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In partnership with multimedia exhibition FACES&LACES, Sneakerness Moscow set up camp in Moscow’s Gorky Park over the weekend.
In addition to our on-foot coverage of the best 20 sneakers we saw being worn at the event, we also carefully scanned the shelves to find the most expensive sneakers for sale in the Russian capital. Topping the list is a very rare Slam Jam iteration of the ASICS GEL-Lyte III from 2010, followed by the PUMA Autodisc with auto-lacing technology, and the Hanon x ASICS GEL-Lyte III “Wildcats” securing third place. Check out the full list below.
1. Slam Jam x ASICS GEL-Lyte III “Fifth Dimension” – $2,000
2. PUMA Autodisc – $1,670
3. Hanon x ASICS GEL-Lyte III “Wildcats” – $1,500
4. Supreme x Louis Vuitton Low-Top – $1,170
5. adidas Originals YEEZY Boost 350 V2 “Red” (Supreme Custom) – $1,000
6. Supreme x Nike Air More Uptempo (Custom) – $840
7. Nike Air Force 1 Mid (Ewos Custom) – $840
8. Ronnie Fieg x Cultureshoq x ASICS GEL-Lyte III – $800
9. Ronnie Fieg x ASICS GEL-Lyte V “Mint Leaf” – $800
10. ACRONYM x NikeLab Air Presto Mid “Olive” – $750
11. Just Don x Nike Air Jordan II Retro “Beach” – $750
12. Nike Air Max 97 “Swarovski” – $620
13. Balenciaga Speed Trainer – $610
14. adidas Originals YEEZY Boost 350 V2 “Cream White” – $590
15. Nike LeBron X “Cork” – $500
16. Nike Air Jordan IV Retro “White/Tour Yellow” – $500
17. Nike Air Jordan IV Retro “Mist Blue” – $500
18. adidas Consortium x MASTERMIND JAPAN ZX500OG – $420
19. Air Jordan IV Retro 11Lab4 – $390
20. adidas Originals ZX8000 OG – $300
Jimmy Fallon fought back tears last night as he delivered a moving speech about the weekend’s violent events in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The host began, “even though The Tonight Show isn’t a political show, it’s my responsibility to stand up against intolerance and extremism as a human being.”
After describing that he felt “sick to his stomach” while watching the news coverage of the “Unite the Right” rally, Fallon went on to talk about his children who need people to look up to, including “leaders who appeal to the best in us.”
“The fact that it took the president two days to come out and clearly denounce racists and white supremacists is shameful,” he declared.
Fallon then issued a call to action to other white Americans: “It’s important for everyone, especially white people in this country, to speak out against this. Ignoring it is just as bad as supporting it.”
Finally, the comedian finished the monologue by paying tribute to Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old who was killed in Charlottesville over the weekend for “standing up for what’s right.”
Streetwear’s niche days are long gone. Today, street-inspired garms don’t just influence major fashion designers’ work, they make up entire season’s collections. Everyone wants a piece of the pie.
Even the term itself has become almost redundant. Having consolidated so many aesthetic aspects of street culture and beyond, streetwear has gone from a restricted and often scoffed at section of fashion to having the fashion industry bending at the knee and taking cues from every part of its broad history. While purists might argue, streetwear and fashion-at-large are essentially one and the same at this point.
So while certain collections remain limited and prestigious, there’s also a plethora of new brands and retailers from which to cop your latest grail. La Maison Simons is one such retailer providing the best of both worlds. The iconic Canadian retailer offers its own DJAB and TWIK collections alongside some of the most respected names in the game, making it an unlikely one-stop shop for today’s fashionable shoppers.
In partnership with La Maison Simons, we’ve styled the DJAB menswear collection alongside some of the hottest brands they currently offer, pairing adidas, Kappa, Reebok and more with DJAB’s unique styles and street staples.
The brand looked to ‘90s fashion and culture when designing this season’s DJAB range focusing on oversized fits, heavy fabrics, bold prints and a sportswear-inspired aesthetic.
Fundamental to streetwear, military and workwear inspired pieces feature within the collection too; denim shirts and cargo pants with DJAB’s own take on contemporary patterns and detailing.
La Maison Simons didn’t shy away from a bold color palette for its ‘90s-style athletic wear. Brighter shades work alongside lighter pinks, beiges, purples, and blues.
DJAB is availablealongside brands such as adidas Originals, Vans, Champion, Fila and more at La Maison Simons now. Shop the looks directly via the images above or visit the link below to see more.
Over the weekend, JAY-Z dropped yet another stunning visual accompaniment behind his new album 4:44. His latest video was for the James Blake-featuring track “MaNyfaCedGod,” and starred Academy-Award winner Lupita Nyong’o. And just like the previous visuals, JAY has now shared a behind-the-scenes footnotes video providing deeper context for the track. Watch it below via TIDAL.
This latest entry in the 4:44 footnotes series delves into the topic of mental health, with JAY discussing the stigmas surrounding members of the black community. “We can’t go to get therapists,” he says, “You crazy at that point. It’s like, ‘A psychiatrist? You crazy.’” The video also sees comments from the likes of Chris Rock, Trevor Noah, Meek Mill and Michael B. Jordan.
Read our review of JAY-Z’s 4:44right here, and revisit the video for “Moonlight” below.
In other music news, Justin Bieber has teased a few details behind an upcoming single titled “Friends.” Get the scoop right here.
It’s anything but low-key at the night show. Travis Scott is playing at New York’s Terminal 5, and Virgil Abloh—under his Flat White moniker—is opening with a DJ set. The sprawling dance floor of the venue is divided between the kids ready for the rodeo—closest to the stage, ready to mosh at moment’s notice—and a smattering of casual fans and certified washed-olds towards the back, away from the guaranteed pandemonium that will ensue as soon as Scott takes the stage.
Tonight also happens to be Travis Scott’s birthday. But at this moment, the place that’s popping the most is the merch stand.
A gaggle of concertgoers is huddled in front of a long table covered in black cloth, various “Birds Eye View” tour tees, hoodies, and hats hang behind it, from cobalt blue tees with a holographic print to purple tour hoodies that would soon end up on the body of Kylie Jenner—who happens to be here tonight, along with Jaden Smith, Sasha Lane, and other attendees of note.
Despite the fact that Virgil Abloh is spinning a mere few feet away from them, the kids seem decidedly more excited to get their hands on the exclusive merch he designed for tonight, having debuted a limited-edition hoodie on his Instagram just hours before.
The collaborative merch is a full sweatsuit, consisting of a hoodie and sweatpants featuring Scott’s signature Bird’s Eye View tour graphics spliced with Abloh’s penchant for sans serif typefaces and ironic usage of quotation marks. There’s also a coordinating T-shirt for completists. Nerds will fawn over the fact that the blanks used are Champion Reverse Weave, the sportswear manufacturer’s line of high-end knits that hits all the right notes that get vintage heads to salivate.
How did we get to this point—when merch wasn’t a way to commemorate the show, but a main event unto itself? While there has always been a certain affinity for music merchandise and band T-shirts, vintage Metallica and Slayer tees have since been reproduced for modern consumers, causing some to declare the fad officially dead. But as far as a rap music is concerned, only recently have tees become a mass-market trend. Vintage versions are highly sought-after, and can demand a hefty price. According to DJ Ross One, who quite literally wrote the definitive book on rap tees, that rarity comes from the fact that for the most part, hip-hop culture didn’t really understand how to successfully market itself through merchandise.
“Hip-hop in general through the ’90s was really bad at doing merch, especially for concerts,” he remembers. But he does admit certain artists foresaw the value of merch early on, citing Chuck D of Public Enemy, the Beastie Boys, and Naughty By Nature as early pioneers. In many cases, merch wasn’t picked up as a memento at a concert, but ordered through catalogs and CD liner notes, as was the case with Naughty By Nature’s Naughty Wear line.
But now, the physical interactions between listeners and artists are diminishing in favor of virtual ones. You can’t really brag about your record collection when it exists in the cloud instead of on a shelf. And for artists, the digitalization of their careers means it’s even more important to tell a consistent story through multiple platforms, not just through an album, but also through Instagram, concerts, and yes, merchandise.
That’s where Bravado comes in. Founded in 1997 by Keith and Barry Drinkwater, the music merchandise company was acquired by Universal Music Group in 2007. Their artist roster includes classic bands like The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, and modern heavyweights like Travis Scott, Justin Bieber, The Weeknd, and Kanye West. Mat Vlasic, who has served as the CEO since March 2015, understands the importance of leveraging an artist’s platform as an omni-channel brand.
He points out that in the past, artists could express themselves in other ways, like CD packaging, but as the industry has evolved, so have their creative responsibilities.
“More than ever, an artist has to focus 100% on every single aspect of their business,” says Vlasic. “10 or 15 years ago, you could focus on the music. If you didn’t want to think about how your brand was portrayed in apparel, or other consumer products, you didn’t have to.”
For Bravado, business is booming—to the tune of reported revenues of 313 million euros in 2016, up 13.4% from the previous year. Events and concerts are currently where Bravado converts the most sales by person.
“You got 70,000 people in a stadium that are super excited coming into the show, and even more excited coming out of the show, and you’re exiting through the gift shop,” explains Vlasic.
But where Bravado is changing the game is by taking merch beyond the stadium setting, orchestrating 21 global pop-up shops for Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo project, bringing Justin Bieber’s Purpose tour merch (designed by Jerry Lorenzo) into fashion boutiques like Barneys and VFILES, and partnering with VLONE to create a Tupac Shakur-inspired cafe in New York’s Lower East Side, replete with exclusive collabs. Most recently, Bravado ventured out of music to create merch for Dave Chappelle’s Radio City Music Hall residency, designed by Heron Preston.
“The Virgil/Travis thing was super-organic. because they’re both natural collaborators, and obviously friends too,” says Charlie Mangan, a Senior Product Manager at Bravado. “Virgil is opening for Travis. Virgil hits him with the three limited pieces. It causes hysteria, but it also supports Travis and Virgil’s brands. The merchandise is an extension of OFF-WHITE, and the bird stuff is an extension of Bird’s Eye View. So those things add clout to the other products. If I can’t get the Virgil hoodie, I still want the Bird’s Eye View hoodie, because I want to show my affinity for Travis Scott.”
These types of creative partnerships make sense to Vlasic, because he reasons that if artists are going to spend countless hours and creative energy forging their sound and the visuals of their live show, it’s only natural that they would have an equally discerning lens to their merchandise. In working with cultural heavy-hitters like Virgil Abloh, Jerry Lorenzo, and Heron Preston, Bravado taps into the hype cycle of limited-edition collaborations and the ephemeral nature of a concert or pop-up shop to create demand for their product.
“The origin point is always the artist,” asserts Mangan. “There’s no merch business if you don’t have the music to lead it, but the artist is driving the creative more and more.”
That’s definitely the case with artists like Travis Scott, Kanye West, and The Weeknd, for whom Mangan recently oversaw a collaboration with Futura. Now Bravado is branching out even further, not just with pop-up shops and comedians like Dave Chappelle, but high-end installations with some of their more tenured artists. Last weekend, Bravado launched a new shop-in-shop at Los Angeles boutique Maxfield to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Guns N’ Roses’ debut album, Appetite for Destruction. To mark the occasion, Bravado tapped a roster of designers for their own interpretations of the band’s style. The brands include MadeWorn, AMIRI, Kelly Cole, Palm Angels, Enfant Riches Déprimés, and OFF-WHITE.
Virgil Abloh’s contributions include an homage to Axel Rose’s signature red bandana, done up in the brand’s recognizable iconography and a screenprinted “BANDANA” in quotes. Abloh even goes deep, making a shirt emblazoned with the slogan “NOBODY KNOWS I’M A LESBIAN,” reproducing a tee Rose wore in the ’90s, but now with the added text “OFF-WHITE c/o VIRGIL ABLOH,” of course.
“I like to look at it as more of a collaborative partnership than a license,” says Vlasic. “To me a license is just kind of like: give me a check, you can take this, go slap it on whatever you can find, and send me a royalty statement. Whereas in the partnerships, we’ve gone in representing the artist’s brand, sat down and figured out how we’d work together. What makes sense? Where are the creative synergies? How do we talk to your fan base? How do you talk to our fan base?”
Vlasic sees this space as a place where Bravado can really grow. It’s where they’re able to leverage the brand an artist has, and explore how they can expand it from a retail standpoint. Mangan says they already tier the product to different retailers, which is why you can find Bravado artist merch everywhere from Forever 21 to Urban Outfitters, but the high-end collaborations speak to an entirely different, more discerning audience. It’s their version of a prestigious Nike collab that boosts awareness and demand for the general release model. And while Bravado’s current partnerships have been focused on apparel, Vlasic sees a future where artists’ brands extend beyond what fans put on their body, but also in their body.
“Why can’t we do more things in food and beverage? Why can’t we do more things in travel and leisure?,” he asks. “That’s a definite focus for us right now because it’s a lifestyle at the end of the day. The Rolling Stones is a lifestyle. The Beatles is a lifestyle. The Doors are a lifestyle. Travis Scott is a lifestyle. There are lifestyles in all of those things, and we want to be able to have an infrastructure that can help build those.”
While Justin Bieber or Travis Scott restaurants may be in the pipeline, Vlasic doesn’t see the merch wave cresting anytime soon. He points out how much more dedicated fans have become—not just in music, but other entertainment properties like Star Wars, Marvel, and Disney (all of which happen to be owned by the same company). We live in a saturated paradigm where fans of a brand are just waiting for the next thing to consume, whether it’s a film, television series, or album. Hype has evolved beyond apparel and into pretty much anything people are passionate about.
According to Vlasic, the common thread tying all these disparate things together is great storytelling. That’s what keeps people hooked, and it’s why they can get as excited over a trailer as they would a photo of an upcoming product. Bravado is helping its artists build a universe that fans can buy into, but as a result, Ross One isn’t quite sure of how long the products can stay relevant.
“These guys are experts at creating hype,” he says. “It’s a little bit more of a frenzy, and so I don’t know what it will be in 20 years if you look back.”
But perhaps sentimental value still outweighs aftermarket value. At the end of the day, these products are reminders of specific moments that have left an impact on the wearer—regardless of whether or not you were actually able to attend the concert or pop-up. For plenty of fans, having a physical way to interact with an artist, even if it’s as simple as putting a T-shirt on, is enough.
“What it comes down to is if you’re a fan and you love the music, you should go out and buy a shirt and rep it,” says Ross One. “Because there’s a good likelihood it will mean something to you down the road.”
Key Looks: Our favorite on-foot looks from Sneakerness Moscow ranged from high fashion options like the Maison Margiela Replica and a low-top version of the Rick Owens Ramones sneaker, to classic Air Max 1 colorways like the “Supreme Animal” and “Elephant” from Japanese retailer atmos. We also spotted several Supreme collaborations like the Vans Sk8-Mid and Nike Air More Uptempo, and high profile adidas partnerships with Raf Simons and Kanye West.
Editor’s Notes: In partnership with cultural exhibition FACES&LACES, Sneakerness Moscow took over Gorky Park in the center of the Russian capital. For more on-foot action, check out our recap of Sneakerness Berlin.
The CEO and Founder of Under Armour, Kevin Plank, has stepped down from a presidential business council in a reaction to Trump’s response to the violence surrounding the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In his statement about the disturbing event, in which one woman died and 19 others were injured, Trump did not initially condemn white supremacist groups, but instead cited violence “on many sides.”
Plank was joined by two other high-profile business leaders, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, and Kenneth C. Frazier, CEO of drugmaker Merck, in stepping down from the President’s American Manufacturing Council.
Plank released a statement about his decision:
“I joined the American Manufacturing Council because I believed it was important for Under Armour to have an active seat at the table and represent our industry. We remain resolute in our potential and ability to improve American manufacturing. However, Under Armour engages in innovation and sports, not politics.
I am appreciative of the opportunity to have served, but have decided to step down from the council. I love our country and our company and will continue to focus my efforts on inspiring every person that they can do anything through the power of sport which promotes unity, diversity and inclusion.”
BROCKHAMPTON has undoubtedly been one of the most explosive acts to emerge in recent times, and now you can show off your fandom this summer by copping some merch.
The collection fluctuates between minimalist and bold designs, with track titles like “SWAMP” and “Gummy” featuring prominently across a hoodie set. Appropriately, there’s also a bevy of T-shirts and long sleeves, with some featuring hand-drawn designs on both the front and reverse sides.
Harmony Korine has carved out one of the most unique and recognizable aesthetics in independent American filmmaking. Unconcerned with popularity but obsessed with entertainment, Korine is a director who’s fond of threading the line between the experimental and commercial.
From his early directorial experiments in Gummo and julien donkey-boy, to his recent and more commercially minded Mister Lonely and Spring Breakers, Korine has always been committed to shifting the emphasis from what the story is about, to the way it is told.
But Korine’s not a one-trick pony. In his recent collaborations with Supreme, Dior and other designers, he’s adapted his unique artistic vision to advertising. Not to mention his paintings and music videos. Korine’s creativity touches on nearly every aspect of visual culture.
Join us as we explore Harmony Korine’s often strange, sometimes disturbing and always singular creative vision.
Korine spent his childhood in Nashville, Tennessee. He was exposed to cinema at an early age by his father, Sol Korine, who was an avid cinema goer and documentary filmmaker. Sol’s work focussed on the isolated traditions of the rural south, often documenting the last voices of disappearing folk cultures.
In two memorable films, Sol Korine followed the Tennessee ballad-singer and moonshiner Hamper McBee on his day to day life and then invited McBee to host a film on the disappearing tradition of southern mouth music. His interest in strange characters and regional personalities would prove to be a major influence on Harmony’s aesthetic sensibility.
At age 19 Harmony was approached by filmmaker Larry Clark to write a script. Clark had already developed a name for himself photographing gun and amphetamine fueled youths in Tulsa and Teenage Lust (a culture which he was very much a part of), and had decided to make a film about skateboarders in NYC. Although Korine had never written a script, his knowledge of skate culture and disaffected youth would prove to be more than enough. Together they produced the groundbreaking film Kids (1995), which followed a group of nihilistic teenagers in the midst of the AIDS epidemic.
The controversy and success that followed Kids made it possible for Korine to write and direct his first two feature films: Gummo (1997) and julien donkey-boy (1999). In 1999 he and David Blaine began shooting the “high comedy” Fight Harm. Although it ended up being too graphic to be released, the humor was in watching Korine pick fights with people bigger than him and trying to win. Unfortunately they had to abandon the project before completion because Korine got arrested and seriously injured during filming.
Then, aside from a documentary about David Blaine filmed in 2002 and Larry Clark’s Ken Park (for which Korine had written the script in 1995), he mostly disappeared. Traveling between London, Paris and South America (where he spent around 6 months in the jungle with a cult obsessed with finding a magic fish) he was drawn into what he called, “a more criminal mentality” and an enthusiasm for narcotics.
In 2007 he returned to the spotlight, directing the sad and incisive Mister Lonely, followed by the bizarre TrashHumpers (2009). Most recently he directed the aesthetically driven neon noir, Spring Breakers (2013).
Since his return to filmmaking Korine has also begun doing commercial work for companies such as Supreme, Under Armour, Thorntons, Budweiser and Dior. Plus there are the music videos for Sonic Youth, Cat Power, The Black Keys, Rihanna and more. Not to mention gallery exhibitions and an upcoming sequel to Spring Breakers entitled, Spring Breakers: the Second Coming.
Although the subject matter and marketing of his films have changed from Gummo to Spring Breakers, there are a few trademarks that make a Harmony Korine’s films stand out.
The most recognizable thing is that, with the exception of Mister Lonely, he doesn’t really use plot or character development. “I can’t stand plots,” he explained in a 1999 interview, “because I don’t feel life has plots. There is no beginning, middle, or end, and it upsets me when things are tied up so perfectly.” Instead, he constructs his films as a series of images, something like a moving collage through which he explores concepts.
Gummo is the perfect example. The story takes place in Xenia, Ohio, a few years after a massive tornado hit the town, destroying a good portion of it and killing a lot of people. Korine’s idea however was not to set a story there, but rather to make a story of the place itself. The film follows the abandoned youth of a southern post-disaster town, trying to stave off boredom. And like the tornado which had destroyed Xenia, Korine picked up pieces here and there, sending them flying in all directions discovering the poetry where they land.
Korine also puts a huge emphasis on the types of film and the cameras he uses. In each case these decisions serve to emphasize parts of his story, without every using words. By experimenting with the way stories are told and the medium he tells them with, Korine has helped develop a new syntax for film.
For example, Spring Breakers achieved a gorgeous contrast between the beauty in escapism and the harshness of memory, with the use of sharp, glossy 35 mm anamorphic film and the heavier, grainier VHS and PowerShovel cameras. And julien donkey-boy was shot on mini DV tape then transferred to 16 mm and blown up to 35 mm, to achieve its characteristic grittiness. This allowed Korine to give the domestic chaos a sense of authenticity, as though it were nothing more than a home video. Similarly, Korine wanted Trash Humpers to look like it was shot by the degenerate geriatrics it ‘documents’ and then was accidentally discovered in a pile of garbage in some back alley somewhere.
Korine has been friends with the people at Supreme since the 90’s. So it came as no surprise that when he began doing more commercial work, he’d team up with them. In 2014 he produced a series of videos with his long time friends Mark Gonzales and David Blaine. Korine had already worked with David Blaine on both Fight Harm and Above the Below. When questioned on why Supreme would be interested in Blaine he explained:
“It makes perfect sense actually – he goes hard. He’s an original American headcase. Nobody else sticks shish kebab skewers through their biceps as a hobby. No one else gargles lighter fluid instead of mouthwash. No one else can rip off a chickens head and then re-attach it perfectly. No one else sleeps in a heated pizza oven at night. Classic shit.”
And also, classic Korine. Check the ad below.
In 2016 he continued the collaboration with Supreme, this time getting Gucci Mane involved. Korine and Gucci Mane had already worked together on Spring Breakers where Mane played Alien’s enemy, Archie.
Also in 2016 he produced this aesthetically driven ad for Under Armour. It stars Stephen Curry, loads of kids on BMX bikes and a ton of neon lights, reminiscent of Spring Breakers:
Korine also produced this unforgettable ad for British chocolate company Thorntons. You’ll catch all the classic Korine trademarks from weird looking kids, to whimsical seniors, and colors that pop.
Harmony Korine has written and directed five feature films. Although they deserve full articles to themselves, I’m going to give you a teaser and one of my favorite scenes from each one.
Although named after the fifth Marx brother (who decided to sell lingerie over comedy), Gummo is a story about a place, not a person. It’s a peak into the world of the ephemeral, the strange and the decisively local. It’s about the frustration of being forgotten and the desire to disappear. Neither an indictment nor a celebration of middle America, Gummo lets its peculiar images wash over the viewer. Korine’s goal isn’t to tell us what to think about the characters he depicts. His goal is to poke and prod us into feeling something unexpected.
One of the ways he’s able to do this, is by composing the film in small sections. Each section is practically a short film on its own examining some quirky or colorful character. Years before the social media revolution, Korine was creating work that was practically designed for the short attention spans of YouTube and Instagram (he has also stated that he has an extremely short attention span). Which means that a lot of the best clips from Gummo are actually uploaded on YouTube. Here’s one of my favorites:
julien donkey-boy examines the sometimes heartwarming and sometimes chaotic domestic life of schizophrenic teenager Julien (Ewen Bremner). It is an official Dogme 95 film and the first to be certified outside of Europe. The basic idea of Dogme 95 is that, by employing specific rules to production techniques (the ‘vow of chastity’), creative control is taken away from the film studio and returned to the director.
Although Korine broke some of the rules (you can read about them in his confession) the limitations allowed him to create unique, minimalist film. In one of the funnier confessions, Korine explains that his then girlfriend Chloe Savigny was not actually pregnant during the shoot:
“I confess to Chloë Sevigny’s pregnant belly not being truly pregnant. I tried to impregnate her myself, but there wasn’t enough time. Plus she felt not ready to carry a child for nine months. I did not try though. Perhaps it is my fault. Perhaps I am shooting blanks. And loving her the way I do, I did not want another man to give it a try. So we used a round foam pillow that was present on location in my Grandmother’s closet.”
Here’s a scene from the dinner table in which Julien recites a poem which his father (played by Werner Herzog) despises for being too “artsy fartsy”. Combining Korine’s sense of dark humor with a meta-commentary on the film itself, it sums up what makes julien donkey-boy a poignant, must watch film:
Mister Lonely announced Korine’s return to filmmaking in a big way. Opting for a plot driven film with actual character development, it tells the story of a lonely Michael Jackson impersonator (Diego Luna) who meets a Marylin Monroe in Paris. She invites him to live on a commune with other celebrity impersonators where they try to overcome their alienation through community. Mister Lonely is a kind of post-modern parable about the hope and faith we put into community and the paradoxical loneliness that comes with it.
Oh and there are also flying nuns.
In 2009 Korine’s Trash Humpers was released to somewhat mixed reviews. Or lets say, a combination of outright disgust and general confusion. Where Gummo followed a bunch of young people being ‘normal’ in their weird everyday lives, Trash Humpers follows a group of seniors who’s only goal is to be outrageously weird. Their goal is to create disorder, chaos and revulsion – for fun. On the surface it looks like a crappy home video (the whole thing is shot on VHS found in thrift shops) shot by aging perverts. Korine’s Trash Humpers is a weird look at the underside of a society obsessed with being young and carefree. He wants us to feel our misplaced fear and revulsion to old-age and abnormality. And then hopefully, to laugh.
Like Gummo, you can’t expect a straight-forward plot or clean-cut camera work, but the length of each scene makes it ideal for viewing on YouTube, so start with this one:
Spring Breakers has a special place in Harmony Korine’s oeuvre because it is his first truly commercial feature film. Or at least that’s what it appears to be: four college girls rob a fried chicken restaurant to get money for spring break. Then they party like hell until being arrested for possession of cocaine. Everything is sunsets and neon lights and neon bikinis and guns and murder and more sunsets. Everything is brimming with sex and violence and fun.
Yet for all its seductive qualities, it’s also repulsive. Many critics have noted that Korine gave us shallow female characters. You’re meant to think they’re beautiful and stupid. Even as the girls take on a more active role in the ensuing violence than their gangster mentor Alien (James Franco), there seems to be no self-reflection involved. Korine’s objective though isn’t to criticize the women in Spring Breakers for their shallowness. Instead his objective is to criticize the culture that produced them: a culture which prioritizes beauty, luxury and fun over self-reflection; a culture where privilege goes hand in hand with unthinking violence; a culture in which the viewers are implicated from the moment they begin watching.
Could the same critique be done with young men? In many ways Korine already wrote that movie. Remember the absolute horror and disgust you felt in the final scenes of Kids? Of course it was much worse because the characters were less exaggerated, less funny, and closer to actual people we’ve (unfortunately) all met before. But it too was an expression of a culture of violence concealed within a veneer of The Good Times.
Like Korine’s other films, you’re not told what to think at the end. Rather than being given a lesson, you’re given an image and then left to decide what you think. Spring Breakers is meant to provoke the viewer, at times into laughter, anger, disgust, pity and sadness. One of the scenes that made me feel all of these feelings at once, while setting beauty and violence side by side, is the one in which Alien plays Britney Spears’ “Everytime” on a white baby grand piano overlooking the ocean: