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PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2006 8:46 am 
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domino harvey wrote:
The problem with Korine's films is that they are ugly to the point of coming off as nothing more than audience instigation, and there's not a whole lot more boring than a third-rate provocateur.

Do you mean the cinematography of the film is ugly or merely its subject matter? Would you call Diane Arbus' photos ugly? Or Nan Goldin's? Or War photography for that matter, simply because of its somewhat "marginal" subject matter? I think both of Korine's films have some amazing imagery that is captured beautifully by his cinematographers.

Are Korine's films really that provocative or disturbing? I think Korine's films are more conventional than people seem to perceive or characterize them. Of course it's not traditional Hollywood narrative cinema but the tranche de vie (slice of life) approach in Gummo goes back as early as Italian neorealism in the 1940's. Korine is just part of that naturalistic evolution in cinema. Even though there might not be a real story or plot, there always is a certain structure, pace and atmosphere in Korine's films. In Gummo there is the recurring tornado premise and the voice-over narration (quite similar to Terrence Malick's use of voice-over). And in Julien Donkey-boy there even is a somewhat traditional plot or denouement.

brownbunny wrote:
i think the comment about his films being downright ugly is pretty apt. ugliness can work very well as an aesthetic choice in something like eraserhead or even something like festen, where the dogma principle motivates the way the entire film operates, but in something like julian donkey boy it simply fails to connect. it's simply pure, unmitigated ugliness that is the prevailing feeling i get when watching it.

I don't understand why you would say it works for Festen but not for Julien Donkey-boy. Since they are both Dogme95 films, they both have the same cinematographer and you could say a somewhat similar aesthetic. Especially since you seem to appreciate some of the cinematography in Gummo. Granted the grainy digital video blown up to 35mm is a bit harsh visually sometimes, but it is not much different than the other Dogme95 films (like Festen) or even the grainy home video parts in Gummo. I certainly found some of the same striking images in Julien Donkey-Boy. The iceskating ballerina sequence or Chloe Sevigny walking in the field to name only a few.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 3:02 am 
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Korine isn't sincere, he isn't documenting anything real or saying anything of substance; it's parody.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 10:46 am 
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I'm going to play a fool's game and assume that, contrary to appearances, there was actual thought put into that post. I haven't seen anyone argue for Korine as a documentarian so far, so I don't follow that comment, but parody? Could you elaborate on how you see Korine using parody?

...or are you simply using the word in the all-too-common (and all-too-incorrect) "What's the word that means I don't like something? Ah! Parody!" threadcrap sense?

-Toilet Dcuk


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 12:44 pm 
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I'm also curious of your use of the word parody. Usually the reason a filmmakers detractors don't like him is why I like him/her. But I really can't see how Korine uses parody.

And who ever claimed that Korine is meant to be documenting anything? I thought it was common knowledge that he has his own little world with characters who certainly don't represent anyone in particular.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 3:31 pm 
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What I mean is, in relation to Gummo, it works neither as an exploration of things he finds to be true about society (because there is nothing truthful in the film - Xenia, Ohio is nothing like that, Korine didn't grow up in a place like that, it bares no semblence to reality), in which case it must be viewed as a film - like you said - that totally inhabits its own world, but to what end? I called it parody, as opposed to satire, because satire creates an unreal world in order to say something about the real one. Gummo is an ugly film for the sake of ugliness, but he doesn't care about anyone in the film (therefore neither do I) and it all comes off as just "look how subversive I am!" for an hour and a half. Korine is just a kid burning ants with a magnifying glass to see how gruesome he can make them look.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 4:36 pm 
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chaddoli wrote:
What I mean is, in relation to Gummo, it works neither as an exploration of things he finds to be true about society (because there is nothing truthful in the film - Xenia, Ohio is nothing like that, Korine didn't grow up in a place like that, it bares no semblence to reality), in which case it must be viewed as a film - like you said - that totally inhabits its own world, but to what end? I called it parody, as opposed to satire, because satire creates an unreal world in order to say something about the real one. Gummo is an ugly film for the sake of ugliness, but he doesn't care about anyone in the film (therefore neither do I) and it all comes off as just "look how subversive I am!" for an hour and a half. Korine is just a kid burning ants with a magnifying glass to see how gruesome he can make them look.

so, perhaps, instead of parody, per se, it is nihilism.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 9:53 pm 
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toiletduck! wrote:
I'm going to play a fool's game and assume that, contrary to appearances, there was actual thought put into that post. Toilet Dcuk

such a rude, needless insult.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 10:09 pm 
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I really don't know where to start with some of the comments in this thread, except to say that it feels like myself and the other Korine admirers here are simply on a different planet - ugliness is not a word I would ever think to associate with Gummo, nor parody. Truth and beauty come a lot closer, and I'm also drawn to what Matt Zoller Seitz said about it, that it is "alive in a way that few films are." Above all, I regard it as incredibly exciting filmmaking, in the way it explores the sheer possibilities of cinema and develops its own distinct aesthetic from the first frame forward. I think those who admire Korine's films above all relate somehow to his sensibility of what constitutes beauty, and how it relates closely to ugliness, how the two things can (and do) stand side by side and intermingle at times.

To say that Gummo contains nothing relating to real life is, in my view, absurd. It is one of the most lifelike films I know! Regardless of whether Xenia, Ohio is actually the way it is portrayed in the film, I have been in places very much like it and met some of the same people. It's simply a side of American life that almost never makes its way into films. Perhaps those who've never experienced it firsthand think of it as parody, exaggeration, or fantasy, but I would suggest the average Hollywood film is much more guilty of this - everyone's beautiful, witty, sophisticated - and that's the point, that this isn't real, it's escapism. Gummo is solidly in the other camp, and those who simply want to be entertained obviously aren't going to know what to make of it.

I find it incredible that people want to accuse Korine of mocking his subjects, exploiting them, reveling in their supposed repulsiveness - this says so much more about the person leveling the criticism than it does about Korine or his films! These people simply don't exist in other films, and perhaps the film's critics would prefer it to stay that way. I was similarly dumbfounded by some of what was written about Soderbergh's Bubble - another rare film that depicted working class people who usually go unseen in mainstream films, and yet people seemed threatened or offended by his choice to film them. It's quite mystifying.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 12:47 am 
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chaddoli wrote:
What I mean is, in relation to Gummo, it works neither as an exploration of things he finds to be true about society (because there is nothing truthful in the film - Xenia, Ohio is nothing like that, Korine didn't grow up in a place like that, it bares no semblence to reality), in which case it must be viewed as a film - like you said - that totally inhabits its own world, but to what end? I called it parody, as opposed to satire, because satire creates an unreal world in order to say something about the real one. Gummo is an ugly film for the sake of ugliness, but he doesn't care about anyone in the film (therefore neither do I) and it all comes off as just "look how subversive I am!" for an hour and a half. Korine is just a kid burning ants with a magnifying glass to see how gruesome he can make them look.

Thanks for elaborating. I still disagree with the use of 'parody', but that's neither here nor there. As far as the rest of the criticisms, I just don't understand how anyone can accuse Korine of not caring for his characters (yourself, sure, but that's a whole different story). Then again, this is stuff that's already been hashed back and forth, so I'm gonna refer back to the first page. Although I think Oedipax might be onto something with this different planet approach...

Some other guy wrote:
such a rude, needless insult.

Da-yum! I have seen the light! So, seen any Korine lately or are we bumbling around the forum on our way to the loo again?

-Toilet Dcuk


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 1:01 am 
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Well the difference is Bubble was the work of an artist, Gummo was the work of a provocateur. Gummo reveals no truth or beauty, only shallow shock value and a celebration of ugliness. It exists for the same reason Faces of Death exists.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 1:14 am 
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domino harvey wrote:
Well the difference is Bubble was the work of an artist, Gummo was the work of a provocateur. Gummo reveals no truth or beauty, only shallow shock value and a celebration of ugliness. It exists for the same reason Faces of Death exists.

what I find intriguing about Gummo is the juxtaposition of ugliness with beauty. The film is so beautifully shot that its subject matter (to me, at least) seems at odds with its own beauty (that was always there, but required a talented cinematographer to bring out)


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 1:46 am 
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miless wrote:
domino harvey wrote:
Well the difference is Bubble was the work of an artist, Gummo was the work of a provocateur. Gummo reveals no truth or beauty, only shallow shock value and a celebration of ugliness. It exists for the same reason Faces of Death exists.

what I find intriguing about Gummo is the juxtaposition of ugliness with beauty. The film is so beautifully shot that its subject matter (to me, at least) seems at odds with its own beauty (that was always there, but required a talented cinematographer to bring out)

Like I said, it's like we're on a different planet. The film's beauty is so readily apparent to me and others that I don't even know how to respond to someone comparing it to a Faces of Death video. It's like trying to explain a certain color to someone who's colorblind, perhaps. It's just an aesthetic sensibility that you either get it or not, I guess, not much middle ground. I promise (for me, at least) it has nothing whatsoever to do with cheap exploitation or shock value.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 2:05 am 
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Oedipax wrote:
Like I said, it's like we're on a different planet. The film's beauty is so readily apparent to me and others that I don't even know how to respond to someone comparing it to a Faces of Death video. It's like trying to explain a certain color to someone who's colorblind, perhaps. It's just an aesthetic sensibility that you either get it or not, I guess, not much middle ground. I promise (for me, at least) it has nothing whatsoever to do with cheap exploitation or shock value.

Agreed. And I still insist that Korine is a provocateur only in the fact that he is apathetic to the fact that a vast majority of viewers will recoil in shock. The presence of this audience doesn't mean that the director is playing toward or even concerned with them. Faces of Death works for those who seek shock value, Gummo works for those who can discard shock value (if that makes any sense).

-Toilet Dcuk


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 2:42 am 
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"Apathetic," really? You honestly think Korine isn't perfectly aware of his audience? I may not like him, but it seems pretty obvious that he is delivering exactly what a certain market is clamoring for and he makes his films to fulfill those desires. It's like a Vice Magazine spread in motion.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 2:51 am 
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I absolutely think Korine is perfectly aware of his audience. I just don't think the audience you're describing is the same group of people. So be it if there are people clamoring for Korine's films for shock value, but I disagree entirely that those are the people he's making them for.

-Toilet Dcuk


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 8:18 am 
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I'm going to have to go with "The different planet theory" as well. Like I said before, I can usually see where detractors are coming from but I really wonder whether we're talking about the same films when it comes to Korine.

I also disagree that Korine's audience is one that's seeking shock value. Those sorts of people can find far more shocking images in other films and they do. They're the sort of people who have otherwise mainstream tastes in film and then LOVE Irreversible and 29 Palms, purely for the "shock" value.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 3:53 pm 
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toiletduck! wrote:
I absolutely think Korine is perfectly aware of his audience. I just don't think the audience you're describing is the same group of people. So be it if there are people clamoring for Korine's films for shock value, but I disagree entirely that those are the people he's making them for.

he's making movies for Werner Herzog, but the film is loved by the FOD crowd


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 3:56 pm 
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toiletduck! wrote:
Some other guy wrote:
such a rude, needless insult.

Da-yum! I have seen the light! So, seen any Korine lately or are we bumbling around the forum on our way to the loo again?

You are a pretentious, over-bearing person who cant admit when they have made a mistake, in this case your initial insult of chaddoli. You lack the intelligence and insight to realize a one sentence post can say as much as 4 paragraphs of verbose, posturing, over-intellectualized bullshitting.

That was what annoyed me most about your initial quick dismissal of chaddoli's insight, which he then politely explained to you in a full paragraph because you weren't smart enough to get it one sentence, whilst ignoring your snide, rude insult.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 7:20 pm 
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Thanks, godardslave, but don't worry, I don't really give a shit.

Anyway, as to Gummo's narrative/cinematic uniqueness: I certainly agree, and will even admit I was with the film until the bathtub scene, which is to me where the film really went over the top, provoking the audience's stomach's instead of minds. What a pointless, disgusting scene, showing a mother bathing her child in shit, essentially. After that, I did not know what to make of the film or what "truth" about life Korine was trying to explore.

However, I think Korine's cameo is one of the best director cameos I've seen in a film.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 9:21 pm 
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see what I said about people who throw around the word "pretentious"?


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 11:20 pm 
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chaddoli wrote:
Anyway, as to Gummo's narrative/cinematic uniqueness: I certainly agree, and will even admit I was with the film until the bathtub scene, which is to me where the film really went over the top, provoking the audience's stomach's instead of minds. What a pointless, disgusting scene, showing a mother bathing her child in shit, essentially. After that, I did not know what to make of the film or what "truth" about life Korine was trying to explore.

However, I think Korine's cameo is one of the best director cameos I've seen in a film.

This is interesting as all hell! The bathtub scene is one of my favorites and what I feel is one of the most heartfelt and touching scenes in the film (perhaps behind the weightlifting scene, but that's neck and neck). Wow... I'm a little taken aback, I have to say; that took me by complete surprise. Is it only the water that's the hang-up? If he were in a clean bathtub, how do you feel the scene would have read? There's obviously a knee-jerk reaction when you first see Solomon in the tub -- but in my mind that quickly takes a second seat to the love this mother so obviously (to me) feels for her son. Maybe it's 'cause I was raised in rural Iowa, so a little filth (and by filth I mean shit) here and there doesn't have much of an effect on me. Maybe not, but the void between our viewing experiences is amazing. There's some sort of fascinating psychological study to be had on the two opposing camps here.

Interestingly enough, I would also consider Korine's cameo more or less a throwaway scene. I don't think it fits and I especially don't think it's effective. Different strokes, indeed!

And while I'm here, godardslave just worked up three whole sentences to insult me -- he must be really upset. My assumption that you were hastily dismissing the film with no intention of backing it up was quickly and diplomatically proven wrong, chaddoli -- my initial tone was very much uncalled for. If, for some reason, you took the ramblings of a man who goes under the alias of a bathroom cleanser to heart, then I sincerely apologize for pouncing without first giving you a chance to explain yourself and I admire your ability to brush it off gracefully.

godardslave, for the less verbose, that means I am sorry. But seriously, got anything on topic to share?

-Toilet Dcuk


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 3:21 am 
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We might as well mention (if only as an interesting aside) that Godard is another outspoken admirer of Korine's work, particularly Gummo I believe.

The bathtub scene is a perfect example of what I meant earlier in this thread by the film's aesthetic sensibilities being a love it or hate it kind of thing (slightly less condescending than saying 'get it or not get it'). I actually find the scene to be both comical and emotionally touching - the understanding we get, as toiletduck pointed out, of the mother's affection for her son, in addition to the mild grossout of the bathwater (pretty mild if you ask me, and besides, life as it is lived by most people in this world is pretty dirty, after all).

Actually the thing in this scene that stands out most to me, not necessarily as gross but just unusual or eccentric, is the clash of having one's hair washed while sitting in dirty water while at the same time eating a plate of spaghetti (and later mixing it with a cholocate bar!) Watching him go from one thing to the next, and handle all these various things simultaneously, always makes me laugh. This laughter is not at all the cynical, ironic, detached laughter of a spectator who relishes his superiority to the film's subjects (as Jonathan Rosenbaum has argued occurs quite often in the Coen brothers' work) but rather a kind of recognition of a certain truth in life, that whatever rigid borders we might put up on our own, they are strictly that. Korine's aesthetic is not so much transgressing these borders in any kind of systematically provocative manner, but rather he is just not interested in them one way or the other. To me this is what makes the film so fresh and exciting, and going back to Matt Zoller Seitz again, "alive" and free. There is an energy and a kind of truthfulness to them that is so close to real life, even if it's coming out of the absurd.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 7:31 pm 

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I think when a person does something new in a field of art (film in this case) their product must not be criticized by the old standards held by critics of the work that came before him. For example, when Cubism, Dada, and Surrealism hit Europe, they were highly criticized for making inane, absurd, and irrelevant works of art when compared to what came before them, which was generally conventional depiction. Of course there were people of the avant-garde circles who hailed these works and whose opinions and criticism eventually became better accepted over time. It only makes sense that art criticism changes along with changes in styles of art.

What I'm getting at is that we cannot judge Korine's films with old aesthetic/ethical/moral values. His films have a cinematic uniqueness to them that in general most people cannot appreciate (regardless of whether they personally enjoy the film), or rather they are still criticizing his work with old values.

It is unavoidably the artists who are ahead of the critics, and because of this, a good critic is a modern critic.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 12:26 am 

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It's been a few years since I saw "Gummo" and I remember thinking that to me he was almost reinforcing negative stereotypes against poor whites simply because of their exagerrated representations. My girlfriend even said to me, "This is one the reasons why I can't stand white trash (referring to the kids killing cats)." She later dumped me for guy who's a member of Hell's Angels. Just kidding. Now I highly doubt that was Korine's intention, and considering I've only seen "Gummo" once perhaps my initial reaction was unfair.

I also remember thinking that Korine wasn't sure when to start a scene and end it, particularly that scene where I think the bunny kid and someone else are spouting profanity at another kid. It just goes on and on. And the scene with Korine was embarrassing at best in my opinion. It also didn't help when I saw Korine's appearance on Letterman plugging some book of his while he was stoned out of his mind. I kept thinking, "Some people actually think this buffoon is the next Godard?"

After reading this thread I'm going to give Korine and "Gummo" a second chance though, since I found his defender's remarks intrigueing. I'll even bump up "Julian Donkey Boy" on my netflix queue, which I still haven't seen.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 11:21 pm 

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His appearances on Letterman were comic gold. Regardless of whether he was "stoned out of his mind", his performance on Letterman was a beautiful mixture of the absurd/sublime/surreal comedy of Andy Kaufman and the one liners and wit of Groucho Marx (particularly the Titanic joke, and the "great american novel"). Granted, some people aren't a fan of this kind of comedy, but I find it very similar to what Sacha Cohen is doing with his character Borat. Heres a link.


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