Harmony Korine’s new feature installment,Spring Breakers – about kids played by former Disney queens doing very bad things alongside a cornrowed James Franco, had its U.S. premiere at SXSW, and it’s sure to be the hot topic of too many discussions. And look here: it already is!
Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers, which has its U.S. premiere this Sunday at SXSW, seems like a recipe for overcooked criticism. It’s a movie about kids on spring break played by former Disney stars doing bad things with a cornrowed James Franco. When the movie comes out in limited release next Friday and wide release later this month it’s sure to be the topic of too many discussions—and probably the bane of them. And look here: It already is!
Is Harmony Korine Exploiting His Stars in Spring Breakers ?
When reviewing the trailer—and seriously, there were loads of “reviews” just for this trailer—Forrest Wickman of Slate exclaimed: “Exploitative? Maybe, with starlets including Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens somehow finding a way to spend every scene—whether on the beach or appearing before the court—in a skimpy bikini.” While Wickman’s statement may falsely ascribe a lot of that desire—to dress in bikinis—to the young actresses themselves instead of the moviemakers, the question of exploitation hovers over all discussion of Spring Breakers. In his new interview with Brooks Barnes for the Arts & Leisure section of this weekend’s New York Times, Korine was explicit that casting the Disney girls was “a conceptual stunt.” Then he backtracks: “Well, it wasn’t just a conceptual stunt. That’s a bonus. If you didn’t know who these girls are, that they came to my movie representing something, the film would still be the same.” But Mark Olsen of the Los Angeles Times insists that between Gomez, Hudgens, and Ashley Benson (Hanna Marin in Pretty Little Liars), the starlets look “reluctant to engage with how the film maneuvers the power of their celebrity to its own ends.” If the actresses themselves don’t want to “engage” with how obviously their director is using them, does it mean they are simply being used? It also remains vague whether, as Guy Lodge wonders, Spring Breakers functions on some scale as satire of “vapid MTV exploitation shows” or just is one.
Is Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers Exploiting Random Kids He Filmed?
Korine shot real-life kids on spring break for the movie. In yet another interview for the Times, Andrew Goldman of The New York Times Magazine questions Korine if he felt “like it was wrong to be filming these people half your age, cavorting naked.” Korine returns: “I never really feel wrong while making movies. I know myself and I know that my intentions are honest and I’m on the righteousness side.” Is he really? It depends on you to hash it out.
Is This Good for Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens‘ Careers?
While the film looks like just another checkmark for James Franco in his increasingly bizarre career, for Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens (and especially for Gomez) it seems like a calculated break from the kind of family-friendly fare that made them famous. Jon Caramanica writes in the Times (which is really loading up on the Spring Breakers features) that “After ‘Spring Breakers,’ there will be no turning back for the girls, nor any confusion about how they would like to be seen as — not just as serious actresses capable of more than just riling up tweens, but as rebels playing fast and loose with their images.” In that first Timespiece, Barnes explains that Gomez, Hudgens, and Benson “are all working to ‘age up’ their images, to use Hollywood lingo.” Meanwhile, Selena Gomez has also made it clear that she sees a future for herself making indie movies and has claimed: “I thought that following the independent path would probably be best for me”—and, yes, she has another indie soon to come.
The young actresses have all shown that they can prance around in bikinis and handle risqué material, but is that the path they’ve chosen? Or does working with Harmony Korine means that they’re willing to work with edgy directors, at whatever cost of comfort, just to make “interesting” movies?
Is James Franco a Good Actor?
Between this and Oz the Great and Powerful we’re seeing a lot of this guy these days. The few early reviews of Spring Breakers taken from the Venice Film Festival didn’t appear to decide anything about the quality of his performance,âctually. David Rooney at The Hollywood Reporter wrote: “Franco’s borderline parodistic performance is interesting only up to a point.” That said, Oliver Lyttleton at Indiewire’s The Playlist said the performance might be “might just be one of the actor’s best to date.”
Is James Franco Ripping Off Riff-Raff?
Is it an Accurate Representation of That Part of Florida?
Locals are insisting it’s not, according to The Tampa Bay Times.
Is This Movie Just Really, Really Bad?
The A.V. Club called it “hyperbolically stupid in the usual Korine fashion” at the Toronto Film Fest. At Venice Xan Brooks of The Guardian said, “It’s horrid, it’s ghastly, it’s bizarrely engrossing.” There is zero doubt in our minds that Spring Breakers film will be polarizing when it comes to discussions of quality. Along with everything else.