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."
"It's evident that nobody knows who the real Riff Raff is right now. Nobody knows. I don't even know whadifadadada later on tonight. I probably be eating chicken nuggets or something." —Riff Raff on Spring Breakers, kind of. Perhaps he could eat them with Dangeruss's fork, his fork his fork his fork.
"F**kin' Problem," the song that bumped A$AP Rocky into the mainstream, is still hanging onto the midsection of charts, and sounds more and more like a Linkin Park song with every replay, but today I'd rather talk about Rocky's would-be other single "Wild for the Night," which has been struggling to get an airplay foothold for a few weeks now (where is 2 Chainz when you need him?) and which I have just had to resort to playing on repeat in my car. Rocky released a big-budget on-location video for the track earlier this week (see above), which included a bonus Skrillex mini-track at the end and got people talking about the song again for about 24 hours, but its time seems to have already passed, and the video hasn't even cracked 1 million views on YouTube yet. It's a reminder that in the chart world "Problem" is still bigger than A$AP Rocky, and with his Vegas days nearly upon us, the Skrillex Factor may no longer be quantifiable, if it ever was.
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.)
David Brent has emerged from a decade spent in relative seclusion — during which time I assume he hung out in pajamas, Googling himself and practicing his reggae performance techniques — to appear on Ricky Gervais's new YouTube channel and pointing at people of various ethnicities and sexual orientations on Equality Street with Doc Brown for the U.K. Comic Relief special. Biddily biddily biddily biddily bong, cue the endless stream of comments arguing about racism versus satire ("It's comedy, you miserable pricks").
Jennifer Lawrence & Prince Harry: "When you're Hollywood's It Girl, strange men become infatuated with you, inhaling your every utterance, typing your name into endless Google image searches. They might be accountants, laborers, lawyers, cashiers — or, in the case of Jennifer Lawrence, the Prince of Wales. That's right, Britain's Prince Harry has a royal crush on the Oscar-winning star of Silver Linings Playbook. After a four-month army hitch in Afghanistan, the rakish redhead, 28, is set to visit the U.S. in May and despite his on/off romance with Brit model Cressida Bonas, scoring a date with J-Law, 22, is at the top of his agenda." The name Cressida Bonas will never stop making me laugh. "Harry has given his flunkies a list of Hollywood hotties he wants to attend" a party he plans to throw. "Harry has a thing for all of them, but Jennifer's his number-one girl right now." Is it because she likes to party on hotel balconies with a blunt? Maybe. "Harry thinks Jennifer is a girl after his own heart — very chill and out for a good time." Everyone thinks that about Lawrence, because duh, that's her appeal. "Could Jennifer pull a Grace Kelly and live out a princess fantasy?" Something tells me she doesn't have princess fantasies, but OK. Harry, who is attracted to "buxom blondes" also has a thing for Kate Upton but would possibly switch to brunettes for Vanessa Hudgens.
Welcome to the inaugural Do You Like Prince Movies? podcast. Why are we calling it that? We'll never tell. But we do like living in a world where it's OK to walk up to somebody at a party and ask that. This week we're also asking Why Does James Franco Fail to Annoy Us? What is it about Pam Grier that continues to karate-chop our hearts? And did Beck help pave the way for our current hip-hop/soul authenticity crisis? If we're being honest, only three of those questions really gets answered, but listen to the whole thing and find out which ones they are.
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.
Last Thursday, January 17, a very important thing happened: The Spring Breakers trailer was released. The movie itself won't be out until those effervescent spring days, when fresh-faced coeds will actually be heading south in herds to quaff flavored rum from one another's navels. But its trailer — with its outre sensationalism, its lush provocateurism, and its Gucci Mane — has already proved itself to be, above all, one thing: art. Art set to Skrillex.
Silver: Scrumptious. My cerebral cortex is flooded with thoughts, due to the numerous mouthwatering elements seen in Mud’s trailer. Where to begin?
Writer/director Jeff Nichols’s previous film, Take Shelter, was the criminally forgotten film of 2011. With a much splashier cast, maybe this will be the vehicle to break him out.
Matthew McConaughey is on an incredible hot streak right now. 2011 and 2012 saw him gravitating toward darker roles, and in turn delivering some of the best performances of his career. His work in Bernie, The Paperboy, and Magic Mike was all outshined by his psychotic turn as Joe Cooper in Killer Joe, and his role in Mud appears to share some DNA with it.
The supporting cast of Sam Shepard, Michael Shannon (a vet from Nichols's Take Shelter), Sarah Paulson, and Reese Witherspoon is oddly enough anchored by Ty Sheridan. Who? As the child struggling to form a meaningful and loving relationship with his father, he was the only memorable and entertaining part of Malick’s unwatchable Tree of Life.
Among them, the three primary producers of Mud have overseen such projects as 127 Hours, Win Win, Take Shelter, Donnie Darko, The Prestige, and Memento. That’s a pretty solid pedigree.
Nominated for the Palme d’Or at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, Mud feels like the perfect counter-programming to the overabundance of mainstream fare bombarding us this spring.
Browne: I'm a little perturbed that both of the young boy actors didn't get some love in the credits, but regardless I agree with your anchoring sentiments, Silver. I'm interested in McConaughey's mysterious Mud character, but the two boys are what have me captivated. Like, does this take place over a summer vacation? Who let them go to that island alone? At some point, are they going to turn on each other? Their story is what I believe will get me to a theater to see this. Matthew and the crew don't hurt, however.
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.