One nice thing about the respected French film publication Cahiers du Cinéma is that despite its somewhat erudite image, it has always been all about a careful, critical enthusiasm for American mainstream cinema. Now in its 63rd year, its top 10 list still reflects that spirit. Let's take a look at its picks for the year of Our Lord 2013, shall we?
Sofia Coppola is by no means a universally beloved filmmaker, but there were a few years there where she was pretty damn close to being one. Her first two features, The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation, captured a certain youthful zeitgeist; as a tastemaker, Coppola effortlessly spins an atmosphere of pretty, hazily lit wistfulness that one wishes one could just bottle and spray all over oneself while listening to Moon Safari on vinyl (or, barring that, just some Marc Jacobs perfume). Coppola's detractors tend to point to her emphasis of style over substance, but the reason her work has resonated so well with critics and teenagers is that she lets us luxuriate in youth and beauty and pretty objects while vaguely implying that there's something empty about it all. She lets us have cake and eat it, too. And then gaze with chic dissatisfaction at the crumbs.
The Miami Heat's epic winning streak may have ended, but the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles are the NCAA tournament's Cinderella story and Spring Breakers is a surprise hit. Here are five more reasons why Florida is the nation's current cultural capital.
1. Electronic Dance Music & Trap Rap
The EDM bubble has yet to burst (or um, drop), and while we may look back at this era one day with all the head-shaking fondness now reserved for hair metal, right now is a good time to be an arena rave DJ or electronic musician in Florida. Particularly this month, when the annual Winter Music Conference is held in Miami in tandem with the electrocentric Ultra Music Festival. Diplo, who set out to be a world-famous DJ like Paul Oakenfold as a goof and ended up succeeding, also as a goof (Paul Jokenfold), titled his debut full-length album Florida in homage to the state he spent some years growing up in. Also inescapable: Carol City native Rick Ross's lumbering trap rap, heard blasting in bottle service clubs and out of hulking cars, most recently encouraging you to slip Molly in your date's drink and date-rape her.
The Girls trade in their hoodies for ski masks this week for a chat about Spring Breakers. We all loved the film, but that doesn't mean there isn't plenty to talk about: its success as what director Harmony Korine has called a "pop poem," the debatable empowerment/exploitation of its Disney-factory stars, Molly's inexplicable fascination with Southern men in cornrows. While we may diverge on our interpretations of the film's morality, there's no denying that James Franco's rendition of Britney Spears's "Everytime" will go down in history as one of the greatest cinematic moments of all time. But Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez weren't the only ones trying to catch some street cred this past week — Beyoncé's strange new single had us wondering where the de facto queen of pop can go from here — and if we really needed to be reminded to "Bow Down."
In visiting the Late Show last night to promote indie sensation/coked-out-ski-mask-party docudrama Spring Breakers, star James "Alien" Franco brought up director Harmony Korine, who, the story goes, had been banned from Letterman's couch — where he had appeared a few times in the late '90s in conjunction with Kids, Gummo, and his book A Crackup at the Race Riots — because of an altercation with fellow guest Meryl Streep. Specifically, in Korine's own "a little out of it" recollection to Franco, for "pushing Meryl Streep backstage." (We will now pause for our collective, horrified reaction to someone laying hands upon Streep for any purpose other than to request a healing.)
For 10 days, Grantland staff writer Rembert Browne is at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, collecting stories while trying not to die.
Writing about a festival is always a difficult task, because if you're there, you care, and if you're not, there's nothing worse than absorbing the coverage. Because you're not there. This is especially true about South by Southwest, because instead of being a simple weekend, it clocks in at an aggressive 10 days.
Knowing this, and actively trying to not be the worst, I know it's crucial that only the most important things be reported on. The things that don't just matter to those of us currently in Austin. The things that matter to the entire world.
Things like the red carpet of the North American premiere of Spring Breakers.
Spring Breakers — Red Band (March 15 — Limited / March 22 — Wide)
Silver: I’ve been more curious about this film than I’ve been excited. All the trailers/promos haven’t helped dissuade my apprehensions that this was anything more than a barely legal circus of exploitative debauchery. I’m no prude. When expectations are set properly (Russ Meyer or Roger Corman, for instance), I’ll strap on my mayhem helmet and run headfirst into the depths of cinematic dystopia. And I anticipated something with a little more depth from Harmony Korine, writer/director of Julien Donkey-Boy and Mister Lonely. This latest red-band peek turned me around some. Before the now-expected barrage of visual iniquities gets unleashed, the first 1:13 of this trailer are actually quite compelling. Franco’s self-reflexive monologue is the first indication that Spring Breakers might have some metaphoric meat on its bones, and I like how the theme of control, over oneself and others, is hinted at. For my taste, this is a much more effective and engaging look at a film I was most likely going to pass on.
Eighteen years ago, when he was 22 years old, Harmony Korine wrote Kids, simultaneously one of the funniest and most heartbreaking "young people wilin'" movies of all time. In the years since, as a writer-director, he's moved away from the linear indie stuff on which he made his name, and put together a singularly thorny filmography: It's instructive to know that the title of his last full length, 2009’s Trash Humpers, was, for the most part, to be taken literally (plus, the trailer alone might give you nightmares). And so here comes Spring Breakers, which is not only Korine's dramatic years-in-the-making return to youthsploitation, but also far and away his most commercial project ever. In the flick, ex-Disney starlets Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez lead a crew of bad girls pulling a robbery to fund their spring-break trip; James Franco plays the inspirational rapper ("You can change who you are, yo") who bails them out when shit goes wrong; and Gucci Mane plays a guy who says "Ya'll wanna die tonight?" when shit really goes wrong. You'd fear that such a powerfully, awesomely strange swirl might doom Spring Breakers, crushing it under the weight of colossal expectations. But after two-and-half views of the new trailer, I'm already ready to declare Spring Breakers the Greatest! Movie! Of All Time! (Seriously, just check it out.) Spring break forever, bitches.
Back in the spring, when James Franco was shooting Spring Breakers — Harmony Korine's much-anticipated teensploitation crime flick — James shot a video of himself, in character as the corn-rowed drug dealer Alien, singing along to a few bars of his cast mate Selena Gomez's jam "Love You Like a Love Song." Considering the particular confluence of all of those wonderful things (most of all the cornrows, of course), it got no small traction:
Later, in an interview with Vulture plugging his meta-art-General-Hospital project Francophrenia, James downplayed the attention he gets when he does stuff like lip-synch to Gomez:
Two new projects from Terrence Malick now have confirmed titles and casts, but still no plot descriptions. First up will be Lawless, starring Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, and Rooney Mara; second is Knight of Cups, which brings back Bale and Blanchett, and adds Isabel Lucas. And that’s on top of his next film, which is still untitled and stars Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Javier Bardem and Rachel Weisz. One quick theory as to why Malick, who’d made five films since 1973, is now popping ‘em out: he’s finally bored with daytime TV makeover shows? Grade: A [Deadline]