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Spring Breakers (DVD)

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3 Reviews

Actors: Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson / Director: Harmony Korine / Studio: Universal Pictures UK / DVD Release Date: 12 Aug 2013 / Run Time: 93 minutes

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    3 Reviews
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      19.11.2013 07:42
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      Plays like a sleazier version of "Lost in Translation" if more of a slightly hollow sugar rush

      What happens when a former Disney Princess decide to break away from the house of mouse for good? Apparently they thrown themselves into a hedonistic mix of sex, drugs, crime spree's and pink balaclava's, or so it would seem with this latest offering from indie maverick Harmony Korine.

      Trashing their prom dresses Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical 1-3) and Selena Gomez (Wizards of Waverly Place) join Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine as a group of party loving college girls and lifelong friends. However when Candy (Hudgens), Brit (Benson) and Cotty (Korine) decide to rob a restaurant in order to fund their spring break vacation to Florida it only marks the beginning of their downward spiral into a life of crime that the group soon find themselves in and one which devout Christian Faith (Gomez) soon also finds herself drawn into as she overlooks her friends actions and joins them on their trip to Florida. It is while in Florida though that the girls soon find themselves drawn into the crime ring of Russian rapper and wannabe gangster Alien (James Franco).

      Released under an onslaught of publicity stills of the female cast members in their bikini's, this film seemingly had a blink and you miss it cinema release, meaning that it has taken an art society (yes they seemingly want to see young girls in bikini's too) screening for me to eventually see this film, which far from generated the kind of buzz I think the studio was expecting judging by the amount of publicity it was given ahead of its release. At the same time it is hard to place exactly what this film should be classed as seeing how at its heart it's a crime thriller, yet director Korine still refuses to give up on his indie and experimental film making roots, as with the amount of bare flesh and drunken debauchery on show it would seem as if he has chosen to cross the film with a "Girls Gone Wild" video, while frequently shooting from the hip or like a stretched out and overly glossy music video. Korine though at this point in his career clearly knows films appeal to the few rather than the mainstream, even though this is miles closer to the mainstream than any of his previous films, it will no doubt still have all the feelings of a celluloid migraine for most movie goers.

      Essentially re-rooting his breakout script for "Kids" (memorably directed by cinema's l'enfant terrible Larry Clarke) from the poverty and grime of New York to the luminous bright lights and sun soaked beaches of Florida. Like "Kids" the script feels largely improv, especially with Franco's hip hop caricature Alien, who seems to embody the gangsta rap life style complete with glittering grill and cornrows in what is certainly an interesting look for Franco who is white as the driven snow and whom here continues his on going mission to rack to appear in as many surprising rolls as possible. Still here he certainly seems to be having a blast largely improving such a random character, who when not making his continual brags about money, guns or even having Scarface on repeat can be found frequently snarling out the words "Spring Breakkkk" and "Bitches" every other word. The girls meanwhile suffer from paper thin character development to say the least, with Faith perhaps being the most developed of the foursome as we see her frequently being conflicted by the lure of the party life style and the desire to be a good Christian, with the film opening to her taking part in a youth Christian group (led by TNA wrestler & founder Jeff Jarrett in a fun cameo appearance), while here she seems to be already questioning the mean of her faith, something which only further challenged when she arrives in Florida and finds herself amerced in the party lifestyle, especially as her friends are seemingly on a quest to keep the party going at no matter what cost.

      While it might seem like stunt casting by using both Gomez and Hudgen's here they prove themselves not afraid to act out of their comfort zone, especially in the case of Hudgen's who continues on to break away from her clean cut image, having previously shown her feisty side in Zack Snyder's cult favourite "Sucker Punch", only kicks it up another notch here as one of the main instigators in the girls downward spiral. Sadly while all the girls might give adequate performances, there is still a sense of shallowness to the film, similar to how it ultimately portrays the so called Gangsta lifestyle and is only added to by the lack of development for any of their characters and essentially leaving them more often than not to play of their womanly charms than anything close to flexing their acting muscles.

      The soundtrack is largely a mixture of electro / dance music by Skrillex with the occasional dash of gangster rap and while I can't say that it really did much for me, it still worked well with the film, especially when Korine seems to be actively editing the film around the soundtrack, often giving it a glossy music video feel as a result, alas a music video featuring copious bouncing naked breasts and obscene alcohol consumption being shot in slow motion, but then isn't this essentially what spring break is about...or so I gather coming from a English (and hence spring breakless) perspective.

      While it might be easy to write this film off as being a lot of style and very little substance, Korine has still somehow managed to craft a film which is none the less engrossing, as he pulls a trick non to dismilar to the one Sofia Coppola did with "Lost in Translation", although his execution is perhaps done with a more sleazier edge to it but this film like Coppola's is one were essentially nothing really happens as Korine seems frequently to be just stringing together random scenes of improv and stylised violence alongside those of partying youths. However it is amongst these random scenes of excess and partying that we also get a number of memorable scenes including Alien playing a stripped down version of Brittany Spears's "Everytime" on his poolside piano while Candy, Brit and Cotty dance around while welding shotguns and dressed in their trademark pink balaclavas which at the same time make this far from an unsatisfying viewing experience if ultimately a hollow one.

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      11.05.2013 12:57
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      fresh new style gangster movie

      I heard a lot about this movie leading up to it's realese. In fact when it was being made I was hearing a lot of talk about it being edgy and a little controversial so from then it was a movie i was looking forward to seeing. The movie features a very unlikely cast Spiderman James Franco, Disney stars Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudges, Rapper Gucci Mane, Pretty Little Liars star Ashley Benson and the directors Wife Racheal Korine. The cast I though was a little mix and match and wandered how it would work especially this type of movie.


      Plot

      The movie is about 4 girls brit, cotty, candy and faith that are desperately eager to go on spring break and get away from their town and have a fresh break. The girls have not saved up enough money so they rob a chicken shop to get the money to attend this years spring break in Florida.
      Once they get to spring break they party and have fun and even start to dream about what it would be like if they never went back to there home town. It is on their wild party adventures that the girls get arrested and end up stuck in jail because they don't have enough money to bail themselves out.
      The girls are released when Alien a gangster rapper pays to bail them out and takes them under his wing. Alien takes these girls to some dark places of drugs, money, crime and robbery. It's here when you start to see that these girls may not all be as bad as each other when they one by one start to go home when the crime life becomes to much for them.
      My Thoughts

      I thought this movie was brilliant and pushed so many boundaries which made it even better. Yes the plot was very weak but this movie explored things that not many other movies have done before. One thing that I like was the fact that the cast was a complete mash up and had a little bit of everything to bring something completely different to the market. I loved that these 4 main characters had young fan base backgrounds and had never did anything like this before which made the movie more entertaining and shocking rather than having the usual suspects play these roles.
      Faith played by Selena Gomez was the least enjoyable role for me. I think that considering Selena Gomez has been promoting the movie heavily I thought she would have been the biggest rebel of the movie. In fact she plays a character that goes to church and is the good girl of the group. She stepped out of her comfort zone a little but the way the talk of the movie was going I thought I would have seen a lot more from her.
      Vanessa Hudgens & Ashley Benson play the characters Brit and Candy and I think they were absolutely superb in this movie. Of the 4 girls these two where the most crazy and a little psychopathic. In general their performances were very good and they pulled off being gangster chicks and broke away from their good girls public images the most.
      The only person I would say could have acted a little better was Gucci Mane. I felt that half the time he showed very little emotion and his acting was pretty flat.
      The little plot that was evident is the rivalry between Alien and a childhood friend Big Arch. This I thought was not very original because in gangster movies like these it is almost always someone taking something of someone else's what causes the drama in the movie. In this case it was Alien taking over Big Archs turf and making all the money.
      What made the movie for me was the editing style. The moving is all dream like and surreal which I always like in a movie. The movie contains a number of voice overs which isn't always clear at first but by the end of the movie it all sort of makes sense. This is also the case with the way the footage was edited. There was a moment when a bloody finger appeared on a piano in the scene where Alien takes brit and candy to his room and shows them his gun collection and starts waving them around. I initially thought someone would get shot at that point but that actually scene was further in the movie. I really liked that sort of thing throughout the movie it was good and kept me guessing.

      This movie has a lot of nudity, sex and a ridiculous amount of swearing in this movie. The nudity and sex was necessary since spring break is all about sex, drugs, alcohol and letting loose for most who go to spring break. In fact most of the party scenes were actually shot in the middle of an actual spring break so it is no lies and exactly what you would expect. I think for most parents who watched this they would probably never want their kids to go on spring break again since those scenes were real life. I do they have glamorised the whole negative side to spring break because I doubt everyone spends there spring break in the way that is seen in the movie. Also I think that just violence and crime in general has been glamorised here in this movie because usually there is some sort of consequence in movies like this even if just a small one and in this the girls are winners all the way.
      A negative about this movie is that this is suppose to be a drama about gangsters and crime but yet Britney Spears songs are sung on more than one occasion by the cast. I think that was completely out of place for this movie and some other song choices for them to sing to fit the genre would have been better. The characters singing along to Britney did make me giggle though because it was quite funny especially James Franco singing as Alien.


      Overall

      Overall I think that although the plot is very weak and practically has no substance whatsoever I still think the movie is good. The movie is constantly shocking you with something new and that keeps you watching. The surreal style of the movie also kept me watching. I think because the actors chosen are the opposite of the roles they played that also made it a good watch seeing these transformation. This movie has some heavy situations in it so I wouldn't recommend this for the faint hearted.
      After watching this movie I had the sound of James Francos character saying "Spring Break, Spring Break Forever" stuck in my head for days because it was just creepy. I have been saying to everyone that this movie is weird but I still loved it.

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      10.05.2013 16:27
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      I saw a trailer for this film and concluded that it was a chick flick with a twist...I couldn't have been more wrong as I found out when I went watching it last week with a friend. It was released in the UK on 05 April 2013 and is directed by and written by Harmony Korine.


      **Plot**

      The film is about four college girls (Faith - Selena Gomez, Brit - Ashley Benson, Candy - Vanessa Hudgens & Cotty - Rachel Korine) who are determined to go to Florida on 'spring break' vacation. They are so determined that when they realise they don't have enough money they rob a takeaway to get the extra money. They make it to Florida and are having the time of their lives, until a party they are attending gets busted by police and they are arrested.

      They are given the option of an extended sentence or paying their way out which of course they can't afford. Yet Alien (James Franco) a local rapper and gangster who saw the girls at the party and witnessed their arrest, bails them out.

      The girls immediately start spending time with Alien yet Faith, who is the most timid of the girls and has a religious background, quickly becomes afraid of Alien and his friends and decides to go home. However the other three girls move in with Alien and become part of his gang, performing robberies and violent break-ins. They soon learn of his rival Big Arch (Gucci Mane) and conflict begins between the two gangs. Things escalate from here and the girls get involved too deep...

      **My Opinion**

      Well this is a difficult one...the first thing I remember when I think of the movie was how shocking it was. Its pushes the boundaries to the very extreme in terms of sexual, violent and drug related content. I'm not that much of a prude yet some of the scenes made me cringe and I'm amazed the actors involved (James Franco) were willing to be part of them! I'm not sure if this observation is a criticism or not, as it really was fun (and funny) to watch and the shock factor made watching it quite enjoyable as you just didn't know what was going to happen next, and how far it would push the boundaries.

      Yet at the same time I felt slightly disturbed by the content and the fact that it is presented in an approving nature almost making the viewer think that it is ok to break the law and that you will probably get away with it. They seem to get away with everything scot-free (bar the arrest at the house party) including quite serious crimes where evidence is blatantly left behind. There are no consequences in the film or repercussions. I'm not saying that the film should be a lesson where the viewer learns that you can't get away with crime, it's been given an 18 rating so viewers should know better than to copy it, yet if anything it just felt unrealistic that they never got caught.

      I also felt like it glamourized violence...I know to some extent all films do this, as we so often see the 'good guy' using violence to save the day. Yet this film glamourized it in a more unsettling way, by giving us these 4 young girls who are having the time of their life being part of a gang and don't seem to have a care in the world...and getting away with it at the same time. This just didn't sit well with me and came across as unrealistic and irresponsible. Yet again I can't deny that it was entertaining to watch.

      The plot itself was also quite none existent. As I've detailed above really not a lot happens other than 4 college girls go to Florida and get involved with the wrong gang. The majority of the film is taken up by them being on spring break and just having a good time, going partying and having a laugh. I don't think the film particularly cares about the plot and instead plays on the shock factor and the simple fact that these girls are going off the rails. I would have preferred it if there had been more to the plot and if the film had created a few more happenings. Once I'd got over the initial shock of the spring break culture and the direction the girls were going in I soon became bored of the whole film and felt like I was watching a reality TV show.

      Another thing missing in this film was that it didn't encourage the viewer to relate to the characters as such or feel for them. It rarely gives an insight into the actual thoughts of the characters and we rarely witness any emotion or honesty from them. Therefore I never particularly felt sorry for anyone or even understood fully why they were doing what they were doing. So for that reason I didn't really care for the outcome and wasn't bothered what became of anyone. This was a shame as I usually prefer to relate to the characters to some extent and root for them, yet I wondered if the film kept the viewer detached deliberately to keep with the disorientation theme.

      The most notable element of the film was the production and effects. There is major editing going on in this film and it works brilliantly to give you that claustrophobic feeling and mimic the effects of drugs. I actually found it quite unnerving at times watching the film and it was a result of the editing. It gives you flashing and blurred imagery and odd camera angles that make you feel like you're drunk. It also jumps from one scene to another then back to disorientate the viewer. I was really impressed with this and thought it added to the film and made up slightly for the lack of plot. The soundtrack was also very good, whilst at the parties the music is rap and R&B, but during the more serious scenes there are some really nice orchestral dance mixes which gave a serious sombre tone but without going too far away from the genre. These really complimented certain scenes and brought them to life.

      **Acting**

      I wasn't expecting much from the acting. I've never heard of Ashley Benson or Rachel Korine (wife of the director) and thought of Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens as Disney actresses who wouldn't have much to offer in a more grown up film. But actually all four actresses were quite good and held their own within the film. Some of the scenes were so bizarre and it must have been quite difficult to hold the character but they do this well.

      James Franco was brilliant in this film. I've seen him a few films and thought he was good but nothing memorable, whereas in this he creates a really unique character and pulls it off really well. His character is bad but with a softer, more needy side which comes out. Alien is also very creepy especially when he first comes across the girls and he does well at portraying this and the perverted way he plays the character made me cringe at times as he came across so grim and dodgy. He also looked unrecognisable and didn't even sound like his usual self, so all round he did a great job.

      The film focuses entirely on these characters, and any other actors within the film are merely in the background and barely have any lines, therefore I can't really give any opinion on the rest of the cast.


      **Overall Opinion**

      I'm still unsure on my final verdict of this film. What I will say is that it lacks in plot-based substance yet attempts (mainly successfully) to make up for it with masses of controversial scenes and concepts. This worked to some extent but at times, particularly during the middle of the film, this wasn't enough and a decent plot or additional happenings were needed. The film is disturbing in many ways and offensive, yet it seems to do this deliberately and it seems this was the intention, therefore it feels wrong to criticise it based on this.

      The acting is very strong and the production and editing is superb and makes the film enjoyable to watch. I doubt I would watch this again as the initial shock factor would then be gone and I doubt there would be much left to enjoy about it. I wouldn't recommend watching this if in general, particularly if you're in a serious mood, yet if you feel like something a bit controversial and different it may be worth a try.

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