House Logo
Explore categories +

Spring Breakers (#110 of 24)

Harmony Korine Directs Rihanna in Spring Breakers-Style “Needed Me” Video

Comments Comments (...)

Harmony Korine Directs Rihanna in Spring Breakers-Style “Needed Me” Video
Harmony Korine Directs Rihanna in Spring Breakers-Style “Needed Me” Video

There was so much pomp and circumstance surrounding the impending release of Rihanna’s Anti—false-starter singles, months-long Samsung campaigns, a freaking global treasure hunt for fans—that the small, intimate, and insular nature of the eventual album took some getting used to. The music videos, then, have been helping that acceptance along: “Work” was just two clips of her and Drake, whining first in a club and second in someone’s pink-hued living room, while “Kiss It Better” went even more minimal, and traded up: Drake for a sheer white sheet. The brand new “Needed Me,” directed by Harmony Korine, injects some of the Oldboy-accented revenge verve of last year’s “Bitch Better Have My Money,” spiked with Korine’s own Spring Breakers, but that only comes to a head in the last minute or so. Mostly the clip is concerned with how a topless Rihanna looks glowering into windows and strolling, emotionless, through a strip club thick with gyrating naked bodies. It works, in much the same way “Work” and “Kiss It Better” do: by representing the body as the most direct visual expression of the self.

Film Comment Selects 2015: The Smell of Us

Comments Comments (...)

Film Comment Selects 2015: <em>The Smell of Us</em>
Film Comment Selects 2015: <em>The Smell of Us</em>

Larry Clark is in full-on zeitgeist mode with The Smell of Us, yet another entry in the filmmaker’s growingly tiresome oeuvre, built entirely on the ways desire and disgust necessarily overlap in sexual preference and social formation. At least, these themes roam freely within the director’s work, though only rarely (in, say, Bully) do Clark’s films distance themselves enough from their material in order to gesticulate meaningful expression. That’s because Clark’s understanding of significance is one faultily tied to lived experience, as if all the on-screen toe sucking, ass licking, sagging skin, and hardcore fucking were evidence enough of its chafed authenticity. In an early scene, a bum named Rockstar (played by Clark himself) pisses his pants as he wantonly pours wine all over his face. That seems to be as reflexive a gesture as Clark can muster from the film’s thinly sketched presentation of a group of young Parisian skaters moonlighting as novice hustlers, replete with Clark’s typically poseur-voyeur aesthetics.

True/False Film Fest 2014: Ukraine Is Not a Brothel, Private Violence, & Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart

Comments Comments (...)

True/False Film Fest 2014: Ukraine Is Not a Brothel, Private Violence, & Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart
True/False Film Fest 2014: Ukraine Is Not a Brothel, Private Violence, & Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart

The final three films I saw at the 2014 True/False Film Fest all deal with images of women—images created by themselves, through media outlets, and even using such images as key evidence in court cases. Kitty Green’s Ukraine Is Not a Brothel examines the exhibitionist feminist group Femen, whose members often go topless and paint messages on their bodies in protest of sex trafficking and sexist politics. Green’s approach is to probe within the movement, interviewing women like Sasha or Inna (the film only identifies them by first name), who explain their devotion to Femen as a desire to turn the very objectification tactics used by patriarchy against itself: “No one wants to listen to a woman, but everyone wants to look.” Thus, Femen only accepts/uses women who fit more conventional notions of beauty, which one member admits has “lost us a lot of good women.”

Ukraine Is Not a Brothel initially looks to be a fairly standard explanatory documentary, but Green’s interests, combined with Michael Latham’s striking, often low-key cinematography, veer the film toward darkly comedic terrain as it’s revealed that Victor Svyatski masterminded the whole operation—a patriarchy within a movement against patriarchy, and a paradox that Victor doesn’t find altogether troublesome, even as he admits that he likely had a “subconscious” interest in forming the group because he thought it might get him laid. Victor isn’t a sharp guy; in fact, the film opens with him wearing a rabbit mask, laughing goofily, and stating, “I am fucking rabbit.” Green’s critical eye replaces what initially appears as unwavering support to questioning the group’s inherent motivations and how such a dubious leader could have lured so many women in—an answer which the women themselves don’t reach a consensus on.

Oscar 2014 Nomination Predictions: Picture

Comments Comments (...)

Oscar 2014 Nomination Predictions: Picture
Oscar 2014 Nomination Predictions: Picture

We come to it at last. By now, even the most casual Oscar-watcher should know that the big three bound for the Academy’s top race are Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity, Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, and David O. Russell’s American Hustle. The first two have become defining films of the moment for technical and cultural reasons, and the third has bewitched every major awards body, if only for its unabashed bigness and its throng of can’t-look-away performances. With minimal reservation, I’ll also slap the label of “lock” on Paul Greengrass’s Captain Phillips and Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, two films that have been showered with adoration this season, and are poised to surge forward in crucial categories (in addition to multiple acting bids, look for the former to land that all-important Editing nod, and the latter to be recognized for its Original Screenplay). And while The Wolf of Wall Street is spreading audiences apart like the legs of its subject’s demeaned conquests, perhaps no film this year has prompted more impassioned discussion. Being directed by Martin Scorsese helps; being a white-hot, unavoidable, shouting-match-starting phenomenon cements a slot for what was already an insta-contender.

Oscar 2014 Nomination Predictions Director

Comments Comments (...)

Oscar 2014 Nomination Predictions: Director
Oscar 2014 Nomination Predictions: Director

The most pleasant surprise of this awards season has been the widespread embrace of Her, a film that seemed a bit like a bland “Oscar movie” in its marketing, didn’t feel like one at all amid the actual experience of watching it, then wound up something of a guild darling with a heap of critical support. Both the Producers Guild and the Writers Guild have shown their love for this swoony, very-near-future heartbreaker, and it’s wildly admired by everyone from the National Board of Review to the Hollywood Foreign Press, who tossed it a Best Screenplay trophy at Sunday’s Golden Globes. But what of its adorably odd director, Spike Jonze? Having been snubbed by the Directors Guild, whose members nominated Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity), Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips), Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), David O. Russell (American Hustle), and Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street), can Jonze still sneak into Oscar’s final five? He’s done it once before, with 1999’s Being John Malkovich, and if he is indeed this category’s spoiler, he has the benefit of statistics behind him: Director nods from the DGA and Oscar have only matched up three times in the last 15 years, thanks to overlapping, but differing, voting bodies that number more than 10,000 and fewer than 400, respectively. A work of personal, consummate vision, Her may be the film whose maker shakes up this race come Thursday morning.

Oscar 2014 Nomination Predictions: Supporting Actor

Comments Comments (...)

Oscar 2014 Nomination Predictions: Supporting Actor
Oscar 2014 Nomination Predictions: Supporting Actor

Let’s pretend, for a second, that Jared Leto, a vain campaigner who can’t even be bothered to remember the names of critics groups that honor him, won’t be the Supporting Actor strutting to the podium on Oscar night, and making some jokey, offensive gesture like daintily tossing his hair back. Who, then, is next in line to overtake Leto for his turn as a trans woman—or, as Katie Couric would call her, a “transgender”—in Dallas Buyers Club? Methinks it won’t be fellow lock Michael Fassbender from 12 Years a Slave, who’s fine but unexciting as a pathetic slave owner, but one of two damn-near-locks who represent foreign underdogs: Daniel Brühl in Rush and Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips.

The 20 Best Movie Posters of 2013

Comments Comments (...)

The 20 Best Movie Posters of 2013
The 20 Best Movie Posters of 2013

What were the common threads among the finest film posters of 2013? Mustaches. Sunglasses. Font that boldly monopolizes the center of the design. And plenty of pink. A great movie poster can do a great many things, but it’s most important attribute is always the reminder that there are more ways to enticingly sell a film than with famous faces. Virtually every genre (and budget level) is covered in this roster of 2013’s best, proving that great marketing in this industry is by no means exclusive to one type or size of film. And though an ethical issue had a pivotal effect on the final results, it couldn’t tarnish a collection of vastly diverse aesthetic triumphs, which helped to richly enhance the cinema-going year.

Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2013

Comments Comments (...)

Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2013
Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2013

From Budd Wilkins’s introduction to Slant Magazine’s Top 25 Films of 2013: “Reports of cinema’s demise, as it turns out, have been greatly exaggerated. Granted, celluloid is about as dead as the dodo, and delivery systems are in flux (pretty soon, audiences will be as likely to catch the latest Hollywood tent pole streaming on their wristwatches as in a multiplex), but the century-old urge to dream another life within the four edges of a frame, to transmute image and sound into something more potent than either alone, remained refreshingly untrammeled. Given the precarious position of the medium, beholden to the ever-shifting tectonics of finance, it’s perhaps unsurprising that many films took the constituent building blocks of their own construction as their theme.” Click here to read the feature and see if your favorite films of the year made our list. And see below for a list of the films that just missed making it onto our list, followed by our contributors’ individual ballots. Happy reading.

20 Great Shots from the Films of 2013

Comments Comments (...)

20 Great Shots from the Films of 2013
20 Great Shots from the Films of 2013

I looked back on the year and thought about single cinematic images that knocked me flat. Or produced an actual “wow.” Or somehow encompassed a film in a strange way. Many of them rushed back immediately. Others sprung to mind when I skimmed through my list of films seen. In accordance with my favorite movies of 2013, many of which are featured here, I was surprised by what I responded to most. I noticed some trends. Evidently, I’m drawn to sunsets, running water (preferably colored), and, rather unoriginally, red. I also kinda like trash. Some of these shots speak for themselves, while others require the images that come before them, or after them, sometimes successively, to achieve their respective impacts. Presented in no particular order, each has a backstory, save the last, which is summed up with a heartbreaking, note-perfect line. This is a very personal list, and I could’ve easily bumped the total to 50 or more. Don’t see your favorite shots in the roster? Share your thoughts (or, ya know, a link to a screengrab) in the comments.