This Is The Most Spiritual Place I've Ever Been: Spring Breakers (2013)

I finished watching this film roughly an hour or so ago and while I am rarely one to immediately follow up a viewing with a blog post, I could not wait to talk about this, Harmony Korine's latest film.  I had intended to catch up with this while it was making the rounds in theaters, but life got in the way and I am not only getting to it in its home video format.  I am rather happy that this was the case, because from what I can glean, not only has this been reviled by the popular cinema goer, it too has received less than stellar reviews critically, both of which are absolutely baffling to me.  Sure it is a visceral and highly sexual account if one existed, but what Korine provides is nothing more than an hour and some change of MTV-like, auto-tuned cinema.  I say that I am glad for the home release option, because I am almost certain that a considerable amount of people went into this film expecting one product and were baffled, disturbed and even forced to deal with some seriously repressed issues, also I will openly admit that when viewing the works of Korine I often find myself uncomfortable when other people are around, because his style of cinema is decidedly disconcerting, while completely throwing all sense of political correctness or decency to the wind.  Yet, just as he does in all of his other films, Korine takes moments of utter depravity that are intended to alienate the viewer and cleverly layers on an element of the serene, often juxtaposing the two to create a moment of transcendence before delving directly back into the decadence and madness of his world.  It is perhaps most jarring in something like Trashhumpers!, but certainly occurs with Spring Breakers to a near Mallick level.  I mean only Harmony Korine could have the vision and subsequent pull to get Cliff Martinez and Skrillex to jointly score his film.  This movie looks and feels as though it is from another world completely and much of this has to do with Korine existing in his own place all the time (refer to any interview to realize this fact).  I am uncertain whether or not the product Korine provides viewers with is intended as biting condemnation of a detached youth, or a serious consideration of the tragedies of coming-of-age in a world that exists as a series of cursory experiences.  What I do know is that I reacted to it with awe and bewilderment, to the point that it currently stands as my favorite film of the year.  Also, James Franco.  He needs at least and Oscar nod for this film.

Spring Breakers focuses on a group of college girls whose main focus in life is to attain enough money to make a trip to Florida and engage in the wild week of Spring Break.  knowing that it cost a considerable amount of money in order to assure success the group preys upon their religiously devout friend Faith (Selena Gomez) with the hope that given her wealth they can attain enough funding for travel.  However, when it is apparent that the money is far from enough the other three members of the clique Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brittany (Ashley Benson) and Cotty (Rachel Korine) undertake a robbery of a local chicken joint to obtain the money necessary for bus fair for all four.  After successfully getting to St. Petersburg the girls immediately fall into the debasing and foolish lifestyle of the world around them, involving heavy drinking, sex and drug use.  Indeed, it is during a run-in with a group of cocaine dealers that the four are arrested and locked up.  The judge provides them with the option of a citation should they be able to pay their fine.  The girls incapable of forking over the money necessary are helped by the enigmatic Alien (James Franco) a white, self-identified hustler, whose cornrows and various tattoos are only one of many absurdities reflective of his being one of the only white guys growing up in the area.  Embracing a lifestyle of decadent indifference, Alien takes the girls around St. Petersburg to underground clubs and pool halls, eventually proving too much for Faith who returns home realizing that this life is not what she had hoped to have.  When one of Alien's former friends turned rival Big Arch (Gucci Mayne) threatens to kill Alien should he not step away from his drug spots and money sources, things take a turn for the worst, when Cotty is eventually shot in the arm, leading then to her return home.  The last two girls then engage in a wild relationship with Alian, wherein they become a trio of soul mates who are bent on revenge against Big Arch.  This endeavor then closes the film as the three attack Big Arch's well-guarded mansion, only to have Alien shot down by the first guard.  Nonetheless, Brittany and Candy make it all the way to Big Arch, killing him in his jacuzzi tub and driving off in Alien's car, assumedly to continue living in the world of spring break forever.

The most rewarding thing about Korine's neon-induced visual assault, is that it does not seem to provide a decided consideration one way or the other about the ethical nature of the characters involved in the film.  Sure figures like Big Arch and Faith's goateed hip pastor are played to be considerably more negative than others, but even then it is only relational to the desires of other characters.  Take for example Faith, who it would appear exists as a spiritually sound figure in relation to her more mischievous friends, yet when she is in the same situations she does not negate their ethical choices, but becomes involved in them by her de facto presence.  Similarly, a figure like Cotty, is shot while engaging in the wily ways of Alien and company, and while she certainly could have avoided the situation by removing herself earlier, she is arguably not deserving of the gun shot wound she receives for Alien's refusal to listen to Big Arch's warnings.  That leaves one considering the figure of Alien who seems so caught up in the disillusion of his own aspirations to be a rapper and hustler that he denies the reality around him, although, as Korine's narrative suggests, given his decided otherness based on the racial composition of the era, it is rather clear that he has spent a considerable amount of his life pretending to be something he is not, so much so that he has created a world around him that makes him believe himself to be invincible.  As he notes he has everything from fancy cologne to shurikens, all clearly attempts to assert tangible realities to his grand delusion.  Franco plays Alien to perfection, by occasionally allowing his stare to become despondent or to allow a pause to linger for hesitation.  Of course, viewers realize how superfluous all of Alien's hopes are when he is instantly gunned down in the raid of Big Arch's mansion, and only glanced upon once more when one of the remaining girls kisses him through her My Little Pony ski mask.  The film embraces its shades of uncertainty and Korine knows for this to truly work he has to break away from a visually normative style, often repeating scenes or matching dialogue to moments that have yet to occur.  The simulacrum of St. Petersburg that is fueled by neon, blunt smoke and Jack Daniels has to look saturated and sickeningly fake, because it is in these sorts of delusions that right and wrong become indistinguishable and hopes of escaping a reality, move quickly from a dream to a even more real nightmare.

Key Scene:  I have noted that my most anticipated moment of cinema in 2013 was to be James Franco fellating a uzi and it did not disappoint.  Although a well-placed use of a Britney Spears song certainly gave it a run for its money, although to be fair it might have been the least ironic use of one of her songs in all of cinema.

Nab this bluray, it is easily one of the best films of the year.  Ignore the IMDB rating it is a lie.

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