Spring Breakers

First of all, Boobies

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Reported on 1st of June, 2013

Here’s a story I haven’t told, and should have, because it’s great. You no doubt know of Mr. Roger Ebert’s work on Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, with exploitation maestro Mr. Russ Meyer. He was the screenwriter. Now you know. And many years ago, I was talking to Mr. Meyer – quietly so that he wouldn’t hear me in the giant audience of the Q&A – and someone asked, ‘What was it like to work with Roger Ebert?’

Mr. Meyer exhaled, and then said:

‘Roger Ebert? Let me tell you about Roger Ebert.

He’s more of a breast man than I’ll ever be.’

Say what you want about the utter destruction of the patriarchal system, at least it was an agenda. If I had to be castrated to see this world, it was small price to pay. Hey, I wasn't doing anything with the damn thing anyway.

One could accuse me of speaking ill of the dead, but it should be obvious that I see Mr. Ebert as my God. Besides influencing his film criticism for the better, it underlines the fact that he worked in the film business before becoming a critic, which everyone will tell you is the only legitimate path.

Ahem.

But we must also harken back to the early 1970s, the time when Beyond the Valley of the Dolls was brought to the screen. It was a time of nekkid big breasted women posing with guns and threatening to castrate men. It was a time when you could actually go to the cinema and see same. It was a time of feminism.

What’s that now? Well, it should concern us, and does not, that post-feminism has folded so far back on itself it may as well be called pre-feminism. The feminism I was taught only twenty years ago has gone the way of the cloth diaper, very literally, as we are now to understand that all that rights stuff was really just an opportunity to be free to have babies, get married, and be paid less, instead of being forced to. This is reflected, as I have said many fucking times, in the weakass female characters we are forced to endure in modern big-budget and even art house cinema.

Spring Breakers

16 April 2013 @ The Dukes @ Komedia


$32.00 or, if one must be quotidian, and one must... 
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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And this, I think, is why Spring Breakers has been overlooked as the best film of the year. It’s an exploitation film, and so, yes, it’s question of taste. And I admit it; I’m a fan of Mr. Russ Meyer. First of all, boobies.

No that’s it. No justification. If you have ask how much, you would know the kind of trouble I would be in if I finished this sentence the way it was supposed to.

But as a fan, I have a certain familiarity with the exploitation genre, and as such I’m not only qualified to say that Spring Breakers is this generation’s Beneath the Valley of the Ultravixens, I’m also desperate to be able to, as it proves that I saw it in the theater. Given the fact that Spring Breakers was directed by Mr. Harmony Korine, and could only be seen in the various art house cinemas in the would, you could be understood, though not forgiven, for dismissing it as a mediocre art film, which it certainly is. It is, however, one the best exploitation films ever made.

Like Evil Dead, the machine broke the ticket. Unlike Evil Dead, it's not the worst film ever made.

Like Evil Dead, the machine broke the ticket. Unlike Evil Dead, it’s not the worst film ever made.

Given the existence on any plane of reality of Death Proof, it would be easy and wise to abandon this genre entirely. But I suspect that taste is more than mere exposure, otherwise how could my taste be objectively better than yours? And vice versa, of course. No, in this case, loving exploitation films as I do has something to do with, damn… Well, I would have said ‘subversive’, but that word has been utterly co-opted by the The Man. Which He would no longer be if the damned feminists had gotten off their ass and castrated Him.

It’s not an historical coincidence that feminism and exploitation films emerge at the same time, and that whatever qualities the possessed weren’t so much quashed, as they were used to sell babies to parents, things for parents to buy babies, and beer. In our enlightened decade, we must consider that the only thing that emerged from feminism is shame over sex. Which by the way, I am completely free of, in every possible penis mommy way. This shame can sell more that puppies, babies, beer and post-feminism put together. What this means for films is that then even the tired mother/whore choice is gone, replaced, even more depressingly with the hostage/whiner split. At least whores and mothers had tits.

Thus finally to the film in question, which does have tits, yes, and girls peeing through their bikinis, and, going to drug filled slow-motion ricochet parties, saying ‘I’m gonna fuck that pussy’, followed by the line ‘No you’re not. Because you’re a bitch’ and ending up, handcuffed, blasé, in the self-same bikinis in the harsh light of a Florida prison. And yes, the filmmaking itself is pretty damnably masterful, way beyond what we’ve seen from Mr. Korine before. It’s one of the best and most congruent soundtracks I’ve heard in years, beautifully shot in a grey day-glo palette that marks the characters and moments and environment indelibly. So even if it was about Roman Coppola pitching to make a film about the making of the sequel CQ, I probably would have liked…yeah, my tolerance for describing the things that I hate to prove a point is exhausted at this point has escaped me, but well-made film+kind of film I like = six. Six is good. Five is terrible, and for some reason seven is even worse. The six film is a term I just made up and don’t even want to use anymore, but I’m committed to it because I had a plus and equal sign. It just doesn’t look right without a number.

Where were we? Well, Spring Breakers has something that almost no film, indie, Hollywood or otherwise has: female characters who choose. And no, not over whether to marry the bad boy, or the guy in the poster. They furthermore choose differently; two characters, as they are increasingly involved with our erstwhile Alien character, choose to leave as the others choose to stay.

It’s hard to describe how precious this is, and that it’s relatively depressing that it only can appear in a movie about robbing tourists to get money for spring break. On one hand, maybe that’s the point because it’s the only place that it can be allowed. On the other, I feel like I’ve been tricked in the best possible way; like NYPD Blue, the swears and the nudity was there to get us watching, but this is the film he was going to make no matter what.

In terms of what is and isn’t anymore but is called feminism, I keep thinking of the best scene in the film, the best scene in any film in a while (and avert your eyes if you must here), where the remaining two heroines have a kind of sex with our erstwhile Mr. Franco. It would have been enough that they take out their guns and say they’re going to rob him, all the while rubbing themselves on him. It works because we believe at that point they might have. It would have been enough that they threaten to make him suck their gun like a cock. But where Mr. Franco earns his lifetime achievement, and when the film goes into hyperspace, is when he does so, and it’s a convincing blowjob.

It’s this scene that says: oh, by the way, sex exists. On one hand, exploitation films were dedicated to this, and on the other, so was feminism. It’s about the celebration of the invisible, the despised, which is, naturally enough, another thing that feminism and exploitation films share, being on the margin, I suspect for the same reason: because they represent pleasure. I miss the old discussions of radical, godammit, there’s that word problem again, so let’s say, radversical change. Co-opt that, advertising bast…oh you already have it trademarked. Here’s a million dollars, and my apologies.

Say what you want about the utter destruction of the patriarchal system, at least it was an agenda. I miss it, and see its reflection in this neat and fun little film about girls kicking ass. If I had to be castrated to see this world, it was small price to pay. Hey, I wasn’t doing anything with the damn thing anyway.

Except seeing exploitation films, of course.

The Take

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Profits!
Like all great genre films, it’s only ninety minutes long.
$4.00
‘Pray. Pray hardcore. Pray super hardcore.’
$5.00
Two people walked out. How often does that happen anymore?
$5.00
It may not be Mr. Franco’s best performance, but it will always be his bravest.
$6.00
It being a film you can watch with the sound turned off.
$6.00
It being a film you can listen to with the image turned off.
$6.00
Total Profits
$32.00
Losses!
I got nothing.
$0.00
Total Losses
$0.00

$32.00

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