By Sam Kench
The movie seems to have a problem with staying in one location. It can’t even get through a conversation without cutting away to show other things. Even when dialogue is occurring, the movie isn’t able to show the people talking, instead it plays the audio while showing you completely random/unnecessary shots of completely unimportant things.
The movie spends a great deal of its screen time showing party montages. It easily kills over half an hour on the pointless parties and montages. Sure have one big party scene to show the scope of things, but then the other 8 montages in the movie can be much shorter, the audience isn’t going to forget what they saw before. The director seems more pre-occupied with trying (and somewhat failing) to be jarring and provocative.
I have to admit that the movie definitely crafts its own style, but whether or not that style is any good, is completely debatable. Some people may find its obtrusive and jarring style to be good and others may just find it obnoxious or hard to swallow. I fall into the latter. I find that while the construction of a style is commendable, the way it is shoved down your throat is unnecessary.
Selena Gomez gives an okay performance for the most part but the other girls are completely forgettable and interchangeable. It’s as if she’s the only one with a real character. The other 3 have the same character and are like one person. They are very boring and uninspired, and the performances are nothing short of piss poor. Not that the actresses really had much to work with as their characters aren’t really written with any actual character. Selena Gomez actually leaves the movie around the half-way mark, so at that point we are stuck with 3 completely boring leads, and I swear the movie seems to just completely forget about one of the girls for huge chunks of time. She’ll be missing for a while and the movie never explains or covers where she is, or what she’s doing.
The movie takes about 40 minutes for anything real to happen aside from the robbery. The plot is actually quite unbelievable. The characters don’t act like real people. It feels like they only do these things for the sake of having them “become criminals” which is also very forced. There’s no gradual decline. They rob the restaurant and clearly it gives them a rush, but when they start doing worse things like killing people, it just kind of happens, there’s no process or buildup, they just do it and that’s it. That is a very poor way to tell a story.
There is a lot of really unnecessary shaky cam. There will be a seen with 3 girls standing by a wall talking, but the camera is all flying all over the place for no reason. The direction is very obnoxious and some of the worst I’ve ever seen. Harmony Korine doesn’t appear to know what he’s doing. The entire presentation of the movie is just plain bad.
I thought that if nothing else, James Franco would give an interesting performance. He does a good job with what he’s given, in fact I bet he did exactly what the director wanted perfectly, but the character just isn’t really that interesting. He certainly has an interesting look and voice, but other than that he’s just you’re typical wannabe wankster.
The music gives it a strange atmosphere and the visual style, particularly the color have an interesting look. There are many many scenes that are lit by a particular color which is often used in films to give a certain vibe or convey a particular motion in a subtle way, but it is done so frequently and the colors are so randomly chosen that I honestly it means nothing other than just to give the film a “look” without that actually having any depth.
All of the licensed music is just annoying and obnoxious in the way it’s used, and there are some uses like the one where an entire song gets played that it really takes you out of the movie. It makes it feel like a music video. The whole movie ends up feeling like a giant trailer, the way it’s cut together. It feels disjointed and is not enjoyable at all. Some people may like the type of music, but I despised it. It’s all dumb party music and girly pop and it’s not used ironically or to any effective means. It honestly just feels like the filmmakers liked the music so they through it in.
It’s just a movie filled with rotten and vile characters, just being rotten and vile. I don’t understand why people act like this is some searing examination of modern culture. If this movie actually managed to tell you or make you realize anything that you didn’t already know, then you must lead a horribly sheltered life. People say that this movie is artfully shot. No it’s not. It’s stylistically shot, but there’s nothing artistic about the excess.
This movie seems incredibly pre-occupied with wasting time, having very little happen, yet during times when there is a conversation going on, the movie can’t hold still. Instead it jumps all over the place showing us incredibly unnecessary shots of things that don’t matter, or have already happened. This movie is structured with an out-of-order format, but things are really only out-of-order within the particular scene, so this doesn’t end up amounting to anything. Again this is just meant to add to the film’s style which grows increasingly grating as the film goes on.
James Franco does a good job with his character, but the way the movie is directed and edited, you can’t admire the performance. There is some interesting dialogue and a few striking visuals, but the overall presentation of the film wrecks these moments. For example there is a scene where Franco is sitting a piano with two guns and is singing a creepy kind of song. Now this could be an interesting scene, except the goddamn editor can’t hold on the shot for 2 seconds. Instead of focusing on the scene at hand, it continuously cuts away to far less relevant material.
The movie ends with an all slow motion scene where a narration plays over. The scene is, I guess what passed for an action scene, but it is completely unbelievable and there was no emotional investment or tension whatsoever. You would think a shootout would be a good climax, but it honestly felt very anti-climactic. The narration was just a repeated one from earlier which actually worked okay. The dialogue repetition is one of the few things I’ll give the movie credit for, because it was used effectively most of the time, but the actual shootout, was just idiotic. The whole movie is building up to this violence and then it isn’t really effective.
This movie is one of the worst films I have seen in a very long time, and I just watched a movie where Christian Slater just screams into a booklight for an hour and half. This movie is complete garbage.