"The Weekend Rent offers quick-hit suggestions of what to watch at home to get psyched for new releases in theaters, on Friday.
Could Spring Breakers bring director Harmony Korine into the mainstream at last? The film, which expands this weekend after taking in a whopping $263,000 at only three theaters, is being praised for James Franco's creepy performance as the Scarface-loving gangsta Alien who takes a group of criminally minded spring breakers under his wing. Like most of Korine's films, it is filled with surreal, jarring imagery and unlikeable characters—this time we have four misguided college coeds that rob a restaurant to fund what they hope is a transformative experience in St. Petersburg, Florida over spring break.
If Spring Breakers doesn't make you reach for the nearest birth control, try watching the 1995 Kids featuring the first movie appearances of Rosario Dawson and Chloe Sevigny. Korine didn't direct the controversial film, but he wrote the story about 24 hours in the sex-and-drugs-riddled lives of a bunch of New York teenagers during the height of the AIDS crisis. Remember, condoms not only prevent the spread of HIV, they stop unwanted pregnancies (refer to any character in this movie for a visual aid).
The cult success of Kids prompted producer Cary Woods to budget $1 million for Korine's feature-length debut, Gummo. It's difficult to describe exactly what Gummo is about—Korine sidesteps any kind of traditional narrative structure—but it follows a bunch of teenage degenerates around the tornado-bait city of Xenia, Ohio who drown cats for cash. Along the way you'll meet an albino girl infatuated with Patrick Swayze, a mentally challenged girl who is pimped out by her brother, a skinny kid who runs around town shirtless with bunny ears, and Sevigny back as a gal who shaves off her eyebrows with her sister. Wait for the money shot—the titular young boy in his filthy bathtub enjoying some spaghetti, strawberry milk and a chocolate bar (note the strips of bacon taped to the wall) while his mother shampoos his hair. Just think… you can have this much fun with your kid every day, too!
If you've gotten this far and are still putting off that vasectomy, take in Korine's Julien Donkey-Boy and reconsider. This one follows the titular boy (Ewen Bremner) with schizophrenia and his dysfunctional family: a sister (Sevigny) possibly carrying his child, his gym-rat brother who is singularly obsessed with becoming a wrestler, and the domineering patriarch (Werner Herzog!) who often dances around his room in a gas mask while listening to Dock Boggs records. Korine's filming style—stop-motion photography, parallel cuts and still photographs—is just as unconventional as the movie's plot.
Korine goes further down the rabbit hole in Mister Lonely, a film that follows a young American (Diego Luna) lost in Paris who is making a living as a Michael Jackson impersonator. During a performance at an old-age home, he meets a Marilyn Monroe impersonator and is transfixed by her beauty. He follows her to a commune where he meets her husband, Charlie Chaplin, and their daughter, Shirley Temple. Together with the pope, the queen of England, Madonna, James Dean and other celebrity impersonators, they build a stage in the hope that the world will watch them perform. (Today that stage is called YouTube, but this isn't the most tech-savvy crowd.)
If you've gotten this far in Korine's oeuvre and are still feeling the urge to reproduce, nature has truly found a way (just like in Jurassic Park). Your final hurdle before Spring Breakers is Korine's Trash Humpers, which is shot entirely on VHS tape and follows a "loser-gang cult-freak collective" as they run around town in unsettling rubber masks and—as the title promises—hump trash cans. This gritty ode to vandalism peeks into the dark alleyways and back streets for yet another enlightening, albeit disturbing, look at the American landscape as seen through Korine's lens. Got condoms?
All of the movies and TV shows listed above are available on DVD as well as VOD services.