Name: The Weather Underground
The funniest of Harmony Korine's films, a dark/black comedy more than anything else in my opinion. Just saw it in one of the theaters showing it before the opening, and I highly recommend it. Hate to put this disclaimer, but if you're old, then I only recommend it if you're still young at heart. This wouldn't have worked with anyone else directing, the fake and the real coexist beautifully. Also, in a film about spring break, the girls gone wild holiday, where there's nudity, etc, its refreshing that the female roles are never victimized or presented as victims, but instead are empowered. It definitely explores some dark themes, but always while being fun. Conveys some particular experiences really well, often resembling the way one actually recollects situations such as those depicted in the film. It's great: it's got drugs, sex, the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly-- and Disney stars! Really, what more could one ask for? It never takes itself too seriously, but only Korine could have gotten anything real out of it, and it manages to be "real" in many ways, kind of shockingly actually, since its also so overtly silly. A wonderful paradox.
I'm not sure if this is my favorite Harmony Korine film (it very well might be), but I am sure of one thing: this was the most enjoyable film of his to watch. I can say with absolute certainty that of all his films, this one offers the most pleasurable viewing experience. It's actually a really fun film to watch, without being completely artificial.
The negative reviews that were among the first to surface really do not do the film justice, and are sub par in their criticism of the film in many ways. The "legitimate" criticism of Korine's films often bothers me; how can you be a film critic and simply not understand so many artists' visions? Not liking it, or pointing out the ways in which it fails to achieve its intended and desired vision, is completely valid; what's not at all valid is criticizing a film based on premises or notions that the film never intends to address or be. There's a reason why Herzog respects him; it's because he's a decent artist/filmmaker.
For a critic to say that this is pornographic or that it's no different than a "Girls Gone Wild" video is to truly oversimplify an already beautifully simple movie! You really can't see the forest for the trees! And choosing the largely-Disney cast that he did for these "wild" roles wasn't for shock value, and it wasn't just for irony; it helps convey some of the intangibles of a generational experience that the movie expresses so well, and it was great to see them do something that's not Hollywood or so mainstream-friendly. It's OK to make art that not everyone likes! Eventually one has to get tired of catering to the lowest common denominator, and I commend the young actresses for stepping out of their comfort zone with a film like this. An artistic decision that should be lauded in their cases, perhaps the most artistic thing many of them have ever done.
One of the best Korine films, if not the best; definitely his funniest. A great dark comedy, highly recommended to anyone seeking a "party movie" that breaks the mold and isn't like your typical, polished party movie. It manages to comment on over-sexualized, superficial nature of our culture while also actually being a valid, entertaining example of the genre.