May 30, 2013

Spring Breakers (2012) / a chance to see something different

"I'm tired of seeing the same thing. This is our chance to see something different."

I'd been to movies fifteen times this year. After seeing The Great Gatsby last week I counted my 2013 cinema visits so far. So, fifteen. Then I counted the times that had actually managed to blow my mind a little, or shake my core, or whatever. One. That was the first movie I saw in cinema this year, The Impossible, and the core-shaking related to that experience had to do with the unnatural amount of crying, obviously. But one core-shaker in fifteen movies; I don't really like those numbers. Sure, there had been some minor shakes. Sure, I wasn't always looking for an experience that would blow up my brain. Sure, sometimes I just wanted to be entertained.

But come on. One in fifteen. I was getting really tired of seeing okay movies. Fine movies. Pretty good movies. Movies that weren't bad but they just lacked that something. I saw the Spring Breakers trailer some time ago and was a bit confused by Disney stars in bikinis and all that booty-shaking and James Franco looking extremely shady. Then I saw some reviews. So I thought I'd go see it. Might as well make it one in sixteen, right? Well, turns out Spring Breakers was just the core-shaker that I was longing for. I honestly can't tell you how happy I felt half-way through the film, as I felt my mind sneakily blowing somewhere in the back of my head. I wasn't sure what I was seeing. I had never seen anything quite like it before. It was something different, and I liked it.

Spring Breakers features four college girls, stuck in a small town with the same old faces, same old lecture halls, and the same old lectures about racial segregation, which I thought sounded so interesting I would've loved to keep listening. Hah. Nerd, I know... Everyone is heading down to Florida for spring break, for some epic partying, drinking and promiscuous activity, but the girls are out of money. They decide they need to go to Florida, whatever it takes. They need to get out and experience something different.

At some point during the film something quite random and very nerdy popped into my head. The girls' behavior reminded me very much of the Salem witch trials. Being somewhat of a semi-expert (ahem) on what went on in 1692 in the small Salem Village in New England, I thought about the girls in Salem who were bored and frustrated by the lack of meaningful activities and the few opportunities the Puritan society had to offer for them, and thus in accusing people of witchcraft they found a way to acquire power, get attention and feel worth-while. Not that different from the bored college girls who went to look for their end of the rainbow from the mixed madness of booze, drugs, sex, money and guns. Isn't that what power is? What the ultimate meaning of everything is?

The silent but powerful critique towards modern society is what made the film blow my mind away, way away. I don't really know how to talk about it. The girls set off to look for meaning, thinking they know where to find it, but returning empty-handed. Empty-headed. Empty. Their lives just as empty as before, if not emptier. The world is thoroughly messing us up, and we know it, but this won't stop it. In Spring Breakers, the endless and repetitive shots of naked or half-naked bodies, in close-up and slow-motion, should disturb you or at least affect you in some way. But you see the booties shaking right in front of your face, again and again, and you see the people screaming in the ecstasy of being wasted, young and good-looking, and you just see how embarrassing and almost grotesque the whole thing is. We see so much booty-shaking it becomes absolutely ridiculous. Isn't that the meaning of life, as it's constantly pushed down our throats? Bikinis and big booties, y'all, that's what life is about.

Many people have said the genre of the film is very difficult to determine, and I agree. But I don't ever agree when they call it a comedy. For me, it wasn't a comedy at all. I also watched a few interviews with the cast and my mind blew once again, this time because of the idiotic way the interviewers approached the film and thus the actors. I guess the beauty of the film is that there are a million different ways to see it and understand it. But I'd call the movie a tragedy rather than a comedy... A satire, yes, but not in a funny way. A cheery, sexy movie about how awesome spring breaks are? Not. At. All. That's what you'd expect, but not. At. All.

A few technical details that, in addition to the social commentary, reinforced the process of my mind being blown: James Franco and how he'd somehow managed to transform himself into insane, disgusting, yet somehow appealing maniac, who lives and breaths his twisted idea of the American dream ("Look at my shit!"). The visual look of the film combined to the hectic style of editing, making me feel almost hypnotized. Then the Everytime scene, and thinking about all the things that Britney Spears represents... It seemed both fitting and twisted in this context. There's something else too, but it's been a few days since the core-shaking now that I'm finishing up this post, and I've forgotten the feeling I had right after.

After the film I saw a commercial on TV, attempting to make men buy suits by portraying a woman seductively lifting the hem of her tiny skirt. I saw Selena Gomez parading around in a music video where every moment, every shot, every body movement and look was over-sexualized, and I thought, "Oh, girl, didn't you learn anything from your movie?". Surely everyone realizes how ridiculous they look? Everything seemed absurd, like everything was a parody of itself. I guess that's what happens when something blows your mind.

No comments: