One thing I’ve loved about participating in The Film Experience’s Hit Me With Your Best Shot series is that it has pushed me out of my comfort zone. It’s easy to get stuck in a blogging rut by writing about only certain movies, and only in a certain way. Thanks to Nathaniel, I’ve had the opportunity to watch films I’d never see otherwise, discuss movie architecture and title design, make lots of comments about censorship, and occasionally get downright silly. That being said, sometimes I balk at being pushed too far. Spring Breakers may finally be too far for me to follow.
Spring Breakers is basically an hour and a half long rap music video, complete with hypersexualized women, glorification of violence, excessive drug use, and rampant misogyny. Its main characters are a group of interchangeable college girls who are only distinct from each other because of their careers before Spring Breakers as Disney and CW stars. They don’t have distinct personalities, backstories, or costumes; all are pretty white girls in bikinis who love to party until they don’t, at which time they leave the film like contestants on Survivor: one at a time and with lots of forlorn looks back at the camera. The film may have a plot, but I’m not sure what it is. The college girls hook up with a drug dealer played by James Franco, who is at least given a personality by way of a ridiculous set of corn rows and a grill. To give you an idea of how this dizzying mess is put together, I will give you a shot. It’s probably not the Best Shot, but it’s the most coherent, and serves my purposes:
I compared the film to a rap video not only because of the more-than-slightly tasteless imagery, but because image, plot, and sound are often divorced from each other. Like a rap video, what’s happening onscreen is usually only tangentially related to what’s being sung or said. Voice over abounds, usually a single voice saying Thematically Important Things while a complete non sequitur image flits across the screen.
This scene is a rare moment of clarity. James Franco begins singing a Britney Spears song to the three girls, who are inexplicably dressed as you see them. Soon enough, both Franco’s version of the song and Spears’s original are playing over an extended slow motion shootout with… somebody. I wasn’t clear on the identities of the people being killed. The rest of the movie makes even less sense. If I wanted to give director Harmony Korine too much credit, I would say that the point of the film, not unlike other (better) gangster movies about good looking kids, is that violence can be dangerously seductive. In reality, I think the point of the film is that Harmony Korine likes to film naked girls dancing in slow motion.
I’m very aware that I’m beginning to sound like an old lady shouting at the new movies to get off of her lawn, so I apologize for the curmudgeonly tone with which I wrote this post. I am very grateful that I was able to complete the entire season of Hit Me With Your Best Shot; that’s 20 movies I wouldn’t have otherwise reviewed! That fact, as well as the fantastic time I’ve had getting to know other contributors through The Film Experience, has made this well worthwhile. Now please excuse me, for I must retire to my porch to blast Lara’s Theme and shake my cane at One Direction fans on their way to the cineplex.