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Now Playing: Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers
dir: Harmony Korine (USA, 2012)
Rating: 8.7

spring

The bottom line: A bevy of bikini-clad babes beer bongwater bacchanal booyah beach-noir bouncing boobs butts Brueghel Bosch

Now playing in wide release is Spring Breakers, the fifth feature film by Harmony Korine. A couple of my students who saw it before me warned me that although they found it “visually beautiful,” they also thought “the story was terrible.” While I know what they mean, I think they are also missing the point and perhaps even inadvertently paying the movie a compliment; the “story,” such as it is — four college girls rob a fast-food restaurant to finance a spring break trip to St. Petersburg, where their involvement in criminal activity escalates after meeting a rapper/drug dealer — is so thin it’s barely there. But a more story-driven Spring Breakers would resemble many of the wannabe-edgy indie films already saturating the marketplace. Korine, like David Cronenberg in Cosmopolis, is up to something more daring and subversive. In any event, anyone expecting traditional storytelling or characterization from a Harmony Korine film is, as Billy Wilder might say, barking up the wrong fish. The weakest aspect of Spring Breakers, by far, is its exposition, which is also where it feels most like a “normal movie”: early scenes introduce the four girls — Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson), Cotty (Rachel Korine) and Faith (Selena Gomez) — and show them pooling their money, lamenting their lack of funds and plotting the robbery, but these scenes feel obligatory and unconvincing. The robbery scene itself, shot through the windows of the restaurant from a moving car in a single long take that recalls the heist in Joseph H. Lewis’ Gun Crazy, is formidable. But it isn’t until the spring breakers arrive in Florida that the film starts to become great. This is in part because of how the editing rhythms grow increasingly non-narrative and abstract, and in part because of the arrival of James Franco as the rapper/drug dealer known as “Alien” — a gonzo Method performance that ranks as the actor’s finest to date.

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Like all of Korine’s films, Spring Breakers has sharply divided critics. The most common complaints leveled against it are that it is immoral (one well-known online critic recommended registering as a sex offender after watching it), lacking in substance or needlessly and tediously repetitive. While all of these criticisms are stupid, they have also unfortunately sent the movie’s supporters too far in the opposite direction in making claims for its greatness and profundity: some positive notices have interpreted the dire financial straits that lead the girls to robbery as some kind of incisive commentary on the current U.S. economy, and one Film Comment reviewer goes much further, claiming the film is nothing less than a statement about the decline of Western Civilization. I would put myself squarely in between these two positions, finding Spring Breakers mostly interesting as an unusually intoxicating piece of eye and ear candy: it’s like a very pleasant 94-minute fever dream or drug experience — with saturated, primary colors (Korine told his cinematographer he wanted the images to resemble pop music or Skittles candy), a trippy electronic score (courtesy of Cliff Martinez and Skrillex) and non-linear editing all combining into an impressive impressionistic swirl. And I found the deliberate repetition and reshuffling of certain shots and lines of dialogue, especially Alien’s creepy incantatory chant of “spraang breeaak . . . sprang break for-ev-ah,” to be one of Korine’s most appealing aesthetic choices; this candy-colored artsploitation fantasia, like no movie I can think of since Wong Kar-Wai’s Chungking Express in 1994, achieves the sheer repetitive catchiness of a terrific pop song.

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The film’s other great strength is James Franco, an actor I’ve never paid much attention to in the past, but who explodes onscreen here in a way that has to be seen to be believed. The very look of Alien is extraordinary: he wears his hair in long cornrows, sports platinum grills and prison-tattoos, and has a ridiculously gaudy wardrobe that looks like a grotesque parody of a gansta-rapper. But his charismatic line deliveries are even more striking. (Franco has cited a couple of underground rappers as the inspiration for his performance but the semi-disturbing way he drawls through a permanent grin seems to recall Willem Dafoe in Wild at Heart as well.) “Why y’all actin’ ‘spicious?” he asks the girls after bailing them out of jail and imploring them to go for a ride in his car. Pretty soon all of the girls, except for the goody-two-shoes Faith (who beats a hasty retreat back home), are seduced by Alien’s hustler lifestyle, with its promise of easy cash and materialism. Alien, in turn, sees the girls as his muses — he calls them his “three mermaids” — and it’s not long before he’s recruited them to be soldiers in a war against his nemesis “Big Arch” (rapper Gucci Mane), St. Pete’s reigning drug kingpin. For the most part, the actresses playing the girls hold their own with Franco. Gomez as Faith has a couple of affecting scenes where she cries real tears, and Hudgens and Benson are creditable as the aggressive bad-girl duo of Candy and Brit; in one particularly memorable sequence, they make Alien fellate the barrels of their loaded guns, which turns him on (“Y’all are my motherfuckin’ soulmates!). The one weak link in the cast is Rachel Korine, whose character, Cotty, feels the least coherent of the four, and surely it’s no coincidence that, as the director’s wife, she also has to bear the brunt of appearing in the most exploitative scenes.

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Many critics have noted that some aspects of the film seem to allude to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, including one astonishing scene in which Alien delivers a monologue that begins “Look at my shit!” and then proceeds to inventory his most prized possessions for the girls’ benefit. (The roster, hilariously, includes not only his guns and clothes but also “blue Kool-Aid,” “Calvin Klein Escape” and “Scarface on repeat!”) This scene is a kind of unhinged modern-day update of the celebrated passage in Fitzgerald’s novel where Jay Gatsby, always mindful of the impact of his possessions on Daisy, throws dress-shirts of every style and color around the room. It is in moments like this — as well as in the inspired use of a Britney Spears song to accompany a robbery montage — where Korine’s true motives become clear: he is satirizing what he sees as empty and soulless about contemporary American pop culture. This would be far easier for more viewers to swallow, however, if Korine were less ambivalent in his critique. He doesn’t merely want to criticize his young female characters for being vapid; he wants to party with them as well, and shows their quest for fun as containing a legitimate desire for some kind of spiritual transcendence. Because this is the case, the film ends on a note that is simultaneously improbable, ridiculous and sublime. (Without giving anything away, it is also, as an action set-piece, more satisfying and coherent than any comparable scene in Django Unchained.) How one ultimately feels about Spring Breakers probably depends on the extent to which one finds Korine’s seemingly contradictory impulses hypocritical. One thing, however, is for damn sure: watching Leonaro DiCaprio flinging his shirts around in 3-D is going to seem awfully lame in comparison. Spring break forever, bitches.

Check out the red band Spring Breakers trailer on YouTube below:

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About michaelgloversmith

Filmmaker, author and Film Studies instructor. View all posts by michaelgloversmith

37 responses to “Now Playing: Spring Breakers

  • Scott G

    I found it interesting that Faith mentions a desire to “find herself” during their sojourn, but reconsiders out of fear. Meanwhile, as the group is whittled down, Candy and Brit seize the opportunity to become the amoral thrillseekers they truly are, which wasn’t possible in the company of their reluctant friends. Once Faith and Cotty are no longer in the picture, another curious thing happens: Any conflict that existed between the central characters is eliminated. Candy, Brit and Alien are all on the same page, which is pretty unusual for any narrative film. Ordinarily there are still minor conflicts to be dealt with even when the characters are moving towards a common goal.

    • michaelgloversmith

      Great point, Scott. The other interesting thing about the ending is what happens during the actual climax; the fates of Alien, Candy and Brit go against audience expectation of what will happen to them in a way that is satisfying precisely because of its ridiculousness. Even though there are aspects of the film I don’t like, as I point out in my review, the aspects of it that are refreshingly, daringly original make nearly every other American film of recent memory seem so, so stale.

      • Scott G

        Speaking of the fates of Candy and Brit, did you happen to notice where they end up in the end? There’s a very distinctive-looking bridge connecting St. Pete’s to Sarasota…My Dad lives in that area so I got to drive over it a couple of times. When the four girls arrive, they cross the bridge. When Faith and Cotty leave, they cross back again. But I don’t remember Brit and Candy crossing back over the bridge at the end of the film…kind of like they’re stuck there, metaphorically speaking. Thoughts?

      • michaelgloversmith

        Oh yeah, I definitely think they were going to stay there but I had a more positive feeling about their situation. Instead of saying that they were “stuck” there, I thought the point was that they were going to be the new drug kingpins of St. Pete (taking over from Big Arch and Alien). It’s a cheerfully amoral ending but, again, one that subverts our expectation of characters being punished for doing bad things.

  • jpreskitt

    I’m regrettably regretful I didn’t see this wit you. AND Korine has always been on of my favorites!
    Let me know if you’ll see it again!

  • Adil S

    Another thing I found intriguing, is how Alien represents the dream and Big Arch the reality. All the stuff we see on the Alien’s house is how he perceived to be a real G, to live the American Dream, that’s what those girls wanted to see when they decided to come in FL(how pop culture perceives living life of a gangsta rapper). In the other hand, we have Big Arch who lives the real life of the gangster, which is not at all( we see the two not so attractive women having intercourse with him) that fancy and cool, but very boring and troublesome. I think that’s the reason why Alien is killed first. Because that’s would happen in reality to gangsters. I think that was essential to the story.

  • Patrick

    I have finally watched this film hahahah very entertaining!! you have to be alien for Halloween!!! by the way is the director’s other films are unique and stylish like spring breakers? you should say “M.G. Smith fo evaah bitches!” at the end of every class hahahahaha

    • michaelgloversmith

      Patrick, I went to the hairdresser about two months ago and told her I wanted to have corn rows for Halloween. Unfortunately, she told me that my hair wasn’t going to be long enough by then. My only option would be to get extensions but, let’s face it, that’s a bit extreme for a costume for one night! So, if I do it at all, it will have to be in 2014. I recommend all of Korine’s other films, which are even more disturbing than Spring Breakers. Check out Julien Donkey-Boy for starters.

      “Look at my shee-it!”

  • My Blog is Three-Years-Old | White City Cinema

    […] Ha (Baumbach, USA, 2012) – 8.0 White Material (Denis, France/Cameroon, 2010) – 8.1 Spring Breakers (Korine, USA, 2012) – 8.1 Oslo, August 31st (Trier, Norway, 2011) – 8.1 Le Havre […]

  • Top Ten Films of 2013 | White City Cinema

    […] 22. Spring Breakers (Korine, USA) – Wide Release. Rating: 8.1. Full review here. […]

  • wpruitt2013

    I read many reviews of this film and this is the only one that gets it.

    • michaelgloversmith

      Thank you so much. I worked hard on this review and it is probably my own favorite out of all the ones I wrote in 2013.

      • wpruitt2013

        This is not an easy film to write about.I found myself unsure about why was I felt so uplifted by it, and watched it a second time, after reading your review, both of which helped clarify it for me.

        The primary appeal of the film is formal: it is a piece of music itself, in addition to the music in the movie. The separation of dialogue from the visual image, and its ensuing repetition, create a trance, along with the uncanny character of Alien. Second viewing helps you see how sincere he is: his poem recited overlooking the water (“These girls…How could it be…”)is an authentic layering of a poem into a movie. Its easy rhymes and forthright gaze mask its existence as an actual poem, just as Alien’s gonzo character creates doubt for the viewer who expects his poetry to be announced and framed with irony; Alien actually does love these girls, and except for his tendency to “be bad” and “do wrong,” he is as benevolent a creature as you will find.

        Second viewing also showed me the film was tighter than I thought: each of the parts are clearly shaded: it doesn’t take long for Faith to cry after they leave the jail. The smooth flow of things helps establish the fabulist quality which our realist-minded film critics are not generally ready for. It’s a straightforward story. The assertion of self flowers into complete focus, which becomes enlightenment. The humor never leaves, and when a body hits the water on the exact beat after Candy (?) says on the voiceover, “We met people just like us,” I was reminded of Grosse Point Blank, although maybe a work such as Jarmusch’s The Limits of Control may be closer. But it it’s a trance this movie goes for, one of the most honored and sacred goals of art, and one which in our time is the most vulnerable. But I would watch this film again and again, just to hear the aural montage, repeated 5 times, in an intensifying focus… We gonna do this or what?…You scared? You’re a little scaredy-pants, aren’t you…Yeah, that’s right…I’m a big ole motherfucking scaredy pants… in which intensification we see that Alien, is, in fact , scared.

        Thank you again for your review. I now have White City Cinema bookmarked.

        Bill Pruitt

      • michaelgloversmith

        Thanks for the detailed thoughts. Trance-like is a great way to describe the film. I agree about the sincerity and the sweetness of Alien. Franco’s performance is layered and subtle. Understanding how scared of Big Arch his character is at the end of the film is crucial to understanding its meaning. By contrast, the girls — Aliens’ proteges — are outsiders who have no cause to be afraid, which is why each character meets the fate they do at the end of the film. It’s really a brilliant and disturbing commentary on the white appropriation (or re-appropriation) of black culture.

  • Laksmi

    I hadn’t thought of the connection between Alien showing off his things and the scene in Great Gatsby where Jay throws his possessions around the room impressing Daisy. In both ways they seem to be like little kids, eagerly showing their accomplishments to people who mean something to them. Its interesting because how they got to that point can be disturbing but in that moment they seem to transport back and appear to be young and innocent. (but only for that moment)

  • joel cabanillas

    The comparison between Jay Gatsby and Alien where they show off their possessions is something i would have never thought off before. That particular scene is memorizing and comical. As i said in class, i found this film to be great and my favorite part was the Britney Spears and robbery montage. Only James Franco would be suitable for this role, i couldn’t have seen any other actor portrayed it as good as he did. SPRRRAANG BREAAK FOREVER!

  • DavidO

    I too never thought of comparing The Great Gatsby to Alien showing off his possessions which i found to be one of the funniest scenes in the movie, especially when he goes as far as showing off Scarfaces on repeat, his blue Kool-aid and his cologne. I also agree with you on Cotty being the weak link of the group along with Faith. Candy and Brit from the beginning of the movie seem to be more of the crazier of the four especially when the rob the diner and they show it again when they’re at the liquor store and they make Cotty get to the ground and they react what they did during the robbery of the diner.

  • petya kaloferova

    I saw previews of this film and thought that it was going to be another silly, shallow comedy. I would never see it on my own but I am really glad I had to watch it in class. The depth of this film pleasantly surprised me. Spring Breakers is an eye candy and it is really fun to watch, the poppy colors the music and naked wasted people entertain the viewer but at the same time show him a very ugly and scary reality. Whoever thinks that the story is “terrible” is missing the point of the film. The story, silly and entertaining, serves its purpose-to reveal the “decline of Western Civilization”. The viewer sees a world totally lacking morality-heavy alcohol drinking, drug dealing and getting high, having orgies, stealing. One of the saddest things is to see this young girls being a part of this world. They are still so young. Selena Gomez’s innocent baby face is in huge contrast with the dark world that she is exposed to. Also the cross she wears and the scenes of a church create a contrast with the dark side of the movie and make even more obvious the lack of spirituality. In the conversations with their relatives the girls talk about spirituality. They say that they found themselves, that they are having deep spiritual experiences they wont forget. Is there a world darker and more unspiritual than the one they are in? The director answers the question by showing repeatedly throughout the film the girls having their legs up and standing on their hands. They are upside down like the world they live in.

  • Alejandro Raskind

    Now that you mention it there is a similarity to The Great Gatsby story here. It shows how a party lifestyle has caused stupidity in a society with potential to me much more sophisticated. The characters in both stories are so caught up in a superficial lifestyle that they turn to corrupt methods in order to find fulfillment and satisfaction in their lives. Faith in this film is like Nick in Great Gatsby because she goes along with the lifestyle at first only to discover its flaws later. Such a genius connection you discovered!

    In addition this film felt drug-like and had a trance or dream like feel to it. It almost felt hypnotic. Whatever it was about it I loved this effect and thought it was a genius tactic. It should most definitely been higher appreciated by audience members and critics alike. The fact that the mass viewers in general could not appreciate this film proves that too much of our society lacks the sophistication to think outside the box which is funny because this film is making fun of people who go with the flow and stay inside the lines so to speak.

    Also James Franco was at his peak in this film. Alien was quite the performance.

  • brad

    Spring break is an American institution that has consumed pop culture. It has taken over what once upon a time was a more spiritual and less commercial reason for us college kids to go down to Florida to celebrate Easter vacation. The subject of this film has to do with sex, power, and drugs. Spring Breakers is about an institution that appears to have become a socially acceptable among students in American society. This film is seen through the eyes of eighteen to twenty-one year old college students that are snorting, sniffing, smoking, and having sex. And to be honest, whether you love or hate this movie, Spring Breakers is truly a great fantasy.
    The plot is about four beautiful young women who are bored going to class and want to have a real life experience over spring break. Instead of being lectured about the African- American experience, they want to discover what the real world is all about. Bri, Candy, Cotty and Faith rob a diner to come up with enough money to get to the west coast of Florida. They are in search of a vacation in paradise. James Franco plays the part of Alien, the African American want- to- be with tattoos all over his body and metal teeth that glitter in the moon light. Alien is well aware that Bri, Candy and Coty is willing to participate in his fantasies and realizes if Faith is reluctant, she is smart enough to get on the first bus back home.
    The writer, producer and director, Harmony Korine, utilizes vibrant color, and special effects to emphasize both the natural beauty of the Florida coast and the lifestyle of four curious college girls. He uses the camera to darken the complexion of the main characters in order to give us the feeling that they are stereotypical members of black gangs dealing in sex and drugs and highlights the characters with tinted fluorescent light and bright colors. The viewer begins to forget Alien is a white man and the Bri, Candy, and Coty are three white middle class college girls. Alien does a great job toying with the girls to gain the upper hand, but they seem to always get the best of him. Spring Breakers is not just a drama which involves two drug dealers that are eventually forced to kill each other defending their turf, but the film points out that selling illegal drugs and money is power in the United States. Korine implies there are other forces at work in twenty first century capitalist society which lie below the surface that compel us to do things we may otherwise find objectionable..

  • krista P

    Spring Breakers was a very controversial film! Twisted to say the least! There is so much to say about it! Harmony is superb in making fun of his audience! Cultural appropriation is used a lot in this film. The definition is “the ridiculous notion that being of a different culture or race (especially white) means that you are not allowed to adopt things from other cultures. This does nothing but support segregation and hinder progress in the world. All it serves to do is to promote segregation and racism.” James Franco AKA Alien, did an excellent job showing the evidence of this. He was clearly white, but was acting black. How he talked, his style of clothes, his swag, his grill and so on.
    The film was also about friendship. Four girls who were corrupted and just wanted to have some fun! They had no money to go on spring break so they decided to rob a restaurant! I think by them doing this they grew closer together. Crazy as that sounds, but when you do something that serious you tend to grow closer to one another. As the film continues, the colors get brighter, the sound enhances, the more booty you see, the plot thickens. I did love the outfits that Harmony chose for the girls! Bikinis, masks ands guns, so sexy!
    The four friends, Faith, Candy, Brit and Colty become meshed with Alien and they seem stuck. I didn’t like how the three girls let Faith go home. I think they all should have went with her! Friends are supposed to be there for each other, but clearly when sex, drugs and money get in the way, it’s a different story.

  • Marguerite Yang

    I found “Spring Breakers” (directed by Harmony Korine, 2012) to be surprisingly interesting and appealing. To keep this review brief, I will note three remarkable aspects of the film.

    As discussed above by Michael Smith, I found the various points of repetitive dialog and scenes to be a very compelling way for the director to emphasize certain points into the viewers mind and attention. For example, when Alien is trying to explain his “riches” to the girls and the multiple times he declares it is “spring break” – in the first case as if that created him a better and badder man and in the second case as if he was announcing an event as important as the “second coming of Christ”.

    Repetitions of scenes showed the director’s knowledge of the human brain. As discussed in class, the director supported his intent to portray life as non-linear through various clips back and forth between scenes that were flash forwards and current scenes. It was obvious that the director wanted the viewer to keep the past in mind when trying to understand the current events.

    I agree with Michael Smith’s class lecture that Alien was a poser, that is, he pretended to be a gangster-rapper when he was not. I would have expected that should have made Alien an empty character, but the director and the actor gave the character an appealing soft side. The viewer would believe that Alien had nasty plans for the four girls because he bailed then out of jail. But his soft spoken words to the girls throughout the movie, especially his soft-touch attempts to convince one girl to trust, him, made it appear that Alien had a soft and compassionate side to his personality. This added depth to the character and provided an interesting contrast to the two girls that remained with him to his death.

    • michaelgloversmith

      Good notes on the complexity of Alien’s character, Marguerite. I would argue he ends up becoming the most likable character in the film precisely because of his softness. He’s like a big clown!

  • darcy

    After watching Harmony Korine appear on the David Letterman show and listening to his interviews, I realized what a true auteur he his, because he was able to take his own personal experiences to make Spring Breakers have a life of its own. For example, in class you read us a story that Harmony was telling an interviewer about a strange experience he had of watching two girls fight in the hallway. The girls drew in a crowd, and then one girl ripped off the other girl’s shirt, and one guy got turned on by this and started grabbing at her boobs. This incident from Harmony’s past reminded me of one of the scene’s in the film where Alien brought Brit and Candy into his room to show them his stuff (shorts in every color, Calvin Klein Escape, dark tanning oil, etc) and the film turned from playful with Alien making out with the two girls, to violence in an instant as the girls told Alien to “Get down on your mother fucking knees”, and took his loaded gun and pointed it at him. I could see the fear in Alien’s eyes, and in that instant his character changed as well, going from a poseur to someone who was literally scared for their life. Then the scene took another turn and the gun turned into a sex toy, as it was seductively placed in Alien’s mouth. This was similar to the strange episode of Harmony’s past because both scenes turned from something violent to something sexual instantaneously, and Harmony was also able to take a gun, a symbol of violence, and turn it into a symbol for sex/eroticism. This reminds me of what Luis Bunuel did with the religious symbols in his films, he took something that people worshipped, such as a crucifix, and turned it into a pocketknife, a symbol for violence. Bunuel’s purpose in changing the meaning for symbols was to mock the way people worshipped Christ, but in Harmony Korine’s case, I think it was to mock our contemporary gun culture (of many households carrying guns, terrible restrictions, how easy it is to get a permit, etc).

    A huge part of the satire in Spring Breakers stemmed from the juxtapositions of a violent or dramatic scene with a contemporary pop song (which was reflected onto the cinematography as well, because like you said in your review, Korine wanted the images to resemble pop music). For example, when the girls were robbing a chicken shack, one of the girl’s was driving the car slowly as a Nicki Minaj song (or something similar) was playing in the background. Also in the best scene of the film, which was a montage of the girls and Alien robbing banks, dancing with guns in the sunset, had a Britney Spears song playing in the background. To steal a line from your review, this is an example of him satirizing what he sees as empty and soulless about contemporary American pop culture (and pop music is playing in the background which makes it that much more comical…pop music….pop culture…) and it really made you question our society.

    • michaelgloversmith

      I love your comparison between Bunuel and Korine, Darcy. I think Korine really is a surrealist in the best Bunuel tradition and his use of objects as multi-layered symbols, as you note, is a great example of this. Now go tell your friends to watch it again!

  • Nicole Ochal

    Spring breakers

    Even though this is a film making fun of the youth and this generation, it had a very visually appealing feel to it. It all starts with a crazy spring break idea where the girls have to rob a chicken shack to buy the tickets to go, when they finally get enough money, they are going to parties and having the time of their lives, just like what they thought it would be like. They go see a rapper named Alien (James Franco) at the beach and are huge fans, until he bails them out of jail the morning after. This being surprising to most was really a kind gesture of Alien who just thought he was doing well in the process. The girls were sketched out about it and realized that this is not what they signed up for, and on that note Selena Gomez leaves and goes home where she belongs, as the movie goes on you start to see the other three girls starting to get into more and more of trouble, getting really messed up, high, drunk, the whole 9. It isn’t until one of the girls gets shot in the arm that she decides to go home, this being funny to us because that character was the one everyone thought was the wildest, but once she really got a taste of what it was like to be crazy she didn’t want any part.
    James Franco’s character Alien was all about who was the biggest in the streets and really tried to prove that he was worthy of being a gangster and really being respected. He likes to show off all of this stuff, but as Harmony does a great job with, he shows the comparison between Gucci Mane’s house and aliens. Alien’s house was a cheap version of the rich thing. He had a decent car, decent amount of cash and just had a lot of weapons he clearly did not know how to use. But when there was a flash to Gucci Mane’s house, you saw the beautiful mansion and the Lamborghini and just the actual “well deserved” lifestyle Gucci Mane was living.
    This was a key factor in the movie because it proved that Alien was really just a fraud and really didn’t know what he was doing. He would just try to be accepted and really was not right for it and crumbled under the pressure. Although he seemed like a creepy guy he really had good intentions and really felt for those girls and wanted to protect them, in the end he couldn’t come through with it.
    Thinking that these girls we all going to drop like fly’s throughout the movie, it made it kind of intense. But the two girls stayed and helped Alien avenge the girl who got shot. They hookup numerous times, and just have a down right weird relationship. This leads to the pool party that the two girls and Alien crash, as soon as they are walking down the pier, Alien gets shot and is dead, the two girls Brit and candy, finished the job and successfully killed everyone that was at the pool party, although very unrealistic still a great ending. Loved the movie and would advise to see it.

  • LuLu

    “Spraang breeaak…sprang break for-ev-ah,” is the first thing that pops into my head when someone brings up Spring Breakers an American film that first premiered in 2012 by Harmony Korine. Korine wrote and directed this film and it is his most commercially successful film to date. Spring Breakers was also a French co-production and was shot by a French filmmaker who is known for having awesome cinematography. This was clearly seen in the film specifically when the girls were robbing the fast food restaurant. They show the robbery in a long take from the pick-up’s perspective and then in a flashback they show it from inside. It was really cool to see it from both sides.

    The film had an all-star cast that included Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, and James Franco all of them did an excellent job. This film is like Cosmopolis it has a simple storyline: 4 college girls rob a fast food restaurant to pay for Spring Break in St. Petersburg. However after getting into trouble they are put in jail. Soon they are rescued by drug dealer Alien portrayed by James Franco. Throughout the storyline Korine does something really unique he tells a dark satire on empty contemporary pop culture.

    In the film there was a lot of dialogue on the American Dream and what it is. For Alien (the drug dealer) it was having money, guns, and power. In one scene he flaunts all his material possessions to some of the girls and it shows that for him he has reached the American Dream. I like how in class and on your blog you mentioned how this scene is similar to a scene in The Great Gatsby. In The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby is showing his material possessions to his love Daisy also implying that he has reached the American Dream. I really liked this connection and can see how both are similar.

    Character appropriation is taking something from another culture and making it your own. During the lecture before the movie we talked about how this was theme in the film. It can be seen with Alien taking on this tough, gangster persona/lifestyle and tried making it his own. This reminded me of Panther in Life Without Principal a film by Johnnie To. Panther takes on this gangster role, but the audience knows he wouldn’t “hurt a fly.” During a fight scene in Life Without Principle Panther’s is not really believable. Alien in Spring Breakers gives off this similar vibe especially when he starts to sing the Brittney Spears song. Plus deep down he was scared to bring down his enemy Big Arch in the film. Alien tries to be believable, but isn’t successful at it.

    The first time around I wasn’t really sure what I had watched or what the director was trying to get across. After watching this film again in class I have grown to like it better. I really like how colorful Harmony Korine made the film, from the neon lettering in the opening/closing credits to all the swimsuits and lighting. I like how the movie starts off as realistic and moves on to being less realistic. I now feel like I have a better understanding of Spring Breakers and overall it was an interesting film.

    • michaelgloversmith

      Lulu, as I mentioned in class, I really appreciate the parallel you’re drawing between Alien in SB and Panther in LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE. Both characters “play act” at being tougher than they are. They become endearing, I think, precisely because of our awareness of the poignant gulf between who they are and who they want to be.

  • Torrance McWhorter

    SPRING BREAK

    I find the movie to be funny and realistic of how things can change when you are out having fun. The way they shot the angles of the movie they show you how money can persuade people to do about anything.
    I noticed how when James Franko character bailed out the four women from jail the story thickens. It went from having fun at spring break to having to be in a real life situation. I think the producer Harmony Korine changed the scene for that particular reason.
    It went from kids drinking, sex, drugs, and rock in roll to dealing with big time drug dealers. To crimes being committed. Girls from a small town in the suburbs now viewing crime at the fullest. People were getting shot, one of the girls was also shot. The first girl who left did not feel comfortable about the situation that she found herself in but her friends stayed behind.
    Watching the vision of Harmony Korine shows you that trying to be like other people is not always glamorous and fun. The character played by James Franko was trying to act like another character Gucci man, big meat, in this movie. At the end of the movie James Franko dies for trying to play the gangster role. At the end of the movie it boiled down to two girls being left that got away and went back to their normal life in the suburbs.
    In this movie Harmony showed us four different elements about his thoughts, production, the thrill, boredom, and laughter. I find this movie to be funny compared to being full of drama. I would watch this movie again but would not recommend it to a friend to watch.
    According to the blogs I have read Mr. Smith said “that this is one of Korine’s best” For me I find this movie to be funny but I have a different view of it being the best.

  • Charlie Weil

    Charlie Weil
    Cinema Studies
    7/5/15

    “Spring Breakers” (Korine, United States/ 2012)
    By: Charlie Weil

    The main idea of “Spring Breakers” is how spring break affected college students, specifically girls. In the process of the girls in the movie enjoying their spring break, they ultimately regretted some of their choices and were forced to face the repercussions of their actions. For example, the characters of Candy, Brit and Cottie made the self- destructive decision of robbing a chicken restaurant at gunpoint. After doing this, they obtained enough money to fund their spring break vacation to Florida. Towards the end of spring break, they began to regret the poor decisions they made, which put their lives in danger.
    During the course of the film, the girls acted recklessly and impulsively when they partied with other college kids at the resort they stayed at in Florida. The girls drank significant amounts of alcohol until they became intoxicated and did drugs like: heroin, marijuana and cocaine. They behaved in these reckless ways because they believed they had to overcompensate for not having enough money to pay for their spring break trip. Faith, Brit, Candy, and Cottie also acted wildly and promiscuously because they were trying to enjoy their spring break and live their lives to the fullest. Their bad behavior eventually caught up with them when they were arrested and were thrown in a jail cell. They were bailed out of jail by James Franco’s character, the white rapper/ drug dealer, Alien. Alien bailed the girls out of jail because he was instantly attracted to them, he wanted to show them off to all of his friends and he wanted to mentor them.
    Upon viewing “Spring Breakers”, I found that the film had some stellar performances from its amazing ensemble of actors. It also had symbols of desire, greed, peer pressure, and living the so-called “American Dream”. Every character in this film wanted to live their version of the “American Dream” by doing what they interpreted to be the “American Dream”. For example, for Faith, she wanted to go to college, go to college parties, be a good Christian, and have a memorable experience while doing it. For Brit, she wanted to have a fun time with her life, party and not have any responsibilities. Finally, for Alien, he wanted to be wealthy, break all of the rules, have power, and intimidate people.
    As far as the acting in this movie, I believe that James Franco gave the best performance. His characterization of a white, wannabe rapper/ drug dealer/ gangster pretending to be an intimidating, threatening thug was riveting and entertaining to watch. His physical transformation into a threatening gangster with tattoos all over his body and his affectation was believable; however, in reality, he showed himself to be a compassionate, kind and sensitive guy. James Franco made the audience sympathize with his character by revealing deep vulnerabilities hidden under his tough exterior as a gangster, by playing the piano with the girls.

    The cinematography of this film was truly exceptional. Harmony Korine, the director of the film, made sure that every shot of this film was shot in real locations. The hot spots of St. Petersburg looked fun and exciting and the ocean looked beautiful. The shots of the nightclubs and of the characters having intense conversations were very powerful. The shots revealed things in a way that made you feel as if you were in an inebriated state or on halucinogenics due to the bright colors and the blurry images.
    In conclusion, I believe that in the film, “Spring Breakers”, a movie about college students partying on spring break, had a major affect on college students, specifically girls. It explored the detrimental decisions the four protagonists made, in addition to their reckless and impulsive behavior. While we were participants in their unforgettable, adventuresome vacation, we were forced to look at the mistakes they made and perhaps the mistakes we also made or will make in our adolescent journey.

    • Charlie Weil

      Charlie Weil
      Cinema Studies
      7/5/15

      “Spring Breakers” (Korine, United States/ 2012)
      By: Charlie Weil

      The main idea of “Spring Breakers” is how spring break affected college students, specifically girls. In the process of the girls in the movie enjoying their spring break, they ultimately regretted some of their choices and were forced to face the repercussions of their actions. For example, the characters of Candy, Brit and Cottie made the self- destructive decision of robbing a chicken restaurant at gunpoint. After doing this, they obtained enough money to fund their spring break vacation to Florida. Towards the end of spring break, they began to regret the poor decisions they made, which put their lives in danger.

      During the course of the film, the girls acted recklessly and impulsively when they partied with other college kids at the resort they stayed at in Florida. The girls drank significant amounts of alcohol until they became intoxicated and did drugs like: heroin, marijuana and cocaine. They behaved in these reckless ways because they believed they had to overcompensate for not having enough money to pay for their spring break trip. Faith, Brit, Candy, and Cottie also acted wildly and promiscuously because they were trying to enjoy their spring break and live their lives to the fullest. Their bad behavior eventually caught up with them when they were arrested and were thrown in a jail cell. They were bailed out of jail by James Franco’s character, the white rapper/ drug dealer, Alien. Alien bailed the girls out of jail because he was instantly attracted to them, he wanted to show them off to all of his friends and he wanted to mentor them.

      Upon viewing “Spring Breakers”, I found that the film had some stellar performances from its amazing ensemble of actors. It also had symbols of desire, greed, peer pressure, and living the so-called “American Dream”. Every character in this film wanted to live their version of the “American Dream” by doing what they interpreted to be the “American Dream”. For example, for Faith, she wanted to go to college, go to college parties, be a good Christian, and have a memorable experience while doing it. For Brit, she wanted to have a fun time with her life, party and not have any responsibilities. Finally, for Alien, he wanted to be wealthy, break all of the rules, have power, and intimidate people.

      As far as the acting in this movie, I believe that James Franco gave the best performance. His characterization of a white, wannabe rapper/ drug dealer/ gangster pretending to be an intimidating, threatening thug was riveting and entertaining to watch. His physical transformation into a threatening gangster with tattoos all over his body and his affectation was believable; however, in reality, he showed himself to be a compassionate, kind and sensitive guy. James Franco made the audience sympathize with his character by revealing deep vulnerabilities hidden under his tough exterior as a gangster, by playing the piano with the girls.

      The cinematography of this film was truly exceptional. Harmony Korine, the director of the film, made sure that every shot of this film was shot in real locations. The hot spots of St. Petersburg looked fun and exciting and the ocean looked beautiful. The shots of the nightclubs and of the characters having intense conversations were very powerful. The shots revealed things in a way that made you feel as if you were in an inebriated state or on halucinogenics due to the bright colors and the blurry images.

      In conclusion, I believe that in the film, “Spring Breakers”, a movie about college students partying on spring break, had a major affect on college students, specifically girls. It explored the detrimental decisions the four protagonists made, in addition to their reckless and impulsive behavior. While we were participants in their unforgettable, adventuresome vacation, we were forced to look at the mistakes they made and perhaps the mistakes we also made or will make in our adolescent journey.

  • Alina

    Spring Breakers is like a strange drug trip filled with violence and sex. The movie opens to a scene with naked and partying people on the beach dancing to EDM; it certainly catches the viewer attention and sets the stage for the rest of the film. The four girls in the bathroom seemed so desperate to escape, which they are because they end up robbing a bank. Yet the escape of spring break is like a break from reality, something like a drug high. It cannot stay forever like the girls want. Faith realizes this and becomes overwhelmed with her surroundings and leaves. Brit and Candy are the two characters most seduced by power and money, and they shove loaded guns into Alien’s mouth. Alien lives his life in a bubble of violence, power, and sex. We here from him “Spring break. Spring break for-eva.” He even confesses his love for Brit and Candy when they exert the ultimate power over him by almost taking his life.
    When all four girls are on the bathroom floor talking about wanting to get out of there they all seem depressed. The music is slow, sad, and fitting to the scene. The soundtrack follows the highs and lows of the film. For example, when the girls are on spring break the music is Skrillex again, upbeat party music. But in the scene where the four girls are in the pool and Faith is talking about wanting to stay forever, the music captures the almost haunting nature. The scene breakers are gunshots, adding to the theme of violence and power. Spring Break begins to get too real when Cotty gets shot in the arm. The girls flirted with the idea of ultimate freedom and independence, but it becomes overwhelming for both Faith and Cotty. After Brit and Candy stay behind, they become sucked up into the crime world. One of the most haunting scenes is where they go on a shooting rampage while playing a phone message left by one of the girls to her mother. Hearing about the friends they made and beautiful and magical things they saw while committing murders is haunting. The final and poignant moment comes with the two girls kissing Alien’s dead body. The film perfectly ends with “Spring break forever, Spring break forever bitches.”

  • Danny

    As mentioned in the review above about the movie Spring Breakers, the cinematography employed by director Harmony Korine was supposed to resemble something akin to “skittles candy.” In doing so, the world of the film has an almost exaggerated look as everything takes on a vibrant and colorful look.  Korine stated in an interview, “invent your own reality.”  This says that the film is not meant to be a normal “Spring Break” film. It is meant to be something much more, something much darker, something more complicated. If this would have had normal cinematography colors, the film might have succumbed to being just another spring break party film. Instead, Korine has created a world that is unexpected.  Movie goers, especially teens, expected to see their old favorite Disney stars such as Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez partying with A-list actor James Franco.  This was not the case.  What they got instead was an unrealistic portrayal of what a spring break should be. Typically, most spring break films are about college kids engaging in sex, drugs, rock n’ roll and getting in and out of trouble. I also believe the film is not based in reality whatsoever.  The characters’ actions are so unlikely (like a couple of teenage girls robbing a fast food joint successfully and without a hitch) that this film turns into a fantasy film.  This is not a complaint!  In fact, I praise Korine for achieving in making this world a crazy filled fantasy.

    I really enjoyed his style of film making.  As he mentioned in one of his interviews that we watched in class, he said, “I think in every movie there needs to be a beginning, middle, and end, but just not in that order.”  As seen in this film, several times you’ll be watching a scene where you’re in the present.  Then, Korine shoots forward in the film for a few short seconds almost like you’re seeing the future of the current situations.  It appears Korine is implementing non-linear story telling which is a very risky thing to do that only a handful of directors even attempt. Korine definitely pulls that off here. Good work Mr. Korine!
    =

  • Adrian Pollard

    Spring Breakers

    Many films in the industry rely on heavy scripts and special effects to tell a story. Often, the audience doesn’t care to challenge themselves and ignores the visual messages that the director is trying to deliver to them. In a way, we have become handicapped by this and do not enjoy things that aren’t illustrated in typical regurgitated fashion. Some films are able to take a traditional idea, paint it with all the pretty colors that the mainstream visualizes, and demonstrate the dark side of transformation within situations. Spring Breakers, directed by Harmony Korine, 2012, is something of a dogma film that makes fun of its audience while amazingly taking us on the horror and comedic ride of a lifetime.

    Harmony Korine’s cultural appropriated film gives us four college female students, Faith (Selena Gomez), Candy (Vennessa Hudgens), Cotty (Racheal Korine), and Brit (Ashley Benson). These girls long to escape the redundant pastures of college and with Faith, the fanaticism of her religion. To do this they must come up with enough money that they do not have to reach the partying beaches of Florida which prompts Korine to give us an outside view of the girls in black mask to robbing a diner in a linear side view scene making it seem innocent and fun. Interestingly later as the story darkens we see the inside view witch shows pure violence and disturbia. The adventure would begin soon after with the girls making their ideas come true at Spring Break in Florida.

    Later, all the fun would come to a halt as the girls partying ways would land them in jail only furthering their adventure. Much like the director Michael Smith portrays in his film review, like Eric Packer, (Robert Paterson) Alien (James Franco) gives us a multi-layered performance that is comedic, pitiful, and dark all in one. Alien ( rapper/drug dealer) bails the girls out of jail ultimately winning them over except for Faith. The remaining would appear in a twisted scene of them robbing various people together while Alien plays and sings a Brittany Spears ballad. Soon after the film gets darker and takes us on a wild ride with film grainy cinematography during drug/party scenes and dark but still color saturated scenes during critical missteps in the girls adventures such as when one of the girls was shot by Alien’s ex best friend and nemesis’ henchman.

    The director would then end the film with the two remaining girls killing off all of Alien’s enemies after he had been shot in the collective retaliation of the injured girls shooting (Including the boss rival). They would the go back to there regular lives forever changed as before there retaliation they made phone calls to there parents realizing the grass isn’t greener on the other side which is how the director was able to poke fun at everyone’s idealistic views of pop culture while also entertaining those that know it all to well, but are not consumed by it.

  • Tamara Fleysh

    In the movie

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