Thursday, 8 July 2010

Video(s) of the day (Directed by Harmony Korine)

I was first introduced to Harmony Korine (and Larry Clark) when I saw Kids in the mid-90's, which he wrote the screenplay for. I had never seen anything like it and I guess it was one of the films that introduced me to, or sparked my interest in 'indie cinema'. So, I started looking into the histories of these two people. In Clark's case it was his amazing photography work, whilst in Korine's case it was not much apart from skateboarding. Then a year or so later, in 1997, he released his first feature film (a term used quite loosely here) Gummo and it somehow found its way to our local video store. If Kids was one of the films that introduced me to 'indie cinema' it was Gummo that first made me realise the awesome power of the moving image and turned me into a geeky film buff. I remember being completely blown away by it and watched it over and over again that weekend. These days I've lost count, but to this day I've easily watched it 50-60 times. I know it off by heart and there's not a single scene in it that I don't love to bits. Anyway, soon after Gummo came Korine's first book A Crack-up At The Race Riots, which also had a profound effect on me. Apart from what we had to read in school I mainly read Stephen King books, and I had no idea people even wrote these kind of books.

Whilst my fascination with Larry Clark has faded with years, my admiration of Harmony Korine has just increased with every new piece of work. Sure, there has been a few disappointments, especially when it comes to books, but I'm still kicking myself about not getting hold of them while I had the chance. I remember seeing his art book Pass The Bitch Chicken in Foyles about five years ago, the only time I've ever seen it in a shop. I looked through it and decided I didn't want to spend £30 on what was essentially page after page of photocopied bleak photos. But now, if I could go back in time, I would buy it in an instant. Even if just to have it sitting on my book shelf. Aloso, looking at amazon it now goes for closer to £200. The same goes for his most recent photo book Pigxote. I saw it in a shop earlier this year, decided I didn't like it and left it there. Now it's out-of-print and I want it. It doesn't make any sense, but hey, welcome to my head.

After Gummo, Korine kept making films. His Dogme-95 contribution Julien Donkey-Boy is another of my favourite films. His David Blaine documentary Above The Below was a bit disappointing, but that was more to do with David Blaine being annoying than the film itself. There are some interesting Blaine-free bits in it. Then after a four-year break from movies, Mister Lonely came out in 2007. Another mesmerising film, it's the most "normal" of his films, but still unlike anything else I saw that year. Finally, last year, he unleashed Trash Humpers on the world, a world that wasn't quite (and probably never will be) ready for it. I won't even go into it. No description or review of the film can really do it justice. It's as brilliant as it's bad. It's difficult to watch, makes you question what and why you're watching it, and it sticks in your head for ages after watching. It's an experience, which is more than you can say about most films these days.

Anyway, at some point in between making movies, Korine started making music videos, often as strangely beautiful as his full-length works, so I thought I'd share some of them with you.

Sonic Youth – Sunday

Bonnie 'Prince' Billie – No More Workhorse Blues

Cat Power – Living Proof

So, what's next for Harmony? I have no idea, but I hope he doesn't take too long. The world needs more people like him.

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