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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Film - Michael Bodey Twit­ter: @michael­bodey

WHO knew Har­mony Korine could make an en­ter­tain­ing film? The in­die film out­sider, who wrote Larry Clark’s con­tentious drama about dis­af­fected New York teens, Kids, in 1995 has done it with Spring Break­ers. It’s cer­tainly en­ter­tain­ing al­though not en­tirely ful­fill­ing, a piece of of­ten out­ra­geous eye candy de­rived from ques­tion­able mo­ti­va­tions.

Korine has slunk around the sides of Amer­i­can film­mak­ing for two decades now, pro­duc­ing es­o­teric and some­times in­volv­ing but never quite whole movies and short films. The per­haps disin­gen­u­ous tale of his way into the movies says pho­tog­ra­pher Clark saw him skate­board­ing and asked him to write a script about young skate­board­ers, in­clud­ing a sub­plot about teens and AIDS. The re­sult, Kids, was more sen­sa­tional verite than co­gent nar­ra­tive but be­cause it dis­played aber­rant be­hav­iour among teens, it found an au­di­ence. (Dip­ping back into Kids re­cently, I found it sur­pris­ing to re­call it starred a young Rosario Daw­son.)

Since then, Korine has dab­bled as writer, ac­tor, di­rec­tor, pro­ducer and David Lynch-type odd­ball spe­cial­is­ing in cre­at­ing wan­der­ing mis­fits for the screen in films such as Gummo, Mis­ter Lonely, Trash Humpers and his at­tempt at Dogme film­mak­ing, Julien Don­key-Boy .

He’s an in­so­lent di­rec­tor, prod­ding view­ers to provo­ca­tion yet be­tray­ing his mo­ti­va­tion with lurid or tit­il­lat­ing stuff. What his ul­ti­mate creative rai­son d’etre is, we will prob­a­bly never know. Per­haps he’s a one-note provo­ca­teur who oc­ca­sion­ally stum­bles on mo­ments of beauty. At least, that’s what I felt af­ter watch­ing Spring Break­ers (R18+, Icon, 94min, $29.99), his most, and I use this term warily, com­mer­cial film. It is com­mer­cial in that it has a co­gent nar­ra­tive, is cin­e­mat­i­cally stylish and fea­tures a cast in­clud­ing James Franco and two young women hop­ing to move on from their teen years as Dis­ney com­modi­ties, Se­lena Gomez and High School Mu­si­cal’s Vanessa Hud­gens.

Again, Korine has it both ways, plac­ing the four girls (Gomez and Hud­gens are joined by Ash­ley Ben­son and Rachel Korine, the di­rec­tor’s wife) within the well-worn Amer­i­can film sce­nario of the spring break, the US ver­sion of the schoolies pe­riod in which teens play up. The four stu­dents are bored — it’s Korine, af­ter all — and strug­gling to find a means to get to a spring break hol­i­day. They rob a fast food restau­rant, head to the coast and party be­fore fall­ing un­der the spell of drug dealer, rap­per and gun lover Alien, played with con­vinc­ing lech­ery by Franco. Things in­evitably go from bad to worse.

Whether Spring Break­ers amounts to any­thing be­yond vac­u­ous en­ter­tain­ment will de­pend on how gen­er­ous the viewer is. Korine isn’t lam­bast­ing the girls’ be­hav­iour, gun cul­ture or any­thing in par­tic­u­lar and you could ar­gue it’s ex­ploita­tive. He can’t be mak­ing any se­ri­ous point given his tit­il­lat­ing slow-mo­tion close-ups of ex­cess. But you can’t deny for once he has it all to­gether. For what ends, who knows? This week

Home­land: Sea­son 2 (MA15+)

Fox (637min, $49.99)

The Place Be­yond the Pines (MA15+) Road­show (135min, $39.95)

Bet­ter Man (MA15+) SBS (198min, $29.95)

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