Harmony Korine

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7.6 Gummo (1997)
7.2 Julien Donkey Boy (1999)
6.4 Mister Lonely (2008)
7.0 Trash Humpers (2009)
7.0 Spring Breakers (2012)
6.0 The Legend of Cambo (2015)

If English is your first language and you could translate my old Italian text, please contact me.
Scroll down for recent reviews in English.
Harmony Korine

Il fotografo Larry Clark dirige Kids (1995), una storia di vita adolescenziale a Manhattan nell'era dell'AIDS e delle droghe, su sceneggiatura di Harmony Korine. Le due epidemie troneggiano sulle scappate amorali dei ragazzini che sottendono in ultimo un desiderio di morte.

Gli unici personaggi del film sono ragazzini. Telly sta sverginando una ragazza. Poi esce con l'amico Casper e gli racconta i suoi exploit sessuali. Il suo passatempo preferito e' andare a letto con le vergini. Rubano una bottiglia di alcool da un negozio e riempiono di epiteti razzisti il proprietario orientale. A un party i ragazzi parlano delle ragazze mentre guardano un video di skateboard. Le ragazze discutono dei trucchi che i ragazzi usano per portarle a letto la prima volta. Le ragazze sembrano prediligere il sesso brutale. Due delle ragazze, una nera e una bianca (Jenny), vanno a fare il test dell'AIDS. La nera ha avuto otto uomini e quattro rapporti anali. Jenny ha avuto soltanto un uomo: Telly. Jenny risulta positiva. Telly ruba soldi alla'madre mentre questa sta allattando il neonato. Poi esce con Casper e va a comprare un po' di droga. Si aggregano a un gruppo di ragazzi. Picchiano un nero che passava: Casper lo finisce sfasciandogli la faccia con lo skateboard. Vanno tutti in piscina. Telly riesce a portarci anche una vergine che gli piace. Jenny a zonzo alla ricerca di Telly. In piscina le ragazze lesbiche si baciano ed eccitano i ragazzi, mentre Telly seduce la verginella. Jenny va in discoteca, un amico le fa vedere due gruppi di persone che si baciano a catasta, poi le fa prendere una pillola allucinogena. Telly e gli altri vanno a un party, dove Telly riesce ad appartarsi con la verginella, che prima gli resiste ma poi lo lascia fare. Jenny arriva al party, sempre alla ricerca di Telly. Quasi tutti stanno dormendo, Casper le indica la stanza dove Telly sta facendo l'amore. Jenny apre la porta e vede la verginella che soffre. Ma non dice nulla: chiude la porta e va ad addormentarsi esausta su una poltrona. Casper ne approfitta per fotterla selvaggiamente. Questi ragazzi passano tutto il tempo a fare l'amore, ubriacarsi e drogarsi. Inquadrature bizzarre. Racconto ellittico, senza entusiasmo. Realismo feroce.

Lo stile onirico di Korine-regista si rivela con Gummo (1997), uno squarcio sociale di un sobborgo della provincia Americana dopo che il tornado ha distrutto non soltanto le case ma anche il tessuto sociale. Cio` che rimane sono orde di ragazzini, nani e mostri assortiti che si aggirano nella citta` come se si trattasse di un porcile. Korine cerca lo schifo a tutti i costi. Ancora una volta a dominare e` il senso di degrado morale, che si accompagna alla miseria materiale. La differenza e` che il linguaggio e` quello anarchico e violento di Korine, non quello estetico di Clark.

Korine turns to directing with Gummo (1997), a fragmented film that mixes home-made videos, stills and regular scenes. The method is oneiric, but the goal is a realistic portrait of destitute social life in a town that sounds like it is isolated from the rest of the world after being devastated by a natural disaster. It's a population of amoral freaks: heartless kids, brainless young men, perverts, murderers, mentally retarded people, drunkards, drug addicts... At times it feels like Korine is filming animals in a farmyard. He indulges in the disgusting aspects of life, moral degradation coupled with material poverty. The difference with Clark is that Korine's language is anarchic and violent, and it has a cryptic and oneiric element in the unexplaied (and probably homeless) "rabbit child" who begins and ends the story. The film is a complex layered meditation. The collage of home videos creates a psychological documentary, constantly anchoring the story to real life. It's a sort of Brecht-ian trick that constantly remind us that this is a film, while at the same time reminding us that it's a film about important sociopolitical topics. At the same time the tornado, whose path of destruction is shown at the beginning and evoked at the end, becomes a metaphorical presence, the embodiment of the sense of moral and physical destruction, and perhaps the real protagonist of the film. The speechless bunny boy is the hapless witness, powerless to change the nature of people, indifferent to their cruelty, aware of the insignificance of life.

First we see a collage of home videos about the tornado that struck a small town in Ohio a few years earlier. A boy recalls the events in a shaky voice, describing horror scenes like a a dog hanging from a telephone pole. A mostly naked boy, wearing a bunny hat, walks on a freeway overpass for pedestrians, and pees, smokes a cigarette, vomits, kicks the protective net . A kid, Tummler, grabs a cat and drowns it in a barrel full of water. At night the same kid makes out with a girl inside a broken car and notices a lump on the girl's tit. Tummler, the older boy, and Solomon, the younger one, ride their bicycles through town. The narrating voice talks about Tummler over still images of him. Tummler stops and aims his gun at a cat. Solomon stops him from killing the cat because it belongs to a family. A girl comes out of the house to pick up the cat while the two kids walk away. Three sisters live inside the house, apparently with no parents. Two of them are teenagers and the third one is still a little girl. They wonder if the cat could be pregnant. The two older sisters, half naked in the bathroom, put tape on their nipples to make their breasts look sexier. The camera in slow motion shows one of the two teenagers moving her head in a sexy manner. Tummler and Solomon have a bag full of street cats that they killed. They bike to a grocery store owned by a black man, Huntz. The story jumps to two skinhead brothers who, we are told by the narrating voice, murdered their parents. First they exercise at home lifting weights, then they spar in the kitchen, laughing while they trade painful punches. The camera shows a little girl playing alone while we hear the audio recording of girl recalling how she was first abused at four by her father, ending with a home video of her parents. Tummler and Solomon meet with black man Huntz, who buys their dead cats but also tells them that they now have a competitor, a kid named Jarrod, who also kills stray cats for money. Huntz mentions that he sells them to a Chinese restaurant that is going out of business. Tummler asks him for some strong glue. We see a home video of a woman who had her cat killed. The killer boasts of pouring gasoline into its mouth and lighting it up. The woman mentions that someone put a cat in a mirowave until it melted. Friends talk about their experience in jail. They hate blacks. Tummler and Solomon walk their bikes to a place where they get high sniffing the glue. While high on the drug, Tummler talks about pop star Roy Orbison, his brother's favorite singer. His brother left the town for the big city. He was transsexual, dressing like women. The story shits to two little boys wearing cowboy costumes and brandishing toy guns. They indulge in all sorts of obscene curses while destroying objects in a junkyard. The boy with the bunny hat walks in silently. The little boys shoot him with their toy guns like in a western movie. The bunny boy falls to the ground and pretends to be dead. The little boys still insult him and keep shooting his dead body. They take one of his shoes and throw it away. Then they finally leave the scene. We see a mentally retarded woman walking with a doll that she thinks it's her baby and singing an alphabet lullaby to it like she's singing to a real baby. Two of the three sisters, Dot and Helen, watch a handsome tennis player Eddie. He tells them that he has attention disorder disease. The two girls walk back home through traffic, cars honking at them. The younger sister thinks that the boy likes skinny girls, and the older one feels that she's not skinny enough. A drunk young man (played by Korine himself) talks about a lesbian midwife, his old mother and other oddities while sitting next to a black gay midget. He cries that he was rejected and abused, he's lonely, and tries to make out with the midget, but the midget only gives him a hug. Tummler and Solomon track down Jarrod, a shy neurotic kid who takes care of a catatonic granma. Tummler and Solomon visit a man and pay him money to have sex with his sister Cassidey. Tummler is the first to go into her room and we are not shown it. Then it's Solomon's turn and we see her, a fat mentally retarded girl. Tummler and Solomon hang a dead cat by a tree branch and whip it even if it's already dead. At night Jarrold lays poison near dumpsters to kill cats. We see a home video of a depressed man who wants to commit suicide. The three sisters play in their frontyard and chat with neighbors. We see a home video of people talking about lesbians and another home video of someone meditating on the importance of wood for the development of the USA. Solomon exercises in his messy basement, weight-lifting. His mom mocks him. His mom looks at his father's old tapping shoes, wears them and starts tapping in front of the mirror. She tries in vain to make Solomon smile. She tells him that she misses his dad. She even points a gun at his head but he still doesn't smile. The story shift to an old albino woman lying on hood of a car. She describes herself as a good person as if she is writing a romantic ad. We see a home video dated 1983 of two identical twins bathing together, scrubbing each other's back. Then we see a home video about a drug-addict, pervert, and drug dealer . The three sisters wash their cat. Tummler in the car with his father asks him if he misses his mother, who died, and the father replies that she was a really nice woman, and then talks about somebody else's wife (not clear if that's Tummler's mother, and how she died). Tummler beats his own father at arm wrestling in front of friends. Then the black midget beats a big young man at arm wrestling and the big man, very upset, breaks the table. Then this man and another one fight with a chair pretending the chair is a man and viciously destroy it. The bunny boy skates down an empty street extending his arms like a bird. Tummler and Solomon, biking around town, find a cat trap. A boy is twisting all the paintings on the wall. Tummler's girlfriend is told by the doctor that she has breast cancer and needs to have one breast removed, and she knows that boys will stop looking at her. We see the home video of a suicidal man, followed by a Satanic video, while the narrating voice comments that life is beautiful. Tummler and Solomon break into Jarrod's house wearing women's masks, probably searching for the material that Jarrod uses to catch cats. Solomon finds photos of Jarrod wearing women's clothes and posing like a Playboy centerfold. A home video shows us Jarrod in those poses. Solomon also finds a gay magazine. In the next room they find Jarrod's catatonic grandmother, who is kept alive by a life-support machine. Tummler comments that she could live like a vegetable forever, proves to Solomon that nothing can wake her up, and then turns off the machine, killing her. The mentally disabled woman hugs her baby doll, talks to the camera and shaves her eyebrows. The bunny boy plays a toy accordion while sitting on a toilet in a public bathroom. In a parking lot the three sisters distribute posters about their cat: it disappeared. The sisters then have a snack at a bowling alley next to a table where two deaf people, a woman and a man, argue in sign language while making odd sounds with their mouths. A middle-aged man pretends that he saw the cat and takes the girls in his car. He tells them he is a gossip writer. He stops the car and starts touching one of the girls. The girls fight back, get out of the car, and he drives away in a hurry. We see stills of Solomon never smiling. He takes a bath. His house is an absolute mess. His mother serves him pasta in the bathroom, and washes his hair while he is eating. She answers the door: two twin black boys dressed in nice suits are going door-to-door selling candies and she buys some for Solomon. We see the twins counting their money by a tree, all happy that they are getting rich by selling candies. The bunny boy is swimming in an above-ground swimming pool with the two teenage sisters and kissing both of them while it's raining on them. In a nearby field, under the same rain, Solomon and Tummler shoot the sisters' cat. We see a home video of the tornado approaching and destroying homes on its way. Bunny Boy runs through a field holding the body of a dead cat until the cat is right in front of the camera. The mentally retarded woman who shaved her eyebrows is lying in bed with an older woman, presumably her mother, and sings "Jesus Loves Me" until somebody tells her to sleep. The film ends with very loud heavy-metal music.
If English is your first language and you could translate my old Italian text, please contact me.
Scroll down for recent reviews in English.

Julien Donkey Boy (1999) si attiene ai dettami del "Dogme 95": cinepresa a mano, niente effetti speciali, niente costumi, suoni registrati sul set. Korine fa pero` un uso persino eccessivo di trucchi di fotografia, dal ralenti` (slow motion) al freeze-frame. L'intero film e` fotografato attraverso filtri colorati e granulari.

Julien e` un idiota schizofrenico. Nella prima scena ha un alterco con un bambino a proposito di una tartaruga che hanno trovato nel bosco: uccide il bambino e lo seppellisce nel fango. Mentre scava nel fango, pronuncia frasi religiose. Ma non e` chiaro se si tratti di un fatto reale o di una delle sue allucinazioni.
Una rapida serie di flash introduce la famiglia di Julien: una ballerina che si esercita, un uomo di mezza eta` che beve guardando la televisione, un atleta che si allena salendo le scale con le braccia. La famiglia si riunisce ogni sera per cena. Il padre e` un immigrato tedesco un po' sadico che ogni tanto si lascia andare a lunghe digressioni da intellettuale. Il fratello Chris aspira a diventare un campione di lotta. Il padre si eccita guardando la televisione, ora con una maschera antigas sul volto, ora ingoiando sciroppo contro la tosse. Le attenzioni del padre sono quasi tutte per Chris, che ha cresciuto perche' diventi un "winner". La sorella Pearl e` incinta. Rifiuta di rivelare chi sia il padre, ma i flashback fanno vedere Julien che balla in una discoteca.
Inquadrature rapide e nevrotiche fanno vedere Julien che gioca a bowling con gli amici, che blatera solo sul marciapiede, che si confessa in chiesa, che delira di guerra con in mano un fucile, che si diverte in piscina. Il padre gioca a carte con un nano a cui mancano le braccia. Non solo usa i piedi come se fossero mani, ma e` anche dotato di poteri soprannaturali, perche' riesce a pescare sempre l'asso. E` persino capace di suonare la batteria con i piedi. Anche la ballerina, la cui immagine sfocata e frantumata, compare di continuo fra una scena e l'altra, e` dotata di poteri insoliti, in quanto e` cieca.
La sorella telefona a Julien e gli fa credere di essere la madre. Julien si commuove parlandole.
A una festa di compleanno un commediante ingurgita sigarette accese. Julien lava i piedi alla ragazzina semicieca.
Il padre e la sorella costringono Chris e Julien a fare la lotta in salotto, ma Julien si mette a piangere.
L'immagine spesso si ferma o procede in maniera discontinua. Anche l'audio a un certo punto perde consistenza e sembra imitare le immagini.
La sorella sta imparando a suonare l'arpa, ma il padre la detesta. Le da` della puttana. Julien la difende. Il padre lo obbliga a schiaffeggiarsi da se`.
Al pattinaggio la sorella confida alla cieca "I wish I were deaf. The world is just too loud". Poi cade e perde il bambino, mentre la ragazzina continua le sue evoluzioni acrobatiche.
Julien si fa consegnare il bambino (e` il suo bambino) e se lo porta a casa.
Il vero soggetto del film sono i pensieri (confusi, frammentari, circolari) di Julien. La realta` viene filtrata attraverso la sua mente e riproposta come flash di emozioni. Ancora una volta l'ambientazione e` quella di un appartamento suburbano, di un quartiere povero.

Mister Lonely (2008) was a minor film, followed by a much more interesting one, Trash Humpers (2009), which is neither narrative nor documentary, shot in a very lo-fi format with a hand-held camera. It is a horror movie about a group of evil sadistic psychopaths, freaks who indulge in ritualistic violence and sex and enjoy seeing others suffer. It is drenched in the punk ethos of disgust. Every now and then we see the signs "auto tracking" or "play" on the screen and the effect of fast forwarding. A woman is having sex with a garbage bag. Two old masked cripples with crutches have sex with garbage bags and fences. They are wearing masks of disfigured faces. The woman has sex with a tree. A masked man perform oral sex on the leaf of a tree. An abandoned toilet in the middle of a field. The camera follows the masked man in a wheelchair, a masked man who is drunk and the red-haired woman. When they laugh, they sound like chickens. The two masked men demolish a house with hammers. The trio rests in a parking lot. The woman washes the wheelchair with high-pressure hose while the two men watch. The trio destroys a tv set and a boombox in the dark. Then they dance around them The following day the trio plays basketball with a little boy and laugh that he can't throw the ball high enough to get it into the basket. The woman rocks a doll wrapped in plastic and sings a singsong. Then the child takes hold of the doll and shows how to do it: he puts the doll in a plastic bag as if to suffocate it, then he starts hitting the doll in the head with a hammer, viciously, repeatedly. The masked men lie on the ground while the woman, sitting in the wheelchair, tells the child to hide a razorblade inside an apple. Then one of the man, on a leash, pulls the wheelchair with them sitting in it. At night the two masked men have sex with the garbage cans while the woman watches. Then she behaves like she's masturbating a stick. At night one of the masked men has sex with a lamppost. Two other men (no masks) in green pajamas (that don't cover their butt) have sex against a tree. The two men in green pajamas cook for the masked men and the red-haired woman. The trio sleeps on the floor. The pajama boys serve the food to the red-haired woman and the masked men. She forces the chefs to pour soap on their pancakes and then to eat them. At night, they all listen to the radio in the porch. The pajamas men perform a skit as conjoined twins. One of the masked men masturbates against the wall, and the two masked men hang the doll on a post outside the house. The two masked men slap the butt of three fat women. Another woman joins the orgy singing a Christmas song. Late night at a STOP sign lit by a wavering flashlight, the two masked freaks masturbate against a house. Then they drive in the deserted streets. A dark-haired woman masturbates against a tree while massaging her butt. The camera approaches a naked dead body lying in the grass near a river while someone is singing a singsong. The two masked men and the red-haired woman walk under a highway overpass and meet a bearded man playing the guitar. He takes them to the rooftop of a building where he recites some written lines while the masked man in a wheelchair throws firecrackers around. Back at their home, that poet is lying on the floor in a pool of blood, a hammer next to his head, blood all over the face of one of the masked man, while the others walk around indifferent. At night again a masked man has sex with a lamppost. We see the STOP and PLAY signs of the camcorder. Then the masked men, the red-haired woman talking and dancing with a man in front of his R/V. This man then performs alone, simulating a steam locomotive. After a sequence of brief scenes, they rest in the heat, listening to noise coming from their mobile phones. One of them has sex with a mailbox. At night a man wearing a cast around his neck and a sling for a broken arm tells offensive jokes about homosexuals and talks to the cameraman. This man then witnesses (laughing out loud) the strangling and suffocating of a naked man at a table in front of a birthday cake while another man plays a dissonant tune on the guitar. The victim's head is wrapped in a plastic bag until he dies. Then one of the masked men whips the dead body with a rope. The red-haired woman, wearing black gloves, serves the cake to one of the masked men. At night we see a cocoon of the dead body wrapped in linen abandoned in a lawn. One of the masked men plays a feverish drum solo. Then we see the sign REWIND. The red-haired woman and the two masked men ride around in bicycles, each one dragging a doll with a rope tied to the saddle. They all stop to have sex with trees. Then we are introduced to a man lying and blowing a trumpet. He stops to welcome them into his house with a German accent and gives a delirious speech about his right to die. He then strums the chords of the guitar producing only noise. At night the red-haired woman, laughing nonstop, tells a hydrant that she's in love with it and then flashes her flashlight at a dog that is barking while the masked men are having sex as usual with garbage cans. We see the sign PLAY and then the camera sits next to one of the masked men driving around at night and giving a long speech while the other masked man is sitting in the back and laughing. When then see the driver alone in a garage acting like a chicken and then singing. Then we see the red-haired woman biking around dragging the doll tied to the back of the bike until she stops to drink something. Then she resumes her ride at a faster speed, stopping here and there to rest or stretch, singing. We see the sign PLAY and it's night again. She flashes her flashlight to a cat walking in the garden. Wearing black gloves, she washes a baby and then puts the baby in a stroller and walks outside in the dark, always singing one of her demented singsongs. There's nobody around. She stops under a lamppost and stops singing. The baby is staring at her.

Spring Breakers (2012) would like to be a Quentin Tarantino-style pulp trash romance but mostly ends up being a documentary on how pathetic and obnoxious the spoiled Northamerican kids can be (who keep repeating "It's like paradise here" while wasting time in a horrible artificial place and wasting money on booze and drugs, not wasting their brain because they don't seem to have any). The second half tries to get more serious about the addiction to violence, sex and drugs by two teenage girls but the personalities of the girls are superficially sculpted and the plot often sounds implausible without adequate preparation. In the end, this second half sounds a lot like a parody of the television series "Charlie's Angels". Visually, however, this is high-quality "pulp". And the enigmatic ending, while highly implausible, has some resilient power.

The film opens with sequences of wild beach parties. Then we see three girls (Brittany, Candy and Cotty) at a college class, hardly paying attention to the lecturer, and later smoking, doing drugs and simulating sex. Then a girl, Faith, who attends a religious retreat but with little or no enthusiasm. Her friends in the religious group warn her against her wild friends, but Faith replies that she's known them since kindergarten. The four girls meet in Faith's dorm and count the money that they have been saving since the beginning of the year: they don't have enough to fulfil their plans for "spring break". One night the trio decides to rob a restaurant. After a propitiatory dose of cocaine, Cotty drives Brittany and Candy, wearing shorts and a mask, and armed with a hammer and a pistol (that one of the girls had been licking sensually), to the late-night diner. The robbery works and the three girls celebrate by burning the pick-up truck that they had stolen from a professor. Then they rush to show the money to Faith, who, excited, even accepts to do drugs with them. The money is needed to pay for vacations in Florida. They join the crowds of wild young students at the beach (the first scene of the movie). The three criminals finally reveal to Faith how they got the money. Parties with plenty of alcohol and drugs suddenly end when they are arrested (in bikini), jailed (in bikini) and sentenced in a court (still wearing the same bikinis). We hear Faith meditate that they were just trying to find out who they are. A shady stranger, nicknamed Alien, pays bail for them and then takes them for a tour of the neighborhood (the girls are still wearing the same bikinis). As he tells them that he is a gangster with plenty of money, we see scenes of his dangerous criminal life. Alien takes the girls (still wearing the same bikins) to a billiard room crowded with rough guys (presumably members of Alien's gang). Faith breaks down: she is not having fun and she feels uncomfortable with this company. She begs the others to go home with her, but they decide to stay, as Alien had predicted. Alien takes the remaining trio to his mansion, where he boasts about having survived his violent life and shows them what his crimes allowed him to buy (including machine guns). Alien takes them to a strip club where the owner, Big Arch, an old acquaintance, tells him to stay out of his territory. Back at the mansion, Brittany and Candy pretend to be turned on by Alien's self-serving demonstrations of wealth and violence, but then grab his loaded guns and stick them into his mouth, promising to kill him within a few seconds... but it is just a joke. He loves it. They are now real buddies. He equips the trio with semiautomatic weapons and uniforms (a satire on "Charlie's Angels"?) and then leads them on a series of robberies on the "Spring Breakers" who are in town (apparently something he does every year). Big Arch wants to teach Alien a lesson and, after lecturing him in the middle of the street from his sport car, he orders one of his men to shoot at Alien's car where Cotty gets wounded. Cotty decides to return home (and to school) but the other two, morbidly attracted to the gangster, stubbornly stay behind. They become lovers in a "menage a trois" and start toying with the idea of getting back at Big Arch. While we see the trio, armed to the teeth, taking off on a motorboad, we also see a flashforward in which the girls are calling home with the news that they have finally decided to leave Florida. The trio is walking towards Big Arch's mansion when suddenly a guard shoots and kills Alien. The two girls (wearing the usual bikini) fire back and keep walking, like real professional warriors, hardly trying to protect themselves, and shooting at everybody they meet on their way, while the soundtrack is Faith's voice calling home and telling her mother how much fun their vacation was. The bikini duo finds Big Arch in his bathtub and coldly executes him before leaving in his own sport car, two gorgeous blondes on a sunny day. The final scene shows how they left the mansion after killing everybody and kissing dead Alien one last time, and the scene is showed upside down. The Legend of Cambo (2015) is another minor film.

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