Some Notes on Spring Breakers (Round 2), Gummo, and Kids

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Lately, after being so high on Korine’s latest film, I’ve had the chance to look at some of his filmography, and rewatch Spring Breakers. So, here are some notes on my experiences and my thoughts on the films.

Spoilers Ahoy!

Spring Breakers

  • The second time around, Spring Breakers was just as good, just as hallucinatory, and just as fascinating.
  • There were seven walkouts in total.
  • Tragically, four of them occurred during the “Everytime” montage.
  • I am rather happy and proud of myself in how perceptive I was the first time around. Most of my notes were just reiteration of what I’d already articulated earlier in my review. But I still caught some things.
  • There is, throughout the film, a persistent motif of water. Rain when the chicken joint is about to be robbed; pools; sharks in the water; etc.
  • There seems to be a lot of comment on the relationship between masculinity and guns. In a Freudian way, the girls’ use of guns as a way to gain power is also treated as a sexualization of guns as a phallic object: witness Hudgens in the beginning squirting water into her mouth and later when Hudgens and Benson have Franco fellate a gun silencer.
  • This sequence in particular is fascinating and, as I said in my review, comparable to Killer Joe: with Joe, there is a pretty conventional D/S Male/female role being portrayed. That role is subverted in Spring Breakers, with the girls’ controlling the power. After his initial fear, Franco buys into that concept, which is all the more empowering and frightening.
  • I mentioned that the film plays more like an album than a song, and this is evident in the Malickian manipulation of time through images. The images function as certain chord progressions that repeat themselves throughout the film.
  • The use of Skrillex’s “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” is telling and, essentially, could be an essay by itself.
  • Martinez smartly changes the style of music depending on the locale and environment. Dubstep fills most of the spring break scenes, but it changes to electronic hip hop around Gucci Mane.
  • The gun cock noise is disturbing.
  • Picture taking and the desire to snapshot a moment in time forever is resonant with youth.
  • The lecture that the girls are clearly not paying attention to in the beginning of the film hints at the film’s look at racism.
  • Communal circles also appear as a motif.
  • The baby dolls in the dilapidated house party recall Gummo.
  • The girls convening behind the house also recall Gummo.
  • The use of “y’all” with such repetition, to me, sounds like it’s intentionally provoking discussion about its generalization of youth.
  • Everyone is drawn to the concept of superficiality, including the film’s audience, which might be one of the points.
  • Alien probably has such a name because he is a representation of teen alienation. This is why the girls are drawn to him. But his importance becomes less so and more doused with modesty as the film goes on and the girls “find themselves”.
  • When the film stock morphs hypnotically, so does the film. I mean, it was already pretty dark, but then it goes off the rails.
  • There’s a lot of attention paid to the point of power, as Benson (or Hudgens?) tells Gomez she should become more violent and dominant because the power is alluring. Yay female agency!
  • “This wasn’t supposed to happen” could refer to the economy, but that might be me stretching it a bit.
  • The overlapping dialogue of the girls as they describe their robbery enhances the legitimate fear engendered by that scene. The chaotic camerawork also accentuates this element.
  • YouTube, because of ubiquity.
  • “I don’t like where we’re from” helps my theory about her rebellion.
  • There is a collision of styles in this film. In one corner, you have Terrence Malick’s hallucinatory visuals, voice over, and fragmented time. In the other, you have the nasty indictment and rhetoric of Jean-Luc Godard.
  • There’s a lot of neon in this film, and that seems to symbolize pleasurable desire. And, for all of the pink in the film, which is often associated with femininity, that is subverted, especially at the end of the film.
  • Someone commented about the film’s somewhat vague message and commentary and that it sort of just throws stuff at the wall to see what sticks. That may be true, but that, in itself, may be a message. Throwing stuff against the wall might be a way of portraying the numerous messages and ideas that are thrown at youth culture, things that often contradict one another or don’t stick.
  • The use of Ellie Goulding’s track “Lights” embodies the hypnotizing power of what draws the protagonists.

Gummo

  • I did not despise the film, funnily enough.
  • It felt like a walking tour through a museum of very sad people.
  • It seemed to be about a collection of broken people, broken homes, broken minds and the community and culture that is created in spite/despite those factors.
  • The question remains, though, to what extent is Korine treating his characters like sideshow freaks and mocking them or looking at them with genuine awe, pity, and fascination?
  • I would surmise a bit of both.
  • Its collage style was actually very interesting and kept my attention for the whole of the film, which I didn’t think it would do.
  • Some truly heartbreaking scenes.
  • Some of the music choices are genius.
  • Unsurprisingly, much of the imagery is repulsive.

Kids

  • I was aware that Spring Breakers was sort of a spiritual sequel to Kids. But, while that’s true, the former film is far more mature and complete feeling.
  • It is, in many ways, the opposite of Spring Breakers.
  • I had a lot of issues with Kids.
  • While its general plotline was all fine and interesting, there was a surprising lack of depth to the film.
  • Although I understand that opposite to Spring Breakers, the film was supposed to be pretty much from a male perspective, I felt that Larry Clark’s insistent use of the male gaze ended up undermining any sort of feminist comments in the film. Instead, the viewer just has to kind of buy into the inherent misogyny of the film.
  • I’m honestly not used to so much moral ambiguity in my films, but while Gummo and Spring Breakers are able to use this technique wisely, letting the audience judge for themselves, there’s so little in the way of any morality in the film that it overplays its hand in that respect.
  • Thus, its function as a morality tale doesn’t work quite as well. But it is, nonetheless, still somewhat effective, if only because of its shock and awe approach.
  • While you could accuse Spring Breakers of having misogyny, I believe heartily that the film, because it gives its female characters a lot of power, portrays a world of misogyny that is then subverted. In Kids, misogyny exists and the audience is just supposed to accept that as de facto.
  • Its substance about the AIDS epidemic was… lacking.
  • It just sort of reveled and rolled around in its own filth at times.
  • Overall, I actually liked Gummo more. Kids had too many problems in the way of characters and shock for shock’s sake.

Other comments

  • Another question I have is the authenticity of the portrayals of the characters in all three films.
  • To my understanding, although the films are scripted, Korine (and Clark) gave a lot of freedom on set to just let things happen.
  • However, I believe there is some hyperbole in the way of language and actions in all three. Not too much, but it is still there. This might have a purpose, but one does think to oneself, “IS this how people really act?”
  • I’ve heard accusations that Spring Breakers does not portray girls accurately. I actually kind of disagree with this, speaking from some experience. Just with the way the girls interact with one another, I see some similarities between the characters and my friends.
  • That said, it is refreshing, I guess, seeing pieces of society and culture that we refuse to admit exist portrayed on the screen in some way related to reality.
  • Could the three form some sort of Death of the American Dream Trilogy? Or, if we include Trash Humpers (which I have not seen yet), a “quadrilogy”?
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One thought on “Some Notes on Spring Breakers (Round 2), Gummo, and Kids

    […] pieces on the film, but in reality was just six: on the pre-release excitement, my initial review, on seeing it a second time in the theaters, on the music, on the gender dynamics, and on the New American Dream. Spring Breakers is like a fun […]

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