, like, Playa Fly. Really that kind of, like, Memphis dirty rap sound from early part of the last decade. It’s really, really good.

Longworth: What else are you working on right now?

Korine: Pretty much like just this [gestures around hotel bar where he's spent the day doing interviews] and nothing else. Just living my life. I try to like sit on the couch and do some lucid dreaming every once in a while. I try to come up with different images. I spend time with this woman in Baton Rouge; she’s like a tap dancer. She does this kind of strange voodoo tap dancing.

Longworth: Is that why you started tap dancing?

Korine: No, no, no. I started a long time ago. These two brothers, my next-door neighbors in Tennessee, we used to steal parking lot curbs, and put them in our back yards in the suburbs and tap dance on them. We’d call it “curb dancing.” That’s kind of how I did it.

And then, kind of like reenactments of like Al Jolson scenes.

Longworth: So, would Al Jolson be in any of your desert island movies?

Korine: Maybe it would only be Al Jolson. [laughs]. It would only be Al Jolson and Stepin Fetchit films.