Somebody buy the lady a drink. Or two. Or three. However many you can afford, because it seems Megan Ellison is determined to keep adventurous, challenging cinema alive through her Annapurna Pictures.
The company, who’s already been responsible for reviving The Master, supplying Wong-Kar Wai’s epic The Grandmasters and funding new projects from Spike Jonze and David O. Russell, has jumped on board Harmony Korine‘s sure-to-be-controversial Spring Breakers.
Ellison and co. have snatched up U.S. distribution rights to the picture, which screened earlier today in Venice. James Franco, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, Heather Morris all star, with a score from Cliff Martinez (Drive) and Skrillex.
Breakers tells the story of a quartets of college girls who attempt to fund their spring break vacation by robbing a food joint. The girls are soon arrested at a motel room party, only to be bailed out by a thug named Alien (Franco). The local criminal shows the girls both his wild and soft-hearted side, winning them over during the craziest spring break of their lives. With the film just premiering at Venice, check out some early impressions below and come back for our take at TIFF.
Even by the elastic measure of James Franco’s unpredictable career, the actor gives one of his more bizarre performances in Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers. Playing a Florida white-trash gangsta with beaded cornrows and a gleaming mouthful of metal, he’s a cross between Bo Derek in 10 and Richard Kiel in Moonraker. At one point he sits poolside at a cheesy white grand piano and sings a Britney Spears ballad while three co-eds in DTF pants and pink ski masks do an impromptu dance routine with AK-47s.
Korine’s wicked sense of humour is in evidence both in motifs borrowed from earlier films (masks, nonsense songs, clowning) and some sensational new tricks: a Russ Meyer-inflected heist montage backed by an obscure Britney Spears album track is a scream, and the cuts between almost every scene are underscored with the deafening snap of an automatic weapon being cocked.
Moments like this make Spring Breakers worth watching, but while the film is a success on its own art house exploitation terms, it can’t help but feel like a missed opportunity. The freakin’ American dream is an awful lot harder, sleazier and stranger than this.
The film is pretty good trash, morally speaking. But it’s not trashily made, with apt performances all round and music and cinematography that suits it perfectly. Boos, catcalls and applause greeted its Venice premiere. Maybe it is supposed to be ironic. But maybe Korine, having for years thought he was John Waters Mark II, now thinks he’s a second Tarantino. One thing’s for sure, Quentin is going to love it.
“Spring Breakers” [is] a curiously mainstream (at least by Korine’s standards) crime/exploitation picture — that could be described as “Drive” by way of Russ Meyer, Terry Richardson and “Point Blank” — featuring a bevy of teen starlets best known for wholesome work on the Disney Channel, and a performance from restless A-lister James Franco that might just be one of the actor’s best to date.
SPRING BREAKERS (Korine ’12) 6/10. Wild Things meets Project X, but sans that magic ‘Nourizadeh Touch.’ #Venezia69
— Neil Young (UK) (@JigsawLounge) September 4, 2012
Harmony Korine’s appropriately dirty Spring Breakers = 2nd best film in Venice so far. Media/social satire, doesn’t tell you what to think.
— Kalle Kinnunen (@kallekinnunen) September 4, 2012
Spring Breakers: err, is that it? About as controversial as Superbad. #Venezia69
— Robbie Collin (@robbiereviews) September 4, 2012
It’s got some fun-ish moments, a heist montage set to Britney Spears being the best. But I was hoping to be shocked, and wasn’t. #Venezia69
— Robbie Collin (@robbiereviews) September 4, 2012
Oh my god. Spring Breakers.
— Cate Kane (@filmgirlcate) September 4, 2012
— Enrico Vannucci (@hypervan) September 4, 2012
— Chiara Spagnoli (@claire_DM) September 4, 2012
— Mrgiuliano (@Mrgiuliano79) September 4, 2012
SPRING BREAKERS es la mejor película de Harmony Korine: el NATURAL BORN KILLERS de de la cultura teen del siglo XXI.
— Manu Yáñez (@manuyanezm) September 4, 2012
— Giulia Sabor (@giulia_sabor) September 4, 2012
— Viktor Jerner (@ViktorJerner) September 4, 2012
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