In Paris, a young American who works as a Michael Jackson lookalike meets Marilyn Monroe, who invites him to her commune in Scotland, where she lives with Charlie Chaplin and her daughter, Shirley Temple.
Professional motorcycle racer Bud Clay heads from New Hampshire to California to race again. Along the way he meets various needy women who provide him with the cure to his own loneliness, but only a certain woman from his past will truly satisfy him.
A series of hazy 8mm vignettes, accompanied by a soft, lilting voice over, in which girls skulk around schoolyards, spray graffiti, drink, smoke, pose and embrace, evoking the loneliness, confusion and overwhelming wonder of growing up.
"O, mio babbino caro" plays as a woman skates gracefully. In contrast, little is graceful and daddy is not dear in Julien's world. His father listens to blues wearing a gas mask; dad prods, lectures, and derides Julien as well as Julien's brother and pregnant sister, while grandma attends to her dog. Julien is different, schizophrenic. He wears gold teeth. He bowls, sings, worships, and chats with a group of young adults with disabilities. His sister's child is probably his own. He talks on the phone, imagining it's his mother, who died in childbirth years before. He may be a murderer of children. From his point of view (perhaps), the film follows this odd family for a few weeks. Written by
having read all of the reviews of this new experiment from Harmony Korine, i was prepared for a rough, baffling, and possibly somewhat painful movie-going experience. the truth is, though, that i not only found this movie completely watchable, but i found it to have a STRONG emotional core and a cohesive thematic tract (and very funny, in parts...though i can never tell with Korine what is supposed to be funny and what is not). don't get me wrong: this is by no stretch conventional drama. in fact, there's hardly any drama here at all (the closest thing to real drama comes in the scenes with Werner Herzog's unbelievably abusive character). the emotion here comes from something that i can only call purely cinematic. the downright abstract editing juxtaposed with the hyperrealism of the Dogma 95 camerawork really makes for an intense visual experience. and the individual scenes tend to make more sense than in Korine's previous work (particularly Gummo). certainly, some of the scenes seem a bit excessive. i suppose if you tried to view this (or any of Korine's work) as some kind of social commentary, then you would inevitably be offended at some of the things here. but this isn't social commentary; this world on the screen is by no means a convincing depiction of the real world. every person on the screen is somehow sick or outcast, and i guess the major theme of the film is simply how we deal with our individual sicknesses. i guess this is a film that if you have a strong interest in seeing it in the first place, then you will really get something out of it. if you have no interest in seeing it, then chances are you'll never even hear about this movie (and you'll never read this commentary). for my money, Harmony Korine is no dilettante (and no slut!); he is one of the few true individuals making movies today.
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