Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers ★★★★★

Whoa.

As a Harmony Korine fan (especially of the brilliant and poetic MISTER LONELY), I had a feeling I'd really enjoy this, but I had no idea it would blow my mind to the degree that it did. And make no mistake, even if it is more "accessible" by a hair, this is unmistakably the same filmmaker who made GUMMO, JULIEN DONKEY-BOY, and wrote the script for KIDS, too. I cannot believe this got a wide release, but I'm really glad that it did.

Korine's formidable filmmaking talents are evident right from the beginning, as we're shown wet, nubile college men and (mostly) women dance and writhe pornographically on a beach in ultra-clear, super-slow motion, set to pounding electronic music. But this is no music video (or if it is, it's more like Chris Cunningham's disturbing video for Aphex Twin's "Windowlicker"), this is more like wildlife footage. There's something both alluring and repulsive in all this slowly jiggling flesh and these maniacal smiles.

Our central characters are four young women played by Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, and most news-worthy, "fallen" ex-Disney angels Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens. Desperate to get out of their college town and to Miami for Spring Break, three of them (minus Gomez's slightly more morally centered character) decide to rob a restaurant in order to fund their trip. Once they get there, they're arrested for drugs and bailed out/adopted by a braggadocious rapper/drug dealer named "Alien" (a hilarious James Franco), and they essentially go on a crime spree together, culminating in a violent battle between Alien and his drug-kingpin nemesis Archie (Gucci Mane).

What's the point of it all? Beats me, but this is pure cinema. It is raw, gripping, forceful, funny, suspenseful, thrilling. Purely on an audio/visual level it's one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. The cinematography, whether the imagery is beautiful or ugly (it's got plenty of both, sometimes simultaneously), is stunning throughout, and the way those images are matched to the soundtrack and Cliff Martinez's score is always intriguing and stirring.

And it has what it definitely the best cinematic use of a Britney Spears song ("Everytime") ever. Ever.

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