Wednesday, January 6, 2016

"Spring Breakers" by Mac Quayle and Gregory Tripi

I was a little late to the party on Harmony Korine's colorful epic "Spring Breakers" (and there's no party quite like a Harmony Korine party) mostly because I assumed it was for teenagers and I was not the target audience; I didn't know it was directed by Korinne, and the poster is somewhat misleading too, given the weight of the film. (not the poster above, that's an alternative designed by Linda Hordijk. The main promotional poster shows the four female co-stars donning skimpy bikinis. If you give it anything more than a passing glance, you'll see it actually is quite ominous. But I didn't.)

The film is visually stunning; there are beautiful cinematic moments throughout, particularly of the four main characters - doing headstands and cartwheels in a dimly lit dorm hallway; dancing in a circle holding hands while toting machine guns and wearing ski masks by a Miami Beach swimming pool at dusk; a really nice tracking shot around the outside of a building portraying a robbery inside. There's also a lot of gracefully shot slow motion sequences of Ft. Lauderdale spring break debauchery.

Many times in the film it was difficult to tell how Korine wanted me to interpret things, or if he was leading me in any direction at all. Sometimes it seemed he was demonstrating the vapidity of the sort of frat culture that exists in that environment, other times it seemed like he was making no judgement on it one way or the other, just merely portraying it as it is. Some scenes that showed the non-stop partying were accompanied by a voice-over of one of the girls talking about how beautiful everyone on spring break is, how beautiful the experience of spring break is, and how many friends she's made, and while it certainly comes across as sounding naive, it was again difficult to tell how the director wanted me to interpret this, or if he was leaving it up to the viewer without bias.

In any case, music and sound play a vital role to the feel of the film. The additional music was composed by Mac Quayle and Gregory Tripi, and the washy, three dimensional synth pads and bells blend really well with the colors splashed across the screen. There's a lot of great transitional elements in the sound design, including the unsettling sound of a gun being cocked which is accompanies cutting throughout the film. It's ominous; a darkness on the horizon, and it's very effective. The soundtrack itself is mostly Skrillex, which is an obvious choice to complement the debauchery onscreen. Whether it was meant to be or not, his music is an effective metaphor for artifice without substance; vapidity. It doesn't know that it's stupid; it's puffed up, proud.

If you thought this was just going to be a dumb teen exploitation movie, watch it and be pleasantly surprised. It's actually a classic, and I think it will be mentioned years from now as an indicator of the youth culture of this time...