Film Muse: Gummo

I can't quite remember when I first saw Gummo. All I know is that when I saw it I wasn't ready for it - and that in itself was a godsend. You can't be ready for it. Gummo (1997) directed by Harmony Korine changed me. It changed the way I saw and interpreted film. After being exposed, I was no longer a drone to traditional box office narratives (did that sound pretentious? oops). 

There's something in the way that Korine catches this catastrophic post tornado town. The dirt, the innocence, the simpleness, the corruptness. Maybe it's the DV video tape style that Korine is known to use. Voyeurism. Like you're watching someone else's home videos without their permission. It's invasive. You can't look away.  

* If you are reading this sentence and you have not seen Gummo, DO NOT READ THIS POST. I don't want to taint your eyes/mind by spoiling it. *

Once you get a taste of Gummo, it will make you want to throw up. 
In a good way, of course.

( Fact: Chloƫ Sevigny designed/made those bunny ears)

Gummo is about a classic USA town. No, not the Americana bullshit you think of. The real American heartland.  As much as you don't want to believe that this exists in real life, it does. The story focuses on the residents of a poor tornado stricken town and what they do in their spare time. Killing cats, huffing Reddi-wip, fighting, playing tennis on Ritalin, and pimping out their sister- to name a few activities. 

(Chloƫ Sevigny rocking Cherie Currie hair?)

This movie is fucking brash. When I first discovered it, I learned that it wasn't entirely fictional. Korine and his crew went into this dilapidated town and actually filmed the locals. Anything you see on the DV cam is probably real unscripted banter between town locals. The racism, the shameless talk of killing things - EVERYTHING is real. So disturbing, but so interesting. It didn't take me long to learn that filmmaking is about evoking emotion, especially the emotions and thoughts you try to keep out of your head. Korine blasts them in your face via metal music and you can't escape it. 

(^one of my favorite characters/scenes)

 There is something so pure about this film that it hurts. You wonder if the characters remember the tornado, if they have flashbacks, if they feel emotion over it. Even though some of the characters are so destructive, you can't help but see something deeper in their eyes. Experience, I'll say. Pain? Like they know so much more than you or I, even though you wouldn't expect it. I haven't figured it out completely.

("You're going to be a millionaire")

I think one of my favorite scenes was in the basement, the mother wearing her deceased husband's tap shoes, trying to make her kid smile. The camera work, how comically invasive it was. You see how much love she has for her kid, how she tries to amuse him, how she tries to amuse herself. She doesn't seem to feel bad about anything really, yet somehow you can just feel how importantly beautiful this scene is. 

Once you get into the world of Korine everything becomes beautiful with intent. I noticed a lot of people dismissing him for Spring Breakers (which I have so much respect for). Korine is one of those psychotic people who see more than you do. He will do crazy shit and doesn't try to justify it or even address it. Is that making sense? I wouldn't say he "comments" on things, at least not in the traditional explicit way that everyone likes. He just films what is. A reflection of OUR society, of OUR morals, of OUR appropriation, and OUR desensitization. I think that's a great way to go about it, by showing it instead of explicitly explaining it (either verbally himself, or by using dumbed down images/dialogue). I'm a fan of his style, clearly.

Sorry if this post didn't make the most sense. I sort of like it this way though, to be honest. Korine changed me (Gummo, Trash Humpers, Julien Donkey-Boy, Spring Breakers). The fact that I can't even fully comprehend the images and messages that he has planted in my brain means that he must be doing something right. Gummo is beautifully disgusting. I hope you liked it as much as I did.

-Lauren Rose
Curbside Fashion

P.S. This is one of my favorite short segments of the town locals. I CAN'T EXPLAIN IT. The  MUSIC. 


Film Picks: '90s Pop Cult Movies!

I thought I'd keep up with my Film Picks series, so I decided to make my top '90s Pop Cult list! Okay, so some of these are from the early 2000s. But they all embody that '90s nostalgia nonetheless. If you didn't see my Youtube video explaining my favorites, check it out HERE.

Pop cult to me means a lot of things. Mostly, I consider a film to be "pop cult" if it has a certain visual/emotional feel that surrounds the narrative. This can be shown through costume design, set design, camera work, dialogue, and performances. Basically, if I feel like I can take a screen shot at any point in the film and it would be considered pop art, I'd classify it as so. So in no particular order, here are my top '90s (ish) Pop Cult Films! 

 Ghost World (2001) - (I WILL FOREVER THINK OF THIS AS A '90s FILM)

Cynic and artist, Enid, finds herself drifting from everything she knows after graduating her horribly amusing high school. Thora Birch (Enid) delivers the most punk rock performance of a life time. Steve Buscemi is in this movie. Why are you still reading this. Why aren't you watching the movie. I can't write a proper synopsis of this film without hating myself. 

Jawbreaker (1999)
"Liz is the cat's meow": one of the most amazing lines from Jawbreaker spoken by Fern Mayo. What is Jawbreaker about? Death and popularity. After accidentally killing their best friend, a group of popular girls try to cover it up- by bribing a loser (MAYO) to keep her mouth shut in return for popularity and beauty. 

The Doom Generation (1995)
Two best friends are going nowhere on an open road when they meet "X", a wild and dangerous drifter. Upon going to the Kwik-E-Mart for some nachos, shots are fired and the gang flees the scene. What will happen? Sex? Drugs? More sex? This film is pretty amusing until the last few scenes. WARNING: GRAPHIC MATERIAL. 

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001) (SAME THING AS GHOST WORLD)
A rockumentary of the ages. Hedwig, transgender rockstar, meets Tommy (Michael Pitt), an innocent bible thumper who becomes infatuated with her. Together, they make sweet music. That is, until Tommy gets too freaked out about their relationship, rips off Hedwig's music, and goes on to be a millionaire rockstar. Hedwig lays it down in a beautiful story, completed with full length music videos and animations. 

Clueless (1995)
An adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma, Cher decides to fix everyone's problems (especially when they benefit her). This film is '90s materialism on crack. If you are going to watch this film for anything, let it be for the costume design. Checkered yellow skirt suit combo? Yes. R.I.P. Brittany Murphy. 

"I could really use some kind of herbal refreshment..."
"Oh, well we do lunch in ten minutes. We don't have any tea, but we have Coke and stuff."
"No shit! You guys got coke here?"

Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (1997)
Romy and Michele have remained best friends since high school when they learn they have to go back for their reunion. Disgusted with how unpopular they were, they decide to fabricate how well they have been doing ever since they left. Go to the gym? Check. Rent a fancy car? Check. Tell everyone you invented Post-It Notes? Check. 

Cry-Baby (1990)
John Waters is at it again in this exceptional pop cult film. Set in the 1950s, greaser/bad boy Cry-Baby (Johnny Depp) tries to win over the good girl. Much like a musical mockumentary of Grease, this film is full of awesome script writing, beautiful makeup, and roll on the ground humor. Start out your John Waters marathon with this one!

"I'm so tired of being good!"

Pulp Fiction (1994)
You've seen it on the dorm room walls, Pulp Fiction is probably one of the most well known cult movies out there. Directed by Quentin Tarantino, this dark comedy crime film shows the lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster's  wife, and a couple of bandits (thanks IMDB). It's one of the those movies that you have to watch over and over again to completely understand it/appreciate it. So start now! 
"I said GODDAMN" 

Fear and Loathing is Las Vegas (1998)
Written by the real Hunter S. Thompson, Johnny Depp plays a tripping journalist who travels to Las Vegas with his lawyer. This dark comedy has some of the most entertaining costume design and cinematography out there. You know what? I'm just going to show you this. 

There you go! Some of the best '90s Pop Cult Films out there. I hope you enjoyed and start planning your next movie night with one of these picks. Have a good one.

Lauren Rose
Curbside Fashion

P.S. I hope you enjoyed the college video art I did (top 4 stills/in the video). I might make them into GIF form for my Tumblr, we'll see!