Monthly Archives: April 2013

Spring Breakers

“Spring Break, Spring Break, forever …”
If you’ve seen Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers” it’s no doubt those words in James Franco’s voice keep running through your head.
It’s been happening to me since I saw the film last weekend and I really have no complaints about that or Korine’s latest work of art.
Sure there is extreme nudity and lots of drug use that could be a bit polarizing for audiences, but at its core “Spring Breakers” is a story that really draws the viewer in and I actually did feel for the main characters.
Franco plays Alien, a gangster by way of St. Petersburg, Florida, in the film.
He bails a group of partying college girls on Spring Break out of jail and brings them into his world.
By this time in the story the girls Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson), Cotty (Rachel Korine) and Faith (Selena Gomez), have already been in a enough trouble so the addition of guns and even more money to their week of drinking and doing drugs is just a natural progression.
Well, not so much for Faith, who Alien is most taken with.
Faith, in addition to her friends, especially wanted to break free from the conformity of college and dorm life for a week but not enough to rob the “Chicken Shack” to fund their travels.
She isn’t cut out to be a gangster’s sidekick either.
After about half their time in Florida Faith, to Alien’s dismay, decides she needs to go home.
And then there were three to take over St. Petersburg with Alien.
There are no hard feelings among the girls when Faith leaves, just the lingering sense they should have all been on that bus together.
Back in Alien land, he gets to know his three partners in crime or “soul mates.”
As a boy who dreamed about being kicked out of school so he could live his life being bad, I find Alien, Brit, Candy and Cotty are very similar.
They adapt pretty well to the “bad” lifestyle and having Alien’s back against his best friend turned rival in the St. Petersburg gangster scene.
It’s a pretty simple story but when you’re watching it play out on screen in the style that only Harmony Korine could do, you won’t be able to look away.
James Franco’s performance, dreadlocks, grill and all, really made the film for me.
I have seen “Kids,” of course, and should watch Korine’s other films but right now I just want “Spring Breakers” on repeat.
As for Franco, his IMDB page makes me dizzy and I can’t wait for all of it.
He is directing, writing and starring in many films in the near future.
Franco probably wouldn’t, but he could say “Look at all my sheeyit!”

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Frances Ha

I don’t normally craft a blog immediately after seeing a film, even if I am really inspired, but I feel it is pertinent to document my thoughts on “Frances Ha” tonight.
My sister and I attended a screening of it at Walker Cinema as part of their retrospective of Noah Baumbach films (such as “Kicking and Screaming” and “The Squid and the Whale.”)
“Frances Ha” is Baumbach’s latest work that has been popular on the festival circuit during the last year and hopefully will advance to other cinemas so more people can see it.
Tonight Scott Foundas, the chief film critic for Variety, introduced the screening of “Frances Ha.”
He dedicated it to Roger Ebert, a legendary critic who Foundas said had been in the very theater where the screening took place. Of course it is known Ebert died today at the age of 70.
Ebert actually posted a blog on Monday about his hope for the future mixed with complete honesty about the challenges in life that took him away from his focus on films.
But he also said watching films could take him away from those challenges and the impact of his illness.
I will admit I haven’t consistently read Ebert’s work but I am influenced by his long time presence as a writer, critic and movie lover, complete with the “thumbs up” catch phrases and “I’ll see you at the movies.”
Foundas said in his brief dedication to Ebert tonight that he knew him for 20 years. There didn’t appear to be any connection between Ebert and the film about to be shown, but comparing his last blog and the themes explored in “Frances Ha,” I do see it.
Ebert’s words from Monday reflected hope no matter what the future would bring and Frances, yes she is a fictional 27-year-old woman living in New York City, ultimately does the same.
I think it’s fitting, while sad, that the screening was today.
Baumbach directed the film and co-wrote it with star Greta Gerwig, who he is reportedly coupled with in real life.
Gerwig, 29, helped Baumbach, 43, develop his idea and build a character audiences could relate to.
According to Foundas, Baumbach’s characters in films such as “Margot at the Wedding” and “Greenberg” did not get a favorable response.
But Frances is irresistible and in turn audiences are loving the film, he said.
I concur.
The story centers on Frances, of course, as she pursues a career with a dance company in New York and battles the city with her best friend Sophie.
But there is soon trouble in paradise and Frances ends up moving from apartment to apartment in between seeing her parents in Sacramento for Christmas (without Sophie at her side) and going on a jaunt to Paris she can’t afford.
Sophie continues to be present throughout the film and very important in Frances’ life, even though she tries to pretend that’s not the case. But the rift between the two friends and their lives also allows Frances to step out on her own.
The film is tough to watch at times and, while perhaps it was not intentional, does express a bit of hopelessness in Frances.
Whether or not Baumbach created that twist to contrast the hope that ultimately defines Frances, it does make the end all the more satisfying when things work for her the way they should.
Baumbach chose to make the film in black and white, which prevented any distractions from the character’s faces, dialogue and actions.
It’s a brilliant work, story and character that I personally relate to.
Regardless if that is the case for other viewers, on the surface “Frances Ha” is an inspirational film and I hope you see it.

“I got a tax refund, want to go to dinner?”