Spring Breakers and To the Wonder

by Mr. Nobel

Embargo broke on the former, and I caught the latter during a film festival. Thoughts –

Spring Breakers

Watch this trailer. Internalize it.

If you have any doubts about Spring Breakers after that or if you’ve never seen a Harmony Korine movie before, don’t watch Spring Breakers in theaters. Seriously.

I liked Spring Breakers a lot more than my proper review let on, but I really think that the probability of you liking Spring Breakers is all that high. It’s not any sort of snobbery – plenty of hardcore cinephiles despise Korine – it’s just the vibe I got off the screening.

I’ve seen Spring Breakers described as the kind of hazy flashes of memory you’d get after a spectacular hangover. That seems about right. Unfortunately, that also means that watching Spring Breakers is as much fun as either having a huge hangover or hanging out with some dude with a massive hangover while he just to inarticulately describe how he/she got here.

However, Spring Breakers gets better the more you think about it, and boy does this film linger on the mind. It’s been a week on since I’ve watched it, and I’m still thinking, unpacking and analyzing the shit outta what I just saw. And James Franco’s performance is magnificent, instant YouTube/viral fodder. I’m tempted to make him cooing, “Spring Break” ad nauseum my ringtone.

So, yeah. TL;DR – Watch the trailer, if you didn’t like it, don’t see Spring Breakers.

To the Wonder

On the other hand,  To the Wonder’s trailer didn’t do a very good job conveying the content of the actual film. It’s always tricky to cut together a good trailer for a Terrence Malick film (I think the The Tree of Life teaser might be the only good one), so I can’t really blame the editors too much.

Credit to those guys for conveying the rhythm and style of a Malick movie, but points deducted for completely misrepresenting the tone of the film. Case in point: Javier Bardem’s voice over in the trailer sounds like an inspirational speech, don’t it? In the actual film, it’s his ineffectual, unfelt sermon that he delivers repeatedly to an increasingly small congregation while suffering his own crisis of faith. The whole movie, in fact, is about crises of faith and, as such, is pretty depressing.

I’m surprised that this received such a vitriolic response, as the movie’s probably the most efficient and most straightforward Malick’s been since Badlands. Admittedly, he goes full throttle on the abstract editing technique from The Tree of Life/The New World, but To the Wonder moves a fairly rapid (almost too fast) clip. But To the Wonder is lesser Malick only in the sense that it tackles something much less grandiose than World War II, the founding of America or the birth of the cosmos. It certainly bears the mark of considerable thought and refinement, as well as featuring my favorite overall Malick soundtrack to date.

Ben Affleck, as you might have heard, got Brody’d out of the film – he only gets about 2 lines of dialogue and 2 lines of voice over – except I get the impression that Malick might’ve planned this all along: 90% of the shots with Affleck obscure his face, either by pushing him off frame, shooting him from behind or lighting him in silhouette.

While I did like To the Wonder a lot, the ending leaves a lot to be desired. After about three fakeouts in rapid succession, To the Wonder ended on a shot so arbitrary that I thought even Malick wouldn’t close his movie on this. Way to prove me wrong, Mr. Malick.

FYI:

1. The Thin Red Line

2. Badlands/The Tree of Life

4. Days of Heaven

5. To the Wonder

6. The New World

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